“Why Israel and not other, far more egregious examples?”

I find a 1,000-to-1 fatality rule generally applies: Each person killed by the Israel Defense Forces warrants about as much international attention as 1,000 people killed by Africans, Russians, Indians, Chinese, or Arabs.

That’s Victor Davis Hanson’s estimate, and, to put things mildly, he’s skeptical about the disproportionate scrutiny that Israel has received from an unforgiving world, going back to its founding.  Referring to recent headlines and controversies concerning Helen Thomas and Turkey, Hanson settles on the obvious explanation:

Anti-Semitism as displayed by both Thomas and Turkey’s leaders is not predicated on criticizing Israel, much less disagreeing with its foreign policy. Instead, it hinges upon focusing singularly on Israeli behavior, and applying a standard to it that is never extended to any other nation.

The villains  are located exactly where you’d expect a National Review columnist to find them:

[I]n the last two decades especially, the Left has made anti-Semitism respectable in intellectual circles. The fascistic nature of various Palestinian liberation groups was forgotten, as the “occupied” Palestinians grafted their cause onto that of American blacks, Mexican-Americans, and Asian-Americans. Slurring post-Holocaust Jews was still infra dig, but damning the nation-state of Israel as imperialistic and oppressive was considered principled. No one ever cared to ask: Why Israel and not other, far more egregious examples? In other words, one could now focus inordinately on the Jews by emphasizing that one’s criticism was predicated on cosmic issues of human rights and justice. And by defaming Israel the nation, one could vent one’s dislike of Jews without being stuck with the traditional boorish label of anti-Semite.

Hanson has, I believe, at absolute most, around 50% of the truth here, awaiting deductions for reliance on hyperbole, one-sided and reductive logic, and myopic hypocrisy.

First, it’s simply not true that “no one” ever asked, “Why Israel and not other, far more egregious examples?”  The question is a cliché, not a secret spell. Friends of Israel have been pleading double standard at least since the dust cleared after 1967, and criticism of the occupation commenced.  Over the ensuing decades, Israel as occupier, intermittent invader, and long-term expropriator  of militarily and economically desirable land inevitably lost its position on the commanding PR heights. “Gutty little Israel” became house-demolishing, Beirut-bombarding, strategic settlement-building, buffer zone-creating, nuclear deterrent-possessing, blockading Israel.

Recalling this history does not imply and certainly does not prove that Israel had exclusively better choices on these or other scores, or generally, but ignoring it marks the observer as an ideologue and special pleader.  Israel has done and likely will still do many great and impressive things.  Repealing the law of physics regarding equal and opposite reactions is highly unlikely to be one of them.

To adopt Hanson’s logic in full, you have to take the position that “Palestinian liberation groups” have no as in absolutely zero legitimacy or justification, that “human rights and justice” can be dismissed as ineffably “cosmic” in this context, and that opposition to Israeli policy is otherwise so thoughtless, so weakly grounded, that it must derive from anti-Semitism.  You don’t have to embrace any of several leftwing and allied critiques of Israel or Israeli policy (liberal internationalist, anti-imperialist, anti-militarist, anti-American, anti-capitalist, pan-Islamist, pan-Arabist, etc., etc.) , in order to recognize the hypocrisy of Hanson’s  charge.  A leftist reflexively re-writes the concluding sentence of the last excerpt as follows:  “And by defaming the left as a whole, Hanson can vent his dislike of his political opponents without being stuck with actually having to address their arguments.”

When I say Hanson is half-right, what I mean is that anti-Semitism may explain about half of whatever inordinate attention on Israel.  The other half would be explained by one or another species of philo-Semitism, encouraged first by conservative Jews with a perfectly natural rooting interest, second by dispensationalist/dual covenant Christians, and third by American neo-conservatives who view modern Israel as a front-line state in an epochal clash of civilizations. Hanson fits in the last group, and, to sketch an analogy that may fit him in turn, it doesn’t make much sense to give the Israeli phalanx a key position in your line of battle, and then criticize the other side’s bowmen for concentrating their fire on it.

Taking a longer view, what’s historically new is the state of Israel – that is, the movement of the drama back to its earlier setting – not the dramatic subject or its themes.  In this sense, there cannot be “inordinate” attention on Israel.  It’s already at center stage, and seeking an objective, neither anti- nor philo-, position is probably hopeless.  Like a few neo-isolationists, more than a few average citizens, including those whom you would expect to fall in one or the other army, you might want to fantasize about the the possible effects of x generations of benign neglect, but neither neutrality nor looking away is a relevant option.

Addressing Hanson’s mathematics (and following up on conversation we’ve had under George’s “South Koreans Hate Israel” thread), we can ask whether 1,000 to 1 isn’t a low rating for the Holy Land, the seat of the Abrahamic faiths, the spiritual cradle and capital of what we call Western civilization, as compared against any other piece of ground of similar size.  It’s where it started for us, and re-started, and it’s where, according to still quite widely and fervently held belief and suspicion, it‘s supposed to end, too.

Maybe VDH wishes the world cared as much about classical thought and history as he does, instead of caring about what it does care about, but there’s no point in protesting or complaining about the situation, or writing articles that criticize the phenomenon while marginally contributing to and somewhat exemplifying it.  Hardly anyone cares about what happens in Southeastern Siberia because hardly anyone cares about what happens in Southeastern Siberia. Same explanation for why everyone – lots of people and all the really important people – cares about Israel and its immediate environs:  Because everyone does.

Home Page  Public Email  Twitter  Facebook  YouTube  Github   

Writing since ancient times, blogging, e-commercing, and site installing-designing-maintaining since 2001; WordPress theme and plugin configuring and developing since 2004 or so; a lifelong freelancer, not associated nor to be associated with any company, publication, party, university, church, or other institution. 

66 comments on ““Why Israel and not other, far more egregious examples?”

Commenting at CK MacLeod's

We are determined to encourage thoughtful discussion, so please be respectful to others. We also provide a set of Commenting Options - comment/commenter highlighting and ignoring, and commenter archives that you can access by clicking the commenter options button (). Go to our Commenting Guidelines page for more details, including how to report offensive and spam commenting.

  1. I find a 1,000-to-1 fatality rule generally applies

    This is an unfortunate use of ratio in that it seems to be the inverse ratio of Israeli deaths to their opponents when they go to war. If this is inaccurate,my apologies.

  2. In practice, this is where we end up, there are some exceptions like Salam Fayyad, the aggie economist, but consider the late Edward Said(who Obama was a student off) his complaint with Arafat was he was too temporizing with Israel, he really didn’t have a firm critique of Salafism, except in a situation sense, Al Aswani is fairly
    transgressive and critical of Islamism, his Yacoubian institution, is a good guide to understand the world in which Mohammed Atta arose, but someone like Ahdaf Soeif, is nowhere as tolerant of Israel, (this is back in 1997)

  3. @ Rex Caruthers:
    Not quite. Probably one order of magnitude off. But such “kill ratios” are the norm for well-trained, well-equipped, higher technology forces in battle with irregular and/or technologically inferior fighters. Not unique to Israel by any means, nor to the modern day. VDH wrote a whole book about it – CARNAGE AND CULTURE – arguing that democracy itself can be a massive force/death multiplier.

  4. narciso wrote:

    consider the late Edward Said(who Obama was a student off)

    Is that true? Did Obama study with Said? got a link that shows that to be true?
    Said annoys the warts off me.

  5. @ Rex Caruthers:
    Not quite. Probably one order of magnitude off. But such “kill ratios” are the norm for well-trained, well-equipped, higher technology forces in battle with irregular and/or technologically inferior fighters.

    Always very bad PR for the higher Tech military Force.

  6. Rex Caruthers wrote:

    Always very bad PR for the higher Tech military Force.

    Outside of Hollywood and Washington DC, most people (esp. soldiers) are happy to accept that trade-off.

  7. Outside of Hollywood and Washington DC, most people (esp. soldiers) are happy to accept that trade-off.

    Well then let’s accept the Trade Off: the ever increasing world wide disdain for Israel in exchange for the Israeli Army taking few casulties while mowing down Gazans. But,let’s not whine about unfair anti-semitism. Or unfair anti-Americanism,as we mow down non-combatants with Drones.

  8. @ narciso:

    Well we’re movin on up,
    To the east side.
    To a deluxe apartment in the sky.

    Well, we’re moving on down,
    On the non-com side,
    We finally blew a piece out the pizza pie.

  9. narciso wrote:
    Moving down non combatants, unlike those fighters in a Sbarro pizzeria, or a Passover service in Netanya

    Everybodys doing it; the mistake is to say,because we’re the good guys,it’s ok. The bad guys just do it and keep their mouth shut;they’re not out to win a popularity contest like the US and Israel.

  10. @ narciso:

    According to the Los Angeles Times, in the early 1980s Obama had been one of Said’s students in an undergraduate English class at Columbia University.

    Your link quotes the LA Times and offers this article to back up that very suspicious English class.

    Here’s the linked article


    I missed the part where the Times says that there was that enrollment in English.

    Did see a lot of stuff about how Obama likes the guy and his family and doesn’t agree with his opinions.

    But, point out where I missed the English class thing. It’s a 5 pager and I only skimmed through twice.

  11. Why Israel and not other, far more egregious examples?”

    US Slams Mention of Israeli Nukes at IAEA Meeting
    Warns Mentioning Israel’s Arsenal Will Harm ‘Nuclear Free Mideast’ Push
    by Jason Ditz, June 10, 2010
    US officials reacted angrily today at the inclusion of Israel’s nuclear arsenal as a topic of discussion for the IAEA meeting, insisting that it was “untimely and uncalled for.”

    A: Good, we have settled most of the issues before us. Now let us settle the matter of the 500lb gorilla.
    B: What 500lb gorilla?
    A: The one at the other end of the table.
    B: Shhh–we don’t want to single him out. That wouldn’t be fair.
    A: But he’s the only 500ib gorilla in the room
    B: That’s why mentioning him would be singling him out unfairly.
    A: I don’t follow–we could mention the 500lb gorilla if there were another one?
    B: Yes.
    A:But I thought the whole purpose of this meeting was to rid the Middle East of 500lb gorillas.
    B: Exactly.
    A: But we can’t mention the 500lb gorilla at the table.
    B: What 500lb gorilla?

  12. @ Rex Caruthers:

    Gorilla feathers……

    The problem isn’t who’s got them, it’s who’s likely to use them for ill.

    I don’t want anybody using them for GOOD or for ILL

  13. Your post addresses the issue of the amount of attention paid to Israel, not the question of the uniquely evil intentions and manipulative power attributed to the Israelis and their Jewish supporters.

  14. Starting in 1965, I used to sit occasionally at a table on the Columbia campus labeled “Independent Committee on Vietnam” and distribute handouts to passers-by who came over to look or chat. For a variety of reasons, such as the boat people, I have changed my views about opposing the war in Vietnam. But at that time, I got to know some other people at the table. In May of 1967, when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran and ordered the UN Security force to leave (which it promptly did), some of the people I knew were overjoyed. They began expressing extremely hostile sentiments about Israel. Once the Six-Day War started, they continued more frequently than ever.
    I assumed it was a fluke–a small number of people I happened to have come in contact with. But then around the time of the Labor Day Weekend in 1967, the National Conference for the New Politics took place. Lots of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments were expressed at the conference. In 1968, the teachers’ strike took place in New York, and the sentiments expressed were simply anti-Semitic and had nothing to do with Israel. On March 6, 1969, my first political article was published: “The Left Is Soft on Anti-Semitism.” It appeared in the Village Voice.
    For a long time, the distinction between leftists and liberals was clear. What is different now is that liberals seem to be turning into leftists.
    James Carroll, in his book CONSTANTINE’S SWORD, suggests that the reason for anti-Semitism in Christianity, Islam, and Marxism is supersessionism. The philosophies that are descended or partly descended from Judaism have to show that it was important for them to break away from their ancestor, and so they have to show their ancestor was bad.
    Israel has given independence to Gaza. It has given autonomy to the West Bank–enough autonomy to enable the government there to execute Arabs accused of collaboration with Israel. Although there are unresolved issues of borders, especially as far as Jerusalem is concerned, Israel is ready to leave most of the West Bank. Israel and the Palestinians are not fighting over territory. The issue is whether Israel should exist.
    Hitler obviously antedated Israel. He was obsessed with removing Jewish genes from Europe and perhaps the world. What was wrong with Jews? They did things like own retail stores. The Horror! Nowadays, Israel has an army, and wars kill people. That gives anti-Semites a more tangible reason to oppose Israel. But it all goes back to Carroll’s theory: Jews gave the world three doctrines, each of which claims to possess all the truth.

  15. I don’t want anybody using them for GOOD or for ILL

    Then what’s your problem with preventing an outstandingly evil bunch of theocrat thugs like Iran from acquiring them?
    Adding Iran to the list of possible users can only increase the chances of usage….. even if your calculations don’t include factoring in that Iran increases the risk of usage far beyond the norm for owners.

  16. Israel has an army, and wars kill people. That gives anti-Semites a more tangible reason to oppose Israel.

    I don’t oppose Israel,and if Israel feels threatened by Iran,Israel should battle Iran. However I would not support American support of Israel in that war if Israel was the first striker,if it was a defensive war,I would support our helping Israel. No Nukes,under any circumstances

    Regarding Vietnam,I just carfully reread Podhoretz’s book on The Vietnam War. He admits that not only did we lose that War,but surprisingly,NPOD agreed with Macarthur,that we couldn’t have won under any realistic scenario. Why fight a war you can’t win,especially with Draftees?

    Regarding AntiSemitism,a new book on AntiSemitism in England claims that Shakespeare/Shylock,Dickens/Fagin,Chaucer/Prioress’s Tale are the most important anti-semitic influences on the English.

  17. narciso wrote:

    It’s also in Remnick’s hagiographic, ‘the Bridge’ so it’s quite true

    narc, your last link was no more than an erroneous bunch of crap.

    I’ll be more than happy to go with you, but you’re required to put something close to the vicinity of the neighborhood of fact up by way of proof.

    pull the quotation from the book… or gimme a page number…. or something.

  18. “Then what’s your problem with preventing an outstandingly evil bunch of theocrat thugs like Iran from acquiring them?”

    Israel can stop Iran without using her Nukes,Right? I am aGAINST THE uSE OF nUKES on Iran,NOT NECESsARILY AGAINST iSRAEL FIGHTING iRAN conventionally. See POST # 25

  19. @ Rex Caruthers:
    1) No, Israel can not stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons without using nuclear weapons against Iran.

    2) Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weaponry is not a task for Israel.
    Iran, as it acquires nukes, will become an immediate threat to the Saudis and the rest of the Gulf States ahead of Israel. The problem should be addressed byh the Gulf States, their allies, and the nations reliant on the materials exported from the Gulf, and certainly not Israel alone.

  20. @ Rex Caruthers:
    1) No, Israel can not stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons without using nuclear weapons against Iran.

    In that case,I would not support a Nuke attack on Iran as a First Strike,and only as a second strike if Iran,first, attacks Israel with a Nuke.

    2) The problem should be addressed byh the Gulf States, their allies, and the nations reliant on the materials exported from the Gulf, and certainly not Israel alone

    “Should Be” It’s up to them,but I would not support us assisting anybody on a First Strike on Iran.

  21. @ narciso:

    egg-cell-ent narc. excellent. I promise not to doubt you as long as you produce proof.

    this is marvelous, and certainly provides a basis for thinking that Obama studied literary theory under said and hated doing so.

    it’s an excellent reason to think that when you, in your comment about Palestinian politics, put in that aside about Obama studying off Said, could not possibly be implying that Obama had been thereby indoctrinated by Said so that Obama might somehow fairly to be said to be mirroring Said’s bs thinking about same.

    sorry, narc, entirely my fault for thinking that you had some kind of reason behind your parenthetical addition beyond a display of your erudition for our delight.

    I am impressed and delighted and my doubts dissolved.

    Hail, narc, hail

  22. @ Rex Caruthers:

    Holy Wombats, Rex.
    Even Dyer is nuts enough to be only luke-warm on nuking Iran prophylactically.

    That’s so off the table, it’s not even under it.

  23. Yes I did frog, for the same reason that my Argentinian historian friend, Adjami and my folks from the old country could figure out what 53% either didn’t know, or didn’t care

  24. factualizing frog wrote:
    @ Rex Caruthers:

    Holy Wombats, Rex.
    Even Dyer is nuts enough to be only luke-warm on nuking Iran prophylactically.
    That’s so off the table, it’s not even under it

    Glad to hear it,but I’m a disciple of Murphy, “If you can use Nukes,you will use them,it’s been 65 years since Nagasaki.

  25. Back some years ago, they buried the facilities at Natanz, when they feared a more direct attack, now that they feel more confident they’ve brought it up to the surface

  26. factualizing frog wrote:
    Rex Caruthers wrote:
    it’s been 65 years since Nagasaki.

    so you and Murphy aren’t batting above the Mendoza line since before Mickey Mantle entered the league.

    I’m looking at this from an acturial view,try buying a Derivative that pays off if Israel Nukes someone,that might be expensive.

  27. @ adam:
    VDH’s piece more or less concedes that Israel has engaged in actions that are criticizeable. He just thinks that the 30,000 victims of the Hama operation would be more deserving of a movie than the 30-50 or so victims of Jenin.

    If the government of Indonesia is lax in its enforcement of Koranic prohibitions on alcohol consumption, only a handful of fundamentalists notice. If the House of Saud is lax, its legitimacy as guardians of Mecca is shaken. Israel is in a similar position, but in multiple dimensions, embattled in each of them. Jews, Christians, Muslims, secular liberals and leftists, conservatives – even the nations of the East to the extent they’re part of (or opposed to) the emergent global secular order economically and ideologically – believe their central interests are implicated, if obviously less directly on the level of religion.

  28. No the Island with the other “articulate although not necessarily clean’
    former attorney with a revolutionary jones. 50 years ago, many bought
    the hope and change, including on the sensible center and left, many
    came to their sense, a dozen years ago, many thought the same of
    Chavez, he was a clown, “Wile E Coyote in a Red Beret”, it didn’t turn out that way.

  29. @ adam:
    That’s obviously a very subjective statement. I won’t try to parse it. Israel is always implicated as a complex symbol etc. The reactions that are assembled around any particular event, like the counter-reactions, are never more than a piece of the puzzle. Right now, there’s apparently an effort to persuade the Obami that it’s more in their political interest to defend Israel than to appease (much less join) the “mob.” The mob pulls all the harder in the opposite direction, I guess (I haven’t been following this story very closely – almost everything I’ve read or seen about it has been in or filtered through the rightwing press.)

  30. @ CK MacLeod:
    Obviously I don’t see it as very subjective. To show that, you might mention one place, aside from a (shrinking, but still solid, and mostly conservative) majority in American public opinion, Israel is presented as something other than a villain or, more precisely, war criminal, in any one of these events. There was a very brief moment in both the Hizbollah war and the Hamas war where Israel was seen, even in Europe, as the aggrieved party, but that was only until Israel’s response became “disproportionate”–i.e., until they fought back.

  31. @ adam:
    Unless you imagine that the state of Israel is going to be lifted up out of the earth and strung up under a gargantuan tree, or maybe sawn in half over barbed wire like in YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN, then speaking of a “lynch mob” suggests some level of subjective excess in your observation.

    After reviewing some international reaction, I’ve seen news coverage from mainstream publications in different countries that gives both sides on what occurred. I can see that people like David Cameron and Angela Merkel criticized the Israeli action based on initial reports, and since then have settled, along with other Euros, on the need for a “fact-finding mission.” Cameron opposes the Gaza blockade, but bookends remarks by identifying himself as a “friend of Israel.” Even the Israelis now favor international participation in an investigation of the incident.

    So now the negotiation is over how international vs. how Israeli the investigation will be, with everyone, including the U.S., trying to determine what posture best suits their interests. Overall, there’s been a failure to adopt the Israeli line, amidst widespread criticism of the bloodshed and opposition to Israeli Gaza policy, but it’s not a “lynch mob.”

  32. @ CK MacLeod:
    OK, to be less metaphorical, the international strategy is to South Africanize Israel–to make more and more of its policies, especially self-defense policies, intrinsically criminal. The establishment of an I have read, the Israelis are planning to invite international participants to their own commission of inquiry, which is very different from an international commission of inquiry. There is no debate about how international vs. how Israeli the commission should be–to support and international commission is already to presume its legitimacy will be greater than any Israeli commission will be. Your brief discussion seems to make my point but, of course, one could also say that it simply reveals incommensurable assumptions–after all, what you call “failure to adopt the Israeli line” is what I call “refusal to see what obviously happened.”

  33. Cameron says he is a friend, but then he allows for the same snipe hunt that was the Goldstone Report, so it’s fairly an empty statement

  34. @ George Jochnowitz:
    Not that one again.

    adam wrote:

    what you call “failure to adopt the Israeli line” is what I call “refusal to see what obviously happened.”

    Not having access to a God’s-eye-view, I can’t claim to know “what obviously happened.” The Israeli line also includes a preferences about how we should define what matters most. Israeli strongly believes that it’s in the right regarding the incident narrowly viewed and defined – as an act of self-defense. Israel’s critics typically take a position that, even if that was true, it’s not the real or most important question.

    If I were running Israel’s propaganda effort, I would consider getting way out front on the “international investigation” issue – “attacking into the ambush.” Maybe the Israelis should be the ones demanding it most loudly, implicitly threatening to put the whole international community and media on trial if it’s handled less than fairly. That might shut up the critics very fast, and lead to the whole incident being buried – always the most likely end result in these things. Pursuing the truth openly and to the end might escalate the confrontation with Turkey and the international community, or bring us to some other point of no return, perhaps even of the sort that VDH thinks has already been reached, in which Israel just stops caring, on principle, what other nations think. I don’t think that’s in Israel’s interest or that cool heads among the Israelis see that as in Israel’s interest.

    Many observers, including Max Boot and even JE Dyer, have argued or implicitly acknowledged that Israel could have handled the events in a way that didn’t lead to bloodshed and an “incident.” That Israel gave its opponents what apparently was being sought may be forgivable and understandable, but it doesn’t suspend the law of physics mentioned in the top piece. There’s even a conspiracy theory in Turkey among regime opponents that Erdogan or operatives falsely informed the IDF that the flotilla “activists” were unarmed – which would make Israel guilty of letting itself get suckered. That may be much harder to forgive than the killings of 9 wanna-be martyrs – worse than a crime…

  35. @ CK MacLeod:

    By “that one,” I assume you mean Rafsanjani. If one has made a relevant point that has gone unheeded, it makes sense to repeat it. The fact that Rafsanjani’s statement about turning Iran into a suicide bomb was made in a very long speech that included many other subjects doesn’t negate the fact that he made it. There is no reason to assume he wasn’t serious.
    Ahmadinejad is subjecting Iran to sanctions in order to pursue his nuclear ambitions. Does he have anything to gain for himself and his country by doing so? It is not clear that he does. His statements about eliminating Israel ought to be considered in the light of his policies concerning nuclear weapons.
    Rafsanjani was probably correct when he said that a single nuclear bomb could defeat Israel. Certainly two bombs could. If he was willing to risk enormous casualties among his own people, why should Ahmadinejad be different. Unlike Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad is no moderate.
    Suicide bombers are a dime a dozen. Couldn’t a leader choose to turn his country into a suicide nation?

  36. @ George Jochnowitz:
    We’ve been through this before, at length. Rafsanjani’s statement was a fairly conventional explication of how having a nuclear threat, coupled with a willingness and ability to absorb even massive casulties, would be an equalizer in the overall confrontation with the West, with Israel being depicted as the leading edge of Western imperialism. Mao once famously said something very similar regarding China and nuclear war, and it was frequently suggested during the Cold War that the Soviets had a similar mindset.

    It wasn’t in this sense a promise or a statement of intention, or anything unique to Twelverism or Islamist fundamentalist non-deterrability – any more than the U.S. possession of nuclear weapons is a promise or statement of intention to obliterate our potential enemies. It’s worth recalling that the U.S. took and maintained a suicide state position and still implicitly takes the position regarding our own values and interests: We were supposedly entirely willing to put our own national fate and possibly the fate of the entire world in the balance on behalf of our own political values and strategic interests. These are the plain facts. Some Americans in positions of responsibility – former SAC chief Curtis LeMay, for instance – were more open what our “strategic concept” implied than others.

    Someday, perhaps someday relatively soon, Iran may possess the capacity to realize R’s strategic vision. Whether Iran will then pose as a “suicide state” (like us) when it comes to its declared vital interests, or actually rushes to become a suicide state won’t have much to do with Rafsanjani’s statement, and misusing it to single out Iran weakens and distorts the case against letting Iran go nuclear, not strengthen it.

  37. @ CK MacLeod:

    Wow, did she bury that implication.

    If the standoff at sea involves activists seeking martyrdom, however, controlling them without killing them will often be even harder in a maritime situation than it is on land.

    At some point, the Israelis may indeed have to choose interdicting arms shipments through kinetic action in foreign ports.

    and that’s some alternative she’s suggesting.

    kinda iffy, eh?

  38. he’s a crazy psycho who wants to bring about the end of the world, like Ivan Zandor (Ghostbusters reference)

  39. @ factualizing frog:
    At the beginning of the piece she allows that Israel may have bungled the operation tactically. I believe the “kinetic action” in foreign ports may have been in part a reaction at a higher level of abstraction to Boot’s suggestion that in the past Israel has succeeded with low-profile sabotage operations (rather than, say, bombardment from the air or ship to ship combat or something).

  40. narciso wrote:

    he’s a crazy psycho who wants to bring about the end of the world, like Ivan Zandor (Ghostbusters reference)

    What gave me away?

  41. @ CK MacLeod:

    Many observers, including Max Boot and even JE Dyer, have argued or implicitly acknowledged that Israel could have handled the events in a way that didn’t lead to bloodshed and an “incident.” That Israel gave its opponents what apparently was being sought may be forgivable and understandable, but it doesn’t suspend the law of physics mentioned in the top piece. There’s even a conspiracy theory in Turkey among regime opponents that Erdogan or operatives falsely informed the IDF that the flotilla “activists” were unarmed – which would make Israel guilty of letting itself get suckered. That may be much harder to forgive than the killings of 9 wanna-be martyrs – worse than a crime…

    This is indeed the problem–Israel lets itself get suckered. And why? Because it is overly concerned with not giving even a pretext for even unfair criticism, etc. Playing defense makes it easier to get suckered. I would be very happy to see not only the kind of PR offensive you suggest but a broader political offensive of the kind Caroline Glick keeps calling for. Obviously there’s nothing I can do to make it happen.

    It’s interesting, though, the way you pass over and neutralize the question of what happened. We need to be God to agree on the facts of the case–an intriguing claim! But, as long as your on the topic, what does Israel think is important, and what do its enemies think is important?

  42. @ CK MacLeod:
    “a ‘suicide state’ (like us).”
    A willingness to take risks is not the same as an eagerness to die. American leaders and American citizens don’t talk about the reason to prefer death (except for Patrick Henry).
    It is very important to remember that the most dangerous hatred is unmotivated hatred. Iran has no quarrel with Israel. Iranians typically don’t like Arabs. Iran’s mullahs hate Sunnis.
    The first member of the trio “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is life. The other two members are about this world, not the world to come.

  43. @ CK MacLeod:

    Yes she does talk “bungled” Tsar. Not sure that she was saying that the particular situation should have been “bloodless” except for the Israelis.

  44. George Jochnowitz wrote:

    Iran has no quarrel with Israel.

    Rafsanjani, like Khomeini, and like a long line of pan-Arab, pan-Islamist, and also Third World and leftwing revolutionaries, disagree with that statement. They have a mirror image of the neo-con view: Islamists and neo-conservatives (whose thinking still dominates American strategic conceptions in regard to Israel) both depict Israel as a or the leading edge/forward platform of the democratic capitalist invasion of “their” world. American foreign policy treats it as a good thing. Iranian (and 3rd Worldist/anti-capitalist) policy treats it as a bad thing. If it’s bizarre, then so is the view that defending Israel is somehow important to U.S. interests in the region and the world.

    It’s true that the Khomeinists don’t have a Lockean view of the purpose of government or the purpose of life, though there are strains of Islamic moral philosophy that could be encouraged along those lines. Even Mahdism is about this world – creating an order of things that puts Allah in His proper place on Earth. You get to paradise by performing acts toward that end, not just for dying memorably.

  45. @ CK MacLeod:
    Not everything in the world is symmetrical. Iran’s leaders are not neo-cons with a minus sign in front of them. If they depict Israel as the leading edge of the democratic capitalist invasion of their world, it hasn’t been reported. Rather, their speeches take it for granted that those on their side already know that Israel has to be destroyed. Reasons? Who needs them? It’s obvious.

  46. @ George Jochnowitz:
    You might want to review your Khomeinism. “Great Satan” and “Little Satan” ring a bell? In recent years, especially with the rise of A-jad, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and the breakdown of the “peace process,” Israel has become more of a focus. And it’s anything but irrational or “unmotivated” given a certain perspective on Iran’s regional aspirations.

  47. @ CK MacLeod:

    Calling someone Satan means you know they’re bad and you know your audience knows they’re bad. No Iranian leader has ever said anything about the peace process, to my knowledge. Why on earth would Iran be interested in the peace process? You don’t make peace with a state that has no right to live.

  48. @ George Jochnowitz:
    Of course, the Iranian leaders don’t legitimize the peace process. I doubt they ever viewed it as any more real than the opponents on the other side did, and it wouldn’t serve their purposes to characterize any progress or apparent movement in the peace process as anything other than a betrayal. What they’ve done is exploit the situation exemplified by the end of the peace process – especially the post-Arafat disintegration of the Palestinian Authority – to the hilt. They’ve solidified their alliance with Syria, they have military control of Lebanon, they have significant positions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have a proxy in Hamas, they have working relationships with Russia, China, and Turkey, and they ruthlessly silenced their domestic opposition. Only the Great Satan and the Little Satan, along with a loose and fractious coalition of weak Arab League governments that happen to be vulnerable on Israel-Palestine, stand in their way for now.

    We could go and on discussing all of the ins and outs of the situation, but the one thing that is certain is that Iran’s conflict with Israel is very heavily motivated, from the Iranian perspective – not from our perspective of what would be “best” for Iranians. From that perspective, you’re right, it makes no sense for Iran to be at war with Israel. But that perspective is itself one of the things that the Iranian government most fiercely opposes, and that opposition also happens to be the thing that most clearly establishes continuity between the current Iranian government and Khomeini.

    At some point, Iran might turn its attention back on the Great Satan, but everything for now, not least the Great Satan’s distraction and uncertainty, militates towards keeping the focus on Israel and the attempt to separate Israel as much as possible from external support.

    The point remains that there’s nothing irrational at all about the Iranian desire to de-legitimize and even destroy Israel, even before you ask what accomplishment could more clearly establish Iran’s claim to leadership among Islamists.

    George Friedman’s view is that Iran’s position forces it to act too soon – and that once it moves significantly closer to achieving its aims, many countries currently cooperating or passive will move into opposition, at which point Iran will have too many competitors and enemies coming at it from too many directions. Or it could all get simplified if a major power (or even a little nuclear power) decided to end the story early. Iran has no choice but to keep on pressing and hoping for a break, especially when the tide seems in its favor.

  49. Well lets take one aspect at a time, Hezbollah was carved out of the Amal faction of the late Musa Sadr, with the efforts of the likes of
    Mohashtemi-pur and later Vahidi, Shawkat’s in particular suspected involvement in the assasination of Hariri, had a large part in that.
    The administration’s cold shoulder to Jumblatt’s Druzes while searching
    for ‘Moderate Hezbollah’ has not worked, neither have these ‘winks and
    nods toward Hamas,

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "“Why Israel and not other, far more egregious examples?”"
  1. […] We’ve tried answering “Why could this be?”  We’ve tried religious history:  Possession of the Holy Land matters to some people very intensely.  We’ve tried it in terms of common sense:  If you declare something supremely important to you, and for good reason, your enemies are more likely to try to take or destroy it – and everyone else will be more likely to recognize an interest in the outcome. […]

Commenter Ignore Button by CK's Plug-Ins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

Comment →

Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

Comment →

[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

Comment →
CK's WP Plugins


Extraordinary Comments

CK's WP Plugins