Commenter Archive

Comments by George Jochnowitz
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On “Bonfire of the Islamophobic Vanities – Updated after Breaking News

Thank you, Rex, for your kind words.
And thank you for reminding us about Pinochet. Nixon and Kissinger were following in the footsteps of Eisenhower, who overthrew Mossadegh--admittedly, not a good guy--and ended democracy in Iran, paving the way for Khomeini and Ahmadinejad.
Eisenhower, Nixon, and Kissinger feared democracy, because they thought that outside of the United States and Europe, people would inevitably vote for communism.
They didn't know that democracy is the only system of government that is inherently moral. They didn't know that with its built-in elections, democracy is the least unstable of all political structures.

On “Last Testament: Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt

What would Judt have thought about Castro's reversal on homosexuality?
http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/fidel-castro-apologizes-for-sending-cuban-gays-to-labor-camps-foreign-policy-says-he-deserves-plaudits-101977708.html
What would Judt have thought about Castro's statement that Israel has the right to live?
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/09/fidel-to-ahmadinejad-stop-slandering-the-jews/62566/
We'll never know.

On “Summer Snow

@ Bob:
I believe faith is inherently wrong. The world is an enormously complicated place, and we are constantly trying to learn more about it. We learn through exploration, experimentation, reconsideration, and hearing what others tell us. When we close our minds, however, and simply accept something because our doctrine tells us to do so, we stop learning.
As far as Augustine is concerned, we can believe in order to understand if we read or hear something that seems to be reasonable or researched. We can't believe in order to understand becuase we accept an idea as given by a higher power. If we do, believing is inhibiting our understanding.
God gave us brains so we could use them.
Accepting the word of God as true is spitting in God's face.

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@ bob:
Islam and Marxism, as I always say, are the only two doctrines nowadays that people accept with blind faith. Despite what the Bible tells us, Jews and Christians have no desire to execute witches and homosexuals. Faith no longer rules Judaism and Christianity, although some people think it does. If faith still ruled, Christianity would be as bad as it was during the Inquisition and the religious wars of the 16th century. Judaism would be as bad as in the world described in the Book of Leviticus. Our faith has fizzled out--thank God.

On “The Iraq Syndrome

"Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny," said President Obama, among many other things. Politicians need lots of loopholes and possible exits. But the speech seemed different from what Obama had been saying earlier. He was simultaneously saying that we had left Iraq, as promised, and that we were still involved in creating a new destiny.
What is a new destiny? It seems to mean escaping from the world where Muslims blow each other up regularly, as believers typically do, to a world where an analog of the First Amendment will take root, violating the exclusivity built into dogma. Obama seems to want neo-con goals with no loss of American--or Iraqi--lives. Can such a thing happen? Maybe Obama can engineer a miracle.
In the meantime, my poem still seems to be true.
http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/Faith.html

On “Unsettling Israel

@ CK MacLeod:
Peace has lasted with Egypt and Jordan because Israel has not rocked the boat by pointing to little but repeated violations of the agreements, in particular, the shows on government-controlled television showing how Jews kill children to use their blood for making matzos.
What will happen if Egypt and Jordan ever have real popular elections? In the meantime, Mubarak has written a lovely essay:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/opinion/01mubarak.html?_r=1&hp
Tony Blair, I believe, is talking to you when he talks about his second form of delegitimization:
http://www.tonyblairoffice.org/news/entry/tony-blair-welcomes-re-start-of-direct-peace-talks-during-herzliya-speech/

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@ CK MacLeod:
Israel does not have a Nasser leading it. It never did. Israel under Netanyahu left Hebron almost immediately after he first took power. He has announced he is willing to withdraw from areas agreed to in a peace agreement if ever it occurs.
It is terribly easy to look upon Israel and its enemies as symmetrical. They aren't and never have been. There is no Israeli analog to the Hamas Charter or to the utterly counter-productive, sanction-inducing policies Iran is following. There certainly is no analog to the bombs in Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere that blow up mosques or passers-by in market places.

On “Summer Snow

@ CK MacLeod:
Strange as it may seem, I agree with you. Freedom of religion violates the unique truth that religions feel about themselves.
At this moment in history, Islam is trying to teach the world what faith means. Nobody is learning.

On “Unsettling Israel

@ Fuster:
There is a Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. There is no Sadat Square in Cairo.

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Israel has been consistently moral. It accepted the 50-50 division mandated by the Security Council in 1947. It agreed to a cease-fire line a year later, expecting there would be negotiations--but it takes two to tango. It accepted the UN votes in 1967, to which the Arab states responded by voting for the Three Noes of Khartoum. It welcomed Sadat when he visited Israel, and ceded all of Sinai. Sadat was murdered for his accomplishment. It accepted the agreements Clinton tried to negotiate in 2000 and 2001. Israelis today overwhelmingly want to cede most of the West Bank. Maybe they'll succeed, but it won't help.
The Arabs hate Israel just as much as leftists do. Whenever Israel has made a concession, anti-Israel hatred has zoomed up.
In the meantime, Israeli Arabs have the highest life expectencies anywhere in the Arab world. They are followed by West Bank Palestinians. The Gulf states, despite their obscene wealth, are not as healthy. Sick Arabs cross into Israel and are treated in Israeli hospitals. Darfurians escape into Israel so that they can live. Gay Palestinians cross the line and are granted a lousy type of asylum, but at least they can live.
Nevertheless, Israel is the most hated country on earth. Everybody is willing to jump on the bandwagon.

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@ fuster:
One thing at a time. After Israel gives up the West Bank settlements, the world's attention will shift to all the other settlements that Israel made on Palestinian territory since the 1880s.
As for Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, etc., they have never for a second made a distinction between the West Bank and the area within the Green Line. Remember, nobody accepted the Green Line in the days when it was a de facto border.
Do you believe that there is an agreement that Israel could make that would end the greatest hatred on earth today?
Paranoids have enemies too.

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@ fuster:
You're right. Every Jewish settlement, whether dating from 1920, 29, 36, or 47, is illegitimate in the eyes of the entire world.

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Speaking of Jennifer Rubin, what about those of us who frequently post on Zombie?

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I see that Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is a prostitute who deserves to die.
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/iranian-newspaper-says-carla-bruni-sarkozy-deserves-to-die-for-objecting-to-stoning/?scp=1&sq=sarkozy%20wife%20iran%20prostitute&st=cse

I guess only a prostitute would object to the stoning of another prostitute.

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Speaking of faith and Israel, here's what The Economist says:
"Traditional armies drill unquestioning obedience into their grunts. Israel's encourages creativity. An IDF spokesman says it is 'highly acceptable' for soldiers to point out problems and pitch ideas to superiors."
http://www.economist.com/node/16892040?story_id=16892040&CFID=146296311&CFTOKEN=15679892

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Rex and Colin,
Yes. I am making a grave charge that I cannot back up, but which I believe. We really were able to bomb Auschwitz, as is shown by the fact that we did. Once we were doing that, we could have bombed the rail lines, at least those right next to the camps. How much of a difference would that have made? Maybe a little; maybe a lot. We could have done it and we didn't. Would it had mattered if we had also bombed the gas chamgers and crematoria? Probably.
We never relaxed our immigration policies. Think of the story of the St. Louis, whose refugees couldn't land here and had to go back to Europe. We never used the death camps as part of our anti-Nazi propaganda.
Among the worst offenders was the New York Times, which was terrified that people would think it was Jewish. Here is my review of Laurel Leff's book:
http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/Buried.html

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@ Rex Caruthers:
Yes, any surrender agreement would have mentioned whatever we wanted it to mention. But we were apparently afraid that millions of Jews would suddenly descend upon the US and change our way of life.
FDR never talked about the death camps in his speeches. They were among the charges during the Nuremberg trials but they didn't become a big issue in the world's consciousness until the Eichmann trial.

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@ Rex Caruthers:
Had Germany been allowed to sign a peace pact and end the war without being occupied by the Allies, the killing in the concentration camps would most certainly have continued. Killing Jews was Hitler's #1 priority, higher than winning the war.
The Allies bombed the chemical factories at Auschwitz during the war. They did not bomb the gas chambers and crematoria. They did not bomb the rail lines leading to Auschwitz--which were used not only for transporting Jews but for supplying soldiers.
Primo Levi, in the chapter entitled "Cerium" of his THE PERIODIC TABLE, writes about how the prisoners at Auschwitz were delighted when the Allied bombers came. Why didn't the Allies bomb more than they did? One can't know, but the excuse they probably gave themselves was that bombing chemical plants had strategic value and bombing gas chambers didn't. True enough. But it is also possible that the Allies were afraid that too many Jews might survive the war and would want to emigrate to America and Britain.
Be that as it may, any surrender agreement would not have mentioned the extermination camps.

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Back to Gadi Taub. He's an Israeli. He is a very familiar Israeli. Israel is a country where everybody is critical of the country's policies, although their criticism may come from many different directions.
Where is his analog in the Arab world? I haven't read any op-eds by Arabs who are willing to settle for less.
And could one have imagined an American analog during World War II? Once the war started, the Henry Fords and Prescott Bushes all shut up, and the country was unanimously for the unconditional surrender of its enemies..

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All faith is destructive, and that includes faith in Judaism. But Jews, even strictly observant Jews, are heirs to the Talmudic tradition of questioning, and are descendants, at least spiritually, of Jacob--renamed Israel because he wrestled with God.
If one visits Israel, it feels like visiting a country, not like going to a war zone. The security check at the airport is quick and efficient. Women in headscarves stroll past the sidewalk cafes in Jerusalem, where the hotel managers are likely enough to be Arabs, just as in A.B. Yehoshua's novel THE LIBERATED BRIDE.
The increasing influence of religious Jewish extremists is certainly due to the endless rejectionism of the Arab world, which prefers to destroy Israel rather than to achieve an independent Palestine. Most Israelis agree that Palestinian independence would be good for Israel. Even hawks like Ariel Sharon have done things like bestow independence on Gaza and announce they would leave the West Bank. Had there not been rockets fired from newly liberated Gaza, the West Bank would have been given to the Palestinians and its Jewish residents removed by force, just as happened in Gaza.
Unfortunately, the continuing rejection of Palestinian independence, accompanied by suicide bombing and international isolation, has given great strength to those Israeli Jews who have blind faith.
On a somewhat different subject--we all have been reading about the floods in Pakistan. Israel has an unbroken history of quick and effective response to natural disasters. Has Pakistan refused aid from Israel? Or has Pakistan agreed to accept the aid as long as it is kept a secret?

On “Shorter Everyone

The op-ed is entierely reasonable. On the other hand, it is the Palestinians--and the Arab world--that have prevented the establishment of an independent Palestine. Had Arafat accepted the offers of 2000 and 2001, the settler issue would now be moot. If the Arab states meeting in Sudan in 1967 had not issued the Three Noes of Khartoum, Palestine would already have existed for 43 years and would have been a prosperous state.
Most timely and relevant of all is the fact that Israel gave Gaza the gift of independence in 2005. Sharon (is he still alive?) said that if it worked out, Israel would unilaterally withdraw from most of the West Bank. "Occupation!" screamed the world. Gaza elected Hamas, which started launching rockets. "They're hardly effective," said the world. "Why should Israel mind a few scattered deaths every now and then?"
And so Israel's religious nuts grew more powerful. "We always knew Israel was bad," said the world.

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The world is an unpredictable place. Truman won a surprise victory in 1948 because nobody expected him to carry states like Iowa, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, etc.
In 1936, two states voted Republican: Maine and Vermont. Maine today is iffy, but Vermont is Democratic.
As I have said before, Laura Bush and Vice President Cheney support gay marriage.
African Americans typically vote Democratic, but are likely to be socially conservative. They are probably the most religious group in the United States.

On “First and last refuge of moral cowards

The world is not neat. Former Vice President Cheney and former First Lady Laura Bush support gay marriage. President Obama has said nothing since the latest court ruling. He also hasn't ended DADT, which he could do unilaterally.

On “Flamesem & Japesem (Actually Very Shaggy)

@ CK MacLeod;
Your first paragraph is a 13-line one-sentence snarl. Perhaps an editor would help.

On “A voice in the rightwing wilderness

@ CK MacLeod:

Accusing the CIA and/or AIPAC of being responsible for the stabbings.

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