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On the Greens, Israel, and the fallacy of composition

This is likely to upset some people. I apologise in advance. It is also about Australian politics.

In Australia recently, the Greens have been making up a lot of ground, becoming in some electorates the second most popular party after the conservative Liberal Party. Consequently the two “major” (one now decidely less major) parties in Australian politics, the Liberals and the Labor Party recently devastated in a major electoral defeat in New South Wales, have been running a scare campaign against the Greens, accusing them of being a “grab bag of issues” and so on. One commentator from Labor referred to them as “lunatic” even as his party was being roundly rejected by the electorate.

Why is this? It is pretty obvious that the pre-existing major parties are worried about losing their dominance. They had a nice two-party system going there (the rural interest National Party is allied as a bloc with the Liberals) and they knew where the boundaries were. It also meant that a number of issues were not on the table despite massive popular support (for example, gay marriage). The Greens interrupted that cosy relationship. There is no presumption that political options must be restricted to the check boxes on the takeout menu that we got comfortable with after the second world war. Neither side has a divine right to be the sole parties.

So recently, the race card was played. In the NSW election, a lower house Green candidate has been elected, probably (preferential voting means results can take ages when close), one James Parker. The Murdoch owned and controlled Australian newspaper took no time in accusing him of anti-semitism by mentioning “claims” that he had accused the Jews of… something.

Greens policy is to divest of all Israel-produced goods until Israel grants full autonomy and human rights to Palestinians. According to New Matilda online magazine,

Jamie Parker revealed to New Matilda the extent of the hatred directed at him during the campaign due to the Greens BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel] policy. He had countless letters sent to him calling him a Nazi and Jew hater. His car was vandalised and campaign signs spray-painted with swastikas. He received death threats and some abusers said they knew where he lived. “One letter said I wanted to turn Balmain power station into a gas chamber and the light rail would take people there”, Parker tells me. “Lefty Jews told me that you can’t be surprised if extreme people do extreme things but they wouldn’t come out in public and condemn it.” He was appalled.

If this is true, it is appalling. But Parker denies having said these things to the writer, according to the Australian, and anyway, what is actually wrong with them? It is often the case that when people attack the human rights record of Israel, which is increasingly appalling in its own right, they are accused of antisemitism, and hatred for the Jews. No middle ground seems possible. Liking Jewish culture and people in general excludes reasoned criticism of the national policies and actions of Israel. But Jews and Israel are two different objects, and what is said of the one need not be said of the other, however much they overlap. Likewise, objection to the abuses of the state of Israel does not mean one is automatically on the “side” of “Arabs” including all terrorism committed in their, or in Islam’s, name.

Israel is a singular historical object that happens to be composed mostly of Jews, either cultural or religious. What Israel does no more extends to all Jews of either variety than what a small group of Muslims do in the name of their religion extends to all Muslims, nor should anyone making criticisms of either smaller object be thought to commit the fallacy of composition. Some do commit this, sure. But that doesn’t mean that discourse stops because some people make errors in reasoning. I can like and respect many aspects of Judaism and Islam without committing myself to unqualified support for all instantiations of it, and likewise I can criticise some of it and not attack the whole. So it is with the Greens.

Chaim Potok, one of my favourite authors, had one of his characters say in his book In the Beginning, “I will tell you about the goyim. They either hate us too much or love us too much.” This is true. A measured middle ground is needed for Jews as for all groups of human society. I am not a Greens supporter for various reasons (they are inconsistent in their commitment to individual liberty), but this policy is reasonable, even if you think it might be purely symbolic. One can object to what Israel does and still not be anti-semitic, just as one can hate what Hamas does and not be anti-Arab.


  1. B B

    I am extremely annoyed at my own Labor federal member, Anthony Albanese for Grayndler– the very electorate where the boycott of Israel exists in the local government, for he is passing along the same stupidities you are criticising here.

    If you aren’t a Greens supporter, then for which party do you tend to vote?

    • The party I wish was called the Governance for Grownups party but is called the Australian Sex Party (which sounds like something bored suburbanites go to).

  2. Chaim Potok is not one of my favourite authors, but My Name is Asher Lev is my favourite Potok novel.

  3. I think I can explain a good part of this attitude (that criticizing Israel makes you anti-Jewish) comes from. These people basically believe that at any moment, Arab armies/mobs may over-run Israel and execute every Jew there. They believe that these hordes are only held back by Israel’s overwhelming military advantage, which depends on Israel’s economic strength and alliances with some Western countries. They believe that all of this is so obvious that anyone who would jeopardize any of Israel’s advantages is consciously seeking the destruction of Israel and slaughter of its non-Muslim residents.

    Basically, they think that the oppression of Palestinians is necessary for the survival of each and every Israeli. At the least, “whatever the Israeli government decides to do” is necessary for the survival of Israelis.

  4. I don’t think of my criticism of the current policy of the Israeli government as having much to do with the Jews one way or the other. For that matter, my opposition to Apartheid in South Africa didn’t mean that I had bad feelings about the Dutch. That said, I’ve recently noticed that traditional antisemitism has reemerged, at least on various website comment threads. I wish I could say such stupidities are merely quaint as they were when I encountered them on rare occasions as a kid–growing up in Los Angeles in the 50s and 60s, Jewish was for the most part just one of the many flavors of white–but of course the real article is anything is exceedingly ugly even when it isn’t particularly dangerous.

    As Kurt Vonnegut used to say, so it goes.

    • Matt S Matt S

      “Jewish was for the most part just one of the many flavors of white”

      That was actually a fairly new thing. In 1900 Jews were seen in Europe and the U.S. as dark and Oriental. The notion of Jews as Whites and Western grew after WWI and was really solidified after WWII. It happened just in time for it to be a political negative to be seen as White and Western. In 1900 (and before) the general European view, not simply by straight up anti-Semites, was that Jews were foreigner, Levantines. They did not belong in any of the countries they lived in. Today, when some Jews listened (and when many did not and died) and so moved back they are attacked for being White colonialists depriving indigenous brown people of their rights.

      I would say it is ironic, but I am not able to use the term correctly in public.

      • “a political negative to be seen as White and Western…”

        When I look around, it still seems like white westerners run the show. It’s just now politically incorrect to assert that everyone else should grovel before us. Of course, non-Westerners can still make assertions about their own supremacy, but such assertions are met with one of two responses:

        1) Comfortable disregard, combined with either confusion of disgust
        2) Being bombed back into the stone ages.

        All in all, white westeners still get the benefit of the doubt in situations where others would get their asses beaten.

  5. Yep. One can be critical of the policies of Israel and not be anti-semitic. Should go without saying, but these days it needs to be said.

    It’s a ringing indictment on the appalling quality of discourse surrounding the issue that criticism of one is often conflated with vilification of the other. Sad.

    Israel and its policies are one of the greatest barriers to stability and peace in the Middle East and, by extension, the rest of the world. But the inability to safely discus the issue in an adult manner only perpetuates the problem.

    That said, I think a local council engaging in foreign policy is naive and unlikely to benefit the cause they hope to promote. Calling the nazis for doing so is even more unfortunate.

    • Matt S Matt S

      “By extension”? So somehow Hamas supports the Sudanese government, but Israel is the problem in those genocides. Somehow Israel is why Russia needed to level Grozny. Somehow Israel is why Pakistan and Israel are fighting over Kashmir. As for the Middle East I guess that Israel is why Iran and Iraq killed millions, why Iraq invaded Kuwait. I guess Israel is why Syria invaded Lebanon and why they killed tens of thousands in Hama. I guess Israel is why Yemen fought their bloody civil war, why Saudi is a theocratic monarchy.

      I’ll tell you what is a barrier to peace: having a simplistic view that Israel is wrong and nothing else matters. What is wrong is a campaign to ignore Hamas war crimes and claim genocide in Gaza.

  6. Matt S Matt S

    Political contests have sides. Attacking one side does actually provide support for the other sides. So the Greens do not simply attack a world leader in green technology (particularly low water agriculture), by not promoting some other option they are actually helping Hamas. That is, Hamas (and Hezbollah) will actually benefit from the divestiture efforts. This reduces pressure on Hamas to give up war crimes, it reduces pressure on them to negotiate or compromise, etc.

    As for the anti-Semitism/anti-Israel issue there are some complexities here. First off, there is the very real question of why the world pay so much attention to Israel and ignores so much else. Syria killed more people in Hama than Israel has killed in the last 20 years, Syria occupied Lebanon before Israel and stayed longer, yet Syria is pretty much ignored. Hamas publicly supports the genocidal Sudanese government and is given a free pass. Then there is what the Russians did to Chechnya, yet Gaza gets 100 times the attention. So there is something else going on rather than simply a political disagreement.

    Second, there is plenty of straight up old-time anti-Semitism involved. Helen Thomas, to use the recent public example, uses Jews and Zionists as interchangeable terms. And asserts old time anti-Semitics things to “Zionists”, things like that “Zionists” own Wall Street and Hollywood.

    • “First off, there is the very real question of why the world pay so much attention to Israel and ignores so much else.”

      You don’t need any theory of bigotry to explain this apparent double standard regarding Israel. Israel (and its supporters) claim that it is an intellectually, economically, and politically advanced country. Israel is a favorite ally of the United States, with strong ties to the rest of the “developed world”.

      In contrast, Syria is widely regarded as a shithole, and is subject to sanctions by the USA. China and Russia are run by despotic, nationalist regimes that cause quite a bit of discomfort in the rest of the world — yet they are global powers in their own right so they have to be engaged.

      To sum it up, Israel is judged by different standards because it has a different relationship to the rest of the world. If it wants to be judged by the same standards as Syria, China, and Russia, then it should expect to be treated the same way that they are.

    • FWIW, the “Free Tibet” movement is immensely more popular in the USA than the “Free Palestine” movement. The Dali Lama is well known and adored, whereas the guys who run Hamas, Hezbollah and such are nobodies.

  7. Susan Silberstein Susan Silberstein

    Matt S makes the argument I was trying to parse. Whatever your views, do you notice that many of the anti-Israel critics fail to equally demonize, for example China/Tibet? Why is Israel expected to be better?

    • “many of the anti-Israel critics fail to equally demonize, for example China/Tibet? Why is Israel expected to be better?”

      So you want us to treat Israel the same way we treat China? In America, only an anti-Semite would suggest such a thing!

      • Mitchell Coffey Mitchell Coffey

        No, I think the point is that boycotts of Israeli would come off, at a minimum, as more adult if their advocates treated China, period.

  8. As I myself pointed out above, criticism of Israel certainly brings out the genuine antisemites. But that’s not a decisive or even very good argument against complaining about Israeli policies, it’s just a fact one has to deal with. Supporting Israel uncritically, after all, also puts you in the some pretty uncomfortable company, including truly crazy American Christians with violent apocalyptic fantasies.

    Matt S. and Susan Silberstein wonder why Israel gets more Western criticism than other nations. I’m sure that for some fraction of critics, disliking Jews does have something to do with it; but for the rest of us, the explanation is not very mysterious. Tibet, Chechnya, and Lebanon are certainly deplorable cases, but they just aren’t as strategically significant as Israel, which, for good and ill, has been the focus of political strife in the Middle East for seventy years now over an era during which the Middle East has become a critical region. It also matters that Israel is a country the size and population of El Salvador with a strategically significant nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver the weapons to half the world, a fact that would make one worry about its fraught situation no matter its ethnic composition. If Jamaica had that many bombs I’d be worried about the Rastifarians.

    There is also the ironic fact that Israel attracts criticism in the West from many people not despite but because of their sympathy for Israel. I expect or at least hope for more from my own country than I do from other nations, in part because I feel some responsibility for what we do. To a lesser degree, I also expect more from Israel precisely because I do think of its values and institutions as similar to my own. It isn’t the alien other. I also believe that democracies that act well are especially valuable because of the demonstration effect of their good behavior and that the converse is also true.

    I think there is an assumption that is shared both by Israel’s more zealous defenders and its deadly enemies: the belief that recognizing what was always problematic about Zionism would imply that Israel has no right to exist. That’s a little like suggesting that Americans can never admit that the Mexican War was a war of aggression unless they plan on giving Arizona back. There are damned few countries on Earth that could survive this kind of thinking. The motive of most criticism of Israel’s current behavior is not to destroy the Israel but to keep it from becoming the Union of South Africa. The great obstacle to peace isn’t what happened in 1948 or even 1967. Diplomacy goes nowhere because the Israelis won’t stop encroaching on the land of the people around them, because they have apparently determined never to negotiate except in bad faith, and because they play their allies for fools.

    • Mitchell Coffey Mitchell Coffey

      Russia and China have the bomb; I thought you knew.

      The problem with what you write is that, no, Israel is not strategically significant by location; it is strategically significant that its enemies have made it so. Israel rests on an oil-less, God-forsaken piece of real estate (irony intended). It is surrounded by seedy tyrannies, plus one by-local-comparison half decent Hashimite Kingdom. And yet we’ve accustom ourselves to assuming everything that happens in the region has all to do with Israel. We Jews are a cleaver people, but not that cleaver.

      One of the up notes about the recent Arab revolts is how they show just how irrelevant Israel really is. For much of the Egypt business there was much bitching, by the same sort of people wishing to boycott largely nonexistent Israeli imports, how Israelis tended to prefer in Cairo the devil they knew. Underlying much of such talk seemed to be an assumption that what Israelis thought fucking mattered; Netanyahu sitting in his thick chair behind his desk, stroking his white cat with one hand, pulling strings with the other. Israeli opinion in fact has negative value in the region. As reality progresses, we now seldom hear of Israel in respect to the regional revolts.

      It turns out Arabs really do have free will, as Israelis have long known, and are not helpless automatons, as per the essentially racist view of those who footnote things like Syria’s murder of 30,000 of her own people as just another case of brown people behaving badly. True, Israel should be judged by the excellent human rights standards of – I don’t know, Belgium. But so should Syria, as the Syrians people seem to understand.

      There are several reasons, not involving antisemitism, for the unequal judgment widely afforded Israel. These do not much involve its geographical locale. For moral consistency, Greens should be targeting non-existent Yemeni goods, too.

  9. AK AK

    The funny thing about this discussion (IMO) is “antisemitism”. In fact, the Palestinians are as Semitic as the Jews were before they started being sent into exile/dispersion. European “antisemitism” of the 18/19th century was directed against people whose ancestry was slightly Semitic and mostly European, by Middle Eastern standards they were European.

    As for Israel’s policies, it’s worth mentioning that the country has a large variety of different religious/political groups, even to the point that some of them are willing to assassinate other Israelis. Some of these groups see Biblical support for the idea that their land ought to extend from the Nile to the Euphrates. Others would include all the land traditionally held by Solomon, or the mini-empire created by the Hasmoneans, etc. Others are willing to go with the ’48 boundaries. Most are somewhere in-between.

    Israel’s national policy is the result of a long-standing political tussle among all these people.

    • Mitchell Coffey Mitchell Coffey

      Old argument and a bad one. Check “antisemitism” in an entomological dictionary. It has referred to Jews from the beginning.

  10. Interesting stuff… I am too far away to be too offended:).

    • Susan Silberstein Susan Silberstein

      You are mistaken about the term anti-Semitic. When the expression was first used in the 19th century, semitic was used as a synonym for Jews. It has nothing to do with the origins of the various humans in the Middle East.

      • John Harshman John Harshman

        Yes and no. “Semitic” refers to descendants of Shem, and thus would include anyone claiming to be descended from Abraham, among others. And thus would include the Arabs. But of course Shem and Abraham are both legendary figures with no historical basis. “Semitic” is used in a technical sense to refer to a family of languages that includes both Hebrew and Arabic (as well as Phoenician, Akkadian, Aramaic, and many other dead languages). To the extent that languages follow genealogy, which is a middling extent, we would expect Arabs and Jews to be more closely related to each other than to most other groups. So while “anti-semitic” was coined to refer to Jews only, it’s somewhat ironic that some of the main anti-semites today are, by the only realistic definition of the term “semite”, themselves members of that group.

        • Susan Silberstein Susan Silberstein

          You may wish it to be true, but you are redefining the term and with your usage it becomes meaningless. Shall we replace the “traditional” use with anti-Jewish or do you have something better?

        • The term “antisemitic” does now and always has meant anti-Jewish. “Semite” and “semitic” on the other hand have a range of meanings, including the prejudicial one and also the cultural anthropological one. John is referring to the latter, but the mere addition of the oppositional prefix doesn’t mean the etymology determines the meaning. Which is true of most words.

          Israel and Judea were west semitic tribal groups initially, but that doesn’t mean the term anti-semitic refers to all west semitic groups.

        • You are quite correct in saying that anti-semitic means anti-Jewish but it was the people who used the term so who redefined it and not the other way round.

        • Sory, Thony, but Wikipedia disagrees:

          While the term’s etymology might suggest that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic peoples, the term was coined in the late 19th century in Germany as a more scientific-sounding term for Judenhass (“Jew-hatred”),[2] and that has been its normal use since then.[3]

          and that matches my reading.

        • Sorry John I didn’t express myself very clearly and you have misunderstood me. Anti-semitic was coined to mean anti-Jewish as both Susan and you say but the word semitic was originally wider in meaning. Those that coined the concept anti-Semtic redefined the meaning of semitic.

        • Yes, the Wikipedia article I linked to discusses this – “Semitic” was used as a code word for “lesser race than the Aryans” in late 19thC racialism.

  11. The Green Party has been losing a lot of ground in Canada. The leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May, has lost her bid to be included in the federal election leaders’ debates.

    • I would draw no conclusions based on the media’s choices. They don’t like the Greens any more than the established parties, for much the same reason: they disturb the established categories and issues, and make the media’s job much harder.

      However the Green movement internationally has some fossilised opinions that are just prejudice and silly, and one of them is, in my view, a kind of corporatism like the major parties, only instead of big industry and business, or big unions, they prefer big ecology over human rights. A part of the Greens is quite nasty in that respect, although there are many Millian liberals in their ranks (as there used to be in the labor and conservative movements as well).

      • Mitchell Coffey Mitchell Coffey

        Imagine living in a country where all major political parties are inadequate!

  12. jocelyn stoller jocelyn stoller

    As an aside, the Greens here in the States inadvertently helped to set history on a devastating course: and we have barely seen the full ramifications: 10 wasted years critical to addressing urgent environmental crises and rabid deregulation of financial institutions leading to economic collapse and so much more.

    In 2000, 70,000 votes in Florida went to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader that at the last minute should have gone to Gore. The recount [overturned by SCOTUS] came down to a few hundred votes and Bush slipped into power [even though Gore won the popular vote by a margin of hundreds of thousands.]

    Nader [along with people like Chomsky, etc.] did not fully grasp the dangers of Bush-Cheney and their backers: deluded Straussian neocons, free market fundamentalists, rightwing theocrats and sundry other American exceptionalists and empire-builders. Nader insisted that there was no difference between Gore and Bush—In his eyes, they were both equal panderers to Corporate interests.

    As you are probably aware scholars have directly traced much of the rise in extremism, recruitment of radicals and growing polarization in trouble spots to the policies of the U.S. and its allies: unnecessary invasion and war resulting in civilian devastation, death and displacement, and overturning of international treaties and precious human rights protections as well as civil liberties. This does not excuse the violence and brutality committed by any group, but there are interconnected and cross-generational cycles of revenge and hate.
    [I will supply references to good overviews soon]

    If quantum branching exists I would have preferred to be in a parallel world where Ralph bowed out.

    • Chris' Wills Chris' Wills

      Are you saying that you would prefer that people don’t stand for election on and try to explain their position and garner popular support?
      Perhaps they should have done a backroom deal far away from the prying eyes of the voters?

      On the jew hatred, it is very common in Europe.
      Graves descecrated, synagogues burnt, people attacked, and seems to be growing.
      Not helped by academics, across europe, trying to impose boycotts and preventing free speach ny banning jewish and/or anti-islam speakers.

      You may not like it, but being anti-jewish is a left wing trait in many parts of the world.

      As for Nader, he is a fool but an honest one

    • Of all the factors that made the Bush disasters possible, the Ralph Nader’s candidacy was pretty much insignificant. First, the blame goes to Bush and everyone who supported him. Then the blame goes to the mainstream opposition (e.g. Gore) who failed to make the case for his own presidency. Not even the Democrats in Congress offered any opposition to Bush’s agenda.

      It’s pathetic to try to blame Gore’s failure on Nader, just because Nader got ~1% of the vote in Florida, and many of his voters probably would have stayed home anyway. You might as well blame the weather for the outcome.

      Rather than searching for scapegoats in the Greens, maybe we should ask why we have allowed so much power to be concentrated in the Presidency, given that people like Bush will hold that office on a regular basis. Bush was not an exception — people like him are the core of the system.

    • Mitchell Coffey Mitchell Coffey

      This would not happen in Australia, which has a, rather baroque, proportional voting system.

  13. Jeb Jeb

    I don’t think it is fair to say that being anti-jewish is a left wing trait in many parts of the world. I don’t see it limited to one particular group.

    I think it is certainly the case that many on the left who are anti-semitic will use the serious and concerning political issues regarding Israeli to attempt to give their anti-semitic perspective a veneer of respectability.

    Its also not helped by turning a blind eye to the problems and seeing an anti-semitic perspective as the root cause of any criticisim.

    People respond badly to difficult poltical situations. I don’t think this form of behaviour is confined to one political or cultural group. It seems to be a very human trait.

    We do not have to be trapped by our history though. Many of my relatives took up arms against the British state in the 1930’s and engaged in acts that turn my stomach. No point in trying to put a gloss on what they did, as Irish freedom fighters. They were placed in a horrific political situation and behaved as ordinary people do in these circumstances.

    That does not absolve them from all guilt and allow all blame to be placed on an outside group. But things have moved on and this is now a part of the past and not the present.

    We have to confront our own stupidity and prejudices in these situations and move on rather than highlighting the stupidity and prejudice of others as the main cause of all evil.

    • Jeb Jeb

      I would use the term complex rather than sophisticated and focus more on ethnicity rather than simply nationalisim. I think things are more ‘complex’ than you suggest.

      But as my training is in ethnology I would say that.

    • Chris' Wills Chris' Wills


      It may not be fair but in the UK and Northern Europe most of the anti-jew and anti-israel stridency and calls for boycotts come from the left and not the right.

      This may be because they’re oh so pro-palestinian, but when left leaning academics are pro-active in hosting anti-israeli forums and try to block dissenting voices and put pressure on their universities to follow suit, it is difficult to draw another conclusion.

      As for the greens in Europe, they just seem to want to take us back to no energy for proles and only the righteous allowed to travel

      • Chris being a citizen of the UK and living in Northern Europe I think your generalised statement is unsubstantiated crap of the worst order and if you are going to make such claims then you should at least back it up with some solid facts, which I personally don’t believe you can.

        P.S. I live in Germany where right wing anti-semitism is wide spread and virulant and that according to official police and government statistics.

  14. Returning to the point of logic, I think that the “fallacy of composition” described here is actually the ideology of nationalism, which is a bit more sophisticated. To a Jewish nationalist (i.e. Zionist), Israel is not simply a state with a Jewish majority — it is THE Jewish state. To a nationalist, the individual and the nation (organized as a state) are organically tied, so an attack on one is an attack on the other. Israel itself goes to great lengths to emphasize the “Jew=Israeli” identity: not only does its constitution declare that Israel is (and always will be) a Jewish state, but they also give preferential treatment to Jews who want to immigrate.

    If these accusations of anti-semitism are indeed coming from nationalists, then the only fallacy I can think of is their failure to recognize that not everyone is a nationalist, and that others distinguish between Jews and Israel. However, they simply may not care that others make that distinction.

  15. jocelyn stoller jocelyn stoller

    Language is a funny thing:

    I said the Greens “inadvertently” helped. There were about a thousand other factors in this tragicomedy with wide implications [which was my real point] (see below)

    Up UNTIL the election the Greens had a great chance to make their case known. [I was actually registered as a Green at that time for that reason.] People who knew how close the race was and how significantly dangerous Bush-Cheney really were begged Nader to bow out right before the election and tell his constituents to vote for Gore for the good of everyone. Gore’s team said the Green agenda would be incorporated into the Gore platform. Nader refused for his ideological reasons and he kept insisting, “there was no difference” between the parties. The Green Party kicked Nader out later because he was intractable and many of them saw they had made a terrible mistake.

    This rigidity has become more entrenched as time goes on in Nader’s continuing run for president as an Independent and his inability to truly admit he might have been wrong.

    Nader is a hero. His legacy for consumer, citizen and worker rights should never be forgotten. However, signs of growing rigidity can be seen in many previously flexible minds, and could be due to many reasons.

    Regarding who else “helped” this election result come about:
    • So did Sandra day O’Conner by being the fifth vote on the Court [she was quoted as saying that she was afraid for the nation if the democrats remained in power]
    • So was the concerted Rovian anti-Gore media campaign filled with lies spread throughout the mainstream press “Gore claims to have invented the Internet” . . .
    • So did the CHAAD butterfly ballots and the defective voting machines manufactured by a GOP supporter
    • So did the entire GOP noise machine
    • And I will stop now because I could go on for days.

  16. jocelyn stoller jocelyn stoller

    I agree that all sides were at fault for crimes of Bush-Cheney and the “Imperial Presidency”.

    After the election, the Democrats in Congress were far too yielding and had no clear defense against the onslaught of talking points from a very tightly produced GOP narrative.

    After 9/11 most Democratic legislators [Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders were two heroic exceptions] were easily influenced to support draconian measures such as the Patriot Act and the call to war.

    • Just based on that essay by Dershowitz, I would not invite him to speak at my university because he misrepresents the facts in order to demonize people. Specifically, he interprets the statement that “Since 1948 the state of Israel has occupied Palestinian land…” as a suggestion that every inch of Israel should be ceded to the Palesinian Arabs. However, as we all know (right?), borders had previously been drawn up for Israel based on the distribution of Zionist/Jewish and Arab populations prior to the major conflicts between these groups. It is undeniably TRUE that since 1948, Israel has occupied land/cities that had previously contained majority Arab populations and been allocated to a Arab state by the UN.

      While I think it is excessive for the boycotters to use the partition plan as the basis for criticizing Israel, their statement does not necessarily suggest that Israel as a whole is “occupied territory”. The fact that Dershowitz publishes such inflammatory and unfounded accusations disqualifies him from being treated as a serious academic; instead, he’s a demagogue.

      Regarding another point in the Dershowitz, Wikipedia provides some context for the prohibition of Kosher slaughter in Norway ( While this summary supports Dershowitz’s assertion that anti-semitism is in play, it does reveal that this ban has been in place since the 1920’s. It is a bit misleading to call pre-WWII European states “modern”, particularly with regards to anti-semitism, and particularly those that had been occupied during/after the war.

  17. Susan Silberstein Susan Silberstein

    You miss the point. While you may not agree with Dershowitz, and I don’t know that I agree with him (or at least not everything) you think that a university should only allow one viewpoint to be aired? What will you call Stephen Walt, invited to lecture in Norway probably based on his book, “The Israel Lobby” who took money from the Libyan Government to speak their Economic Development Board last year, then wrote about how it was really a nice place with a not-so-bad regime that maybe didn’t really blow up that plane over Scotland. He’s like, so totally non-partisan about the whole Middle East thing.

  18. Inbar Inbar

    I’m an Israeli and a Jew (ethnically.. I’m an atheist but here again Judaism is not only a religion) and I think Potok (whom I never heard about) articulates one of the main problems of Israel and the Jews, thinking they’re so special, being always the center of attention and strong emotions (for example, the main talk in israel around the egypt revolution was about how it’s going to effect israel and how the egyptians hate israel, while the revolution had nothing to do with us, we should only learn from them). This attitude finally does make us the center of attention and attracts fire.
    The story you told about the Green candidate is shameful but unfortunately it is the way we deal with criticism. Israel actually endangers jews around the world by making that connection between Judaism and Israel, and by doing so also really awakens a new wave of real anti semitism. I wish we could respond to criticism rationally but the anti semitism calls are one of Israel’s strategies, towards the world and also inwards, making the people believe in what Ricketson described in his first comment.
    It is true to say that it is convenient to turn all the lights to israel’s faults, maybe it does have something to do with anti semitism sometimes, or with the fact that we do try our best to be part of the western world so we get expectation that fit a western country, not china. but eventually china’s faults doesn’t have anything to do with ours so the “what about them” argument is childish. china’s occupation must end and israel’s occupation of palestinians must end.

    • Inbar, that is a fine and measured response. I particularly agree on the China matter. That one country is being despotic or abusing human rights, as China is, is independent of whether another is. In fact, the Greens also criticise China, as do most people concerned with human rights.

  19. Jeb Jeb

    “Why do you come to me with your special Jewish sorrows? I feel just as sorry for the wretched Indian victims in Putamayo, the Negroes in Africa. . . . I cannot find a special corner in my heart for the ghetto. I feel at home in the entire world wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears.”

    Rosa Luxemburgh

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