"The agreement, Mr. Peres said, was arrived at in four secret meetings in Jordan. It called for mutual recognition of “a Palestinian state” and “a Jewish state,” a goal Mr. Netanyahu made a priority in his recently terminated peace talks with the Palestinians. It also included an understanding on how to resolve the vexing refugee issue. The matter was settled, Mr. Peres said, when Mr. Abbas “agreed to adopt the Arab League’s proposal that this issue would be resolved in a just and mutually agreed upon fashion.” This approach, which stems from the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, ruled out an unlimited return of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. Instead, the parties would arrive at mutually agreed numbers, something very much to Israel’s liking. Only one final meeting was left, Mr. Peres said, when the Prime Minister halted everything. “Netanyahu stopped it,” said Mr. Peres, who indicated he was perplexed by the decision, since the agreement had been reached with the Prime Minister’s knowledge. “I didn’t conduct private negotiations,” Mr. Peres said. “The Prime Minister was an accomplice to the negotiations at every step of the way.”" Globe and Mail
IMO the truth is that Natanyahu never has had any intention of signing a two state peace agreement. He let Peres negotiate because in his hate filled mind he was sure that an agreeement could not be reached. pl
I think you are correct in your analysis of Bibi. Wonder if Obama has figured this out yet?
The last two pieces give hope that the American people might be losing their blinders re the Israeli government.
I recall that back in the days of Assad pere he and the Izzies had all but reached a deal on the Golan heights, and the Izzies then bugged out.
Stories like this underline to me that the main obstacle to any settlement in the Middle East, as far as the Holy Land is conerned, was and remains Israeli intransigence.
That they manage to gloss that over time and time again doesn’t change that and only gives testimonay to the efforts they expend on PR. So Bibi vetoed this? Apparently the palstinians have no partner for peace. You won’t hear that on TV.
And then there is this so-called US ‘mediation’ of the dispute, etter described as US collusion and united US-Israeli armtwisting: With folks like “Israel’s lawyer” at the table, the Palestinians have in such talks always faced two opposing parties. It is in that light relatively easy to understand why Palestinians would come to see such talks as an exercise in futility.
To Israeli partisans George Mitchell’s evenhandedness – a laudable quality, and a precondition for being an honest broker – was seen as a threat to the Israeli maximalist sense of entitlement. So they rather want pro-Israeli partisans (dishonest brokers?) like Dennis Ross.
There seems to be increasing recognition that the fact that the two-state solution has now finally been taken off the life-support system makes the intellectual tensions implicit in the ‘liberal Zionist’ position unmanageable. In a recent article in ‘Haaretz’, Dov Waxman suggests that ‘liberal Zionists’ will now face to confront the question of whether should support the ‘one-state solution’. He continues:
‘To be sure, a one-state solution may be just as impossible as a two-state solution, if not more so – civil war and even ethnic cleansing are more likely outcomes than peaceful coexistence. Perhaps this long, interminable conflict cannot be resolved, at least not for the foreseeable future. In that case, liberal Zionists much accept that there is no easy way for them to reconcile their liberalism and their Zionism. Instead, they must either abandon their liberalism or their Zionism, or just learn to live with the constant tension between them. Whatever they choose, it will only become harder to be a liberal Zionist.
(See http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.586932 .)
Another interesting piece in ‘Haaretz’, by Rebecca Steinfeld, develops the argument, and in the process provides a definition of Zionism whose implications may be more alarming than she realizes:
‘Zionism is premised on the belief that Jews constitute an ancient nation that requires self-determination in its historic homeland, Eretz Israel, in order to protect itself from ubiquitous and annihilationist anti-Semitism.’
(See http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/the-jewish-thinker/.premium-1.589200 .)
A century ago, members of the Anglo-Jewish elite did not need to feel under personal threat to support Zionism – all they needed to do was to be concerned about the position of their fellow Jews in less fortunate lands, in particular those of the Russian Empire.
Nor indeed is it immediately obvious why, to be a Zionist, one has to believe that ‘annihilationist anti-Semitism’ is a significant danger in the contemporary United States. If however contemporary Zionists do believe it to be a latent danger, they lay themselves open to an obvious objection on the part of the ‘goyim’: if you so palpably distrust us, why should we be see you as fit people to play critical roles in shaping our country’s destinies?
Almost every Jew, I have known, and there have been quite a few, has a fear of annihilationist anti semitism to one extent or the other.
It permeates their souls. And my reading of history, yields more than a little evidence to support their attitude. Of all the earth’s tribes,the Jews are the most unique for better or worse.
I live in one of the most peaceful places on the planet,and even the few Jews here, when probed have a deep down insecurity.
In the United States Jews are so embedded in the highest levels of government and society in general. For better or worse,their critical roles now and in the future is a given. I’d get used to it, if I were you.
Many years ago while lunching in the NY City Hq. of Lazard Freres in 30 Rock, a Jewish American businessman with whom I dealt often told me that to understand American Jews I had to understand their pervasive fear of us all. I do not altogether accept this view. My wife’s BFF is a woman from Portland, Oregon who is nothing like that and I know Jewish Americans who are American before all else. They refuse to visit Israel in spite of my urging that they do so. pl
“In the United States Jews are so embedded in the highest levels of government and society in general. For better or worse, their critical roles now and in the future is a given. I’d get used to it, if I were you.”
You misconceive me. My wife and I, in different ways, come from the traditionally most philosemitic elements of British society – a quite disproportionate number of our colleagues and friends, and in particular of our oldest remaining friends, have been Jewish.
It is we, and people like us, who were most enthusiastic about the breaking down of those barriers which used to be raised to prevent Jewish immigrants rising in British society.
Many of the people I have most admired have been Jewish – as also some of those I have most despised. But then, most of the Jews who have played ‘critical roles’ in British history did not have much in common with people like Netanyahu, Sharon, Tzipi Livni, Wolfowitz, Perle, Adelson, or indeed Ari Shavit.
Back in 2002, the veteran Labour politician Gerald Kaufman told the House of Commons:
“It is time to remind Sharon that the star of David belongs to all Jews, not to his repulsive Government. His actions are staining the star of David with blood. The Jewish people, whose gifts to civilised discourse include Einstein and Epstein, Mendelssohn and Mahler, Sergei Eisenstein and Billy Wilder, are now symbolised throughout the world by the blustering bully Ariel Sharon, a war criminal implicated in the murder of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila camps and now involved in killing Palestinians once again.”
(See http://www.deiryassin.org/gkaufman.html .)
What he was saying was part of a British conversation, which I am not certain I can explain to Americans. Part of it, however, is that Sir Gerald is well aware that Israeli policies have caused massive antipathy in precisely many of those people here that Jews have traditionally trusted and had good reason to trust.
Very many such people, indeed, regard contemporary Israeli society with frank contempt. But, by the same token, one of our nightmares is that the antipathy to Israel which has become endemic here in the wake of the events of the past decade could relegitimise anti-Semitism.
The Confederate Army? I tried to make them walk and talk in my trilogy. pl
I’m not sure that I fully understand the Colonel’s “My wife’s BFF is a woman from Portland, Oregon who is nothing like that [i.e. having “a pervasive fear of us all”] and I know Jewish Americans who are American before all else. They refuse to visit Israel in spite of my urging that they do so.” As an American and a Jew who has been around for a while (I’m about to turn 72), I’ve never felt any conflict between either identify (on the contrary, they seem to me to be direct — if not always simple — existential facts), nor do I have “a pervasive fear of us all”), if “us all” means gentiles, though I am of course aware that some Jews might have good reason to fear or distrust some gentiles at some times. That said, and having just returned a month ago from my first visit to Israel, which left me with a great deal to feel and think about, I’m not sure why the Colonel’s wife’s friends “refuse” to visit Israel. It’s not an interesting place? To go there would compromise their American-ness, either in their own eyes or in the eyes of others? What?
I didn’t mean to sound as if, I was accusing you of antisemitism.
You seem to me to be a British gentleman of the highest character.
And may you have god’s blessings for that alone.
My remark concerning Jewish fear was not about you. My wife’s friend from Oregon was raised in an environment in which there really was no separate Jewish social community and although observant does not feel much separation from the larger gentile community here. She and her husband have never been to Israel. she had a full career working for B’nai Brith headquarters in Washington. her husband was a well know US government research scientist. Her daughter spent a couple of months in Israel on a kibbutz but decided not to stay, married a gentile and lives in Europe. The daughter is observant and raised her children to be Jewish. The other people whom I happened to mention are my friends, not my wife’s. They include a classmate from VMI who is also a retired officer. such people, who refuse to visit Israel are clearly concerned that their interest might be interpreted as evidence of mixed loyalty. As I said, I have urged all such to visit Israel. As you say, it is an interesting place. I have been there many, many times in good circumstances when there seemed hope for social justice and in other times when the level of oppression was very high. This is one of the bad times. Did you not see that? pl
Colonel — What I did not fully understand (and I guess I would have to know the people involved and their life circumstances fairly well in order to understand) is why they felt that a visit to Israel “might be interpreted as evidence of mixed loyalty.” A visit on the part of a retired officer? Who would be looking and perhaps passing judgment on his loyalty? As far as what I saw in Israel, I saw and heard a good deal, which I’m still trying to sort out as best I can. One thing that struck me as a former journalist, is the bluntness, bordering at times on contempt, with which the Israeli press, including to my surprise the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, speaks of the political leadership, Netanyahu in particular. (He is condemned, by and large, for being a cynical manipulator who has only his own political surveil at heart.) Further, this bluntness is free from the self-serving, would-be-clever snarkiness that pervades so much American journalism (vide Maureen Dowd, for example). The tone is that of desperately urgent family argument.
“Who would be looking and perhaps passing judgment on his loyalty?” He and those like him would be watching and judging themselves. Did you see many interactions between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis? Are you aware that Arabs who are natives of Jerusalem are being systematically squeezed out of the city? Where did you stay while there? pl
I was on a tour with members of our synagogue, and our guide throughout was a former major in the Israeli Air Force — thus what I saw and heard was couched and somewhat constricted (the latter mostly, so it seemed, because of the demands of the crowded tour schedule; our guide certainly had his points of view, but he was so voluble about so many things, from the time of Herod to the present, and many points in between, that I felt able and free to sort out a good deal for myself). Further, I already knew (or thought I knew) a fair amount about the history of the Jews, and the history of Israel and the region as well, though the intense physical and emotional actualities of the place and the people I did not anticipate. We stayed at the Dan Panorama hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and in between at a resort on the eastern side of the Kinneret. Interactions between Palestinian and Jewish Israelis I saw (or thought I saw) in the teeming Jerusalem market on the afternoon before Shabbat, but then that’s not what you have in mind. BTW, a side issue but one that struck me as interesting. We went to the Mt. Herzl military cemetery, where many of Israel’s leaders are also buried. Our guide pointed out that all the military graves are identical in size and design; the graves of the former leaders were larger, though still fairly modest, with the exception of the more imposing grave of Yitzhak Rabin. One of our group wondered about the difference, to which our previously forthcoming guide curtly said, “Don’t ask me — I won’t go there.” My sense was that this was not because of any disagreement he might have had with the policies of the assassinated Rabin but because of the implicit violation of an egalitarian principle. Also, at one point I asked our guide how he felt about the fervent support for Israel on the part of many American Evangelicals when this support is based on their last-of-days vision in which the flourishing of Israel in the near run leads directly to Armageddon. He said that he often guides tours of Evangelicals and typically says to them when this issue arises, “If the Messiah comes, we’ll ask him, ‘Have your been here before, or is this your first time?’ If it’s the former, you win; if it’s the latter, you do.” “How do they respond?” I asked. “The same as you — they laugh.”
You got “the treatment.” Israeli tour companies are good at “the treatment.” The whole country specializes in delivering packaged information about how great it all is. Congressional delegations, business groups, groups of student, etc. The Ministry of Tourism runs theatrical presentations to which tourists are herded to hear and see the all dancing, all singing tale of joy. I have had the treatment a number of times. After the first few iterations of visits to Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum, my handlers could see that this method of political warfare had reached a point of diminishing return. They may have sensed this when I emerged from the Shoa Museum and an exhibit on the participation of the Wehrmacht in killing children and other civilians. I was then asked what I thought and I told him and the other IDF officers present that the exhibit was illustrative of the fact that soldiers who deliberately harm civilians are not soldiers. They are mere hoodlums. This was during one of the intifadas and the general who was my host said he got the point. After that they started taking me to archeological sites and the like. It is a small country and after many such informational “massages” they began to run out of locations so they took me on one occasion to the air force school at Birsheva in the Negev. On that trip my dailyescort officer was a woman IAF major from Yemen by birth. Since I could speak Yemeni Arabic, she and I had a good time chatting as we traveled. At Birsheva the local guide was a 20 year old woman conscript who had lived in Sopranoland in Jersey while her father was stationed at the UN. She looked, talked and acted just like one of the female creatures in that TV series. At one point we went to the IAF museum where they had examples of all the aircraft the IAF had ever flown. It was mildly interesting until the Jersey Girl told me that the IAF had bought Agusta helicopters in order to prepare for the day when the Americans betrayed and abandoned Israel. I asked her to say it again and she did. I asked her if she knew who I was and why I was in Israel. She said she didn’t care. At that point the Yemeni born major intervened and told her to shut her mouth before she made things yet worse. this kid had not gotten the whole message on the briefing to be given. The point is that they manage perception skillfully. It is a nationsl industry but occasionally things don’t go exactly right. pl
Yes, I was well aware of the “treatment” aspect, in part because it was genially undisguised. But our guide — a mature man in his mid-40s who had lived in Palo Alto in the early 2000s while his wife, a gene therapy researcher, was getting an advanced degree at Stanford — was so voluble in general and overflowing with all sorts of information and opinions that it was fairly easy for me to separate the treatment from the rest of what he said — and there was a great deal of that. Further, he retained/conveyed a strong sense of his own personal identity — for instance, one could see that he was well aware of the ultra-Orthodox “problem” (if that’s the way to put it), and then there was his seemingly intensely personal reaction to the question about the size of Rabin’s tomb on Mt. Herzl and many other things as well over the course of ten days. A mensch, I thought. A further example — I was very much struck by the air of melancholia of the guide at the IDF Tank Museum at Latrun. An ex-tanker of course, he seemed utterly haunted. Our visit to the archaeological dig at Tel Maresha was absolutely fascinating.
Moshe Ya’alon just revealed that, ghasp, the Israeli military is broke.
And that’s probably what the Israeli government is pressing the US for an not just for an extension of their annual $3 billion in military aid, but to beef it up to something more like $3.5 billion annually.
The Battle of Latrun. That was one hell of a fight. pl
There is nothing unusual in a country seeking to present a good face for itself. All countries do it. When foreigners take tours of the United States, they aren’t taken to slums or prisons or sites of pollution or toxic waste.
Nah! It’s not the same thing at all. What we are talking about in Israel is a national propaganda campaign complete with centrally distributed talking points and systematic development of Hasbara themes. What are you, a tour guide in Israel? As for the US we have a big business done here in tours to places like Andersonville and Alcatraz pl
Colonel — FWIW, this morning I ran into a Jewish friend who is about five years older than I am and who lost relatives in the Holocaust and summarized what you and I and others have been saying on this thread. He absolutely endorsed the dual point that Highlander made (“Almost every Jew … has a fear of annihilationist anti semitism to one extent or the other. It permeates their souls. And my reading of history, yields more than a little evidence to support their attitude”) and the similar point that your businessman acquaintance at that Lazard Freres HQ lunch had made some years before. He added that he himself felt that way, told me that I was naive to think otherwise, and then made the familiar argument that, given all that, Israel is a necessary place of refuge for the Jews when and if the next wave of annihilationist anti-Semitism arrives. I will take time to marshal my counter-arguments, such as they are, and will try to talk with him again about this.
The Jew I knew who had most direct contact with ‘annihilationist anti-Semitism’ – the father of a schoolfriend of mine – never gave any visible sign of being frightened of anything. As teenagers, we knew that he had made it here shortly before the outbreak of war, after spending six weeks in Buchenwald following Kristallnacht, and that he had subsequently been interned as an ‘enemy alien’ on the Isle of Man.
He told us that he had spent the war in the Pioneer Corps. Only after his death did I learn that he had been telling us lies.
The British intelligence operation at Trent Park was premised upon the belief that one would get more information out of POWs but getting them to talk to each other, and listening in, than by interrogating them. The operation suffered from the same problem – doubtless familiar at NSA – that making full use of intercepted material commonly requires the kind of grasp of a language which, characteristically, only native speakers and a very few others possess.
The fact that until some time in 1942 ‘enemy aliens’ were not admitted to units other than the Pioneer Corps turned out to be a blessing in disguise, in that by that time – with preparations for the landings in North Africa in full swing – it was clear that there were likely to be many more German prisoners to be bugged. So some of the brightest of the ‘enemy aliens’ were drafted in to be ‘secret listeners.’
The transcripts of the bugged conversations from Trent Park and related facilities – and parallel facilities set up in the United States – are actually one of the best sources on the behaviour of the Wehrmacht in the Second World War. They were the basis for an interesting book published in 2011 by two German scholars, Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer, entitled in English translation ‘Soldaten: Fightin, Killing and Dying: The Secret World War II Tapes of German POWs.’
The book adds to the mass of evidence that the idea that the atrocities in the East – against Jews, Russians, and other Slav peoples – were simply the work of the SS, and that the Wehrmact were only marginally involved, is BS. It is an horrifying portrayal of a military turned by ideology into something approaching a collection of ‘hoodlums.’
One might have thought that my friend’s father would have ended up as ferociously anti-German as so many American neocons are. But this was not so. He became a scholar of medieval German literature, and in middle life threw up a professorship at Oxford to go back to work in Germany. If I came to have contempt for the Germanophobia common among my fellow countrymen, it is, ironically, largely the result of his influence, and that of other Jewish émigrés from the German-speaking world.
What he did not do was to get ‘stuck’ in the Holocaust. This is precisely what Israeli society as a whole seems to have done, as also the major part of the American Jewish community. I can see no good end to this.
I also learnt, after his death, that my friend’s father had distinguished himself in the Imperial German Army in the First World War.
(see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/professor-peter-ganz-416037.html .)
The Ghetto Tours of the Bronx take mostly European tourists on bus excursions through the ghetto. Some of the tours promote the cultural heritage of jazz and salsa of the area, while one company that made fun of the poor shut down because of pressure from the residents. In the seventies I saw the burned out brick buildings which remained after the Bronx burning. It was depressing.
I think it is easy to exaggerate the role the Heer played in the Shoa. There certainly was a role but the use of their troops was strongly resisted by many commanders. Rommel would be an example as everyone’s favorite German. I used to know a lieutenant colonel in the US Army whose family were German Jews from Frankfurt am Main. His grandfather had also served in the Imperial German Army in WWI and had a box full of medals to prove it. According to my US friend the Gestapo showed up at the grandfather’s doorstep in 1942 making deportation noises. The old gent took his medals and papers to the Wehrkreis commander who brought a couple of trucks to the house, loaded the goods and took them to an army kaserne in the Black Forest where they lived until the end of the war. After that the grandparents came to live in New Jersey where they lived until the new Germsn government offered the grandfather pension if he would return to Germany. He did and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Frankfurt. pl
I hate to sound like Clinton but I DO feel your pain. pl
See Larry Kart’s account of his discussion with an older Jewish person today. pl
Not just the Arabs, their dead is also being squeezed out of Jerusalem; there is a war of cemeteries as well.
The Iranian plateau has been the only place on Earth over the last 2500 years with continuous Jewish presence – as far as I know.
Your friend might wish to fly to Tehran and check things out for himself; perhaps a house in Shiraz or Isphahan in case things go south for Jews in US.
I remind you again that the Commons was almost empty when he made that speech.
Alcatraz hasn’t been a prison for 50 years and Andersonville for 150 years. And tours of jazz clubs are not exactly what I was talking about, either. I don’t know of the tourist industry of any country, whether the government has anything to do with it or not, whose aim is to show the country in a bad light. Just the opposite.
You are so thorough an apologist for Israeli/Zionism’s pervasive political warfare and propaganda that I can only conclude that you are part pf the apparat. pl
And equally easy to downplay it per the historicaly trite “We didn’t know” line.
I recall seeing the documentary that made me first comment on the Trent Park tapes, I think in a discussion of institutional memory, archives, open sources, and the fluke that it was a social work student as I recall who discovered the transcripts and read some, leading to the shocking truths apparently therein having nothing to do with his studies.
I was gobsmacked and cynical at the same time. After all, Kristallnacht, pink stars, yellow stars, cattle cars to the east, everybody knew more than enough.
I read the Neitzel and Welzer book David cites. Everybody knew. Many more regulars than just a few of “those others” routinely participated in mass murder is the repeated admission.
All the more kudos to the Wehkris commander, all the more shame to those others. Though without a box full of old medals, what does a worm turn on?
And it also occurs to me to that all the U.S. government employees who serve as guides at the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the national parks and national historical and other sites must be given training and talking points, too. And the guides of private tourist companies, I’m sure, receive training and talking points. What do you think would happen to them if they consistently went off message in order to talk about all the things they thought were wrong about the United States? What do you think would happen to the tour guide of foreign businessmen who went off message to talk about all the things that he thought were wrong and evil about American business?
But there is a larger point to be made, too. Any tourist in Israel or sitting in his home in the states or anywhere else in the world who wants to know about everything controversial in Israel has only to read the online English-language editions of Israeli newspapers, including the left-leaning Haaretz, one of Israel’s oldest newspapers. Of how many countries in the Middle East can that be said? It certainly can’t be said of Fatah (the Palestinian Authority) in the West Bank or Hamas in Gaza. That’s because Israel has freedom of speech and of the press and they don’t.
“a box full of old medals” you still don’t understand us. For soldiers there are no “old medals.” They are part of one’s soul. As for the Wehrkreis commander, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. My friend’s grandfather could have just as easily had the bad luck to deal someone who just didn’t want to get involved, especially when the Gestapo was involved. Yup, sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you. pl
Is there anything about Israeli conduct and policy that you don’t like? pl
I see that you live in or around Gadsden, Alabama. The Reform congregation there went out of business a few years back so I am assuming that you are a Christian Zionist? pl
It shouldn’t matter who I am. Just the substance of what I say. And whether its defensible. Same goes for you and everybody else who comments here. Do you grill anti-Israel people about who they are, disclose personal information about them online and inquire whether they are Muslims or not?
Nevertheless, I will respond that I am not an Israeli, belong to no organization and am a complete freelancer. I like to post my opinions on anti-Israel sites to see if they can withstand the scrutiny of bright, well-informed people who have a different point of view. Thus far, I feel pretty good about today’s back and forth.
And I am an American Jew who is pro-Israel. If that disqualifies me from participating on your blog, just say so, and I’ll go away, but I was led to believe from some of your comments that all were welcome who maintained a certain decorum, which I see from your own example in your last couple of comments to me, does not exclude being snide.
“does not exclude being snide.” Attacking me will get you banned. I welcome having you here but it does matter who and what you are. I want to know what I am dealing with. Your political allegiance to Israel forms your judgment. You did not answer my question as to whether or not Israel does anything that you disapprove of. pl
What do you think of Israel’s (military and judicial) media censors?
How about Peres’ claim that Natanyahu torpedoed a peace deal that he had negotiated with Abu Mazen? Do you believe that to be true? pl
All I know at this point is that the story broke in the Israeli media and is plastered all over the Israeli newspapers, which proves my point.
But I also notice that you are peppering me with questions while ignoring my questions and the points I made. Since you made an issue of my religious identity, I asked you whether you also grilled anti-Israel people about their religious identity, in particular, whether they were Muslims. Its a fair question.
And I made the point that the Palestinian Authority does not allow freedom of speech or of the press and neither does Hamas in Gaza. Please address this issue.
A discussion is a two way street. Its not a framework where I respond to your questions and address your points and you refuse to reciprocate.
And in answer to a previous question of yours, yes, there are things about Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians that I disagree with. Now a question for you: Are there things that the Palestinians and surrounding Arab countries have done to Israel that you think were wrong or evil? If so, name some. Then, I’ll name some of the Israeli policies that I disagree with.
As a polemicist you want both want to debate me and to harangue us. That will not happen. I will not debate you and if it becomes clear that you will answer every point with another argumentative one you will be gone I am not interested in providing a vehicle for hasbara activities. I asked you questions about yourself. you chose to answer them. I do not believe that you are a “free-lance” hasbara. You said that you post comments on anti-Israel websites. First of all this is not an anti-Israel website. it is a website that is not slavishly devoted to Israeli policy as you seem to be. Secondly, this implies a list of websites so imagined. Who made the list? You? You must have a lot of free time. You have nothing to do with the Israeli foreign ministry “information” program or AIPAC’s similar activities? As for people’s religious affiliations I have asked many and they have told me. Context matters. Lastly, I am not an advocate for any Arab country. None. IMO the Israelis and the Arabs are equally a mess and that is why they cannot solve their problem in a reasonable way. pl
Since we are talking about “old jews” I am one (69) so I guess I should weigh in one this discussion. First, it is impossible to understand Israel unless one has lived there and speaks Hebrew. It is only then that you can understand and be privy to the real feelings of Israelis. The Jews as a tribe follow the “don’t air your dirty laundry to outsiders” more than any other peoples I have met. The criticism that the Israeli media prints is just the tip of the iceberg of the criticism that could and should be leveled about Israeli activities.
I am a Israeli dual citizen and I’ve lived in Israel. I have a family history of movement because of past pogroms. Over the last 300 years my family has moved from Romania to Croatia, to Hungary and finally to France. Along the way we lost many of our family. In 1942, my grandfather sent his extended family to America to live while he went to Israel and joined Irgun. I did not need Benny Morris’ book to tell me what went on in Israel during those next 6 years, I have my Grandfather’s journals vividly recounting the various horrors he visited on Arabs and the Brits. In the end he was tormented by his actions, considered himself to be a terrorist, even though he felt he was doing the right thing for his people.
I think the existential fear Jews might feel about annihilation is much exaggerated. Certainly most American Jews I know don’t feel that way. Most of my relatives now live in West Bank settlements and on my twice a year visits for the Holidays, I do not discern any fears of annihilation on their part even though they are on the front lines. If they have any thoughts about annihilation its most likely for the Palestinians.
For those who take the Jewish tours, how many Arab marketplaces did you visit? Were you able to buy anything from an Arab vendor? Israeli tour guides make sure you buy only from Jews. Did they take you to Acre or Haifa and show you the new beautiful Jewish schools and the falling down Arab ones?
Sometimes on a Christian Tour with a Palestinian tour guide you can visit West Bank sites and get a sense of the occupation and the difficulties it causes. However, this is rare because if caught the Guide will lose his Israeli Guide licence and thus his job.
Israeli Jews make a big deal out of the supposed hatred Palestinians feel toward Jews and their honoring their fallen fighters. If you want to hear the ugliest hatred imaginable, go to shul in Bat Ayin, Kiryat Arba, Itamar and others. There you will hear the most hair raising commentary I’ve ever heard in my life. Travel on the back roads of the West Bank (don’t use the Jewish only roads by the dual use ones) and stop at a checkpoint and watch how Palestinians are humiliated and harassed. As far as honoring fighters, Jews did better than Palestinians, they made two stone cold killers, Begin and Shamir, Prime Ministers.
I consider myself a Zionist who fervently prays for a Jewish homeland in Israel. However, we MUST treat all those who live there with dignity and compassion, Jew and Arab alike. To that end it is obvious we need two states and enough contiguous land must be carved out so Palestinians can have a prosperous dignified existence in their own SOVEREIGN state.
I showed you that you were wrong about Ghetto tours but you won’t let that fact into your ideology.
You also said we wouldn’t have tours of polluted sites. Wrong again. You can tour the US’s most polluted nuclear site–Hanford. And there are other pollution tours.
Israel will not allow a commemoration of the Nabka but here Martin Luther King’s birthday is a federal holiday. We show films of police beating civil rights marchers during Black History month and have slave museums. We have national parks dedicated to Indian massacres like the Sand Creek Massacre. We hide nothing behind a wall. You can go where you want even if it is not safe.
As far as I’m concerned, Israel is at least 50 years behind the more advanced and inclusive democracies.
Your eighth grade teacher.
What, “Israel has freedom of speech and of the press and they don’t.”
Since Israel is in self perception a necessary place of refuge for the Jews when and if the next wave of annihilationist anti-Semitism arrives, freedom of speech there is, must be, inherently a right limited by national security prerogatives.
Which of course means that for practical and political purposes that Israel has freedom of speech and of the press and the Arabs don’t.
Thank you for providing the Sand Creek link. It is very interesting.
The word “Jew” is not the opposite of Arab – it is the opposite of “Christian” or “Muslim” etc.
“Arab” could be the opposite of “Israeli” or “Iranian” or American.
There hundreds of thousands of Arabs who were Jews – until 1948.
Whether PA does or does not allow freedom of speech is irrelevant to the issue of sovereignty of the Palestinian Arabs – freedom of expression is not a requirement of state legitimacy for by that yard-stick most states in the world are illegitimate – including State of Israel.
I wrote that:
‘What he was saying was part of a British conversation, which I am not certain I can explain to Americans. Part of it, however, is that Sir Gerald is well aware that Israeli policies have caused massive antipathy in precisely many of those people here that Jews have traditionally trusted and had good reason to trust.’
Perhaps you will explain to me what relevance the number of people in the House when Sir Gerald Kaufman made his comments has to my argument.
Babak – You are 100% correct. I guess I fell into the typical Israeli descriptions of the demographics. One of those things I should eject from my thinking cap.
Unfortunately I have only just started reading the ‘Soldaten’ book to which I referred. My sister gave me, at Christmas, a much less scholarly book by a lady called Helen Fry which was specifically about the Jewish ‘enemy aliens’ who were recruited to monitor the conversations at Trent Park.
I need to find time to read the ‘Soldaten’ book carefully, but my initial impression is that, as so often, the truth turns out to be much more complex and ambiguous than different kinds of conventional wisdoms want to suggest.
My friend’s younger brother, Adam Ganz, wrote a radio play about Trent Park, called ‘Listening to the Generals’. Part of it was a kind of fictionalised transformation of his father’s role, and – critically – of his relationship to the girl he married, who was English.
This was interpolated with – quite unfictionalised – re-enactments of the arguments between the captured German generals, which followed the transcripts quite literally.
I was reminded of these recently, reading an account by the late Joachim Fest of the events leading up to Hitler’s suicide. Not long before his own suicide, Hitler’s chief adjudant, General William Burgdorf, exploded in a conversation with Bormann and General Hans Krebs:
“Leave me alone, Hans: somebody has to say all this! Young officers went to their deaths by their hundreds of thousands.” And for what, he was asking himself. The answer was, neither for the Fatherland nor for the future. Only now did he realize that “they died for you … Millions of innocent of beings [were] sacrificed, while you, the leaders of the Party, enriched yourselves with the wealth of the people. You lived it up, amassed immense riches, stole Junker estates, built palaces, deceived and oppressed the people. You trampled our ideals into the mud, our ideals, our morals, our soul. For you a human being was only a tool for your unquenchable hunger for power. You destroyed our centuries-old culture and the German people. This is your terrible burden of guilt.’
In her book, Helen Fry writes that at Trent Park Peter Ganz ‘heard the admissions of guilt by the Generals and details of war crimes against the Jewish people.’
Ironically, perhaps, when Adam Ganz portrayed his father talking his English girlfriend about his entry to Buchenwald, he recalled him saying – if I recall him right – that the Jews he met there had nothing in common. Which is actually a factual statement about Jews in Europe, until the anti-Semites and Zionists decided to collaborate in the preposterous fiction that Jews are all fundamentally alike.
Perhaps what Burgdorf says may make it possible to understand why a German Jew who had listened to accounts of atrocities committed by his country’s soldiers against many peoples – Russians and other Slavs, as well as Jews – could spent his career instructing British people in the complexities of German culture.
The Israeli Jews have many strange “tics’ about the native population and their culture. For example they seem always to pronounce the hard “H” in Arabic as “kha.” There is such a sound in Arabic but it is altogether a different letter. Because of this mispronunciation words like “Hamas” seem always pronounced by Hebrew speakers as “Khamas.” This is especially odd since there are equivalent letters in Hebrew. In the same way Hebrew speakers who are not native speakers of Arabic never seem to realize that they have distinctive accents that are instantly recognizable by Arabs. A few years ago I met a young Israeli scholar who was not interested in being identified as such. He had traveled extensively, he said, in Yemen with Sunni jihadis. I told him that he had learned his Arabic at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I then recounted to him the many ways that his accent betrayed him. “You are lucky to be alive,” I told him. I am not a speaker of Hebrew but I, too have an accent. most Arabs tell me that they cannot determine if Yemeni or Qudsi influences predominate. pl
Jeff, I’m a pro-American American and the issues you’ve raised are irrelevant.
SST is highly critical of U.S. policy and actions in the Middle East and the actors in the U.S. and in the region that work to perpetuate it because it is mostly disconnected from our actual national interests.
Since the most significant elements of that policy are the “special relationship” with Israel and the mostly transactional relationship with Saudi Arabia, the actors behind those relationships are criticized and posters who, knowingly or not, seem to support them are grilled.
It wasn’t long ago an Arab-American woman was grilled here about her possible pro-insurgent sympathies regarding the Syrian civil war and received some very unflattering straight talk about the nature of political culture in most Arab countries.
The governments, societies, and cultures of Arab countries regularly receive quite negative commentary here.
But that is not the point for you, is it? It is the fact that SST is not slavishly devoted to Zionism and does not promote Israel’s interests at the expanse of American interests that bothers you and betrays you as a propagandist.
IMO Burgdorf was pretty much a Nazi Party toady. he would not have had a job as Hitler’s adjutant if he had not been. And he was a principal in Rommel’s forced suicide So it is doubly interesting that he would have made this little speech to Bormann and Krebs. In the wiki on him it is recorded that while “in the bunker” he made another speech in which he said that after the war, when they had finished purging the Jews, they would have to move on to the Catholics, beginning with those in the Wehrmacht. At that point the Catholic officer he was speaking to rose and left the bunker. We should remember that Burgdorf shot himself in the bunker.
I think it is a shaky business to make a general judgment on the people of as large a drafted force as the WW2 Heer on the basis of interested pleading based in large part on covert recordings of the conversations of captured officers. Those who made the recordings had every reason to interpret what they heard in the worst possible of meanings. In any event would not these officers have known something of what the German government was doing whether or not they could have done anything about it? Would they have not discussed their collective guilt in having failed to stop what the government was doing whether they had been active participants or not? If the evidence against them was so good why were they not tried as a group for war crimes? pl
Because George Mitchell is half Lebanese He was probably not considered an honest broker by the Israelis.They most likely did not really care.It is easy to go in to negotiations when you have no intention of really coming close to what the other side wants.Old man Asad was a master of this……………….When Clinton almost had an agreement ironed out, Arafat got wind of Ariel Sharon’s planned visit,with soldiers, to the mosque in Jersulam.Arafat begged Barak not to let Sharon follow thru on the visit.Barak could not stop Sharon’s visit.The talks fell apart right at the end.
You can access the “The Daily Star” on the net.It is out of Lebanon and seems has a wide range of POV…..My sister and niece visited Israel for 12 days last year. Not on a guided tour.She has no axe to grind.Her description of her trip matches things the Colonel mentioned………….BTW on the Daily Star read the comments on articles……… everyone is free to express themselves.
“General Dietrich von Choltitz is quoted as saying in October 1944: “We all share the guilt. We went along with everything, and we half-took the Nazis seriously, instead of saying “to hell with you and your stupid nonsense”. I misled my soldiers into believing this rubbish. I feel utterly ashamed of myself. Perhaps we bear even more guilt than these uneducated animals.” (This in apparent reference to Hitler and his supporting Nazi Party members.” This is from the wiki on Trent Park. I take this to be the “cri de coeur” of an honorable man berating his fellows for their lack of moral courage. This is about their collective guilt for weakness. This is the man who refused to burn Paris and in so doing defied Hitler. pl
“freedom of speech there is, must be, inherently a right limited by national security prerogatives.”
That’s what they all say.
Israeli media censorship is a serious affair and highly institutionalized; many layered and time-sensitive. The Judiciary sometimes issues gag orders on reporting that gag orders have been imposed on a certain incident or criminal cas.. The system seems fairly efficient.
Fortunately, during the run-up to our attack on Iraq, the Israeli military censor didn’t consider Israeli media reporting on American (& Israeli) preparations a security issue for Israel, per se. Up until 11/02, they talked quite freely about plans going forward.
US media and politicians were still pretending there was a debate over whether or not we would depose Saddam.
Under the Treaty of the Little Arkansas the government promised to pay the 112 survivors compensation and never did. Wonder how many direct descendants that is today?
I may well have overstated my case. However, a few observations, for what they are worth.
The evidence from Trent Park was not used in war crimes prosecutions, in substantial measure because it was anticipated that similar methods were likely to be useful in future conflicts – including possibly conflicts with the Soviets. Ironically, people who had worked there remained silent for much longer than those who had worked at Bletchley Park had to.
The evidence on which ‘Soldaten’ is based does not simply come from Trent Park. This was one of three centres run by the British. In addition, as early as summer 1941, the U.S. War Department had decided to build similar centres, which came to include Camp Tracy in California for Japanese POWs, and Fort Hunt in Virginia for Germans. A kind of de facto division of labour seems to have emerged, where we concentrated on the Wehrmacht elite, while you focused on ordinary men.
In relation to the war in the East, a central fact was that Hitler decided to conflate two kinds of war which were, in principle, quite different. One was a supposed struggle for survival against the forces of – supposedly Jewish – Bolshevism, the other a war of annihilation and enslavement against the Slavs.
Had he simply concentrated on the war against Bolshevism, he could have successfully exploited both the bitter anti-Soviet feelings alike of non-Russian ethnic groups – including many Slav groups – and also among Russians themselves. In particular, he could have exploited the hatres generated by collectivisation, alike among non-Russians and Russians.
This was what former diplomats at the German Moscow Embassy – such as Hans von Herwarth – wanted the Germans to do. A brief version of his account of the catastrophically suicidal nature of Hitler’s policy can be found at
The point that the Germans got themselves into a vicious circle – whereby abominable treatment of Slavs, including Russian POWs being simply left to starve, and eat each other – gave stimulus to a ruthless partisan movement, which provoked yet more ruthless reprisals, and yet more hatred from peoples who might have been the Germans’ allies.
So the distinction between ‘rational’ anti-partisan measures and ‘hoodlum’ behaviour became blurred.
The claim Herwarth makes that this pattern was absent in the North Caucasus is probably fair. Whether he resorted to ‘denial’ in relation to the Wehrmacht role in atrocities in other theatres of war is however a moot point. A propensity to be acutely aware of the atrocities committed against our side, while resorting to denial in relation to those we have committed, is hardly uncommon among human beings.
These matters bear upon current dilemmas. The atrocities committed by the Soviets in the West Ukraine – both in the period between the occupation of their occupation of the area following the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the onset of ‘Operation Barbarossa’, and following its reconquest by the Red Army in I think 1944 – were horrendous. But then, so too were the atrocities committed against Russians.
It appears that the State Department’s notion of doing intelligence – probably also that of the CIA – is to believe implicitly what the West Ukrainian nationalists tell them. Accordingly they are incapable even of beginning to grasp the way that the events of 1941-5 mean that Ukrainians in the East and South can be pulled in different directions.
How John Brennan cannot have realised that to have Ukrainian nationalists shouting ‘burn Colorado, burn’ while people did burn inside the Trade Unions Building in Odessa would polarise opinion in the Donbass against Kiev simply defeats me. Is the man simply thick?
“Colonel Lang, I may well have overstated my case.” Perhaps so. Fort Hunt is just down the road from here along the GW Parkway on the way to Mt. Vernon, Washington’s estate. It is now a park. The number of Japanese PWs captured in the whole world was so small that Camp Tracy must have been a quiet place. Fort Hunt was originally an administrative post for the command of the Washington, DC coast artillery defenses. These defenses were built to defend the capital from British attack. It was later used by CIA to imprison Soviet defectors during Angleton’s mole hunt. The buildings are almost all gone now. During WW2 my father was stationed for a time at Camp Ellis, Illinois where several thousand PWs from Panzer Army Afrika were kept. My mother was horrified one day to look out her front window on post to see a column of these Germans marching by on their way to a grass cutting or gardening detail. They were singing something like the Panzer Lied or Westerwald and there I was five years old marching along with them in the front rank while the MP guards led the group. My father thought it was funny. She did not. So, I have a long history of consorting with that enemy. I understand that in England, enlisted prisoners were loaned out to farmers. I am sure you know that under Geneva IV commissioned officer PWs can not be required to do manual labor. That meant nothing to the Japs but with regard to British Commonwealth and US prisoners the Germans were quite scrupulous about it unless you were unlucky enough to be captured by the Waffen SS. They might do anything but even then Bittrich’s men behaved decently towards the British at Arnhem. It sounds to me as though life in the British zone of occupation was less pleasant for the Germans than in the the US zone. pl
Re: one of the points that David Habbakuk made above:
From historian Paul W. Schroeder’s long, brilliant (IMO) essay “Embedded Counterfactuals and World War I as an Unavoidable War”:
(See this passage *** in particular, though the paragraph as a whole adds context):
“Can one envision a plausible scenario in which Napoleon sometime in his career — say, in 1805 — decides to stop his course of conquest and settles down to establish a durable system of French hegemony in Europe? Certainly one can imagine this; many of his associates tried hard to persuade him to do so, and I have argued elsewhere that objectively a durable French hegemony was entirely feasible. The only trouble is that for this counterfactual to work, Napoleon would have had to cease being Napoleon, and if he had been a person capable of thus transforming himself, it is impossible to see how he could ever have reached a point in 1805 or another time at which a stable French hegemony in Europe became possible. Napoleon, in other words, comes to us historically in one piece. To change what he was capable of becoming and doing after 1805 is to change what he was and was capable of doing before then. The same point, that counterfactual alterations change the past as well as the future, can easily be illustrated by other examples. *** Could Nazi Germany have defeated the Soviet Union in 1941, destroying the regime and replacing it with German satellite regimes? Quite possibly, by exploiting the nationalities’ and peasants’ discontent, posing as liberators, giving the peasants back their land, etc. But in order to do that, Hitler and the Nazis would have had to cease being Hitler and the Nazis, and abandon not only the goals for which they had invaded the Soviet Union, but those for which they had seized power. The whole Nazi past as well as the future is changed.”