From the Economist:
Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says Israel is an alien implantation whose people should return to Europe or perhaps settle in Alaska. So it is an irony that Israel’s president, Moshe Katzav, is in fact a Farsi-speaker born in Iran. Ditto Israel’s defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, who is doubtless preoccupied nowadays with how to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme. He is advised by Dan Halutz, Israel’s former air-force commander and now chief of staff. Lieut-General Halutz was born in Israel, both his parents in Iran. They seem to have taught him a sense of humour. Asked how far Israel would go to stop Iran’s nuclear programme, he replied: “two thousand kilometres”.
Foreign Affairs is offering a free preview of an article by Michael Herzog appearing in its forthcoming March/April issue. It’s titled, “Can Hamas Be Tamed?,” and the answer, in a word, is “no.”
The debate over what to expect from Hamas has often drawn on supposed lessons of history…A more useful analogy can be found in the modern history of the Muslim Middle East, with its assortment of relatively young independent states — nations where there is no democratic tradition or culture and where the governments have been challenged by Islamist movements advocating for the imposition of sharia while brandishing swords…The most important lesson to be drawn from these cases is that co-optation through political participation is not a given, but rather depends on the existence of certain conditions in the local political context. No Islamist movement has renounced violence or moderated its ideology of its own volition.
A strong and healthy political system is essential because only it will offer Islamists the incentives for proper socialization…An imbalance of power favoring the state and mainstream forces is vital, meanwhile, because without checks and balances, a party inclined toward radicalism will be able to capture the state apparatus and bend it to its will.
Many established democracies have also set up legislative roadblocks to help contain the political havoc that radical parties can wreak. … In 1948, the first Israeli prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, forcibly crushed partisan armed movements in order to prevent them from poisoning the new Israeli democracy, and the Israeli legislature later excluded violent extremists.
Unfortunately, if one looks closely at the case of Hamas, hardly any of these potentially moderating factors are present…
Also on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, Henry Siegman, CFR’s leading expert on Israeli-Palestinian affairs, offers a dissenting view, and says there are signs Hamas may be seeking ways to ease its policies calling for Israel’s destruction.
And senior Fatah advisor Kadura Fares tells CFR that Hamas has “no experience dealing with the daily life needs of the Palestinian people.” He says Fatah will rebuild and wait for Hamas to fail.
Not exactly a proactive strategy.
One of the key complaints against last year’s ill-fated AUT boycott of Israeli universities was the proposed McCarthyite exemption of “any conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state’s colonial and racist policies.”
As Norman Geras noted:
What do they think about the damage to principles of academic and intellectual freedom? Do they think there is no damage? How do they mean to implement the relevant political test for Israeli academics? Will there be AUT vetting committees? How will these be composed and how make their decisions about which Israelis are deemed kosher, and which not, for the purpose of academic cooperation? And is not the very idea of such a political vetting process worrying to supporters of the boycott, to their idea of their own calling?
If there are answers to these questions out there, I haven’t come across them. Correction – that’s the rhetoric of partisanship talking; I’ll rephrase it. If there are answers to these questions out there of any serious substance, I haven’t come across them.
Well, here is a rather belated answer from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), which has decided to omit the exclusion clause that they say has been “misrepresented by critics.”
PACBI admits that there is an unavoidable inconsistency in advocating an institutional boycott and then excluding individuals. Nevertheless, this clause was intended to address the inevitable grey-area situations where it is not clear whether academics or intellectuals are acting in their personal capacities or as representatives of institutions subject to boycott.
Since all institutional boycotts ultimately hurt individuals, PACBI felt the need to add this clause in order to nuance its Call and to avoid harming progressive Israelis whom we consider allies in the struggle for justice, equality and genuine peace. However, since this has been misunderstood as a position condoning a boycott of individuals or supporting “black-listing” or “political tests,” both of which are entirely incompatible with PACBI’s position, PACBI has decided to delete the exclusion clause from its Call.
With this revision, PACBI sincerely hopes that, rather than being sidetracked by discussions on a formal and unintentional discrepancy in the drafting of our Call, the debate will once again focus on the very real grounds for this boycott Call…
So, rather than draw up lists of “good” and “bad” scholars, this “new and improved” boycott proposal will collectively punish academic institutions where peaceful debate among Arabs and Jews is the norm.
I suppose that, in the boycotters’ minds, this constitutes progress.
Let me explain.
I shamelessly borrow this term from “South Park Conservative,” which was coined by Andrew Sullivan and later popularized by Brian Anderson.
In an interview with National Review Online, Anderson describes the phenomenon thusly:
It loosely refers to an anti-liberal or an iconoclastic right-of-center type: someone who may not be traditionally conservative when it comes to things like censorship or popular culture or even on some social issues but who wants nothing to do with the dour, PC, and elitist Left.
As Trey Parker, [South Park’s] co-creator, put it: “We hate liberals more than conservatives, and we hate them.”
I think that zeitgeist pretty much describes my political bearings these days. I don’t consider myself a conservative (South Park Conservative or otherwise). In fact, on most, issues, I’d comfortably describe myself as “progressive.” I have little fondness for those on the Right, be they George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Pat Buchanan, the Christian Right, the wingnuts who currently run the ZOA, or the hardline Jewish settlers who cling to the dream of a “Greater Israel” and reject the need for—and justice of—a two-state solution.
But, I find that I have even less patience for the pious Left: The ones who say that there is no anti-semitism on the Left by virtue of the fact that Leftists are incapable of anti-semitism; the ones who wrap themselves in the banner of philo-semitism, claiming that they seek to eradicate Zionism to save the Jewish soul; the ones who contextualize anti-semitism in the Arab world, saying that it is the inevitable response to Israeli predations; the ones who, in the name of anti-imperialism, make common cause with Middle Eastern dictators and Islamist extremists.
So, yeah, I’m a South Park Zionist. And I’m pretty comfortable with that.
Iran intends to gather “experts” from around the world to examine the “scientific evidence” for the Holocaust. They even plan to send a team of “independent investigators” to visit former Nazi death camps across Europe.
Closer to home, I wonder if they’ll ask the opinion of Iranian Jews.
Well, it’s that time of year again. The best and the brightest are meeting in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
The far Left has always taken umbrage at this gathering, and even created the World Social Forum as a form of counter-protest.
Apparently, these accusations of elitism have stung the organizers of the World Economic Forum. Their official magazine, Global Agenda, proclaims: “Global Agenda seeks to lead opinion and debate on all the key issues facing the world. It aims to be thought-provoking and controversial, but balanced and fair. And it tries to make room for voices from all sides of society.”
As it turns out, one of those voices is Mazin Qumsiyeh, who heads the anti-Israel organization Al-Awda. (Read more about him in an earlier post here.)
Qumsiyeh wrote an article for Global Agenda titled “Boycott Israel.” Some excerpts:
Gatekeepers in the American media ensure that political Zionism is not questioned. The only debate allowed in pages of the New York Times or on major television broadcasts is between different brands and strategies of Zionism. On the other hand, we see literally millions of people in America and around the world using the internet, reading between the lines and questioning the Zionist narrative. We see thousands of Jews reach the same conclusion as Gilad Atzmon, a musician and writer, Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and Jeff Halper, an Israeli anthropologist – that political Zionism is the problem. They articulate an optimistic post-Zionist discourse based on universal justice and human rights. They pose the question: If apartheid was the problem in South Africa, why is it a solution in Israel/Palestine?
Zionism represented a colonial British venture later taken up as one of many possible responses to discrimination in Europe….It is not, therefore, surprising that the Zionist lobby has been pushing America into a neo-colonial perpetuation of these outmoded forms of human relations. In a society that values equality and separation of church and state, a concerted media campaign justifies “pre-emptive” invasion of other countries, religious apartheid, sectarianism, ethnic cleansing and putting walls around ghettoized “undesired” people.
We propose that global civil society take this call seriously and build a coalition open to all people for a global Movement Against Zionism or a global Movement Against Israeli Apartheid. This would bring peace with justice to all people regardless of their religion or ethnicity. It would also contribute to exposing American government-led programmes of domination and hegemony in the Middle East, most aptly revealed by its support of Zionism.
What the hell were the editors of Global Agenda thinking? Hey, if they want to publish an article critical of Israel and the United States, that’s their business. But with an entire world of articulate thinkers to choose from, why pick Mazin Qumsiyeh, whose hateful diatribes read like they were ghost-written by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Why would they promote the writings of a man who sings the praises of the loathsome Gilad Atzmon? And why did a magazine that claims to be “balanced and fair” choose this article alone to represent the debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
UPDATE: Well, I guess the shit really hit the fan. See this article and an official statement from the World Economic Forum posted in the comments section. (Methinks heads are going to roll at Global Agenda magazine.) It’s quite interesting that the World Economic Forum made the effort to post this statement on blogs that covered this story. It speaks volumes about the perceived importance of the blogosphere as a medium for disseminating news and opinions.
I see that Britain’s Respect Party has posted an angry response to the request by Labour’s Chris Bryant that George Galloway be investigated after he tabled subjects for a Commons debate– despite appearing on Celebrity Big Brother at the time.
Blairite loyalist Chris Bryant is really scraping the barrel with his absurd questions relating to George Galloway’s support for around 60 Early Day Motions.
Chris Bryant clearly believes this pathetic little stunt will further ingratiate him to Blair and earn him ministerial office. But he really ought to do his homework a little better. Or is he just being cynical? He certainly ought to know that EDMs are never debated in the Commons because the government never makes time for them to be debated. They are simply a device for an MP to raise publicity about an issue and to see how much support that issue has from other MPs. George has supported many such motions over the last eight months and the latest motions he has given his support to are no different.
Okay, maybe it’s just me, but if your party leader is strutting about on national television wearing red tights, perhaps you should think twice before throwing around words like pathetic little publicity stunt.
Following-up on my previous post on the failed Norwegian boycott, Memri has posted an article on why these tired old tactics won’t work against Israel anymore:
The application of boycott, particularly the secondary and tertiary levels, is all but impossible in the age of globalization. In the field of technology, in particular, insisting on a boycott policy is not only not enforceable but is self-defeating. A commercial airplane, whether it is the frame, the engine or the avionics, is made up of thousands of parts supplied by hundreds of contractors and sub-contractors, and Israel may be one of them. It would be utterly beyond reason to demand a certificate of origin for every part of the plane and expect the manufacturer to comply.
Moreover, in High Tech, a lot of electronic components change hands in the global market and to insist on a certification of origin would be to deny oneself the advances and advantages of modern technology. The reality is that the enforcement of the boycott against Israel “is a custom more honored in the breach than in the observance.”
From the Norway Post:
A survey made by the newspaper Dagsavisen among the large food chains and fruit importers, show that none of them have registered any reduction in the sale of Israeli products.
Consumers in the stores, asked by the newspaper, also say they are not interested in boycotting Israeli produce, even if they have heard of the call for a boycott.
Consumer researcher Eivind Jacobsen says Norwegians do not have a tradition for boycotting. He also points to the fact that most of the Norwegian imports from Israel consist of components for electronics and IT, not fruits and greens.
I once read a comment by a stand-up comedian, who offered the following advice to Christian fundamentalists who burn books: “You know, if Hitler did it, you might consider going in another direction.”
That quote comes to mind as a bang my head against my keyboard over this latest story to emerge from the Axis of Moonbattery. As you may have heard by now, far-left author (and part-time conspiracy theorist) William Blum is seeing record sales of his book, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, thanks to a plug from Osama bin Laden in his latest videotape.
Call me crazy, but if I found out that my writing was routinely cited by mass-murderers (and also, I’ve discovered in Blum’s case, some virulently anti-semitic websites) I would give serious thought to “going in another direction.” But here is Blum’s reaction: “This is almost as good as being an Oprah book … I was not turned off by such an endorsement. I’m not repulsed, and I’m not going to pretend I am.”
Swell. And here’s more from Salon:
“If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently,” reads the section quoted in part by the world’s most notorious terrorist. “I would first apologize to all the widows and orphans, the tortured and impoverished, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism.” In that passage, Blum goes on to explain that he would end American support for Israel and reduce the military budget by 90 percent. “That’s what I’d do on my first three days in the White House,” Blum writes. “On the fourth day, I’d be assassinated.”
Who would assassinate him? Blum smiled at the question. Standing at the center of an international media swarm, he raised his arms and extended his forefingers to pantomime quotation marks. He paused for dramatic effect.
So once again, Israel emerges at the center of all that’s supposedly wrong with this world. And how perfect that Blum concludes his interview by citing the threat from “Them.” That happens to be the title of Jon Ronson’s book exploring the mindset of conspiracy theorists. As the New York Times review of his book notes, this crowd often shares a common theme:
And secret-room conspiracy theories have a bloodstained history. Almost all of them can trace their ancestry to that poisoned fount of conspiracy theories “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a czarist-era forgery that purported to be the minutes of a secret meeting in which Jewish masterminds plotted world domination. It’s been the model for anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists from Henry Ford in “The International Jew” to Hitler in “Mein Kampf.” In fact, Ronson makes an important point when he tells us he “realized just how central these conspiracy theories were to the practice of terrorism in the Western world.”
Such connections are apparently lost on Blum, and also apparently on the thousands of people trying to buy his book. Last time I checked at Amazon.com, they were selling for $110 apiece.