Well, here’s your daily dose of crazy. According to the blog Persian Letters:
The Iranian hardline website “Seratnews” says that Tehran’s Revolution Square is nowadays covered with hundreds of Stars of David and that the central square has been “conquered by the Zionist regime.”
The website claims that the “stars” are part of a newly built monument at the square.
“Seratnews” has posted visual aids and photographs of the monument on which it has superimposed a blue outline of one of the “stars” to back its claim.
“There is a flower with five petals in the middle of the [monument]. But the flower is surrounded by triangles that are laid next to each other and they’ve created hundreds of Stars of David that have covered the [monument] at Revolution Square!”
We asked a woman in Tehran who had driven around the square recently about the monument. She said she had noticed simply “another ugly work” and hadn’t paid attention to the details. It would be “funny” to have a Star of David in the middle of Tehran, she added.
Here’s the photographic evidence. (Also, if you look really, really closely, you can see a profile of Theodore Herzl eating falafel.)
Mother Jones magazine reports:
Several avowedly anti-Semitic commenters regularly posted on the national GOP’s Facebook wall, encouraging tea partiers and “White, Black, Spanish, [and] Asian” people to “arm yourselves” and rise up against the “Zionist Jews” who, they claim, control the country and the media. They linked to a site that hosts purported versions of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and promoted 9/11 “truth” theories that allege “Israeli agents carried out the attacks.”
The Republican National Committee [RNC] could easily have deleted these comments—it’s as easy as clicking “remove” if an administrator is signed in to the account—or blocked the users who were posting them. Even if the RNC decided it didn’t have the resources to monitor its Facebook wall, it could have simply disabled the ability to comment on its wall. When Mother Jones contacted the committee for comment Thursday morning, the RNC disabled its Facebook discussion board, but not its wall containing the anti-Semitic comment. When a Mother Jones reporter explained the difference between a Facebook discussion board and a wall, RNC spokesman Doug Heye promised the wall “will be down shortly.” “We’re interested in a civil debate, and any rhetoric or language that is out of bounds is not something we’re interested in hosting and not something we’re interested in hearing,” Heye said.
Kevin Anderson, a Californian Facebook user who describes himself as a “staunch Republican,” alerted Mother Jones to the comments. Anderson says he was banned from commenting on the RNC’s Facebook page after he complained about the anti-Semitic comments to committee officials. He claims that “hooked nose” style photos initially accompanied the posts. Those photos were removed when he first threatened to contact the press, he says.
“While I don’t think this indicates anti-Semitism among the GOP leadership,” Anderson writes. “I feel it indicates that there is a certain laxity among GOP workers in removing anti-Semitic screeds from GOP sounding boards. However, as this is an OFFICIAL GOP sounding board sponsored by the Republican National Committee and moderated by GOP employees. I think you might have room to indicate certain biases among the workers at the GOP and indicate an ethical climate of its official party organs.”
At Mother Jones, interns review every comment that comes through the system, and delete the most offensive ones, along with a whole bunch of spam. Mother Jones also has an intern who monitors the magazine’s Facebook wall.
Stephen Walt—whose postings on the Middle East routinely provoke a stream of anti-semitic statements—argues that you can’t “judge a blog by its commenters.” Perhaps. But you can certainly judge a blog by how it chooses to deal with those commenters.
Iranian Majlis National Security Committee chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi has said that the Israeli nuclear reactor is within range of Hizbullah missiles, but that Hizbullah did not attack it in the 2006 war because the world does not accept attacking active nuclear reactors for fear of ecological damage.
Well, I for one am impressed that Hezbollah is so committed to environmental issues. Perhaps that explains why they’re so adept at recycling ideology.
Unemployed academic and Holocaust humorist Norman Finkelstein tells the Russian news agency RT that he is lobbying to speak at the United Nations to assist the Middle East Peace Process. See how far you can read without laughing:
I think it’s fair to say without sounding immodest, I am a recognized authority on the conflict – and the fact that I have been personally involved, I have made a substantial commitment, and I even say that in my own little way I’ve paid some price for the commitment I’ve made. Most importantly I’ve tried very desperately, very hard to be reasonable, to figure out a reasonable proposal based on international law to end the conflict.
I have no wish in being the victor over a vanquished Israel. I have no desire and no interest to humiliate it, embarrass it, degrade it or, as I say, push it against the wall so it feels like it has no choice except to strike out….We want a settlement which allows everyone to live proud, productive and peaceful lives.
I guess I’d find this sentiment more credible if this wasn’t the same guy who told Hezbollah that armed resistance was the sole option against Israel and who currently has the following headline on his website: “Dutch to declare January 1-December 31 (excepting December 25) “Holocaust Remembrance Days”; replica of Auschwitz to be built on every city block; microwaves to be stamped ‘Remember the Holocaust!’”
In retrospect, we shouldn’t be surprised by Oliver Stone’s comments on Hitler, the Holocaust and the “Jewish domination of the media” since: (1) He is batshit crazy. (2) Like Hugo Chavez, the subject of the director’s recent fawning documentary, Oliver Stone has a long history of relying on fascist methodology to justify ostensibly Leftist causes.
Back in 1992, NYT Magazine writer John Taylor captured this perfectly:
Oliver Stone, yet another aficionado of Big Lie theorizing, has an equally paranoid view of American society. “The vandals are at the gate…we have a fascist security state running this country…but it is so subtle nobody noticed,” Stone told the Los Angeles Times in 1989.
But Stone is utterly oblivious of the extent to which a fascistic mentality permeates ‘JFK.’ It was Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, who once said that truth had to be placed in the service of the Aryan myth. As Goebbels did when it suited him, Stone used some facts selectively and invented others in order, like Goebbels, to create what (Stone) has called, in an echo of Goebbels, a ‘counter-myth.’ “
Almost a third of Republicans in the House of Representatives have signed on to a resolution expressing support for a preemptive Israeli attack on Iran.
Over at Informed Comment, Juan Cole surmises:
Think about how weird it is. Nearly half of Republicans in the House are from the South, which has relatively few Jewish Americans. So this resolution is likely emanating from the Christian Zionists like John Hagee (who once said that God sent Hitler to punish the Jews for being outside Israel). It is not impossible that the people behind this resolution are fervently hoping for the Judgment Day to come more quickly and look forward to a Middle East apocalypse as a step toward the Return of Christ and the end of that pesky but temporarily necessary Judaism. In other words, for these right wing Americans to call for Israel to go to war on behalf of America is just one more case of white Christians sacrificing Jews for their own interests and is a form of anti-Semitism.
A few reactions: First, on behalf of Jews everywhere, thanks Juan for watching out backs and defending us against Evangelical anti-semitism! (Especially since you are so readily inclined to dismiss charges of Iranian anti-semitism.)
Second, I oppose a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran for several reasons—not least because it would only temporarily delay an Iranian nuclear program, and likely give Tehran a justification to withdraw from the NPT and openly pursue an accelerated nuclear program.
Third, that being said, I’m a bit perplexed that Juan states, without any evidence, that the goal of this Republican resolution is to usher in the End of Times. This isn’t the first time Juan has made some, um, unusual deductive leaps–such as the time he declared that that Israel only wages war in the summertime, because that’s when American and European universities, the “primary nodes of popular opposition,” are closed down.
Indeed, while Juan claims that this resolution is the handiwork of Southern Bible Belters, he fails to note that less than half of the Republicans who co-sponsored this resolution are from South of the Mason-Dixon Line.
I have no doubt that there are Republicans who are pro-Israel to gain support from their Evangelical constituencies. But, like many others, Juan fails to take note of the wider political climate, which offers a more likely explanation that the desire to pave the way for the Return of Christ.
As Caroline Glick notes in the Jerusalem Post:
If going into the November midterm elections House Republicans were to initiate an aggressively pro-Israel agenda as members like Lamborn, Franks, Gohmert, Cantor, Roskam, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and others are already doing, they would compel Democratic members to join them or risk being criticized for abandoning Israel by their Republican opponents in November’s elections.
And that’s the thing of it. While under Obama bipartisan support for Israel has eroded, popular support for Israel has grown. Indeed polls show a direct correlation between Democratic abandonment of Israel and popular abandonment of the Democrats. What this means is that the partisan divide on Israel is a good election issue for Republicans.
Put another way, a number of conservatives believe that Israel could be a potent wedge issue, and a way to distinguish themselves from other Republican challengers.
Remember when everyone was saying that Sarah Palin’s statements about Israeli settlements reflected her extreme Christian beliefs? A few months back, writing in the Forward, Noam Neusner—who served as a speechwriter and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush—offered this insightful commentary on Sarah Palin and fellow 2012 presidential contender Mike Huckabee. Neusner’s column focused on the issue of settlements, but I think it applies to other aspects of GOP pro-Israel posturing:
In standing up to Obama on settlements, Palin and Huckabee have staked out positions significantly to the right of past Republican presidents. George W. Bush’s basic policy was: Build up, but don’t build out, and don’t permit illegal outposts. (Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were even more hostile to settlements.) I don’t recall Palin and Huckabee complaining about the Bush White House’s stance on the issue.
It’s worth noting that other leading Republicans have found a way to take issue with the Obama administration’s stance on settlements without climbing out on the limb that Huckabee and Palin have. The House minority whip, Rep. Eric Cantor, has called the settlement issue “a distraction” from the bigger threat posed by Iran. “The status of the settlement blocks is something to be resolved in future agreements; it is not something we should begin pressuring Israel on now, when there really have not been adequate steps taken by the Arab states and the Palestinians,” Cantor told the Jerusalem Post.
So what explains the zeal on settlements from Huckabee and Palin? It could be that they sincerely believe what they say: America has no right to tell Israelis where to live. One can speculate that their religious convictions play a role shaping their views on this issue. Or maybe Huckabee and Palin simply don’t place much hope in the prospects for a two-state solution.
But their focus on settlements could also be seen as a calculated political move to distinguish themselves from the Republican pack. With virtually the entire Congress — Democrats and Republicans — reliably lining up to support Israel on the easy stuff, you can’t make your mark unless you take on the hard stuff and go further than anyone else.
And the settlement issue, of course, has particular appeal to Christian conservatives who believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people. Saying that settlements are Israel’s right is a way of telling Christian Zionists, “I’m with you.”
I don’t doubt that they have both arrived at their positions on settlements in good faith, though it’s unlikely they have devoted serious study to 42 years of American foreign policy on the issue. And, in any case, they likely see the settlement issue as a cost-free way of scoring political points against an incumbent president who is seen by many as the least friendly president toward Israel since Jimmy Carter.
My suggestion to Juan Cole: Spend more time studying the nuances of American politics. Conservative support for Israel is more complex than the Book of Revelation.
An article on the website of the tabloid Washington Examiner “connects the dots” to make the case that Israeli spies recorded and released the Mel Gibson audio tapes to the public.
Martin Hill, a self-described “Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate”—and a professional conspiracy theorist (his work has been featured on LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened, Infowars, PrisonPlanet, Rense)—writes that:
Granted, acknowledging Israeli spying ability and insinuating their involvement in the latest Gibson debacle may seem like quite a leap. However, if one reviews the history and influence of Mel Gibson and his father Hutton, it shouldn’t be surprising that Israeli interests would do all they can to try and discredit, embarrass, and disgrace them. Gibson, who produced The Passion of The Christ and liberty-themed films such as Braveheart and The Patriot, is clearly a thorn in the side of the anti-religion and anti-patriotism agendists.
Also, among the evidence cited: The Los Angeles Superior Court judge who ordered Mel Gibson to surrender all his firearms previously served as a prosecutor at the U.N. International Court (which is part of the “New World Order” run by you-know-who).
I’m frankly surprised it took this long for this conspiracy theory to emerge. (Usually, the gestation period for Israel/Mossad conspiracy theories is 12 hours or less.)
Keep watch for him to appear on Iran’s Press TV, which has a propensity for interviewing zany conspiracy theorists described as “experts.”
The Israel-bashing group, IRmep (Institute for Research: Middle East Policy), recently held a conference in Washington, D.C. titled “Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal: Espionage, Opacity and Future.” Among the speakers were anti-Zionist journalist Jeffrey Blankfort and the increasingly unhinged John Mearsheimer.
Mearsheimer argues that Israel should give up its nuclear arsenal because it no longer serves any value as a deterrent and because it will likely spark a nuclear arms race in the region:
First of all, there is a fundamentally different strategic environment today than existed in the 1950s and 1960s. And it’s much more favorable from Israel’s point of view. The Soviet Union, as we all know, has gone away. And it is not supplying either Egypt or Syria, or anybody in the neighborhood with meaningful conventional fighting force. Furthermore, Egypt has changed its approach to dealing with Israel and is now effectively a relatively friendly state. It is not an adversary of Israel like it was it the late 1950s throughout the 1960s as well. If you look at what’s happened with regard to the special relationship it’s blossomed since 1973 and the United States and Israel today are basically joined at the hip.
That wasn’t the case back then. And related to that the United States has supplied Israel with the most up-to-date conventional weaponry in its arsenal. And as a result of that fact combined with the fact that the Soviets are no longer supplying the Egyptians and the Syrians the gap between the Israelis on one hand and the Arab states on the other in terms of conventional weaponry is just enormous. No state in its right mind would pick a fight with the Israelis.
On the proliferation front, I would not be surprised if Iran and other countries continue to move down the nuclear road. You already see the Jordanians expressing an interest in developing a signification nuclear enrichment capability. It would be interesting to see if Turkey does. As I said before, I think Iraq will want nuclear weapons if Iran has nuclear weapons. It would be foolish not to from an Iraqi point of view. A Middle East where more than one state has nuclear weapons makes me very, very nervous.
All fair, if debatable, points. However, for the last 20 years, Mearsheimer has argued precisely the opposite for every other country and region. For instance, in 2000, Mearsheimer argued [pdf] in favor of not pressuring India to renounce its nuclear arsenal.
But, even more significant in light of his recent speech, Mearsheimer has opposed the denuclearization of Europe [pdf]:
Many Europeans (and some Americans) seek to eliminate nuclear weapons from Europe altogether. Fashioning this nuclear-free Europe would require that Britain, France, and the Soviet Union rid themselves of these talismans of their sovereignty–an improbable eventuality, to say the least. Those who wish for it nevertheless believe that it would be the most peaceful arrangement possible. In fact a nuclear-free Europe has the distinction of being the most dangerous among the envisionable post-Cold War orders. The pacifying effects of nuclear weapons–the caution they generate, the security they provide, the rough equality they impose, and the clarity of the relative power they create– would be lost. Peace would then depend on the other dimensions of the new order–the number of poles and the distribution of power among them. The geometry of power in Europe would look much as it did between the world wars–a design for tension, crisis, and possibly even war.
[Optimists say that] a non-nuclear Europe would remain peaceful because Europeans recognize that even a conventional war would be horrific. Sobered by history, national leaders will take care to avoid war. This scenario rests on the “obsolescence of war” theory, which posits that modern conventional war had become so deadly by 1945 as to be unthinkable as an instrument of statecraft. War is yesterday’s nightmare.
The fact that the Second World War occurred casts doubt on this theory: if any war could have persuaded Europeans to forswear conventional war, it should have been the First World War, with its vast casualties. The key flaw in this theory is the assumption that all conventional wars will be long and bloody wars of attrition. Proponents ignore the evidence of several wars since 1945, as well as several campaign-ending battles of the Second World War, that it is still possible to gain a quick and decisive victory on the conventional battlefield and avoid the devastation of a protracted conflict. Conventional wars can be won rather cheaply; nuclear war cannot be, because neither side can escape devastation by the other, regardless of what happens on the battlefield. Thus the incentives to avoid war are of another order of intensity in a nuclear world than they are in a conventional world.
There are several other flaws in this scenario. There is no systematic evidence demonstrating that Europeans believe war is obsolete. The Romanians and the Hungarians don’t seem to have gotten the message. However, even if it were widely believed in Europe that war is no longer thinkable, attitudes could change. Public opinion on national-security issues is notoriously fickle and responsive to manipulation by elites as well as to changes in the international environment…..Finally, only one country need decide that war is thinkable to make war possible.
Again, all fair, if debatable points. But notice how every single argument that Mearsheimer makes about Europe doesn’t seem to apply to Israel and the Middle East. In Europe, he argues in favor of the “pacifying effects of nuclear weapons–the caution they generate, the security they provide, the rough equality they impose, and the clarity of the relative power they create.” Not so for Israel, or any other country in the region. He says that, in Europe, “public opinion on national-security issues is notoriously fickle and responsive to manipulation by elites as well as to changes in the international environment.” Not so for Iran and the Arab world, says Mearsheimer. And, while he argues that no country in its right mind would fight a conventional war with Israel, he says that, in Europe, the historic bloody examples of conventional warfare in Europe do not act as a deterrent against future conventional conflicts.
And, of course, since this is John Mearsheimer, he explains how the “Israel Lobby” plays a role in all of this:
The Israelis can do almost anything and get away with it….If I went to the Middle East, and visited Israel, and I was killed, somebody shot me, do you think there would be any accountability? Seriously. If any of you went to the Middle East and were killed, do you think there would be accountability? There wouldn’t be. This is how outrageous this situation is. Just think about the [USS] Liberty, think about Rachel Corrie, think about this Turkish-American who was just killed on the flotilla.
The lobby believes it can finesse any issue. They’ve never seen an issue that they can’t finesse…..America’s interests and Israel’s interests are going to continue to diverge. And the end result of that, back here in the United States, is that the lobby is going to have to work overtime to cover that up and make it look like everything is hunky-dory when in fact it’s not.
Yes, he’s now fantasizing that the Israelis would shoot him and the Lobby would cover it up. Paranoid narcissism, thy name is Mearsheimer.
Media outlets have learned that hiring professional bloggers—especially provocative bloggers who “dare to speak out”™—are a relatively inexpensive and surefire way to increase web traffic. Unfortunately, those same blogs are often magnets for anti-semitic reader comments—and the media outlets have neither the resources nor the inclination to monitor their sites.
As Lee Smith writes in Tablet Magazine:
[The numbers of comments] suggest that the purpose of Stephen Walt’s blog is to act as a magnet for the animus of a readership hostile not only to Israel but also to American figures friendly to Israel, especially American Jews. Whether that bothers the owners of The Washington Post or thrills the advertising staff is another question. Jeffrey Goldberg believes that big media companies have morally blinded themselves to the ramifications of using anti-Semitism to attract readers. “I suppose that to the managers of Foreign Policy, traffic is traffic,” Goldberg says. “But in the course of building that traffic they’re surfacing some fairly dreadful invective about Jews. I don’t think they’d be comfortable surfacing the same kind of invective about African-Americans or other groups. But there seems to be a high tolerance for hosting a Jew-baiting blog.”
While it is difficult and in some cases perhaps undesirable to keep reader-comment sections completely free of insults, racist slurs, paranoid rantings, and threats of violence, it is also the case that some authors and certain subjects, regardless of the author or argument, are more likely than others to stir up the cesspool. Robert Mackey’s The Lede blog at The New York Times serves up a steady diet of Israel-related stories that give hardcore anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic commenters a home at the paper but is energetic in removing the most egregious posts.
Commenters who are shut out at The Lede can find a welcoming home on Lobeblog, hosted by Jim Lobe, a journalist with the IPS News Agency who believes that the roots of the U.S. invasion of Iraq lay not in the White House or the Defense Department, or in U.S. dependence on Arab oil, but in a small neoconservative outfit called the Project for a New American Century, which was supposedly run by American Jews looking to direct U.S. policy on behalf of the Israeli government.
What is notable about such comments is not that they are original or unusual, but that there are hundreds and thousands of them, each sicker and crazier than the next, appended like a mile-long oil slick to nearly any mainstream news story or opinion piece that mentions Israel.
There was a time when American publications could easily ward off the fringe population of semi-literate paranoids and shut-ins who seek admission to mainstream American intellectual life by writing crazy letters.
Walt and his anti-Israel blogging colleagues have become the respectable face of Jew-baiting. They’re the cesspool’s avatars.
Once again, the punditocracy is debating if and when Israel will launch a preemptive strike against Iran. However, a couple of analysts believe that a more likely scenario in the coming months is another conflict with Hezbollah.
Daniel C. Kurtzer, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt (and, former commissioner of the Israel Baseball League), has just published a paper at the Council on Foreign Relations. While he believes it’s possible that Hezbollah might provoke a war, he thinks it more likely that Israel would initiate the conflict:
Hezbollah has probably already breached the limits of what Israel considers acceptable behavior. The sheer number and enhanced quality of rockets Hezbollah has acquired in the past few years worry Israeli defense and homeland security planners, as does the effort by Hezbollah to acquire longer-range and more accurate surface-to-surface missiles. During the 2006 conflict, about one million Israeli civilians were forced to evacuate their homes in northern Israel because of Hezbollah rocket attacks; in a future war, that number would almost certainly rise because of the longer-range and greater accuracy of new Hezbollah weaponry. Israel views Hezbollah’s acquisition of Scud missiles (some varieties of which could reach Israeli targets from as far away as northern Lebanon) or the Syrian M-600 rockets (which can carry a 500-pound warhead a distance of 155 miles with an advanced guidance system) as a strategic threat. Another Israeli “redline” is Hezbollah’s acquisition of advanced surface-to-air missiles, such as the S-300, which would reduce Israel’s air superiority over Lebanon. Israel views its reconnaissance missions over Lebanon as critical in light of the failure of the international community and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701. It also views as critical its ability to establish aerial dominance in the event of another war. The combination of these three factors—the size and quality of Hezbollah’s missile inventory; the possible acquisition of long-range, accurate missiles; and the possible upgrading of Hezbollah’s surface-to-air missile capability—changes the equilibrium on the ground to an extent that Israel views as threatening.
An Israeli military strike on Hezbollah could unfold in several ways. In the most likely scenario, Israel could exploit what its military planners call an “operational opportunity,” that is, an attack against a convoy carrying long-range weapons or against a storage facility in Lebanon. Alternatively, Israel might choose to attack facilities and weapon storage sites in Syria that it claims Hezbollah is using.
David Schenker at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs also thinks war is possible, though he believes that Iran, Syria and Hezbollah are more likely to initiate hostilities, based upon what was said at the February “Resistance Summit” that included Assad, Ahmadinejad and Hassan Nasrallah:
While the Syria-Iran bilateral meeting and subsequent press conference was described in some detail by Assad regime insider Ibrahim Humaydi in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, far less is known about what Assad, Ahmadinejad, and Nasrallah discussed during their dinner meeting the next day. According to the account in Hizbullah’s online magazine Al Intiqad, the meeting was about “the escalating strategic response of the axis of the confrontationist, rejectionist, and resistance states” to the U.S.-Israeli threat. Significantly, this article also suggested that war with Israel was on the horizon:
“Resorting to the most extreme decision – that is, launching and setting a war on its path – will decide the final results. In any case, if reasonable calculations prevail, they will lead to producing comprehensive and specific [Israeli] compromises or it will lead to postponing the war which still waits for its most appropriate time for everyone.”