walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Published on: March 9, 2010
The Night Yasser Arafat Kissed Me

The stars were sparking over Gaza on the unforgettable night when Yasser Arafat kissed me — gently, tenderly, sincerely.  I’ve rarely felt more relaxed or more comfortable with a world leader; he was kneading my shoulders and massaging my back at the time.  As the tension of a hard day drained out of me, I looked wonderingly at our reflections in the window as he closed his sensitive and expressive eyes and bent down to kiss me on the crown of my head.

It had been a hard day; a long business lunch at a fish restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean, a quick dip in the water, and one meeting after another.  In the afternoon I spent some time with Madame Arafat; she converted to Islam before marrying the leader of the Palestinian national movement, but had a beautiful, autographed biography of John Paul II on her coffee table.  She was very excited; to help with the Palestinian struggle she had planned a benefit in Paris to help Palestinian hospitals and we passed an agreeable hour as she told me of her plans.Yasser Arafat

I bring up this tranquil, tender moment when two busy lives intersected because I’m about to do something that usually makes for trouble: while continuing to blog on a range of subjects over the next week to ten days I’ll put up some more posts on the reasons why the United States supports Israel as much as we do.  I’ve touched on this subject before; my post on the “Israel Lobby Syndrome,” or ILS, that strikes some of our foreign policy specialists from time to time was not universally popular — anymore than Chairman Arafat was.  You can look at the comments page or check here and here to see some interesting responses.

Now some of the trouble I brought on myself; ‘realist’ is a word that so many people use in so many senses that I should have understood that its use in this context would only confuse matters.  I suppose I had in mind the misguided book written by two prominent ‘realist’ scholars that appeared a couple of years ago on this subject.  (Here is a link to the review of the book I wrote at the time in Foreign Affairs.)  It’s also true that some of the people whose bad advice led President Obama into the biggest and most costly foreign policy blunder of his administration so far are often called ‘realists.’  For those with short memories, these are the people who seem to have persuaded the President to issue a public demand that Israel freeze all settlement activity.  This was based on a completely unrealistic understanding of America’s leverage over Israel.  Israel rejected the President’s demand out of hand, and the rejection set President Obama’s hopes for progress toward peace in the region back by at least a year. This was bad for him, bad for the United States, bad for Israel and bad for the Palestinians.

I often hear self-described realists urging us to do completely unrealistic things when it comes to Israel, and the earlier post reflected that.  I remain genuinely puzzled why people who in other contexts have quite interesting things to say manage to trip up in such foolish and self-defeating ways when the I-word comes up, but you can’t tar all realists with that brush, and to anybody out there who felt unfairly besmirched by the association — I’m sorry.

Blogging on US-Israel relations is a political nightmare; there is so much mistrust, wounded righteousness and ill feeling on all sides that it’s hard to strike the right tone and make your points clearly enough to avoid being misunderstood.  The core points I want to make aren’t about whether American foreign policy toward Israel is a good thing or not, but this debate is so politicized that if you criticize the thesis that American policy toward Israel represents the power of American Jews people assume that you are part of the lobby. In fact, arguably the people who suffer the most from mistaking the political basis of America’s policy in the Middle East are those who want to change it.  Those who don’t understand the American politics of this issue are never going to come up with effective strategies for change.

Frankly, those who think they can make substantive changes in American policy toward Israel by attacking the Jews and the Israel lobby remind of some bulls I once saw at the bull fights in Madrid.  Bull after bull went for the red cape, not the matador.  Bull after bull went down in the dust as the crowds cheered and threw flowers.  That is pretty much what has happened to those who want to distance the US from Israel; they go for the highly visible and attractive target of the Israel lobby, and time after time they go down. I don’t think this is smart, but don’t let me stop anybody’s fun.

I’ll get into the reasons why I think the Israel lobby is more matador’s cape than matador going forward, but there’s one difficult subject that needs to be addressed up front, and that issue is anti-Semitism.  This form of prejudice is as deeply embedded in western Christian history as racism is in American culture.  As a native South Carolinian born back in the days of legally-enforced racial segregation, I have learned a lot about the subtle qualities and stubborn persistence of racist images and ideas that you take in unconsciously from the culture that shapes you.We’ve come a long way in fighting both types of prejudice, but you’d have to be naive and ignorant to think they have just vanished away.  I am always nervous around people who stridently insist that racism has disappeared in mainstream American life and only lingers on in weirdo subcultures; I feel the same way about people who say that anti-Semitism is no longer a significant feature of western culture.  I am especially leery when people who loudly and implausibly assert that anti-Semitism isn’t a problem anymore make harsh and unbalanced criticisms about the world’s only Jewish state.

I’m not trying to grade the incommensurable suffering of people around the world, but if we compare the attention and care that the international community has extended to the Palestinians with our attention and support for other victims in other places, a disturbing pattern emerges. Whatever the wrongs of Israel’s occupation policy — and I agree that there are some — the Palestinians, especially in the West Bank but even in Gaza, live much better than many people in the world whose suffering attracts far less world attention — and whose oppressors get far less criticism.  I would much rather be a Palestinian, even in Gaza, than a member of a minority tribe in the hills of Myanmar, or almost anyone in the Eastern Congo or Darfur.  Millions of children in Pakistan and Indonesia have less food security, less educational opportunity and less access to health services than Palestinians who benefit from UN services (to which the United States is historically the largest single contributor) that poor people in other countries can only dream of.

Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

The disproportionate reactions to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians constitutes a genuine scandal and pretty much proves that anti-Semitism did not die when Hitler shot himself underneath Berlin.  Russia treats its Chechens much worse than Israel treats its Arabs yet there are plenty of self righteous German leftists who want to disinvest from Israel but favor closer relations with Putin’s Russia.  These people will hotly deny that they are anti-Semites and get all huffy and moralistic; I am not sure that the rest of us should take them at their word.  The pious people in Turkey who have gotten so angry recently about Israeli actions in Gaza haven’t perhaps thought as deeply as they could have about Turkey’s record with the Armenians, Greeks and the Kurds.  Although life is far from perfect for Arabs in Israel, Muslim and Christian Arabs generally have more freedom, dignity and equality in Israel than Christian Arabs, Jews and non-Arab ethnic groups enjoy in many Arab countries.

I’m not trying to say that anti-Semitism is the only reason why people react with disproportionate outrage to Israeli wrongdoings.  This dispute has lasted so long and events like the last war in Gaza are covered so much more thoroughly on television than other violent episodes, and the Israelis are so much more open about allowing the world press to see what is going on that Israeli actions and their consequences are well publicized.  And for people in Europe, Israel is close at hand and seems in many ways part of the same cultural space; events there somehow seem more real than bigger problems farther way.  It is also true that some ’causes’ somehow get to be more chic and interesting than others; the Palestinian cause is ‘in’ in a way that, say, the cause of Iranian Baluchistan or of Christian tribal people in northeastern India is not.  And of course for the Palestinians and their allies, mobilizing public anger against Israel is an important tactic in the long-running dispute.

But even after making all the possible and necessary allowances, there is something disturbing about the widespread excessive fixation on Jewish shortcomings.  Almost the whole world is barking obsessively and furiously at the Jews while ignoring equal or worse problems on every side. At worst and far too frequently, this is anti-Semitism in full career: virulent, murderous, irrational, vile.  It must be opposed, and it must be called to account.

I have no doubt that most of the official criticism that Israel receives from the European Union (to take one example) is hypocritical hogwash.  If any democratic European country faced the same kinds of threats that Israel did — hostility from the region, a constant threat of suicide bombers, persistent legal and political efforts to delegitimize the state, periodic uprisings among ethnic minorities, and rocket attacks from areas just over its frontier — those tut-tutting moralists would show another side of their character and act at least as ruthlessly as Israel sometimes does.  (And sometimes, as in Israel’s case, their anger and fear would lead them to do things that were unwise and self-defeating.  No democracy under the threats and pressures that Israel has faced throughout its existence could avoid excesses and even crimes.)

Now to give them their credit, I believe that many of the individuals who denounce Israel’s policies would also denounce the tough policies that their own governments would adopt in similar circumstances.  After all, many Israeli intellectuals and others denounce some of Israel’s policies. However, stridently emotional critics of Israel’s policies who spend more time and more energy on Israel than they do on other, more serious human rights abuses around the world and who come from countries with long histories of deeply rooted anti-Semitism (which is virtually every country in Europe) should take a good hard look at that righteous rage.  Yes it feels good to let that anger run free.  But remember please that Satan likes to appear as an angel of light.  Mistaking hatred and resentment for a disinterested love of justice is one of the most common and most destructive mistakes human beings can make.

Furthermore, while I am reluctant to call out individuals, I believe that unconscious but real anti-Semitism informs many contemporary attitudes toward the Jewish state.  I’ve run across a surprisingly large number of people who believe that Israel’s right to exist is conditional: that Israel has to earn and keep re-earning its legitimacy by behaving better than other countries.  I have also been told many times that the Jews are not a “real” people.

These views are anti-Semitic, pure and simple.  The Jews are a real people, a nation, and they have the same right to self determination that other nations have.  The Jewish state is the expression of their natural right to self-determination and whether that state behaves well or badly, wisely or foolishly, it has the same right to exist as Finland, the United States or Egypt.  To deny the right of the Jews to a state is to deny them a basic human right on account of their nationality; I’m sorry, but this is anti-Semitic behavior. If you work very hard, and are very clever and exceptionally careful in your moral and political judgments, it is technically possible for a gentile to be an anti-Zionist without being an anti-Semite, but this state of mind is not as easy to achieve as many people think.  Many and perhaps most of those who insist so self-righteously on this precious distinction haven’t worked nearly hard enough to earn it.

Opposing particular Israeli policies, of course, is very different from opposing the right of the Jewish people to have a state.  Opposition to a given Israeli policy or even set of policies may be a sign of a passionate attachment to the Jewish people and their right to have and protect a state.  An article in the current American Interest by former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer offers a pretty devastating critique of Israel’s settlement policy as it has been carried out. In the same way, it’s not anti-Semitic to argue that the United States should change its policy toward Israel.

Finally, the belief that only Israeli recalcitrance prevents the outbreak of peace in the Middle East strikes me as delusional.  We all want this horrible, draining and destabilizing conflict to end, but there is very little prospect for a settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians anytime soon.  The two sides share responsibility for this situation and to some degree both sides are trapped by a logic for which neither side is fully to blame.  Certainly the desire of some ultra-Zionists to continue building settlements in the West Bank is a factor, as is the much more widespread Israeli determination to hang on to every inch of East Jerusalem that they can.  On the Palestinian side, however, the obstacles are equally deep and to make matters worse, with outside powers like Syria and Iran meddling constantly in Palestinian politics for reasons of their own.  Weak leadership, fragile institutions and a lack of a sufficiently strong consensus among Palestinians worldwide to accept partition as the final outcome to the long struggle would continue to obstruct a peace settlement even if all the Israeli obstacles were to disappear.  And if the Palestinians and Israelis reach an agreement, other countries in the Middle East are likely to continue to stir the embers of hatred for generations to come.  Even if there is a formal settlement, we are likely to see decades of continuing violence and retaliation.  Some Palestinians (and some Israelis) will reject the peaceful solution and the compromise of partition; outside powers and the Palestinian diaspora are likely to fund groups committed to armed struggle.  Bombs will go off; rockets will fire; Israel will at times retaliate.  The legacy of the struggle is too deep, too bitter to fade away all at once.

Managing unhappiness rather than building utopia is what we Americans are likely to be doing in the Middle East for the foreseeable future.  We will be trying first to reduce the ability of Palestinian-Israeli confrontations and violence to disturb our other regional interests.  Second we will be working to improve the conditions of daily life for both groups, and especially for Palestinians who need the help more.  Finally, we will be doing our poor best to develop the network of ideas, institutions and policies that can bring Israelis and Palestinians together to settle the most contentious of the issues that divide them.

Back on that scented evening during the Clinton administration as the breakers crashed on the beach and Chairman Arafat bent down to give me his kiss, I was more optimistic about the prospects of Middle East peace than ever before.  It’s all been downhill from that moment; Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all brought big hopes to the region.  Let’s hope Obama’s luck changes, but for now there doesn’t seem to be much sign of it.  The Iranians and the Syrians seem to be blowing off his overtures of friendship; the Saudis are confessing their disappointment to Maureen Dowd.

Given all that, I’m not going to spend precious blogging time writing new peace plans for two sides who don’t want my help.  But over the next week as I go forward with this subject I’ll try at least to make clear to Americans and others just why the United States has been and remains so supportive of the Jewish state.  In part, however, the answer is this: western anti-Semitism, while still a force in American life, is for a variety of reasons weaker in the contemporary United States than it is in other parts of the Christian and post-Christian west.

show comments
  • Luke Lea

    To my dear German friends, Hans and Gretel:

    I have often wondered why Europe doesn’t accept responsibility for the plight of the Palestinians? After all, it was European anti-Semitism that drove the Jews out of Europe and started all the trouble in the first place. But then of course nobody likes to acknowledge their own sins, whole countries especially. Which gives me an idea. Why doesn’t Germany take the lead in persuading her European neighbors to face up to this truth? After all, alone among the nations of Europe Germany has already accepted responsibility for her anti-Semitic past. That means you have moral standing. Wouldn’t it be nice to be on the moral high horse for a change? Aren’t you tired of being made the scape goat for other peoples’ sins — as if the Holocaust were the whole story of anti-Semitism in Europe, or did not require the active cooperation of all your European neighbors?

    Anyway I’m not saying this would solve whole the Palestinian problem or bring peace to the Middle East. Even so it would be interesting to know what in the way of material compensation it would take to induce the majority of ordinary Palestinians to support the terms of the Oslo peace process? I guess that’s something you would have to work out with them.

    Until then I remain your confederate twin brother in moral turpitude, Luke

  • fw

    1) I would like to know why it was acceptable for Stephen Walt to support the the Iraq War in 1991, but a matter of treason if any Jew supported the Iraq War ten years later?

    2) I would also like to know why Stephen Walt call Thomas Friedman a part of the Israel Lobby, when Friedman has been vigorously denouncing Israeli Settlement activity for more than two decades, and also coined the so-called “you break it, you own it” rule attributed to Iraq, and wrongly ascribed to Colin Powell.

    3) I would further like to know how it is that Walt says that Cheney and Bush “played a critical role” in launching the Iraq War, rather than assigning them primary responsibility for initiating it, as Vice President and President.

    4) How do Walt and Mearsheimer posit a state of “dual loyalty” for Jews, when Jews overwhelmingly opposed George W. Bush in both elections. Would Al Gore have launched a war against Iraq?

    5) Jewish members of Congress were overwhelmingly opposed to the first Iraq War, and and a greater percentage of them were opposed to the second Iraq War than their non-Jewish colleagues, though the margin was narrower. Why are they part of the “Israel Lobby”?

    6) Jews voted in higher percentages for Barack Obama than any other ethnic group excepting African-Americans. McCain was considered the candidate of neocons and the “Israel Lobby”. Yet why does Walt still refer to the Israel Lobby as a Jewish phenomenon?

    7) George W. Bush was known for years to harbor an animus against Sadam Hussein, on account of the latter’s assassination attempt against his father. Why don’t Walt and Mearsheimer make more of this?

    8) We spend vastly more money on the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf, to protect Saudi Oil Fields, than we do supporting Israel, and yet the Israel Lobby is treated by Walt and Mearsheimer as the driving force in setting policy in the region.

    9) Most high profile Neo-conservatives have come out publicly opposing an attack on Iran. Yet Walt portrays them as driving the country toward war with that country. Is he entitled to make up facts to attribute to Jews?

  • http://n.a. Adam Garfinkle

    Agree wholeheartedly with pretty much all of this, and even thank you for it — though the parts about Arafat are little sickening, frankly.

    And I am very happy you mentioned Dan Kurtzer’s article in the March/April issue of THE AMERICAN INTEREST. Readers might be interested to know that Ambassador Kurtzer is not only Jewish, but is a religious and well-educated Jew. When he was US ambassador to Egypt, before his posting to Israel, the residence was fitted out with a kosher kitchen. To call Kurtzer an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew for criticizing Israel is absurd, as absurd as looking back into history to criticize Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, the founder of modern Orthodoxy in the 19th century, for having essentially anti-Zionist views.

    Of course there is anti-Semitism, and outside the US it is growing, unfortunately. In Europe, in particular, the form that Jewcentricity takes there is largely negative due to some very deep history. In the US, however, the form it takes is largely philo-Semitic. I think many people, many Jews especially, exaggerate how much anti-Semitism there is in the US. The ADL, for example, regularly exaggerates it for fund-raising purposes, in my view, and its leader has made the argument that sharply rising and already high levels of intermarriage and assimilation is caused by anti-Semitism. Jews are not affiliating because they are scared to do so, in other words.

    This is nonsense. The intermarriage and assimilation rates are what they are not because of what non-Jews have done, but because of what Jews have done; namely, not educated their children properly and not respected and practiced their own traditions. This is so obvious that it hardly needs to be pointed out, one would think; but so deluded are so many self-avowedly secular Jewish Americans that they really believe the crazy explanations they invent, so as not to call attention to the real source of their troubles. So it goes and, historically, not for the first time.

    But Walter, as happy as I am that you mentioned TAI, I am disappointed that, again, you did not mention JEWCENTRICITY, which, as I hope and assume you know, goes into all the subjects in your post at some length (except about Arafat kissing you on the head). What do I have to do to get you to acknowledge my brilliant book?

  • Norwegian Shooter

    OMG – what utter pap. “precious blogging time”?!? You wasted 2,761 words building up to your lame one-sentence answer.

    You addressed exactly zero of the points Larison and Scoblete brought up. Avoid your English training bias and skip the definition of “realist” – the question is whether there is broad American support for Israel’s policies towards the occupied territories.

  • Robert

    It is extremely unlikely in the current situation that the Palestinians will make any real movement toward a peace settlement, absent either total societal collapse or a solution imposed and maintained by outsiders through military force. The reason is simple: too many Palestinians have benefited for too many years from the current stalemate.

    Generations of them have grown up in a lawless kleptocracy. Young people have no opportunity to learn different ways and no incentive to search for them.

    If young men spend enough years living with a gun or bomb in one hand, they lose the ability to function as members of a true civil society. And there’s no chance whatever that they will spontaneously create such a society.

  • RedRum

    Screw this foreign policy and politico-sociological blogging! I want the Walter Russell Mead memoirs, to be published by Harlequin. :-)

  • telaviv

    excellent peace

  • Mark

    I am looking forward to more posts on this topic. I am especially want you to discuss how specifically US interests will be damaged if Israel and the US stop being friends. What exactly from a practical standpoint becomes more difficult if, say, Russia or China has more influence in the Middle East than it does today? In what way will we be less safe? The more specifics, the better. Thanks.

  • Peter

    Kisses aside, there will never be peace in the Middle East between Arab and Jew. Fact.

  • WigWag

    It’s easy to see what Mead is driving at; Americans overwhelmingly support Israel because, at least to some extent, anti-Semitism has been conquered in the United States. His corollary is equally clear; Europeans are far less sympathetic to the Israelis because anti-Semitism is still such a prominent feature of European society.

    It’s really quite a provocative assertion.

    What I think Mead misses is while both the European left and the European right have been anti-Semitic; most of the agitation against Israel has come from Europe’s anti-Semitic left. But the left in Europe is now collapsing; in fact the European left is in extremis. As a result, sympathy for Israel is on the rise in Europe and sympathy for the Palestinians is plummeting,

    Has Mead listened to what the Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Estonians or Latvians have to say about the conflict in the Middle East? Has he read any of Prime Minister Berlusconi’s remarks about Palestinians or the remarks of the new power player in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders? Has he read about the vote that the Swiss just took to forbid their Muslim neighbors from building minarets? Has he read any of the speeches that the likely new British Prime Minster, David Cameron has made about Israel or the Palestinians? Has he compared the point of view of President Sarkozy about the Israel-Palestine conflict with the point of view of Sarkozy’s predecessor, President Chirac? Has he compared Chancellor Merkel’s relationship with Israel with that of her predecessor? Has Mead noticed what’s happened in Denmark?

    As Europe lurches to the right and as relations between Europeans and their new Muslim neighbors continue to deteriorate (which they almost certainly will), the effect that this has on how the Europeans view the Israel-Palestine dispute will be palpable.

    While Europeans will never be as supportive of Israel as Americans are, and while Europe will never exorcise its historical hostility to both Muslims and Jews as Americans have, it is highly likely that Europe will be moving decisively in the direction of the United States on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    In fact, it already has.

  • SC Mike

    Among the canards about the South that need shooting down is hatred of Jews and, by extension for some, Israel. While not a native southerner, I’ve heard about the percale-wearers’ preferences, but I also have eyes that can see the name on the the main administration building for the Palmetto State’s legislature.

    Some time ago the topic of Israel came up in a conversation with several friends who all belong to a hunt club. (They are proud members of diverse club and will tell you that in the membership is not only a Jew, but a bona fide Frenchy!) Their take was distinctly, dare I say, Jacksonian: the Jews needed a country, started one fair and square, seem to run it fairly and freely, even give Arab citizens the vote during regular elections, and should be given a fair amount of leeway in protecting their country from enemies domestic and foreign.

    One member added that his wife, a prominent liberal Democrat attorney, did express some concern one time about the Israeli’s use of aircraft firing missiles to kill known Palestinian terrorists. He addressed her concerns by reminding her how he, a responsible hunter know for his fine sense of sportsmanship, eliminated what had been a recurring vermin problem at their lakefront home one July 4th using the nearby fireworks to cover the sound of his own enhanced underground fireworks. Sometimes one has little choice when one can’t get a clean shot with a rifle, he explained. He allowed as how she doesn’t bring that issue up anymore.

    So while I’m sure your thoughts on this topic will generate some controversy, it’s not a terribly difficult issue for most Americans, no matter what those who know what’s best for us may think.

  • RedRum

    WigWag: In other words, when there were many Jews in Europe, Europeans were antisemitic. Now that most European Jews have somehow disappeared and that Muslims are invading the joint, Europeans are turning against Muslims. Which means that if the US wishes to remain preeminent, we should close all of our military bases there and try to get them replaced by the Chinese PLA.

    Yes, this is tongue in cheek.

  • Barry Meislin

    Interesting article in many ways. I don’t agree with the “Both sides are responsible for the lack of peace between them” argument because the way I see it, while Israel would like a Palestinian state to exist without it threatening the Jewish State, the Palestinians do not want the Jewish State to continue to exist.

    Interesting “symmetry,” that.

    So there is nothing to negotiate. The Palestinians continue to be “oppressed” and “suffer” and thus receive huge amounts of financial aid and sympathy, and they get to continue to deligitimze the Jewish State, all the while maintaining the hope–even as they work—for Israel’s expected demise.

    And as the “process” continues to be intractible, Israel is further demonized, demoralized and diminished. Mustn’t blame the Palestinians (who can’t even agree among themselves how to conduct the war against the Jewish State).

    As for “realism,” well if someone really wants to know what will happen if Israel leaves the West Bank, one has to look no further than what happened when Israel left Southern Lebanon and when Israel left Gaza.

  • Cynic

    Adam Garfinkle,

    With regard to religious and well-educated Jews, there is nothing carved in stone that says that they have to be intelligent, nor realistic.
    Realists they can all be.

  • Joseph

    A kiss from the mother-terrorist of them all is nothing most folks would be proud of!

  • Bigmo

    The reason why Americans support Israel is because of jewish influence on the media and popular culture. jewish organization have also convinced Americans of mass immigration and multi-cultural suicide while Israel wants none of that for itself.

    But its only temporary before the mask falls and a Nationalist movement rises in America(Tea Party)

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  • T.B.

    Just the anti-Semitic drivel being discussed! Israel has had significant immigration from the former Soviet Union,Russia and Ethiopia. Many service workers in Israel come from the Philippines and Romania. Multiculturalism is typically a leftist ideal. Just how and which Jewish organizations you know of have influenced mass immigration to the US? Most immigration over the last 20 plus years has been from Latin America, Somalia. The Tea Party has a mostly domestic agenda, albeit it sounds you’d like them to be seen as and become a quasi supremacist movement, which would be a great disservice. Such igonrance!

  • sharinlite

    The headline grabbed me. The article left me yawning and the comments beyond me. I have had a passion to discover why the Jews are not only so hated, but self-hatred abounds, particularly here in America. Could it be that for about 1700 years, the “west” has done its best to wipe out the Jewish people because of the death of Jesus? Granted, this is part of a religious war that has gone on since then, but, I find it fascinating that the European states prohibited and pogromed the Jews for centuries, forced them into ghettos, prevented their earning any kind of decent living, and then had the chutzpah to actually blame the Jews for their own behavior and its consequences. Then, the Jews being offered a “way out” by the Enlightenment authors and philosophers to leave the Jewish religion and Jewishness itself and become followers of the religion of “Reason”. Besides being murdered in torturous ways, many did and their self-hatred began when they realized that “reason” has nothing to offer any different. Their schizophrenia is based on the reality of today and while damaging to themselves, it is at least understandable.

  • sonberedup

    finally some one spiking the truth.
    אha new anti Semite is in disguise of a humanitarian support to Palestinians,but the truth is no body really cares about them just like they don’t care about the מoorth Koreans or the Sudanic people or Darfur China or any one els for that matter.
    the are worse that Hitler because not only they are racist and antisemitic but they are Hippocrates as well.

  • UtterlyDisgusted

    Using Mead’s logic, it is misguided and Anti-White/Afrikaners to stand up to Apartheid South Africa. I am always amazed how Zionists’ arguments against equality, human rights for the Palestinians, and genuine democracy, and their defense of the Jewish exclusivist system in Israel are virtually identical to those the Afrikaner make in defense of South Africa’s Apartheid. The parallels are there for anyone to see. The difference is that Zionism has proved more deadly. The difference is that Apartheid has become a symbol which people around the world take for granted as being evil. No one gives the time of day to assertions that white security must take precedence over Black (et. al) political rights, that there is no democracy in most African countries, that S.A. is surrounded by hostile non-democratic states, that “Blacks kill more Blacks than Whites”, that “Black really live better in S.A. compared to Blacks elsewhere in Africa”, that Blacks are “really recent immigrants”, that the mostly European settlers are naturally superior to the indigenous inhabitants who do not know “democracy”, that the resistance of the indigenous oppressed people is nothing more than “terrorism”, and so on.

    All these arguments are treated as bunk (many are patently racist). Instead, the world was virtually united in insisting that the situation in South Africa must improve and that full, equal political rights be guaranteed for all. Yet, all the above arguments are casually and regularly made by Israeli supporters in defense of Israel’s Jewish exclusivist nature and its over 40 years of land theft, pogroms, murder and repression in the occupied territories. So in the name of the Zionist “ideal” of a Jewish exclusivist state, the 20% of Israelis who are not Jewish are condemned to a life as second class citizens. Generations of Palestinians (1.8 million people now) are also condemned to a life of suffering and brutal repression under
    Israeli military occupation. There is only one word to describe this sort of attitude: racism.

  • UtterlyDisgusted

    Mead writes: “I’ve run across a surprisingly large number of people who believe that Israel’s right to exist is conditional”

    Did Apatheid South Africa have an unconditional “right to exisit”? Did the former USSR have an absolute right to exist? Why should a settler-colonialist exclusivist (i.e., racist) state like Zionist Israel today have an unconditional right to exisit? Is it because the victims in this case happen to be pesky Arabs/Muslims? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Marc R

    I don’t disagree with anything you have said here, but I think there is an additional reason that the Palestinian cause has been so popular.

    Spectacular terrorism. Blowing up airplanes and killing Olympians gets the whole world talking about you and inspires the anti-imperialists.

  • UtterlyDisgusted

    Writing about the “South”, SC Mike, notes above: “Some time ago the topic of Israel came up in a conversation with several friends who all belong to a hunt club. (They are proud members of diverse club and will tell you that in the membership is not only a Jew, but a bona fide Frenchy!) Their take was distinctly, dare I say, Jacksonian: the Jews needed a country, started one fair and square, seem to run it fairly and freely, even give Arab citizens the vote during regular elections, and should be given a fair amount of leeway in protecting their country from enemies domestic and foreign.”

    Let’s see: The white-settler Afrikaners needed a country (apartheid SA), started one “fair and square”, seem to run it fairly and freely, even gave some non-whites (“Coloured”) people the vote during regular elections, and should have been given a fair amount of leeway in protecting their coutry (er: privilaged status compared to indegenous natives) from enemies domestic and foreign. Heck, let’s bring back Jim Crow… What’s wrong with that?

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  • Jelperman

    Since when is tu quoque an argument?

    More sophistry from Israel’s […] apologists.

  • AKUS

    I came across this excellent article while reading Red Lines for the Left on CiFWatch, whose mandate is to track obsessive anti-Israeli and anti-Semite commentary in the UK Guardian.

    Your words mirror exactly the criticism CiFWacth and commenters like me have of the endless articles pouring out anti-Israeli bias in a way that no other country or people are addressed in what was once a fine newspaper, with commentary by readers adorned with a liberal helping of anti-Semitism and, if not quite Holocaust denial, attempts to downplay the extent and significance of both.

    This article needs to be more broadly disseminated through the mainstream press.

  • AKUS

    By the way – Aaron David Miller commented on his attempts to avoid a kiss from Arafat when the latter arrived at the abortive Camp David talks. But I think he was no more successful than you – Arafat was, apparently, a determined kisser.

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  • Juan Corazon

    “I looked the man in the eye,” “I was able to get a sense of his soul.” GW Bush on V. Putin 2001.

    Evil tyrants are experts at pretending to be good.

  • Robert G

    It hurts me to have come to the conclusion that there will never be peace in the Middle East.

    There is absolutely no chance that the enemies of Israel, both soft and hard, will ever give up the philosophy that |srael has no right to exist. And as a result of that axiom, Israel will never give up its right to exist.

    All kidding aside, Israel is strong enough to destroy the whole worlds as are another 5 or 6 nations. Israel will not be going down aithout the entire Muslim world so whats the sense in the long run. Jokingly, a billiom muslims looking for 72 virgins each might finally get the point across because obviously the fact that Israel is nuclear and determined to survive hasn’t

    I’m not going to be around to see how this thing moves along, but in this era of technological growth at exponential speed, its going to be interesting to watch my neighbors in the west bank beating their donkeys as they continue to truck their manure uphill, while Israel creates the next wave of non-oil cars…i’ll miss it

    Best of luck to those dreamers who still believe in a Palestinian Israeli peace process while the great grandchildren of the Naqba still sit in squalor… just aint gonna happen !!

  • Logan

    humanity is the key, to both our destruction; and salvation!! Just because someone believes differently, does not make either party any less wrong or right! The truth is, that every side is to blame in some way or another..EVERYONE!! On the brink of darkness there shall be a new light.. But that light will never arrive for anyone, unless the entire world can give peace a chance, to give eachother a chance! we must put asside our pride and our prejudice towards one another, not just to people in our “circle” but to all!!! only then can we ever bring about a true era of peace, only then will we truly have made progress or begin to evolve.. If anyone has anythought

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