Quotes of the Afternoon

2:39 PM

This meretricious act of violence – like the brutal assault on Gaza itself – has further isolated Israel from what friends and allies it still has. The Turkish government has called this “inhumane state terror

(Heh. Well, it’s true they have a lot of expertise in that field.)

[…]

The suicide continues … and US aid to Israel, especially military aid, should be suspended until the Israeli government starts acting like something other than a rogue state.

2:49 PM

So 30 activists managed to beat up 30 armed commandos! Here’s also a lovely linguistic touch: “rioters.” Rioters? These were people on their own boat in international waters, resisting a military attack.

I take the Dish’s point, but “military attack”? They didn’t shoot a boat down with a torpedo or strafe it with Machine gun fire, or come on the deck with guns blazing, not even their paintball guns. If a border guard approaches you and says you’re going to have to turn around yourself, or get arrested and sent back to your country, is that being “attacked”? The threat of force is involved.

They knew the navy’s intentions. Granted that doesn’t address the question of where they were stopped.

That makes them rioters? In that word alone, you get a glimpse into the Israeli mindset.

I wouldn’t have said “rioters” either … they did more than that.

[UPDATE, 6/1: The Guardian says “rioters” in an Op-Ed very hostile to Israel.]

3:22 PM

A simple point. The violence by the activists is pretty abhorrent. These are not followers of Gandhi or MLK Jr. But the violence is not fatal to anyone and it is in response to a dawn commando raid by armed soldiers. They are engaging in self-defense. More to the point: theya r civilians confronting one of the best militaries in the world. They killed no soldiers; their weapons were improvised; the death toll in the fight is now deemed to be up to 19 – all civilians.

It staggers me to read defenses of what the Israelis have done. They attacked a civilian flotilla

They tried to forcibly stop a flotilla, which only involved actual violence on the one boat that was delivering … classic chants to kill all the Jews like Muhammad did in a famous pogrom:

in international waters breaking no law. When they met fierce if asymmetric resistance, they opened fire. And we are now being asked to regard the Israelis as the victims.

The Dish doesn’t know international law very well.

3:34 PM

Just imagine if a flotilla of anti-Tehran activists were attacked in international waters by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and that the Guards killed 16 or more of the civilians. What do you think Commentary would be saying then?

Where’s the embargo and blockade of the Iranian people by the Revolutionary Guard in that analogy? Would these anti-Tehran activists be coming in with Facebook?

3:36

Quotes Goldblog (see post below!), asking

“Where Is The Wisdom” ?

… Not yet a question to be asked about the Turkish government and the IHH … Too early in the day, I guess.

Goldberg continues that joke on himself

The post:

On the Disappearance of Jewish Wisdom, Far Out at Sea

Goldberg hasn’t really come to that conclusion. This is the start of how he painfully positions himself, by cuing different sides to come at him with abuse, in the middle.

From emailers on the Right, he’ll get crap because of the overlap he has with this:

Says Winograd, “I suspect the murders were committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. Ironically, the killings are bound to heighten awareness about the brutal blockade and to increase pressure to end the imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza.”

Adds Winograd, “Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Enough, we must stop this, and adhere to the laws that have been established by the international community. […]

From pundits on the Left, he’ll get crap because of the overlap he has with this:

From the Dish, he may be quoted for crap on Israel … and then for crap on Goldblog.

Goldberg doesn’t know how wise the world will view the wisdom of one ship — from the IHH — the only one out of 8 in the aid flotilla that was not a cargo ship, but a passenger vessel manned for the purpose of armed confrontation. The purpose of that ship might very well be seen as distinct from the “Free Gaza” aid-media mission.

As a way to gloss over the premeditated mayhem above, I expect will be hearing the phrase “international waters” a lot in the next few weeks — and in response the phrase “the San Remo Manual.”

Mearsheimer’s “provocative” turn from “Israel Lobby” Jews & Gentiles to “New Afrikaner” Jews

In the next few days, I’m going to post something about how the Dish’s categories of Jews, such as “the Goldfrab-Krauthammer wing,” compares to the category of the “New Afrikaners” in John Mearsheimer ‘s recent speech at the Palestine Center, “The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. New Afrikaners.” I want to look at how flexible these kind of categories soon become and why.

Before I post about that question, I wanted to get a few preliminary points out of the way about Sullivan’s charitable treatment of Mearsheimer’s speech. I won’t address the factual errors in the speech or the problems in Mearsheimer’s time-lines that the Dish didn’t pick up on. I’d rather look at a few things he got wrong not for need of general research:

(1)

What happen to the non-Jews who enable this alleged wrongdoing?  Mearsheimer had said in his book The Israel Lobby and in discussions about his book, that it was important to emphasize that he was not indicating a “Jewish Lobby” but a lobby of various American factions, including many non-Jews, joining together in support of Israel.

But here’s Mearsheimer now:

American Jews who care deeply about Israel can be divided into three broad categories.  The first two are what I call “righteous Jews” and the “new Afrikaners,” which are clearly definable groups that think about Israel and where it is headed in fundamentally different ways.  The third and largest group is comprised of those Jews who care a lot about Israel, but do not have clear-cut views on how to think about Greater Israel and apartheid. Let us call this group the “great ambivalent middle.”

I don’t see what exempts various gentiles from being considered part of this New Afrikaner cohort. Perhaps Mearsheimer can explain how gentiles have left the picture, or at least explain what happened to the necessary “carefulness” that he espoused before.

One could argue that Mearsheimer is saying that the process of the “Righteous Jews” gaining adherents from the “great ambivalent middle” Jews will be what turns America away from supporting Apartheid Israel. Gentiles will see that if Jews are starting to decrease their support for Israel, then it is probably less deserving of their support. Unfortunately, Mearsheimer writes:

The key to determining whether the lobby can protect apartheid Israel over the long run is whether the great ambivalent middle sides with the new Afrikaners or the righteous Jews.  The new Afrikaners have to win that fight decisively for Greater Israel to survive as a racist state.

Mearsheimer contends that the New Afrikaners have a particular lobbying power over American Jewry. So even trying to exculpate Mearsheimer on the grounds that he thinks Jewish opinion will be the vanguard for American gentile opinion, it appears that these New Afrikaners hold a special place within his “Israel Lobby” so that they right now command Jewish opinion and by extension hold back gentile opinion from changing toward justice.

In fact, Mearsheimer helpfully connects the New Afrikaners to the Lobby by noting,

I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners.  That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones.  I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic.  It would be easy to add more names to this list.

Easy, yes. But it would be literally impossible to add a non-Jewish name to the list, since it precludes gentile members of the Israel Lobby.

In the very near future — ten years, Mearsheimer predicts! — it will be all the more necessary for the New Afrikaners to do the hard work that is essential within the Israel Lobby. Gentile members will be like miscellaneous troops, not decisive in planning operations or in the combat necessary to sustain apartheid. That’s what follows if you want to get behind a myopic defense of Mearsheimer’s turn from “Israel Lobby” to “New Afrikaner” Jews.

(2)

Sullivan writes, trying to accuse Mearsheimer’s critics/dissenters of being out of control in their rhetoric:

In fact, Mearsheimer is clear (read the speech) that the apartheid state he fears is in the future, not now (many Israelis believe the same) […]

Yes, let’s read the speech. Mearsheimer is addressing the idea that American Jews’ support for Israel’s actions are what enables the country’s wrongdoing. As Mearsheimer describes the imminent future of “full-fledged” or “full-blown” apartheid, this wrongdoing only differs in degree, not kind.

In Mearsheimer’s account, Israel turns from an “incipient apartheid” with “racist” and “heinous” policies that treat Palestinians “like animals” — he describes all this as in the present — into a “full-fledged” or “full-blown” apartheid, which will just take a mere 10 years. He says:

The final alternative to a two-state solution is some form of apartheid, whereby Israel increases its control over the Occupied Territories, but allows the Palestinians to exercise limited autonomy in a set of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves.

Although this by no means sounds like an acceptable situation, this is a very limited definition for what constitutes apartheid. Additionally, it uses a pair of related ideas that allow people to project their own subjective impressions and at whim call Israel as it is now an apartheid. For “limited autonomy” describes a whole range of bad to mediocre situations for different cohorts across the world.

“Increases its control” (which we assume is the corollary of limiting autonomy) is a matter of what exactly? That phrase could mean almost anything. 50 more checkpoints than there were before Netanyahu took down so many of them? Defunding the Palestinian police force and replacing them with Israeli patrols? In any case, “increases its control” could be a matter of degree, not kind.

Mearsheimer says at the outset, “Regrettably, the two-state solution is now a fantasy,” and if we look what Mearsheimer says exists in Israel and the West Bank now — the block quote just above — we see that it is near identical to his description of what would constitute apartheid in the near future:

As anyone who has spent time in the Occupied Territories knows, it is already an incipient apartheid state with separate laws, separate roads, and separate housing for Israelis and Palestinians, who are essentially confined to impoverished enclaves that they can leave and enter only with great difficulty.

It seems that Israel only has to keep being the Israel of today, doesn’t even have to make things a smidgeon harder, for ten years to change the Gaza-Israel-West-Bank area from an “incipient” apartheid into a “full-fledged” apartheid. Therefore, it’s not worth very much (except maybe a laugh and a sigh) when Sullivan says,

In fact, Mearsheimer is clear (read the speech) that the apartheid state he fears is in the future, not now (many Israelis believe the same) […]

Many Israelis do not believe that so little would have to happen, as Mearsheimer does. BTW, Mearsheimer says nothing in his prophecy about a potential loss of Israeli Arab or Palestinian Arab legal rights, or of the Israeli Lefts right to free expression. That would be a definite qualitative change toward apartheid. Mearsheimer doesn’t even allude to any change in the settlement area (which has virtually not been changing, BTW) outside the three main blocs along the Green Line.

Since his description of the present that is practically the same as his description of his dystopic future, Mearsheimer is not writing clearly, in a trustworthy fashion. Given the assurances he gave his readers less than a year ago, we can’t trust that his mind is not already coming to conclusions he doesn’t want to share explicitly.

The chances are very slim, but perhaps he thinks he’s writing like some Straussian pseudo-sophisticate, with multiple meanings … Some people envy what they condemn. Such machination is very unlikely, but the possibility should illustrate that Mearsheimer’s speech contains many pregnant comparisons and open pockets for readers than texts usually do, especially when talking about something you’ve previously acknowledged to be delicate.

[…] Palestinians are going to end up living in Greater Israel, which will be an apartheid state.  Again, one might even argue that they have already reached that point

says Mearsheimer.

(3)

Goldblog and others equate this [cateogization of Good Jews and Bad Jews] to Father Coughlin’s rants in the 1930s. The only problem with this analogy is that

Well, if what follows is the only problem one can find with this analogy, it doesn’t seem to give much credit to Mearsheimer’s speech, but I digress …

Mearsheimer’s point is that the hardline neocons are misguided because they are hastening the moral and demographic collapse of Israel, rather than stopping it.

And one of Coughlin’s points is that the Bad Jews are hastening the moral collapse of would-be good Jews in American Jewry, but I’m still rudely interrupting …

So he is not criticizing [a group of] American Jews for being Jewish or for supporting Israel over America (the “dual loyalty” red herring) but for being, in his view, mistaken in how they believe Israel should be saved.

In fact, Mearsheimer is making a “dual loyalty” accusation. How would commitment to Israel as it turns from an “incipient apartheid state” to a “full-fledged” one, be in America’s interest, when as Mearsheimer  says, “Apartheid is not only morally reprehensible, but it also guarantees that Israel will remain a strategic liability for the United States.” He says that these New Afrikaner Jews will demonstrate commitment to blind support of Israel will be always be paramount, even through its apartheid future. So, the “dual loyalty” idea is redolent.

Mearsheimer says in his speech, “These are individuals who will back Israel no matter what it does, because they have blind loyalty to the Jewish state.” That seems to preclude siding with American interests if there is a conflict.

Very bad reading on the part of the Dish.

(4)

Then, there is his choice of the phrase “Righteous Jews.” Andrew questions mildly whether this three-part categorization of Jews is “deliberately provocative,” and I’ll get to that in the post forthcoming. But now I should deal with the particular phrase Mearsheimer chose for his group of noble Jews.

This phrase is a  reference to the inclusive idea of “Righteous Gentiles” in Judaism, and “righteous gentiles” in Holocaust. It’s not “deliberately provocative”; instead, the phrase seems antisemitic.

It’s a subversion, an ironic allusion (a “reclamation” from a rather twisted perspective) of the term “righteous gentile” in the Jewish lexicon. Religions have the right to such moral judgments; it’s their stock and trade. But in Mearsheimer’s new lexicon, people who stand against “New Afrikaner” Jews will gain the right to pronounce such totalizing pronouncements on sects of people who are just, unjust, and in between. They will not make these pronouncements for deeds as dramatically clear as saving Jews from Nazis or insuring universal salvation, and allowing non-Jews a way to serve God without having to convert. Mearsheimer claims the right to confer “righteousness” on much meaner grounds, and more subjective, egocentric grounds — polluting humanitarian concerns with perceptions of what’s in our national interest.

To say someone is a “righteous Jew” according to Mearsheimer’s lexicon is  an anti-ecumenical claim, quite unlike saying someone is a “righteous gentile” in the Jewish lexicon, which means either commending people for risking their own lives to save a human being, or assuring people that they don’t have to be a part of a certain tribe to get salvation.

Mearsheimer is noting the hubris with which “the Jews” — the Lobby has become secondary here — have claimed the right to stand in judgment of non-Jews, when in a modern context, it could easily be the other way.

For a person who professes such concern about fighting antisemitism, it is alarming that Andrew did not see fit to address that issue in the choice of the phrase “Righteous Gentiles” or point Dish readers to any discussion of it by Mearsheimer’s critics.

(5)

Finally, there is the bizarreness of Andrew thinking it not significant enough to merit commentary that Mearsheimer’s list of “Righteous Jews” is dominated by people whose ideal is a “one-state” solution, and only think a two-state solution is a short-term one or better than the status quo.

This is simply strange for a “fervent Zionist” such as Andrew not to mention. Instead he tries to argue something that’s contrary to the facts, that Mearsheimer is condemning these “New Afrikaners” particularly because they are hurrying up Israel’s destruction … But that would imply these Righteous Jews are praiseworthy for the opposite reason. Yet that is not so. Mearsheimer writes:

most righteous Jews believe that the Palestinians deserve a viable state of their own, just as the Jews deserve their own state. […]  Some righteous Jews, however, favor a democratic bi-national state over the two-state solution.

So what is going on?

One could argue that Mearsheimer is describing these groups by what he says they would do in a hypothetical future in which Israel became a full-blown apartheid. Mearsheimer believes that anti-Zionists have already proved that they will emerge as “Righteous Jews” if that comes to pass; however, most supporters of a two-state solution over one bi-national state haven’t. So Mearsheimer ends up including [emphasis mine]

many of the individuals associated with J Street

which supports a two-state solution,

and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace,

which does not support a two-state solution, or a one-state solution. JVP remains officially indifferent while supporting, in either case, the “right of return” for Palestinians.

This argument on behalf of Mearsheimer is dependent on acknowledging that he is playing a strange game, whereby he’s describing three groups of people who already exist, yet defining them based on a particular hypothetical future — a racist dystopia that, he can tell from their current behavior, they will support or condemn.

I don’t understand how a fair-minded person would feel comfortable with making that argument on Mearsheimer’s behalf.

Mearsheimer includes only a few concrete examples of two-state supporters on this list of “Righteous Jews” (even qualifying J-Street’s inclusion) and many others who have spoken glowingly of a binational state. He predominately refers to supporters of the two-state solution in the “New Afrikaners” list, and mentions only one person who isn’t (Morton Klein).

It is “through the looking glass,” if not Orwellian malfeasance, to consider Mearsheimer’s categorization and lists as being supportive of the two-state solution and of a Jewish democratic state. Some other agenda has taken precedence over concern for Israel at the most basic level. For a reader of Mearsheimer’s speech to try to pass this tall tale off as truth, without the smallest acknowledgment of the inappropriateness of how one-state support eclipses the human rights virtues of “Righteous Jews,” shows that some other agenda has temporarily taken precedence over concern for Israel at the most basic level.

In the case of the Dish, I believe this agenda is self-justification as well as partisan fear, that one’s spokespersons for a portion of one’s cause are nasty characters. If Amnesty can speak up for Caged Prisoners …

In contrast, Andrew has decided:

I suspect the virulence and extreme rhetoric of those criticizing Mearsheimer’s challenging and provocative address is directly related to the brutal truth of the analysis he presents.

That’s interesting. I would think that the response to Mearsheimer’s “challenging and provocative address” is somewhat related to at least the “extreme rhetoric,” if not “virulence” in Mearsheimer’s speech. Does Andrew expect the Jewish community not to sound somewhat miffed by it? Should blacks have been just intrigued by The Bell Curve, or were they entitled to sound miffed? … What’s more sad than Jeffrey Goldberg, Noah Pollack and David Bernstein’s displeasure at Mearsheimer’s address — Andrew never addresses Hussein Ibish’s displeasure — is Andrew’s attempt at a posture of coolness and objective (non-Jewish?) intellectual perspective.

If Israel does not get out of the West Bank soon, if it does not remove every single settlement,

Andrew supports removal of “every single settlement” now? — he thinks that’s what’s essential for peace? (Hmm … That position, not shared by Obama or Jimmy Carter BTW, will allow the Dish to place blame on Netanayahu and cry about the “brutal truth” of the apartheid future, no matter what is happening in peace negotiations.)

if it does not act decisively to escape the death trap of Greater Israel, no Israel will survive as a morally defensible or democratic or Jewish state.

Far from being, as Goldblog asserts, an abandonment of foreign policy realism, Mearsheimer’s speech is a pellucid, if flawed, example of it. I suspect that’s why it wounds. The truth usually does.

“Pellucid”? Not only was Mearsheimer’s speech anything but pellucid — this sounds like a poseur’s word, used for overcompensation.

I suspect the truth that the Dish’s own position is so entangled with wanting a version of the Mearsheimer-Walt thesis to become orthodox, is why Sullivan ignores all the provocative ambiguities in the speech, pretends such sangfroid and plays indifferent to the through-the-looking-glass image of support for a “a morally defensible or democratic or Jewish state.”

I suspect this is also the reason he didn’t link to any discussion of “Righteous Jews” as an allusion to “Righteous Gentiles” and did not discuss or post an important email to him from another blogger — quoted also at the Engage blog — that asked common-sense questions about the ideologies of those on the “Righteous Jews” list.

And as for “foreign policy realism”? As Kenneth Walzer observes in a way that is plainspoken, unconcealed and respectful of readers’ intellects and right to know:

[…] says Mearsheimer, it is not Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East who will or will not make peace but righteous Jews and their allies in the United States who will help shape the Palestinian future. Israel will create apartheid; the Palestinians will experience it. Then the good Jews (and other good people) will rally other Jews (and other good people) and blunt the force of the Israel Lobby. Realism?

Nope: Israelism.

“Don’t speak/I know what you’re saying/So please stop explaining/Don’t tell me ’cause it hurts”

Something Much Darker, Ctd

10 May 2010 02:50 pm

Goldblog discovers a new source of Jew-hatred: the English. Now the resilience of English anti-Semitism is a fact; it is also a fact that in recent years, especially on the left, explicit loathing of Israel has become disgustingly common. But open discussion of the real crisis in Israel and its impact on a global war that increasingly affects the entire West is not anti-Semitism, especially when it is conducted as a way to promote a way for Israel to survive with its values and Jewish identity intact. And the attempt to chill such discourse can surely be the effect of sentences like this one:

Much of “Trials of the Diaspora” describes the deep tradition of English literary anti-Semitism, from Shylock to Fagin to Caryl Churchill, in a summary that leaves you wondering if it is possible for a properly-educated Englishman to avoid harboring certain stereotypical views of Jews, stereotypes and assumptions that manifest themselves in disproportionate hostility whenever Jews behave in ways the English find at all disagreeable.

Translation: “I am not an antisemite, I am not part of that English tradition, so don’t even try to let readers draw that implication. And don’t bring up the traditional British fear of benighted little Jews hurting their society by mentioning the traditional British fear of benighted little Jews bringing the hatred of the Arabs — because discussion of the real crisis in Israel and its impact on a global war that increasingly affects the entire West is not antisemitic. CHILL YOUR DISCOURSE, Goldberg.”

Andrew’s fear seems to be that people will remember that someone’s “disproportionate” hostility toward Israel is still a problem even if he/she pays lip service to the idea of a two-state solution and not “loathing.”

(BTW, it wouldn’t have looked as suspicious if Andrew had only taken umbrage at Goldberg’s “properly-educated Englishman” reference. I would have taken his side in that.)

Rand Paul’s Chas Freeman

A while ago, Andrew declined to address arguments about Charles Freeman’s competence, and despaired that Obama had been “denied a true contrarian” — we won’t discuss whether he might be a pseudo-contrarian — “to challenge the old way of thinking” … It makes you wonder whether the Dish will be consistent and marshal a similar defense of Michael Scheuer being one of Rand Paul’s foreign policy advisors.

Scheuer is the author of Blowback, which presents a starkly different paradigm for how to deal with terrorism than the one embraced by neoconservatives and the contemporary Conservative base. Is this paradigm not useful, particular in its differences from what some might characterize as an ideological monopoly?

Like with Charles Freeman, one can subordinate questions about the competency of this man’s judgment and rate of accurate predictions to the singular usefulness of having a contrarian voice to listen to. As Andrew argued back then, why must me demand that our politicians be defenseless victims of an ideological monopoly?

Adam Holland tells us how Rand Paul would be well-informed about such contrarian positions on U.S. defense as defending American citizens against tyranny of Rachel Maddow and Michelle Obama’s elitism, with armed rebellion, if need be:

Outraged at Rand Paul’s poor performance on the Rachel Maddow program last week, during which Paul came out against the Civil Rights Act’s ban on racist discrimination by public facilities, Ron Paul advisor Michael Scheuer has written a bizarre screed which actually goes so far as to make the case for armed rebellion against the U.S. government. (Read here: Maddow and the Obamas: Killers of hope, spurs of rebellion | Michael Scheuer’s Non-Intervention.com.) Scheuer writes that Maddow’s interview of Paul was an “attack”, then goes on to describe Maddow as an “extremist” and an advocate of “a warmed over version of the 1920s’ Bloomsbury ideology: effete, secular, socialist, pacifistic, elitist, and libertine.” He writes that “(a)nyone disagreeing with her … is not just wrong but perverse, racist, badly educated, antiquarian, and could only come from the scum of the earth”. (I suppose he means that these anti-Maddow anti-elitists are regarded or portrayed in this manner, not that he believes this to be true.) He also writes that Maddow advocates that the U.S. “lap up humiliation from Israel and Mexico”.Scheuer goes on to oddly single out Michelle Obama for condemnation as an “elitist”, citing as evidence only Mrs. Obama’s statement that she was proud of her country for nominating a black candidate and the fact that she attended ivy league universities.

Typical of the tea party right and Ron Paul supporters, Scheuer goes on to make much of the fact that some presidential appointees are referred to as “czars”, although Scheuer seems to mistakenly believe that this is an innovation of the Obama administration. In fact, this harmless term of art for an appointee who heads some significant office but does not require congressional approval, was an innovation of the FDR administration. It doesn’t refer in any way to elitism, arbitrary exercise of power, socialism (!), or any of the other absurd imputations made by the teabag right. In fact, the George W. Bush administration had far more “czars” than the Obama administration does. (Read here.)
Scheuer then runs through a laundry list of far-right talking points, along the way calling the American Medical Association “murderers for hire” because its members “have murdered… more than 47 million unborn Americans”.He calls upon private citizens along the border with Mexico to take up arms, writing that they should

arm themselves to protect their kith and kin against the brigands flowing across the southern border and the federal officials eager to prosecute U.S. citizens and defend the brigands.

Don’t be distracted by Scheuer’s antique vocabulary. He’s saying that private citizens should take military action against people they believe to be illegal immigrants, and, astoundingly, against federal officials! How Scheuer expects federal authorities to protect the border while under attack from his band of amateur border agents, he doesn’t bother to explain.

After running through his extremist bill of particulars against the “elitists” he thinks are ruining this country, singling out both the federal government and “Hollywood” for particularly strong approbation, Scheuer offers a modest proposal for a solution. Revolution. He recruits two of America’s greatest revolutionaries as posthumous (and therefor involutary) supporters for his cause: Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson.

[…]

Interestingly, this extreme, irrational reaction has garnered support among a certain sector of the electorate who are more comfortable with doctrinaire explosions such as this than they are with rational political discourse. I refer of course to Ron Paul supporters. At the official forum of the Ron Paul presidential campaign in exile, known alternately as the “Ron Paul Forums” or “Liberty Forest”, Scheuer’s column has gotten raves. (Read here.) It’s a special breed of patriot and “Constitutionalist” who calls for the overthrow of the government when their candidate performs badly on television.

(Bold print is mine.)

Regardless of what Scheuer has to offer, the Paul candidacies seem to beckon the worst elements in political culture to form an alliance with a American official and poison the political discourse of the country worse than the Bush-Clinton wars. (Didn’t the Dish tell us that one reason he was supporting Obama was to detoxify the American political discourse?) The Paul candidacies also seem to beckon certain pundits forgetting about issues like the Rwandan genocide and aid to the world’s poor in the interest of … keeping things interesting.

The Dish’s professed devotion to Orwell has never been more in question than when reading his posts on Ron Paul … in fact, it seems like he must either be joking: about liking Orwell, or in using the Paul candidacies to play a callous, Cartmanesque joke on targets of Dish criticism across the mainstream political spectrum.

So far, zero mention on the Dish of Scheuer’s advisory role to Rand Paul and whether this fact has any bearing on Paul’s fitness for office.

Communications breakdown? TNR smearing?

Sullivan wants to dispute with Chait over whether Leon Wiesenthal is one of the … Righteous Jews or one of the New Afrikaners, I guess:

But when you read the Diarist cited, you find a somewhat more nuanced view. In so far as it is comprehensible, it is a response to appallingly revanchist behavior by far right settlers, but supports their goal:

The lunatic Jews who insist that a Jew must live anywhere a Jew ever lived do not see that they, too, are re-opening 1948 and the legitimacy of what it established. Why does the Israeli government allow the argument for a unified Jerusalem to be mistaken for the heartless revanchism of these settlers?

So Wieseltier’s attack on the far right is that they are weakening the case for Israel’s permanent control of all of Jerusalem,

I’m wondering whether Andrew’s comprehension has slipped or if he is making use of a bad reading — another one of his straw babies.

The goal of the “revanchist” settlers is to take all of the West Bank. Wieseltier specifically calls them “lunatic” for thinking they can get all the West Bank. Another goal of the revanchist settlers is to take all of Jerusalem. As far as I know, Wieseltier is open to Jewish control over the Holy Basin, but wants the outlying Arab neighborhoods to go to the Palestinian Authority — which the revanchist settlers are against.

(Wieseltier may also be using “unified Jerusalem” in the weakest sense possible, the way candidate Obama used it at the AIPAC conference: to signify a Jerusalem that is not divided by barbed wire at every adjacent Jewish and Arab neighborhood.)

and re-opening the entire question of the legitimacy of Israel to boot.

TNR’s liberal Zionists manage to maintain an admirable distance from the farthest Israeli right, while never supporting anything that might actually prevent them from driving Israel into the ground.

Gimme a break. The most conservative Israel voices at TNR have recommended unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank and drawing of provisional borders. That would definitely prevent the “farthest Israeli right […] from driving Israel into the ground.”

Furthermore, the most conservative Israel voices at TNR are willing to accept only “natural growth” in defined areas, to support the Jewish claim to contiguous Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and the three main settlement blocs. I don’t see how restricting construction to “natural growth” in the blocs that Bill Clinton, and possibly even Jimmy Carter, know to be Jewish cities just across the Green Line would assist the “farthest Israeli right.”

Furthermore, TNR has backed the unilateral take-down of illegal outposts, as well as the Gaza withdrawal. Was that a gift to revanchism, to the “farthest Israeli right”?

Has TNR backed Obama over Netanyahu on the settlements question – about as basic a question if we are ever to get a two-state solution?

Newsflash to the Dish — or rather, “Here’s news that you won’t get on the Dish … ” Obama is now saying what TNR has been saying, that our president screwed up the path of diplomacy that was necessary for his own policies. Surely, Andrew knows Obama has admitted this. Yet no Dish posts about this event at all.

In any event, my sense is that the most conservative Israel voices at TNR would back a temporary Total Freeze, in conjunction with reciprocal demands on Palestinians.

Why can’t Andrew remember that phrase “in conjunction with reciprocal demands on Palestinians”? Perhaps that phrase would be a helpful part of a paradigm for a liberal Zionist. I mean, I know it would frustrate Mearsheimer, who may want to put them in his New Afrikaner category. But it would do wonders for Andrew Sullivan’s guilty conscience.

The Dish is not always journalism, today it looks like … libel

In a post entitled “Outrage is not a cognitive deficit,” the Dish remarks

Beinart’s essay has broken through – despite underground smear tactics against Peter by AIPAC (yes, I’ve read the ad hominem emails). It has done so not because it is not open to dispute or debate or more nuance. It has done so because there is too much truth in it to ignore.

Hmm. Something seems to be missing in there. Oh, that’s right: any words from these alleged emails, which would show the reader the Dish is correctly identifying inappropriate ad hominems* and “underground smears.”

Technically, one can’t find any words, let alone a link, that would indicate there even are such emails. I believed Andrew that such emails existed, but without any quotes, I didn’t trust him that these emails meant what he told his readers they meant.

So I emailed AIPAC’s spokesperson, Josh Block, and this is what I got:

Since the piece was published, I’ve replied to the three people who’ve emailed me about Peter’s piece: one checking for a comment (decline), one for a fact check and one for my personal take, and I shared Jon Chait’s clip with a group of 10 friends.  To be honest, there hasn’t been very much interest, and there certainly isn’t any campaign against Peter, who has had many friends at AIPAC for years.

Evidently, Block is the guy who would have sent out any emails that Andrew could have seen. Therefore, if Andrew cannot indicate and quote emails which substantiate his claim of having personally read “ad homimen”/smearing comments from AIPAC representatives, his claim amounts to libel and a violation of the trust of his readers.

The Dish seems to have served us a blunt violation of journalistic ethics. Without the emails, that’s the most plausible interpretation. With a retraction, there’s a kinder interpretation: that outrage can in fact be a cognitive deficit.

_______________

* NOTE: Saying someone has a great reputation or is a great guy — like people do about, I don’t know … Richard Goldstone, maybe? — is also a kind of ad hominem, “inverse ad hominem” (sometimes called “positive ethotic ad hominem”).  Ad hominem arguments are not necessarily out of bounds or inherently unworthy.

Robert Solomon had a good discussion of that subject in one of his essays on Nietzsche. I can’t resist quoting one of Andrew’s supposedly favorite books here, one which he seems to me to continually misunderstand or not register:

I have gradually come to realize what every great philosophy so far has
 been: a confession of faith on the part of its author, and a type of involuntary
 and unself-conscious memoir; in short, that the moral (or immoral) 
intentions in every philosophy constitute the true living seed from which 
the whole plant has always grown.

So, here’s an extreme, and easy, example of how wrong it would be to hold to a rigid standard prohibiting anything that is plausibly ad hominem: How can one argue about the “philosophy” of Alfred Rosenberg, without saying something about the kind of personality that would produce it?

It’s obvious that we should discredit ad hominem arguments when they are meant to prevent us from having any grasp on what the other party is saying. It’s also obvious that they should be discredited when they are libelous.