Smarter Israel

Via Michael J. Totten, Israel has quickly found a simple and effective way to deal with the flotillas. Bloomberg’s Business Week:

Costs Increase

“The costs of sending aid to Gaza has increased,” [Hossein] Sheikholeslam [head of the Iranian agency to support Palestinians] said. “As Israel has said it will confiscate ships, no company is prepared to rent their vessels.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor declined to comment on the cancellation of the Iranian voyage when reached by telephone today.

A simple hit to the pocketbook. No need to manipulate the Kurds, appear like cynical monsters and provoke Turkey into beckoning WW3 — sorry, Andrew … it’s the thought that counts.

But maybe it’s more than just the pocketbook at work here. After all, why wouldn’t aggressive governments make up for where private investment is lacking?

“The Zionist regime has made sending aid to Gaza a political issue,” Hossein Sheikholeslam […] was cited as saying by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency late yesterday.

Commence laughter.

He referred to Israel’s warning to the United Nations that it may take military action to prevent ships from reaching Gaza.

Which is old news — see the Dish’s on-message references to the “assault” on the Mavi Marmara — because Israel hasn’t stepped up any threats.

“In order not to give the Zionist regime an excuse, we will send the aid through other routes and without Iran’s name,” said Sheikholeslam, a former lawmaker and diplomat.

… Having your ship confiscated after the boarding doesn’t ennoble you in the eyes of your people like when your boats sail home to a welcome home party. It makes you look more like a loser who’s just donated to the Zionist fleet.

A smarter Andrew?… Can he make the grade as a realist?

Yesterday, the Dish had a post called “AIPAC’s Latest Email,” which Andrew explains as evidence of

the new campaign by the pro-Israel lobby to demonize Turkey and equate this critical bridge between West and East with Ahmadinejad and Assad. Why? Because Turkey has criticized Israel, of course.

Really?… So that’s what Turkey has done: gone all J-Street on us.

Here’s the email:

The email as Andrew reproduces it — he blocks out the recipient’s email address — seems like a private one from AIPAC’s spokesperson Josh Block to his personal acquaintances, probably not congressmen.

Block pretty much just passes along a video lampooning Erdogan, Ahmadinejad, and Assad, with 3 actors who sing self-incriminating opera lyrics as “The Three Terrors.”

This is a campaign of demonization? The subject line of the email begins “Funny Video!!” and that’s basically what Block’s email says. Is that all an AIPAC representative has to do for Andrew to accuse AIPAC of demonization — email, say, a dozen acquaintances with a link to a comedy routine and opine that it is a “funny video”?

I realize now that Andrew would accuse me of a demonization campaign against South Korean zoos, if I shared this on Facebook:

Actually, the bear thing is kind of sad. Also sad is that the Dish still has not addressed its probable libel against AIPAC, which also seems to have to do with private emails.

Anyway, for a person so incensed that AIPAC would dare attack “this critical bridge between West and East,” Andrew seems to have thought very little about what would be viewed as an attack from Turkey’s perspective. It seems he’s only interested in obvious digs from Jewish organizations, since they are Western and thus have the power to affect foreign affairs.

In a recent post called “Smarter Israel,” Andrew leaves us to wonder whether he is being  ironic on the level of Andy Kaufmann, because the post seems written to prove Andrew is utterly inept as a realist, in either a pro-Israel or Israelophobic sense. Here is the whole thing:

Now this is a better idea: a rival flotilla from Israel to Turkey to bring humanitarian relief to the Kurds, a people deprived of a homeland just as the Palestinians are. See what a little imagination can do in the war of ideas? A lot better than shooting nineteen-year-olds in the head at point blank range.

Both Shimon Peres and Daniel Larrison would blush.

Let’s consider the ways that the government of Israel’s encouraging such an action by its citizens might not represent Israel’s “smarts” or be in the West’s interests:

(1) Does Andrew realize that this would alienate Turkey against Israel as much if not more than the Mavi Marmara boarding?

Delivering aid to Kurds in an area that contains militant groups would be considered an inflammatory, even pro-seccessionist gesture — probably read as an act of war for indirectly supporting Kurdish terrorism against Turkey.

Duh, you poor pundit for the Atlantic, duh.

(2) Does Andrew want to risk a military action against the Israeli ship, thereby precipitating a war between Israel and Turkey … and whatever Muslim powers decide to help Turkey?

Hasn’t the Dish been screaming that the prime danger to U.S. security is Israel starting WW3 (with an attack on Iran)?

(3) Does Andrew wish to prove to the Turks and the Kurds and everyone in the Middle East that Israel is entirely cynical and only manipulates its professed humanism to increase its power?

(Don’t answer that.)

(4) Does Andrew want Israel to help the electoral prospects of the PM’s Islamist party, which will be less disposed to helping the US than the secular opposition party? (BTW, the secular opposition party was leading in the polls the week before the IHH stunt.)

(5) Does Andrew want to bring a wave of new accusations against the Kurds in Turkey, accusations of dual loyalty and of being foreign agents, increasing the backlash against Kurds and other minorities in Turkey?

(6) Does he want to enrage the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq with the possible effects on the situation of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq?

(7) If the U.S. is not forced to condemn Israel for delivering aid to Kurds, then the U.S. — in crediting Israel with “smarts” and just playing tit-for-tat — would be identified as not having real opposition to Kurdish separatism.

(a) Does he realize that Kurdish secession from Turkey is not the position of the United States nor the moderate Kurdish compromise position? Does he want the U.S. to deal a blow to one of the most moderate factions in the Middle East and increase the influence of their fanatics?

(b) Does he realize this would increase the Muslim world’s perception that the West is punishing Turkey for its dissent, and it wants Turkey as its Muslim dog, and nothing else?

(8) Does he realize that the U.S. still needs Turkey to host America’s missile defense apparatus?

I don’t think a Kurdish aid flotilla is a good idea for private citizens of Israel to invest in,  and I think the Kurds may even view it as insulting. However, the prospect that the State of Israel engineers or gives support to such a mission would be disastrous — quite the opposite of showing a “smarter Israel.”

Andrew says he’s a (non-amoral) realist on the Middle East … I’m sure none of the questions above seemed very important when he was able to commend a hypothetical policy action different from the actual course of action Israel chose, noting how Israel killed a young man. This gigantic lapse in critical thinking might be a tribute to Andrew’s “Israel derangement syndrome,” a phrase he tried to rechristen with similarly embarrassing results.

As an American, I’m glad that for all its historical errors, Israel does not take the recommendations of a “smarter” course from such psychologically biased dumb asses.

Rest in peace, Garry Shider

A great singer, songwriter and guitarist, and as much the mastermind behind Funkadelic as George Clinton, many people who didn’t know who he was knew him as the man on stage wearing a diaper:

I’m not sure whether Nietzsche would have recognized this as a band which crafted frenzied and danceable song responses to nihilism, giving themselves over to the life affirmative meaning of “the funk,” but who knows … Parliament-Funkadelic got pretty deep as Dionysian musicians, doin’ the cosmic slop.

Finally, a poll says 3 out of 4 Israelis dislike Obama more than cholent or dafina

In his post ” ‘Epidemic of not watching’ ctd,” the Dish quotes a press release from Pechter, a polling firm, which surveyed Israelis after the Flotilla incident. Based on their poll, Andrew writes that Israelis back “the assault on the Mavi Marmara” and

More revealing is the attitude toward the reaction of the US government. Washington, almost alone among capitals, declined to render judgment. That didn’t cut any ice:

Seventy one percent (71%) disliked U.S. President Barack Obama with forty seven percent (47%) expressing a strong dislike. In all, sixty three percent (63%) of those polled were dissatisfied with the American government’s reaction to the incident.

Israelis view Obama the way Sarah Palin does. And this even after he rolled over completely.

The polling firm has put out a press release but they haven’t made public, online at least, their actual poll. That doesn’t stop Andrew from communicating his confidence and citing support for conclusions he’s already made — that so far have no statistical support, i.e., the idea that Israelis hate and even “virulently hate” Obama.

In fact, Andrew wanted so much for readers to have insight into Israeli hatred of Obama, he decided not to quote the sentence just before, which would cast doubt on what he knows to be true. Here’s the whole paragraph from Pechter’s press release — bold print mine:

Political leaders fared differently in the poll. Fifty three percent (53%) were satisfied with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s job performance while only forty one percent (41%) were satisfied with Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s job performance. Seventy one percent (71%) disliked U.S. President Barack Obama with forty seven percent (47%) expressing a strong dislike.

Note the language in the Pechter release. Switching from the discussion of Netanyahu’s and Barak’s actions to discussion of Obama, period. It makes you think that the summary might be a tad sloppy. It’s possible that they asked people about Obama’s handling of the situation instead of the quality of his vibes.

It’s also possible that this press release ( — for a poll that Sullivan cannot wait to not actually read — ) does not contain any mistakes and is simply a tantalizing reflection of Sullivan’s wet nightmare. But compare it to Foreign Policy’s write-up of the poll story, which the Pechter website links to — bold print mine:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s job-approval rating has now climbed into positive territory: 53 percent of respondents were satisfied with his performance, while 40 percent were dissatisfied. By contrast, 71 percent voiced dissatisfaction with U.S. President Barack Obama, and a clear majority, 63 percent, are also dissatisfied with the overall U.S. reaction to the Gaza flotilla controversy so far.

Instead of “like-dislike,” Foreign Policy says the poll is recording “satisfaction-dissatisfaction,” and is using the same terms for the answers about Barak, Netanyahu and Obama. I want to see the actual poll when/if it shows up on Pechter’s website, but until then, I think is doubtful that the Israelis questioned were referring to their general affection for Obama in the immediate wake of the Flotilla mess.

And “rolled over”? Sorry, what Obama did wouldn’t qualify. No other Western-esque country would/has subjected itself to an international inquiry of an alleged military mistake. Israelis know their country is being asked to submit themselves to a kind of inquiry (either monitored or done by other parties) that neither the United States nor Britain wouldn’t submit to. And Obama isn’t stopping an internationally monitored inquiry, however wise his course of action might be.

Here’s Obama on Larry King:

KING:  Couple of other things.  Former President Carter has condemned the Israeli raid against those ships in the flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza.

Where do you stand in that?  A former American president has condemned it.

OBAMA:  The United States, with the other members of the U.N. Security Council said very clearly that we condemned all the acts that led up to this violence.  It was a tragic situation.  You’ve got loss of life that was unnecessary.  So we are calling for an effective investigation of everything that happened.  I think the Israelis are going to agree to that — an investigation of international standards — because they recognize that this can’t be good for Israel’s long-term security.

I’m not sure whether condemning “all the acts” that led up to violence, or implying that the deaths of people who might be militants is automatically a tragedy, constitutes “declining to render judgment.” Furthermore, the administration fit the deaths of 9 possible militants into the the narrative of a “cycle of violence” that must be broken, a status quo for which Israel is part responsible.

On the balance, I’m not unhappy with Obama’s approach. In fact, I’d tell a pollster that I’m “satisfied” with it. Even if Israelis wanted direct moral support from Obama (instead of indirectly through Biden), Israel has to make do with his triangulation in order to not make waves at this time for the U.S. and other allies.

When Tony Blair forthrightly defended Israel’s right to inspect the ships, Andrew wouldn’t have called it “rolling over.” So what makes Obama’s comparatively cool response seem to qualify as “rolling over”? I’m guessing it’s because the President hasn’t done as much as the Daily Dish wants in condemning/critiquing Israel, or maybe getting it into more hot water at the UN.

Obama is depriving Andrew the satisfaction of a good scolding of the New (“arrogant”) Israel that he somehow thinks is the U.S.’s job according to requirements of realism and moralism. For Obama should be acting in a way consistent with what the Dish has been telling his readers is essential: the saving of U.S. interests from the actions of Israel — or from an Israel which is run not only by Netanyahu (whom the Dish compares to Cheney) and a religious fanatics in his coalition, but also by “the radicalism of the current Israeli center.”

Because whatever Obama does, the Dish has told us that the Israelis will be fighting against his administration’s objectives for U.S. interests and interest in social justice. As Andrew wrote about a week ago:

From the very beginning of Obama’s election, it seems to me that the prime objective of the Israeli government – both Kadima [through Operation Cast Lead] and now Netanyahu – was to use Gaza to destroy the U.S.’s attempt to reach out to the Muslim world. This is a chance to fight back – for the sake of broader American interests.

Yes, their “prime objective” had to be — not stopping rockets on Israeli citizens, but — stopping the American President’s rocket to the stars. And what of the formal supporters of these decisions in the United States? —

It’s a strategic goal. AIPAC is just waiting for president Palin to back an acceleration of settlements and a full-scale war, subsidized by Americans, against Iran.”

We have to respect Andrew’s selfless labor on this front. At the same time he is devoting his rhetorical resources to helping protect America from Israel and an amorphous “wing” of its supporters — which may include Jon Chait ( “why should we believe this positioning is more than positioning, when it always ends up backing Israel?”) — Andrew is also expending a great deal of effort in trying to help save Israel from itself. He’s following the example of Jesus of Nazareth or Beezus of Ramona or something.

But then again, to borrow some pungent words from Andrew, “this analysis [might be] a function of a mindset warped by paranoia, enabled by utter arrogance, fueled by a sense of impunity.”

And a hell of a lot of other things might be involved, including a clinical level of narcissism and too much coffee.

Mental Health Break II

Warning — The following trailer contains nudity, bad language and overdubbing:

Mental Health Break

It begins with a minute and a half of footage of Cyprus Ave, in Belfast, before it cuts into the concert performance. Doesn’t embed, but I recommend following the link to YouTube:

The Saville Report and Andrew Sullivan [cross-posted from Z-word]

[by Eamonn Mcdonagh — cross-posted from Z-word]

The publication of the Saville Report into an atrocity carried out by the British Army in Northern Ireland in 1972 has tempted Andrew Sullivan to write a post of remarkable stupidity.

This panicked murder of unarmed civilians was the Brits’ Gaza moment (along with their Cheney moment in instigating the torture of terror suspects in prison).

As anyone who has had a moment to glance at the report or knows anything about the recent history of Ireland is already aware, the soldiers of 1 Para were anything but panicked. They were pumped up and raring to go, the people who panicked were the demonstrators when the Paras opened up on them with their 7.62mm rifles.

The entire history of the last forty years suggests something else as well: that Irish terrorism was not defeated by force of arms, or brutality, or collective punishment. It took negotiations with the worst parties, a stoic acceptance of some terrorist violence because the attempt to stamp it all out only made it worse, economic growth, and insistence on the most logical partition.

Sullivan seems to think that the IRA entered negotiations from a position of strength. It did not. It only became seriously interested in negotiations when its capacity for violence had been greatly reduced by a 20 year counterinsurgency campaign that included mass internment without trial, juryless courts, interrogation techniques amounting to torture and the deniable targeted assassination of activists.

After thirty years trying to destroy Northern Ireland the IRA essentially settled for  a role in administering it and the release of its prisoners on license. The British state is still in full control of the main levers of power and that’s not likely to change anytime soon, or ever.  The Provos essentially entered into negotiations to see what sort of terms for giving up their struggle were on offer and not in any attempt to achieve those aims by peaceful means.

If  the Israel-Palestine conflict was to  be settled in a similar way to the agreement that ended the conflict in Northern Ireland then Gaza and the West Bank would become autonomous parts of Greater Israel and Hamas and Fatah would send MKs to the Knesset.

And can anybody guess what he’s on about when he talks of “and insistence on the most logical partition.”???  The border between Northern Ireland and what was first the Irish Free State and is now the Republic of Ireland hasn’t moved a millimeter since 1922.