An echo of past traumas

In a post called “The echo of past traumas” Andrew quotes a bit too selectively:

Israeli novelist David Grossman assesses the danger Netanyahu presents for Israel:

[Netanyahu] is so trapped within his paranoid way of seeing reality. Don’t get me wrong: there are dangers to Israel. We are surrounded by countries who are hostile to us, and until today most countries—not most, all Arab countries I can say—have not accepted our right to be here and they absolutely do not understand the deep affinity and belonging that we feel toward this country. So some of our fears are true and concrete. But Netanyahu is unable to distinguish between the real dangers and the echoes of his fears and the echoes of past traumas. This is not a leader who can change reality, who can generate a new reality. If he continues to act like this and to think like this, he can only doom us to repeat our tragedies and bring to life our worst fears.

Perhaps Grossman is right about Netanyahu’s tendencies, but its interesting in this context is that Sullivan wants to get across a certain point through Grossman, not represent his beliefs about the struggle between Netanyahu’s worldview and that of (various) Palestinians.

The interview is not focused on the “echo of past traumas”; it’s about a range of things. And directly attached to the ideas contained in Sullivan’s excerpt is this comment, just a few sentences away:

I must add that the performance of Mahmoud Abbas was not inspiring, to say the least. You saw here two leaders who really advocate anxieties and hostilities. Neither has the vision that would allow their people to transcend to a new way, to a new future.

So this post does seem to indicate the echo of past trauma — not a socio-cultural trauma, but one of a more personal nature.


Bloggerati watch

I don’t think Norm Geras would mind if I quote a brief post of his in its entirety:

November 06, 2011

Sharing your polity

The blogger who blogs at the Economist under the name ‘Democracy in America’ writes:

I find… that this whole issue keeps directing my attention back towards a fundamental problem: I have to share my polity with large numbers of silly people who are not equipped to make reasonable decisions about political issues. Even after Mr Cain loses the nomination, I must live with the awareness that the people who voted for him are out there, waiting to vote for some even more ridiculous clown down the line. I am aware that they feel the same way about me. However, they are wrong, and I am right. As evidence, I present the fact that they say they support Herman Cain for president. (Italics in the original.)

I wonder if he should change his blogging name to ‘Enlightened Oligarchy’ or some such, and then blog about the fecund principle ‘I am right’.

The blogger in question is, I believe, Matt Steinglass, whom the Dish has quoted, in his mode of glib, connate expertise.

Quote of the day

Only in Washington could such a half-baked, narcissistic, know-nothing blowhard be regarded as an intellectual. — Andrew Sullivan, 11/15/11, referring to Newt Gingrich

Waiting on Libya … well, some of us

I could have commented on this 9 days ago, but as a bloody showdown in Libya seems imminent, it may be a good time to recall Andrew’s words on August 11:

But you’d think after the Libya debacle this kind of liberal utopianism might be waning. Sadly, it isn’t. By the way, heard from all those pious neocons lately on their latest little war? Radio silence from Wieseltier

(“Neocon” evidently, because Wieseltier doesn’t agree with Andrew about a war, or because Andrew thinks that this label will buzz the hate reflexes of a section of his readership.)

and Kaplan. But they were in a win-win position, because they can always blame Obama for not being more interventionist.

I don’t think that, say, August 1 to August 11 was the best time to comment on a Libya “debacle” because the situation hadn’t shown itself to be such. The rebels had been getting better and better as soldiers over the past few months. By the start of August, it was obvious that the battle situation in Libya would likely present large new difficulties or large successes to the NATO-backed rebels in the next few weeks or months.

It’s incredible that a so-called conservative of doubt can’t be circumspect enough about a military conflict, so that he can have a vision of it beyond the CNN news cycle. The Dish is not showing the conservative temperament it piously claims to champion. It is not even showing an adult temperate. When a pundit comments in such a fashion, irresponsible to logic and ardent about who must receive blame, he’s merely descending to barroom crankhood.

In fact, in totally ignoring the facts to make ideological assessments about the progress of NATO’s objectives in Libya, Andrew is getting dangerously close to what Orwell wrote about making predictions from ideology and repressing facts instead of the converse. That was from the essay where Orwell said, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” — You know, the words that Andrew has in his masthead, after having misunderstood and misrepresented how Orwell used them.


[UPDATE — 8/21]

… We’ve upped our Facebook and Twitter game. And the daily job of fusing our minds and research with the collective brain of our readership. i.e. you, has really deepened. Up next: DishTV of sorts. We hope to launch in September.

Which is, I guess, my excuse for taking a breather until Labor Day. I used to take a whole month off to recuperate from a year’s on-grid-ness.

Isn’t that metaphor related to the “radio silence” accusation that he absurdly used against liberal interventionists he called “neocons”?

This year, I got two weeks in July to spend with family and friends, which was wonderful but also not total chillax. So I’m grabbing what’s left of summer to turn off and drop out […]

Quite a time to foreswear news reports, and back off from righteous indignation against unneccessary-war-makers.

Of course, my absence all but guarantees a Mid-East revolution, but you’ll be in the best of hands.

Perhaps he knows.

Quote of the day

Nothing, however, can excuse the widespread condoning of an anti-Muslim racism once reserved for the Jews of Europe. Not on the weekend when Amy Winehouse, a Jewish girl from East London whose artistry would once have been dismissed by a racist and murderous European right as degenerate “cosmopolitan” trash, died. A good way to remember her is finally to confront the latest iteration of a European bigotry that kills. — Roger Cohen, 7/26/11


And now for something completely different …

Today on The Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan’s unabashedly uninformed thoughts about Israel and Chris Lee’s vapidly uninformed thoughts about filmmakers’ sex lives:

Vaughn’s lawyer Singer described the director as “happily married” and said that Vaughn has not been unfaithful. He also challenged allegations that the director and Jones had been flirtatious with one another. “I can’t speak on the subject of their sexual chemistry—that’s a vague term,” Singer said. “This story is absurd.”

Representatives for Jones and Vaughn did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

By reputation, movie sets are known to foster quick hookups between castmates and crew members, leading to romances that usually last no longer than the duration of principal photography. And to be sure, anyone who sees First Class will have an easy time believing production provided a sexually charged workplace environment. The film is rife with barely suppressed sexual tensions between characters—who hop in and out of one another’s beds and come agonizingly close to kissing without sealing the deal. As well, in no small number of scenes, Jones, and Kravitz appear in barely-there va-va-voom lingerie.

“It’s the Twilight effect,” said a source, referring to the vampire romance that led to real-life sexual chemistry between leads Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. “You put together a bunch of young, mostly attractive people in their sexual prime and hookups are inevitable.”

Chris Lee is a senior entertainment writer for Newsweek/The Daily Beast. He previously worked as an entertainment and culture reporter for the Los Angeles Times

Andrew Sullivan stumbles on something much darker

Several days ago, May 19, The Dish linked to a post by Jeffrey Goldberg on Netanyahu’s use of the word “expect” in wanting some further public remarks or clarifications from Obama. Here’s Goldberg:

For whatever reason, I tend to react strongly when a foreign leader disrespects the United States, and its President. I didn’t like it when Hugo Chavez of Venezuela insulted President Bush; I don’t like listening to Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan lecture the U.S. on its sins, and I’m not happy when certain Pakistani leaders gin-up righteous indignation about American behavior when it was their country that served as a refuge for the greatest mass murderer in American history.

And so I was similarly taken aback when I read a statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday that he “expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both House of Congress.”

So Netanyahu “expects” to hear this from the President of the United States? And if President Obama doesn’t walk back the speech, what will Netanyahu do? Will he cut off Israeli military aid to the U.S.? Will he cease to fight for the U.S. in the United Nations, and in the many  international forums that treat Israel as a pariah?

I don’t like this word, “expect.”

I don’t think the word was a graceful choice by Netanyahu, but Goldberg’s getting worked up by “expect” like it ranks with the Bush-is-the-devil-and-the-U.S.-is-on-its-way-down-and-I-smelled-sulphur-after-Bush-left remarks of Hugo Chavez is a tribute to Goldberg’s anxiety, not the issue at hand.

Does Jeffrey think that if Netanyahu had said “hope” instead of “expect,” Netanyahu’s request — “to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both House of Congress” — was reasonable and not pushing his luck? I hope he answers that question. Furthermore, there is the question of whether the President’s remarks “with land swaps” is tacitly honoring the implications of the letters regarding the settlement blocs. I don’t think that anyone can answer that question yet.

Andrew uses Jeffrey’s recoil from a single word, “expect,” to impress upon his readers two ideas of Andrew’s own: (1) that in asking for a confirmation of Bush’s promises to Israel that were congressionally approved, Netanyahu is demanding a substantially different U.S. policy than Obama shared in his speech; and (2) that Andrew loves Israel deeply and absolutely.

Some problems: In regard to idea #1, Andrew has been arguing that the policies in Obama’s speech were no different from the policies of any previous president since Clinton, including George W. Bush. So, Andrew is contradicting himself in his enmity for Netanyahu. The problem with idea #2 is a horse of a different color, something much darker.

Here’s how Andrew comments on Jeffrey’s expectorating upon hearing the word “expect”:

My hope, for what it’s worth, is to protect the possibility of a majority Jewish state to survive with its capital in Jerusalem for ever. I’m a Zionist. Always have been. And strongly so.

What’s missing in this impromptu self-declaration of love that we would expect to see from Andrew’s history of posts and the discourse in general about the “demographic threat” to Israel? Answer: the qualification of a “democratic” Jewish state. One might read Andrew’s Zionist-love statement by itself and decide that a particular gentleman is saying he loves Israel so much that he wants a majority Jewish state in the Jewish ancestral homeland, and democracy might only be a close second. But that’s not the case with The Daily Dish.

I note Andrew’s repetition here: “Always have been. And strongly so.” Perhaps he’s not worried that he doth protest too much, or maybe he believes that if people catch him at this awkward moment, he’s still going to have his pants down.

Among the recent posts on the Dish, there is one on May 18 that relates closest to this avowal of undying support for the Jewish state of Israel. In that post, the stipulation of a “democratic” Israel was supremely important for Andrew to support a Jewish state — overwhelmingly more important than its being a Jewish majority state. Furthermore, his criteria for what would qualify Israel as undemocratic had scant differences from Israel’s present political situation. According to this post — one day before he posted his declaration of Zionist love — hardly any facts on the ground would have to change for Andrew to immediately turn his back on Israel. Here’s the quote from May 18:

And if a democratic Egypt emerges to insist on the obvious contours of the two-state solution, and Israel still balks at even freezing its settlement activity, it seems to me that the US should side with a far more crucial ally in the region, Egypt, and withdraw its support from an essentially un-democratic Greater Israel, with a disenfranchised Arab majority in Judea and Samaria.

I’ve already posted about the inexplicable, context-less appearance of these remarks about supporting Egypt in relation to support for Israel.

The remarks of May 18 seem to reveal a particular what-if fantasy Andrew has pondered with regard the Middle East. In it, American support is withdrawn from Israel; with very little changes on the ground, Israel becomes semantically categorized as an apartheid state; and America turns its Middle East support to one Arab nation that has captured the democratic (or majoritarian, anyway) hopes of the Muslim world. This is not a Zionist fantasy to say the least, but a fantasy whereby American supportiveness of Israel is totally erased — with pragmatic-righteous justification — and somehow the United States benefits greatly in the hearts of Muslims everywhere.

The tenor of Andrew’s anti-Zionist hypothetical is the very opposite of Andrew’s declaration today that sticks out like a sore thumb, struck with … sudden emotion: his  “hope, for what it’s worth, is to protect the possibility of a majority Jewish state to survive with its capital in Jerusalem for ever. I’m a Zionist. Always have been. And strongly so.” Why has he totally withdrawn from the equation, that which was his primary concern only yesterday, democracy?

I’m getting blog hits from people google searching for Andrew’s phrases in his hypothetical policy remarks about Egypt and Israel. I’m sure the Daily Dish is getting many, many more from such searches. Andrew knows that he may have approached some real trouble in the audience of reasonable people, if not something really troubling in his feelings.

I think Andrew realized he said something the day before that revealed way too much about his true opinions at some level that he doesn’t want to be known yet.


For the sake of completism …

Here are the rest of his remarks, which are somewhat more relevant to the Jeffrey Goldberg’s linked-to post:

I think Obama is doing his best to bring it about, primarily because it is America’s interest, but also because it is in Israel’s. And despite the hysteria from the Fox-Likud fringe, Obama’s words yesterday toward the Palestinians were stark, essentially putting Abbas on the spot on the Hamas charter, for example.

(In fact, the day before his argument was that Obama’s speech consisted entirely of well-worn platitudes.)

And yet this leader of a foreign government thinks he can essentially dictate terms for an American president and attempt to corral the US Congress to side explicitly with a foreign leader over the American president in foreign policy.

I don’t know … Keeping the promises of a previous executive, supported by Congress, is important when trying to push other countries to take risks for peace. It’s pretty standard realist foreign policy to back up your treaties and agreements, so other nations know your promises are reliable and you can gain some influence with them.

It seems like a big deal for an American president to dictate to an ally exactly the opposite of what the United States has promised the ally for assuming certain risks (that ended up in seasonal thundershowers of rockets and a war Andrew says “pulverized” Palestinian civilians).

On the Dish, the question of whether Obama’s reversal was a big deal or a bad move was sidestepped, which was presumably deliberate. I’m not going to rush to decry either Obama or Netanyahu about this, although I think “expect” was an ill-conceived word.

Netanyahu could have used much worse words, and if he wasn’t the leader of Israel, the Daily Dish wouldn’t have a problem with his statement or enough of a problem to tell us about it.

I find it strange that Andrew wants the Congress to approve anything one could remotely call a “war” but, with Israel, to be totally disregarded by the President when he decides what policies to support in order to prevent wars? Furthermore, must the Democratic Congress march lock step with their executive even if they disagree? Weren’t we, and the Daily Dish, upset about that presumption of the Republican Congress during the Bush presidency?

Don’t push your luck, Bibi. Others have with Obama and they have learned that he is often more canny than they are with political jujitsu. Obama’s usual tactic: gently and subtly prompting his foes to self-destruct. I just hope that in this critical juncture in the Middle East, Netanyahu doesn’t take his country with him.

I guess we have to just hope that you “just hope” for what you say you do …. even though it can change diametrically in just one day without a word of self-explanation.