The Times Video Guy

As you doubtless know, the LA Times is sitting on a video of Obama at a Palestinian event honoring Rashid Khalidi, who I now believe has Edward Said’s chair at Columbia. Their journalistic integrity precludes them from releasing the video. Yes, I’m being ironic, and yes, I will do something on journalism in light of this and the Nir Rosen story.

But for now, I did a tiny bit of digging around, and found a Eric Martin post at American Footprints which included a Juan Cole post which – shockingly! – calls ‘racism’ in the attacks on Khalidi, and extols this article in the Nation as an example of the kind of good influence he could be on the Middle East.

So let’s go look at it.

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It is considered by some to be a slur on Israel and Zionism, and indeed even tantamount to anti-Semitism, to suggest that these events sixty years ago should be the subject of anything but unmitigated joy. Commemoration, or even analysis, of what Palestinians call their national catastrophe, al-Nakba–the expulsion, flight and loss of their homes by a majority of their people sixty years ago–is thus considered not in terms of this seminal event’s meaning to at least 8 million Palestinians today (some estimates are over 10 million) but only because it is directly related to the founding of Israel. Palestinians presumably do not have the right to recall, much less mourn, their national disaster if this would rain on the parade of celebrating Zionists everywhere.

and

A few things seem clear sixty years after 1948. One is that if the Jewish question has lost its saliency, perhaps more as a consequence of the enormity of the atrocities of the Nazis than for any other reason, the creation of Israel has raised different questions and problems for its supporters and others. To the extent that Zionism has succeeded in winning acceptance of its assertion that all Jews are part of a national body whose nation-state is Israel, it has linked the status and circumstances of Jews everywhere not only to the fate of that state but to every facet of that state’s policies and actions. Insofar as some of those policies and actions may be unacceptable, their very existence must be denied or elided, and reality bent to suit the tender sensibilities of supporters of Israel: for example, the rank discrimination against the 1.4 million Arab citizens of Israel who are not part of the Jewish ethnicity in whose name and for whose interests the state was created and exists; or the collective punishment inflicted on the 1.5 million people of the Gaza Strip imprisoned for months on end; or the systematic torture and humiliation inflicted on the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have passed through the Israeli prison system. We see the results of this bending of reality in the travesty that passes for news coverage of Israel and Palestine in the American media.

And then there’s this gem:

In particular, Palestinians lacked clarity about the moral, legal and political disadvantages in the use of violence against an Israeli polity able to mobilize in defense of its actions, however unspeakable, the most powerful tropes of victimhood in modern Western culture.

Notice that the moral issues involved in using violence inherently aren’t at issue. It’s the tactical disadvantages inherent in the use of violence against Jews who can, “mobilize in defense of its actions, however unspeakable, the most powerful tropes of victimhood in modern Western culture.”

Now, when a Palestinian leader or thinker shows up who says, “You know – this whole killing Jews thing hasn’t worked so well for us so far. What would it take for us to stop trying to kill them, stop talking about killing them, stop raising our children in the deep belief that killing them is the most noble thing that can be done?” I’ll gte all excited about supporting them, and I’ll be willing to engage strenuously with them in an effort to start a discussion on the question that Israel needs to seriously think about what kind of state it wants to be.

But this kind of apologist, racebaiting crap needs to be called out for exactly what it is – crap.

And if I’m wobbly on Obama, it’s for two reasons – because I’m unconvinced that he believes in free speech, and because I worry that he’ll inadvertently push Israel to the decision that thye’d rather deal with a pissed-off UN and a lot of dead Arabs than a morally dead UN and a lot of pissed-off Arabs, let be unlike comfortable Western academics who think that genocide is cool.

50 thoughts on “The Times Video Guy”

  1. By withholding the tape, the LA times is making things much worse than they otherwise might have been.

    I think that no matter what is on that tape, Obama will not lose his core support. If Ayers, Wright, and Joe the Plumber have not cost him votes, this won’t.

    However, by being secretive, people will naturally assume the worst. “What is he hiding?” people will ask.

    And if it comes out right after the election, doesn’t that damage his Presidency even before it begins?

    And no, Obama does not believe in free speech. No leftist does. The Joe the Plumber episode proves that.

  2. It doesn’t matter what’s on the tape, or how strongly John McCain and Sarah Palin support Israel, or how much Barack Obama inclines to the opposite view. Jews will vote for the Democrat, because they have higher values (link).

    I have nothing to say about the LA Times, except that Patterico is a great blogger, and great bloggers are fun to read. I think there is nothing anyone needs to know about the LA Times that reading Patterico regularly won’t give you.

    On free speech: it’s true Barack Obama shows himself to be neither a true believer in free speech nor a true believer in honest elections. But he’s running against the McCain in McCain-Feingold. So it’s not like there’s an inspiring free speech candidate running on the top of either ticket this year.

  3. David, I strongly doubt electing McCain would lead to the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade or stricter anti-abortion laws. If it didn’t happen under either of the Bushes, what makes you (them) think it would under McCain?

  4. Im conflicted about the tape- i don’t know the journalistic rules of ethics well enough to comment. If they promised their source not to release the tape… well should they have made that promise to begin with? But if so aren’t they honor bound _not_ to release it?

    Not that it really matters, the LATimes doesnt have a reputation left to defend after the Edwards debacle.

    Oh- and Obama just “tossed”:http://drudgereport.com/flashopp.htm 3 reporters off the campaign plane… all of who’s papers endorsed McCain. The New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, and the _Washington Times._ Not exactly the fly by night outfits.

    I urge anyone concerned with Obama’s pattern of silencing critics to consider _he hasn’t even been elected yet._

  5. You know Marty Peretz of The New Republic, right? A rabid Zionist. Here’s his take.

    I assume that my Zionist credentials are not in dispute. And I have written more appreciative words about Khalidi than Obama ever uttered. In fact, I even invited Khalidi to speak for a Jewish organization with which I work.

    Moreover, the Israelis are trying to live cooperatively and in peace with Palestinians whose unrelenting positions make Khalidi almost appear like a Zionist.

    This isn’t about Israel. This is about showing Obama has other scary friends with weird names.

  6. #4 from Nicholas:

    bq. “David, I strongly doubt electing McCain would lead to the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade or stricter anti-abortion laws. If it didn’t happen under either of the Bushes, what makes you (them) think it would under McCain?”

    Nicholas, I’ll answer you before getting back on topic, but because we are both off-topic here, please no follow ups.

    “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
    – George H.W. Bush, 1988

    The bad record you point to is evidence that Republicans don’t mean to deliver the goods they promise and that their supporters want, especially on life issues. That Republican presidents literally phone in their support for pro-lifers underlines this. On the other hand, Sarah Palin is as credible as a human being can be on life issues, and John McCain picked her. That means, things that were not possible with the old leadership might be possible now.

    The same applies in reverse. The only way Barack Obama could be more credible as a total hard line pro-choicer is if he was a she and a “frequent flier” at an abortion clinic. So both sides in this dispute have reason to be charged up.

    bq. “… the Court’s capacity to exercise the judicial power and to function as the Supreme Court of a Nation dedicated to the rule of law. Where the Court acts to resolve the sort of unique, intensely divisive controversy reflected in Roe, its decision has a dimension not present in normal cases, and is entitled to rare precedential force to counter the inevitable efforts to overturn it and to thwart its implementation.”

    With a haughty, proud, arbitrary court taking that line, pro-lifers have to not bring forward laws that the court may take as defiance and vindictively reverse with interest. (I was glad the South Dakota 2006 referendum didn’t pass.)

    But at the same time pro-lifers can’t stop pushing, because if they do the court showed in Kennedy that it’s quick to seize on public “consensus” to add support to its intuitions. So the pro-life movement is in a double bind, where it has to be constantly active, generation after generation, but not too effective.

    In this situation, the only real strategy is to keep winning the White House and appointing judges.

    Liberal Senators frustrate the President’s efforts to appoint judges, and not just to the Supreme Court, because any judge appointed to any court gains experience that later may qualify them for a higher court, and this is a life and death struggle. The stakes rise and rise as the vacancy list grows and the judges age.

    Hope rises on the other side too. The longer a decision persists, no matter how severe it is, the stronger the legal presumption is that it must be supported in perpetuity. At some point – and we know that time is running out but not how much time is left – liberal judges will all support Roe and Casey because they like them, and conservative judges will all support them because they are so long established, and either way all anti-choice efforts will be futile.

    Then the future for pro-choicers is glorious, in two ways. Pro-lifers will be effectively checked out of politics, the way Roman Republicans were when eventually it was clear that there would never be a restoration of the Republic, and views based on their beliefs would never be admissible in public life again. And with Roe absolutely consolidated the way will be clear for endless further extensions of choice. Barack Obama has shown the way, by fighting to extend choice to babies already born alive. The distinction between the humanity of the same baby in its mother’s womb and deposited in a soiled linen bin to die of neglect is arbitrary anyway, so why not keep going – and going – and going? That is “change you can believe in”.

    The power to declare vast categories of human beings less than human and fit for exploitation and slaughter is also the power to write the most arbitrary things you can imagine into the Constitution. Any cause you favor can be made a constitutional right. It’s seductive. Getting the judges to disown it is like getting at least five of nine Ring-bearers to throw the One Ring into the volcano. Again and again we’ve been assured by Republican presidents that this judge or that can be trusted, and again and again, once those judges had ultimate power in their hands they decided it was precious, and not to be let go.

    Pro-choice legal principles have been created and maintained mostly by judges appointed by Republicans, given Republican successes in Presidential elections, and from a Republican point of view not one of them was supposed to do that. That’s inherently a tense situation. On the pro-choice side, a or the key Constitutional right has been maintained through generations, in the face of illegitimate anti-choice attempts to undermine it, only by a series of fortunate changes of heart. It’s time for that chronic insecurity to come to an end! On the pro-life side – I don’t think I have to underline for anyone here how time and bitter experience have made pro-lifers an untrusting lot.

    There are two candidates in this election who represent the past: Joe Biden and John McCain. And there are two that represent the future: Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. Whether you are a fervent pro-choicer or a fervent pro-lifer, one of these candidates credibly represents the best possible future, and the other represents the worst future.

    That’s how other issues can get marginalized, on both sides of this issue. Not just issues like freedom of speech, where neither Barack Obama nor John McCain is credible, so it may be hard to be charged up. Issues like Israel for Jews, where Barack Obama has all the wrong friends and there’s every sign that John McCain and Sarah Palin can be trusted by Israel in perilous times.

    Compared to what Jews care most about, that doesn’t count. And Sarah Palin’s dis-invitation – really her public shunning by the Jewish community – when she wanted to stand up with others against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and for Israel – is proof of it. The Jewish establishment doesn’t want her kind as an ally. They want her out of polite society.

    I think Sarah Palin’s failure to support abortion is a deal-breaker for Jews. And whatever happens to Israel, happens. You can only have one top priority.

  7. Andrew –

    Yes, Khalidi is getting lots of valentines from liberal Jews. Mickey Kaus had a reader e-mail that claimed Khalidi keeps a pushka on his desk – a pushka being a box to collect donations for planting trees in Israel.

    I expect we’ll hear a lot more about this wonderful human being – like how he’s seen The Way We Were 50 times, but can’t make it all the way to the end because he gets verklempt.

  8. Marty Peretz *needs* to be in the tank for Obama this season. His bona fides are at stake as a for-real member of the honorable left. Of *course* he’s going to cover for them on this. If he doesn’t, his name is Lieberman.

    As for the difference between McCain’s free speech heresies and Obama’s open disregard for the concept, let me put it to you this way:

    McCain has pushed for speech limitations which apply explicitly to himself and his own supporters. He has actually applied the Rawlsian ‘veil of ignorance’ which AL has talked about in the past. McCain’s principles on this subject, while perhaps ill-conceived and ultimately self-defeating, are honest, integral, and unselfish. He plays by the rules which he, perhaps foolishly, advocates.

    Obama’s people, on the other hand, are only interested in protecting their own. They will put through a new Fairness Doctrine, so that the existing media will be able to muddle through based on renewed government monopoly grants of press rights to those as have presses. They will continue to mobilize massed battalions of concern-trolls, fed by the pillage of data-mining ‘journalists’ and unprincipled government employees, as was just demonstrated by the Toledo administrators ransacking government records to bring down Joe Wurzelbacher for the cardinal sin of Speaking Ill In The Presence. Obama is for speech for himself and his cronies, and for suppression and persecution for his critics. Obama is worse than a free-speech heretic. He is a free-speech hypocrite.

    AL, while I recognize that it doesn’t actually matter who you vote for in the Presidential in California – Obama will take the state by double-digits unless something miraculous occurs – I do think that to vote for Obama would be a violation and a betrayal of many of your expressed principles, if not all of them. He *is* a gun-grabber, and is openly hostile to 2nd Amendment rights. He *will* be bad for Israel, bad for American foreign policy, bad for the American military, bad for free trade. He is a card-carrying carrier of Gramscian poison, one of those who have labored long and hard to convert admittedly fallible and flawed institutions of learning into machines for indoctrination and the transmission of Bad Philosophy, via the Annenberg Challenge.

    To vote for Obama in California is easy, and painless, and fundimentally harmless – it will mean nothing to vote for McCain in your position.

    AL, don’t do what’s easy. Do what’s right.

    Even if it doesn’t matter. Even if it’s futile. Even if no-one knows what you have done. Do what’s right because it’s right, and not for any other reason, not even success, not even victory, not even peace of mind.

    Because we cannot perform miracles. We can only do every last thing that is in our power consistent with our honor. It is only when we have done every last thing within our power and consistent with our honor that we can dare to ask for miracles.

    And I don’t know about you, but right now I think that the country could use a miracle or two.

  9. The first two quotations seem to me to be indisputable. It is a fact that in American political discourse, the dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948 almost doesn’t exist. Are the Palestinians supposed to celebrate their dispossession? Even if we were to suppose that they were entirely at fault, that seems unreasonable. No one would make such a demand of Sudeten Germans. I think that it is also indisputable that American perceptions of Israel are often inaccurate, and that discrimination against Arab Israeli citizens is one of the blind spots. Did you know, before I commented on it here years ago, that Israel has no Open Housing law, and the Israeli Supreme Court decision outlawing housing discrimination was about as popular as would be a Texas Supreme Court decision legalizing Texan gay marriage, and about as well observed? Israeli policies are more thoroughly and insightfully criticized within Israel, while Americans, I am sorry to say, persist, even insist, in seeing the place as a sort of Judeo-Disneyland.

    The third quote I would rather see in a fuller context, and I have no time to check now. You are, I take it, bothered by repudiation of violence because it has been counterproductive and not because it is inherently immoral? I am not sure, looking at the actions of Jewish settlers recently, that you want to go there. Certainly the behavior of the most extreme settlers would, if done to you in America, seem like a time you would want to exercise those famous 2nd Amendment rights.

  10. 1) A.L. argues that Khalidi addresses only the tactical not the moral disadvantages in the use of violence — by citing a passage in which Khalidi puts the moral disadvantages ahead of the tactical. That’s absurd.

    2) A.L. creates confusion in wishing for a Palestinian leader who’ll acknowledge that violence “hasn’t worked so well for us so far”. So is recognition of the tactical disadvantages enough for him now? Given the context, probably not; more likely this is just a piece of inept writing.

    3) A.L. characterizes Khalidi’s article (or his excerpts from it) as “apologist, racebaiting crap”.

    3.1) The article isn’t apologetic — a defense of the Palestinian cause — but a situational appraisal from a Palestinian point of view.

    3.2) The charge of “racebaiting” is mere slander. A.L. provides not one word from the article that would substantiate it; there’s not one to be found.

    3.3) The word “crap”, coming from an author in the process of showing himself (ref. points 1, 3.2, 5.1, 5.2) his antagonist’s intellectual and moral inferior, can defile him only.

    4) A.L. conjectures that Obama may inadvertently push Israel to decide that they’d rather deal with dead Arabs than “a morally dead U.N.”. A glance at Obama’s career should relieve him of that anxiety; he’s been a student of power politics from the outset.

    5) A.L. concludes with a reference to “comfortable Western academics who think that genocide is cool”.

    5.1) This is apparently an insinuation against Khalidi, the only Western academic in view throughout. As such, it’s false, dishonest, and cowardly.

    5.2) Its placement, in the same sentence as A.L.’s own cool contemplation of “a lot of dead Arabs” — genocide to be committed by Israel in a war of choice —
    regrettable, apparently, but the kind of thing you’ve got to do when the tide in the White House isn’t running your way — is an unsurpassable expression of moral obtuseness.

  11. Of course the “…moral issues involved in using violence inherently aren’t at issue.” An oppressed group *always* has the right to consider the use of violence in respect to their rights; the American Revolution wasn’t a non-violent affair, nor was the war to free the slaves or liberate Europe. Khalidi’s point is that the resort to violence in response to their oppression wasn’t simply morally indefensible, it was, tactically speaking, a disaster for Palestinians. That hardly seems like an apologia for genocide, or for that matter, “racebaiting crap.”

  12. Obama is against free speech. I think we’ll see a lot of internet attacks against various political organizations after this election. Flooding a radio station in an attempt to keep someone from being heard is pretty petty but I do not think it rises to the level you think it does.

    As to Israel, I do not think they are really worried about whom the President, let alone Obama, is in terms of actions on the ground immediately around them. As Lebanon proved they can f@#$ on their own w/out our countries help. As to striking an existential threat I know they are not worried about doing it or the aftermath. Six million dead is enough to make everybody do what they have to to survive.

    In the case of Israel I have not seen what your argument is for this in regards to Obama. Could you expound in detail?

  13. AJL – I’m the last person in the world to defend the behavior of the Israeli settle nuts; I’ve argued for some time on this blog that the settlements should go.

    But if you’ve read your Benny Morris, you’ll know that Israel was born in an existential crisis, and that the series of wars since then have has noting to do with Israel’s expansion, but solely with its existence, you’d be getting a point close to the one that Khalidi makes.

    rmd I only have time to hit the highlights…

    1) no he didn’t put moral problems at the head of his point – you have to read the whole sentance as assume he meant what he wrote. It’s a moral problem to use violence against someone who can make greater moral claims than you – not it’s a moral problem to use violence against innocent people.

    4) it’s absolutely a risk; one reason why I will never support simply withdrawing from the ME and throwing our hands in the air is that our abandonment of Israel would be an existential threat not to them, but to the Arab people. The imbalance of military power between Israel and the Arab world is so great that a ‘no holds barred’ war is certain to end badly for the Arab countries and their people.

    I’ve written about this since 2002; it’s not a new position for me.

    5 et al) yes it is an insinuation against Khalidi (and Said,and the host of other pro-Palestinian academics who fail to recognize that Israelis who support peace march in the streets and run for the legislature and Palestinians who support peace are murdered in their beds). To suggest a one-state solution given the current social mores of the Palestinian population is simply to call for genocide. I would honestly feel better if those who support those policies would simply say it,rather than proposing fantasy models in which Palestinian Arabs and Jews coexist in a kind of Zohan-mall fantasy.

    A.L.

  14. A.L.:

    . . . no he didn’t put moral problems at the head of his point . . .

    Well of course Khalidi put “moral disadvantages” at the head of his point:

    the moral, legal and political disadvantages in the use of violence;

    so you’re arguing that when he says “moral disadvantages” he doesn’t mean moral disadvantages. Let’s see how you do with that.

    . . . you have to read the whole sentance . . .

    OK, let’s have it:

    In particular, Palestinians lacked clarity about the moral, legal and political disadvantages in the use of violence against an Israeli polity able to mobilize in defense of its actions, however unspeakable, the most powerful tropes of victimhood in modern Western culture.

    So he mentions Israel’s ability to mobilize “tropes of victimhood” as a presumably relevant circumstance, but leaves it to the reader to infer its relevance. Fortunately, that’s easy:

    * Relevant to the moral disadvantages? No.

    * Relevant to the legal disadvantages? Hardly.

    * Relevant to the political disadvantages? Very much so.

    At which point you and any good-faith reader depart in opposite directions: she to adopt the “political disadvantages” interpretation, you to claim that since your “moral disadvantages” interpretation makes no sense, therefore when Khalidi says “moral” he doesn’t mean moral — as if you’d established anything other than your own malicious perversity.

  15. A.L.:

    . . . one reason why I will never support simply withdrawing from the ME . . .

    If you’re worried that Obama will “simply withdraw from the ME”, you really don’t understand him. Or if you think that withdrawing most US troops from Iraq while retaining a residual force is the same thing as “simply withdrawing from the ME”, you really don’t understand the US presence there.

  16. Excuse, me but the plain meaning of the sentence is clear; he’s concerned with the “disadvantage” of using violence against someone who is “able to mobilize in defense of its actions…”

    Let’s use a simpler example to explain the difference that I’m highlighting.

    “Don’t try and beat people up. It’s wrong.”

    “Don’t try and beat people up who are bigger than you. You’ll get beat up.”

    Which is exactly what he’s saying.

    More in the morning.

    A.L.

  17. A.L.:

    To suggest a one-state solution given the current social mores of the Palestinian population is simply to call for genocide.

    In this article, at least, Khalidi doesn’t even call for a one-state solution; he just says that it or any other alternative will be hard to achieve:

    While the two-state solution is . . . deeply flawed . . . there are also flaws in the alternatives . . .

    Moving toward a two-state, or a one-state … or … any other resolution … is dependent on a reversal in the dynamic of the Palestinian polity.

    In discussing the one-state solution, the first point he makes is:

    How can most Israelis and Palestinians be persuaded to forgo their aspirations for a state of their own, and to overcome their dislike of each other such that they can contemplate living together in one state, whether binational, federal, cantonal or unitary?

    that is, there is no one-state solution until and unless Israelis’ and Palestinians’ “overcome their dislike for each other” and “contemplate living together in one state”—and it’s hard to see how that can happen.

    To twist that into a call for genocide is—to put it mildly—not good-faith commentary.

  18. rmd, excellent sidestep!! NBA-quality.

    And I love the way you echo his term “dislike” – you know the way those Tutsi “disliked” the Hutu. the machete/gasoline thing? That was just their way of suggesting that the kids not play together any more, and by the way – please don’t come by the dinner party.

    Read Orwell much? Can I suggest his essay “Politics and the English Language”??

    A.L.

  19. A.L., I’m a little worried about threadjacking here, but Israeli doves are now worried that some sort of one-state solution is the only one available given the activity of the settler nuts (which I agree you have always opposed) and the manifest lack of will on the Israeli side to stop them. With every passing day, the open-air lunatic asylums in the West Bank extend like a neuroblastoma.

    In other words, nothing Khalidi has been arguing strikes me as beyond the pale. But don’t take my word for it, take Marty Peretz’s.

    I’d also like to agree with Steve Smith that absolutist renunciation of violence doesn’t make for very accurate American history—nor, I would add, were the 1945-48 Jewish extremists loathe to blow up Arab civilians on occasion.

  20. AJL – I don’t think I’m looking for anything like an absolutist rejection of violence by the Palestinians (you know me, right?) What I’m looking for is a demonstrated understanding that violence isn’t options #1 – 5.

    Yes, there are elements within Israel that are calling for a one-state solution; and I’ll freely acknowledge the primacy of Israeli views on their security over mine.

    But I’ll also point out that there are elements within the US that call for unilateral disarmament, disarming the police, etc. etc. I don’t know enough (yet) to judge whether the one-state Israeli advocates are mainstream enough to treat differently.

    A.L.

  21. AL to rmd: Read Orwell much? Can I suggest his essay “Politics and the English Language”??

    Can anyone point me to an instance of Orwell using any phrase even remotely like “let be comfortable Western academics” other than as an example of inexcusably sloppy writing? What on earth is it supposed to mean? The most charitable interpretation I can think of is that “let be” should read “led by” but that makes no sense whatever in the context, since very few “pissed-off Arabs” would accept Western academics as their leaders.

    The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing.

    Orwell had a hard life, but at least he was spared blogs.

  22. Kevin thanks for the catch on the typo – “let be academics” doesn’t even make sense, as opposed to “unlike” which is what I intended to type.

    I have no idea how my fingers came up with that one…

    A.L.

  23. Okay, “unlike” makes a bit more sense but the meaning is still quite unclear. Here is the revised proposition:

    [Obama might] inadvertently push Israel to the decision that [it would] rather deal with a pissed-off UN and a lot of dead Arabs than a morally dead UN and a lot of pissed-off Arabs, unlike comfortable Western academics who think that genocide is cool.

    So, are the academics (1) unlike Obama, (2) unlike Israelis or (3) unlike (dead or pissed-off) Arabs? And does the difference consist (a) in the fact that the academics are comfortable and Western, or (b) in the fact that they think genocide is cool?

    You can’t mean (1) and (a) since Obama, like the academics, is comfortable and Western. But (1, b) is a possible reading since you obviously don’t think Obama is cool with genocide.

    You could mean (2, a) since Israel is not “comfortable” so far as its security is concerned. You are contemplating a situation in which Israel has been “pushed” so (2, b) is also a possible reading: Israelis might be driven to a genocidal solution despite the fact that, since they would actually be doing the dirty work, they know very well that it’s uncool.

    You could mean (3, a) since the lives of Palestinians are uncomfortable and they aren’t Western. From what I know of your politics you probably don’t mean (3, b) but it’s certainly a possible reading.

    I normally wouldn’t bother to press you on this. On blogs, crappy writing is the norm. But since you have yourself invoked the shade of George Orwell, I think you deserve to be made aware how far your work falls short of the master’s standards. The essay you mentioned includes some quite practical advice on how to improve.

    You also deserve to be sued for libel by Professor Khalidi, who has an excellent reputation. You haven’t presented evidence which would convince any decent juror that he thinks genocide is cool. But I gather American law indulges defamation.

  24. metrico, play right or go home. My tolerance for nonsense (as oppose to legitimate criticism as Kevin Donaghue is making) is pretty much exhausted.

    So – explicit warning – make substantive comments or get banned.

    A.L.

  25. Kevin – yes, (2) unlike the Israelis. Not my clearest sentence, and no I don’t hold my blog writing up as anything remotely in the league which is umpired by Orwell.

    This is blogging, and it’s a freeform style of argument and discussion. You’re 100% right, however, that we need to be measured by high standards.

    But I’ll stand on my core point, which is that for Khalid to have suggested that the conflict comes down to a “dislike” is so profoundly dishonest that it deserves the kind of slam that I’m giving it.

    A.L.

  26. Dear AL,

    Why engage in logorrhea when the point can be made in a quip? Sorry if it stung. If you’re going to blog, you can’t be thin-skinned.

    Would it be over the line for me to state that I think you are entirely insincere in your support for Obama, that such support is not “wobbly” at all, but entirely collapsed? Or that you have been doing what they call Mobying for months?

    About three posts mirroring a current right-wing theme attacking Obama for every one expressing (weak, qualified) support for Obama, I’d estimate.

    I’ll quote Margaret Thatcher, a lady who, agree or disagree, at least had the courage of her convictions and was clear and forthright on where she stood, unlike certain others: This is no time to go wobbly.

    On the substantive point, I endorse AJL in #6 and others who believe that the Khalidi story is just an attempt to smear Obama with guilt-by-association with a Palestinian with a Muslim Arab name.

    That the Palestinians might have a different opinion on modern history, from 1947 to the illegal but tacitly supported settlements on the West Bank today seems beyond your comprehension. You won’t read Khalidi, maybe try Benny Morris.

    The story associating Obama and Khalidi is being propagated only by the furthest fringes of the right-wing blogs.

    Why would someone who describes himself as an Obama supporter pick this story, which Martin Peretz, Josh Marshall and others have dismissed as a canard, to write about now is a valid question.

    Time is running out to make your dramatic last minute switch to McCain!

    Or will it be a post-election confession that in the end you couldn’t vote for Obama, to maintain your creds in the right-wing blogosphere?

  27. metrico, you’ve been tooting that one-note horn for some time. I feel about Obama like I feel; I support him but don’t like some things that he’s doing. I’ve got a post in the queue for later today that you might like. If I cared what you liked or didn’t, because you made substantive points and didn’t act like a kid sent over to kick sand around someone else’s sandbox.

    You’re not a Team Obama plant, are you? That’s about as likely – actually, it’s more likely – than any of the charges you’ve made about me.

    A.L.

  28. _”The story associating Obama and Khalidi is being propagated only by the furthest fringes of the right-wing blogs.”_

    Right wing blogs like the “New York Post”:http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0WTTkkTLg5J4k0B3wnQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTBjZmpxdmw3BHBvcwM3BHNlYwNzcg–/SIG=139bqsql6/EXP=1225752467/**http%3a//www.nypost.com/seven/10302008/postopinion/editorials/the_obama_tape_136031.htm “Jewish World Review”:http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1008/video_bounty.php3 “Arizona Star”:http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/news/264855.php and the “New York Times?”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/us/politics/30campaign.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin

    Vast right wing conspiracy indeed. I can see why AL wouldn’t want to be lumped in with those fringe groups.

  29. And as a followup, my point is that I have concerns – regardless of what Marty Peretz says – about Obama’s policy on Israel, both because of the broader ideological frame in which antiwestern and postcolonial thinkers seems to be operating these days and his specific ideological upbringing, as well as what he himself and his close advisers have said in the runup to the campaign,at which point he became an AIPAC poster child.

    That Khalidi is considered the best American thinker on the subject of the Arab and Palestinian world causes me some heartburn, for exactly the reasons I’ve set out in the post.

    If he set out – unqualifiedly – a Gandhiesque set of beliefs and policies, I’d be sending him checks and finding out what I could do to support him. But the whole “well, killing Israelis is bad because it turned out they can generate a lot more sympathy than we expected” argument is somehow unmoving to me.

    Keep trolling those blogs, metrico!! We’ll hold off on requiring registration here until after the election so we can all get the benefit of your deep thinking.

    As as a side bar, the strongest reason I could summon not to vote for Obama (which won’t happen) is the fact that his supporters are all too often disgusting, immature, and intellectually dishonest – and thanks for being here to serve as an example.

    A.L.

  30. _”As as a side bar, the strongest reason I could summon not to vote for Obama (which won’t happen) is the fact that his supporters are all too often disgusting, immature, and intellectually dishonest”_

    Just wait until they have the powers of the state behind them to deal with critics.

  31. _”Well, if they get too heavy-handed, it will be a problem because their critics are the ones with the guns. So I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over that point.”_

    For now. I hope that balance doesnt change, but i fear in the long run that may not always be true. Gun grabber comes and go, and theyll be back. And in the other direction the Homeland Security Corp still worries me.

    And to reiterate, im not saying this change will come in an Obama term. But the long run implications set the table for trouble down the road. We all know once policies like these are funded they take on lives of their own. If there is a thermodynamic law to federal power it is that it will always tend towards more and bigger and more intrusive government. Im arguing we’ve become numb to the trend in the last few decades (both parties) and now maybe we just arent fathoming how huge of change Obama is promising. Can’t say the man didnt warn us I suppose. People seem to see in Obama what the want to see. He’s the Mirror of Political Erised.

  32. Well, AL, I suppose being called “intellectually dishonest” by you is some kind of honor, given your “support” for Obama.

    One reason why I object to your highlighting the issue of the tape is that I believe the tape is another case of manufactured indignation and controversy-on-false-pretenses by the Republicans.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole controversy isn’t the product of a Republican “ratf**k.” And you are playing along.

    It goes like this: Republican operative gets a hold of the tape of the dinner with Khalidi and Obama. There is nothing dramatic or offensive on the tape, but the operative realizes that the association between Khalidi and Obama can be exploited, just because Khalidi is a Palestinian.

    The operative leaks the tape to the LAT, and adds the condition that the LAT can’t release the tape.

    The story is written. Then the operative leaks or propagates through blogs the story that there is more sensational stuff on the tape than the LAT reported.

    The attack is then on two targets: the liberal MSM, and Obama.

    I believe something like this happened in 2004 with the false Bush ANG documents being planted by Bush operatives to neutralize the ANG story and take down the hated Rather and MSM.

    That you are suckered into something like this Khalidi story cast doubts on your motives.

    I support Obama. Is there any doubt about that based on what I’ve written? I’ve donated money, made phone calls, too.

    You say you support Obama. Is there any doubt about that based on what you’ve written? The question answers itself.

  33. …metrico, why stop there? The Bavarian Illuminatitrained both Khalidi and the reporter, having bred them years ago as a part of their plan to position them for an attack on Obama – who they knew would be running for President at this point.

    I mean, if you’re going to be delusional, at least be entertaining about it.

    And with that, metrico, I think I’ll ignore you until you have something interesting to say.

    A.L.

  34. Quoth Metrico:

    bq. the false Bush ANG documents being planted by Bush operatives

    And being inspected, once planted, only by eager tools who didn’t notice the minor impossibility of the superscript-th. You have to tell us how Bush operatives managed that.

    I noticed that nonexistent-on-typewriters element on first reading. Even before all the hoopla. I can’t explain how any thinking person who’d actually used a typewriter could miss it.

    But then, I’m not as crafty as these Bush operatives, and I don’t have the access codes for the orbital mind control lasers.

  35. A.L.:

    Excuse, me but the plain meaning of the sentence is clear …

    No, you’re not excused from backing up your bluster about “plain meaning” with actual argument. In fact, you’ve incurred a new obligation: to show how an interpretation that gratuitously reduces a text to nonsense is its “plain meaning”.

    More in the morning.

    Didn’t happen.

    … excellent sidestep!!

    No, addressing the actual text of the document your appraising isn’t side-stepping, it’s a basic responsibility, and one that you’ve defaulted on. “Sidestepping” might describe ignoring the text to indulge in a piece of sophistry grounded only in your own sanguinary fantasy.

    … love the way you echo his term “dislike” …

    It’s called “quoting”.

    As for Khalidi’s word choice, I quite agree it’s a jarring understatement. Understatement there is likely the prudent course; if he chose a stronger word, propagandists for Israel might take that for a confession of atavistic Palestinian bloodlust. As for the substance as opposed to the rhetoric of his argument, acknowledging that there are emotions in play far stronger than dislike only strengthens his point — a point that, according to your slanderous caricature, he shouldn’t be making at all.

    … for Khalid to have suggested that the conflict comes down to a “dislike” is … profoundly dishonest …

    Pointing to the obstacle to any one-state solution posed by adverse sentiment (yikes! understatement! break out the Orwell!) is not a suggestion that that’s what the conflict comes down to. A more plausible candidate for that is available, prominently enough, in the second paragraph of the article—”expulsion, flight and loss of their homes by a majority of [the Palestinian] people”—supplemented below by “rank discrimination”, “collective punishment”, “systematic torture and humiliation”, et cetera et cetera. It would be clear that Khalidi’s not suggesting that the strongest emotion ever induced by any of these is a mild “dislike”, even if he hadn’t specifically highlighted, elsewhere in his argument, “resentment that guarantees Israel’s eternal insecurity” (again, “resentment” is about the mildest possible word there, and again, it’s probably best so).

    The tu quoque doesn’t quite fit here though; your misrepresentation of Khalidi is not “profoundly dishonest”; dishonest indeed, but no more dishonest than shallow.

  36. bq. “In particular, Palestinians lacked clarity about the moral, legal and political disadvantages in the use of violence against an Israeli polity able to mobilize in defense of its actions, however unspeakable, the most powerful tropes of victimhood in modern Western culture.”

    #18 from rmd:

    bq. “So he mentions Israel’s ability to mobilize “tropes of victimhood” as a presumably relevant circumstance, but leaves it to the reader to infer its relevance. Fortunately, that’s easy:”

    * Relevant to the moral disadvantages? No.”

    Why not relevant to the moral disadvantages?

    This seems the same as the moral argument against the Western Front “over the top!” frontal attacks against trenches, mud, barbed wire and machineguns in World War I. The generals that ordered these attacks have come in for moral condemnation because they squandered lives by demanding of the men what the men could not do. In the face of overwhelming obstacles, they ought not to have pressed their attacks.

    In “Just War Theory”, “probability of success” has always been a key consideration.

  37. rmd makes good points, but I have a minor nitpick: AL isn’t slandering Khalidi, he is libelling him.

    This remark of AL’s is somewhat OT, but since I’ve seen many similar remarks on this site it may be worth a response:

    Well, if they get too heavy-handed, it will be a problem because their critics are the ones with the guns. So I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over that point.

    It’s been a while since riflemen played a decisive role in a major war. In the unlikely event of another American civil war of the kind AL evidently fears, “they” (the heavy-handed “liberals”) will have most of the scientists while their “conservative” enemies will get the creationist sharpshooters who think Charles Darwin was an instrument of the devil.

    My money will be on the scientists.

  38. Every people, community should have right to declare independence that is something that did not entered Palestinian supporters because Freedom in Middle East is a Western Concept so a really bad thing. Jews that lived at Israel declared independence and got a War. They won the others lost. Those that lost choose to try to exterminate Israel with Soviet support and later by terror and everytime they tried they lost.
    The fact that war continues is that Israel didn’t won like allies in WW2, unfortunately Israel won like in WW1…
    Since the Palestinian threats of extermination and acts of agression continue it is not surpring that the occupation continue it is like if Allied powers were unable to stamp Nazism after occupation.

    Likewise if Palestinians want independence they should declare it and then live in a responsible way. But since the power structure of Arafat was build in hate and corruption…They have a richer country at side and they can profit very well from it. In fact they had more per capita income than Eyptians and Jordans.

    Someone that wants an unity between Israel and Palestinians only show two things: That is unconfortable with a Jewish country and that is unconfortable with a Western society in Holly Land. I don’t know which is worst.

    “Did you know, before I commented on it here years ago, that Israel has no Open Housing law, and the Israeli Supreme Court decision outlawing housing discrimination was about as popular as would be a Texas Supreme Court decision legalizing Texan gay marriage, and about as well observed?”

    Everyone should be free to choose to whom to rent their house.

    Khalidi shows his true colors when he paints the problems of Palestinians due to the supposed Jewish arts of victimhood, from Europe i can say no one beats Palestinian victimhood and role playing for TV…if he doesn’t see the problem of murdering civilians as the main combat strategy, or doesn’t see the problem of the culture behind combating Israel that makes possible to murder civilians as the main combat tool, likewise the Articles of PLO convenant that profess Israel destruction then he doesn’t see anything.
    In the end if nakba is the central Palestinian issue they will never get peace, they would never move to the future.

    He also shows his true colors when he talks about collective punishement. Of course it is collective punishment what he thinks happens if there is an hostile Governemnt in Gaza that profess Israel destruction? If Canada or Mexico were bent of destruction of USA and made cross raids or made terrorist attacks what he would expect?

  39. _”It’s been a while since riflemen played a decisive role in a major war.”_

    Rifleman play a decisive role in every major war and probably always will.

  40. Guys, I think we’re taking what was supposed to be a quip and turning it into a point – one which I’d really, deeply rather not be made.

    I can’t imagine a plausible circumstance in which I or people I know and trust would take arms against the US government. That’s a feature, not a bug.

    A.L.

  41. rmd et al – sorry – election stuff and a huge critical presentation Tues have me slammed. I’m headed to Sacramento for election evening, so may have some quality airport time to spend on this…

    A.L.

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