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Total number of comments: 139 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:43)

Phud1

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  • Wisconsin is not Broke, "Budget Crisis" a Fraud
    • "...he signed the spending bill and vetoed the tax bill that paid for it. Then, he unilaterally cut budgets using a little used state provision for fiscal emergencies..."

      This is the "Tea Party Three Step"--you can see it in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, New Jersey; even in the Federal government.
      - Create or aggravate a budget deficit by giving a big tax cut to wealthy individuals and corporations (or in Pawlenty's case by vetoing a tax bill)
      - Declare a financial crisis due to the (manufactured) deficit
      - "Resolve" the crisis on the backs of the poor and middle class by cutting budgets for welfare, schools, hospitals, Medicaid, and other services

    • "It is perhaps too much to say that corporations, even when regulated, are an appropriate tool for solving every problem."
      I agree, and of course I didn't say that. Corporations are an appropriate tool when there is money to be made in "solving a problem," and when the amount of money made is the measure of how well it is being solved. Many issues in modern society don't fit that description and are better solved by government action--which is inherently inefficient (the only thing government does efficiently is write checks). Hence our "mixed economy" model.
      In some cases government can enlist private industry under contract, but even that has its limits. A (bad) example is private prisons: private industry may be able to run prisons "efficiently," but then, as in Arizona, they lobby for laws that will create more criminals and thus bring them more business. Private industry running schools has similar limitations. Privatizing the Post Office would mean that people who can be served at a profit would be served, and services that can be provided at a profit would be available, and others would be neglected; up to now, at least, we've believed that everybody, even those in small remote communities, should have the benefit of (comparatively) cheap mail service.

    • The purpose of a corporation is to make money. This is fine as long as they are regulated so that they must work in ways that don't damage the environment, create monopolies, or otherwise do harm to the country and the world.
      When regulation fails, we have spectacles like the 2007-08 crash. Combined with union-busting, distortion of the tax code to favor the rich, and failure to enforce anti-trust laws (which of course is a failure of regulation), we get a concentration of wealth and income in the top few percent, destruction of the middle class, and reinforcement of the boom-and-bust cycle. Another effect of the concentration of wealth, plus the Citizens United decision which permits unlimited campaign spending by wealthy individuals and corporations, is excessive influence of money on elections, which of course threatens democracy itself.
      And spectacles like Wisconsin (repeated, with less publicity, in Ohio, Maine, Indiana, and other states) naturally follow the concentration of wealth and the excessive influence of money on elections.

  • Amnesty Int'l: United Nations Must Reject Israeli Campaign to Avoid Accountability for Gaza War Crimes
    • "Are you still living under the illusion that Israel's rulers do not have as their ultimate goal the disappearance of the Palestinian people?"
      Are you still living under the illusion that Gaza's rulers do not have as their ultimate goal the disappearance of the Israeli people? They are quite open about it:
      link to thejerusalemfund.org
      Or are you aware of it and is that OK with you?

    • "There are almost no 'civilian' Israelis older than 18, as most remain in the military as reservists."
      Thus any Israeli is a legitimate target? Let me ask your opinion on this point, then: In January 1945, Japan drafted every citizen into the Army. So legally there were no civilians in Japan after that time. So, was American bombing of Japanese cities, including the atomic bombs, completely legal?

      "Arabs gaining universal freedom will mark the demise of the Sauds and the end of the US and Israeli Empires--a development that can't happen too soon."
      Au contraire. I expect that, when the anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli propaganda that the Arab despots use to distract their populations from the oppressive, criminal governments goes away, the hostility to Israel (and the US) will decrease significantly.

    • If I read Goldstone's column correctly, he now says that Israel did not target civilians as a matter of policy; that investigations are being conducted (too slowly and not transparently enough but are being conducted) into whether field commanders targeted civilians on their own initiative; that Israeli policies and doctrines (rules of engagement) have been and are being modified to make civilian casualties less likely in any future conflict; that individual IDF members found to have committed crimes have been and are being prosecuted; and that Hamas has done and is doing none of these.

  • The UN to the Rescue in Libya: Is it too Late?
    • "Not since fall of 1990, when the UNSC authorized military action to push Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait, has it acted so decisively and exactly in the way its founders had aspired for it in 1945."
      Did the founders expect that the UNSC would authorize military action in a civil war or rebellion, as distinct from an invasion of one country by another (North/South Korea 1950 or Iraq/Kuwait 1990)?
      Also I must agree with you that while the action was decisive it was hardly prompt and may be too late. Do you know the details of overcoming the objections of Qadaffi admirers such as Chavez of Venezuela and Morales of Bolivia?

  • Top Pieces of Unfinished Business in the Mideast
    • Well, outside of the fact that there are six items in the "top five" list, I would say the most important item of unfinished business is to replace the toppled, soon-to-be-toppled, and should-be-toppled governments with stable, representative, perhaps even democratic governments. And my concern of course is that these countries have no tradition of governments of, by, and for the people, with limited education and literacy, little or no free press or other institutions necessary for an informed public, so instituting and preserving governments that serve in the public interest will not be easy.

  • Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu
    • "The word Hasbara means 'explanation' in Hebrew. In actual English usage, it refers to the efforts by the Israeli government, pro-Israel pundits and a considerable bunch of useful idiots (mostly bloggers) to justify Israel's behavior and slander the Palestinians, the Arabs in general, and, if necessary, the 1.3 billion followers of the Muslim faith."
      Thanks for the "explanation." If it means anybody, in any form or forum, attempting to defend any aspect of any Israeli policy, or to criticize anything said or done by Palestinians, Arabs, or Muslims, I guess I qualify. If it must be part of a coordinated effort and/or requires acceptance of ALL Israeli policies, I certainly am not.
      BTW is there a similar name for coordinated or uncoordinated efforts to criticize every aspect of Israeli policy and defend everything done by Palestinians, Arabs, or Muslims?

    • "'It granted territorial integrity to Israel also--do you recognize and accept that?'
      This is implicit in any argument that accepts that Palestinians were granted the right to their own territories and doesn't need to be constantly stated."
      Absolutely untrue. There are many posters here who deny Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, even deny the history of Jews in that area. And I don't need to point out the Palestinian factions that are committed to the extinction of Israel.

      "Zionism as an ideology explicitly claims that Jews are the only people with a claim to what its claimants characterise as their 'ancestral lands'..."
      Also untrue. Zionism calls for a Jewish homeland, generally but not always at the present location of Israel: "The self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland." (link to en.wikipedia.org; the same article will give you an idea of the range of beliefs the term covers.) There is no inherent reason that this homeland must include the entire area or that non-Jews must be excluded or treated as second class citizens. Of course some Zionists believe both those things but don't tar the entire movement with that brush.
      Your point was that Israel "had to" accept those refugees. I agree that it was a moral obligation (as I believe it was and is a moral obligation of the Arab states to help the Palestinian refugees) but there was no legal obligation to do it at all much less to go to the expense and effort that was required to bring them to Israel. Those expelled received no compensation and in many cases their property was seized. They certainly have never been offered the right of return. See link to jewishvirtuallibrary.org; additionally there were many who were basically forced to leave Iran after the 1979 revolution.

      "The great majority left voluntarily, left because the invading Arabs told them anybody found there after the 'conquest' would be assumed to be pro-Jewish and killed...'
      Often stated by Israel's supporters, but convincing proof has never been offered. Even if such proof existed it would not negate the right of the Palestinians to return to their lands.
      Actually it would; if you leave voluntarily you do not automatically have the right to return. But regardless, I agree that those who are not allowed to return (and their descendants) are entitled to compensation.

    • "These things are very easy to research, I don't understand why you would ask in this particular venue such admittedly basic facts.

      link to jewishvirtuallibrary.org"

      US military aid to Israel was insignificant until 1971 (after France had backed away). Pre-1967 total military aid was less than $150 million.
      BTW how do you find anything at Jewish Virtual Library? There is no search function.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      "The Oil Embargo did not significantly decrease the amount of oil available in the United States or any affected European countries due mainly to a lack of solidarity and uniformity in embargoing specific countries."

      "Suggesting 'arab' countries are obligated to accept non-national refugees does not compute."

      Of course they were not obligated. Israel was not obligated to accept hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab countries and Iran; but it did, and thereby averted a possible humanitarian crisis. But (a) it's hypocritical to complain about their plight while not doing anything to help, and (b) it's a missed opportunity to move toward permanent peace in the region. (We know what Abba Eban said about missed opportunities.) But ultimately the Arab countries didn't want to resolve the refugee situation, they wanted to use it as a club to beat Israel with.

      "There are very basic things that we were supposed to have learned from Nuremberg. It is unethical and illegal to use exportation of people to solve problems."
      I agree completely. Especially when the "solution" (extinction of Israel) is an undesirable goal.

      While criticism of neighboring countries' specific policies toward Palestinian refugees may be valid, does not grant license or excuse Israel from exporting people from their homes or refusing them a right of return. I leave my house from time to time and do not expect to find people in it when I decide to return."
      How many people left their homes to go on vacation or business travel and were unable to come home? The great majority left voluntarily, left because the invading Arabs told them anybody found there after the "conquest" would be assumed to be pro-Jewish and killed, left simply so as not to be in the middle of a war, or were forcibly expelled. We can never identify those who were expelled (or their descendants), so there is no right for all the refugees to return. The status of the refugees including who can return is a subject for negotiations, as is compensation for those who won't be able to.

    • You didn't leave place for a reply but I'll try anyway:
      "You can't use the UN partition plan to justify Israel's creation on the one hand but then ignore that it granted territorial integrity to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank on the other."
      It granted territorial integrity to Israel also--do you recognize and accept that?

      "I don't know you and don't know if you are actually interested in learning and dialoguing or this is just one more dreary hasbara campaign..."
      I've asked before and didn't get an answer...or maybe you didn't publish the post, but what is hasbara?

    • I am very uncomfortable arguing basic facts with an authority who has made his life's work studying the Middle East, but...wasn't the Arab oil boycott after the 1973 war? I recall "oil shocks" in 1973 and 1979 but not earlier; in fact the US was an oil exporter until 1970. In any case you cited US military aid to Israel in 1967 and I don't believe there was much--just verbal support.
      It's not irrelevant that the Arab countries did nothing for the refugees. Those refugees are the constant irritant to Arab-Israeli relations and it's quite likely that there would be a permanent peace today without that irritant.
      What is irrelevant is bringing in the Gaza flotilla--we can have a long discussion about it if you like but what has it got to to with the points you raised and that I replied to?
      I'm afraid Britain's policies toward some non-members of the State Religion, specifically Muslims, are unfortunately moving closer to those of Israel. But my point was that there is nothing inherent in a "Jewish State" that "denaturalizes" other religions any more than in an Anglican State.
      As for Israel's policies, I support some and oppose others. I read your blog daily and it has definitely changed some of my views and reinforced others, but I don't plead guilty to making "argument[s] that are self-evidently based on a logical fallacy or an error of fact."

    • "Israel in 1967 was signatory to the UN Charter, which forbids the acquisition of territory from other countries by military force."
      I'm playing devil's advocate here, but what "country" did Israel take territory from by force? Until 1967, Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied the West Bank, just as surely as Israel occupies them now. Egypt's and Jordan's crime was to do nothing for the refugees, just as Israel's is to build settlements in that territory.

    • "Mubarak is twice as bad as Saddam was."

      I carry no brief for the US invasion of Iraq (or for Mubarak), but aren't you afraid of being struck by lightning for such a statement?

    • The UN resolution calls for Israeli withdrawal to "secure and recognized borders." If Blair and Bush were willing to recapture the 1967 conquests by force and then guarantee Israel's security in those borders, I would have no objection. Do you think the UN or anybody else would go along with that?
      BTW do you think the US should give back the land it stole from the Indians, Mexico, etc., during the 19th century? Should the UN organize a force to make that happen?

    • "I about gagged a couple weeks ago as she [Hillary] railled impressively against the potential of Iran going nuclear, asking the audience, 'can you just imagine how destabilizing it'd be if they (Iran) were to introduce nuclear weapons to the region?' "
      It would indeed be destabilizing. Countries like Kuwait, Saudi, and the Gulf States would rightly be concerned about Iranian blackmail or open aggression, and would move toward nukes for themselves or pre-emptive war. If the reference was to Israeli nukes, Israel's neighbors understand that they will be used only if Israel is successfully invaded and threatened with extinction.

    • The tone of this screed is completely over the top, but let me make a few specific points:
      - "US military aid to Israel allowed that country to prevail over Egypt in 1967 and 1973." Correct me if I'm wrong, but Israel fought the 1967 war pretty much with French (and British?) equipment. It was only after DeGaulle decided that he could benefit more by sucking up to the Arabs that Israel turned to the US for military equipment. It does, however, have other equipment (e.g., German submarines) plus homemade (e.g., tanks).
      - Egypt, a dictatorship friendly to the US, has indeed done nothing for the Palestinian refugees. But the same is true for all the other Arab countries, which are dictatorships not so friendly to the US. None of them have ever lifted a finger for the refugees. Exceptions: Jordan and Lebanon took some in, and for their troubles almost had their countries taken over.
      - "Israel was founded on the primal sin of expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes..." Certainly some were expelled but many more left voluntarily or under the threat of being killed by the invading Arab armies if found in the territory the UN assigned to Israel. And, again, Egypt, which ruled Gaza (pre-Mubarak), and Jordan, which ruled the West Bank, did nothing for the refugees. They could have been permanently settled long ago, as the hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab countries and Iran were settled in Israel, but the Arab states thought the refugees were more useful as they were, destitute in refugee camps, in the continuing effort to destroy Israel.
      - "Those states and groups that refuse to acquiesce in this egregious policy of epochal injustice are targeted by the US Congress for sanctions and branded terrorists and aggressors." Those that react with terrorism and aggression are indeed so branded; those that react strongly but peacefully are not.
      - "...had to be willing to recognize Israel as a 'Jewish' state, thus implicitly denaturalizing the 20% of the population that is Palestinian Christians and Muslims." Non-Jews in Israel are no more denaturalized than Catholics, Jews, and Muslims in England, which has a state religion. In fact they do much better than non-Muslims in most of the Muslim world, including Egypt and (gasp) Palestine.
      - Why is the US the villain for supporting the corrupt dictatorship in Egypt but gets no credit for not supporting other corrupt dictatorships in the region?

  • Mubarak Turns to Military for Support
    • Your web page was off the air for a few hours today--is your server in Egypt? :-)
      You properly complained about the lack of coverage of Tunisia in the American media; but Egypt has gotten wall-to-wall coverage. A stock market drop was even blamed on fears about Egypt.

  • King on Guns, War and Non-Violence as a Social Movement
    • I can't disagree but there was little direct effect on the white community of the race riots of the 60s. The rioters remained in the black ghettos, and there was enough law enforcement and National Guard presence to ensure that they would stay there. Clearly there was smoke, noise, some threats, but except for the non-black-owned businesses in the ghetto it was indirect. I don't recall any fear on the part of any whites...and of course there were no riots in the Deep Segregated South, all in the urban north. (Perhaps in Miami too but that isn't really the "Deep South" to my mind.
      As for the "big stick," I wouldn't make that connection--"give us our rights in response to nonviolent civil disobedience, or there will be riots." Especially since there was nothing in the riots to directly inspire fear in whites.

    • "MLK did not bring about enforcement of the 1872 Civil Rights Act in the 1960s; it was brought about by riots in ghettos across the country, which inspired fear in the selfish and hypocritical majority, who could then sanctimoniously declare for the rights of others."
      I must disagree with you. Did you live through this time? I did, and the riots inspired only hatred and a call for repression (and claims that African Americans were too primitive and violence-prone to be given full freedom). It was the constant drumming of demands for basic rights, a call for us as a country to live up to our higher potential, that made the difference--and that is neither a quick nor an easy process.

      "No realist will argue that czarist Russia might have been toppled by Ghandi or MLK, even in its much weakened state."
      An interesting point. Czarist Russia was a medieval, feudal society and as such might not have been susceptible to King's or Gandhi's tactics. As you say, open communication is necessary for the majority to hear what the protesters are saying. Thus these tactics might not work in China where the government controls all communications. (Note that Israel has a completely free press where the opinions of the "dovish" among them are heard constantly.)

    • In India and in the American South, it took years for non-violent tactics to make any progress. The Birmingham Bus Boycott alone lasted a year. I have questioned whether the Palestinians have the patience required to make nonviolence succeed (and was perhaps justifiably criticized for that question) but (1) it is the best if not the only path to eventual success and (2) it requires patience--and forgiveness. King reminded his supporters not to hate whites, not to allow themselves to be dragged down to that level.

  • Naw, There's been no Right Wing Extreme Rhetoric
    • The media's attempts to "balance" this discussion by showing liberal as well as conservative "poisonous" rhetoric is way off the mark. I don't recall any liberals--and certainly not any office holders or candidates--calling for their opponents to be killed. Why won't the so-called liberal media point out that the right wing is by far the worst offender?
      At the urging of one of my conservative friends, I once listened to Rush Limbaugh for five minutes. During that short period of time, he said, "We won't kill all the liberals. We'll keep a few of them alive in the zoo."

  • Today in Apartheid
    • What, nothing from Venezuela? Ahmedinedjad's sidekick Chavez is usually eager to be the first to speak and act against Israel (not to mention the Jewish community of Venezuela).

  • Wikileaks: US Offered to Block anti-Whaling Protesters
    • "Although we all admire social activists such as Mohandas K. Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., one has to remember that what they did was defined as illegal by the governments of their time."
      Some of what Gandhi and MLK did was legal, much was illegal. The sit-ins, for instance, violated local segregation laws. Those laws have been either repealed or declared unconstitutional. However, passive resistance to laws regarded as unjust may still be illegal depending on the form of the protest. I.e., nothing has happened to change the legality or illegality of nonviolent protest, except that some of the laws protested at the time are no longer in force.

  • Women enlist as Fighters in Gaza
    • Oh, one more thing about South Africa. ANC guerrilla warfare/terrorism had little to do with the fall of Apartheid. South Africa fought the ANC to more than a draw and could have continued to sustain that situation indefinitely.
      The primary factor was the international boycott, which affected blacks more than whites, but blacks were willing to suffer in order to achieve freedom (or at least political power) while most whites were unwilling to suffer to preserve Apartheid. Incidentally the effectiveness of the boycott against South Africa is one reason Israel is working so hard to prevent one against them.

    • Neither has relinquished to terrorism, so passive resistance couldn't be less effective...and might be more effective. Not to mention fewer people killed.

    • I have relatives in South Africa and have been there twice. Have you?
      South Africa killed many ANC but, I believe on intervention by the US, only gave Mandela a life sentence. (He never killed anybody though ANC certainly did.)
      I am not a pacifist, just pointing out that there is a difference between being willing to die for a cause and being willing to kill for it.

    • You have a good point. Since the 1980s when the Hasidim started moving to Israel in large numbers, the tenor of Israel changed significantly, and the country may well not be as subject to passive resistance as it was before then. But terrorism still leads nowhere and nonviolence is a better strategy.
      If I implied that all Arabs favor terrorism, I certainly didn't intend that. There are many Palestinians who oppose it on moral grounds as well as understanding that it is not their best strategy.

    • What is a hasbarist?
      It would be nice if you could say something more specific than "you are wrong," but so be it.
      Do you have anything to say about the actual point of my comment, which is that nonviolent passive resistance is likely to be more effective than terrorism?

    • I might add that while Patrick Henry and Nelson Mandela were willing to die for freedom, they were not into killing others (indiscriminately, or at all) in that cause. Likewise MLK. The Vietamese monks killed themselves to dramatize their cause; they did not kill others. None of these are a justification for terrorism.
      I hardly think that Japanese Kamikaze pilots are good role models for a cause worth dying (and killing) for, but note that they killed enemy soldiers/sailors with deliberate aim; they did not kill civilians.

    • "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.... Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
      -- Martin Luther King

    • I'm inspired by the work of Abbas and Fayyad in the West Bank, attempting to improve security and the economic situation. I'm not inspired by the way Gaza is run, including rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and holding Gilad Shalit incommunicado.

    • "The suicide bombings would be morally repugnant, IF they had other options."
      Apparently neither Hamas nor Mr. Mohammed has ever heard of Gandhi or Martin Luther King. Prof. Cole is exactly right--terrorism is a dead end. If the Palestinians had used Gandhi's or MLK's tactics, they would have had their independent state decades ago. At the risk of ethnic stereotyping, let me venture that Jews are the biggest softies in the world--much more so than the British or Southern Americans--and would not have been able to stand up to even a few years of Passive Resistance; but it doesn't seem to be in the DNA of Arabs to respond to injustice (real or perceived) other than with violence.

  • HRW on Israeli Racial Discrimination in West Bank
    • I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. There are many types of discrimination; you pointed out that the KKK went after Catholics and Jews just as they went after blacks, and if you care to characterize that as racial, all I can do is point out that I would characterize it otherwise. But it's just as despicable.

    • "You really need to read in the history of race theory. The same antiquated 19th century thinkers who talked about 'Semites' would have called Irish 'Celtic' and English 'Anglo-Saxon,' i.e. different 'races.' "

      I can't claim to have read extensively on this subject, but the English have Celtic (pre-Anglo-Saxon, e.g., in Cornwall) and Norman (post-Anglo-Saxon) as well as Viking heritage. "Semites" were geographically much more distinct.

      "I am not sure what distinction you are making between race and ethnicity, but ethnic discrimination would in general parlance and certainly in US law be racial discrimination."

      It would be illegal discrimination but not racial discrimination. The law refers to discrimination by race, religion, national origin, and in some cases sex and sexual preference. Refusal to allow, e.g., Lebanese-Americans to eat in a public restaurant would fall under national origin, not race.
      Again I'm not going to deny or excuse Israel's discrimination against Palestinians--even against its own Arab citizens--but calling it racial discrimination, as HRW sort of did and as you headlined, is excessively inflammatory.

    • I'll go along with "ethnic," as for example was formerly practiced against Catholics and other Irish in the British Isles. English and Irish are clearly the same race but differ religiously (for the most part) and ethnically.

    • Israelis and Palestinians are the same race (Semites, a subdivision of Caucasians), so the discrimination can be characterized as based on religion or nationality or national origin, but it is not racial. Religious discrimination would seem to be the best description. Which is not to excuse it.

  • Senate Repeal of DADT in Global Context
    • "Conservative religious fanatics lost on 'don’t ask, don't tell' and anti-gay discrimination. The scary thing is, that since it is clear that fear-mongering on gays will no longer win elections in the next generation, the turn to hate-mongering against Muslims may accelerate."

      Is this what you mean?
      ------------------------
      link to huffingtonpost.com

      Peter King: I'll Hold Hearings On Radical Islam
      12/19/10 02:59 PM | AP

      NEW YORK — The incoming head of the House Committee on Homeland Security says he will hold hearings on what he calls the "radicalization" of some American Muslims.

      Rep. Peter King, a Republican from Long Island, said Sunday that law-enforcement officials around the country have told him they receive little cooperation from Muslims.

      But a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said he fears King's hearings will become an "anti-Muslim witch hunt." Ibrahim Hooper said several recent terrorist plots have been foiled because members of the Muslim community did cooperate with law enforcement.

      King said in an opinion piece in Sunday's Newsday that he will do all he can to "drive the public debate" on Islamic radicalization.

  • Can 'Desperate Housewives' Defeat al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia? Wikileaks
    • "No absolute monarchy, during the past 2.5 centuries, has managed to avoid either being overthrown or defanged and turned into a constitutional monarchy, when the middle and business classes become powerful."
      True, yet absolute dictatorships even more oppressive than the Sauds or the Shah have survived for extended periods. For example, North Korea is a monarchy in all but name. Maybe Syria as well. Are dictatorships somehow more efficient in suppressing dissent and maintaining power? Or are these countries so backwards that a middle class hasn't developed? What does that bode for China?

  • Egyptian Official: Israelis Might be Behind attacks by Sharks, which seem to be Beasts of Prey
    • The Arab countries promote the crudest anti-Semitism including the Blood Libel (that Jews kidnap Arab children to use their blood in making Passover matzohs) and the claim that Jews control the world's finances. With that kind of stuff going around and semi-officially sanctioned--even published in official media in some places--how surprising is it that Israel would be blamed for shark attacks?
      As long as repressive Arab governments use anti-Semitism to distract their population's attention from how little the governments are doing for them, this kind of thing will continue.

  • Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe we Just Need a More Open Government
    • "Amazon wrote:
      ‘ for example, our terms of service state that “you represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content… that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity.” It’s clear that WikiLeaks doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content.’ "
      Whatever the situation with copyrights and security classifications, Wiki surely doesn't own or otherwise control all the rights to this material.
      What concerns me most about these leaks is not copyright or classification, but the ability of foreign diplomats and government officials, and even American diplomats, to have confidential conversations with the US government. For instance, Prof. Cole, suppose the foreign minister of an allied country, or an American ambassador, wanted to communicate to the Secretary of State that said ally or ambassador objected to the invasion of Iraq or the level of American support for Israeli activities in the occupied territories; wanted to influence American policies and decisions but didn't want to embarrass the US by stating the objections publicly. Anybody wanting to make such confidential communication will now think twice about it, so we may only hear "sanitized" opinions and advice rather than "the whole truth." That is a big negative as far as I'm concerned.

  • Charges Against Cheney Filed by Nigeria in Bribery Case
    • "(they always give the full names of criminals)"
      Now let's be fair, Professor. They always give the full names of accused criminals.

  • Bad "Weather" between Obama and Karzai Forestalls Meeting
  • Scammed in Afghanistan
    • The difference between the two statements is that one addresses Prof. Cole's point about fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the other doesn't.

    • "Let us begin with the frankly dishonest discourse about it of both our twenty-first century presidents, who maintain that the US is fighting “al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan."
      I don't believe Obama has ever said that the US is fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He has said we are fighting to keep Afghanistan from again becoming a haven or sanctuary for al Qaeda or similar groups.

  • Looking for PETN, Scanning Grandma at the Airport, and the Future of Air Travel
    • "Every year there are more deaths do to slip and falls in the US than there were deaths due to terrorism over the last ten years."
      And we'd like to keep it that way. I.e., perhaps it's not a coincidence that anti-terrorism measures were undertaken and that there have been (comparatively) few terrorism casualties. The questions are, what measures are effective, what measures are legal, and what measures will the public stand for?

    • No doubt there are few powerful Republicans who would be subject to racial profiling. But I'm sure there are some who, one would think, would be concerned about wiretapping gone wild--who have said things over the phone they would not like to see on the front page of the newspaper.

    • Interesting how all the Republicans who have been urging us to go along with giving up our civil rights in the name of fighting terrorism (warrantless wiretapping, racial profiling, etc.) are now up in arms over intrusive searches. Could it be because these initiatives are being undertaken by a Democratic administration?

  • Bush-Cheney Use of Torture Derails Ghailani Prosecution
    • "The same mind-set is responsible for the disdain for the Fourth Amendment represented by the invasive TSA search procedures at airports..."

      There is no Constitutional right to fly on the airlines, or to travel on any other public conveyance. Most people apparently are willing to subject themselves to intrusive searches to reduce (it says here) the risk of being killed by terrorists. Those who are not willing to make this tradeoff, who value the right of privacy more than the privilege of flying, will find other means of transportation. Or will tell their Congresscritters that they would rather run the increased risk than be so intrusively searched, and if enough people do so, the rules will be changed.

    • "This gets back to the rule of law business, and the post a week ago that provoked the question of WHY, oh why, hasn’t Dubya been indicted for war crimes (torture, etc)?"

      The answer seems to be that any administration that tries to prosecute its predecessor(s), will find itself the target of prosecution by the next administration of the opposite party. Even though some are more guilty than others, every one has done something that at least would make good theater in a courtroom.
      Congress, however, could run up some good investigations that would leave the Justice Department little alternative but to prosecute. Not sure why they have not done this. But over the next two years we will see the Obama administration investigated, by Darrell Issa and others, until hell won't have it. Most of it will be "fishing," but they may find enough real stuff to keep the public interested. And Fox and Limbaugh will beat the drums continuously.

    • "Ghailani was waterboarded, i.e. tortured, into revealing his relationship with Hussein Abebe, who in turn provided the most damaging testimony against Ghailani. "

      Are you saying that torture works? My understanding was that, in addition to the legal and moral prohibitions against torture, it DOES NOT work--people say what they think the torturers want to hear.

  • Why Obama gave in on Israeli Settlements in Jerusalem: Eric Cantor, Ros-Lehtinen Channel Israeli Right on Usurpation of Holy City, Displacement of Palestinians
    • Abbas should refuse to return to negotiations unless the construction freeze also includes areas of Jerusalem that were captured in 1967.

  • On How War with Iran might Destroy the United States
    • "But even Republicans want jobs in their districts, and Obama will not be helpless in that regard."
      Republicans don't believe that government expenditures help create jobs. Or at least they have been saying so in the current campaign. (Of course that doesn't keep them from accepting stimulus money that has been allocated to their districts, and claiming credit for it.)
      BTW you are 100% right about the negative effects of even looking like we intend to go to war with Iran.

  • Anzalone: Hamas's Rhetoric as Spoiler
    • So "transnational" refers to ideology and philosophy rather than actual participation.

    • "The group also faces internal pressures from small but disproportionately influential transnational jihadi-takfiri groups operating in the Gaza Strip..."
      What does transnational mean? In addition to Iranian backing and supply, there are some Iranians actually participating in the attacks?

  • Palin Fear-Mongers on Iran, Sharia
    • Thanks...the "Christian Shariaists" need to be called out more often and more loudly.

  • Abbas: Israel has Abrogated the Peace Process
    • "(I don’t understand why we’re doing that anyway.)"
      The US paid Israel and Egypt to make peace in 1979. We have been sending billions of dollars annually to both countries ever since.

    • If the implication is that the US is selling submarines to Israel, that is false. All Israeli submarines are designed and built in Germany:
      link to en.wikipedia.org
      link to en.wikipedia.org
      I don't believe the US has ever sold submarines to Israel. Israel may have had some second- or third-hand American surface ships in the past but none now, and have decided not to buy any in the immediate future.
      Interesting to know, however, that EuroFrank would consider nuking Israel in response to non-nuclear incidents.

  • Israel Declares for Ethnic Nationalism
    • Definitely a negative, but as you hinted, it may be the political price of an extension of the settlement freeze. And it may turn out to be fairly meaningless, like the "loyalty oaths" that polluted the American landscape in the 1940s and 50s.
      It would be very helpful if the other Arab states would offer carrots to Israel in addition to sticks. I.e., make it clear that the benefits of progress in the negotiations would extend beyond better relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

  • New Polls: Dems Very Likely to Keep Senate
    • Not only that, but some of the Tea Party crazies will get elected, and the rest of the Republicans will be scared witless by the sight of veteran moderates and conservatives losing primaries. So it seems very possible that enough Republicans will hew to the Tea Party line to shut the government down, like Gingrich did in 1995 but this time they won't give in so easily.
      So maybe all we have to look forward to is Obama running against the "do-nothing 112th Congress" in 2012 the way Truman ran against the "do-nothing 80th Congress" in 1948.

    • "It is, of course, strange that Americans should be contemplating returning to power in the House the party that ran the country off a cliff during the first 8 years of the new millennium."
      This puzzles me no end. FDR was given almost a decade to resolve the Great Depression, but the electorate seems unwilling to give Obama even two years. And, as Obama says, they want to give the keys back to the people who ran the car into the ditch in the first place--including some who have the figurative "blood on their hands:"
      link to news.yahoo.com

      "And without the Senate, they [Republicans] won’t be able to get up to much mischief. Every theatrical bill they pass in the House will be quietly buried in committee, and in the unlikely event it came to a vote and passed, it would simply be vetoed; and the veto would stick."
      Since the main activity of Republicans in the Senate has been blocking legislation proposed by the Democrats, little will change as long as the Republicans have between 41 and 50 seats. (41 is enough to sustain a filibuster; 50 is break-even but Joe Biden settles tie votes.) What will change is that, if the Republicans control either house of Congress, they will institute wall-to-wall investigations of groundless charges against Obama, as they did with Clinton, and if they control the House they may contrive another pointless impeachment.

  • Makdisi: The Tragedy of Obama's Middle East Policy
    • Having seen many times on Informed Comment that Israel was responsible for the failure of the 2000 Camp David summit, I looked up the Wikipedia article on that subject (link to en.wikipedia.org). What I learned was not that Israel was to blame, or that the Palestinians were to blame, but that the parties were much farther from an agreement than I had previously believed.

  • Turkey's Constitutional Referendum Extends Range of Liberties
    • "Second of all, what are American evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics who want to ban abortion (even though there is no secular reason to do so) doing but trying to impose on all Americans their Christian sharia?"
      Not only abortion...the Christian Shariaists want to ban gay marriage and adoption, stem cell research, and drugs and alcohol--as you say, for no secular (or practical) reason, but just because they want to use the law to force everybody to obey the dictates of their religion.

  • Top Ways 9/11 Broke Islamic Law
    • Can you explain what "jihad" actually means, and where the idea came from that "martyrs" are greeted in heaven by 72 virgins? Was this the invention of the Western press, or of an ill-informed Muslim cleric (or non-cleric)?

  • The Speech President Obama Should Give about the Iraq War (But Won't)
    • Obama was pilloried for "apologizing" for American policies, though he did not in any way apologize. Can you imagine what would happen if he actually did?

  • Republican National Committee Slashes New York Muslim Cabbie
    • "The slasher was apparently 'very drunk,' but what does being drunk do to a person?"
      In vino veritas. Inhibitions are reduced, and the say and do what is really on their minds but may get suppressed when sober.

      "I have said for some time that the American Right’s scapegoating of ordinary American Muslims– Muslims who serve in the US military, die for our country, invest in our cities, find cures for diseases, save our children’s lives in hospitals– would eventually cause pogroms and get people killed. A New York cabbie came close to dying for the sake of the G.O.P. Tuesday night."
      Usually the Jews are the "canary in the coal mine:" if you can get away with attacking the Jews you can move on to the next group. I'm not familiar with CAMERA and the David Project, but if they are in fact demonizing Muslims, shame on them--and they could be next. "First they came for the Jews..."

  • Stewart: Fox Smears Owner Alwaleed bin Talal!
    • I had to do a little research to determine that the Koch Brothers are not associated with Ed Koch.

  • What would Martin Luther King Say? Mosques and the New Jim Crow in America
    • "Usama Bin Laden openly said of the hijackers that ‘those young men had no fiqh [Islamic law]‘– i.e. they were lawless secret operatives rather than proper Muslims.) Al-Qaeda is a vicious cult, as little connected to mainstream Islam as Timothy McVeigh was to Christianity."

      I'm getting a bit confused here. Doesn't bin Laden run al Qaeda, and didn't al Qaeda train, finance, and send the hijackers? Or does he recognize that he and it are operating outside what Islam permits, i.e., the comment applies to himself as much as to the hijackers?

    • "We could translate the Clause: 'The US Congress is forbidden from trying to make one religion more special than another, and from stopping people from worshiping as they please.' Originally, this principle applied mainly to the Federal government, but over time the states gradually adopted it into their constitutions, as well."

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but it wasn't that states gradually adopted the Federal law. The Fourteenth Amendment says that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States," and the courts eventually interpreted this to mean that the restrictions on Congress in the Bill of Rights also applied to the states: they could not establish a religion, restrict freedom of speech or of the press, etc.

  • Abedin: The Illusion of a ‘limited war’ against Iran
    • The US has contingency plans for everything--probably including an invasion of Canada. The existence of these plans does not imply any intent to use them.

  • Taliban influence Spreading in Afghanistan
    • "The Taliban are responsible for 61% of the civilian casualties in the past six months and more in the past month."
      Afghans are justifiably angry about civilian casualties accidentally caused by the Western military. What is their reaction to civilian casualties caused by the Taliban, who obviously have zero concern for who is affected by their attacks?

  • Libyan Aid Ship Extracts Concessions from Israel;
    Resumption of House Demolitions in Jerusalem
    • There doesn't seem to be a way to reply directly to "Lidia:"
      "I cited your own words and refuted them. I have NOT bothered with names for deeds , but with facts.
      1) USA DOES “interfere”
      2) USA started acting against Cuba (no matter how to call them) NOT because of WMD or some other crap.
      Now, you could say what you want, but facts are stubborn.
      Now about “stupidity” – USA rulers know that they cannot force China and Vietnam – they tried and failed. But C and V are far away, and could not be so much of a “bad example” of independent politics and alternative way to USA neighbors . Cuba is , and exactly because of it Cuba is targeted."
      --------------------
      You have changed the subject. The original point was not whether or not the US interfered with trade with Cuba, Vietnam, or North Korea; but rather that what the US was doing ("blockade" or "embargo") was illegal.
      I said, and I believe I proved, that trade restrictions as a matter of policy cannot be illegal but I agree they can be stupid and counterproductive (e.g., Cuba). The only instances of forcible prevention of "trade" were interdiction of nuclear missiles going to Cuba, and UN-approved sanctions against Iraq. Hence perfectly legal.
      No question the US "interferes" with trade with Cuba. Why, and whether it's smart or helpful, are completely different issues than legality, and I only addressed legality.

    • I think we may be getting hung up on the semantics of the word "embargo." I know of no circumstances under which a policy decision not to trade in certain goods with certain countries--whatever goods, for whatever reasons, good or bad, wise or stupid--is illegal. There are definitely circumstances under which use of military force to prevent certain goods from entering or leaving a country or area is illegal but (1) wrt Cuba that was only a very limited time for a very limited purpose and has nothing to do with Cuba's economy or the nature of its government; (2) wrt Iraq the...whatever you care to call it...was approved by the UN; (3) wrt North Korea it is mostly trade policy, not use of force.

    • (1) A blockade is a military action to prevent travel to/from an area or country. There is no blockade or any military or forcible activity to prevent other countries from trading with Cuba. US trade sanctions fall under my statement that "I know of no law, international or otherwise, that requires one country to permit trade with another." If the US chooses to enforce trade restrictions with countries that do business with Cuba, or North Korea, or Iran, that is neither a blockade nor an embargo.
      (2) You prove my point. The only embargo and/or blockade was specifically directed at the USSR bringing nuclear-armed missiles into Cuba. It was not a full blockade; any ship was subject to inspection by the US Navy and if found not to be carrying such weapons, it was free to proceed. This "partial blockade" lasted only a few days. Other than that there has been no militarily-enforced blockade or embargo of Cuba, only trade restrictions which as I said violate no law I'm aware of.
      (3) "Is it not odd that defender of USA sanctions against Iraq and Cuba is not very well aware about reality?" Why do you conclude that I support such sanctions? My only opposition is to mis-statements of the facts, e.g., that there is a blockade of Cuba and that UN-approved sanctions against Iraq were illegal. (And the further mis-statements of fact that follow your "reality.") For the record, I think our Cuba policy is incredibly stupid; that we should have billions in annual trade with China and Vietnam, and try to use trade to strongarm Cuba into reform.

    • There is no blockade of Cuba...there was an embargo in 1962, specifically to prevent WMDs from being brought in. Trade between the US and Cuba is very restricted today, but is certainly not a blockade; I know of no law, international or otherwise, that requires one country to permit trade with another. The US does not interfere in commerce between Cuba and any country that cares to trade with it.
      I'm not familiar with the North Korea situation but I suspect it is very similar: trade with the US is very restricted but there is no interference with any other commerce.
      Hard to understand how UN-supported sanctions can be "illicit on their face."

  • Global Warming and al-Qaeda in the Greater Indian Ocean
    • Fox News wouldn't see it that way. They'd see it as God's punishment of Muslim countries--not only aren't they Christian, all Muslims are either terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. (Remember the pictures of Palesetinians celebrating on 9/11?)

  • Steele blames Obama for Afghanistan, Defends Iraq War
    • "Michaele Steel aside, I don’t see any difference between Bush’s and Republicans’ imperial policies and Obama’s and Democrats’ imperial policies. :
      It's easy to be frustrated and disappointed because Obama has not closed Guantanamo, put Bush & Cheney on trial, passed significant immigration reform and real health care reform, put a sane energy policy in place, etc., etc. But if you're thinking about staying home or voting for a third-party candidate, I have two words for you: Supreme Court. If you don't want more John Robertses and Samuel Alitos, it's necessary to keep the Republicans out of the Presidency. Otherwise we will surely have more decisions giving corporations free rein to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, weakening civil rights and gun restrictions, and ultimately reversing Roe v. Wade.

    • "Self-contradiction poses no conundrum for politicians as long as the public does not notice it. That it is illogical to denigrate Obama as leader while praising the troop surge and the counter-insurgency strategy that he authorized appears not to occur to anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line...The second is that a Democratic president is sort of like gay marriage; it is against nature and intrinsically wrong, and while it may actually exist in some times and places, it must be vigorously ignored [and opposed--Phud1] until it can be undone and safely forgotten about. "
      Well said. Other examples of GOP self-contradiction are:
      - The stimulus has failed, Obama has failed to end the recession, "Where are the jobs?"; and yet, unemployment insurance does not need to be extended because it only encourages the unemployed to stay on the dole rather than go to work.
      - Budget deficits are terrible (at least those incurred by a Democratic president), yet tax increases (or even expiration of unwise tax cuts) are to be avoided at all costs.

  • Turkey Forbids Israeli Military Overflights
    • I'm sure you didn't hear that from Hamas, but just made it up yourself. Shalit is no doubt moved constantly--otherwise he would have been found during Operation Cast Lead--and would certainly be brought from wherever he is being held to a meeting place for the Red Cross, then taken back. Your excuse is no excuse whatever.
      BTW, is the Egypt/Gaza border still open?

    • I wonder if you saw this:
      link to news.yahoo.com
      Groups in Gaza even more radical than Hamas object to kids going to a camp where they don't get introduced to terrorism as they do in the Hamas camp ("anti-Israeli doctrine and military-style marching"), so they trashed the UN camp. Also Hamas is "becoming more assertive in imposing its strict version of Islam on daily life in Gaza. It has ordered male coiffeurs out of women's salons, and teenage girls are under intense pressure from teachers to wear headscarves and robes in government schools."
      In addition, a Human Rights Watch last week criticized Hamas over its treatment of Gilad Shalit. If Hamas is at war with Israel, as it claims, then Shalit is a POW and Hamas must follow the Geneva conventions and allow visits by the International Red Cross, rather than holding him incommunicado as they have done for four years. (Recall that even Goldstone called for Shalit to be released outright, as has Dmitri Medvedev.)

  • Obama's MacArthur Moment? McChrystal Disses Biden
    • Another point is that MacArthur publicly opposed Truman's policies, while McChrystal publicly attacked Obama and the Administration personally. Which is worse?

    • The problem with MacArthur was that he repeatedly undercut Truman. I think if Mac had shut up (in public at least) after the first couple of incidents, and particularly after Truman flew halfway around the world to meet him at Wake Island, Truman may not have forgiven and forgotten, but at least not fired him. So if McChrystal apologizes abjectly enough--and doesn't do it again--maybe he can keep his job.
      For a more recent incident, my fellow New Jerseyan Adm. William Fallon was forced to resign as Central Command commander for sort of criticizing Bush's Iran policy.

  • Israel Makes Small Change to Gaza Blockade
    Brands Lebanese Women's Aid Mission 'Hizbullah'
    • I wanted to follow up on a discussion last week. I had suggested that Palestine be given full UN voting membership, and somebody responded to the effect that the US would surely veto it.
      UN membership, I believe, is a General Assembly issue and not a Security Council issue, and hence not subject to veto. (Ref. transfer of China's membership from Taipei to Beijing in, IIRC 1972; done by majority vote of the General Assembly with the US voting "no.")
      So, why not bring the question of Palestinian membership to the General Assembly? Surely it would pass, even if only because most members will vote for anything that displeases Israel (and the US).

  • Turkey Shelves Israeli Cooperation,
    Considers breaking off Ties;
    Israel Lobbies in Congress denounce Ankara
  • Schumer's Sippenhaftung and the Children of Gaza
    • There are dozens of countries around the world, with total population in the hundreds of millions if not the billions, with an official state religion--Christianity, Islam, even Shinto (Japan). So why do people obsess over, and try to deligitimize, the one tiny country that is officially Jewish (and protects its religious minorities better than many of the others--even the Vatican has protested the treatment of Christians in the West Bank).
      There is a Christian cross on the flag of each of the Scandinavian countries; there are three crosses on the flag of the UK. The Islamic crescent appears on the flags of many countries, and Saudi Arabia's flag consists of an Islamic religious text (and a sword...). Why is it so evil for the flag of one country to include the Star of David?

    • Not to mention, that I don't hear you objecting to the dozens of Muslim states around the world where non-Muslims in fact have very limited, if any, rights; and where Jews have actually been expelled (and taken in by Israel, in contrast to the unwillingness of Arab/Muslim states to take in Palestinian refugees). Take Egypt as an example and look at the situation of the Coptic Christians who constitute--what, Prof. Cole, 15% of the population?

    • Nonsense. England has an official religion (state church) but all other religions have full rights. Being an "Anglican state" or "Christian state" does not deny rights to Jews, Muslims, Catholics, etc.
      Are you aware that Arafat and Barak reached agreement within a few square kilometers on the borders of Israel and a Palestinian state, before Arafat walked out thinking he could get more? So I don't think "proportion of the total land" is a factor.
      BTW I don't think a possible American veto is any reason not to bring Palestinian membership before the UN. In fact an American veto would give cover to many states that don't really want it but could vote "yes" knowing it would fail.

    • And if Israel were to declare its borders, the world would be up in arms that Israel was ignoring a UN resolution that its borders were to be negotiated.
      BTW the UN recognizes Israel through membership (not to mention constant criticism). IIRC Palestine has an observer--I can think of no reason not to give them full membership and a vote. As I noted, other members have borders in dispute, e.g., India/China and India/Pakistan, which doesn't prevent full membership and participation.

    • Per UN resolution 242, Israel's final borders are to be the subject of negotiation between them and the Palestinians.
      There are many situations of disputed borders, where the countries are fully recognized but don't agree on what their borders are. You don't want to get into trying to deligitimize countries because their borders are in dispute--you'd have the two largest countries in the world deligitimized.

  • A Sign of Modernization: Saudi Clerics Promote Kinship by Sharing Breast Milk
  • Tel Aviv Rally Against Gaza Blockade;
    Wave of Protests, Gov't Condemnation
    • If by Likudnik you mean me, you are very wrong.
      Hamas has never been willing to grant more than a short-term cease fire (to permit them to rearm and rebuild) nor to recognize Israel's right to exist, i.e., the two-state solution.
      Israel's rocket attacks are different from Hamas's in that Israel targets known terrorists while Hamas shoots unguided rockets in the general direction of Israeli civilians. Even Goldstone recognizes the Hamas rockets as war crimes.
      Yes, there are many Israelis, including but unfortunately not limited to the settlers, who don't recognize Arab rights to anything other than servitude to Israel. Those opinions are not the majority but they are a very noisy and influential minority. If those opinions prevail, Israel is doomed. You can quote opinions like that all day; Israeli politics being what it is (democracies have this kind of problem, you know), people holding those opinions may be in positions of influence. I can quote opinions all day of Palestinians who want to push the Jews into the sea but the Fatah government may be willing to move beyond that.
      Israel has not always been there, but then neither has "Palestine." Jews and Arabs have lived there for millenia and land has changed hands, legally and illegally, for the entire time. And yes, Israel is radical--a Jewish state, what a radical concept.

    • "Despite what the US press keeps saying, a majority of Israelis has consistently supported trading land for peace in opinion polls."
      Has the US press said or implied otherwise?
      You are correct that the suicide bombings radicalized Israelis and led to more support for Likud. As did, and do, the rocket attacks. I'm not sure the Israeli majority ever rejected land-for-peace, but it didn't seem that there was anyone on the Palestinian side willing to participate. The fence/wall pretty much stopped suicide bombings, and the rockets come only from Hamas-controlled Gaza, so I'm sure the public is way out ahead of Netanyahu and Liberman in willingness to negotiate seriously with Abbas. An important "however" is that the residents of the settlements themselves are not.
      As I said earlier, one of the few good things that might come out of the attempted blockade running is the fall of the Netanyahu government, or at least a major reshuffle that might give more power to other parties than Likud.

  • Northern Ireland Condemns Israeli Raid on Rachel Corrie,
    "Completely unacceptable Use of Force"
    • Europe of course is going ballistic; we haven't heard much from the Arab states, which may not be surprising since their regimes don't like Hamas much more than Israel does. But I haven't seen any reaction from Iran either.

  • Eyewitnesses Say Israelis came in with Guns Blazing
    • " 'With four commandos captured by the aid activists and with boarding the ship now difficult, Israeli commanders appear to have authorized the use brute force.'
      The problem with violent resistance, no matter how it may have been provoked, is it muddies the water and gives our oppressors a way to justify their own violence. "

      Excellent point. If there is a lesson in the past 100 years, it's that Civil Disobedience works best...maybe only works at all...if it is completely nonviolent. (Ref. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.) Remember the scene from "Gandhi" when the Indians one-by-one walked to the water and the British soldiers beat each of them. Eventually the British realized how badly they were losing this dispute and gave up, and eventually after many more such campaigns, gave India its independence. If the Indians had fought back, the British would have felt justified in the continued use of force and Indian independence would have been much delayed instead of really being the first nonwhite colony to gain independence.

  • The Hypocrisy of Netanyahu
    • See today's Tom Friedman column:
      link to mercurynews.com
      Particularly the quote at the end:
      "The strategic situation has never been more opportune — the Arabs are scared of the Iranians, the Saudi peace plan is still on the table, and the Palestinians are beginning to act rationally. But we [Israel] lack the leadership to help us make a real change."

  • Eyewitness Account: 'They began to fire machine guns ...'
    • Apparently the other five ships were taken over with no gunfire or weapons of any kind being used. Why would the Israelis open fire on this one ship, before even attempting to board, and on none of the others? Hard to believe that the plan called for pre-boarding gunfire against only one of the six ships. If it indeed happened that way, perhaps one person in one of the attacking boats panicked or took matters into his own hands.

  • Historic UNSC Condemnation of Israel, and of Gaza Blockade;
    World Body Demands release of Aid Activists, Ships
    • "as the Israeli commandos approached the ship, they were laying down suppressive fire ..."
      Suppressive fire is used when armed resistance is expected--not knives and sticks, but guns. If the Israelis in fact laid down suppressive fire before boarding, it was a huge blunder and whoever is responsible should be held accountable. There was no reason to open fire of any kind until and unless weapons were used against them.

  • Ahmadinejad Blasts Medvedev over UNSC Sanctions;
    Brazil still Reaching out to Obama on Nuclear Deal
  • Mercy Flotilla for Gaza About to Set Off
    Israelis Threaten to Block it with War Ships
    • link to news.yahoo.com
      "As for the supplies on board, Israeli authorities said they would undergo a security check, and then transfer them to U.N. agencies to be distributed in Gaza. Israel said the activists should have chosen this option in the first place if they wished to get the materials to Gaza.
      'If they were really interested in the well-being of the people of Gaza, they would have accepted the offers of Egypt or Israel to transfer humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,' said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. 'Instead they have chosen a cheap political stunt.' "

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