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Total number of comments: 23 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:57)


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  • RIP Shimon Peres: Last Great Israeli leader to believe in 2 State solution
  • Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State
    • ...the very real phenomenon of Israeli racism is more akin to its European (nationalist) variant.

    • i'm pretty sure the analogy is inaccurate. whatever you think about it, all of the classical Zionist theories and Jewish identity in Israel today categorized not as race or as religion, but in terms of nation and peoplehood. while the term race was thrown around quite commonly by non-Jews and Jews at the turn of the 20th century, the idea of a "Jewish race" is pretty shopworn within the Jewish world. The claim that Zionism "is" racism is a red herring. At issue are the forms of Jewish national identity and a Palestinian national one vis-a-vis each other and in contest over the same strip of territory.

  • Does the Road to Mideast Peace Run through Tehran?
    • Thank, that's really helpful, and I've heard parts of the same line of analysis elsewhere. Understanding that these are indeed fraught, complex relations, I'm wondering how you'd call the odds, in terms of likely probable outcomes. Or is just time now to wait and see? I imagine Geneva 2 will settle some of these questions, one way or the other. I wish I could be optimistic, and hope to be proven wrong, but I don't see any prospect of Assad transitioning out of office.

    • I'm curious what odds, great or small, Professor Cole is willing to give the chance of Iran moderating its support of the Assad regime. I don't see any reason why the Iran deal, which may be good for the rest of us, including maybe Israel, will do any good in Syria-Lebanon.

  • The World after the Kerry-Lavrov accord on Syria
    • "Russia won, the new military junta in Egypt won, Iran won, and India and Indonesia won." But did Syria win? Namely the mass of its Sunni majority. Getting rid of the CW is a worthy goal, and I'm glad to see that the U.S. is not going to bomb, at least right now, but I don't think the agony in Syria gets resolved with the Assad regime in power.

  • Israel at 65: Welcome to the Neighborhood (Map)
  • Gaza's Health Crisis and Israel's Crimes Against Humanity
  • Matisse: "Algerian Woman" (Painting)
    • There's tons of influence. Alot of it is part of the more generalizable of "the orient" on European modernism. If you notice, Matisse's Algerian looks very Japanese. It's been traced back to Manet as well. Buber's Ecstatic Confessions probably has a lot of Sufi material, and needless to say, there's not a little bit of "auto-orientalism" in his early essay, "Judaism and the Spirit of the Orient." For more direct influences there's the "Turkish" element in Mozart's violin concerto (#3?) and also a Turkish influence on Le Corbissier. I also like the figure of Saladin on Lessing in "Nathan the Wise" (about which Amir Mufti has written a very critical book). There's also some very interesting things said by German Jewish historians comparing Islam (very well) with Christianity. Graetz in the "History of the Jews" liked especially the poetry. My all time favorite, though, is Paul Klee's "Tunisian Diaries," which is where he claimed to have learned "color." With a lot of salt, this stuff is very, very interesting, much more interesting than either a non-dialectical approach to "orientalism" or to the "clash of civilization" approach.

  • Iraq Slams Saudis, Qataris for Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels
    • I find myself unclear about the situation in Syria and wish sommeone might be able to clarify a few points.

      I understand Professor Cole's point and the point made by others as to why flooding another unstable country with more weapons is a very bad idea.

      But here's what I don't understand about these arguments against arming the Syrian opposition.

      Professor Cole paraphrases the Iraqi position: "Al-Maliki is said to fear that the overthrow of the Baath Party in Syria would lead to the opposition Sunnis taking power, and in turn he is afraid that triumphant Sunnis in Damascus will support Iraqi militants."

      Now I know also why the Iraq War was a very bad idea. But I also see that Iraq is a country with a Shi'ite majority now run by Shi'a. And Egypt is a country with what seems to be a religious majority now about to be ruled by religious parties. As a majority Sunni country, shouldn't we want to see a more representative government.

      It's not that I think sectarian government is a good thing. Nor do I want to join the drum-beaters. But presuming that Assad won't or probably can't step down, short of exiling himself to Iran, what are the alternatives to violence?

  • Syria Revolt Enters Second Year as World Stands Feckless
    • Professor Cole decries world inaction, but I wish he presented a more clear idea as to what he thinks should be done.

  • US Public to Israel's Likud: On Iran, Negotiate or you are on Your Own
    • I saw a poll floating around claiming that 53% of the American public would support an Israeli strike. But so what? As Chemi Shalev (?) wrote in Ha'aretz, that support would evaporate in a matter of months if or when the conflict dragged on. Also: An interesting article by JJ Goldberg in the Forward last week, asserting that entire military and intelligence establishment in Israel opposes an Israeli strike at Iran, at least for now.

  • Top Ten Dangers for Obama of Iran Sanctions on behalf of Israel
    • I would love to see an analysis of the Iranian geo-politcs that does not include Israel, which has made of itself only an obnoxious distraction. I recall Chomsky arguing against the "Iraq and the Israel Lobby" conspiracy theories that the real issue then at play was oil, not Israel. My bet is that the same holds true re: Iran. The only ones not to get it are the two antagonistic groups of Israel-firsters --the ones over at AIPAC and here at Informed Comment.

      I've commented more than once here that Israel has truly unhinged the analysis of Arab and Middle East politics. One of the things that I find so interesting and important about the Arab Spring is how little Israel has to do with any of it. In my opinion, the discussion tends to get very muddy very fast whenever Israel enters into the picture (or whenever Israel forces itself into the picture, along with help from AIPAC and the GOP).

      I would recommend what I find the more measured analysis of Obama's AIPAC by Amir Oren at Ha'aretz. link to

  • Ring of Iranian Bases Threatens US
    • I can't help but think the Israel Lobby jab in Professor Cole's post was beside the point. The bases are there to protect Saudi oil, no? And for some reason the Saudis feel threatened by the regime in Iran --more threatened by them than by the Israeli Bomb, otherwise, why are they threatening to build a bomb if the Iranians do, but never did when the ISraelis built theirs? I can't quite see the reason for the recent drumbeat of support for Iran from Professor Cole, apart from not wanting to see another war. While I share the sentiment I worry about the impact of the analysis. The analysis of Libya and Syria seems sharper to me.

  • Greek Lessons for the Arab Spring: Majid
    • Another angle into this interesting discussion is the experience of the Jewish Enlightenment.

      The case of Spinoza in the 17th C. is instructive. Famously, he was renounced by the rabbinic authorities of his own day and renouncing Judaism in turn. But in the Theological-Political Treatise, he turned to a pristince (idealized) version of the Mosaic legislation in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament to model a constitutional democracy based on the the integration of religion and politics AND on the separation of religious and secular authorities.

      For his part, the German-Jewish Enlightenment savant Moses Mendelssohn sought in his book "Jerusalem" a way to fuse traditional Jewish practice and Enlightenment aesthetics, culture, and politics. He too sought to fuse religion and enlightenment based on a separation of powers, political and ecclesiastical.

      In both casee, what we see are very complex interactions between artfully reconstructed "biblical" and "Greek" source materials, and a careful combination and separation of religious and political powers.

  • The Way Forward in the Middle East -- Peled & Peled
    • The most effective promoters of a one-state solution in all of historical Palestine are definitely not the Peleds. I'm sure it won't end up pretty. But it doesn't really matter what people like them, me, or you think one way or the other. Netanyahu, Lieberman, and Barak are the ones who will make it happen. The rest of us, we're just watching from the sidelines.

  • Béji: "We are all Tunisian Jews"
  • South Carolina & Gingrich, Egypt & the Muslim Brotherhood
    • I agree that yes, that's all we can ask for. The nub of the issue is that I don't think we should confuse "caution" with "hysteria," as so often (almost alwways) happens on the right. To echo your most recent post, I too am hoping for the best.

    • Does that mean that if I'm terribly concerned that evangelical Chrisians have taken over the Republican Party then I can also be at least a little concerned that religious conservatives won some 70% of the general vote in Egypt?

  • Israeli Ads against Marriage with American Jews are Part of a Population War
    • This is silly. Professor Cole is right about the ad campaign and the demographic anxieties reflected therein (about Israelis Jews, and Israeli Palestinians, and ultra-orthodox Jews, and Ashkenazi elites).

      But the majority of respondents to his post do not appear to be talking about real people, just a caricature, and a crude one that does not reflect a single human face. In doing so, they fail compeletly to understand one part of the motor driving Israeli culture and the I/P conflict. They remind me of rightwingers blathering on about Arabs, or Palestinians, or Muslims, so I guess this puts them in some not so-very-good company.

      About the offensive ad campaign, I think Pr. Cole might be wrong about one small thing. Israeli expats, at least in NY, tend to create very warm and insular communities. Some or many of them often seem not to integrate very well with American Jews, even in places where they do in fact mix. Largely this may have to do with the fact that most Israeli emigres tend to be uninterested in religion, and do not feel part of or interested in the social club that is the American Jewish community. There's that thing called the internet. People skype home. People get homesick. They miss the human fabric. They want to be close to parents or to old freinds. Job opportunities open up. People move back and forth. It's interesting to note that many of their children maintain strong devotion to Israel, speaking Hebrew, returning to serve in the army, etc, etc. New York City newstands are full of almost all the major Israeli newspapers and some general interest magazines. These things are fluid, not COMA-tose at all.

      In that respect, and in that respect alone, the creators of the ad probably understood a large part of their target audience. That they could not anticipate the bigger blowblack suggests a complete failure to understand the American Jewish community. This also is an old story, the failure of Israelis and Israeli elites (and now Russian Israeli Jews) to understand the human face of the American Jewish community. I'm very happy they got called on it.

  • Did the Muslim Brotherhood Threaten to Kill "All Jews"?
    • We are probably not too apart here.

      I agree that "being upset with Israeli actions in Jerusalem is not antisemitism."

      I am also sure that it is correct to say that "There are thousands of hadith. Most Muslims don’t accept the weak or obscure ones."

      My point about this one, though, is more simple. Even obscure sayings (as this one from the Hadith or other types of anti-gentile expression in rabbinic literature) can take on a nasty afterlife about which modern interpreters need to be honest and very careful.

      After all, this This religion stuff is toxic material.

    • Professor Cole obviously knows more about Islam than he does about Judaism and Jewish history, which is his right. It is beyond me why he feels compelled to not really care whether or not there was a Jewish Temple at the so-called Temple Mount. Or why he thinks that medieval Jews would have rejected modern Zionism (which is rather a silly thing to say one way or the other). As for Jewish life under medieval Islam, I'd recommend Marc Cohen's scrupulously judicious Under Crescent and Cross. While recognizing the privileges enjoyed by Jews under Islam, Cohen's research casts a much more critical light on (also rather silly and ahistorical) claims regarding some halcyon Islamic-Jewish symbiosis.

      I am of one mind with Professor Cole's rejection of right wing Jewish or Islamicist nationalism. And I clearly don't trust the reporter from the Jerusalem Post,which is a rightwing rag. I don't think, however, that it is to anyone's interest, this apologetic attempt to "contextualize" the way anti-Israeli invenctive easily slips into anti-Jewish hate.

      As for the call to kill the Jews. The reference is probably to the passage about the Jews fighting the Muslim and on Judgment Day, the Jew hides behind the rock and the tree. "But the rock and tree will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, a Jew hides behind me, come and kill him." So no, this is not in the Koran, and no it is not a practical political platform. But it is an eschatological vision and it is included in at least one collection of hadith. It has a pretty nasty afterlife in anti-Zionist polemics.

      I don't understand why Professor Cole has to hem and haw here. It behooves us all to be honest and forthright about these things, about competing claims to Jerusalem, about justice and injustice, and about Islamaphobia and antisemitism (or whatever you want to call it). And it's a shame that Professor Cole has not thought through these questions more clearly than is indicated in his recent blog.

  • Arab League Suspends Syria as Israeli Warns of "Islamic Empire"
    • "Assad had Israel to complain about, but what exactly did he do towards repaitriating the Golan? Just talk."

      And you would have preferred what? a war?

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