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"We Con the World"
June 6, 2010 9:23 PM   Subscribe

The YouTube clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: "We con the world, we con the people. We'll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper."
While the Israeli government has apologized for distributing links to the video, Israeli government spokesmen nevertheless maintain that the video is "fantastic" and "what Israelis feel." And not just any Israelis: the video was produced by and stars, among others, the Jerusalem Post's deputy managing editor Caroline Glick.
posted by orthogonality (153 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
As a Jew, Israel's like a close family member who's hooked on heroine and you just don't know what to do with them any more.

davidschneider 9:36 PM May 31st via TweetDeck
posted by stammer at 9:29 PM on June 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Stay classy, Israel.
posted by flippant at 9:30 PM on June 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


As a Michael Jackson fan, I'm offended by the reference to "Jack the Ripper".
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:32 PM on June 6, 2010


I don't know about "another I/P post", but the video is truly amazing. It says a lot about the odd position of Israel: engaged enough with global culture production to create a modern YouTube joke, but untethered enough from global public opinion that its official government spokespeople don't see any real need to back away from something like this.
posted by stammer at 9:35 PM on June 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


I want to emphasize that links to this video were distributed by the Israeli government, that that government's spokesmen still think it's fantastic and something we ought to see, presumably because they think it will sway our thinking about the Gaza flotilla, and that it was produced by and reflects the thinking of the newsroom of one of Israel's most prominent daily papers.

So if we want to understand official Israeli thinking, this video is something we ought to see.
posted by orthogonality at 9:36 PM on June 6, 2010 [27 favorites]


Last "I/P post" was a week ago and 800 comments. If you don't like the subject, don't click through, take it to meta, move on, flag it, don't shit in the thread.
posted by mek at 9:37 PM on June 6, 2010 [32 favorites]




It's pretty representative of two key issues with the whole Israel thing.

First, that there doesn't seem to be a general recognition amongst some Israelis that the Palestinians really are experiencing genuine suffering. Yes, the Israelis live in a state of heightened fear for their lives. This does interfere somewhat with their ability to live freely. For Palestinians, however, every aspect of their life is controlled by the Israeli government. Their access to general necessities is extremely limited. There is crisis and hunger (although, perhaps, not plague).

The second issue is a general feeling of victimization in the world perception. That the world is biased against Israel and no one understands or fairly represents their position.

I'd actually say that Israel has had very, very good coverage for a long time. For well into the 90s most news media were sympathetic to their viewpoint; the Palestinians were generally conflated with the PLO and regarded as more terrorist than anything else.

It's Israel that has been its undoing in this area, by continuing practices that made it harder and harder for people to give Israel the benefit of the doubt.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:40 PM on June 6, 2010 [35 favorites]


If [mainstream American Zionist groups] do not change course, they will wake up one day to find a younger, Orthodox-dominated, Zionist leadership whose naked hostility to Arabs and Palestinians scares even them, and a mass of secular American Jews who range from apathetic to appalled. -- Peter Beinart, NYRB

One day?
posted by dhartung at 9:40 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's like the Vatican, Israel and Arizona are in a competition to see which of them can issue to most tone deaf PR responses to their current issues.

I was going to give the gold medal to the Vatican, but this makes a pretty compelling case for Israel. Will wait to see what the Arizona Republican party's take on the whole mural issue is on Monday before I announce the winner.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:42 PM on June 6, 2010 [25 favorites]


There was a great mini-debate on this week's On the Media between Peter Beinart and an AIPAC official. The latter's argument can be summed up as: "Of course, hold whatever views you like and speak out on whatever issue you want! I'd never suggest otherwise! But if you at all criticize Israel in its existential struggle don't you dare claim to be a friend of Israel!"

When Beinart noted that the official's attitude was part of a self-perpetuating cycle of fear and paranoid victimization, he replied, "We're just talking in circles!"

They just don't get it.
posted by Bromius at 9:45 PM on June 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't even need to click through to the video to know that it can only possibly be better than the original.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:49 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


First, that there doesn't seem to be a general recognition amongst some Israelis that the Palestinians really are experiencing genuine suffering.

Could you elaborate on this? Do you, or have you, lived in Israel, or are you basing this on some polling numbers you've seen? Not trying to be fighty, but it doesn't really jive with the conversations I've had with Israelis about this. Of course, most of the Israelis I know are liberals, but still...it seems like a pretty sweeping statement to make.
posted by lunasol at 9:53 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the Jerusalem Post's own coverage of the video:
Noam Jacobson, a 35-year-old musician and songwriter who portrays Mavi Marmara skipper “Captain Stabbing” in the Latma video, said on Sunday that since it hit the Internet he has received a great deal of positive feedback from people, which he says has been very moving.

Jacobson, who performed in the video while on leave from IDF reserve duty near the Lebanon border, said that “the point of the video wasn’t to be provocative. In my eyes what we were saying is the mainstream of the Israeli mainstream. It’s satire and satire that doesn’t aggravate isn’t satire.”

Jacobson is one of three actors employed regularly by Latma, and can be seen in previous clips portraying White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel calling himself a “Capo,” and in semi-blackface (“autumn-face”) as US President Barack Obama, in whose guise he sings of his hatred for “dirty Jews” and his hope that the Koran will rule the world and the Jews will drown in the sea, before calling for Iran to strike Israel with a hydrogen bomb.

Jacobson said he believes that such videos don’t cross the line between good taste and bad taste and “are obviously satire and must be taken as satire, and not word for word. People must take them with a sense of humor.”

. . . .

In a posting on her Web site on Thursday, [Caroline] Glick called the video “an important Israeli contribution to the discussion of recent events” and referred to Latma [the web site that produced the video] as an initiative of the Middle East media project run by the “Center for Security Policy,” a Washington, DC, think tank where she is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs.
posted by orthogonality at 9:54 PM on June 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


orthogonality - wow, we're getting a real little peek behind the scenes with that Jerusalem Post article, arn't we?
posted by Artw at 9:58 PM on June 6, 2010


That video actually makes me incrementally less sympathetic to Israel. It seems silly that a youtube video could have an impact on me about as big an issue as Israel and Palestine (especially when I first signed up to Metafilter to make pro-Israel arguments in an I/P thread), but when the government sends out the links, the leading newspaper is behind its production, and polls show broad and unironic support for the position in the video, then yeah, that video is just e-peen waving on a national scale.
posted by fatbird at 10:01 PM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Caroline Glick is like Grendel's mother - a pustulent abscess on the left buttock of journalism that is the Jerusalem Post

I used to write for the JPost. They still owe me money.
posted by awenner at 10:01 PM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


presumably because they think it will sway our thinking about the Gaza flotilla,

I don't think it's meant to persuade us, any more than Fox News is meant to persuade us. It is meant to reinforce that feeling of narcissistic paranoia among Jews that is the Zionist project's most potent tool.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:02 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's pretty bizarre to think a Washington DC think tank is underwriting "funny" videos of actors in blackface portraying President Obama as calling for "dirty Jews" to be A-bombed by Iran.

It's pretty bizarre when one of our closest allies is proud that an active-duty member of its armed forces is playing President Obama blackface. I can't imagine that would fly in the UK or Germany or Japan, or any other close ally.
posted by orthogonality at 10:04 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Next up on youtube:

Zimbabwean public servants sing a song about inflation to the tune of "Locomotion"!
The Sri Lankan general staff horseplay in their pyjamas to "Eye of the Tiger"!
Al-Qaeda in Iraq dance in pink jumpsuits in front of a phallic banana!
Senior Chinese journalists mock Tibetans with their own version of "The Humpty Dance"!
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:04 PM on June 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


Israel has robbed the Palestinians of their home and the Jews of their spirit.
posted by Avenger at 10:06 PM on June 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


As a happy coincidence, I vented my spleen on Israel earlier today on an unrelated mater. So now I can say this calmly: a great deal of the work done by the state of Israel is monstrous work, and a great deal of the work done by the state of Israel which work is not in and of itself monstrous is in support of monstrous to give it a veneer, distraction or excuse.

It is very upsetting, but deep down it is very, very sad.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:12 PM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is all sad and very frustrating. I can't help but think what a brutal and ridiculous species we are.

In 500 years what will be made of all this? Israel squandering the global good will that came about after the atrocities of WW2? Or will that get lost in the bigger conflict that started 1500 years ago?

Palestine needs a Gandhi not a Hamas. Israel needs to realize violence can only beget further violence, especially in this context. The Palestinians seemingly have nothing to lose.

Just sayin'...
posted by GratefulDean at 10:17 PM on June 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


And, after actually watching that piece of shit video I can only wonder at how far down the rabbit hole of delusion and isolationism those people who made it (and would find it amusing on its own merits) have fallen. Just pathetic chickenhawk drivel.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:18 PM on June 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


If I put on a yarmulkah and a big black suit and danced a jig I'd be a fucking racist asshole engaging in minstrelsy.

So the people who made this video, and those who find it funny? Fucking racist assholes.
posted by bardic at 10:19 PM on June 6, 2010 [35 favorites]




Next up on youtube:

You forgot the Israelis following up with "The Only Way Is Up"
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:21 PM on June 6, 2010


Godwin
posted by hortense at 10:22 PM on June 6, 2010


bardic: If I put on a yarmulkah and a big black suit and danced a jig I'd be a fucking racist asshole engaging in minstrelsy.

And, while dancing the jig, sing a song about how much you love both money, and the blood of Christian babies, just to make it apples-to-apples.

It is worse than minstrelsy, this is all out hatemongery.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:24 PM on June 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


To be fair to Captain Stabbin I'm pretty sure that's exactky what the tea party folk see when they look at Obama too.
posted by Artw at 10:25 PM on June 6, 2010


Jesus, they're doing Obama in blackface.

Do Jewish people somehow get a pass on racism? Or at least good taste?
posted by bardic at 10:28 PM on June 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Israel actions last weekmust be like a great big Christmas present to the hardliners, if you'll forgive me putting this in terms of the least appropriate abrahamic festival. This is them putting a bow on it.

Let's say you were a cartoonish, Ahmadinejadesque lunatic fixated on destroying Israel. How would you go about achieving your goal?
posted by homunculus at 10:28 PM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Do Jewish people somehow get a pass on racism? Or at least good taste?

Clearly, you've never tried to eat gefilte fish.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:31 PM on June 6, 2010


Well, I should amend "Jewish people" to "hard-right Israelis."

But yeah, gefilte fish is pretty nasty. Love bagels though. And a good knish.
posted by bardic at 10:33 PM on June 6, 2010


"This was not a 'Love Boat', it was a hate boat." - pm netanyahu re: that whole flottilla madness.
posted by talaitha at 10:38 PM on June 6, 2010


Let's not do the "Jewish people = Israel" thing. It's false. And counterproductive. And what the extreme right-wingers in Israel claim... as do the anti-Semites.
posted by VikingSword at 10:39 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Okay, what I'm about to say is, admittedly, not well-informed. It's just a hunch.

But...remember how we were all kind of shocked when we realized there's this subset of born-again Christian folk who actively seek to promote, or at least not prevent, the end-days -- and that there were a surprising number of them in positions of political power in the US?

I can't help but shake the feeling this is kind of the same thing going on; that, putting aside anything related to the history or the merit of either side's position, there seem to be some folks in Israel in positions of political power who really want to bring this thing to full boil, and seem to be ramping up the apparent-crazy in order to make it happen.

This is, admittedly, an outsider's viewpoint, and nothing more -- but this just doesn't seem like the kind of thing that would be done unless your end-goal was to piss off just about everyone in the world who is in a position to martyr you.
posted by davejay at 10:42 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"what Israelis feel."
Some Israelis feel differently, of course.
posted by Abiezer at 10:43 PM on June 6, 2010


Palestine needs a Gandhi not a Hamas

"Why don't the Palestinians have a Gandhi?" is a question I've often asked. Some folks are saying there are lots of them.
posted by naoko at 10:48 PM on June 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


This video makes Helen Thomas look good.
posted by phaedon at 10:49 PM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tonight I heard the BBC World Service talk about a botched US cruise missile strike on a Yemeni terrorist training camp that turned out to be a wedding or some such thing. The cynic in me thinks that the Obama administration is playing news of the unjust missile strike up deliberately. That way, American diplomats can say to the Netanyahu government "See, we indiscriminately kill Muslims too, now will you be a little more discreet in your oppression? 'Cause we really need those Turkish airbases."
posted by infinitewindow at 10:50 PM on June 6, 2010


You forgot the Israelis following up with "The Only Way Is Up"

I can just imagine Obama's staff riffing on the Wu Tang Clan's "Terrorise the jam like drones in Pakistan", etc.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:56 PM on June 6, 2010


Westboro Baptist Church did it first and better. I wonder if it was the conscious inspiration?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:11 PM on June 6, 2010


This is really disgusting.

Regardless of my frankly pretty half-formed, not particularly well-educated feelings on the I/P conflict, this is disgusting.
posted by desuetude at 11:20 PM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]




Do Jewish people somehow get a pass on racism?

No of course not. Don't you remember all the people protesting apartheid South Africa who were dismissed and marginalized as "antisemites"? Oh, wait....
posted by orthogonality at 11:33 PM on June 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


After seeing the video on FaceBook, I was tempted to post a link to this Michael Chabon op-ed.
posted by biddeford at 11:39 PM on June 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


homunculus: Taysir Al Burai is severely disabled. He requires round-the-clock medical care. If he were allowed to leave Gaza, he could make a full recovery. But Israel won't let him

Five years old and still has debilitating neurological damage from being partially asphyxiated during birth? That really doesn't sound like the kind of thing that could be recovered from fully, not even with the best hospitals and unlimited funds.

Not that I'm saying he wouldn't be better off with superior medical care, but it feels like the case might be misrepresented in some way.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:41 PM on June 6, 2010


Maybe this will help calm everything down. Ok, maybe not.
posted by ctmf at 11:43 PM on June 6, 2010


"Why don't the Palestinians have a Gandhi?"

Israel assassinates them. They realize that a Palestinian Ghandi would be a public-relations disaster.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:01 AM on June 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


That was funny. I wasn't expecting it to be so well made. I was smiling right from the 0:27 mark when the fake Captain appeared. But then it got old fairly quickly.

Thinks back to the arguments I've had with "lefties" regarding their self-proclaimed superior sense of humour. Good times, good times.

Lighten up, you lot.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:02 AM on June 7, 2010


Maybe this will help calm everything down. Ok, maybe not.

Wow. That story is completely crazy. I can't believe they would even say that, let alone follow through on it.

"Any intervention by the Iranian military would be considered highly provocative by Israel"

No shit.
posted by BigSky at 12:03 AM on June 7, 2010


Iran sending in the Revolutionary Guard is the best idea in decades for the Middle East.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:05 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's some surreal humour there Ubu...
posted by pompomtom at 12:07 AM on June 7, 2010


...Although I wanted to punch that ranga in the face at 2:00.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:08 AM on June 7, 2010


Video about Rahm Emanuel, who is an anti-Semite who won't acknowledge his Jewish heritage. The whole song is in Hebrew except for the English words "fucking Jew" in the choruses. [subtitles provided]

Produced by "Latma is fully funded through generous donations from philanthropists to the Washington DC-based Center for Security Policy's Middle East media program"
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 12:09 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Noam Jacobson, a 35-year-old musician and songwriter who portrays Mavi Marmara skipper “Captain Stabbing”

I missed that at the start, cheers. Captain Stabbing = Captain Stubing from The Love Boat?

That's gold Jerry, gold!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:14 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Captain Stabbing = Captain Stubing from The Love Boat?

Also, according to Google, a porn video series, site, and blog: "He spends his days riding around in his boat trolling for sexy women to have anal sex with."
posted by orthogonality at 12:18 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Israel is not alone in being a racist society. I just wish my governmet didn't spend so much time and money propping it up.
posted by chaz at 12:26 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're looking for subtlety and nuance towards the Palestinians from a government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman then I fear you're going to wait some time.

As for Caroline Glick? This is how she starts her own biography: "I grew up in Chicago's ultra-liberal, anti-American and anti-Israel stronghold of Hyde Park. Hyde Park's newest famous resident is Barack Obama. He fits right into a neighborhood I couldn't wait to leave."

The blackface stuff doesn't surprise me: the originators of this video appear hard wired into that peculiar train of thought that has Obama as an Islamist stalking horse brought into power by the kind of black and Hispanic voters who will one day call into question America's unwavering support for Israel.

Seriously, Israel. With friendsthought leaders like this, who needs enemies?
posted by MuffinMan at 12:31 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Israel Navy reserves officers: Allow external Gaza flotilla probe
Officers denounce operation as 'military and diplomatic failure', slam government for placing blame on the activists.
posted by orthogonality at 12:34 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Maybe this will help calm everything down. Ok, maybe not.

Wow. That story is completely crazy. I can't believe they would even say that, let alone follow through on it.


Well, like artw was saying, it would provide Ahmadinejad with a great distraction from the upcoming anniversary of last year's rigged election. And it would give the Iranian people something to pay attentin to other than the documentary about the death of Neda Agha-Soltan which has gone viral.
posted by homunculus at 12:34 AM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Could you elaborate on this? Do you, or have you, lived in Israel, or are you basing this on some polling numbers you've seen? Not trying to be fighty, but it doesn't really jive with the conversations I've had with Israelis about this. Of course, most of the Israelis I know are liberals, but still...it seems like a pretty sweeping statement to make.

Well, my anecdata comes from a friend who visited his family in Israel about 10 years back - one of the things that made a powerful impression on him at the time was the construction work in hist relative's orthodox neighbourhood. Palestinians were shipped in and paid (and treated) like shit, as cheap, captive labour; this extended to construction companies not providing any toilets for their labourers, which left them to shit in the street or the foundations of houses they were building.

The thing that amazed, and apalled, my friend was that his family and their aquaintences used this as an example of why Palestinians were animals who hated Jews, shitting in their houses obviously being a deliberate act of contempt, as opposed to the only place to take a crap when denied access to toilets.

(And really, if you want the gold standard of racism in Israel, you really need only look at the bad blood scandal, which didn't involve Palestinians, just Israeli Jews with the wrong colour skin.)

Palestine needs a Gandhi not a Hamas.

The only time in history Israel has surrended land stolen from its neighbours was to buy peace with Egypt after the 1973 war. Israel has, on the other hand stoeln almost all of the land reserved for Palestinians in the '48 UN partition, and has been occupying chunks of Lebanon. What makes you think passive resistance will work?

Indeed, going on the autopsy evidence, I suspect "Palestine's Ghandi" would end up with a couple of bullets in the back of the neck at close range.

Thinks back to the arguments I've had with "lefties" regarding their self-proclaimed superior sense of humour. Good times, good times.

Lighten up, you lot.


uncanny hengeman: Troll or racist, you decide.
posted by rodgerd at 12:59 AM on June 7, 2010 [35 favorites]


uncanny hengeman: Troll or racist, you decide.

Oh, rodgerd! You just sounded like Dirty Harry just then.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:29 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]



I'd actually say that Israel has had very, very good coverage for a long time. For well into the 90s most news media were sympathetic to their viewpoint; the Palestinians were generally conflated with the PLO and regarded as more terrorist than anything else.

It's Israel that has been its undoing in this area, by continuing practices that made it harder and harder for people to give Israel the benefit of the doubt.


Agreed that Israel has had very good coverage for a long time. It honestly still surprises me when I see criticism of Israel in the Western media because for so long, there didn't seem to be any.

An additional factor in the swaying of public opinion has been the internet explosion, and the consequent access to more sources of information about Israel than Israel.
posted by bardophile at 1:45 AM on June 7, 2010


The only time in history Israel has surrended land stolen from its neighbours was to buy peace with Egypt after the 1973 war. Israel has, on the other hand stoeln almost all of the land reserved for Palestinians in the '48 UN partition, and has been occupying chunks of Lebanon. What makes you think passive resistance will work?

Had the British Empire ever given up territory peacefully before the partition in India? I don't know of anywhere that this had happened, but am happy to be informed otherwise by someone who does.

In any case, the idea of getting any imperial power to give up territory without using violence was certainly an idea that most people didn't think would work when Gandhi first tried it.

quibble with everyone who types it this way: On a side note, it's Gandhi, not Ghandi. The G is pronounced like in 'gate' and the 'dh' sounds like the 'th' in 'that' with an 'h' sound added to it. I know it's a common mis-spelling. It gets my goat every time.
posted by bardophile at 1:52 AM on June 7, 2010


Had the British Empire ever given up territory peacefully before the partition in India?

Yes - Australia and New Zealand amongst others.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:56 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a posting on her Web site on Thursday, [Caroline] Glick called the video “an important Israeli contribution to the discussion of recent events” and referred to Latma [the web site that produced the video] as an initiative of the Middle East media project run by the “Center for Security Policy,” a Washington, DC, think tank where she is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs.

posted by orthogonality at 9:54 PM on June 6 [11 favorites +] [!]


Oh man, is the Center for Security Policy behind this? Those people are loco. Headed by Frank Gaffney, who believed that Obama was secretly signaling his submission to Sharia Law and also that the government redesigned a federal logo as a secret symbol of submission to Islam.
posted by yarly at 3:54 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


MuffinMan: thank you.
posted by bardophile at 4:00 AM on June 7, 2010


everything is cheaper than it looks in that video
posted by pyramid termite at 4:08 AM on June 7, 2010


Jacobson said he believes that such videos don’t cross the line between good taste and bad taste and “are obviously satire and must be taken as satire, and not word for word. People must take them with a sense of humor.”

Sorry, I must be dense...what exactly is the video satirizing?
posted by Jon-A-Thon at 4:16 AM on June 7, 2010


The British Empire didn't give up Australia & New Zealand. It gave up ON Australia & New Zealand. It's an important difference.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:34 AM on June 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Sorry, I must be dense...what exactly is the video satirizing?

The recent Freedom Flotilla brouhaha.

They do a decent Springsteen and Dylan, wot?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:40 AM on June 7, 2010


Well, they certainly capture the self-righteous smugness & unassailable self-belief of all the original artists.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:43 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I posted this in the other thread but this video of anti-flotilla activists being interviewed by, then harassing an Israeli lefty is, uh, compelling. I don't know if these guys are the equivalent of Israeli teabaggers or if they represent the mainstream. That Micheal Chabon op-ed is also really good (Biddeford linked it already in this thread, but definetly check it out
“GAZA Flotilla Drives Israel Into a Sea of Stupidity” declared the Israeli daily Haaretz on Monday, as though announcing the discovery of some hitherto unknown body of water. Citizens of other nations have long since resigned themselves, of course, to sailing those crowded waters, but for Israelis — and, indeed, for Jews everywhere — this felt like headline news.
--
Let's say you were a cartoonish, Ahmadinejadesque lunatic fixated on destroying Israel. How would you go about achieving your goal?
The thing is, Ahmadinejad is just not that smart. A cartoonish villain would never do something like this. This is the kind of thing that would be done if somehow you could merge malevolence of Ahmadinejad with amoral genious of a guy like Lloyd Blankfein (CEO of Goldman Sachs)

--

Also, has anyone else noticed how Israel defenders run around saying that what they're doing is no worse then Sudan or North Korea, so why are they getting all this flack? Don't they realize that that's insane?
posted by delmoi at 4:45 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I must be dense...what exactly is the video satirizing?

The recent Freedom Flotilla brouhaha.
Except it's not really a satire is it? Parody, perhaps.
posted by delmoi at 4:48 AM on June 7, 2010


execrable
posted by Monkeymoo at 5:49 AM on June 7, 2010


What a putrid pile of dehumanizing racist garbage.
posted by zarq at 5:50 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's all the more bizarre that the flotilla footage used here is supposedly confiscated material from people who were on the flotilla, including an Al-Jazeera photog who's arm is probably still in a splint.

Digression: My favorite WAtW mockery, Culturcide (YT)
posted by Jack Karaoke at 5:50 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bardic, Jews don't get a pass on racism.

There have been ample racist, hateful depictions of Jews throughout the Arab world across all sorts of media for decades. I fully expect the same level of outcry for this disgusting video that we regularly see regarding those.
posted by zarq at 5:54 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm so annoyed by Israel right now that I was expecting this to throw me into a rage, but all I can bring myself to be annoyed about is the crappy video editing.

That said, at about the 2.30 mark there's footage that claims to be of soldiers being beaten with iron bars. Does anyone know if that's genuine footage, or something else being misreported or misrepresented?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 6:15 AM on June 7, 2010


Maybe I should have previewed and read Jack Karaoke's links before posting that...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 6:19 AM on June 7, 2010


sodium lights the horizon: Here it is on youtube. It was filmed by the IDF, though, from a boat off the side of the Marmara.
posted by lullaby at 6:23 AM on June 7, 2010


Hmmm... I got a fake anti-virus malware popup in a new tab when I went to that site. Did anyone else get that?
posted by codacorolla at 6:41 AM on June 7, 2010


Edit: sorry, the youtube clip
posted by codacorolla at 6:41 AM on June 7, 2010


Ta lullaby. Reading the links further upthread, I'm guessing that's the best footage that there is.

I'd really like some footage that shows what happened in the preceding 10 minutes; that shows the name of the boat and clear water around it; and that was clear enough at some point to show someone's (anyone's) face clearly. I doubt that will ever happen though.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 6:45 AM on June 7, 2010


The whole song is in Hebrew except for the English words "fucking Jew" in the choruses. [subtitles provided]

Well...according to the song Emanuel is saying "Juden Raus" to the settlers, which is what the Nazis yelled in the ghettos to scare out Jews who were in hiding.

Apparently, instructing Israel to obey a zillion UN and other international agreements to simple cease building more settlements in occupied territories is absolutely comparable to a group intent on genocide kicking you out of houses you actually lived in for centuries.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:50 AM on June 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure if an entire country can jump the shark, but I think that Israel's schtick has.
posted by carter at 6:54 AM on June 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is the kind of thing that can make somebody who is perhaps a tad uncomfortable holding a political opinion sway really hard and loud towards said position.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:15 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


[Keep the lulzy "I'm acting like I'm calling you an anti-semite because it's funny" schtick to metatalk and make an effort please, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:23 AM on June 7, 2010


Well, my anecdata comes from a friend who visited his family in Israel about 10 years back

OK, well, your story is horrifying. And clearly, the nation of Israel - much like my own country, the US - was built on some racist myths that allowed its citizens to feel ok about its founding. But seriously, it's not really fair or responsible to make a sweeping statement like you did based on a 10-year-old story your friend told you.

Note that I am not, in any way, shape or form, defending Israeli state policy. But please remember that Israelis are just as heterogeneous in their beliefs and attitudes as the citizens of any other nation.
posted by lunasol at 8:27 AM on June 7, 2010


Could you elaborate on this? Do you, or have you, lived in Israel, or are you basing this on some polling numbers you've seen? Not trying to be fighty, but it doesn't really jive with the conversations I've had with Israelis about this. Of course, most of the Israelis I know are liberals, but still...it seems like a pretty sweeping statement to make.

I did try to qualify it by saying "some". I recognize that there are many Israelis who feel differently, and there are a lot of peace movements with strong Israeli participation. What I mostly meant is that amongst those who don't sympathize with the Palestinian position, there isn't recognition of Palestinian suffering. Which I guess makes sense -- if these people really did think that Palestinians were suffering, it'd be somewhat heartless of them to ignore it, right?

The video posted above of the elderly man saying "They should have slaughtered everyone on the boat" is demonstrative of the hyperbolic sense of persecution and defensiveness that some Israelis hold.

I visited Israel, I think there are many things about the country that are wonderful, and I'm proud to be a Jew and of my Jewish heritage. I believe the State of Israel should exist, and even if it is a bit exceptionalist I think there should be a "Jewish state" somewhere in the world (I mean, to the extent that I support the concept of "states" at all). But that state should be an example of peace and freedom, not of oppression and small mindedness.

It's a difficult, almost untenable position. As long as the neighboring states don't recognize Israel's existence, Israel feels it must be on the defensive.

Someone once described it like this: Israel is like an abused child that still harbors the trauma it experienced in the past (both from the Holocaust and from fighting with its Arab neighbors). A boy is abused and later grows up and becomes a father. When his own child hits him, he doesn't experience it in its proper context. Instead of recognizing the child as much smaller and causing little to no physical harm, he responds as if he were once more being abused by a more powerful adult. So he hits his child back with grown-up force, causing significantly more damage.

This is a pretty good analogy to the disproportionate response generally seen in Israel in response to terrorist attacks. A Hamas rocket kills 2-3 Israeli civilians whereas the Israeli "counterattack" will kill a couple dozen.

Countries do behave as if they have psyches. Israel needs to let go of its feelings of victimization. When an abusive parent is punished by the authorities, a common first response might be to say, "Here it is again, I'm being blamed just like I was blamed when abused as a child." And in reality, what is happening is the authority is trying to get the abused child to transform (hopefully) into a responsible adult and take ownership of his or her actions. In the same way, many of the resolutions and demands put on Israel are simply the expectations that they behave like a civilized and democratic nation.

As noted above, occasionally the question is raised, "Why don't North Korea and Sudan get the same kind of attention?" The truth is, a great deal of it is anti-Israel sentiment amongst sympathizers in the UN. But another factor is that the world community honestly doesn't expect North Korea or Sudan to behave like "adults" (in this analogy). They've given up on them. They haven't necessarily given up on Israel, which really should be considered a compliment in some ways.

All that said, yeah, I do wish sometimes that we could completely subtract the factors of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism from this discussion. It would be comforting to know that the world was angry because of what Israel does and not what Israel is.

A more comforting story, maybe: someone close to me, active in the I/P peace movement and also involved in Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, was visiting Israel. She saw a Jew and an Arab meeting one another, clearly close friends. She went up to them and in Hebrew asked them about this: an Arab and a Jew, close friends? The Arab responded, in simple Hebrew so she could understand: The Jew and the Arab have always been friends. The Jew needs the Arab, and the Arab needs the Jew. It is only those in the higher places [meaning government] that make fire on the earth. But talking to them is like talking to a wall [and at this point he knocked on the wall for emphasis]. It's my personal hope that more people in the region will come to this realization of interdependence and recognize that, as usual, their common enemy is those who use fear to maintain power.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:48 AM on June 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


andrew exum relates an unsettling anecdote:
Last fall, I was in Israel for a two-week visit and conducted a few formal interviews with various Israeli officers, journalists and scholars. I met for coffee one morning with a retired Israeli general officer to discuss the fighting in southern Lebanon during the 1990s, and before too long, the two of us were engrossed in conversation about guerrilla warfare, Lebanon, the learning process that militaries go through in combat, and a host of related subjects. One hour became two, and two hours became three. The two of us must have downed three cups of coffee apiece, and my hand cramped from all the notes I was taking. At the end of the conversation, though, this retired officer took my hand, squeezed it hard, and said, "Andrew, just remember one thing: the Muslims are like shit. They stink, and there are plenty of them for all of us."
walter russell mead lays out why there is no solution (if it was easy it would have happened by now; there's not enough trust and, in any case, not enough people want it/are willing to compromise) -- AS speaks of 'tribalism'.

greg djerejian provides some strategic context; where are the adults?
posted by kliuless at 8:53 AM on June 7, 2010


Deathalicious wrote it is a bit exceptionalist I think there should be a "Jewish state" somewhere in the world (I mean, to the extent that I support the concept of "states" at all). But that state should be an example of peace and freedom, not of oppression and small mindedness.

Impossible. You can't have a "Jewish State" that isn't a nasty small minded little theocracy anymore than you can have a "Christian Nation", or an "Islamic Nation" that isn't a nasty small minded little theocracy.

Any nation founded on religious identity will, I think pretty much inevitably, move towards the positions of the most vicious and small minded religious extremists in that religion. It doesn't matter if that religion is Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, or Islam. Nations based on religious identity are going to degrade into the sort of place you don't like.

Given the history of persecution the Jews have endured I can see the appeal behind a "Jewish Homeland", I really can. But I don't think its a good idea because it can't help but become a nasty little theocracy. Religion and government, when mixed, produce a vile result there's just no getting around it.

Israel as a rigidly secular state with a majority Jewish population could work. Israel as a Jewish Homeland can't.
posted by sotonohito at 9:16 AM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Impossible. You can't have a "Jewish State" that isn't a nasty small minded little theocracy anymore than you can have a "Christian Nation", or an "Islamic Nation" that isn't a nasty small minded little theocracy.

I don't understand why most people don't understand this, and in fact, are very uncomfortable talking about it. The reason Israel is where it is and the sense of entitlement they feel is based on superstition and myths. It's a race-based theocracy justified by an imaginary monster.
posted by fuq at 9:35 AM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


First, that there doesn't seem to be a general recognition amongst some Israelis that the Palestinians really are experiencing genuine suffering.

Could you elaborate on this? Do you, or have you, lived in Israel, or are you basing this on some polling numbers you've seen? Not trying to be fighty, but it doesn't really jive with the conversations I've had with Israelis about this.


According to my partner who last winter went on a birth-right trip to Israel, yes, that is indeed the case. The common term for Palestinians is "terrorist", and they are regarded as subhuman in all respects. At least, this is the front that Israel puts on when introducing visitors to the land, giving tours, and educating the public, and not everyone agrees with it, but I would imagine there is a great deal of sympathy (sic) for that view given it is the dominant narrative of the land.
posted by tybeet at 9:53 AM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding the blockade, this article was useful in summarizing what it is all about: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/06/what-is-israels-blockade-for/57574/

An excerpt (which is itself an excerpt): The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations greeted news of the flotilla disaster by repeating a common "pro-Israel" talking point: that Israel only blockades Gaza to prevent Hamas from building rockets that might kill Israeli citizens. If only that were true. In reality, the embargo has a broader and more sinister purpose: to impoverish the people of Gaza, and thus turn them against Hamas. As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported, the Israeli officials in charge of the embargo adhere to what they call a policy of "no prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis." In other words, the embargo must be tight enough to keep the people of Gaza miserable, but not so tight that they starve.

This explains why Israel prevents Gazans from importing, among other things, cilantro, sage, jam, chocolate, French fries, dried fruit, fabrics, notebooks, empty flowerpots and toys, none of which are particularly useful in building Kassam rockets. It's why Israel bans virtually all exports from Gaza, a policy that has helped to destroy the Strip's agriculture, contributed to the closing of some 95 percent of its factories, and left more 80 percent of its population dependent on food aid. It's why Gaza's fishermen are not allowed to travel more than three miles from the coast, which dramatically reduces their catch. And it's why Israel prevents Gazan students from studying in the West Bank, a policy recently denounced by 10 winners of the prestigious Israel Prize. There's a name for all this: collective punishment.
posted by cell divide at 10:31 AM on June 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh and this one seems to show that besides being collective punishment the blockade isn't helping to topple Hamas: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/06/AR2010060604006.html
posted by cell divide at 10:49 AM on June 7, 2010


Note that I am not, in any way, shape or form, defending Israeli state policy. But please remember that Israelis are just as heterogeneous in their beliefs and attitudes as the citizens of any other nation.

Absolutely - but just as a Mexican could be forgiven for looking at the US and thinking, "Americans hate Latin Americans", one oculd be forgiven for painting Israel with a broad brush in light of things like this video - not least because of the fact it's being defended by people high up in Israel's establishment (media, politics, and so on).

In a similar vein Israel's a democracy; while their may be plenty of tolerant, peace-loving Israelis, as a nation, Israel has been voting aggressive, often strikingly racist, politicians (Sharon, Netanyahu) into power since the murder of Rabin.

Impossible. You can't have a "Jewish State" that isn't a nasty small minded little theocracy anymore than you can have a "Christian Nation", or an "Islamic Nation" that isn't a nasty small minded little theocracy.

One difference is that "Jew" is not just a relgious identity, in a way that "Muslim" and "Christian" aren't.
posted by rodgerd at 11:09 AM on June 7, 2010


quibble with everyone who types it this way: On a side note, it's Gandhi, not Ghandi. The G is pronounced like in 'gate' and the 'dh' sounds like the 'th' in 'that' with an 'h' sound added to it. I know it's a common mis-spelling. It gets my goat every time.

And I normally double-check it to avoid looking like a rube. D'oh.
posted by rodgerd at 11:15 AM on June 7, 2010


Just go with this: મોહનદાસ કરમચંદ ગાંધી Makes life easier. ;)
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on June 7, 2010


One difference is that "Jew" is not just a relgious identity, in a way that "Muslim" and "Christian" aren't.

Quite right. It's also an ethnicity. I personally think that having explicitly ethnocentric states is quite problematic as well. I think if Britain, for example, were to declare itself "A Christian Anglo-Saxon State, now and forever" most people would quite rightly see that as being petty small-minded racism at it's best, and, at worst, a declaration of war against it's minority populations (not to mention the Irish, Scots and the Welsh).

Israel really shouldn't get a pass on this just because we didn't help them enough during the Holocaust.
posted by Avenger at 11:27 AM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]




There's certainly never been an Israeli Gandhi.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on June 7, 2010


Metafilter: Gandhi not found in Israel or Palestine
posted by rosswald at 11:50 AM on June 7, 2010


A report of an American detained and repeatedly beaten by Israeli soldiers during the flotilla incident.

"When the Israeli forces picked him up, Larudee said, he was severely beaten and tied to a mast at the stern of their ship. His legs and hands were bound as he was subjected to the hot sun in wet soaking clothes for four hours. He said his body almost went into shock from the extreme hot and cold conditions."

And so on.

As to what many Israelis think of Palestinians, it's not exactly a secret that some don't have much respect for Palestinians, but still, it comes as something of a shock to your average liberal when they hear the frank and naked racism and how blunt it is. Some years ago, a Dutch friend of mine went to visit Israel. A Jew who was both a liberal and a Zionist, however strange it may seem to have a liberal be a Zionist. He spent six months there, with two months on a kibbutz. He came back a broken man - spiritually broken. Subdued. Unwilling to talk about his experiences for quite a while. Then bits and pieces would come out. One time over beers he related how IDF soldiers referred to Palestinians exclusively in the most base of ways, equating them to the lowest of animals, like vermin, and how shocked he was, because that's exactly what the Nazis used to refer to Jews as: "vermin". He found an odd combination of triumphalism and contempt on the one hand with dire warnings of extreme terrorist danger and viciousness on the other, when the soldiers would boast how they got "them bottled up like cockroaches, crawling around helplessly" and a second later they'd warn that if they as much as relaxed the oppressive measures one iota, the "terrorists would unleash a sea of blood until there wasn't one Jew left alive". On the one hand contemptible ineffectual vermin, on the other super dangerous diabolical terrorist. This was several years ago, but I doubt things have changed much.
posted by VikingSword at 11:50 AM on June 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


[comments removed - seriously folks - there is a MetaTalk thread about how badly these threads go, if you just want to fight with people can you go to another website for a day or two and come back when you want to talk with the adults?]
posted by jessamyn at 11:50 AM on June 7, 2010


rodgerd wrote One difference is that "Jew" is not just a relgious identity, in a way that "Muslim" and "Christian" aren't.

I don't think a minor ethnic factor changes the religious factor, sorry. Especially when that ethnic factor isn't really there. When people talk about the Jewish ethnicity they are mostly referring to the Ashkenazim. If we are to define "Jew" as an ethnic group rather than a religion where does that leave the Sephardim? Or the Ethiopian Jews?

More to the point, Israel defines Judaism in religious, rather than ethnic, terms.

I think the supposed ethnic component of Judaism is a red herring here.
posted by sotonohito at 11:54 AM on June 7, 2010




Peter Beinart: Why Israel is Isolated
posted by homunculus at 1:06 PM on June 7, 2010


On the one hand contemptible ineffectual vermin, on the other super dangerous diabolical terrorist.

Umberto Eco: Fourteen ways of looking at a blackshirt:
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.

When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.
Also significant to the Zionist mindset is the next passage:
9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.

Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
The Zionists have solved this problem by taking the entire world as their enemies, as seen in the claims of universal Judeophobia we've seen advanced by the defenders of Israel..
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:55 PM on June 7, 2010


The Zionists have solved this problem by taking the entire world as their enemies, as seen in the claims of universal Judeophobia we've seen advanced by the defenders of Israel..

Prove it wrong then. There's a nice essay that I linked to earlier, which my original comment was based on.
posted by zarq at 2:30 PM on June 7, 2010


Any nation founded on religious identity will, I think pretty much inevitably, move towards the positions of the most vicious and small minded religious extremists in that religion.

I don't know about that. Bhutan certainly sounds awesome - from the fact that it's about the only country on earth to be consistently increasing its forest cover, to its theory & research into Gross Domestic Happiness as superior to GDP, to its banning of television for its corrupting & westernising influence.

Alright, that last one might be a bit extreme, but I understand they've relaxed a lot on TVs in recent years.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:54 PM on June 7, 2010


This taunt is not satire.

This is dancing on the graves of the 9 protesters and 1000's of Palestinian and Lebanese people.

This is the Israeli elite begging the U.S. to stop giving Israel billions of dollars a year.

This is the Israeli elite laughing at the misery their country is inflicting upon an indigenous population, 45% who are under the age of 15, because THEY CAN.

This is the Israeli elites' argument AGAINST peace.

This is why the assassination of Rabin was so tragic.
posted by Max Power at 3:31 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Prove it wrong then.

Prove what wrong? The premise that everyone hates Jews? Are you serious? Are you proposing that Jews are so obnoxious that anyone who encounters them as a group ends up hating them?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 3:41 PM on June 7, 2010


Oy
posted by rosswald at 3:42 PM on June 7, 2010


Prove what wrong? The premise that everyone hates Jews? Are you serious? Are you proposing that Jews are so obnoxious that anyone who encounters them as a group ends up hating them?

*sigh*

That's neither the premise nor the point of the essay.

Are you incapable of approaching the subject objectively?
posted by zarq at 4:03 PM on June 7, 2010


Make it clear, then. The essay is a whole bunch of crazy, anyhow. I mean, quoting the pharoah from Exodus in order to determine the origins of Judeophobia? That's purely lunatic. And citing the idea that the Hebrews were "expelled" from Egypt rather than fleeing as proof of Alexandrian Judeophobia? If you don't share the Jewish national myths (which happen to portray your own country in a bad light), then you're a hater?

The whole article is based on begging the question: universal Judeophobia is assumed, and the whole argument of its existence proceeds from that assumption.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:18 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think a minor ethnic factor changes the religious factor, sorry. Especially when that ethnic factor isn't really there. When people talk about the Jewish ethnicity they are mostly referring to the Ashkenazim. If we are to define "Jew" as an ethnic group rather than a religion where does that leave the Sephardim? Or the Ethiopian Jews?

Even with the unfortunate racism within the Jewish community, what you're saying isn't true at all.

The Western world has developed these concepts of race, religion, ethnicity, etc. And then they try to shoehorn Jews into whichever one suits the shoehorners at the time. And then other people can argue about how it doesn't fit.

Jews (some/most/historically/traditionally/etc) see ourselves as connected to each other in a way that is not just about how we look or what we believe or how we worship.

You can make lots of analogies. It's like a religion because of this, like an ethnicity because of this. I think I could make a pretty decent argument that it's like American identity because you can acquire it through a process of adopting the norms and shared values (naturalization) or by just being born into it and believing (almost) any damn thing you want. They're just analogies.

Please stop it. You can't hand-wave and make the religious factor OR the ethnic factor OR any of the other things go away and then claim you're having a reality-based conversation instead of one based on certain theories of what should constitute groups and group identity. If you can't make your argument without respecting this, you can't make your argument.

I think almost ANY political argument CAN be made respecting these, which is reflected in the fact that among self-identified Jews and Israelis you can find an entire spectrum of political opinion. So please try that.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:04 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shii linked to: Photos show Mavi Marmara passengers protecting, aiding Israeli soldiers

Who were they protecting them from? As far as I can make out Google Translate's rendition of the caption on this slideshow, they may have been trying to protect the captured soldiers from being thrown overboard.

Seriously, look at the guy in the third photo. Do you see the wound in his hand? That's the sort of wound you get when you're trying to defend yourself from an attacker with a knife. In this link from Ha'aretz you can see them standing over and restraining the same soldier, who was also stabbed in the belly. One of the people has a knife in his hand, although obviously we don't know why he's holding it - it might be the soldier's knife or it might have been taken off the attacker or he might, you know, just want people to look at his cool knife.

Here's a slideshow of these photos from the Turkish paper Hürriyet. The photos were taken after the soldiers were captured and they show them being dragged down the stairs, a soldier with a stab wound to the stomach apparently being restrained, and two guys with iron bars standing in front of a closed door - presumably the area in which the captured soldiers were held.

From what I've read it sounds as if the hostage-takers wanted to make a deal: let us sail into Gaza and we'll give you the soldiers back. If so, this was not only massively illegal (as opposed to the boarding, which was only arguably illegal) but a really, really bad idea.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:04 PM on June 7, 2010


That's some fancy speculation you're engaged in. You're like David Caruso in CSI: Internet.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:41 PM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Salamandrous I'm not really sure what you're getting at, are you arguing that Judaism transcends all conventional categories and must be considered something unique and therefore exempt from all historic analysis? If so, I'm afraid I can't go along with that.

Regardless of whether or not Judaism is wholly a religion, or an ethnic group, or an afternoon tea club, it is sufficiently a religion that I do not at all think basing a nation on Judaism is a good idea. We already see the beginnings of the violent misogyny inherent to theocracies starting over there. We already see the way the most fanatic elements, as they do in every other religious foundation nation, control the agenda. Regardless of whether or not Judaism neatly fits into the "Religion" category it is enough of a religion that a "Jewish State" is the same bad idea that a "Christian Nation" is.
posted by sotonohito at 5:53 PM on June 7, 2010


Please stop it. You can't hand-wave and make the religious factor OR the ethnic factor OR any of the other things go away and then claim you're having a reality-based conversation instead of one based on certain theories of what should constitute groups and group identity. If you can't make your argument without respecting this, you can't make your argument.

So you're saying that the "national identity"of this particular group depends on the suppression of the indigenous people whose land they have occupied? Who they have cordoned off, and continually deny a voice in the land they live? Where even the land that their oppressors have sanctioned for them is continually encroached upon by the same oppressors?

Is THAT the commonality of the modern Israeli?
posted by Max Power at 6:05 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Israel acting like Nazis in Gaza
posted by nola at 8:14 PM on June 7, 2010


From what I've read it sounds as if the hostage-takers wanted to make a deal: let us sail into Gaza and we'll give you the soldiers back. If so, this was not only massively illegal (as opposed to the boarding, which was only arguably illegal) but a really, really bad idea.

This is kind of a weird premise for calling someone a hostage.
posted by desuetude at 8:44 PM on June 7, 2010


"Is THAT the commonality of the modern Israeli?"

Jews have a long history of persecution which is a good part of the narrative of the Jews.

Their perseverance in the face of enemies is much more of what gives them solidarity than the actual theology of their religion - much of their stories and holidays are about their history where their survival is credited somehow to their cleverness or religion.

Judaism seems to need enemies to define itself and survive. In the current US, the population of ethnic Jews has been steadily growing while the number of religious Jews (those who attend temple regularly) has been shrinking, maybe because discrimination against Jews in the US, particularly of the murderous type, has become almost unacceptable. Ultimately the real enemy of Judaism is not extermination but assimilation into Western secularity.

If Jews want enemies to define themselves then colonizing Palestine seems to be the best way to make them. In the present situation, the right wing Israelis have turned Gaza into a bounded prison camp with deprivations to make them angry and generate an almost powerless enemy leadership named Hamas. Yet Hamas is the current bogey man that justifies even more right leaning policies even though Hamas causes much less damage in Israel than traffic accidents.

I see the current situation in Israel as being similar to a hypothetical big US city where the police grew powerful to combat crime, but when crime started to plummet the police would help in large scale importation of cocaine so that it causes enough crime to keep their budget up.

There is no commonality of modern Israel. Much of the crazier and right wing parts depend on manufactured enemies. Iran is pretty crazy in this respect and the really crazy in both countries depend on each other to ramp up the rhetoric so they can stay in power.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:04 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is kind of a weird premise for calling someone a hostage.

They were being held below decks by armed men, and their captors allegedly offered to release them subject to the captors getting what they wanted. Surely this is the classic hostage scenario.

I've found large, clear pictures of the hostages. Here's one - this is on the IHH's website and a cropped version has also been released by Reuters. Do you see how the soldier is being held in an armlock? And the knife which, in this picture, is quite clearly menacing him? And the blood all over the banister? If you look you can just see his comrade's hand in the background, the one who had been stabbed in the stomach. Here's a slideshow on the NYT with somewhat-clear versions of the pictures - which were never in IDF hands: they were actually released by IHH, one of the organisations sponsoring the flotilla. Look at number seven with the blood all over the stairs. There's really quite a lot there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:03 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joe, I read desuetude's comment as meaning that when armed soldiers attack you in international waters, disarming them and holding them isn't necessarily hostage taking. It may be defense, it legally is just defense, it may even be taking prisoners of war.

Regardless, it's apparent from the evidence you've uncovered that the activists on the Freedom Flotilla could have easily killed at least some of their attackers, but refrained from doing so. So much for the canard about bloodthirsty "Arab" (Turkish) terrorists.
posted by orthogonality at 11:28 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


> They were being held below decks by armed men, and their captors allegedly offered to release them subject to the captors getting what they wanted.

I don't think you get to use the word "captor" to describe someone who illegally boarded your vessel in international waters. Maybe "enemy combatant".
posted by Burhanistan at 11:31 PM on June 7, 2010


Oops, "hostage", rather. Nor can you call the Turks "captors".
posted by Burhanistan at 11:32 PM on June 7, 2010


Please, please, people, don't you understand? Defending yourself against Israeli thugs is an unforgivable crime!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:37 PM on June 7, 2010


The truth behind the Israeli propaganda. The amazing thing in all this is that so many Western journalists – and I'm including the BBC's pusillanimous coverage of the Gaza aid ships – are writing like Israeli journalists, while many Israeli journalists are writing about the killings with the courage that Western journalists should demonstrate.
posted by adamvasco at 12:08 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]






Why would anybody not welcome soldiers boarding your ship and shooting people in the back of the head ? It just baffles me.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:41 AM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Deathalicious: sorry, I completely missed the "some" qualifier in your original comment. My bad. I do think there is an unfortunate tendency for otherwise sane and rational people to villainous the "other side" in this issue, which is maddening and I was more responding to my own frustration about that than what you actually said. Thanks for the elaboration. FWIW, I think your "abused child" analogy is pretty apt.
posted by lunasol at 6:42 PM on June 8, 2010




From homunculus' link:

It was just a few short years ago that Abe Foxman's Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, B'nai Brith International, and the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs all joined forces to beg Congress to deny the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide.

You have got to be fucking kidding.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:34 PM on June 9, 2010


It was just a few short years ago that Abe Foxman's Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, B'nai Brith International, and the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs all joined forces to beg Congress to deny the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide. Now they are slightly embarrassed about this, because it turns out that the Turks were not willing to return the favor by allowing Israel to kill a bunch of Turkish citizens without getting the Turks getting all upset about it.
Um... the fuck? Hell, no. This linked story is even more rage-inducing.

“You can’t even compare what we went through to what happened with the Armenians!”

Um, yes we can. We most certainly can. The Holocaust and the Armenian massacres and death marches are why the term "genocide" was coined!!
posted by zarq at 1:42 PM on June 9, 2010


Zarq wrote: This linked story is even more rage-inducing.

Can we please stop being outraged at what some random person at a party once said to someone else? Yes, the guy allegedly said something stupid. He was "a PR guy", not a historian.

That being said, I have mixed feelings about making comparisons. On the one hand, if you're studying genocide then comparing the Holocaust to the genocide of the Armenians is especially fruitful because they were both in European countries in the modern era, and there's good reason to think that Nazi propaganda and population management techniques were influenced by the Ottoman ones. On the other hand, people who survived the Holocaust don't want to hear comparisons. They're mourners: they lost their entire world, typically many or all of their relatives, and the last thing they need is someone talking dispassionately about this terrible, soul-wrenching event. From his reaction, I suspect the PR guy was a survivor or the children of survivors.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:50 AM on June 10, 2010




Can we please stop being outraged at what some random person at a party once said to someone else? Yes, the guy allegedly said something stupid. He was "a PR guy", not a historian.

Coincidentally, I'm also a PR guy, not an historian. Holocaust deniers infuriate me.

I'm quite sympathetic to the man's emotions and to the familial trauma that is probably involved. I understand that he may not be able to address the Holocaust dispassionately. But the man's public relations firm worked for Turkey. They could very well have helped that country revise their own history to the public -- and we know that Turkey did so by denying the mass murders as vocally as they possibly could.

If an Armenian grandchild of one of those survivors had helped Germany to deny the Holocaust, would that not infuriate you?
posted by zarq at 11:35 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


If an Armenian grandchild of one of those survivors had helped Germany to deny the Holocaust, would that not infuriate you?

Not any more than if someone else did. But we don't actually know that that's what he did - and you would think Spencer Ackerman would have said something about it. I don't even think Turkey has a PR campaign of that sort, as distinct from a lobbying campaign.

My guess, based solely on what Mr Ackerman wrote is that (a) the guy didn't know very much; (b) he was probably repeating what someone had said when the subject came up; and (c) like many of us he was weak enough to favor his friends and employers over a disinterested pursuit of the truth. But he knew plenty about the Holocaust, and he lacked the introspection to consider that the reason he couldn't see a parallel was that he didn't know much about the genocide of the Armenians.

Incidentally - and this is a bit snarky, but it's something that occurred to me the other day - how hypocritical is Turkey being, given that it is presently occupying half of Cyprus? And it's presently blockading Armenia! This has nothing to do with the morality of Israel's actions, but it's funny that Turkey of all countries was backing the flotilla.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:16 PM on June 10, 2010


it's funny that Turkey of all countries was backing the flotilla.

For at least a couple of reasons:

1) Turkey is a constitutionally secular state, and its government therefore shouldn't be as invested in a pro-Palestinian stance as the Arab nations. In fact, they'd have a lot to fear in becoming involved in any kind of standoff with even indirectly religious overtones, as the military there has a long tradition of stepping in and staging a coup whenever an administration appears to be leaning too close to Islam, thereby violating the separation of church & state.

2) Turkey has been trying for EU membership for years. They must've judged that this wouldn't massively harm their EU campaign, which in turn suggests to me that their perception is that European sentiment must be currently neutral - at best - towards Israel.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:40 PM on June 10, 2010


(by which I mean in point 2...if Europe considered Israel to be a close ally, then Turkey's actions would be a kind of aggression or antagonism against an ally, and therefore against all of Europe. Not the kind of thing they would do if they wanted to join the EU)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:42 PM on June 10, 2010


UbuRoivas wrote: They must've judged that this wouldn't massively harm their EU campaign, which in turn suggests to me that their perception is that European sentiment must be currently neutral - at best - towards Israel.

That might be the case, but I would think that EU states would be very reluctant to admit a member who might draw them into any conflict. At the start of this business there was a lot of speculation about Israel having boarded a what was thought to be a Turkish-flagged ship, given that Turkey is part of NATO. I think that was mostly nonsense but if it had had any result it would have been to get Turkey kicked out of NATO. Nations generally don't want to be drawn into foreign wars.

In the present case, I think the Turkish PM is playing to an Islamist constituency (remember that Erdogan was opposed by the military leadership) and perhaps also thinks that Moslem nationalism is a counterweight to Kurdish separatism. Also, honestly, you can't lose votes in the Middle East by bashing Israel.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:44 PM on June 10, 2010


Unless you're a member of the Knesset.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:46 PM on June 10, 2010


Joe in Australia's responses remind me of Lakatos's "protective belt:"
For Lakatos, what we think of as a 'theory' may actually be a succession of slightly different theories and experimental techniques developed over time, that share some common idea, or what Lakatos called their ‘hard core’. Lakatos called such changing collections 'Research Programmes'. The scientists involved in a programme will attempt to shield the theoretical core from falsification attempts behind a protective belt of auxiliary hypotheses.
I've always felt Lakatos's description of science applied to normal ideas more than to scientific programs, to tell the truth.

For Joe, "Zionism is OK" is the hard core. Any evidence that subverts that is countered by an auxilary hypothesis, for example, a Zionist denying the validity of the Armenian genocide is nullified through developing the hypothesis that he's a unique case rather than an illustrative example. Every single example of of a Zionist denying the Armenian genocide will similarly be described as unique, including the long-time policy of the Anti-Defamation League, only reversed (and that half-heartedly) in 2007, apparently in response to the publicity resulting from this incident.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 10:29 PM on June 10, 2010


a Zionist denying the validity of the Armenian genocide is nullified

I don't believe don't know he's a Zionist. As far as I know he's just described as "a Jew" and "a PR guy". You're not conflating Jews and Zionists, are you?
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:59 PM on June 10, 2010


That should be "I don't believe you know", sorry.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:59 PM on June 10, 2010


For Joe, "Zionism is OK" is the hard core.

I don't believe you know Joe's a Zionist. As far as I know he's just described as "Joe" and "in Australia". You're not conflating Joes and Zionists, are you?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:11 PM on June 10, 2010


You're not conflating Jews and Zionists, are you?

Nope. I know lots of non-Zionist Jews. You know, the ones you call "self-hating."

Unless that makes your momentary argument look weak, that is.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:11 PM on June 10, 2010




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