US-Israel Foreign Policy
October 2, 2001 4:36 PM   Subscribe

US-Israel Foreign Policy I dont agree completely with the writer but foreign policy is important. Interesting article nevertheless.
posted by adnanbwp (22 comments total)
Avoid foreign entanglements? there goes Globalization.
This fruitcake has been at this nonsense for many years now. To be short and to the point: See Bin Laden's own words as to why he is doing what he has been dloing and what he wants to achieve. This stuff is available on the net now
posted by Postroad at 4:48 PM on October 2, 2001


David Duke hates Muslims as much as he hates Jews. We don't need him supporting our causes.
posted by laz-e-boy at 4:49 PM on October 2, 2001

"I dont agree completely with the writer"

Well since the writer's resume includes being in charge of the Klu Klux Klan, I'd say that probably wise.

Personally I found the article to be rather simpleminded.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:51 PM on October 2, 2001

Try this:
posted by Postroad at 4:54 PM on October 2, 2001

David Duke? Now there's a blast from the past. You do understand, adnanbwp, that you are linking to a racist sh*thead, right?
Here's a little sampler of his rhetoric.
posted by boaz at 5:09 PM on October 2, 2001

I will not even waste my time reading any of Duke's bile. He discredited himself long ago.
posted by scottfree at 5:15 PM on October 2, 2001

Last week when you posted an anti-Israel article, you wrote; "I don't know much about the subject, but I found it interesting." Having reviewed all your posts (under this moniker), they all seem to have a common thread; pro-Arab, anti-Israel. Why do you hate Israel so much? Does it run in your blood? If you have been lived in this country for a couple of years, you would know that David Duke is a racist that made headlines during the late 80's. Congratulations on the stupid mefi post of the day.
posted by Oxydude at 5:15 PM on October 2, 2001

Someone should tell him he got the whole Blood Libel thing all wrong, there was not one mention of blood-drinking to regain strength.

I gotta go get on the jew-hotline and see what Speilberg and Eisner think about this...
posted by joemaller at 5:42 PM on October 2, 2001

I dont agree completely with the writer

Which parts exactly don't you agree with? It's just it seems such a shame that you aren't able to agree completely with such a distinguished thinker.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:29 PM on October 2, 2001

Hello friends,

1) I am not pursuing any personal agenda through my posts here as mentioned by my good friend oxydude. I would make it clear that whatever my personal feelings, I do not wish to poison the atmosphere by going on a one sided mission.

2) I do post articles which are flowing through circles i have some access to. I believe that right or wrong, every article is a piece of information that is going through some kind of readership. Comments by other Mefi friends are only a way to establish a common verdict on them, which ofcourse is not necessary in each and every case.

3) I do not know about the past of Mr. Duke's profile and simply posted an article that I found online. I guess thats what Mefi is all about. Some one is reading all this, and some one has written it. This is information. It is upon every individual to decipher it.

4) Those who have called me stupid, and questioned my intentions, I do not stand answerable to any one except my consious and ofcourse the traditional entity of Mefi.

I will leave it at that.

God Bless Us All.
posted by adnanbwp at 8:53 PM on October 2, 2001

I do not stand answerable to any one except my consious and ofcourse the traditional entity of Mefi.

That last bit sort of puts a damper on your unanswerability, eh adnanbwp?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:09 PM on October 2, 2001

To everyone who is criticising adnanbwp - Why don't you address the content of the article? This piling-on is creepy.
posted by archeopterix at 9:33 PM on October 2, 2001

Is it just me, or could there be a link between the steady decline of quality in political thought/discourse and the kinds of 'commentary' that we see here: belittling, furious lashing out, refusing to even read the piece, and generally "taking the high road" by making blanket assumptions about the evidence and opinions at hand.

If you think that Duke is wrong, show us where and why. If there are faults in his research or argument, find them. But people don't do this kind of thing anymore, they choose instead to get angry, self-righteous, or dismissive. Thus we foster the kind of climate that allows a Duke, or a McVeigh, or a Hitler or bin Laden to flourish. The politics of marginalization are a blueprint for creating extremism. The dialectic is like a steam valve - when you shut down the exchange of ideas and opinions, people will turn to desperate acts in order to get their ideas across. Pay attention by choice now, or by force later.

Read the article. Take out all of the cross burning paranoid rhetoric, and look at the bare bones argument. The US has tacitly and actively supported Israel throught that nation's history. We give this support in spite of Israel's well documented history of slaughter and brutality. Go to the library and find photos and newsreels of Beiruit, look up statistics relating to imprisonment in Israel, or check with international human rights groups. Duke may be presenting these facts and figures, but he didn't create them out of thin air; his opinions may be repugnant, but that doesn't necessarily reflect on the credibility of his facts.

The point? You can call Duke an ignorant redneck cracker, and you probably wouldn't be that far off the mark. But you have to take him and his ilk seriously, and you have to be open to the idea that there could be a tiny shred of value or truth in amongst the garbage. People are too quick to forget that it pays to verse yourself in the mind of the enemy. Its not just about able to exploit his flaws and weaknesses. The only way to render a David Duke irrelevant is to embrace and co-opt the truths upon which he builds his lies.

A digression: This is why the right thrives at a grassroots level in the USA and the left doesn't By building a coalition of cultural and fiscal conservatives and more or less holding it together in spite of vast differences, they have fostered vitality. They had the genius to adopt the revolutionary, anti-authoritarian and populist rhetoric of the sixties Left, and can now count among their numbers many a jaded ex-letfist. Meanwhile, the left stagnates, as each faction, be it labor, civil rights, social liberterians, environmentalists, antiglobalists, etc. shore up in their own political ghettos, taking aim at each other as often as they take aim at the right, all refusing to budge an inch. So its no surprise when left leaning folk don't even bother to listen to a David Duke. And thus its also no surprise that he probably has more friends and connections in positions of power than Noam Chomsky or Ralph Nader.

In the wake of the 911 tragedy, I've seen several threads in MeFi based around the idea of 'getting into the mind' of the terrorists or 'understanding the motivations' of the terrorists. Are the people who suggest that we search for validity in one stripe of extremism likely to take the same tack with David Duke? Does this kind of selective hypocricy serve the interests of anyone?

If you answered "Yes," you've been paying attention. And if you've figured out who stands to gain, then perhaps you might want to go read Duke's piece, either for the first time or for a closer look.
posted by hipstertrash at 10:31 PM on October 2, 2001

hip: some excellent points. I think the bitterness and pettiness here reflect some frustration with these issues (esp. U.S. foreign policy and culpability) and the way they seem to be raised over and over again here.

I'm not sure, though, that taking Duke seriously is the right response. His is the kind of writing that mainly serves to confirm what people already think (either, It's all the Jews' fault, or That MFer is using rhetoric to stir people up and I hate him). He does not present anything remotely resembling a balanced perspective -- he chooses those pieces of evidence that best support the view he already has. He is not interested in raising his readers' level of understanding, but in raising his own political capital.

Isn't it better, then, to ignore him? What good will it do to spend time on his rants? Those who believe him already will not be swayed by arguments or evidence they are already suspicious of -- they've bought in. And his techniques are not exactly attractive; I don't think any right-minded person would want to take advantage of any understanding of how they work, for their own personal gain.

I think the only thing you can do is try and educate those who are capable of being educated; understanding the rants of a demagogue like Duke won't help much.

That said, I completely agree that the only helpful response to a post like this one (given that Duke wasn't ignored, and we seem to be discussing him) is to call him on his bullshit.

I'll give a first blow:

Duke writes, ... Jewish interests are always paramount. In actuality, they are fully aware that the brutal and stupid acts of terror that recently happened in New York and Washington only help the Zionist cause by engendering enormous American anger at Israeli enemies, and make Americans more easily manipulated to do the bidding of Israel.

Alas, poor Mr. Duke, the facts hardly bear this out. America has been pressuring Israel to make peace with Palestine throughout the '90s, and, at the end of Clinton's last term, it was Arafat that refused the last proposed agreement, not Israel. Moreover, the recent events have led to a remarkable new coalition between the U.S. and almost every Muslim nation in the Middle East. This is a serious threat to Israel's existing relationship with the U.S. -- if Iran and other Arab nations form working relationships with the U.S., our ongoing pressure on Israel to compromise and agree on peace-keeping measures will only increase. We'll see what happens; in any case it's hard to see how Jewish interests could be "paramount" here.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:15 PM on October 2, 2001

matt - when i say that we should take him seriously, i don't mean that we should necessarily respect him. or look to him as a bastion of credible and balanced discourse. But I still can't see how ignoring Duke or any extremist is advisable.

Look at it this way: In terms of the population as a whole, there are relatively few conspiracy-paranoid bigots. There are, however, vast numbers of people like myself who are outraged at how the support of the US and other western nations has legitimized even the most unconscionable aspects of the Israeli government and people against the Palestinians and other neighboring states. How many recognizable political figures, either pundits like Duke or major players in the two political parties, have come out and stated in no uncertain terms say that "this is how they have inflicted suffering and this is how America enabled them"? It would be political suicide, any such individual would be shunned and marginalized. The American political power structure and our media have effectively defined an "acceptable" range of opinion on this issue. If your views fall outside of that range, you are marginalized. And as much as you find Duke's rhetoric to be distasteful, misguided, even offensive, you also feel alienated by the mainstream, which breeds mistrust and contempt, and pushes you closer to the Dukes of the world. Personally, I don't care how under-represented I feel, I could never get pushed that far. But some people could be, and probably have been, people who were once reasonable, fairly open minded, intelligent, but they were locked out of a system that stifles discourse. Once again, look at the Unabomber, McVeigh, a mild mannered college professor and a soldier. You can't assume that they were somehow predestined to their respective roads to infamy. The Third Reich did not come to power because a majority of Germans were dangerous sociopaths.

Most of them probably hadn't read Mein Kampf. If they had, maybe Hitler wouldn't have gotten as far as he did. If there was exposure for his ideas, someone would have found a viable way to rescue Germany from its political and economic troubles without the war or the genocide. If The turner Diaries had been as widely known before Oklahoma City as it was after, maybe people would have realized that there was something deeper than a bunch of rednecks running around with guns and pamplets going on right in front of our eyes. And if you read some of the right wing/militia extremist literature, you'll find that a surprising amount of it would be at home next to the words of everyone from the founding fathers to spanish anarchists to pre and non-bolshevik russian communism, universal ideals about liberty and autonmy that have been warped into calls for heavily armed seperatism. If early strains of socialism had hit the midwest and the south before the KKK had a chance to spread, the poor, jaded, disenfranchised whites thrust into the realities of a post slavery, post war economy might have found another way to conceptualize their world and plight, and not turned to the cheap atavism and contrived sense of pride and unity offered by racist demagogues. not all of them, but maybe some. But you see this pattern forming, that disenfranchisement and marginalization leads to the rise of desperate extremism. And the opposite happens when people are empowered, given voices and allowed to speak and know that they won't be silenced, shunned, or demonized. Radical labor didn't suffer a death blow in this country until the trade-oriented AFL merged with the lumpen masses of the CIO. the legitimacy and moderate politics of the first co-opted the massive numbers of the second, and labor socialism was hung out to dry. the clout of the union delivered prosperity to the rank and file, capitalizing on the organizing techniques and firebrand rhetoric of socialism, delivering solidarity and contracts without the politics. socialist labor was left without a leg to stand on. take the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. Racial tensions and injustice still exist in this country, but african americans over the last forty years have moved from the margins to make massive headways into society. they have been enabled by the political system, the media; the power structure and cultural outlets, by giving african americans a space and a voice, have channeled people away from extremism. MLK is a martyr and a national hero, Bobby Seale is alive and writing cookbooks. Same with feminism, Dworkin and Steinem both had moments in the spotlight at the outset, but 30 years later the moderate is an icon and the radical lurks on the fringes. Antipornography crusades have waned in popularity as income has risen, issues like sexual harassment and domestic violence have found a place in law and society, etc. Imagine what the consequences would have been if blacks and women were still as marginalized as they were a half century ago.

And now we're back to David Duke and Israel in a post-terrorist United States. Antisemitism has been around for thousands of years, I doubt that we'll see its demise any time in the near future. But elsewhere on his site, Duke does make a point that, while not universal, is often quite true. In much the same way that the words 'racist' and 'sexist' are often thrown about carelessly, antisemitism seems to be in that same class of words that are used as an attempt to discredit or stifle any opinions that threaten the established order. Today, in America, you can't come out and say that Israel has commited brutal murder, or suggest that a Palestinan who carbombed a disco is a soldier in a war and not a terrorist, or suggest that the media has a pro-Israel bias without opening yourself up to that damning word. So I get lumped in with a KKK nutjob who sits up nights worrying about the international zionist conspiracy. Does that legitimize him or discredit me? no, but societies failure to both tell the difference between the two and find merit in the common facts common to both arguments will only result in a greater rift, a more extreme marginalization. I'm half caucasian and half jew, neither of which would have won me much favor with the nation of islam circa malcom x. but that doesn't mean that i can't find many of his statements that ring true to this day. Duke is no Malcom, but how many white folks in the burbs would have had the facts to see a difference between MLK and Malcom at the very outset of the civil rights movement. considering that they couldn't even tell john, paul, george and ringo apart, i doubt that they would have ever learned the nuances had the whole thing not blown open. so yeah, i say take duke seriously as part and parcel to a larger social/political reality. call him on the abhorent and ridiculous, but be able to turn around and ask yourself "why is it that nobody but a self-promoting bigot has the gumption to write frankly and for a mass audience in 2001 about the decades of mass death tolls caused by the Israeli army?" What other site that reaches a comparable number of readers would publish ANY story that laid out all of those numbers, even if it wasn't written by Duke? In this case, the messenger is offensive and perhaps even criminally insane, but a failure to wade through all of that in order to extricate the pertinent message is a failure to find the weapons that will cripple Duke and the tools that will deliver some borderline sympathizers from the mouth of hate and into the company of a society that is willing to listen to what they have to say.
posted by hipstertrash at 1:24 AM on October 3, 2001

If The turner Diaries had been as widely known before Oklahoma City as it was after, maybe people would have realized that there was something deeper than a bunch of rednecks running around with guns and pamplets going on right in front of our eyes

Yes, If only we'd all read the Turner Diaries we'd have understood how deep poor little Timmy's feelings were when he expwessed himself wid dat widdle bomb.

Please, mister hipstertrash, explain it to us just once more, how mister Duke is "perhaps criminally insane" but still, we gotta "wade through all of that in order to extricate the pertinent message". We do want to understand; we do!

I'm sorry for being sarcastic but, if you want to fight against hatred and ignorance, as you claim you do, there are a lot of books and authors you should read that are probably more pertinent than Malcolm X(not Malcom), Timothy McVeigh and David Duke. If you knew even a little about politics you'd also find that arguments are better presented when you defend, rather than attack. You seem to have the ability to ponder the pros and cons of extremists - be so kind as to extend it to those who are a bit less fanatical.
You'll find people will take you more seriously; believe me.

And tone down as well; it's annoying.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:16 AM on October 3, 2001

Duke is a beacon of hatred. He can offer nothing.
posted by jacques67 at 5:21 AM on October 3, 2001

"If there are faults in his research or argument, find them. But people don't do this kind of thing anymore,"

Oh yes, it's vital to our intellectual integrity that we carefully consider and deconstruct the writing of every stupid, racist, dumb ass.

Just because the idiot enjoys his right to free speech doesn't mean we have to pay attention to him. He's a moron and we'll be just fine making fun of him.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:33 AM on October 3, 2001


I completely agree that it is important to know about such systems of thought and the people that buy into them. But I fail to see how reading a piece like Duke's helps that.

That the media and society in general develop certain biases is undeniable, of course, and regrettable. But those biases don't present quite the obstacle to rational thought that you suggest. The media has covered substantial disagreements regarding Israel; I am (ostensibly) Jewish, grew up in the suburbs of NYC and went to Brandeis University, but even I have read and thought about the rights and wrongs of the situation in Israel and arrived at what I hope is a fairly moderate position (basically, I think Israel must make any compromise necessary to create whatever peace is possible; the troubling question is whether compromise will in fact encourage peace or further violence. Israel of course has every right to defend its national security, so until that question is answered it's hard to condemn Israel for defending itself. Israel also has by far the strongest economy in the Middle East, as well as nuclear weapons, so the U.S. has very legitimate reasons for wishing to help protect it and encourage stability as best it can). And clearly U.S. policy has shifted to a far more moderate position, actively working to foster compromise and encourage peace.

The point of all that ramble is basically that I don't see how any (admitted) media bias truly prevents people like you and me from forming an educated view of the situation.

Moreover, pieces like Mr. Duke's are so skewed that they fail to help understand anything, either, except what Mr. Duke wants you to think. Yes, if I am an anthropologist, I can interpret his texts and try to uncover the Author underneath them, but I am not and don't have the time, anyway.

I am entirely agreed that we must combat the simplistic, one-sided views presented both in the mainstream and on the margins. And you are right that we can ill-afford to ignore them. But I think it is more important to seek to understand the actual issues (including the conditions that led to some groups forming those views in the first place). I don't think any amount of understanding on our part will prevent the Unabombers and McVeighs and bin Laden's of the world from lashing out as best they can.

I think I may be saying what you are, in that I'm not sure if, when you say we must understand these groups, you mean, understand and acknowledge what they think (even if we disagree), or, understand how they were created and what it is that angers them and motivates them. If you are saying the latter, then we are on the same page. If the former, I simply don't see much value in that, certainly not compared to the latter.
posted by mattpfeff at 9:52 AM on October 3, 2001

matt - I think that we are indeed on the same page, except that I would add a caveat: even the most irrational and extremist invective is often rooted in legitimate grievances/viewpoints/historical realities.

miguel - concepts ofinclusive discourse and a dialectical approach to sociopolitical evoltion have been central to both philosophy and historical thought since the respective inceptions of each discipline. Plato, the french and american revolutions, hegel, marx, and rawls are just the tip of the iceberg. reference Zinn's interpretation of the Beard Thesis in "People's History," the history of the vastly different groups that came together to create the (pre-bolshevik) impetus for the russian revolution, Hugh Thomas' portrait of the shifting factions and alliances that defined the spanish civil war ... well defined and documented theories and methods do not go out the window just because you find a certain individual or school of thought to be offensive
posted by hipstertrash at 11:03 AM on October 3, 2001

hip: I'm actually not sure I accept your entire caveat -- the entire question, of course, is how you define "legitimate grievances". Though of course I don't contest that there are actual conditions that create the unhappiness that leads to the invective, even when it assumes an irrational and extreme form, as you say.

In any case, there is a real question there, not just a semantic one, regarding the legitimacy of such an act. It is (I think) of two parts: 1. What are the circumstances and actions that in fact led to the hatred in question (e.g., what are the critical characteristics of the situation in the Middle East that inspired bin Laden to adopt his notorious stance); and 2. How do you motivate an argument regarding the legitimacy of a grievance, beyond one that essentially comes down to "life isn't fair". That is, how do you demonstrate that the relevant circumstances (once you know what they are) are in fact unjust, and not simply unfortunate for those who happen to be less fortunate.

Your caveat could very well be right. But it would take a lot of work to demonstrate its veracity, one way or another. E.g., if in fact it is the case that the U.S. happens to be the most powerful nation and it behaved in such a way as to best protect its own interests in the world, and that this led to its stationing troops in Saudi Arabia at the Saudi's invitation (which then enraged bin Laden), it's hard to see how he has a legitimate grievance against the U.S. (I mean, life isn't fair, we all know it.) If, on the other hand, the U.S. deliberately abused its power (perhaps by somehow deliberately oppressing Muslims (though I don't yet understand how anyone can say that), or by deliberately stationing troops in Saudi Arabia just for the heck of it and knowing it would violate the fundamentalist interpretation of the Quran), then his grievance does seem somehow legitimate. But we don't know which is the case, without closely examining the history very carefully.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:51 PM on October 3, 2001

I should say, I intend that more as an interesting question than as a disagreement, though -- I think you're right, but I'm just not sure.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:56 PM on October 3, 2001

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