Obama and the Mideast Conflict
June 3, 2009 11:57 PM   Subscribe

Barak Hussein Obama: anti-Semitic Jew Hater. Some 130 protesters gathered in front of the American Consulate in Jerusalem Wednesday afternoon to rally against U.S. President Barack Obama, who had just launched his Middle East tour, during which he is expected to reach out in friendship to the Muslim world. [...] As more than a dozen local and international journalists looked on, the protesters chanted "No, You Can't" and waved posters saying "20 new 'settlements' by 2010 - Yes We Can!"

Needless to say, among the Israeli far-right Obama is not popular as he currently makes his visit to Saudi Arabia, and then goes on to Egypt. But on the left, some Israeli commentators welcome Obama's recent "tough love" demand for a settlement freeze: ...if we find that even America has cooled toward us, that we really are alone in the world, I think at that point this country [Israel] will finally tell the settlers: It's over. Still others think Netanyahu needs to show more Israeli initiative for peace. Meanwhile, while some in Congress are uneasy with Obama's mideast approach, Netanyahu's claim that Bush had agreed to more West Bank growth seems perhaps both beside the point and also factually untrue: “There was never an agreement to accept natural growth,” the [former Bush] official said Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. “There was an effort to explore what natural growth would mean, but we weren’t able to reach agreement on that.”.
posted by ornate insect (259 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Next year Obama will be going on Hajj, insha'allah.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:01 AM on June 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


I think he definitely cow tows to the traditional enemies of the US. Lets just hope his communistic plans dont take hold and the we can actually get some conservatives with backbone to take him on.
posted by michaelehline at 12:05 AM on June 4, 2009


Yes, let's hope for that. *snicker*
posted by Burhanistan at 12:06 AM on June 4, 2009 [93 favorites]


Extremist muslims hate him because he wore a yarmulke and went to the wailing wall, extremist Jews hate him because he's willing to talk to Muslim leaders and extremist Christians think he's a secret-Muslim terrorist commie controlled by the Jews. Oy vey.
posted by stavrogin at 12:06 AM on June 4, 2009 [66 favorites]


How about Israel can do whatever the hell it wants, but we stop giving them billions of dollars every year with no strings attached? I get the feeling that if the cash firehose dried up, peace would suddenly break out.
posted by mullingitover at 12:07 AM on June 4, 2009 [105 favorites]


Nothing less than total pandering will be tolerated!
posted by Artw at 12:07 AM on June 4, 2009 [15 favorites]


Obama's itinerary after his speech in Cairo will include a trip to France, where he will meet with Sarkozy and attend a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of D-Day, and a trip to Germany, to meet with Chancellor Merkel and visit Buchenwald concentration camp [which his great-uncle helped liberate in 1945, according to the link].
posted by ornate insect at 12:09 AM on June 4, 2009


Buh. I never got our country's absolute love of Israel. Well, beyond premillenial dispensationalist craziness, anyway.
posted by boo_radley at 12:13 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Buh. I never got our country's absolute love of Israel.

De facto conspiracy, of course. What else could it be?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:15 AM on June 4, 2009


I actually can't tell if the first two comments in this thread are sarcastic or not.

I'm assuming the first one is, but at the risk of feeding the troll if the second one ("communistic"?) isn't: who are the "traditional enemies" of the US, and in what way is Obama cow-towing to them? Saudi Arabia and Egypt are allies, and have been for a long time. Are we really at the point where the slightest suggestion that Israel also needs to sacrifice something in order to achieve lasting peace is taken as cow-towing to our enemies?

Speaking of extremists, here are some recent comments from a far-right Rabbi in Minnesota (scroll down the page) on the question of "how Israeli Jews should treat their Arab neighbors": The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their [the Arab/Muslim] holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).
posted by ornate insect at 12:22 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yes, yes, I was being sarcastic about President Obama going on Hajj. But it would be pretty damn cool.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:26 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Burhanistan: "Yes, yes, I was being sarcastic about President Obama going on Hajj. But it would be pretty damn cool."

Shhh! That's for the second term!
posted by mullingitover at 12:31 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Barak Hussein Obama: anti-Semitic Jew Hater

All this time and nobody's told Rahm Emanuel?

Awkward.
posted by chillmost at 12:31 AM on June 4, 2009 [18 favorites]


America's traditional enemy: the British.
posted by boo_radley at 12:32 AM on June 4, 2009 [28 favorites]


Well, the only "traditional enemies of the US" that I can think of are pirates on the high seas, and BHO personally plugged three with a sniper rifle soon into his admin IIRC.
posted by @troy at 12:34 AM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Judging by michaelehline's posting history, I'd say serious.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:48 AM on June 4, 2009


Also, it's "kowtow". If you're going to call the President a simpering pussy, spell it right.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:49 AM on June 4, 2009 [37 favorites]


Pope Guilty, when have facts ever gotten in the way of a republican?
posted by Talez at 1:04 AM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Radical fringe is radical.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:05 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


>"I think he definitely cow tows to the traditional enemies of the US."

I love that you not only used a Chinese word there, but also spelled it hilariously wrong.
posted by saturnine at 1:05 AM on June 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


America's traditional enemy: the British.

You might also include on the list the various Native American Nations, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Russia, etc. Basically, just about everyone, including 11 southern US states.
posted by moonbiter at 1:10 AM on June 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


Muslims have been the traditional enemies of the USA for over 2000 years.
posted by Avenger at 1:15 AM on June 4, 2009 [23 favorites]


If hating Muslims was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me, god dammit!
posted by stavrogin at 1:23 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


The [more inside] is interesting and whatnot, but really, the main chunk? Super-troll-tastic.
posted by imperium at 1:35 AM on June 4, 2009


Also, it's "kowtow". If you're going to call the President a simpering pussy, spell it right.

michaelehline hasnt spelled it wrong, towing cows to your enemies is a traditional greeting for secret Muslim initiates
posted by criticalbill at 1:39 AM on June 4, 2009 [23 favorites]


Super-troll-tastic.

I'm glad you liked it. Seemed like a legitimate new story to me. Haaretz thought so too. The more vocal element of the Israeli far-right generally receives little coverage in the American press.
posted by ornate insect at 1:40 AM on June 4, 2009


wrote new story, meant news story
posted by ornate insect at 1:41 AM on June 4, 2009


That's fine, except that MetaFilter isn't a news site.
posted by knave at 1:45 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think he definitely cow tows to the traditional enemies of the US.

Kowtow. Also, it doesn't mean 'not refusing to talk to' or 'not treating like shit'. My guess is if you spell it that way, you probably have no idea what it means. (and actually, if you were using pin-yin romanization, it would be Kòu tóu)

Buh. I never got our country's absolute love of Israel.

Seems to be something mainly popular among congress and people who take money from AIPAC. Although Obama certainly never missed an opportunity to praise Israel and talk about how much he love it during the campaign. He certainly never talked about how we needed to take a hard line against Lukid (who was not in power at the time) and how we needed an absolute settlement freeze. No one who was pro-Israel could have gotten that from his statements and someone who imagined he secretly wanted to do these things would have seemed like they were wishfully thinking -- or paranoid.
posted by delmoi at 1:52 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's fine, except that MetaFilter isn't a news site.

No, metafilter is not specifically or explicitly a current events site, that is true, but nevertheless there's a lot of news and news-related information circulating on metafilter:

news about the anniversary of Tiananmen (3 FPP's today), news about blues musicians dying (re: Koko Taylor), news about Obama's trip to the burger shack (122 comments and counting), news about National Running Day, breaking news about the Air France disappearance, etc.

Obama's mideast trip seemed historic enough to warrant comment, as did the ongoing details of American-Israeli relations and the various views (right and left) among Israelis about Obama's peace initiatives. You have the option of reading only the many non-current-events-related threads on MeFi as well. I also post those myself.
posted by ornate insect at 1:57 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


he traditional enemies of the US

Goddammit we fought two world wars against the Palestinians! If it wasn't for the US, all of you goddam cheese-eaters would be speaking Palestinian right now!
posted by mr_roboto at 2:00 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


towing cows to your enemies is a traditional greeting for secret Muslim initiates

Scared cows, like in Indiana.

μ
posted by pracowity at 2:06 AM on June 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


I don't know why these lunatics are even given air time. These crazy motherfuckers wouldn't think Yitzhak Rabin was pro-Israel enough.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:14 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think he definitely cow tows to the traditional enemies of the US. Lets just hope his communistic plans dont take hold

I take it you aren't that familiar with Metafilter (or the definition of kowtowing).
posted by dunkadunc at 2:14 AM on June 4, 2009


I'm generally pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. My significant other of 20 years is Jewish, and works for a pro-Jewish nonprofit. But I avoid speaking to her about this issue, because she's not really capable of having an unbiased opinion on this. Me personally, I think Obama's doing the right thing in pushing the Israelis AND Palestinians to get together and work something out, even if that means he has to use sticks as well as carrots. I don't see an alternative to a two-state solution, which means there have to be borders, and you can't have little Jewish settlements embedded in whatever land the Palestinians end up with. If there's not to be a two-state solution, then it seems to me that there are two ugly choices: 1) maintain the (unworkable) status quo, or 2) kill all the Palestinians. Since neither of those choices are acceptable, well...

So yeah, I think Obama out to use our pro-Israeli purse strings to get them to come to the table with some serious intent to get a peace deal done. If their settlements are worth more to Israel than U.S. aid to Israel is worth to them, then let them keep their settlements (and all the problems that come with them), and we should keep our money, which we don't exactly have in plentiful supply anyway. And then see who blinks first. I bet peace breaks out pretty fast if Obama and Hillary play a little hardball.
posted by jamstigator at 2:33 AM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Er, 'ought', not 'out'. That's what I get for posting at 4:33 AM before having a cup o' java!
posted by jamstigator at 2:35 AM on June 4, 2009


I'll give it to Obama, he makes US foreign policy interesting again. (In a good way, mind you.)
posted by WalterMitty at 2:39 AM on June 4, 2009


Metafilter: Lets just hope his communistic plans dont take hold
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 2:50 AM on June 4, 2009


michaelehline actually knows far more about Obama's communistic plans than I think you can imagine.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:07 AM on June 4, 2009 [37 favorites]


Speaking of Israel, the Archipelago of Palestine which I thought was interesting yet didn't really deserve an FPP.
posted by Talez at 3:08 AM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


This is one of those issues, like abortion, where you will never be able to change anyone's mind.

"What right does anybody have to tell us to stop building in the land that was given to us by God?"

"Every part and parcel and hilltop and stone in the Land of Israel is like one of our children. And we'e going to protect it like lionesses."

How are you going to ever have reasonable debate where the lines are so entrenched?

But can we please point out that disagreeing with the policies of the state of Israel is not the same as being anti-semitic?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:17 AM on June 4, 2009 [15 favorites]


Extremist muslims hate him because he wore a yarmulke and went to the wailing wall, extremist Jews hate him because he's willing to talk to Muslim leaders and extremist Christians think he's a secret-Muslim terrorist commie controlled by the Jews.

Well if all the idiot extremists hate him, he must be doing something right.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:20 AM on June 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


Why would even the hardest-line right-wing Israeli want more of what they got with Bush/Cheney? Can anyone with a straight face actually claim Israel is safer than it was in 2001 before the horribly botched occupation of Iraq?

I mean, I kind of know the answer. But c'mon.
posted by bardic at 3:33 AM on June 4, 2009


I assume that michaelehline is going to drop those two stupid comments and then never appear again in thread to defend them, right? I guess there was a reason I've pretty much stopped paying much attention to the opposition once Obama took office...if that's the best they can come up with here.
posted by snwod at 3:38 AM on June 4, 2009


Why would even the hardest-line right-wing Israeli want more of what they got with Bush/Cheney? Can anyone with a straight face actually claim Israel is safer than it was in 2001

Well, they have a hell of a lot more settlements, don't they? That's the main concern hard-line Israeli extremist, so of course they would be happy. Their goal isn't safety, it's expansion. And besides, they think they can take all comers, militarily. Their eventual goal is to eject the Palestinians from the west bank, probably.
posted by delmoi at 3:39 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I was Obama I would threaten to saw Israel in half then I would give the whole thing to whoever objected.
posted by I Foody at 3:41 AM on June 4, 2009 [27 favorites]


I'm "pro-not having another Holocaust", but I'm also very much not "pro-keeping Israel as a Jewish pseudo-theocracy" either. I'm also not very "pro-letting Israel get away with shit because a lot of Jews got killed 70 years ago".

And, really, Israel lost the right to bitch about the US interfering in its local politics the instant it took gazillions of dollars in aid and a crapload of military hardware as "gifts". The US doesn't get to run Israel, of course, but the fact that we're basically propping the nation up gives us a right to not merely an opinion, but the right to say what we think should be happening. Of course Israel has the right to say "bugger off USians" and put the flow of military hardware at risk.

If Obama took a hard line with Israel, told them that either they trade land for peace and establish a real, workable, Palestine or else the money and guns stop coming I'd be perfectly happy. As a sovereign nation Israel would have every right to tell Obama to go to hell, and then we'd see how well they get along without the flow of US money and guns. Of course, I doubt Obama has the guts to do that, but if he did I'd be a very happy person.

bardic Remember that, for the most part, the hard line extremists in Israel are religious loons at least as crazy as Pat Robertson, and they're convinced that the Messiah won't come until Israel controls all of the Greater Israel that it once (theoretically) did way back when. Also remember that, thanks to the fact that Israel is a pseudo-theocracy which kowtows pathetically to its religious loons, the same assholes who keep demanding ever increasing expansion of the settlements are exempt from the draft. The religious nutters who are pushing for what amounts to genocide of Palestine are too holy and occupied with important religious duties, like savagely beating women who dare to ride the bus, to be required to serve in the Israeli army and actually put their own lives on the line for the evil policies they demand Israel support.

The fact that is really bothersome is that the majority of Israelis are, apparently, perfectly fine with this situation and see no problem at all with the fact that their nation is being driven into what amounts to either genocide or permanent war by people who they (the theoretically non-theocratic crazy majority) have exempted from ever facing the consequences of that war.

So the crazies have absolutely nothing to lose by continuing to push for more "settlements" and the continuation of the war. Its not like their asses are on the line.
posted by sotonohito at 3:52 AM on June 4, 2009 [28 favorites]


Also, it's "kowtow". If you're going to call the President a simpering pussy, spell it right.

michaelehline hasnt spelled it wrong, towing cows to your enemies is a traditional greeting for secret Muslim initiates
posted by criticalbill at 1:39 AM on June 4


no wonder the Hindu crowds get incited to riot
posted by infini at 3:53 AM on June 4, 2009


Poor Michaelehline, Metafilter's own Cassandra - Constantly alerting us to startlingly profound truths, but doomed never to be taken seriously.


If Obama took a hard line with Israel, told them that either they trade land for peace and establish a real, workable, Palestine or else the money and guns stop coming I'd be perfectly happy. As a sovereign nation Israel would have every right to tell Obama to go to hell, and then we'd see how well they get along without the flow of US money and guns. Of course, I doubt Obama has the guts to do that, but if he did I'd be a very happy person.

hear hear, Sotonhito. I'm so split on the whole Israel thing. My dad, a non-practicing, American Jew, was sort of a kneejerk zionist all my young life, and for better or for worse, some of that rubbed off on me. But the center can not hold. Israel is hated by all of its neighbors (for a lot of fairly justifiable reasons) and diplomatically they are taking absolutely no steps to stem the flow of that hatred. They're just using American dough to fortify their battlements. Something's got to give in one direction or another.
posted by orville sash at 4:18 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fact that is really bothersome is that the majority of Israelis are, apparently, perfectly fine with this situation and see no problem at all with the fact that their nation is being driven into what amounts to either genocide or permanent war by people who they (the theoretically non-theocratic crazy majority) have exempted from ever facing the consequences of that war.

So the crazies have absolutely nothing to lose by continuing to push for more "settlements" and the continuation of the war. Its not like their asses are on the line


This is the fact that has always confused me. I know a number of Israeli's who are absolutely not in agreement with the right wing. But when I ask them why they put up with it, they shrug and say, "What can you do?" Of course, the people I am referring to, are all elderly, two of them were among the first settlers who arrived there illegally when the Brits were still running the show - Think Exodus, and all that. And I guess they're just tired and know that they're still more or less okay in spite of it all.

And I wonder if this isn't a world-wide problem and not just something peculiar to elderly Jews.
posted by donfactor at 4:38 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


sotonohito: " the majority of Israelis are, apparently, perfectly fine with this situation and see no problem at all with the fact that their nation is being driven into what amounts to either genocide or permanent war by people who they (the theoretically non-theocratic crazy majority) have exempted from ever facing the consequences of that war."

I'm getting the most uncanny sense of déjà vu.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:47 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Israel is hated by all of its neighbors (for a lot of fairly justifiable reasons) and diplomatically they are taking absolutely no steps to stem the flow of that hatred. They're just using American dough to fortify their battlements. Something's got to give in one direction or another.

fear and hate feeding fear and hate. I'm forcibly reminded of harry harrison's deathworld
posted by infini at 4:48 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]




130 protesters? I think it's a great compliment to Israel that someone considers it news when some hard-right folks do or say something silly and misguided.

But please, don't let me spoil the lolisrael vibe -- it's a great opportunity for people to post the same gripes from the last thread and pretend they're new and controversial insights.
posted by rottytooth at 4:53 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Barak Hussein Obama: anti-Semitic Jew Hater.

ornate insect: tautological repeater of the same thing, twice over.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:55 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


"How many auto divisions has El Shaddai?" - President Barack Hussein Obama
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 4:56 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Peace threatens the traditional institution of having enemies.
posted by DU at 4:56 AM on June 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


rottytooth: "130 protesters? I think it's a great compliment to Israel that someone considers it news when some hard-right folks do or say something silly and misguided. "

I wonder what the Israeli equivalent of "teabaggers" would be. "Chicken soupers"?
posted by Joe Beese at 5:03 AM on June 4, 2009


> But can we please point out that disagreeing with the policies of the state of Israel is not the same as being anti-semitic?

Many have laboured very hard to equate any criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism, so don't you go undoing all that hard work with your factual quibbles.

I wish the President well on this mission. It's a long overdue step in bridging the chasm between Muslims and the US. I don't however expect that Israel will change policy anytime soon. With the building of the wall and continued settlement activity, Israel's intentions and expectations are pretty clear.

Even the Messiah is delaying His return, cos He knows that if he came back now, He'd have to deal with this mess.
posted by Artful Codger at 5:11 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Extremist muslims hate him because he wore a yarmulke and went to the wailing wall, extremist Jews hate him because he's willing to talk to Muslim leaders and extremist Christians think he's a secret-Muslim terrorist commie controlled by the Jews.

I think this is a pretty good sign.

Also, don't tow cows. The hate that. They cow-orkers will get you for it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:12 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, aren't personal injury lawyers the traditional enemies of the US?
posted by yhbc at 5:13 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


a trip to France, where he will meet with Sarkozy and attend a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of D-Day, and a trip to Germany,

Again, with the pandering to our traditional enemies! Has he no honor, at last, has he absolutely no integrity?
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:14 AM on June 4, 2009


And, really, Israel lost the right to bitch about the US interfering in its local politics the instant it took gazillions of dollars in aid

Not to mention the moment -- a long moment, still ongoing -- that Israel started interfering in American local politics. Not one US congressman can even admit to holding the position of the majority of Americans on the Israel/Palestine question for fear of being tarred as anti-Israel. How the hell did that happen? Congress (and all recent presidents) are to the hard right of the American people on this issue, and they get away with year after year because it pays good money.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:17 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Barak Hussein Obama: anti-Semitic Jew Hater

ornate insect: misspeller of "Barack" who doesn't know how to spell the President's first name and also, by the way, spells it incorrectly
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:17 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


congress*person,* sorry for the sexist slip.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:17 AM on June 4, 2009


And yeah, that misspelling of President Obama's first name is messing up my front page . . . mods please fix?
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:18 AM on June 4, 2009


Barak is Ka-Bar spelled backwards. Wait, no it isn't.
posted by box at 5:22 AM on June 4, 2009


The Elders of Zion will adjust the markets accordingly.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:23 AM on June 4, 2009


congress*person,* sorry for the sexist slip.

not sexist at all. the etymology of "-man" is actually from the french "main", meaning "hand".

it applies equally to both genders, and has nothing to do with men.

apart from the fact that men usually have hands, as do women
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:26 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


130 people? Fuck man, the protesters need to try harder. I'm impressed this gets coverage at all.

I still need to hear his speech in Cairo. I heard it was inspired.
posted by chunking express at 5:27 AM on June 4, 2009


Here are some Maps which help to explain the size of the problem. The little triangles here are settlements east of the barrier.
Here is a google map of the settlements.
This is like discovering that a bank teller was pickpocketed during a bank robbery.
posted by adamvasco at 5:29 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


full text of Obama's speech in Cairo

An amazing speech. So many points at which you can see the deft moves to reassure the many different audiences who will be listening.
posted by rory at 5:30 AM on June 4, 2009


@chunking express, full text posted i could read it out for you :)
posted by infini at 5:30 AM on June 4, 2009


They're just using American dough to fortify their battlements. Something's got to give in one direction or another.

Recently in my city college's library the student jewish group apparently sponsored a seemingly neutral but in-your-face anti-terrorism display -- half a dozen 8' high floor-stands of various x-rays and other evidence of the civilian toll of palestinian suicide bombers in Israel.

It was then that I realized, in reviewing my understanding of the history of their struggle for survival, that basically all that is between the Israelis' status quo of occupation and having to swim for Cyprus is their successful 60-year old PR/propaganda efforts here in the US.
posted by @troy at 5:31 AM on June 4, 2009


fourcheesemac: "Not to mention the moment -- a long moment, still ongoing -- that Israel started interfering in American local politics."

I agree with every word of your post. But it will soothe my nerves if it's emphasized that: 1. By bribing Congress to rubberstamp its cruel agenda, Israel is no different than Raytheon. [Or Merck, for that matter.] And 2. America is hardly in a position to be judgmental about a country interfering in another country's local politics.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:32 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


rory: "An amazing speech. So many points at which you can see the deft moves to reassure the many different audiences who will be listening."

And then he went and paid for his own falafel at Five Mensches! Just like a regular person!
posted by Joe Beese at 5:34 AM on June 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


What is a 'traditional' enemy? Your enemies change every few years or so. Britain and Russia probably had the longest streaks of "being the enemy of the Americans" and both are now pretty tranquil/ ineffective when it comes to America. Those that don't towcow are bombed to little pieces or are puny baby-men who aren't worth the effort needed to bomb them to pieces anyway.

Everyone is America's enemy. Nobody is America's enemy.

It just depends on the angle you're looking at it from.
posted by WalterMitty at 5:36 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about Israel can do whatever the hell it wants, but we stop giving them billions of dollars every year with no strings attached? I get the feeling that if the cash firehose dried up, peace would suddenly break out.

You understand all this foreign aid to Israel isn't just some giant check like the Publisher's Clearing House, right? Israel doesn't have a lot of factories or industrial sectors. People have to make most of their shit for them, especially their weapons.

Do you know where Israel's anti-missile defense system is manufactured? Huntsville, Alabama. That's why the U.S. supports Israel. That "foreign aid" actually means millions of dollars in construction contracts and jobs for engineers and plant workers in Alabama. I'm not disagreeing with the futility of it all, I'm just saying that the "stop giving them aid" argument is a wildly simplistic one that will never be plausible. The reality is that this anger needs to be directed at the military industrial complex of the U.S., not the military glut of Israel.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:38 AM on June 4, 2009 [13 favorites]


Well, Muslims think just like regular people, polls show, unlike African-Americans.
posted by jamstigator at 5:42 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you wanted to waste the time and energy of a lot of Metafilterians, one simple way would be to drop into a post about Obama, post an inflammatory statement, and then whistle as you strolled back to your ambulance chasing or whatever it is you do for fun.
posted by pracowity at 5:42 AM on June 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


(Just in case you thought I meant that last message, I didn't. It was actually a paraphrase of what some Republican said in the last day or two, but he said it about Latinos/African-Americans.)
posted by jamstigator at 5:43 AM on June 4, 2009


I guess I'd be dubious about backing Israel if they weren't all but wiped off the map. Take a look at the amount of territory they've given up over the last fifty years and compare that to the concessions the Muslim world has given them.

Then tell me what you think.
posted by grubi at 5:44 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


(This is not to say Israel has no industry and does certainly make much of it's own weapons with foreign aid money; my point is, the extent of U.S. resource support to Israel isn't merely cutting them a check. American jobs, which in effect relate to the interests of American politicians, are the issue here.)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:45 AM on June 4, 2009


The reality is that this anger needs to be directed at the military industrial complex of the U.S., not the military glut of Israel.

Why can't it be both? They are independent problems. It isn't just military contracts that rightwing nutjobs love, it's also the millenialism. And Israel's beef with the rest of the Middle East didn't start with the invention of tanks and RPGs.
posted by DU at 5:50 AM on June 4, 2009


America's traditional enemy: the British.

Say that once more and I'll fucking glass you.
posted by ob at 5:51 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wonder what the Israeli equivalent of 'teabaggers' would be. 'Chicken soupers'?

Matzo ballers.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:53 AM on June 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


One thing that I always find odd about discussions of Israel is the almost universal acceptance of the idea of an ethnic or religious "homeland." Perhaps it's because I'm an American of mongrel stock, but I find the notion of drawing borders based on Biblical text or on landmarks constructed thousands of years ago to be absolutely preposterous. Yet no one talks about it. The elephant in the room seems to be, "Why do we treat Israel as a special case?" Obviously it has to do with the horrific treatment of Jews through history, most notably during the Holocaust. But is that ultimately enough of a reason? And, as time marches on, and the Holocaust becomes less immediately relevant, at what point does the raw horror of that event lose its power as justification for a sovereign nation? At some point these two differing opinions of the land of Israel need to be resolved: either yes, it is okay to cite centuries old religious texts and historic landmarks to denote national borders, and the Jews of Israel are the only group of people we will allow to do so; or, conversely, no, that is not okay, we believe in an ideal that states unequivocally that countries should have democratically elected leaders and all countries should allow the exercise of all religions freely. If you stand on one side of the line, then you deny the rights of hundreds of tribes of Native Americans from reclaiming sovereignty - indeed, hundreds of thousands of indigenous populations all over the world - while at the same time allowing Israel to exercise the right of a "homeland." If you stand on the other side of the line, then you implicitly support the fall of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, as determined by the demographics of the country and the fact that democratically held elections would presumably, over time, favor the election of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim leaders.

I'm sure that these ideas have been well thought out before and that there are strong opinions on both sides. It's just that I've never heard much of a convincing argument as to why there needs to be a Jewish state or a Jewish homeland - indeed, the concept of a "homeland" creeps me right the fuck out, as I tend to regard jingoism, nationalism, and religious exceptionalism with equal measures of skepticism and disgust.

At the same time, do I support terrorism against the people of Israel for attempting to hold on to and retain the land that they view as theirs? Of course not. Again, those who cite battles from the Dark Ages to prove that the land of Israel should be in the hands of so and so tribe are just as equally insane. Ultimately, the two players here really do seem to be stuck in a vicious circle in which no party will ever be the clear and unequivocal "owners" of the land they hold so dear.

This is why I'm willing to suggest a third way: let's just give the land to Google and Apple and let them figure out an app for that.
posted by billysumday at 5:53 AM on June 4, 2009 [20 favorites]


How about Israel can do whatever the hell it wants, but we stop giving them billions of dollars every year with no strings attached? I get the feeling that if the cash firehose dried up, peace would suddenly break out.

Yeah, because the region was so peaceful before the US started giving aid.

Oh, wait, no it wasn't. Israel had just decked the entire Middle East, on its own, with WW-II era tanks and planes. Twice in twenty years. They had so completely crushed the Egyptians and Syrians in '68, the Russians were planning a full-bore war in the region. It seems the Egyptians and Syrians hadn't actually, you know, finished paying for those tanks the Jews were about to blow up. The Russians were so panicked, they actually asked if the US wanted to help put the boot in to keep the jews in line.

This is why the taps opened up. The US told Israel not to piss off the Russians too much, to keep them out of the region, and in return, they'd get shiny new toys from Uncle Sam at deep discount. Then oil production in the region took off in a really, really big way just about the time Texas was running dry, and Israel was a powerful bulwark against Soviet influence.

So, the pattern continues, even without the Soviets. Israel doesn't demolish its neighbors in wars of survival, and in return they get enough money and munitions where their neighbors really don't even want to try, especially after the Yom Kippur war. Note how Israel stood pat, whistling and twiddling their thumbs when Saddam lobbed a few SCUDs their way? That was part of the deal. There are strings attached, big giant ones... but this still doesn't make Israel anyone's puppet.

Internal politics is different, intense, complicated, and has the potential to screw the whole deal if the US pushes too hard.

Without the deal, it's back to Plan A - the next time this President-For Life or that King feels froggy and picks a fight, the Israelis will jump first, level Damascus and Cairo, seize the Suez Canal and the southern Saudi oilfields, and hey, that so completely helps the Palestinians and regional stability! Israel with aid is fat and happy and (mostly) secure. Israel without aid is nervous of its neighbors, dangerously paranoid, and nuclear-armed.

So instead of dictating terms to our wayward little client, Obama is going to need to use diplomacy and finesse in bringing everyone to the table, and diligence in keeping all parties to the terms of what was agreed.

I know this is a lot more nuanced than most people like in their Israel/Palestinian internet posts, but the picture is a hell of a lot bigger than the talking points on either side acknowledge. It's not about feeling sorry for the Jews because of the Holocaust, and it's not some goofy Jesus-freak thing. It's a mess left over from Cold War that will take decades to clean up. No-one is in a position to dictate anything to anyone on either side of the conflict.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:09 AM on June 4, 2009 [65 favorites]


Israel with aid is fat and happy and (mostly) secure. Israel without aid is nervous of its neighbors, dangerously paranoid, and nuclear-armed.

I know they've never been fat and happy, but isn't this the same rationale used for giving aid to North Korea?
posted by dunkadunc at 6:14 AM on June 4, 2009


One thing that I always find odd about discussions of Israel is the almost universal acceptance of the idea of an ethnic or religious "homeland."

Israel has to be a powerful security blanket for a lot of Jews, even for Jews who hope never to go there. Judging by history, things might get bad for Jews again anywhere else at any time, but it's not going to happen in a country where Jews have the upper hand and have a strong army to make sure it stays that way. (Unless someone decides to just blow the whole place up, and then all bets are off for everyone everywhere.) If you're a Jew, you know there's at least one place that is going to take you and defend you and not start mumbling about immigration quotas and the like while the bad guys surround your family.

And that doesn't even touch on the extensive historical and religious ties Jews have to the place.
posted by pracowity at 6:15 AM on June 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


well if Obama is pissing everybody in the Middle East off, that seems like a good thing to me. Just as long as he can then focus on the common ground and get things moving again.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:16 AM on June 4, 2009


[Cow tow]
posted by carter at 6:20 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


"What right does anybody have to tell us to stop building in the land that was given to us by God Resolution 181?"

Never blame on God what can be adequately attributed to politics.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:20 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


I actually can't tell if the first two comments in this thread are sarcastic or not.

Well, let's look at history.
Burhanistan has a long-documented sense of humor and knowledge of Muslim culture, so I'd say he was being somewhat sarcastic.
michaelehline signed up here less than a week ago and has made three comments on Mefi so far and two were critical of Obama. One called Obama "communistic" and another called him a "weakling." He also gave AskMe advice that if you marry someone who doesn't believe in your same political or religious views the marriage is doomed. So it sounds like he's a man with strong opinions who was quite possibly being sincere.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:29 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Say that once more and I'll fucking glass you.

boys, boys, there's no need for this.

why not just Liverpool kiss & make up?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:34 AM on June 4, 2009


Do you know where Israel's anti-missile defense system is manufactured? Huntsville, Alabama. That's why the U.S. supports Israel.

If the US is paying for it, wouldn't it be easier to just give the money directly to the people in Huntsville?
posted by smackfu at 6:34 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Slap*Happy >Without the deal, it's back to Plan A - the next time this President-For Life or that King feels froggy and picks a fight, the Israelis will jump first, level Damascus and Cairo, seize the Suez Canal and the southern Saudi oilfields, and hey, that so completely helps the Palestinians and regional stability! Israel with aid is fat and happy and (mostly) secure. Israel without aid is nervous of its neighbors, dangerously paranoid, and nuclear-armed.

In this day and age "Plan A" amounts to blackmail. Keep the money flowing, stop criticising us, or we'll blow shit up. Israel's security and survival could be assured (and the US and Europe should be a bit more forthcoming about this) without indulging their expansionist leanings.

So there could be a Plan C.

Your post was great BTW. The main thing you didn't address was settlements... why has it been a necessary part of the "deal" to let settlement activity go unpunished?
posted by Artful Codger at 6:38 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is one of those issues, like abortion, where you will never be able to change anyone's mind.

I agree, but this suggestion makes that a moot point:

How about Israel can do whatever the hell it wants, but we stop giving them billions of dollars every year with no strings attached?

Heartily seconded. Frankly, who the fuck cares about the intractable problems between these two people? Realistically I am not impacted daily by this issue except for the fact that my government hands billions of dollars to one particular side. I sympathize with $SIDE on an intellectual level, but I honestly just don't care when it comes down to it. Callous? Perhaps - but there's bad shit going down just about everywhere, and I have a lot more compassion for issues impacting my locale and my century. This conflict only gets the attention it does because of the overwhelming financial commitment on the part of the US.
posted by odinsdream at 6:41 AM on June 4, 2009


I know they've never been fat and happy, but isn't this the same rationale used for giving aid to North Korea?

And ever since Dubbya took away the aid from North Korea, what's happened? Did the North Koreans automagically fall in line to get it back, or did they become dangerously unbalanced?
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:41 AM on June 4, 2009


We'd like to fulfil the role of traditional enemy for the US, but unfortunately we have a packed schedule as the villains in Ireland, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, fair chucks of Latin America, vast swathes of Africa and numerous tiny island nations scattered around the globe.
We could pencil you in for a bit of argy-bargy in 2011, but I'm afraid we can't manage a stand-up row before 2015 at the earliest.
posted by Abiezer at 6:41 AM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


wouldn't it be easier to just give the money directly to the people in Huntsville?

divert 1/3 of the US's entire foreign aid from Israel to Huntsville, Alabama?

i think that would create a mini-state of overfunded, rabid, paranoid, militaristic, right-wing xenophobic secessionists.

better to keep that sort of shit in the Middle East, if you ask me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:42 AM on June 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


How do you punish a settlement? Basically they are incorrectly placed construction. You can't fine someone, or put them in jail for a while, and make the incorrect placement more correct. Either you trade land, or you make the offending settlements go away and re-settle people.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:42 AM on June 4, 2009


And that was to entirely overlook our European Cup commitments.
posted by Abiezer at 6:42 AM on June 4, 2009


I wonder how upset they'd be if the law professor followed the law?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:43 AM on June 4, 2009


So it sounds like he's a man with strong opinions who was quite possibly being sincere wants to drive traffic to his website.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:45 AM on June 4, 2009


And ever since Dubbya took away the aid from North Korea, what's happened? Did the North Koreans automagically fall in line to get it back, or did they become dangerously unbalanced?

Um, are you equating malnourished North Korea to well-funded Isreal? There's aid to assist in basic living (though aid efforts don't always get to who really need them), then there's aid efforts to bolster walls and barriers. Apples and concrete.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:45 AM on June 4, 2009


Israel: No better than North Korea!
posted by smackfu at 6:47 AM on June 4, 2009


Um, are you equating malnourished North Korea to well-funded Isreal?

ridiculous! korean food fucks all over israeli food, anyday.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:48 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, because the region was so peaceful before the US started giving aid.

Yeah, but it wasn't our problem. Nobody bombed America because of Darfur, Rawanda, Congo, Kashmir, Burma, etc.

If the U.S. had not been giving Aide to Israel, and crucially, then it wouldn't be our responsibility to try to fix it.
posted by delmoi at 6:49 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


If criticizing the current Israeli administration is Antisemitic then does that mean criticizing the current American administration is anti American?
posted by Mick at 6:52 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I know they've never been fat and happy, but isn't this the same rationale used for giving aid to North Korea?

We're not sending North Korea F16s and Apache helicopters.
posted by delmoi at 6:54 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


The real problem with this kind of debate... OK, it's like September 12th, 2001 and NPR has a piece where they talk to people around the world about what just happened. The general consensus is OMFG! At some point in there there's this lady from Israel who says something like, "Maybe now they'll see what they're dealing with and..." I don't remember her exact words, but if you pulled down the thesaurus, looked up "final" and "solution" and put those together you'd probably get it without too many tries.

Once you've arrived at a point where, "Kill them! Kill them ALL!" is your response to things, you're pretty much not going to be part of any kind of desirable solution.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:55 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Israel with aid is fat and happy and (mostly) secure. Israel without aid is nervous of its neighbors, dangerously paranoid, and nuclear-armed.

I know they've never been fat and happy, but isn't this the same rationale used for giving aid to North Korea?


Well, there's a bit of a difference between the baseline level of 'state-sanity' between North Korea and Israel. If a train in Israel crashed into a residential area, I sincerely doubt the Israeli government would execute any citizens who didn't sacrifice their lives trying to save portraits of Netanyahu from their burning homes.

Israel (mostly) will respond to reason, the same cannot be said of North Korea.
posted by notswedish at 6:57 AM on June 4, 2009


> If criticizing the current Israeli administration is Antisemitic then does that mean criticizing the current American administration is anti American?

Only during GOP administrations.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:58 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um, are you equating malnourished North Korea to well-funded Isreal?

No, I'm using North Korea as an example of what could go wrong.

Nice try, tho.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:00 AM on June 4, 2009


I was sort of wondering when a group of people would start waving the anti-semite flag on Obama, even though he did have the seder dinner...

Oh well... on the bright side, the media, in particular NBC, is still kissing up to the guy. Not to mention they're obsessed over the new supreme court pick. Then there is the GM and Chrysler fallout, California floating away as legends have predicted. And oh yeah, the economy is still diving.

In other words, Obama will get the win on this one because he is taking good advantage of locally greater distractions back at the home front, with some good press coverage engineered by his people to boot.

Here's me hoping for a solid shot for middle east peace.

***my 2 cents end here***
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:05 AM on June 4, 2009


Judging by history, things might get bad for Jews again anywhere else at any time, but it's not going to happen in a country where Jews have the upper hand and have a strong army to make sure it stays that way. (Unless someone decides to just blow the whole place up, and then all bets are off for everyone everywhere.) If you're a Jew, you know there's at least one place that is going to take you and defend you and not start mumbling about immigration quotas and the like while the bad guys surround your family.

And that doesn't even touch on the extensive historical and religious ties Jews have to the place.


Not to sound callous, but judging by history, things might get bad - and have gotten bad - for many, many groups of people. Why don't we give Gypsies their own country, or the Armenians? Your reasons are emotionally coercive but practically exclusive of every other group of people who has been discriminated throughout history. Native Americans have extensive historical and religious ties to the state of Indiana, but we have not yet decided, as a country, to give them that land. I understand that Israel exists largely as a result of political decisions made between Israelis and Western powers over the last 60 years. That I actually don't have a problem with. Political decisions are often pragmatic and can be reworked to adapt to regional changes. But when Israel is explained and justified as a religious and ethnic homeland, then my bullshit detectors go a little haywire and I have trouble understanding what makes a certain group of people more special than all others.
posted by billysumday at 7:07 AM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


PS: great post slap*happy
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:08 AM on June 4, 2009


I know they've never been fat and happy, but isn't this the same rationale used for giving aid to North Korea?

Are you arming North Korea?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:10 AM on June 4, 2009


In a science channel on IRC some years back, someone got on the topic of Israel, via the route of the technological developments there. Some discussion was made as to the attachment to that particular piece of land. Eventually, after why? why? why? (a general question that came up there a lot) someone got angry and finally said BECAUSE G-D PROMISED IT TO US!

And there you go. If you believe in a creator for the universe, then also believe that this creator specifically singled out your ancestors and said, "You guys own this. It's yours." the entitlement is not hard to understand. The concept that this encounter with the creator was either a lie or a hallucination does not enter into it.

It's no surprise that the Israelis feel backed into a corner, partially of their own design. The religious angle just tells you why they chose that particular corner.
posted by adipocere at 7:11 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you wanted to waste the time and energy of a lot of Metafilterians, one simple way would be to drop into a post about Obama, post an inflammatory statement, and then whistle as you strolled back to your ambulance chasing or whatever it is you do for fun.

Don't forget spelling errors in the op. Spelling errors incite riots on Metafilter.
posted by hazyspring at 7:13 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you know where Israel's anti-missile defense system is manufactured? Huntsville, Alabama. That's why the U.S. supports Israel. That "foreign aid" actually means millions of dollars in construction contracts and jobs for engineers and plant workers in Alabama.

i don't see why alabama's jobs should be untouchable in a day and age when michigan's are circling around the drain
posted by pyramid termite at 7:14 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Jewish people whiny about something? Since when has that been news worthy?

I kid I kid my chosen brothers and sisters.

Seriously I fail to see why anyone would protest this. Obama is trying to end violence and just say "hey we are sick of the fighting, let's not do this anymore." Honestly I'm sure both parties would love not to have to kill and fight anymore. It's a win/win situation.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:16 AM on June 4, 2009


UbuRoivas: "korean food fucks all over israeli food"

In checking to see whether the superiority of Korean food to Israeli food derives from our friends in the south or their high-strung brothers to the north, I found that the Wikipedia article on the subject is an excellent piece of work. Highly recommended.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:20 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


But when Israel is explained and justified as a religious and ethnic homeland, then my bullshit detectors go a little haywire and I have trouble understanding what makes a certain group of people more special than all others.

I think the initial problem is asking that a nation-state be "explained and justified." Is that something that needs to happen on a quarterly basis? Explain and justify Pakistan, without using any religious or ethnic reasons. (And if you can't, let's just make it all Greater India! That should go well.)

Political decisions are often pragmatic and can be reworked to adapt to regional changes.


Nations can be dissolved, or borders re-drawn, just like as a weekend project? On what planet?
posted by palliser at 7:25 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Midst all this pro and anti stuff what needs to be noted:
Obama is not anti-Israel:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/05/world/middleeast/05prexy.html?_r=1&hp

but the papers today report that under Bush, the US, while calling for two-state solution on the sly had an understanding that settlements might be expanded...and Israel thinking this was still the policy is now seemingly upset that it no longer is the Obama policy.

now we can blame Israel all we want but I am seriously concerned by the duplicity of our past policy--telling Israel (privately) one thing and the public another. We need to examine our own policies while condemning or condoning those of other nations.
posted by Postroad at 7:31 AM on June 4, 2009


Avenger: "Muslims have been the traditional enemies of the USA for over 2000 years."

Muslims were the enemies of the United States 1,767 years before it even existed? That's some planning!

I hope this was a jokey, hyperbolic comment meant to parody a silly position... but I really can't tell anymore. I think the answer would frighten me.
posted by sharkfu at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Those that don't towcow are bombed to little pieces or are puny baby-men.



it sounds like he's a man with strong opinions who was quite possibly being sincere

I was going to suggest "Or a cleverly conceived puppet account" but the Google 8-ball says Nope.

[unfolds chair in comfy spot, cracks open a cold one, applies some sunblock and waits for the next FPP on homosexuality]
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:43 AM on June 4, 2009


Muslims were the enemies of the United States 1,767 years before it even existed? That's some planning!

Yes, and a whole 600 years before the founding of Islam.
posted by delmoi at 7:45 AM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Pallister: well, it does seem as though the borders of Israel are in dispute. Thus the debate over the settlements. I would like to see the debate centered around the political consequences of those decisions rather than: well, G-d said it was ours in a book once. That leads nowhere. And, yes, borders are constantly being redrawn. Look at a global map from 80 years ago. Nothing is ever set in stone.
posted by billysumday at 7:46 AM on June 4, 2009


And there you go. If you believe in a creator for the universe, then also believe that this creator specifically singled out your ancestors and said, "You guys own this. It's yours." the entitlement is not hard to understand.


Or it could be that a mix of religious activists, people fleeing persecution and refugees bought that particular piece of land, developed farms and industry, then successfully defended it on multiple occasions, but your version is nice too.
posted by electroboy at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2009


Boy, this thread just worked itself up into a hurtling locomotive of insane hypberbole, unsubstantiated claims, and gleefully obtuse mockery, didn't it?
posted by blucevalo at 8:01 AM on June 4, 2009


You tell me, smart guy.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:04 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Love conquers all...see?
posted by Postroad at 8:12 AM on June 4, 2009


I guess I'd be dubious about backing Israel if they weren't all but wiped off the map. Take a look at the amount of territory they've given up over the last fifty years and compare that to the concessions the Muslim world has given them.

Then tell me what you think.


Haha, it's like your version of history stepped out of a mirror with a sinister black goatee, and when people see it, they're all like "Hey History, what's with that sinister goatee? Waitaminute, you're Reverse Negaverse History! I knew it!"
posted by FatherDagon at 8:16 AM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Here is the link to the article I meant to post

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/world/middleeast/04israel.html?scp=1&sq=bush%20and%20Israeli%20settlements&st=cse

again, Bush and Am private policies and where we are at today
posted by Postroad at 8:16 AM on June 4, 2009


Thread needs more cow tow.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:17 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


we can blame Israel all we want but I am seriously concerned by the duplicity of our past policy

We're part of the problem. The United States was the first country to recognize Israel. You know which country was second? Iran. Then we overthrew their democratically-elected government in 1953 and installed the shah, whose repression led to the Islamic revolution in 1979. (Or, as it was portrayed here, "Why Did Those Crazy Muslims Occupy Our Embassy and Take Hostages for No Reason?")
posted by kirkaracha at 8:20 AM on June 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


As a conservative, I am normally not a big fan of President Obama's, but I must say, I was very impressed by his speech in Egypt this morning. Definitely a step in the right direction.

So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations – to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God's peace be upon you.

Five stars. Good job Obama!
posted by gushn at 8:22 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


i don't see why alabama's jobs should be untouchable in a day and age when michigan's are circling around the drain

I had a snark in the chamber -- something along the lines of 'because Huntsville builds something that people want to buy' -- but then I got curious: how does the amount of government aid for GMs latest stimulus/bankruptcy compare to the amount of foreign aid for Israel? A cursory scan indicates that GM has received ~$60B in combined aid since 2008, and Israel has received ~$72B since 1985.

Not that that's conclusive of anything, but I think it makes an interesting counterpoint nonetheless.
posted by JohnFredra at 8:22 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sean Hannity's take on the tour:
"He honors the national day of prayer behind closed doors. Now, on his Middle East apology tour, the President calls the U.S. a "Muslim nation."
Even the most biased of pundits have a moment of clarity and realize that their audience is too smart for some things. All of them except for Sean Hannity.
posted by stavrogin at 8:37 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I thought the mockery was rather acute, myself.
posted by Aquaman at 8:38 AM on June 4, 2009


He honors the national day of prayer behind closed doors...

I guess Hannity isn't familiar with Matthew 6:5.
posted by electroboy at 8:45 AM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


All of them except for Sean Hannity.

Well, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, but who's counting?
posted by blucevalo at 8:57 AM on June 4, 2009


Matthew 6:5 springs to mind often when I see people behaving obnoxiously.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:01 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


"If you're a Jew, you know there's at least one place that is going to take you and defend you and not start mumbling about immigration quotas and the like while the bad guys surround your family."

The USA?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:12 AM on June 4, 2009


From what I can tell, Glenn Beck is more restrained on tv and more inflammatory on radio. The first example I can think of is him humbly apologizing for lying about some of The View women on their show and later castigating them on the radio for calling him a liar, sounding really fucking crazy, even drunk. And here's another example:
On the October 22 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, host Glenn Beck stated, "I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today." Beck continued: "There are a few people that hate America. But I don't think the Democrats are those. I think there are those posing as Democrats that are like that." Beck's comment came as forest fires ravaged parts of Southern California, leaving one person dead, four firefighters wounded, and forcing about 1,500 people from their homes, according to The New York Times.
He's stupid and probably crazy, but he know how far he can go with an audience.
posted by stavrogin at 9:14 AM on June 4, 2009


Won't someone think of the Canaanites?
When will the cry of remember the Jericho have it's answer?
posted by nomisxid at 9:16 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There is one rule that lies at the heart of every religion, that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

This truth transcends nations and peoples, a belief that isn't new, that isn't black or white or brown, that isn't Christian or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It's a faith in other people. And it's what brought me here today.

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written. The Holy Quran tells us, Mankind, we have created you male and a female. And we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.

The Talmud tells us, The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.

The Holy Bible tells us, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth.


Somebody pinch me... I'm dreaming, right? An American President is saying this? wOOt!!!
posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


The USA?

Are you being serious?
posted by palliser at 9:22 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I think Obama's doing the right thing here.

michaelehline, you're going to have to do better than that. Since when did conservatives have a spine? No, they're just foul idiots who belong in the Dark Ages, since that's what they're driving this country towards. And 'just barely right of center' does not equal Communist. You don't know your political ideologies, as, apparently, most conservatives don't.

I, for the record, am really neither pro-Israel/anti-Palestine or anti-Israel/pro-Palestine. I am, however, against people being theocratic idiots, and both Israel and Palestine are being complete and total fucking morons about this entire thing; let Palestine have its own state, since they, frankly, were in fact there first.
posted by kldickson at 9:28 AM on June 4, 2009


Pallister: well, it does seem as though the borders of Israel are in dispute. Thus the debate over the settlements. I would like to see the debate centered around the political consequences of those decisions rather than: well, G-d said it was ours in a book once. That leads nowhere. And, yes, borders are constantly being redrawn. Look at a global map from 80 years ago. Nothing is ever set in stone.

I sort of feel like I'm shooting at a moving target, but now I agree with you: these decisions should be based on facts on the ground now, and one of the worst things about the settlements is that they keep changing the facts on the ground, which makes it hard for pragmatists to work on solutions.

The fact that there is an ongoing border dispute doesn't make an existential challenge for either party here, and again, Pakistan is a good example of another nation with a decades-long ongoing border dispute.

Your initial point seemed to be: people who argue for the continued existence of Israel are making a special case for the Jews; only they have a nation-state whose existence is justified and explained on religio-ethnic grounds. My point was that this is wrong, that plenty of states have origins in religio-ethnic cohesion. An example is Pakistan, but there are many. In fact, the US may be an outlier in not having religio-ethnic origins.
posted by palliser at 9:31 AM on June 4, 2009


Speaking of extremists, here are some recent comments from a far-right Rabbi in Minnesota (scroll down the page) on the question of "how Israeli Jews should treat their Arab neighbors": The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their [the Arab/Muslim] holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).

Conan, what is best in life?

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you... and to hear the lamentation of their women!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:32 AM on June 4, 2009


cynical mefite wonders out loud if said speech was written for posterity and sound bites and quotations websites...
posted by infini at 9:35 AM on June 4, 2009


Love conquers all...see?

Joking. It was a joke. Jeez.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2009


"What right does anybody have to tell us to stop building in the land that was given to us by God Britain?"

FTFY
posted by Sys Rq at 9:41 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


"What right does anybody have to tell us to stop building in the land that was given to us by God Britain?"

US to spend $1 billion on embassy expansions in Pakistan, Afghanistan
posted by infini at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


cynical mefite wonders out loud if said speech was written for posterity and sound bites and quotations websites...

I just got an email from David Axelrod at whitehouse.gov, about their blog post on the speech.
posted by nomisxid at 10:07 AM on June 4, 2009


That's fine, except that MetaFilter isn't a news site.

Then why does my front page list:
- Poland's celebration today of its solidarity movement
- Obama's trip to the mid-east
- News of David Carradine death
- The latest report from the US Census
- A report on Israeli nutcases protesting Obama's tour
- China/world's memorial of Tiananmen yesterday/today
- A report on a blues singer's death
- News that NH has joined the 21st century
- Information about SA's new President
- News that Obama bought hamburgers
- A promo piece for National Running Day in the US
- News about China censoring the net for Tiananmen day

And more important than your incorrect snark:

Why is MeFi repeating itself so damn much? Duplicate reports on Tiananmen? Two obituraries? Several reports on Obama, including his latest lunch? WTF?

MetaFilter: Definitively not the Best of the Web.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2009


krinklyfig writes: The USA?

Nope. Wikipedia:
In the years before and during World War II the United States Congress, the Roosevelt Administration, and public opinion expressed concern about the fate of Jews in Europe but consistently refused to permit large-scale immigration of Jewish refugees.

In a report issued by the State Department, Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat noted that the United States accepted only 21,000 refugees from Europe and did not significantly raise or even fill its restrictive quotas, accepting far fewer Jews per capita than many of the neutral European countries and fewer in absolute terms than Switzerland.

According to David Wyman, "The United States and its Allies were willing to attempt almost nothing to save the Jews."[9] +
The US was glad to help send Jews elsewhere, but it didn't want to take them itself.
posted by pracowity at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoops. And I see ornate insect already dealt with that. Mybad.

The fact that is really bothersome is that the majority of Israelis are, apparently, perfectly fine with this situation and see no problem at all with the fact that their nation is being driven into what amounts to either genocide or permanent war by people who they (the theoretically non-theocratic crazy majority) have exempted from ever facing the consequences of that war.

Strange that this statement did not result in even a peep of protest. When I say the same sorts of things about the USA, a massive conflagration is likely. But that's typical: American exceptionalism demands a double standard.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:46 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


ornate insect: tautological repeater of the same thing, twice over

I recognized the tautology, but apparently the rightist group Hazit did not. Hence the title.
posted by ornate insect at 10:51 AM on June 4, 2009


stavrogin: "[Glenn Beck is] stupid and probably crazy, but he know how far he can go with an audience."

If he knows exactly how far to push his shtick with a given crowd, he's not crazy.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:52 AM on June 4, 2009


When I say the same sorts of things about the USA, a massive conflagration is likely.

i wasn't aware you had a problem with that
posted by pyramid termite at 10:57 AM on June 4, 2009


I think Slap*Happy really nailed it with his comment. Although it may be popular in some circles world to talk of the US as Israel's lapdog, in reality it is the US that has traditionally restrained Israel. I doubt very much that, absent security guarantees and arms deals from the US, that they would have given up the huge defensive buffer that the Sinai represented, or that they would not have pushed for more breathing room in those areas where their population centers are uncomfortably close to borders.

It was the (still-ongoing) US aid — both to Egypt and Israel — that basically sealed the deal in 1978, to the point where I don't think you can honestly call it "land for peace" as much as it was "cash for peace."

mullingitover: "How about Israel can do whatever the hell it wants, but we stop giving them billions of dollars every year with no strings attached? I get the feeling that if the cash firehose dried up, peace would suddenly break out."

I hear this argument a lot but it doesn't seem very convincing. If anything, it seems like it might make a war much more likely. The Israelis might start to see themselves in a use-it-or-lose-it situation, where they can win a war now but would only lose later. Plus, any sign of weakness might make them a more tempting target for attack by one of the surrounding states (although admittedly, none of them seem particularly interested in having another go right now, but that could change fairly quickly depending on the domestic political situation and Israel's stance; opportunity breeds opportunists).

It's not like cutting Israel off makes all their weapons suddenly stop working. It means that they might have a hard time fielding some of them down the road (jet aircraft require a lot of spare parts; just ask Iran), but that's all the more reason to use them now.

The entire balance of power in the Middle East basically revolves around keeping the Israelis from thinking too hard about the no-win situation they're in. Force things to a head by pulling back support, and they might try a military Hail Mary ('Hail Moses'?) rather than submit to the slow conquest of demographics.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


now we can blame Israel all we want but I am seriously concerned by the duplicity of our past policy--telling Israel (privately) one thing and the public another. We need to examine our own policies while condemning or condoning those of other nations.

This is reminscent of Don Rumsfeld shaking hands¹ with Saddamn Hussein, telling him "We'll look the other way as you deal with Kuwait." It would not surprise me if foreign policy history were littered with acts like this.

¹No idea if that website is crackpot, but the document looks like it's based on referenced facts.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't that in fact how you got most of your country?
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on June 4, 2009


"If you're a Jew, you know there's at least one place that is going to take you and defend you and not start mumbling about immigration quotas and the like while the bad guys surround your family."

The USA?


Yeah, the home of Henry Ford, Father Coughlin and Lindbergh was just falling over itself to accept Jewish refugees in the 30s.

The French and the Brits took a damn sight more Jewish refugees that the US. Pity how that worked out in France...
posted by rodgerd at 11:11 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


"We'll look the other way as you deal with Kuwait."

Actually that was WRT the Iran-Iraq war, and the meeting was more one of nuts & bolts diplomacy about how the US - Iraq relationship was going to evolve in the 1980s.

Kuwait was something of a diplomatic screw-up by the ambassador there:
In September, 1990, a pair of British journalists confronted Glaspie with the transcript of her meeting with Saddam Hussein, to which she replied that "Obviously, I didn't think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait.".
Kinda similar to:

"I don’t think anybody could have predicted that these people…would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile..." -- Condoleeza Rice
posted by @troy at 11:24 AM on June 4, 2009


Actually that was WRT the Iran-Iraq war, and the meeting was more one of nuts & bolts diplomacy about how the US - Iraq relationship was going to evolve in the 1980s.

Well, and the effectiveness of cluster bombs and chemical weapons against human wave attacks, surely?
posted by Artw at 11:32 AM on June 4, 2009


Without the deal, it's back to Plan A - the next time this President-For Life or that King feels froggy and picks a fight, the Israelis will jump first, level Damascus and Cairo, seize the Suez Canal and the southern Saudi oilfields, and hey, that so completely helps the Palestinians and regional stability! Israel with aid is fat and happy and (mostly) secure. Israel without aid is nervous of its neighbors, dangerously paranoid, and nuclear-armed.

This is pretty stupid. It makes it sound as if Israel can go it alone, without the constant U.S. support - support not only in direct money and arms aid, but crucial diplomatic, economic and intelligence support.

Make the U.S. totally neutral toward Israel - and in time, Israel dies. Period. Israel has no real friends in the world, who are there not because of the U.S.. It does have enemies though. It is perhaps the single most hated country in the world. Pretty much 99% of the Muslim world despises Israel. Do you think that Israel is going to take on all their enemies to wipe them off the face of the earth? Pakistan also has nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Perhaps Iran too will have them in time. So, Israel, unconstrained by the U.S. is going to militarily go after all their enemies? Right. Or maybe they'll level Damascus and Cairo? Fine. And then what? What would that buy them? They'd extend themselves militarily, they'd spend resources and effort to wipe those out (countries that pose no threat to them) and end up with what? Will they eat sand and the rubble? And how does it hurt the U.S. if Syria or Egypt is wiped out by Israel? An Israel that the U.S. has made clear to the world that we no longer support? So Israel is threatening to cut its own veins and shoot itself in the head? And we care why?

That's not the worst though, for Israel. The real threat is not military. The real threat is that without the U.S. in their corner, Israel would become a pariah state - nobody would trade with them, nobody would have diplomatic relations with them. Nobody would interact positively with them. And Israel is a tiny desert state with hardly any resources. They would not survive in the face of world-wide hostility - and I don't mean military hostility. What are they going to do about that? Brandish their nuclear weapons? Level Cairo? Right.

That's why it is stupid to even think that Israel can go it alone, without the U.S. How long would they survive without the U.S.? About as long as a beached fish.

Fact is, if the U.S. tells Israel, "you go back to 1967 borders, or we cut off all our support, and make it official and public", Israel would do so within 24 hours. Of course, the odds of the U.S. taking a hard line like that toward Israel is zero. But let us not fool ourselves about where the balance of power lies.
posted by VikingSword at 12:24 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


not sexist at all. the etymology of "-man" is actually from the french "main", meaning "hand".


Huh? Where'd you get this from? I tend to doubt it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:25 PM on June 4, 2009


if the U.S. tells Israel, "you go back to 1967 borders, or we cut off all our support, and make it official and public", Israel would do so within 24 hours.

No way. This is unsubstantiated hyperbole, and grossly overstates America's influence on Israel's actions.
posted by ornate insect at 12:33 PM on June 4, 2009


So if we stop being the sugar daddy to Israel, who voluntarily steps into that role? What happens when nobody trades with Israel? How long is Israel going to last on that little patch of desert? As great a power as Japan had to be cajoled and compelled by the U.S. to not abide by the Arab boycott of Israel. Europe? Laughable. China? Frankly nobody has a rational economic reason to support Israel. America's influence is potentially absolutely decisive. The fact that the U.S. will never really pressure Israel is a separate issue.
posted by VikingSword at 12:47 PM on June 4, 2009


Israel has no real friends in the world, who are there not because of the U.S.. It does have enemies though. It is perhaps the single most hated country in the world.

Guh? All of Europe trades with Israel, as does Saudi Arabia, Egypt and plenty of other places outside of the Arab League and some peace movements and labor unions.
posted by electroboy at 12:49 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


extremist Christians think he's a secret-Muslim terrorist commie controlled by the Jews

The last part of this sentence is perhaps inaccurate, as there's a certain segment of militant zionist Christian fundamentalism (such as Pastor John Hagee, who runs CUFI, and whose eschatological preoccupations are well-documented) that explicitly supports more settlements, funnels money to that cause, and to speed up end-times takes a very far-right stance on all questions related to Israel.
posted by ornate insect at 12:53 PM on June 4, 2009


Countries need to evolve or die.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:53 PM on June 4, 2009


Guh? All of Europe trades with Israel, as does Saudi Arabia, Egypt and plenty of other places outside of the Arab League and some peace movements and labor unions.

Why is that? Only because of U.S. pressure. That was not the picture when the Arab boycott was started. Europe largely fell in line with the boycott, until the U.S. made it a priority to protect Israel's trade relations - and so it happened with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Arab League would play a different tune, once it was clear that the U.S. is no longer in Israel's corner. Those regimes could not even survive the Arab street, if not for support from the U.S., so they'll do the U.S. bidding (in the case of Egypt, there's of course, direct U.S. aid at stake too).
posted by VikingSword at 12:56 PM on June 4, 2009


Arab League would play a different tune

The Arab League is too ineffectual and too internally divisive to take the kind of bold stance you are articulating, and may not even matter that much: even if all your hypotheticals were to come to pass. I think you are vastly oversimplifying the situation in the region general. The countries in that region, including Israel, are also agents of their own actions more than you are letting on, and are more complex and have more complex relations with one another, than your stance admits. Furthermore, if you listen closely to Obama's speech in Cairo, you will hear the audience really respond to his talk of democracy: because there are democratic aspirations in these countries. The leaders there know that the I/P conflict is mostly a distraction for people from their own problems. I'm not so sure that the hostility towards Israel is as all-important as it seems. There are so many variables involved here.
posted by ornate insect at 1:06 PM on June 4, 2009


"If you're a Jew, you know there's at least one place that is going to take you and defend you and not start mumbling about immigration quotas and the like while the bad guys surround your family."

The USA?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:12 PM on June 4 [+] [!]

Aside from the historical points made by others why this isn't that true, I can tell you that even today a lot of hate exists. I'm not going to mention my personal experiences, as anecdotes don't help anyone, but I will say that things aren't as peachy as you think.
posted by rosswald at 1:09 PM on June 4, 2009


Why is that? Only because of U.S. pressure

rubbish, US pressuring these countries too?

India and Israel (since way before the recent friendliness with the US)

China and Israel (right, pay back our loans first, right?)

Is US thinking as usual it can throw its global weight around eh? especially users in the 80's and 90's as i've begun to note when I check the ID number
posted by infini at 1:17 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


ornate insect: misspeller of "Barack" who doesn't know how to spell the President's first name and also, by the way, spells it incorrectly

Once again, there seems to be some confusion about what the title in the link refers to. If you CLICK THE LINK you will see that the title of the link is taken VERBATIM (misspelling, tautology, and all) from the poster that the far-right Israeli group Hazit is distributing. I kept it verbatim b/c I thought it would be obvious. Jeesh.
posted by ornate insect at 1:18 PM on June 4, 2009


The countries in that region, including Israel, are also agents of their own actions more than you are letting on, and are more complex and have more complex relations with one another, than your stance admits.

Of course, they are agents of their own actions - but one of the huge factors in that equation is the U.S. influence. Remove that, and all of a sudden all the calculations change. All of a sudden, the Arabs no longer think they have to compromise with Israel at all, for example. And in turn, Israel finds its options drastically narrower. And so on. In endless variations. Indeed it is very complex. However, you are underestimating the visceral hatred Israel incites, and regularly fans (like with the recent invasion of Palestinian areas and subsequent massacres) - and I think this factor would trump a lot of other forces which are always at play.

Anyhow, this is a hard discussion to have, since we can't exactly run experiments. It's all speculation about how X would react to Y. That's my take, you have a different take. At most we can build scenarios, with better or worse arguments and insights. My take is that the potential U.S. influence is absolutely decisive, and that real pressure will of course never be applied.
posted by VikingSword at 1:18 PM on June 4, 2009


China? India? Did you take a look at your own links? What exactly is Israel offering China? That's right, mostly U.S. technology. Kind of begs the question, doesn't it? What happens when the U.S. is no longer supplying technology which Israel then turns around and sells off (because they're such a great ally, heh!)? Same with a lot of their other trade - a lot of what their added value is access to the American market by proxy, both from their own trading and as pass through. Once that gravy train stops, a the whole sorry wheelbarrow keels over. You can't build an economy on selling security training, especially as you start missing modern tools down the road.
posted by VikingSword at 1:37 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can't Obama just help the Muslim and Jewish communities put aside their differences and embrace their commonalities? Maybe start with their religious restrictions on eating pork or something...oh, wait, crap.
posted by Muddler at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2009


ah, I see, you're railing at Israel for being an economic colony of the US. Having just come back from seeing hte devastation that is The Phillipines, I'm actually waiting for the day when the US stops supplying stuff to these piddly countries, maybe they'll finally be able to lift themselves out of poverty instead of spending their days buying Marlboro packets for 50 cents and a bottle of rum for a dollar while their wives have to leave the country to work as domestic servants. better that than a whore on patriotic base somewhere.
posted by infini at 1:47 PM on June 4, 2009


I'm not railing at anybody. I'm pointing out the obvious. The other poster made it sound like the U.S. must keep paying the big bad Israelis otherwise the Israelis will go postal on the region, and then the U.S. will be in a world of hurt or something. It's inane. It misstates the balance of objective power here. Indeed, the U.S. will pay, and pay, and pay, but not because we have to - but because we want to.
posted by VikingSword at 1:56 PM on June 4, 2009


Metafilter: I'm not railing at anybody. I'm pointing out the obvious.
posted by electroboy at 1:59 PM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Those regimes could not even survive the Arab street, if not for support from the U.S., so they'll do the U.S. bidding (in the case of Egypt, there's of course, direct U.S. aid at stake too).

Yeah, that's bullshit. People joined in the boycott because of the oil embargo, no other reason. Israel's not an international pariah, it's a scapegoat for several corrupt middle eastern regimes that haven't done shit to help the Palestinian cause. If there were to be another oil embargo, Israel would be unlikely to be seriously affected, since they get most of their oil from Russia.
posted by electroboy at 2:05 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


electroboy you are all over the place. The quote you pulled refers to the Arab street - how does your response address that quote? As to your statement - I assume you mean "non-Arab governments" when you say "people". And yes, governments joined the boycott mostly because of oil - but not only, there were frequently geopolitical/ideological reasons and more broadly a longer view of economic relations (Muslim countries represent markets, not only oil exports). "Israel is not an international pariah" - right, thanks to the U.S. diplomatic support. Is Israel scapegoated by corrupt ME regimes? Absolutely. Would Israel survive an oil embargo - sure, but that's not because Russia would necessarily supply them with oil... once the U.S. drops support for Israel, it's open season - and Russia (like any other country) is going to join where the money/future is, the rest of the world, the boycotters of Israel. It's not about short term boycotts based on oil. It is a cessation of relations and wholesale isolation. There is nobody out there in the world to defend Israel, should the U.S. completely suspend all support.
posted by VikingSword at 2:19 PM on June 4, 2009


Folks, please, there's no reason to directly address michaelehline. He's not going to respond. He's the new rockhopper, dropping a right-wing turd into a thread and moving on.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:20 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


He's stupid and probably crazy, but he know how far he can go with an audience.

So did .....

Never mind.
posted by blucevalo at 2:25 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I say the same sorts of things about the USA, a massive conflagration is likely. But that's typical: American exceptionalism demands a double standard.

Please stop. I'm not asking as an American, but as a MeFite. Please, please stop. As soon as I opened the thread, I thought that there was about a 95% chance that you would be here with an anti-American comment. And here you are. Really, your arguments are tiresome and I've even seen jessamyn ask you to stop. So, I'm joining in that plea. Really, really stop it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:44 PM on June 4, 2009


The Israelis have a significant high-tech, export-producing manufacturing industry. Intel and IBM both design labs and chip fabs there. IMI produces military systems that are competitive with just about anything on the market. They could almost certainly reverse-engineer a lot of US gear and sell it; there are certain items we don't sell widely that a lot of people would be willing to pay good money for. They could also have a full nuclear fuel cycle pretty easily, if they wanted to.

Israel was a pariah state at various times in the past, so it's not like they haven't been down this road before. They did okay for themselves (albeit by trading in some cases with the other pariah states at the time, including apartheid South Africa and KMT-controlled Taiwan).

There is no shortage of a market in the world for high-grade military equipment. The US, as a matter of policy, does not see it as a profit center (at least for the Treasury), meaning that we sell only when it serves some political purpose. That leaves a strong demand for US-equivalent or at least US-compatible gear whenever the political winds shift. (The Taiwanese, for instance, would like a lot more Patriot batteries than we're willing to sell them; the Israelis would have no problem cloning them domestically.) Plus, the US attaches all sorts of obnoxious strings to its arms deals; if the Israelis were willing to operate on something more like a cash basis, there are US client states that I'm sure wouldn't mind getting out from under Uncle Sam's thumb. (India, for example, is Israel's largest military-equipment buyer and has a longstanding and friendly relationship, presumably based on a mutual interest in not becoming too dependent on the US.) And arms deals are notoriously resistant to boycott efforts.

Frankly it's probably worth maintaining the Israeli status quo just so they don't become Crazy Eddie's Arms Emporium to the world.

However, I question whether it would really even go that far. The US military aid to Israel, while significant, isn't overwhelming: $2.4bn out of $9.45bn, or about a quarter of their defense budget. They could probably make that up by cutting domestic spending under some sort of austerity plan or tax increase. The US doesn't own them; we just rent their cooperation. And even if the US posture towards Israel shifted dramatically (and, lets face it, it isn't; we're just armchair-generaling here), the result would never be a complete boycott of Israeli goods such that they'd have to resort to "industries of last resort" like grey-market arms deals to keep their economy and military up and running. They have more than enough domestic industry to pay for their defense themselves, they just don't need to because we keep paying them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:51 PM on June 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


electroboy you are all over the place. The quote you pulled refers to the Arab street

Well, I can't very well pull all of your crazy-ass ramblings, so I chose one at random.

Russia (like any other country) is going to join where the money/future is, the rest of the world, the boycotters of Israel.

What's Russia's incentive not to sell oil to a country other people are already not selling oil to?

And re: the Arab street. The Arab states don't really have a strong interest in actually attacking Israel because:

1. They don't actually care about the Palestinians.
2. They would likely get their asses handed to them (again).
3. Current regimes benefit more from scapegoating Israel and would derive almost no benefit and incur significant costs to attack them.
4. In the age of Pan-Arabism, they couldn't muster the cooperation to defeat Israel, they certainly can't do it now.

You're equating "withdrawing American support" to complete and total boycott, which are two very different things. If we actively opposed Israel they'd certainly feel the pain, but for the reasons Kadin outlined above, Israel isn't an American welfare state.
posted by electroboy at 3:15 PM on June 4, 2009


The Israelis have a significant high-tech, export-producing manufacturing industry. Intel and IBM both design labs and chip fabs there.

IBM is an American company, and so is Intel. What the Israelis have, is engineering and science resources, not necessarily the manufacturing infrastructure - and IBM and Intel outsource design and research to Israel, not so much manufacturing. And those are fungible to an extent now, and will became a great deal more in the future. A lot more of that talent is going to be coming to the market, from places like China and India, as their education and infrastructure become more developed. In that sense, the Israeli competitive advantage right now (science and technology teams) will become progressively smaller - the supply world-wide will grow. Diminishing asset, if you ask me. Plus, the key thing here: Israel just doesn't have the internal market like a large country has, and that has all sorts of downstream effects - it is hard to build huge industries that need to be staffed extensively etc. Incidentally, you should add that Israel is pretty strong in biotech too.

IMI produces military systems that are competitive with just about anything on the market. They could almost certainly reverse-engineer a lot of US gear and sell it; there are certain items we don't sell widely that a lot of people would be willing to pay good money for.

Correct. However, in time as their isolation grows, and the U.S. holds off on transfers and academic boycotts take hold, even that will diminish. Further, again, that technological capability is spreading and competition will heat up, already starting from China which is becoming interested in becoming an arms merchant. I don't think Israel can bet its economic survival on selling arms to sundry nasty-regimes.

They could also have a full nuclear fuel cycle pretty easily, if they wanted to.

Sure. And what are they going to do with it? Eat it? Sell nuclear arms to North Korea?

Israel was a pariah state at various times in the past, so it's not like they haven't been down this road before. They did okay for themselves (albeit by trading in some cases with the other pariah states at the time, including apartheid South Africa and KMT-controlled Taiwan).

Israel has always had the powerful protection of the U.S. - and so was never totally isolated. Any country contemplating boycotting Israel has to calculate - What do I lose by boycotting Israel? What's bigger - the combined Arab/Muslim market, or the gigantic U.S. market? Oops! That's a huge reason why such boycotts have collapsed. Now take the U.S. out of the equation and ask that question again. All of a sudden, it's easy to sacrifice the tiny Israeli market for the big and growing Arab/Muslim market, because you are not paying a penalty in the U.S. market. Suddenly, the number of partners trading with Israel drops to zero.
posted by VikingSword at 3:20 PM on June 4, 2009


And Israel is a tiny desert state with hardly any resources.

Except all the high tech. Seriously. Look at how many of Intel's successful processor lines in the last decade come out of Israel. Then ask to speak to the dev teams for any number of pieces of high-end software - there's a pretty good chance you'll get patched through to an office where you hear Hebrew in the background, if my experience is anything to go by.

Frankly it's probably worth maintaining the Israeli status quo just so they don't become Crazy Eddie's Arms Emporium to the world.

They already gave nukes to apartheid South Africa. I fail to see how much more Crazy Eddie they can go, other than by giving nukes to terrorist groups who want to destroy Israel.
posted by rodgerd at 3:25 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, I can't very well pull all of your crazy-ass ramblings, so I chose one at random.

electroboy, I am happy to engage in reasoned arguments, but sadly, you are not returning the favor. You are incoherent, and your statements continue to bounce off walls I cannot even see, addressing points I never made etc., so I cannot really respond to you anymore.
posted by VikingSword at 3:28 PM on June 4, 2009


What the Israelis have, is engineering and science resources, not necessarily the manufacturing infrastructure - and IBM and Intel outsource design and research to Israel, not so much manufacturing.

That's incorrect. Intel has chip fabs in Israel, IBM only has research labs, AFAIK.

Your argument seems to be "If everyone cooperates and boycotts Israel, then Israel will suffer." While that's true, it's based on everyone cooperating. And we all know how likely that is.
posted by electroboy at 3:31 PM on June 4, 2009


And what are they going to do with it? Eat it?

You're not seriously asking what you could do with a full nuclear fuel cycle, are you? Given an unlikely energy boycott of Israel, you don't think nuclear power would be useful?
posted by electroboy at 3:35 PM on June 4, 2009


Except all the high tech. Seriously. Look at how many of Intel's successful processor lines in the last decade come out of Israel. Then ask to speak to the dev teams for any number of pieces of high-end software - there's a pretty good chance you'll get patched through to an office where you hear Hebrew in the background, if my experience is anything to go by.

I am willing to bet, that in not too distant a future, there will be designs coming out of China (and possibly India), which will necessitate IMB, Intel etc. expanding their operations there, just to survive. I maintain that this Israeli competitive advantage will diminish rather rapidly as nations with bigger human, material and market resources overwhelm them.

And I keep reminding: Israel also has a strong presence in biotech and a few other industries - although that too will become a diminishing asset (though probably not as fast as hi-tech).
posted by VikingSword at 3:36 PM on June 4, 2009


The argument is very simple: Israel has nothing the U.S. needs. If IBM and Intel etc. can one day get as good designs and as cheaply from China as from Israel, then why stick with Israel? What happens when they start thinking along lines like: let's see - I can have the Muslim market of 1 billion, or I can have the Israeli market of 5-6 million. We drop the Israelis. Today, you cannot do it, there are laws in this country that disallow any U.S. citizen or company from joining the boycott of Israel, and other countries fall in line because of our economic and diplomatic power. Now, remove that factor, and Israel becomes instantly denuded of trading partners.

One reason the Muslims can't get their act together to work in concert, is because the U.S. is a factor - by their sheer market size, by their military power, and by the U.S. influence in various world trade bodies. Once we signal open season on Israel, the coalition of states willing to boycott Israel will mushroom overnight. There is huge hostility to Israel, held back only by the 900lb gorilla of the U.S. power.

Again - Israel would last without U.S. support about as long as a beached fish.
posted by VikingSword at 3:55 PM on June 4, 2009


Again - Israel would last without U.S. support about as long as a beached fish.

A beached fish with squadrons of F-15s, Merkava tanks, and nuclear weapons. Yes, they would capitulate in a matter of hours!
posted by Burhanistan at 3:56 PM on June 4, 2009


All this would be a lot more plausible if you could give an example of when something like this has actually happened. A country with superior technological infrastructure who's largely self supporting agriculturally with highly developed industrial and technical infrastructure being the subject of a worldwide boycott for unclear reasons. Arab appeasement? Highly unlikely.
posted by electroboy at 3:58 PM on June 4, 2009


One reason the Muslims can't get their act together to work in concert, is because the U.S. is a factor

Or...because there are no stable Muslim democracies.
posted by electroboy at 4:03 PM on June 4, 2009


A beached fish with squadrons of F-15s, Merkava tanks, and nuclear weapons. Yes, they would capitulate in a matter of hours!

Good luck breathing in those squadrons of F-15s, merkava tanks, and nuclear weapons.

It is not military pressure that would bring Israel down, and therefore military might is not a relevant defense. South Africa did not "capitulate", and was not defeated militarily. South Africa was militarily the most powerful sub-Saharan nation in Africa - they were even the most powerful economically. And they had resources they could trade - vital strategic minerals, not to mention gold and diamonds. None of which Israel has. And still that South Africa is no more. There are greater powers than military out there. Israel would not even last as long as SA did. At least North Korea has China. Whom does Israel have apart from Uncle Sam?
posted by VikingSword at 4:12 PM on June 4, 2009


Billysumday wrote: One thing that I always find odd about discussions of Israel is the almost universal acceptance of the idea of an ethnic or religious "homeland."

For what it's worth, I agree with you. But most people don't, and they didn't when people were drawing lines on maps after World Wars I and II.

The accepted wisdom in the first half of the last century was that this was a way to stop wars. Most of Africa was divided up this way. India was divided up this way (that's how Pakistan came into being). More recently, when Yugoslavia collapsed it was divided along ethnic lines, to the extent that this was possible. Cyprus has been effectively divided between (what Turkey considers to be) its Turkish and Greek population. Come to that, you know why you have all those Indian reservations in the USA? Same idea, as far as I know: they are ethnic groups and deserve their own homeland.

Anyway, the short story of the modern history of Israel is that the Ottoman Empire collapsed; the British were administering the parts that are now Israel, Jordan, Egypt and so forth; everybody knew that there was no hope of making a single stable state out of the region; so it was divided up. It was divided up badly, and with a great deal of realpolitik and cynicism, but that was the idea: to transform the vestiges of an empire into modern states. And because there was a fashion for ethnic states it seemed reasonable to turn a mixed Arab and Jewish population into several states, each with its own ethnic majority. In retrospect ... well, in retrospect they should have started with Switzerland and not the Middle East.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:44 PM on June 4, 2009


One reason the Muslims can't get their act together to work in concert, is because the U.S. is a factor

Or...because there are no stable Muslim democracies.


How can anyone expect a group of people that are 1 billion + strong and spread all over the planet to "get their act together?" Get those 1 billion + Muslims together in your local Waffle House and get them to agree on who should've been the next leader of the ummah after Muhammad died and then get back to me about the US being a factor in Muslims getting their shit together. Ain't gonna happen, human nature being what it is, ya know.

And electroboy: there *no* stable Muslim democracies? None? Zero?
posted by NoMich at 4:52 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or...because there are no stable Muslim democracies.

Except for Turkey, Indonesia, and India, right?
posted by mr_roboto at 5:02 PM on June 4, 2009


South Africa was militarily the most powerful sub-Saharan nation in Africa - they were even the most powerful economically.

They still are, even though they gave up their nuclear weapons.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:04 PM on June 4, 2009


How can anyone expect a group of people that are 1 billion + strong and spread all over the planet to "get their act together?" Get those 1 billion + Muslims together in your local Waffle House and get them to agree on who should've been the next leader of the ummah after Muhammad died and then get back to me about the US being a factor in Muslims getting their shit together. Ain't gonna happen, human nature being what it is, ya know.

If the objective is narrow enough, and with enough support, it can easily be done. In fact, was already done. To wit: the Arab boycotts of Israel. Those were not democracies, they were different along many dimensions, including political, religious (as you point out), and yet - when it came to something narrow enough to be understandable "boycott a country" and with enough support "vicious colonial power assaulting Muslims - Israel", somehow they fell in line. For that matter the oil embargo was a great example of thoroughly disparate states getting together even though it was against much more powerful opponents (the entire West!), and was not even in their own economic interest. And yet, they pulled it off - purely because of opposition to Israel.

They many be spread around the globe, and have little in common, but do some polling in Pakistan or indeed Indonesia(!), and you'll find widespread hatred of Israel. It ain't just an Arab thing. I bet you, if the U.S. stepped aside, you'd get the "1 billion + strong" to get their act together if it was a simple "don't trade with the arch-enemy of Islam". Such simple objectives, with powerful support, generate their own momentum and pressure - it's not as if, say, Dubai is suddenly going to say to their brethren "nah, we're not going along". The reality is, Israel has a very negative image in the world at large, particularly the Muslim world.
posted by VikingSword at 5:09 PM on June 4, 2009


Whom does Israel have apart from Uncle Sam?

Israel has trading partners all over. They're not going to receive wholesale abandonment or complete censure by the developed world writ large. This is a fantasy. They buy oil from Iran, have huge trade ties with China and Russia, and have private security forces all over the world.

Granted, if the US pulled out the rug of financial support, Israel would face a difficult adjustment period. But, Obama has zero power to do that directly as a president, and even if the US did, it's not like all of a sudden everything would fall like a house of cards. I begrudgingly admit The Israelis aren't that weak or helpless.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:15 PM on June 4, 2009


Malaysia is a stable Muslim "democracy" (scare quotes intended). The Muslim world is going to need a few generations to reconcile Western forms of government with notions of caliphates, and with monarchies.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:17 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


"South Africa was militarily the most powerful sub-Saharan nation in Africa - they were even the most powerful economically."

They still are, even though they gave up their nuclear weapons.

Absolutely. It's amazing how many parallels there are between these two states. Another parallel: South Africa had (and still has) a thriving weapons industry, and were a force to be reckoned with as arms merchants - remind you of another state? Still wasn't enough.

What I find amazing, is in how much of a better situation South Africa was compared to Israel in sheer resources to withstand a boycott. They even had an industry to turn coal into gasoline - because they had huge coal deposits. Poor Israel got nothing, except a lot of salt in the Dead Sea.
posted by VikingSword at 5:18 PM on June 4, 2009


Israel has trading partners all over. They're not going to receive wholesale abandonment or complete censure by the developed world writ large. This is a fantasy. They buy oil from Iran, have huge trade ties with China and Russia, and have private security forces all over the world.

I addressed all these points, so we are going in circles at this point.

But, Obama has zero power to do that directly as a president[...]

Oh boy. I've only stated that a dozen times or so. Of course, the U.S. will never abandon Israel, or even put the slightest pressure on them. And the sky is blue - these are givens.

The only point I was trying to make is in opposition to the poster who claimed that somehow we must pay Israel ransom every year, otherwise Israel will go berserk, and basically we are helpless and held hostage, blah, blah, blah. Utter nonsense. We hold all the cards. All, every one of them. Israel threatening to wipe out Cairo or Damascus (as the poster claimed) would be equivalent to threatening to shoot themselves in the face - zero threat to us, game over for them. Point is - we support them body and soul, not because we have to, but because we want to.
posted by VikingSword at 5:26 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thread needs more cow tow.

Cow towing , Cow towing , Cow towing , Cow towing
posted by wildcrdj at 5:31 PM on June 4, 2009


Or...because there are no stable Muslim democracies.

Except for Turkey, Indonesia, and India, right?

I can't tell if this is supposed to be sarcasm. But they're all officially secular. India has a large Hindu majority and Turkey actually has laws that prohibit, among other things, Islamic political parties. Indonesia is in fact the country with the greatest Muslim population but as I said, it's officially secular.

Despite this I think that the characterisation of Muslim countries as being either unstable or undemocratic is unfair. It would be more accurate to say that there aren't many stable democracies in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East - and most Muslim countries are found there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:35 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just save yourself the trouble VikingSword and flame out now. Your frothing is going to leave you severely dehydrated.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:47 PM on June 4, 2009


Now Krrrlson shows up. We were all waiting for your petty insults all day long! You always add such substance to these Israel discussions. What a ray of hope you are, Krrrlson. It's like you're a My Little Pony having sex with a Care Bear smoking a crack pipe. You're that special.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:53 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Krrrlson, I have a modest advantage in that I read this site for a long time before I signed up (years). That allowed me to see what your contributions are to any discussion involving Israel.

And so, when you wish me to "flame out", and state that I'm "frothing", I recognize it as your attempt to frame the discussion on your terms. Terms, where anybody who doesn't fall in line with Likudnik positions is immediately seen by you as "frothing". Alas for you, I'm quite calm and happy to supply rational arguments in an interesting discussion, while avoiding flame wars.

One way in which I avoid flame wars, is not only by being unfailingly polite, but by ignoring those who provide no arguments and are poor participants in a good discussion - which is why I'm ignoring electroboy. And now - you. But thank you - it lets me know I'm doing a good job of presenting rational arguments on this topic, when you pop up.
posted by VikingSword at 6:03 PM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: a My Little Pony having sex with a Care Bear smoking a crack pipe.

(yay. can I go now?)
posted by Artful Codger at 6:11 PM on June 4, 2009


God these threads bring out the stupid.
posted by chunking express at 6:20 PM on June 4, 2009


Boy them Musselmen sure are savages amirite?

Fuck I hate these threads.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:30 PM on June 4, 2009


"Are you being serious?"

It's a tragic tale, but there is context to consider. The US wasn't involved in WWII yet in 1939. Israel was not created until 1947. I think the US should have taken in the refugees, but the creation of Israel was eight years later, and two years after the war was over.

I wasn't being entirely serious, either, but the fact is a lot of immigrants to Israel are actually American and European Jews. Are they trying to escape persecution, or is it more of an elective decision? That's really what the original point was that Jewish people had nowhere to go without being threatened.

"Aside from the historical points made by others why this isn't that true, I can tell you that even today a lot of hate exists. I'm not going to mention my personal experiences, as anecdotes don't help anyone, but I will say that things aren't as peachy as you think."

Of course a lot of hate exists. (OTOH, I work with and am friends with a lot of Jewish people who are doing very well here and are quite happy. I'm not saying they haven't faced any discrimination, but they aren't unique in that experience here, either.) Why does that justify an ethnic/religious homeland, one that is carved out of other territory? Why does that justify the taking of more land from other people, completely outside any recognized legal framework?
posted by krinklyfig at 6:56 PM on June 4, 2009


Sure, krinklyfig, Jews are secure in many places in the world today.

But why does Israel require a continually renewed justification for its existence -- as if annually, the Jews have to prove they have nowhere else to go, or someone's just going to have to break this little party up! Again, do Pakistanis have to prove the same thing? Why not? They can live securely in the US, too.

Israel exists because it exists, just like every other country. The people who live there live there. Those are the facts, and (at least the bare outlines of) a solution that is really just fine for everybody arises pretty obviously from those facts.
posted by palliser at 7:48 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


not sexist at all. the etymology of "-man" is actually from the french "main", meaning "hand".

In case you weren't joking, I checked it out. "Man" comes from the proto-Germanic root for "person." So there is a sense in which it was "originally" not sexist (unless proto-Germans didn't consider women to be persons). But it does not share a root with french "main."
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:49 PM on June 4, 2009


Whatever the roots of "man", in this time and place it refers to the male of the human species.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:57 PM on June 4, 2009


Indeed, and it requires disambiguation.

I made a slip and referred to the generic congressional representative as a "congressman." I immediately self-corrected to "congressperson." Then Ubu came up with the strange claim that "-man" in a compound (like "congressman") wasn't sexist because it derived from French "main." This was either a joke, or a mistake. I don't know which.

Actually, I still see the generic "man" for "human species" quite frequently (or even more frequently "mankind").

This has the makings of an excellent MeFi brouhaha. Think "USian."
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:37 PM on June 4, 2009


But they're all officially secular.

Yes, they're democracies. If your contention is that there are no theocracies that are democracies, well, you're right about that.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:42 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Israel exists because it exists, just like every other country. The people who live there live there. Those are the facts, and (at least the bare outlines of) a solution that is really just fine for everybody arises pretty obviously from those facts."

This is true, but to get to the heart of the problem, we have to start examining why the idea of a Palestinian state is so outrageous, and why we accept naked and aggressive suppression and outright theft of their land. Israel got its state, but it wants to deny it to its closest neighbor, as well as food and medical care, basic humanitarian needs which are not legally denied to anyone during war or peace. The UK carved Palestine into the map after WWI, and after WWII it was further divided by the UN, whose mandates Israel consistently denies and ignores. There is some land there which is not considered Israel, but where is the mutual recognition? And why is it surprising then that Israel encounters so much hostility? Are they exceptional and are singularly deserving of sympathy or autonomy?

I don't think creating ethnic states is really such a great idea, particularly not when done by a colonial power. It hasn't worked so well, has it? But if Israel insists upon its right to a homeland, it cannot also deny that to its closest neighbor. The idea that it's justified is audacious, inhumane and inexcusable.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:49 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


i wasn't talking about "man" but the suffix "-man", as in chairman.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:49 PM on June 4, 2009


In more recent times the word has come under criticism for being sexist as not all such leaders are male. A backlash by those who want to preserve the old patterns of speech has resulted in some propagating a false etymology that states the -man is not a reference to a person at all and is, therefore, not sexist. This ill-informed view states that the -man comes from the Latin manus, meaning hand, that the chairman is the hand of the one sitting in the chair guiding the meeting. This is complete bunk.

debunked that for, um, me.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:53 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Without the deal, it's back to Plan A - the next time this President-For Life or that King feels froggy and picks a fight, the Israelis will jump first, level Damascus and Cairo, seize the Suez Canal and the southern Saudi oilfields, and hey, that so completely helps the Palestinians and regional stability! Israel with aid is fat and happy and (mostly) secure. Israel without aid is nervous of its neighbors, dangerously paranoid, and nuclear-armed.

Whatever, dude. Even with the most sophisticated military technology they can't get rid of guys armed with old AK's and pipebombs for several decades now. But hey, yes, we sure don't want them jumping or anything...
posted by c13 at 9:06 PM on June 4, 2009


It'd be cheaper to simply buy out every Palestinian, bringing 'em over to America. Let them have, I dunno, Arizona or Idaho. Bam, problem solved.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:38 PM on June 4, 2009


"Man" is not a affix in "chairman." It's a standalone lexeme combined with another for a compound word. Both "police man" and "policeman" mean the same thing and are acceptable variants.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:49 PM on June 4, 2009


c13: "Whatever, dude. Even with the most sophisticated military technology they can't get rid of guys armed with old AK's and pipebombs for several decades now. But hey, yes, we sure don't want them jumping or anything..."

You do realize the two are not mutually exclusive? That a state can be perfectly capable of nuking the shit out of an entire region, but still be vulnerable to guerrilla warfare?

There's an argument that suggests their (and other industrialized states') vulnerability to unconventional attacks is a direct result of their heavy emphasis on conventional weapons and training. When you spend all your time planning for an apocalyptic state-on-state combined arms war, some jackass with a machine gun or even some primitive rockets doesn't seem like a big deal. At least until the politicians decide it's a big deal, and then you end up trying to swat the proverbial fly with a sledgehammer.

The Israelis have a lot of sledgehammers.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:45 PM on June 4, 2009


At least until the politicians decide it's a big deal, and then you end up trying to swat the proverbial fly with a sledgehammer.

Well, large, advanced armies generally have no problem "swatting flies" or killing scores of brown people, guerrilla tactics or not. The mitigating factor isn't anything tactical. I'm not sure how this kind of thinking became so axiomatic. The US military has little problem inflicting heavy casualties on insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, with comparatively low losses on its end. It's just that the perception of battle isn't some glorious WWII movie style battle. But anyway, I don't really have a direct refutation of your statement, but am just noting that it's generally not a problem for a larger force to smash insurgencies. The issue lies not with weaponry but with political will.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:01 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's like you're a My Little Pony having sex with a Care Bear smoking a crack pipe.

thank you - you have just DESTROYED the last vestiges of innocence in the known universe - everything from here on out is mere decadence and tragedy

i hope you're happy
posted by pyramid termite at 1:06 AM on June 5, 2009


This is true, but to get to the heart of the problem, we have to start examining why the idea of a Palestinian state is so outrageous, and why we accept naked and aggressive suppression and outright theft of their land.

It's not outrageous. That is in fact what I meant by the facts on the ground pointing to what should be a satisfactory solution. And there will still be extremist nutjobs like the ones highlighted in this post railing about it. It's what they do.

But this is not what bothered me about your earlier comment. You were talking about why Israel exists at all, when there are awesome places for Jews like the US. My answer was that it's pointless asking countries to justify their existence, and the reason that you imagine undermines the case for Israel's existence (its religio-ethnic character) proves too much, as it also applies to several other countries in the world.
posted by palliser at 6:37 AM on June 5, 2009


Despite this I think that the characterisation of Muslim countries as being either unstable or undemocratic is unfair.

Very true, that statement was poorly worded, I apologize. My point was that theocratic states are undemocratic by nature, and there are almost no examples of a successful theocratic state.
posted by electroboy at 7:19 AM on June 5, 2009


"But this is not what bothered me about your earlier comment. You were talking about why Israel exists at all, when there are awesome places for Jews like the US. My answer was that it's pointless asking countries to justify their existence, and the reason that you imagine undermines the case for Israel's existence (its religio-ethnic character) proves too much, as it also applies to several other countries in the world."

Israel was created at the very tail end of a long string of colonial activity. At that point we had a UN, and while it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, the entire concept is a vestige of tribalism, and there has never been a stable environment. The justifications for Israel strike me as nonsensical and smacking of exceptionalism, and the idea that creating and supporting an ethnic/religious state on a religiously contentious piece of land is going to promote democratic ideals is ridiculous. Granted, perhaps not any more ridiculous than many other nation-states, but Israel is part of the modern era, not the era of conquerors and tribalism. Right? Or maybe Israel really isn't all that different, and maybe the hegemony we gain from our unconditional support is not beneficial enough and in the long run is detrimental to us and our international relations.

But Israel only has to justify itself because it refuses to acknowledge the nation living next door. I think without that issue, perhaps people might not wonder why Israel considers itself special and others are not.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:14 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


thank you - you have just DESTROYED the last vestiges of innocence in the known universe - everything from here on out is mere decadence and tragedy

You'll want to avoid watching Robot Chicken, then.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:48 AM on June 5, 2009


Israel only has to justify itself because it refuses to acknowledge the nation living next door.

... and the nations next door that refuse to recognize Israel or actively call for its destruction? What about them?
posted by electroboy at 9:09 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


i think they should all just hold hands and sing Kumbaya
posted by infini at 9:25 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kind of surprised that Obama is the first President to visit Buchenwald. That said, I guess it used to be in the East, and there really is fuck all there - it's just some outer buildings and a big field of gravel where they leveled it.
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on June 5, 2009


But Israel only has to justify itself because it refuses to acknowledge the nation living next door. I think without that issue, perhaps people might not wonder why Israel considers itself special and others are not.

Huh? Needing to justify its existence would make Israel special -- specially burdened, in a way other nations are not. Simply accepting its existence would make it unexceptional.

A nation with religio-ethnic origins asking for recognition by other nations is not asking for special treatment. You seem to accept this as an argument, as you have no counter to it (you accept that there are many nations that fit this description), but then you keep coming back to it.

In the end, your argument is: it bothers me that Israel has a religio-ethnic character and origins. I realize that other nations do, too, but they do not bother me.

Well, that's kind of personal to you, so unconvincing as an argument.
posted by palliser at 8:22 PM on June 5, 2009


It isn't so much that Israel has a religio-ethnic origin as it is that it is a state which has no purpose whatsoever except racial nationalism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:27 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It isn't so much that Israel has a religio-ethnic origin as it is that it is a state which has no purpose whatsoever except racial nationalism.

No, Israel isn't about racial nationalism. It's about religious nationalism. They let in people of any and all races so long as they are Jewish. I'm not saying that's better or worse, of course.
posted by Justinian at 11:59 PM on June 5, 2009


I'd probably go with 'worse'.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:22 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


(in the sense that *any* religious monoculture would be a horrendous idea)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:24 AM on June 6, 2009


It isn't so much that Israel has a religio-ethnic origin as it is that it is a state which has no purpose whatsoever except racial nationalism.

Surely Israel (like most states) has the "purpose" of providing for common good of its citizens. So what do you mean when you say it has "no purpose whatsoever except racial nationalism"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:18 AM on June 6, 2009


Israel needs a mission statement?

Israel has no "purpose" and "explanation" and "justification" that is going to sound worthwhile to you, other than the fact that it has citizens to govern. Welcome to the world of political boundaries.
posted by palliser at 5:44 AM on June 6, 2009


If you believe that Israel doesn't have a mission statement, you're deluded; if you claim it doesn't, you're either ignorant or dishonest.. It is a state which overtly exists to serve as an ethnic homeland for the Jews, both in the ethnic and the religious meanings of the term.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:02 AM on June 6, 2009


I'm going to agree with Pope Guilty here. And if a state's purpose is as a homeland for only one religious/ethnic group, then there's something really wrong going on.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:11 AM on June 6, 2009


Israel presents itself as a homeland for Jews, certainly. But neither its self-image nor its internal immigration policies bear on its international legitimacy as a nation among nations. There's a difference between saying, "I wish Israel accepted immigrants regardless of religious/ethnic identification," and, "Israel's continued existence is premised on the world's providing special treatment for Jews."

Israel treats Jews specially in its immigration policies, but you do not have to believe in treating Jews specially in order to believe in Israel's legitimacy; and in fact, I have never seen a challenge to Israel's legitimacy that would survive generalization to all nations.
posted by palliser at 8:43 AM on June 6, 2009


if a state's purpose is as a homeland for only one religious/ethnic group, then there's something really wrong going on.

Quite. One could even wonder just exactly who wrote up said mission statement, and for what purpose. Compare, for example, a popular notion floating around Europe during Israel's inception, i.e. that a certain people should be removed from a certain continent. See also the less successful Soviet attempt.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:16 AM on June 6, 2009


I've been thinking about the preferred-immigration thing, and I remembered this morning that Ireland permits citizenship for people whose grandparent was born in Ireland (citizenship "by descent"). An American I know was granted Irish citizenship when her grandparent was brought to the US as a child over a hundred years ago.

My guess is that it could be more common than we think for countries to have citizenship preferences based on ethnicity. We just know about Israel's.
posted by palliser at 7:08 AM on June 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


My guess is that it could be more common than we think for countries to have citizenship preferences based on ethnicity.

yeah, after the fall of the berlin wall, i took up latvian citizenship in a very routine form-filling exercise - an EU passport for me, courtesy of one parent who was about 2yo when they fled the country in the face of the soviet assault (and maybe a dozen years of latvian school on saturdays)

looking back, it seems a little frightening just how simple it was, but it must've been a vaguely similar kind of mindset to that of israel - ie "hey, there's a whole bunch of us scattered all over the globe & we finally have an independent homeland...anybody who wants to put their hand up as one of us is more than welcome..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:56 AM on June 7, 2009


My guess is that it could be more common than we think for countries to have citizenship preferences based on ethnicity. We just know about Israel's.

Oh yes. Most countries have a form of inherited citizenship. I'm entitled to three of them, besides Australian citizenship. My kids are entitled to at least four. Mind you, two of those are in the EU and the reciprocal arrangements between states means that they shouldn't count twice.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:30 PM on June 7, 2009


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