I'm Only Posting This, You Understand, Because I Hate Minnesotans

|

James Lileks enters a strange loop:

The Presbyterian Church (USA)—not the members, but the learned elders—has announced it will use its stock holdings to target Israel for being mean to the Palestinians.

But they're not anti-Semites. Heavens, nay. Don't you dare question their philosemitism! No, they looked at the entire world, including countries that lop off your skull if you convert to Presbyterianism, and what did they choose as the object of their ire? A country the size of a potato chip hanging on the edge of a region noted for despotism and barbarity. By some peculiar coincidence, it happens to be full of Jews.

Now, Lileks isn't prejudiced against Presbyterians. Heavens, nay. He made sure to distinguish the leaders from the laity, so don't you dare question his philo-Presbyterianism! No, he looked at the whole world, including countries that lop off your skull if you attempt to write political commentary, and what did he choose as the object of his ire? A church that's reinvesting its money. By some peculiar coincidence, it's full of Presbyterians.

NEXT: Speed Freaks Are Scarier, but There Are a Lot More Potheads

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So does Lileks also think the Presbyterian Church (USA) is racist against whites because it “deinvested” from South Africa in the 1980s too?

  2. Is it such a stretch to think that the problem with Jews isn’t what they believe, but that they stole land from someone else?

  3. Damn, Jesse, that was just irono-snarkariffic!

  4. good question wsdave. and where did they come from? they all seemed to show up around 1945.

  5. Lileks is a really engaging writer when he sticks to ironic/nostalgic observations on pop culture ephemera and old buildings. Otherwise, not so much. His cultivation of the Republican party line over the last four years because of the hordes of Islamic terrorists waiting to attack his little girl in FUCKING MINNEAPOLIS FOR CHRISSAKES has been really unseemly.

  6. “They” didn’t steal land from someone else, WSDave. Most of us had nothing to do with it.

  7. His cultivation of the Republican party line over the last four years because of the hordes of Islamic terrorists waiting to attack his little girl in FUCKING MINNEAPOLIS FOR CHRISSAKES has been really unseemly.

    Like the old Buffalo Springfield song goes:

    Paranoia strikes deep/into your life it will creep

  8. wsdave,

    Do you have a “solution” to the “problem with Jews”?

  9. Megadittos Phil.

    After WWII we should have bought Baja California from Mexico and declared it New Israel. Does God really care what particular patch of real estate you occupy? As Helen Lovejoy said re the Middle East: “Isn’t that whole area a little iffy?”

  10. With hindsight, we should have just let all the Jewish refugees move here. There’s no way such a proposal would have worked at the time, but with hindsight, is there anyone who’s going to dispute that everyone – Americans, Israelies, Arabs – would have been better off?

  11. No one stole any land. The Brits voluntarily gave it up for the UN to divvy (i.e. got tired of trying to run it) after “pressure” from Arab and Jewish terror groups.

  12. Well, my sense of justice tells me that the most just solution would have been to deport the population of Germany to goddamned Antarctica or something and let that be Israel after the war, but joe’s solution would have been the most sensible.

    In any case, I’m trying to imagine an alternate history in which a 1954 Presbyterian church divests from holdings in France due to their treatment of Algerians, and a 1954 James Lileks calling them “anti-Gallic,” and I just can’t put it together. I’m really sick of the way that the right has appropriated Jews as pets or mascots of some kind and lets fly these regular, knee-jerk accusations of antisemitism.

  13. Now, Jesse isn’t prejudiced against Lilekses. Heavens, nay. Don’t you dare question his philo-Lileksism! No, he looked at the whole OP/ED page, including columns that lop off your skull if you attempt to write snarky OP/ED columns, and what did he choose as the object of his ire? A Columnist who “writes from a center-right perspective that worries more about terrorism, Iran and Hamas than gay marriage or cussing on ‘The Sopranos.'”. By some peculiar coincidence, it’s full of Lilekses.

    Hee hee! This is fun! Who’s next?

  14. I have long said that central Florida is useless and should be given to the Israelis. In south Florida there’s a ton of Jews already.

    Plus, we’ve already stolen the land and conquered the natives, so they save a step! And if the Mossad gets bored, they can try to kill Castro.

  15. I am a member of a PC(USA) denomination, and I am not crazy about this move myself. Mainly because I am not even sure what it is they hope to accomplish (whereas, “ending Apartheid” is a fairly definite goal to my mind). On the other hand, can we please stop conflating a person’s views about Israel with that person’s views of Jews generally? I am nominally a Presbyterian, and love the crazy Protestant bastards. But I don’t know that I would support carving out a “homeland” for them where a bunch of non-Presbies lived too. The Palestinians have lived in the area for a long damn time. I don’t blame them for not being cool with the powers that be coming in and designating the area as a Jewish homeland in keeping with Biblical history. I blame them for blowing people up, however, among other things. Like the Republic of Texas wackos, at some point you have to accept reality and get on with life. But that doesn’t mean they do not have a legit beef (the Palestinians, not the Republic of Texas wackos).

  16. into the “Jews Are Cool” vs the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” camps throwing verbal bombs at each other
    JMoore – I’m afraid this thread is doomed to such, pending the arrivals of Mr. Barton and Haka-Double G.

    Till we get there, I’d like to say the Lileks is a trite, unfunny hack. Though he has the job writing, and I’m a computer programmer goofing off in the comments section of a blog. The fawning other conservatives do over him makes me question my beliefs.

  17. “I’m really sick of the way that the right has appropriated Jews as pets or mascots of some kind…”

    Zing! Pow!

  18. “So does Lileks also think the Presbyterian Church (USA) is racist against whites because it “deinvested” from South Africa in the 1980s too?”

    I would argue that de-investment campaigns in the 80’s were racist because they focused not on countries with the worst oppression and human rights abuses but were instead based solely on the race of the oppressors.

    The goal of de-investment was not to protect black africans but to punish white africans. Those advocating de-investment thought the great crime of Apartheid was that it was imposed by whites on blacks. Much, much worse human rights atrocities were committed all throughout Africa of the same era but since they were blacks being killed by blacks, nobody cared.

    We see the same dynamic occurring in Israel-Palestine. The goal is to punish the Jews not to protect or advance the interest of the Palestinians. Human rights conditions are far worse in Palestinian controlled areas or in neighboring Arabic states than in Israeli controlled areas but that is not considered important. Arabs killed by non-Jews don’t count.

    Holding people to different moral standards, either higher or lower, based on their race is racism.

  19. Problems in the ME are the result of people learning about their history (usually one-sided versions). Henry Ford was half right: history is not only bunk, it’s downright dangerous.

    Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why anyone would want the land called Israel. From a purely practical point of view, it’s got to be some of the most useless land in the world. If anyone ever offers me a homeland, I’ll take something with great weather and loads of minerals.

  20. Snark-o-riffic!

    (Truth in advertising: I think Lileks has a point. Namely that if you’re going to pick a country to financially stick it to – because it doesn’t match your religious worldview! – Israel just doesn’t seem like the most logical first choice. The list of bad guys is so long, and so much worse, y’know?)

  21. Herman

    If it does become verbal bomb-throwing, I swear I’m going to try to threadjack it by mentioning DDT and Global Warming.

  22. I’m really sick of the way that the right has appropriated Jews as pets or mascots of some kind…

    I’m really sick of the way the left continues to target Israel when there are far greater injustices going on around the world.

  23. Now, Jesse isn’t prejudiced against Lilekses…

    Dude, you sound like Gollum.

  24. At least they have an economy to boycott, which is more than you can say for a lot of places.

    Ok, if you want to boycott someone who really sucks, stop guzzling that Saudi Arabian crude oil. Lose the SUV and get a bike or scooter. How about it?

    crickets

  25. interesting fact. The creation of the jewish state in Isreal did not begin in 1945, but in 1917 from various political zionists. Many jews immigrated to what was then Palestine, but did not forcibly displace the Palestinians already there at the time, or so the article says.

    http://www.mideastweb.org/briefhistory.htm

    “The Arabs claimed that Jewish immigration and land purchases were displacing and dispossessing the Arabs of Palestine. However, economic, population and other indicators suggest that objectively, the Arabs of Palestine benefited from the Mandate and Zionist investment. Arab standard of living increased faster in Palestine than other areas, and population grew prodigiously throughout the Mandate years. (see Zionism and its Impact).”

    Of course this somehow still angered the Arabs there, probably the arbitrality of the British rulers had something to do with the resentment.

    Let’s just say the conflict had deeper roots than the movement of jews after WWII, though that gave them the political sympathy they needed to support the finalization of the state.

  26. Namely that if you’re going to pick a country to financially stick it to – because it doesn’t match your religious worldview! – Israel just doesn’t seem like the most logical first choice. The list of bad guys is so long, and so much worse, y’know?

    I didn’t read the article, or do any research, but it is possible that the Presbo’s are already divested from Cuba, No. Korea, Rhodesia, China, etc. whether by accident or design. If so, I think that circumstance would pretty much take care of your concern here.

  27. I’ve always thought that, since Israel was basically the Western world’s way of saying “We’re sorry, our bad about not doing anything to stop the Holocaust,” it should have been Germany that was handed over to the Jews after World War Two.

  28. Jews make excellent companions! They’re clean, intelligent, and they can pretty much take care of themselves. Some of them are downright loveable. They come in a lovely assortment of breeds for all tastes and home environments. Get one today from your local officially-registered Jew dealer!

  29. I’m really sick of the way the left continues to target Israel when there are far greater injustices going on around the world.

    Yes, I’m sure the Presbyterian Church is crawling with fucking leftists, Rhywun. Brilliant.

    Remember, kids, if you don’t complain about everything at once — especially those things which you cannot possibly affect at all — then you can never, ever complain about anything.

  30. Shannon, I have to say that I don’t agree with you.

    If people are behaving immorally, other people have the right to criticize them for it, and/or to withhold their support in whatever ways are available to them.

    The “bad actors” have absolutely no right point to someone else acting even worse and say, “You should deal with them first,” in some sort of political triage system.

    Perhaps the people putting pressure on Israel instead of on Syria are doing so because they believe that Israel is a state that one can successfully pressure using non-violent means available to the average citizen, while Syria is not.

    If Amnesty International asked me to write a letter to an Israeli official, I would do it. If they asked me to write to a North Korean official, I wouldn’t. Not because Israel is worse than North Korea, but because there is at least a chance that Israel will listen – but I know in advance that North Korea doesn’t give a shit, so I’m not going to waste my time. Does that mean that Israel can say, “We aren’t changing a whit until North Korea changes first”? I don’t think that it does. Does it mean that Israel can say, “Fluffy is a hypocrite for agitating against us, and leaving North Korea alone”? I don’t think that it does.

  31. Jesse,
    “”They” didn’t steal land from someone else, WSDave. Most of us had nothing to do with it.”

    “They” didn’t refer to all Jews, only the ones that went along with the land transfer. Sorry, I should have left a much longer, more involved post to explain further. “They” also refers to the UN and other parties involved in the transfer, though they’re not the subject of the issue.

    Rhywun,
    “Do you have a “solution” to the “problem with Jews”?”

    Yes I do, though after 60 years it would never fly. Let them intergrate back into every other country and culture like they were before the advent of Isreal. If I recall correctly (and PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong), most of the Native American population was fairly nomadic at the time “the West was won”, just as the Jews (and much of the rest of the region) had been for most of their early history. I think it was wrong for the new American government to push the Natives to reservations instead of insisting that settlers intergrate with them.

    By the same token, the Jewish refugees could have intergrated with the existing populations where ever they ended up, just as they had done before.

    paul e,
    “No one stole any land. The Brits voluntarily gave it up for the UN to divvy (i.e. got tired of trying to run it) after “pressure” from Arab and Jewish terror groups.”

    If no one stole any land, did the Brits buy it from the mid-easterners?

  32. fluffy

    That logic seems to be similar to that expressed in the previous thread about the drug war. The choice between going after what is more dangerous first or going after what is less dangerous but easier to control.

    Not necessarily disagreeing, but it does seem an especially interesting conundrum for foreign policy, doesn’t it?

  33. I don’t really know how it is possible to “stick it to Palestinians” by divesting from their companies since they…don’t have any. Nor do they have a functioning economy. One of the overlooked facts of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is the economic prosperity that occured there once it happened, despite the violence there, which was one of the real reasons why so many settlers went over there – to run businesses. Now that the Israelis will effectively withdraw, I hope the Palestinians can keep a functioning economy, but I am not optimistic. The Palestinian Authority is more of a concept than a reality, and unfortuneately, most Arab states don’t have a great record encouraging dynamic capitalism.

  34. “I’m really sick of the way the left continues to target Israel when there are far greater injustices going on around the world.”

    To add to the previous, fluffy comment: I get more exercized about Israeli injustic than, say, Burmese injustice, because Israel is us. They’re one of our closest allies, they’re a democratic republic, we give them a fortune in aid every year – they’re the West. They’re us. It’s the same reasons I feel more free to discipline my kid than my neighbor’s kid.

  35. wsdave — “Let them intergrate back into every other country and culture like they were before the advent of Isreal. If I recall correctly (and PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong), most of the Native American population was fairly nomadic at the time “the West was won”, just as the Jews (and much of the rest of the region) had been for most of their early history.”

    Yeah, because it’s not like “every other country and culture” in Europe hadn’t spent the past six years either actively trying to exterminate Jews or silently acquiescing in the same. The Germans, Poles, and Slavs were just itching to embrace the return of the Jews after WWII.

  36. Hmmm…I am somewhat agreeing with…OMFG!…joe!

    Actually, I can appreciate that line of reasoning: the more money we give you, the more justification we have for telling you what to do.

    hmmm….good point

  37. wsdave would like to ethnically cleanse Israel of Jews through deportation. Nice.

    Newsflash, no one “pushed” Jews onto the “reservation” of Israel. I haven’t seen this much ignorance since the 2004 Presidential Race.

  38. The queston central to Presbyterian theology can be recast in a form all too gemane to the Middle East: Is damnation best to be attained by faith or good works?

    This thread recalls a nation founded upon the principle of the right of return for all descendants of the tyrannically disposessed victims of a Diaspora inflicted long ago.

    How will America celebrate the bicentennial of its sister Democracy–
    Liberia

  39. Namely that if you’re going to pick a country to financially stick it to – because it doesn’t match your religious worldview! – Israel just doesn’t seem like the most logical first choice. The list of bad guys is so long, and so much worse, y’know?

    That is quite a silly statement. If we’re going to follow that logic, we shouldn’t make a peep about US mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, until we’ve condemned every country on earth that does much worse things to its prisoners.

    The reason people focus on the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians is largely because Israel is a democracy, and receives financial aid from the US. Sorta the same reason Amnesty International and the Intl Red Cross are quick to condemn the US’s failings while ignoring those of Myanmar, Uzbekistan, N. Korea, etc: condemning a poor country ruled by an absolute dictator is unlikely to be as effective as condemning a wealthy democracy.

  40. All this talk about handing over Germany or Florida, or wherever, to the jews misses the point that they wanted their traditional homeland back, besides, Florida is humid and Germany is cold.

  41. Mike: I guess nobody remembers the end of Schindler’s List, when the Red Army enters Brinnlitz.

    Russian officer: You have been liberated by the Soviet army!
    Itzhak Stern: Have you been in Poland?
    Russian officer: I just came from Poland.
    Itzhak Stern: Are there any Jews left?
    Michael Lemper: Where should we go?
    Russian officer: Don’t go east, that’s for sure. They hate you there. I wouldn’t go west either, if I were you.

  42. Political hacking aside, Lilek’s Gallery of Regrettable Food is pretty damn funny.

  43. I hate being a slow poster…

  44. Mike,
    “Yeah, because it’s not like “every other country and culture” in Europe hadn’t spent the past six years either actively trying to exterminate Jews or silently acquiescing in the same. The Germans, Poles, and Slavs were just itching to embrace the return of the Jews after WWII.”

    I’m not saying it would have been pretty or bloodless, but perhaps better. The alternative is that we should have given the Mormons and Scientologists they’re own countries to keep them safe, since up until the early 70’s there was a law on the books in Georgia saying it was ok to kill Mormons, and Germany treats Scientology as a punishable crime. This doesn’t even touch on the number of religious and ethnic groups in Africa and other places in similar straites.

    If we do it for the Jews, we should do it for everyone. Or better yet, we should do it for no one. If you personally want to save people, good on ya. Don’t use my money or country to support your crusade, and I’ll do the same for you.

  45. A few principles that we can aspire to:

    It is not the worst thing in the world but the following are definitely not good:
    1. State’s defined by a religion.
    2. State’s defined by an ethnic group.
    3. Citizenship in a state defined in any way, or giving preference defined by a either religion or ethnic group.

    Other priciples:
    1. Occupying land by a state should be considered a temporary situation requires plans (or at least an honest intention) in such cases where it may be necessary to either, end the occupation or treat the inhabitants as equal to your own population (giving citizenship, etc.)

    I would think that these would be principles that almost all Americans could aspire to, while simultaneously understanding that, again these are not the worst things in the world, and that it is feasible that security situations trump what is possible.

  46. Sorta the same reason Amnesty International and the Intl Red Cross are quick to condemn the US’s failings while ignoring those of Myanmar, Uzbekistan, N. Korea, etc

    Amnesty International may well put more effort into combating American abuses than those in Myanmar, Uzbekistan, and North Korea. But it doesn’t ignore any of the above.

  47. Todd,

    Israel hadn’t been Jewish people’s “traditional homeland” since the first century CE.

    JMoore, to me, it’s not primarily about the money. It’s about WHY we give them the money – because they’re us.

  48. Joe makes sense.

    And Fluffy is spot-on, I think.

    If the church wants to divest in Israel, I’m not sure it’s up to us to say they chose the wrong state to divest in. They probably don’t have much invested in Zimbabwe, anyway.

    And defending Israel by saying there are worse abusers…not a very sympathetic argument.

    Shannon, the goal of divestment in these cases has been to bring about political change and human rights recognitions – not to punish whites for their ivory skin. Sheesh.

  49. joe

    yes, I get that. I emphasize the money because it has a broader appeal. Everybody can appreciate the concept of “getting your money’s worth.”

  50. Ayn,
    “wsdave would like to ethnically cleanse Israel of Jews through deportation. Nice.

    Newsflash, no one “pushed” Jews onto the “reservation” of Israel. I haven’t seen this much ignorance since the 2004 Presidential Race.”

    You didn’t actually read my post. 60 years ago the Jews wouldn’t have been deported, because there was no Israel.

    I didn’t say the Jews were pushed onto a reservation, I said the Native Americans were.

    Please read the post before responding. I’m begining to feel like joe.

  51. Dave W. –

    Could be. But I didn’t notice them denouncing those countries. I might have simply missed that bit.

    Frankly, I don’t care HOW the church – any church – invests its money as long as its not funding terrorist cells…

    But this thing seems like tunnel vision to me – on both sides. The outraged side doesn’t seem to have noticed that, according to a PCUSA press release, “Other U.S. churches have taken similar steps, including the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and two conferences within the United Methodist Church ? assessing their investments in firms that profit from involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

    The churches themselves don’t seem to spend much time talking about who the bad guys really are, and like I said there’s a long list of countries worse than Israel.

  52. Amnesty International may well put more effort into combating American abuses than those in Myanmar, Uzbekistan, and North Korea. But it doesn’t ignore any of the above.

    Right on, Jesse. Neither does the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent. One could only accuse them of “ignoring” those countries by having a complete lack of knowledge about what AI and ICRC actually do.

  53. JMoore: did you see how you didn’t get an apology from the warming thread? And how the tool-de-la-semaine gave a “well.. mumble mumble… everybody else mumble mumble….”? ba-boom!

    Still, have you ever been to a Presbyterian Bash? And how many permutations of Mr. Calvin’s original thought exist? Aren’t there really conservative (a la Missouri Synod Lutherian fundie?) branches, too?

    We need a field trip to Alma College to get to the bottom of this.

  54. Aren’t we forgetting here that this move is on behalf of the Palestinians? Let’s not forget that hisorically and geographical speaking, two thirds of the Palestinians natural territory came from what is now Syria and Jordan. But the church has made no move to divest from those two regimes, even though both also created Palestinian refugees and the latter killed more Palestinians in one day — Black September, I believe in 196something — than Israel has in its entire history.

    And wsdave, two points. Germany is wrong to have that law, regardless of how nutty Tom Cruise and co. are, and, Mormons do have a state — Utah. I’m being serious. Within a federalist system, it was possible for them to be protected from those who opposed them while still being a part of the nation as a whole. How, exactly, could that have been done in Europe after WWII? The largest mass murder of Jews in Poland, for example, took place after the Germans had left.

  55. Dear crimethink,

    “That is quite a silly statement.” Is not. So there!

    Here’s a silly statement: “The reason people focus on the Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians is largely because Israel is a democracy, and receives financial aid from the US. Sorta the same reason Amnesty International and the Intl Red Cross are quick to condemn the US’s failings while ignoring those of Myanmar, Uzbekistan, N. Korea, etc: condemning a poor country ruled by an absolute dictator is unlikely to be as effective as condemning a wealthy democracy.”

    So it’s okay to make a lot of noise about relatively minor inhumanities because you might have some effect there, but fail to speak out about true evil? Not buying it. (Not to mention the fact that in doing so it’s essentially arming the propaganda machine of the real bad guys.)

  56. it’s essentially arming the propaganda machine of the real bad guys.

    So when the ostensible good guys do bad things, you should just shut up lest the bad guys score a propaganda coup?

  57. wsdave
    If no one stole any land, did the Brits buy it from the mid-easterners?

    Victors of war don’t buy their spoils. The Brits won it from the Ottomans, who won it from the Mamalukes, and you could go on and on with “who won it from” through preceeding empires who in turn won the land from whoever was ruling it at the time of their victory.

    Transposed in today’s terms, Gaza is coming into possession of the Palestians, who got it from Israel, who got it from Egypt, who got it after the Palestinians declined to form a country on it when it was given to them as part of their parcel by the UN.

    But I think we’re getting off the point of the thread. I was merely responding to the post that the land was stolen, which it wasn’t.

  58. Where is this universe where Amnesty International doesn’t speak out about Uzbekistan, North Korea, and Myanmar? In the universe I live in, they put out releases about those country’s all time. In the universe I live in, Amnesty International is the group banging the gong loudest for the Burmese opposition.

  59. jeebus. just read the article closer. this lileks dude is wack (is that the right word???). what a fucking wierdo. he’s like all of those fundie types that used phrases “before planes were flying into buildings”. it’s like arguing with a europhile.

    his gallery is AWESOME! Ironchef – good call! i had forgotten about that.

    time for the tard-off. Lileks vs. enviro types. 🙂

    HAPPY FRIDAY!
    drf

  60. Jesse & Phil,

    OK, I agree they don’t ignore the greater abuses in other countries. But they denounce the actions of the US and Israel a disproportionate amount, considering the egregious violations of human rights committed by other countries.

    Of course, I’m not criticizing them for doing so, I’m just pointing out the flaw in the argument that you can’t work against an injustice until you’ve worked against all greater injustices in the world.

  61. “Henry Ford was half right: history is not only bunk, it’s downright dangerous.”

    Ironically, unlike the Presbyterian Church (USA), Henry Ford really was a vicious anti-Semite. He heavily promoted an English translation of the “Protocols” and received an award from the Nazi government in the mid-30s for his efforts on behalf of the “Aryan peoples”.

  62. Mike,
    “Mormons do have a state — Utah. I’m being serious. Within a federalist system, it was possible for them to be protected from those who opposed them while still being a part of the nation as a whole. How, exactly, could that have been done in Europe after WWII? The largest mass murder of Jews in Poland, for example, took place after the Germans had left.”

    Well, how about the same way the Mormons did it in the US: Move all of your people to the same geographic area (it doesn’t have to be Europe) and work with the existing population through the legal system to dominate the region with religiously-based laws and biases.

  63. drf

    I noticed. I decided to be big about it for a change. I suppose one can take the view that some issues are so important that they merit shrillness, insults, verbal bombs, etc. And God knows I’ve been guilty of it myself. Still, I like to think I can rise above it now and then, and apologize for the times I don’t, so my mother won’t have to remind me again that she raised me to be a gentleman.

    I am, at least, gentlemanly enough to admit that people I usually disagree with in the strongest possible terms occasionally make compelling arguments. I am, e.g., more or less in agreement with joe in this particular thread.

    joe – you’re dead wrong on everything else, of course, you filthy commie 🙂

  64. Correction: I think the Ottomans won land from the Byzantines, not the Mamalukes as I had posted.

  65. rob,

    I ask again, should we not bother wasting ink (or bandwidth in this case) talking about the relatively minor abuses of prisoners that happen at US prisons in Guantanamo and Iraq, since we don’t discuss the widespread murder and torture employed by other governments?

  66. Crimethink–

    I really think Rob is saying you must NEVER talk about the evils of the people on our side, lest our enemies get a propaganda boost. So if, say, a sitting president of the US became a serial killer, and the dismembered bodies of fifty Sunday-school teachers were found buried in the Rose Garden, just shut the hell up about it, lest Kim Jong-Il use this in a propaganda film to make us look bad.

    Remember: letting your leaders get away with BEING evil is much, much better than letting your leaders be PERCEIVED as evil. Or something to that effect.

  67. JMoore:
    grin.

    Crimethink: I disagree with your characterization (“minor abuses”), and I disagree with further minimization of those abuses. Just because we’re now operating in the evil zone doesn’t mean we should deflect the issue by focusing on other countries that “are worse”.

    We should behave appropriately so we can denounce those other regimes even more strongly. And those are our people, whom we control through the vote and who are constrained by the Constitution. Yes, there is a higher standard right there.

    The false dichotomy {strongly disapprove of US-sponsored terror implies –> ignore or tacit approval or [insert term here] of those evil regimes} presented makes the US lack credibility and makes the phrase “minor abuses” ring even more hollow.

    Now, pile on about the Presbyterians. 🙂

  68. I can think of a large communist country I don’t wish to support. But my governments budgeting policies don’t afford me that luxury.

  69. Yes, I’m sure the Presbyterian Church is crawling with fucking leftists
    Phil – I would argue that the national leadership of the PCUSA is solidly liberal, but this might be a parallax view thing.

    ignoring those of Myanmar, Uzbekistan, N. Korea
    crimethink – AI’s reports on those states aren’t all that newsworthy. I think they should be, but no one made me a news editor.

  70. Paul e – think you got it right the first time. The Ottomans grabed it from the Mamlukes. I think it goes something like this:

    Roman empire – Byzantine empire – arabs (showing my eurocentrism here, uh, various caliphates) – Mamlukes – Ottomans – British . . . that takes you to the 1940-50s or so.

  71. Of course, the reason people talk about the land being stolen isn’t because it shifted from one political entity to another; it’s because Israelis seized actual property — land, homes, businesses — from individual Palestinians.

  72. As someone who was raised in the Presbyterian Church, I’d like to say that they’re about the least offensive bunch of Christians around. (Although since the United Church of Christ has come out as homo friendly I stated looking into them more) Every one of the dozen or so, (suburban) congregations of Presbyterian, that I’ve ever met, is characterized by the same nonjudgmental, ‘glad to see you’, ‘joy in fellowship’ sea of enamel. I’m surprised that they’re touching the third rail of Israel. All their political moves have been fairly embarrassing but I always thought that if they ever got caught up in any serious controversy, it would be over Ireland.

    Re:I’m really sick of the way the left continues to target Israel when there are far greater injustices going on around the world.

    Yeah but how many Americans openly support Rwanda and make excuses for the Hutus? Of all the fucking disgusting regimes around the world, none are in greater need of being reclassified as such, in the minds of Americans, than Israel.

  73. All this talk about see no evil when it’s on our side, for the sake of propaganda, reminds me–I read the book MiG Pilot, the story of Viktor Belenko, who defected from the USSR to the West back in the Seventies. Much of the book deals with his life in Russia, and the process that made him switch from a diehard Communist to a man willing to risk everything to defect to a West about which he’d heard nothing but evil.

    When the My Lai massacre happened, his flight instructors spent a LOT of time saying that this was proof that the US was just as evil as the Commies made them out to be. But Viktor thought “Wait a minute. If the US is as evil as they say, then why are they announcing their misdeeds to the world? Why are they trying these My Lai criminals, rather than giving them medals?”

    Yeah, I’m sure some Russians viewed the My Lai massacre as further proof that their system was better than ours, but it was mostly the stupid Russians, the ones who’d be trailer trash if they lived here. Thinking people, the Viktor Belenkos of the world, are able to appreciate the fact that a country willing to air its dirty laundry to the world is better than a country that insists it is and always has been perfect.

  74. Jennifer- Nice, but our conservative trailer trash people insist that we have nearly always been perfect, partially so the liberal folks have nothing to yell at them with.

  75. Herman–

    Exactly. Insisting that we present a perfect face to the world only makes us look impressive to the thoughtless losers who wouldn’t be an asset to this country anyway.

  76. Jennifer

    An excellent point! Reminds me of the time recently when a French guy was lambasting me over all the recent accounting scandals in the US (this was shortly after Enron & Worldcom and a flood of restatements of corporate earnings).

    Before I could even open my mouth to reply, a Belgian colleague(of all people!)shouted out “At least the Americans are trying to do something about their corporate governance problems, not keeping them secret like Europe!”

    I was almost radiant for the rest of the day.

  77. Well, how about the same way the Mormons did it in the US: Move all of your people to the same geographic area (it doesn’t have to be Europe) and work with the existing population through the legal system to dominate the region with religiously-based laws and biases.

    Nice idea, but where in the world, exactly would that have worked? I can’t imagine plopping a large number of alien immigrants anywhere without causing a huge sense of dispossession among the indigenous inhabitants. The Mormons got away with it because Utah was regarded as a stinking, worthless desert by the US in the late 1840’s, with only a few thousand Paiute and Shoshone Indians to shove aside. For that matter, the Jews began returning to Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries through exactly the means you describe – legal agreements with Ottoman authorities, land purchases from wealthy Arabs, etc. Ultimately, though it was doomed to end in violence, as the indigenous population started to feel that they were losing both land and power to the new arrivals.

    After WWII, it was quite clear that nobody wanted the Jewish DPs – not Europe, not the US, not South America, not Australia. Palestine, with its existing Jewish Agency, looked to everyone except the Arabs and British like a good place to send them. It’s fine to say that the Jews should have been accepted and assimilated by other countries, but the reality was that it wasn’t going to happen, at least not at that time.

    Uganda had actually been proposed as a possible Jewish National Home by the British before WWI,but it was rejected by the Zionist National Committee (much to Theodore Herzl’s disappointment). Given the subsequent history of that nation, it’s interesting to think about what might have been if the Zionists had accepted it.

  78. Exactly. Insisting that we present a perfect face to the world only makes us look impressive to the thoughtless losers who wouldn’t be an asset to this country anyway.
    The counter would be that thoughtless losers who would think we are the world’s Grand Evil because we admitted to wrong doing are more likely to do bad stuff to us.

    I don’t buy it, but there you go.

  79. Last year at the meetings where the Presbyterians decided they would divest from Israel, they also decided that they would continue to fund new Messianic congregations (http://www.pres-outlook.com/HTML/jews063004.html) thereby continuing their long tradition (since the 1930s) of trying to convert Jews to Christianity.

    Kind of an unfortunate juxtaposition, huh?

  80. Don’t forget that there is another “Jewish Homeland” in the world. At least, that’s what it was supposed to be. It’s still there, though.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Autonomous_Oblast

    (Don’t you hate people who use wikipedia as a reference for everything?)

  81. Kind of an unfortunate juxtaposition, huh?
    I find it amusing.

    Wow, Barton’s sitting this one out.

  82. Jesse – I can’t comment on specific individual cases of seized and/or evacuated property while ownership by ruling entities over the country upon where the property/business/etc stood was in a state of flux, since, for every “they threw them out” case there’s a “they left voluntarily/they left because their ‘leaders’ told them to” case.

    But I maintain that the winners traditionally get the option of keeping the entirety of the area(s) they win, and the losers have to accept the terms dictated by the winners. Sometimes the winners vanquish the opposition and take every scrap, slaughter the children, rape the women and try to erase every hint of their opponent in that land’s history. Sometimes the winners accept as simple surrender and then feel magnanimous enough to help contribute to their opponent’s rebuilding phase. If you’re not prepared accept the terms should you lose, which apply to you and all of your subjects/citizens, then you shouldn’t start the fight.

  83. Jesse (or anyone else), what land/property/businesses were stolen from the Palestinians? I’m not arguing, just asking. What you hear today is how all of this land was virtually uninhabited, even uninhabitable, or at least poorly run, and Jewish refugees (sadly forced to leave their Manhattan apartments) were practically welcomed as economic liberators to the West Bank and Gaza at different times before the settlements were so thoroughly developed.

    Anyway, do you know what properties and businesses were stolen, when and from where? Is this 1967 stuff or earlier?

  84. Herman and JMoore–

    I just think it’s a shame, the way the right wing has disintegrated in this country–the book MiG Pilot was (admittedly) right-wing propaganda, and yet when it was written, the right-wing made a big deal about how WE, unlike the Soviets, were honest enough to admit our misdeeds to the world. Now it’s the right wing that wants us to pretend we’re flawless, as if THAT would fool anybody.

    And Herman, the thoughtless losers who think we are the source of Ultimate Evil in all cases will hate us regardless of whether or not we’re honest. Actually, moreso for our dishonesty–you can bet the Arabs knew about the Abu Ghraib atrocities long before we did, and our insistence that we weren’t doing anything wrong over there didn’t do a hell of a lot to convince them. But the thoughtful ones–the ones we have a chance in hell of getting over to our side–would think again about us, if we were open and honest about our faults, and tried the ones responsible rather than letting them get away with it.

  85. The Presbyterians and othe groups would be better served if they also called for ending all foreign aid to all the parties involved. Divesting from Israel while neglecting to to call for the end of billions being funneled into the despotism that is Palestine certainly makes it seem as if one has one’s priorities out of whack, for whatever reason. Surely if one can make the effort to announce that one’s investement decisions are being changed, based upon the wrongdoing of Israel’s government, one can at the same time include a short statement that the U.S. should no longer fund the P.A., or Israel’s government.

  86. ROTFLMAO, Lileks is great.

    It isn’t that the Catholic-lite crowd isn’t allowed to do what they want with their money…That’s irrelevant really. Lileks is just pointing a big finger at the leftish obsession with evil Israel. And it is an obsession. My theory: It’s because Israel doesn’t take much shit from anyone and if you start a war with them they’ll kick your ass in a New York minute. That doesn’t play well in much of modern America.

    And, BTW, I’m prejudiced against Press-bite-terians, and all leftist (like there’s any other kind) mainstream protestant churches. Course, I’m prejudiced agin most religion by definition I spose. I don’t cut Far Eastern cults or Navajos much slack either.

  87. “So when the ostensible good guys do bad things, you should just shut up lest the bad guys score a propaganda coup?” – Jennifer

    Did you miss the “Not to mention bit”?

    Ok, seriously – quiet about abuses from seriously bad guys, noisy about abuses from the good guys. You don’t think this is a bit of a bad idea? That it doesn’t give the bad guys something to point to and claim that there is no difference?

  88. Mark B.,

    I understand the “What else ya gonna do?” point of view, considering the circumstances. But that doesn’t make it any more right than Hitler saying “What else ya gonna do?” in his circumstance. Not comparing the camps to the Jewish state, mind you, just saying that wrong is wrong. I can live with wrong (I live in America, after all), but I don’t pretend it’s right.

  89. Will, did they demand that all foreign aid to Israel end, or did they just divest themselves? I don’t see why they should feel compelled to make loud political statements on other issues.

    In any case, the little foreign aid going from legitimate sources to Palestinian causes is seen as humanitarian aid. Most Americans don’t think, e.g., that providing foreign aid to Zimbabwe is a sign of moral support for Mugabe. And providing aid to Palestinian *people* is not a show of support for their government or terrorists.

    (Econimists argue about aid’s effectiveness and consequences, but that’s a different story.)

  90. Anyway, do you know what properties and businesses were stolen, when and from where? Is this 1967 stuff or earlier?

    It’s 1948 stuff. Though it doesn’t end in 1948 — the “security barrier” that’s being built right now goes directly through some Palestinian properties, so it’s continuing today.

  91. Rob–

    My post from 12:15 explained my position better than the post you quoted. But as has been pointed out here already, in the first place, groups like Amnesty are NOT silent about human rights abuses in places like Myanmar and North Korea, and secondly, it does make more sense to try and pressure Israel, rather than North Korea, to change its ways because Israel is more likely to do so.

    Similar to the way Gandhi’s non-violent protests were indeed effective against the British, but would have been a colossal failure in Nazi Germany. Britain, for all its flaws at the time, was nonetheless reasonable enough that there WAS a possibility of peacefully convincing them to change their ways; trying to end the Holocaust via a hunger strike or a letter-writing campaign would have been merely an exercise in futility.

  92. OneState,
    “What you hear today is how all of this land was virtually uninhabited, even uninhabitable, or at least poorly run”

    As Jesse points out, the area was inhabited. As for poorly run, we can CERTAINLY get more tax revenue out of GOD’S CHOOSEN PEOPLE than from some dirt farmers, so we’ll use eminant domain.

  93. Jennifer

    It may even be said that AI is merely trying to hold regimes to their self-professed ideals. North Korea is not really hypocritical…

  94. “I ask again, should we not bother wasting ink (or bandwidth in this case) talking about the relatively minor abuses of prisoners that happen at US prisons in Guantanamo and Iraq, since we don’t discuss the widespread murder and torture employed by other governments?” – crimethink

    I don’t think that admitting that we are less than perfect or prosecuting those who commit crimes is a bad idea. I think it’s a good example of us doing the right thing to correct wrongdoing by some of our folks. But I still find it sad that we spend all this time decrying those abuses endlessly, while in other countries people are being beaten to death regularly by their own government. Not being perfect doesn’t mean we have to give a free pass to those who are truly barbaric.

    “Crimethink– I really think Rob is saying you must NEVER talk about the evils of the people on our side, lest our enemies get a propaganda boost.” – Jennifer

    Wow, Jennifer – straw man much?

    For the record I’m of the strong opinion that concerns about arming the enemy’s propaganda machine should always be a distant second to ensuring that we right wrongs (ensure equal justice), bring the truth to light (ensure freedom of expression), and do what is necessary to make things right from then on.

    That doesn’t change the fact that I’m capable of noticing when something may have the intended (or far more likely) unintended consequence of helping the other side.

  95. JMoore-

    Good point.

    And I was going to make an ED joke, but WSDave beat me to the punch.

  96. Similar to the way Gandhi’s non-violent protests were indeed effective against the British, but would have been a colossal failure in Nazi Germany.

    A letter-writing campaign would have been a colossal failure, but Gandhian resistance has sometimes been effective against the most brutal totalitarians. In the case of the Nazis, I’d point you to the example of Denmark.

  97. But I still find it sad that we spend all this time decrying those abuses endlessly, while in other countries people are being beaten to death regularly by their own government. Not being perfect doesn’t mean we have to give a free pass to those who are truly barbaric.

    In theory, our government is accountable to us, so if we spend enough time griping about OUR atrocities they’ll have to do something about it. But even if every single US citizen wrote letters to Kim Jong-Il or whoever the hell’s running Myanmar, do you think that will do anything?

    Do you actually think that the chances of our changing the US government and the chances of our changing the DPRK government are equal, and so the same standard should apply to both attempts? Or do you think it might just be possible that the Americans who gripe about Abu Ghraib but say little about Myanmar do so because they know which atrocity they’re more likely to be able to change?

  98. Personally I don’t see the problem with them divesting the money. Them being bad for not pulling out of every bad thing under the sun is a stupid arguement. That’s like saying that whale savers are bad for not saving the trees, too.

    Some people save whales, some save trees. Nobody is bad for not doing everything.

  99. Let’s not forget that hisorically and geographical speaking, two thirds of the Palestinians natural territory came from what is now Syria and Jordan. ut the church has made no move to divest from those two regimes . . .

    How do we know it’s even invested in them in the first place?

    Herman: The leadership of the PCUSA may, indeed, be “solidly liberal,” but I don’t know what that has to do with being leftist. There’s a hell of a lot of daylight between the two.

  100. Jesse-

    I’m of the opinion that the Denmark business had success because the Germans figured the Danes qualified as “Aryans;” the Nazis wanted the Danes to eventually integrate into their Greater Aryan Whatever, rather than be mere slave labor like the Slavic people, or dead, like the Jews. I doubt the Danish strategy would have worked in Poland or Russia, had the Germans succeeded in capturing it.

  101. “My post from 12:15 explained my position better than the post you quoted.” – Jennifer

    Ok, we can use that argument, and my response will be the same. At least I used your actual position instead of making the worst case straw man out of what you said.

    “But as has been pointed out here already, in the first place, groups like Amnesty are NOT silent about human rights abuses in places like Myanmar and North Korea,”

    I’m talking about Lilek’s comments on PUSA divestment and not Amnesty (that IS the thread, right?). But since you mention it, I think that Amnesty is clearly louder about the good guys than the bad guys. Perhaps that’s driven by what is more likely to be covered by the media and makes for better fund-raising, but that’s no excuse.

    “it does make more sense to try and pressure Israel, rather than North Korea, to change its ways because Israel is more likely to do so.” – Jennifer

    Yep. It makes more sense. But it’s amazing to me that as Israel’s military is forcing its own citizens out of the Gaza Strip on live satellite feed in desperate attempt to make peace, we’re arguing about whether they are bad guys who really deserve the same sort of treatment by PUSA and Amnesty.

    “trying to end the Holocaust via a hunger strike or a letter-writing campaign would have been merely an exercise in futility.” – Jennifer

    True – if you honestly believe you can only conduct a letter-writing campaign or go on hunger strike for one cause only. I think that when you start denouncing the human rights abuses of various nations, it would be a good idea to start with the worst offenders. Beating up on the guys who try to get it right seems self-defeating.

  102. What the Danes did might not have worked everywhere, Jennifer. But the fact remains that they didn’t try to appeal to the Germans’ “better nature” and to convince them that they were being morally wrong. They threw sand in the gears of the Nazi machinery, which was a very Gandhian thing to do.

    I realize that this is off-topic. It’s just that the misidentification of Gandhi’s strategy and tactics with mere pleading for better treatment has become a pet peeve of mine.

    Now what were we discussing? Oh, yes — my prejudice against Lilekses.

  103. Yeah, its weird. Over the last few yrs, I hear all about Israel’s shoot to kill policies and the body counts consequent to their no-nonsense military tactics. Today, I read about an acid attacks on Israeli soldiers, yet somehow no one ends up dead. Pets r cute.

  104. Jesse, Jennifer:

    Danish resistance people played the PR game very well. The excellent work, “That’s How We Fooled The Gestapo” talked about how the Danes in the UK played up the “Danish Indifference”, and how the author was embarassed about his countrymen’s behavior during the early years.

    “The heroes of the final days” were those, very similar as in france, who all of a sudden jumped on the bandwagon. The period piece “Matador” really touches on that.

    The Danes weren’t getting bothered until August 1943 when the police were rounded up. But the myth of their passive resistance (or indeed the myth that King Christian rode around with a gold star on – he did not. that is patently not true) doesn’t overshadow what they DID do afterwards. And for that the efforts were heroic and brave. When they did act, it was incredible.

    The Norwegians, although generally darker and less typical of the “Ayrian” (although many danes are darker, too), fought tooth and nail by comparison. There was genuine resistance there from the start. And although they get a few cheez films, “Heroes of the Telemark”, they were willing to stake their lives on fighting.

    And Scandinavians don’t have bigger boobs than other Europeans.

  105. “In theory, our government is accountable to us, so if we spend enough time griping about OUR atrocities they’ll have to do something about it. But even if every single US citizen wrote letters to Kim Jong-Il or whoever the hell’s running Myanmar, do you think that will do anything?”

    Who is talking about the US gov’t? (Besides, we agree on this – as I’ve stated I think we ALL have the right to gripe about the US gov’t to our heart’s content!)

    But this is the PCUSA divesting from Israel. Frankly, I think that other than the symbolism involved, it will be about as effective on Israel’s gov’t as a letter-writing campaign from me to Kim Jong-Il would be.

    How effective would it be for me to complain about how you treat your family and your pets when you’re trying to figure out how to handle the fact that your house is surrounded by hungry tigers?

  106. oh – and the Danes blew things up, too.

    The Holger Danske resistance group blew up a huge ammo dump. It was so spectacular that EVERYBODY who’s at least 75 claimed to be a part of it now.

  107. the point that they wanted their traditional homeland back

    So do I. Will see you tonight, Todd, at yer house. Please have some vodka in the freezer for me.

  108. How effective would it be for me to complain about how you treat your family and your pets when you’re trying to figure out how to handle the fact that your house is surrounded by hungry tigers?

    For the analogy to work in the case of Israel and Palestine, assume that the tigers are not hungry but pissed off, because my house used to be theirs before I stole it.

    And if the PCUSA had investments in Myanmar or North Korea, I’m sure they’d divest those as well.

  109. There are stated reasons and unstated reasons for divestiture. What most readers of this secular, cultural, and political oriented blog site will have the least understanding of is this: Presbyterian leadership falls decidedly in the camp of “Replacement Theology.” This is the doctrine that while God does not renege on his promises, the Jews have forfeited their inheritance under the covenant of Abraham when they rejected the Messiah. According to this doctrine the benefits of the covenant now fall to the church.

    A restored Israel, which is a literal fulfillment of the “dry-bones” prophesy, cannot be appreciated and will be activelly opposed by those whose theology and eschatology metaphorized or spiritualized these bible passages.

    It matters not to the Presbyterian leaders that most Arabs migrated to Palistine at the same time that Jews migrated there, nor that the British previously implimented a division of the land. What matters is that their interpretation of scripture is being challenged by reality. So we have a surprising convergence between Islam and certain Christians who both would rather see modern Israel disappear.

  110. You liberaltarians keep claiming that there are people who state that the US is perfect. Who might they be? (Now watch: there will be no substantive answers).

  111. Bleepless,
    GOOGLE thinks your premise is incorrect:
    Your search – https://www.reason.com “the US is perfect” – did not match any documents.

    Suggestions:
    – Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
    – Try different keywords.
    – Try more general keywords.
    – Try fewer keywords.

  112. Bleepless,

    To answer the question I think your trying to ask:

    “America-Love It or Leave It!”

    “My counrty right or wrong…and it’s never wrong!”

    You must have missed these bumper stickers.

  113. Bleepless – I think that there are some folks on this very thread who have pointed at me for this category. I’ve been working on my acceptance speech, even tho it is something I firmly do not believe and have never espoused. On the other hand, I AM guilty of believing it’s the best deal going, DESPITE certain failings by its gov’t.

  114. oh – and the Danes blew things up, too.

    I know of a plumber who went to fix the heating system in some building the Germans were using, Gestapo HQ or something. Couldn’t have been much of a plumber though: the building blew up.

    He had a certificate signd by Churchill and FDR thanking him for his service.

  115. “Couldn’t have been much of a plumber though: the building blew up.”

    NEVER piss-off your plumber….

  116. The nonviolent-resistance crowd is still debating whether sabotage is violent or nonviolent.

    I don’t know if they have anything to say about plumbers.

  117. Bleepless-

    Shannon is usually gung-ho about government secrecy; if the government WANTS to keep a secret then they should be ALLOWED to keep a secret.

    Unless maybe there’s a Democrat in the White House. 🙂

  118. rob, I agree.

    ws, you are correct. I never saw any bumper sticker claiming that the US is never wrong. Perhaps you would be kind enough to cite a website, or any other source, where that appears.

  119. “All this talk about handing over Germany or Florida, or wherever, to the jews misses the point that they wanted their traditional homeland back, besides, Florida is humid and Germany is cold.”

    So do the Serbs get their traditional homeland in Kosovo back? If NATO would just get the fuck out, the Serbs could invade, and if the Albanians fled, the Serbs could just confiscate their homes, the way the Israelis did in 1948-49. And if some Albanians didn’t move, the Serbs could build a big “security fence” to pen them into economically unviable bantustans.

  120. “For the analogy to work in the case of Israel and Palestine, assume that the tigers are not hungry but pissed off, because my house used to be theirs before I stole it.” – Jennifer

    Whatever makes the analogy work for you doesn’t change the point I was making with it – when you’re fighting for survival, a hunger strike and a letter-writing campaign aren’t going to affect your decision-process.

    “And if the PCUSA had investments in Myanmar or North Korea, I’m sure they’d divest those as well.” – Jennifer

    That may very well be. But as I said, this is certainly more symbolic than anything else. If you’re trying to send a message, you might want to send it to the really bad guys first.

  121. Bleepless,

    Sorry, no websites, just bumpers several years ago.

  122. Oh, as a lengthy aside in response to Jennifer’s “they stole it” analogy adjustment is that the land was stolen from the Palestinians.

    “For the analogy to work in the case of Israel and Palestine, assume that the tigers are not hungry but pissed off, because my house used to be theirs before I stole it.”

    I don’t think the “they stole it” argument really holds up. Did the Israelis steal what is now Israel from the Palestinians?

    It looks to me like it was given to them by the British. The Brits had taken it – or stolen, if you see it that way – from the most recent set of folks (the Ottoman Turks) who had it. Of course, the Turks had taken it from the people who had taken it before them. Who in turn had taken it from the people who had it before THEM all the way back to the beginning of human history.

    If anything, the Israelis are guilty of accepting and not returning stolen property. On the other hand, I think that history tends to view those who conquer the land as its new owners… Otherwise you’re going to have to find the descendants of the tribe that originally lived there and divide the world up amongst them.

    That would end up with the Ottoman Turks getting the land the Israelis and Palestinians are fighting over. If you accept this ancient birthright claim school of though though, then most people – including you and I – would probably have to relocate our homes.

    A brief, and fairly objective I think, timeline from http://www.presbyterianchurchusa.com/israelfacts/facts.php

    1517 – 1917
    This was the reign of the Ottoman Empire, ruled by the Ottoman Turks, who were non-Arab Muslims. Their capital was Istanbul, not Jerusalem. There has never been a ?state of Palestine? and Jerusalem has never been an Arab or Muslim capital.

    1917
    In November, the British issue the Balfour Declaration, supporting a ?Jewish Homeland.?

    1922
    The British gave the Arabs a state by giving them 3/4 of the land that had been designated for the Jewish people. All the Jews living in this area were expelled. This bequest became the Kingdom of Jordan.

    1948
    United Nations action creating the independent state of Israel

    1948
    Following the United Nations action, five Arab armies attacked Israel. Arab radio broadcasts urged the Arabs living in that area to leave so they would not be harmed by the invading armies. They were told they could soon return and take over all the land, not just that allocated to them by the United Nations action. Approximately 650,000 left. Those who stayed have become Israeli citizens, with the right to vote and the right to worship. They have elected members in the Kenesset.

  123. Rob,

    You forgot an important part of the timeline:

    1922-1940: UK refuses Jewish refugees from germany; UK fails to speed along Jewish state as a way of accommodating said refugees; UK thereby shows taht it does not take the Balfour declaration seriously; Zionists thereby estopped from arguing that there was real support for the concept of the State of Israel prior to Europe’s famous holocaust of the Jewish ppl (6 million dead est.).

  124. I don’t think the “they stole it” argument really holds up. Did the Israelis steal what is now Israel from the Palestinians? It looks to me like it was given to them by the British. The Brits had taken it – or stolen, if you see it that way – from the most recent set of folks. . . .

    Whether you steal property yourself or merely accept property from someone else who stole it, the original owner isn’t likely to give much of a damn. And as Jesse pointed out, the Israelis kicked individual Palestinians off of their property after Israel got statehood.

    For all your complaints about how the Presbytarians should “go after the really bad guys first–” which other bad countries do they own property in? What others properties do you think they should divest?

  125. I am nominally a Presbyterian, and love the crazy Protestant bastards. But I don’t know that I would support carving out a “homeland” for them where a bunch of non-Presbies lived too.

    To add yet another off-topicky monkeywrench to the pie, this has always been my problem with the Free State Project. The idea of taking a bunch of Libertarians (or just libertarians) up to colonize a state, especially for the express purpose of taking political control, is a bit creepy to me. That may just be some lingering aftereffects of growing up among southern Scots-Irish xenophobes, but my guess is that most folks in even the liberty-friendliest state they could inhabit would just as soon be left alone.

  126. So how many people are for divesting in all our Presbyteria stock?

  127. Forgotten History Dep’t,

    True enough, I suppose.

    One thing I suspect… If James Lileks were to actually read this thread, he might be surprised by how much is being said that is totally peripheral to the point of his piece.

  128. “It’s just that the misidentification of Gandhi’s strategy and tactics with mere pleading for better treatment has become a pet peeve of mine.”

    Yes, sort of the like the GOP’s sudden fetish for Martin Luther King and his policy of nonviolent…uh…nonviolent…nonviolent nonviolence, I think it’s called.

  129. “Whether you steal property yourself or merely accept property from someone else who stole it, the original owner isn’t likely to give much of a damn.” – Jennifer

    Like I said, I don’t think they really stole it.

    “the Israelis kicked individual Palestinians off of their property after Israel got statehood.” – Jennifer

    That happens to individuals who are living in a land that’s been conquered and granted to some other group by the conqueror. Has been happening since the beginning. Do you think the Palestinians were the original owners? They didn’t even call themselves Palestinians at that point…

    “For all your complaints about how the Presbytarians should ‘go after the really bad guys first–‘ which other bad countries do they own property in? What others properties do you think they should divest?” – Jennifer

    Like I said, I don’t care HOW the PCUSA invests or divests. But the implied statement is that they are doing so because they think Israel is one of the bad guys. I think it wouldn’t hurt them to clarify their position a bit.

    Care to re-engage any of the points you brought up that I’ve already countered or can I expect that you’ll continue leaping to new arguments as your past arguments get torpedoed?

  130. Well, Rob, your points are “I don’t think they stole it;” “even if they did that’s what happens when you’re conquered;” and “don’t give the bad guys any propaganda fodder.” Which other points shall I address?

    And I agree with the Presbytarians that Israel is one of the bad guys. Certainly not the WORST bad guy, not even in the top ten percent of bad guys, but bad enough that I don’t blame the Presbyterians for not wanting their money to support the country.

  131. WSDave: Believing that you saw such an item would require believing that you are honest. Ho, ho.

  132. One thing I suspect… If James Lileks were to actually read this thread, he might be surprised by how much is being said that is totally peripheral to the point of his piece.

    If *any* older person read this thread, they would be shocked that so many see Israel as a (perhaps misplaced) Holocaust reparartion. I have run this idea past enuf WWII generation people to see the profound cognitive dissonance that this simple idea causes. In the end, they never address the idea or its implications on the merits. They just say, “Gotta take history as ye find it, son.” It is an indictment of their generation. It can be considered as a form of long-ago deficit spending that my 30-something generation is now paying the price for. Lileks would not get it. Neither would Max Boot, even tho I think he is somewhat younger.

  133. The Presbyterians are taking their money out of U.S. companies that do business with Israel. That’s slightly different than pulling investments directly out of Israel.

    The Presbyterians probably don’t have any direct investments with despotic countries like Myanmar or North Korea, but there are U.S. countries with investments in these places, but the Presbyterians are not divesting in them. Divesting in those countries may actually be more effective since they have more limited foreign investment and the leaders often rely on outside sources to fund their cars and palaces.

  134. DaveinbigD

    We could all just move to New Hampshire, we wouldn’t be taking over anyway.

  135. I oppose Israel’s Palestinian policy, but not on the basis of the LAND.

    It’s not a property issue to me.

    So arguments about who stole what from whom don’t matter.

    I oppose Israel’s policy of occupation it is a human rights abuse, regardless of who owns what land.

    Israel has spent several decades adminstering territory seized for security purposes. Some of the inhabitants of these seized territories enjoy Israeli citizenship rights [the settlers], but the overwhelming majority of them don’t.

    If Israel wishes to continue to occupy the West Bank, it should assert that the territory of the West Bank is part of Israel, and the inhabitants of the West Bank should be made citizens of Israel. If Israel is unwilling to do this, she should not continue to occupy the West Bank.

  136. The blacks were not part of a massive campaign of war on the whites.

    Boy howdy, someone forgot to tell the ANC.

  137. “It’s pure garbage, the whites were a minority and the blacks were a majority.”

    Israel’s policy seems just as motivated by demography as South Africa’s was.

    Israel cannot take back her Arab refugees and their descendants, without Israel becoming a minority-Jewish state. This forces Israel to refuse the right of return.

    Israel also cannot actually annex the West Bank without becoming a minority-Jewish state. But she is unwilling to surrender the territory itself.

    This leads to a situation where Israel needs the occupied territory to serve as a dumping ground for the Palestinians whom she cannot allow to return, whom she cannot incorporate into her own state via annexation, and whom she does not trust with their own state.

    Make no mistake: Israel’s West Bank policy if the same type of Chinese finger trap that South Africa’s homelands policy was.

    And the historical context is irrelevant to me. If Israel feels that the fact that she has had a difficult history justifies her conduct and allows her to take extraordinary measures, well, I’m no more sympathetic to that type of argument when Israel makes it than I am when Charles Krauthammer makes it. Difficult security situation? Too bad.

  138. The leadership of the PCUSA may, indeed, be “solidly liberal,” but I don’t know what that has to do with being leftist. There’s a hell of a lot of daylight between the two.

    Rick- We’re parallaxing here. I think there’s daylight between liberal and leftist just not a hell of a lot.

    bleepless – I have a lot of friends that America is near perfect. They acknowledge failings but immediately discount them. I do agree with you or rob or whoever that the USA is the best deal around.

    I can’t believe Barton stayed out of this. I still think Lileks is boring.

  139. “And I agree with the Presbytarians that Israel is one of the bad guys. Certainly not the WORST bad guy, not even in the top ten percent of bad guys, but bad enough…” – Jennifer

    If Israel – the only country that is remotely democratic and rights-oriented in the region is a bad guy – then I guess that makes everyone a bad guy. Who is a good guy in your opinion?

    Wait a second… I think I’m beginning to see the base-level disconnect between our views of the world!

    So would you say that you’d rather live in a non-democratic, Islamic-law based nation than in Israel? If you were living in one of those countries, who would you rather see denounced for their systematic abuses of their own citizens?

    “I don’t blame the Presbyterians for not wanting their money to support the country.” – Jennifer

    Hmmm… Which reminds me that your argument about why we hear more noise about how terrible Israel is and very little about the really bad guys is because there’s more likelihood of affecting change in Israel than N. Korea, I refer you to the comment by Ammonium on August 19, 2005 02:43 PM.

    “Well, Rob, your points are ‘I don’t think they stole it;’ ‘even if they did that’s what happens when you’re conquered;’ and ‘don’t give the bad guys any propaganda fodder.’ Which other points shall I address?” – Jennifer

    Any of those would be fine. I won’t even argue that you’re mis-representing and grossly simplifying my statements, tho that is the case. (Hint: In order to show that I’m mistaken, you should attack my argument’s underpinnings. Otherwise it’s no more than you and I saying “You’re dumb” and “No you’re dumb.”)

    It just seems that every time I effectively challenge your arguments, you simply stopped talking about that particular one. If you’re happy to let your arguments die, then so am I.

  140. “Which other points shall I address?” – Jennifer

    For instance, the “it wasn’t stolen” comes from my argument that even the Palestinians who were individually forced off their land were only on that land because their people came into possession of those lands through conquest.

    I don’t see you arguing that we should give the whole thing back to the Ottoman Empire, though that is the logical extension of your argument that the current residents give back what they took.

    Face it, the Arabs you want to see returned to “their lands” took “their lands” by force – as did their predecessors ad nauseum infinitum back to, for instance, when Abel originally lost the land when Cain killed him. Then they were ejected by force.

    In other words, win some, lose some. That’s the history of conquest, sad but a fact of history. Maybe the Palestinians should give serious thought to moving to some other nation that has an essentially homgoeneous society to the one they want to create. Unlike the Israelis, they have all of the surrounding nations to pick from.

    If generations later they find themselves in the same position as the Jews did after the Diaspora – with no homeland and no truly friendly host nation – then maybe they can petition the UN to carve them out a chunk of Nevada or something.

    To be completely honest, I think it would be less problematic – and less expensive – to simply airlift every Jewish person in the world out of whatever hostile territory they’re in and set them up with a condo in Florida. But to claim that it’s Israel should make the list of “bad guys” isn’t an idea I’m going to be able to go along with.

  141. “Roman empire – Byzantine empire – arabs (showing my eurocentrism here, uh, various caliphates) – Mamlukes – Ottomans – British . . . that takes you to the 1940-50s or so.

    Comment by: Brian at August 19, 2005 12:06 PM”

    Do any of you remember who occupied Palestine during the Roman & Byzantine Empires??? THE JEWS!!! I can’t believe some of the complete lack of an understanding of history I’ve read here, but our schools stopped teaching true history 20 or more years ago. There were no “Arabs” until the British started using the term after WWII, but there have been Jews in that area for, what, 4000 Years.
    The palestinians were evicted from the surounding “Arab” countries after Isreal was formed. There are currently well over a million Muslum, & Christian Arabs living, voting, and working in Israel. Why can’t 6,500 Jews live among several million Arabs? Where’s the intolerance??

  142. Barb,

    According to this history lesson (http://www.mideastweb.org/briefhistory.htm), as far back as the historical title search can be followed, the disputed land belonged to the Canaanites.

    By Jennifer’s school of thought, doesn’t that mean that the Palestinians should give the land to the descendants of the original Canaanite owners?

    Good luck finding some of those guys to give the land to, right? Wait, what’s this? Hang on second! “The archeological record indicates that the Jewish people evolved out of native Cana’anite peoples and invading tribes.”

    Yeah, that’d be the Israelis, near as I can figure. Though you might be able to track down the Hittites and Philistines, etc. But that means that the Israelis seem to be winning the “we were here first” argument, and therefore the land was stolen from them… By the Palestinians (most recently, anyway) who had their land “stolen” from them, as Jennifer would have it.

    Feh. I still think that historical conquest is probably going to stand, sadly enough, as the means for determining who any land belongs to. Sad fact of our warring species.

  143. I don’t mind legitimate criticism of Israel. What bothers me is that the criticism is often over-the-top, and fails to take into account the incredibly difficult situation the Israelis are in.

    First, the criticism of how Israel came to be should be completely off the table. The world is full of countries that were created through war or force, some quite recently. It seems only Israel is to be considered illegitimate because of the way it was formed. The fact is, Israel exists. Its legitimacy should be considered as solid as any other country on the planet.

    Second, Israel’s behaviour HAS to be considered in the context of its being surrounded by hostile people who not only claim to want its destruction, but who have demonstrated the will to do so on numerous occasions. The Golan heights were occupied because the Arabs were shelling Israelis from it. Gaza and the West Bank are serious security problems, should Israel lose control of the ability to control the flow of weapons and terrorists into them. A lot of Israel is vulnerable to shell and rocket attacks from Gaza.

    If Israel had behaved even remotely like its neighbors behave, it could have occupied Gaza and ethnically cleansed it of Palestinians in 1967. The fact that the problem still exists at all is due to the ethical behaviour of Israel in the first place.

    In my opinion, given the provocation, acts of war, and continued violence against Israel, it has acted with remarkable restraint. Imagine how the U.S. would react if Mexico and Canada had declared the U.S. to be illegitimate, started wars against it three times in the past 50 years, and routinely sent agents into the U.S. to bomb civilians. Imagine if Canada was in the habit of shelling Detroit from Windsor, Ontario. How long would it take before the U.S. would be occupying Windsor?

    And to make the comparison more apt, imagine that Canada and Mexico were actually much stronger, such that they were a legitimate existential threat to the U.S. After all, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been a pretty close-run thing at times.

    And to cap it off, imagine that America was formed in living memory, after Americans were nearly exterminated in other countries, and Americans still carried the scars and memories of the atrocities committed against them.

    The Israelis aren’t always right, but damn they’ve had a hell of a time, and all they’ve ever wanted to do was find a little peaceful place on earth and live their lives where they wouldn’t have to fear a ‘final solution’.

    And through it all, they’ve maintained their fundamental humanity and Israel is still the freest, most decent place to live in the entire Middle East. Even if you’re a Muslim Arab.

    This is why so many of us get tired of the constant attacks on Israel. When you look at the atrocities commmitted by their neighbors, often going without notice, and then see hysterical screaming against Israel by some Americans, well, it just boggles the mind. If it were just constructive criticism of the ‘we hold our own to a high standard’ sort described in this thread, that would be fine. But it’s not. So much of the criticism against Israel is simply hatred. When Yasir Arafat can get a hero’s welcome at the U.N., even breaking the rules by wearing a side-arm when addressing the general assembly, while Israel is shunned as a ‘racist state’, you know something is seriously askew.

  144. Dan H,

    It’s guys like us and perhaps Mr. Lileks, who just don’t understand that there are VERY GOOD REASONS to drop the rhetorical hammer on democratic, rights-oriented nations who do everything they can to make the best of bad situations. (Like the US and its war on terror/Abu Ghraib, the Israelis and their woes with the Palestinians).

    Somehow those same folks are fairly quiet about nations that apply severe religious law to everyone in the country whether they are members of that religion or not, won’t let girls go to school, won’t allow non-Muslims the vote/citizenship or women to appear in anything other than traditonal religious garb, etc.

    But how much bandwidth is spilled trying to refute one guy from Minnesota’s article that PCUSA’s divestiture maneuver is PC foolishness aimed at a coercing corporations not to do business with the only country that resembles a post-Enlightenment nation in the region?

    How much effort in arguing that yes, Israel IS the bad guy – which is another way of saying that US foreign policy should follow the PCUSA’s lead and divest itself of its alliance with Israel?

    I just don’t understand…

  145. The One State said, “In any case, the little foreign aid going from legitimate sources to Palestinian causes ”

    I had heard arguments simular to this so many times that one day I decided to do the research. While the figures on aid quoted for the region vary significantly depending on who reports them, the best that I could find for _offical_ aid was/is the following:
    Israel: $662 million
    West Bank (Cis-Jordan) & Gaza Strip: $2 billion

    Source CIA World Factbook 2005

  146. ?Someone remarked recently at the astonishing hypocrisy of European diplomats and politicians in supporting the Palestinian “right of return” when so many Europeans are still living in homes stolen from Jews they helped murder.??Ron Rosenbaum

  147. “Fourth, stop with the lame comparisons to South Africa. It’s pure garbage, the whites were a minority and the blacks were a majority.”

    Just like the Jews were a minority and the Arabs a majority in Palestine in 1948. Even today, there are about 4.8 million Jews and 5.2 million Arabs in the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. So tell me again, why was it wrong for the Arab Palestinians to reject partition but right for the Bantu South Africans to reject it?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.