Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Will Never Yield in My Commitment to Compromise My Principles

A new poll asks what sort of people Americans wish had a greater presence in Congress. There's some interesting findings, but the one that immediately struck me was this:
Gallup finds that by a margin of 63% to 30%, Americans believe the country would be better (as opposed to worse) governed if in political office there were more “people who think it is more important to compromise to get things done than to hold firm to their principles.” Okay. But by a margin of 56% to 38%, they believe life would be better if there were in political office more “people who think it is more important to hold firm to their principles than to compromise to get things done.” These would appear to be diametrically opposed and exclusive propositions, unless “Americans” are saying they want more highly conflicted people in office, or just want more of everything.
I really, really, really wish I could get into the head of the people who prefer both the pro- and anti-compromise positions.

Monday, July 21, 2014

One-Liner

A Palestinian defendant -- facing deportation after being accused of covering up her convictions and subsequent prison sentences for two Jerusalem bombings -- wants her Jewish judge off the case because of his alleged ties to the "pro-Israel" community (the motion is here). While I don't doubt that the Judge is "pro-Israel" in some broad sense of the word, I say "alleged" because some of the supposed "ties" are really just connections to the Jewish community that, if we're charitable, are simply being misunderstood. The label "Builder of Israel", for example, given by the Judge's synagogue for his charitable donations to the community, is a reference to the Book of Ruth that does not necessarily reflect anything about Israel qua Israel.

In any event, we've seen arguments like this before -- a Catholic Judge asked to recuse himself due to his ties to Ave Maria College; the effort to get Judge Walker to recuse himself in the gay marriage cases. Were it up to me, I'd dispose of the motion in a single sentence:
The motion to recuse is denied. See Pennsylvania v. Local Union 542, Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 388 F.Supp. 155 (E.D. Pa. 1974).
But I'm cheeky.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Things People Blame the Jews For, Volume XI: Shooting Down the Malaysian Airlines Jet

Here's a shocker -- of course the attack on the Malaysian Airlines jet that was shot down over Ukraine would be blamed on the Jews [http://theunhivedmind.com/UHM/new-venice-zionists-shoot-down-malaysian-airlines-mh17-to-ignite-confrontation-with-brics-head-russia/]:
NEW VENICE ZIONISTS SHOOT DOWN MALAYSIAN AIRLINES MH17 TO IGNITE CONFRONTATION WITH BRICS HEAD RUSSIA
[...]
Just this week the Ukrainian Army were given numerous BUK-M1 weaponry which were deployed right next to the Donetsk region and in Kharkiv by Wednesday all just one day prior to this event and all ready to take down any enemy combatants. So one outcome of this event may well be Israel soon getting commercial airline orders for all civilian aircraft to be fitted out with Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure and Directional InfraRed CounterMeasure systems from Elbit. This today will also aid Israel by allowing their zionist media networks to cover-up the Gaza war crimes as interest all lies back on President Putin and Russia rather than on the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip happening on the very same day.
[...]
Expect a lot more plane events like this using Boeing aircraft but most aircraft run the same type of system today so they are all basically drones you should never use. So in truth the U.S could just fly this aircraft into the ground and claim on their media networks (MI6, MI5, CIA, Mossad) that the plane had been fired upon even if it had not and the herd would believe such lies thanks to Serco OOOI interventions. This MH17 flight was supposedly followed by two Ukrainian jets just prior to the downing of the aircraft. I could believe that these Zionists may even go to the length of painting up an aircraft as Ukrainian and firing on this airliner to wind up Pro-Russians but usually they will do this in the enemies colors but if they use Ukrainian colors then Putin might just step in and confront the Ukraine as he has threatened over the recent shelling from Ukraine into Russia killing an innocent Russian citizen.
And I think we have our mole -- "One Israeli Dies in Malaysia Airlines Shoot-Down Over Ukraine. Smoking gun! Let's learn all about this dastardly Mossad agent who no doubt orchestrated this heinous act:
Itamar Avnon, Convert to Christianity....
Whoops -- let me revise. Let's learn all about this dastardly Mossad agent who no doubt orchestrated this heinous act brave martyr murdered by the Elders of Zion for his heresy.

That's how you conspiracize, people. I know this is breaking news and all, but I shouldn't have to clean up afterwards like this.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fireable Offenses

In case you were wondering whether the ANC official who said Hitler was right would be terminated or even disciplined by the party, the answer is no. No, he will not.

Indeed, in an interview with theSouth African Jewish Report, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe refused to even distance himself or his organization from the apparently now controversial subject of whether global Jewry should be slaughtered en masse.

But remember -- the real injustice is when Jews have sufficient political influence that policymakers feel they must be attention to their concerns.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Smell Another Hate Speech Case

Remember that time that a top COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) official announced he wished to "convey a message to the Jews" of South Africa -- specifically, that he and his union would make their lives "hell" if they supported Israel? It led to a hate speech conviction by the South African Human Rights Commission -- a ruling COSATU was not exactly chagrined by. But less we feel too bad, it did not stop the BDS advocates in the British University and College Union from inviting him to give a talk.

Oh, those were the days. It was almost like that time a major South African government official said "Jewish money" controlled America.

But I digress. Today, an official with African National Congress (South Africa's ruling party) decided to join the "Hitler was right" brigade on Facebook:
The post by Rene Smit, who works at ANC Western Cape, displayed an image of Hitler with the title "Yes man, you were right..." followed by the line: "I could have killed all the Jews, but I left some of them to let you know why I was killing them." At the bottom of the image was the message, "Share this picture to tell the truth a whole world."
Something tells me that this could head right back to the SAHRC. And something tells me that, if and when he is found to have engaged in hate speech, the same "Palestinian solidarity activists" will come out of the woodwork to defend him.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Ism" Claims and Rule 12(b)(6)

A twitter conversation I had today made me think, oddly enough, of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

Rule 12(b)(6) enables a plaintiff's case to be dismissed for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," prior to there being any discovery or fact-finding. It can be invoked when the plaintiff's claims, on their face, don't make out a legal violation. The most obvious example would be a lawsuit accusing the defendant of "being a jerk". "Being a jerk" is not against the law, so there's no point in allowing discovery or fact-finding to figure out what "really" happened (or even what the parties' respectively say happened) -- even if everything the plaintiff alleges to have occurred was believed by a jury, the plaintiff still could not win.

A more recent (and subtle) variation is when the plaintiff superficially claims a real legal violation, but it is implausible that the facts she alleges actually would prove the claim. For example, suppose a plaintiff claims two companies conspired to violate anti-trust laws, and her evidence was "I saw them eating lunch together once". Conspiracy to violate anti-trust laws is a real legal breach, and it's possible that it occurred here (maybe the topic of the lunch conversation was "how to best form a cartel"), but it is exceptionally implausible that those alleged facts would actually get any reasonable jury to find for the plaintiffs.

Of course, the plaintiff will cry, he can't demonstrate facts that prove the law was violated unless he has the opportunity for discovery to determine what the facts are. And so 12(b)(6) dismissals, at least outside first outlined scenario where on face no legal violation is plead, tread delicate ground. On the one hand, denying them means forcing defendants (and the judiciary) to go through time-consuming litigation on claims that may well be frivolous and in which the plaintiff can't win even if he finds what he putatively seeks. On the other hand, allowing them means blocking off potentially valid claims based on a judges -- as opposed to a jury's -- sense of what's "plausible", uninformed by any sort of comprehensive factual record.

What does all of this have to do with the above conversation? Well, Mr. Black's initial assertion was that "No matter how hard you try to smear, being anti-Israel is NOT being anti-semitic." And I answered back with my typical rejoinder, that whether a particular stance on Israel is or isn't anti-Semitic is context-dependent; it's not something one can declare one way or another in a vacuum. And Mr. Black agreed that "I'm sure anti-semites are also anti-Israel," but argued it's "still total bullshit to smear someone opposing Israel as anti-S[emitic without] proof."

This, to me, is somewhat of a strange reply given the position I had laid out. An "anti-Israel" position may or may not be anti-Semitic; to determine which requires a careful and sensitive inquiry into the totality of the surrounding circumstances. It's not something that we can usually state with definitiveness one way or another simply by looking at the face of things -- certainly not at the level of generality that "being anti-Israel" implies. Anti-Semitism requires inquiry -- it can neither be proven affirmatively true or categorically denied without a hard look into motives, consequences, and other like considerations.

Juxtapose that with Mr. Black's response: "still total bullshit to smear someone opposing Israel as anti-Semitic without proof." Arguably, this takes aim only at people who definitively declare (prior to engaging in any analysis) that their anti-Israel interlocutor is anti-Semitic. But if so, that's a substantial retreat from his initial statement: that, flatly, "being anti-Israel is NOT being anti-semitic." Mr. Black instead seems to be aggrieved by the initial allegation of anti-Semitism. He does not seem to think that the claim of anti-Semitism is something that requires thorough consideration of detailed facts. He thinks that the claim is implausible on its face. In essence, he wants to dismiss the charge without having to go through the discursive equivalent of discovery -- of digging through the facts and context to determine whether the claim has validity. While he concedes that there could be a case where an anti-Israel position was anti-Semitic, he thinks that in general the juxtaposition of anti-Semitism alongside an anti-Israel position is so implausible as to not require any further thought.

This is, in essence, a request for Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal. It stems from the belief that such charges are so unfair, so manifestly implausible on their face, that they should be dismissed without any further analysis. As I observed last year, there is a perceived entitlement to be free from the vicinity of an anti-Semitism discussion:
Well let's approach it from the opposite angle. Why would it be a bad thing? The answer, it seems to be, is that it is generally unfair to be accused of anti-Semitism (or forwarding an anti-Semitic position, or being insufficiently attentive of anti-Semitism). There is a perceived entitlement of people to not have to deal with it unless the case is exceptionally egregious. . . .

I honestly do not understand the foundation for this entitlement. Why is this something that people are owed? Why is there any right to be free from the vicinity of an anti-Semitism claim? At best, one could say that it stems from an obligation of presumed good faith -- we should not assume our interlocutors' positions stem from evil motives. There are three problems with this argument, though: (1) It's internally contradictory, since the objection to being called anti-Semitic inevitably takes the form of claiming the accuser made the charge in bad faith, (2) It isn't altogether clear why Jews should be forced to assume good faith of non-Jews with respect to matters of Jewish equality, given that historically such trust has not exactly been earned, and (3) It relies on a particular (and particularly narrow) conception of anti-Semitism wherein it only exists if it is the product of conscious and overt antipathy towards Jews. This definition of anti-Semitism is debatable at best, and in the context of the instant discussion seems to serve more as a way of shielding a wider-ranging discussion of the subject by transforming it from a systematic discussion of what Jews are owed as equal global citizens into an investigation of the personal character of the individual.

Consequently, I reject the notion that there is any special entitlement to not have anti-Semitism raised as an issue when Israel is discussed.
Of course, this isn't to say that there could never be a claim of anti-Semitism that was so implausible on its face we could wave it aside -- a charge based on the statement "I can't stand lox and bagels", for example, or (to use my preferred Israel-related example), "the traffic in Tel Aviv is awful". But the 12(b)(6) style averments seem to extend much beyond that -- basically innocent until proven Nazi. There's simply no reason to agree to such a broad shield against full and honest inquiry into how anti-Semitism may or may not intersect with particular positions vis-a-vis Israel.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Fitness Tests

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens, commenting on the brutal kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, stated that "a culture that too often openly celebrates martyrdom and murder is not fit for statehood." This column came across my Facebook feed last night, and I immediately noted its resonance with the neo-colonialist position of Daniel Doron. The nickel version is simply this: self-determination is not a cookie that we give to reward the good boys and girls. One's right to self-determination is unconditional -- one has it regardless of whether as "a culture" (to inevitably overgeneralize) one is good or bad. We deal with bad states all the time. And bad states with bad policies and bad worldviews and bad human rights records should be dealt with. But the solution is not "deprive their constituent populations of their right to vote."
There is a name for putting a people under the occupation and political control of an external sovereign, of whom they are not citizens and have limited political, social, and legal rights, until such time as they are deemed enlightened enough to be worthy of self-governance. Its name is colonialism, and its track record is not good.
Hold that thought.

Early today it was discovered that a Palestinian teenager was abducted and murdered in Jerusalem. This grisly discover occurred contemporaneously with a vicious campaign amongst some segments of the Israeli population calling for violent revenge and mass expulsions of Israeli Arabs. These were not all fringe figures: the General Secretary of Bnei Akiva, the world's largest Religious Zionist youth movement, put up a post calling for Israel to slaughter 300 Arab youth and take their foreskins as prizes (apparently he did not realize that Muslims, like Jews, circumcise their children).

The point of this post is not to say that Israeli culture celebrates death or anything of that nature. Just as President Abbas condemned the kidnapping of the Israeli teenagers, Prime Minister Netanyahu was firm in his condemnation of the "revenge" killing. There are enough people who seem to take comfort that their adversaries truly are an indistinguishable mass of monsters; I do not join them.

The point is that we play dangerous games when we start talking making sweeping statements about "cultures" and whether they "deserve" basic human rights. Anyone who is active in Zionist circles is, or should be, familiar with the favored tactics of Israel's adversaries, which begin from the fact that Israel's inception was not an idealized deliberative process as John Rawls would have envisioned and draw the conclusion that therefore Jews clearly don't "deserve" a state of their own. It's a reprehensible game, the terms of which act to openly encourage racist and anti-Semitic generalizations. Ultimately, it reinforces the very elements -- and they are elements, which are neither trivial nor stand-ins for the whole -- that view murder, mayhem, and incitement as positive goods.

Those, like Bret Stephens, who are up in arms about the barbarity not of the kidnappers themselves but entire swaths of Palestinian society are notably quiet when it comes to the brutalism of the Price Tag movement or calls by Jewish mobs for revenge on Arabs writ large. And vice versa -- those who view the most vicious and irredentist portions of Israeli society as emblematic of the whole are typically the first to excuse violent terrorism and genocidal impulses by Palestinians as legitimate resistance.

We play dangerous games in a land that does not need more danger.