Thursday, November 11, 2010

Anti-Soros Anti-Semitism

Jewish leaders from all camps are outraged at the deployment of nakedly anti-Semitic tropes by Glenn Beck in his ongoing crusade against liberal investor George Soros. Soros, a Holocaust survivor, was accused by Beck of being a Nazi collaborator while hiding with a non-Jewish family in his teenage years. This is on top of a wave of rhetoric which, in the words of Michelle Goldberg:
described Soros as the most powerful man on earth, the creator of a ‘shadow government’ that manipulates regimes and currencies for its own enrichment. Obama is his ‘puppet,’ Beck says. Soros has even ‘infiltrated the churches.’ He foments social unrest and economic distress so he can bring down governments, all for his own financial gain.

Beck even borrowed quotes from the rabidly anti-Semitic former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Soros is a public figure, and thus is a fair target for public attack. But I have expressed in the past and reiterate my observation that many of these attacks have taken on more than a hint of anti-Semitic flavor -- and Glenn Beck has been leading the charge.

46 comments:

N. Friedman said...

David,

Are the comments made by Beck about Soros being Soros or about Soros as the archetypical Jew? I think it makes a big difference between an unkind assertion that has something in common with what bigots say about "the Jews" and a statement about "Soros the Jew."

I raise this, noting once again, your tendency - a very bad one, I think - to use labels as a reason not to consider what other people actually are saying. There were, as you will recall, assertions about Rasputin's magical power within and over czarist Russian in its late days, assertions that may be judged true or false depending on one read of the evidence. Is that, in fact, what Beck is really saying about Soros? Or, is he opposed to Soros as a Jew and sees fit to model him in the role which bigots project onto Jews? Without an answer to that, I think you are once again falling for the label fallacy by which labeling politically impolite forms of expression as bigoted is used in order to avoid considering what is being said. And, what is said is either true or false, in whole or in part. Or, is your goal to be part of some form of public pressure on Fox to can Beck, accusing him of bigotry as weapon?

For the record, Soros does have a lot of influence but, most likely, not remotely the influence asserted by Beck. The goal of Soros attempting to influence things - which is his right, of course - could be altruistic or selfish, something difficult to determine and thus something about which people will debate. So, if that is what Beck is saying, that is not bigoted. It, of course, depends on what he is actually saying.

sonicfrog said...

I'm not a Soros fan by any means, but my God, Beck is a moron. From what I've read, the big-wigs at FOX are none too pleased with a lot of the dreck Beck airs on his show. I wonder if this will be the excuse they use to finally yank him off the air?

chingona said...

It sets an awfully low bar (high bar?) if Beck has to rant about "Soros the Jew" before we can consider the implications of this type of speech.

Particularly when you consider that much of Beck's thinking is influenced by the extreme anti-Communists of the 1950s, many of whom tied Jews with Marxism/Communism/Socialism.

Of course, Jews were overrepresented on the left, so perhaps the more important thing is to consider the truth/falseness/content of the argument and not simply dismiss it as bigoted.

Really, the only thing that gives me pause is that I'm not sure how many people know Soros is Jewish. (I'm quite sure Beck knows - I'm thinking more of how his message is understood, not of how it is intended.) "International financiers" and "New York bankers" seem to be replacing "Jewish bankers" as the bogey-man to an extent that I now think there are people who will deploy those terms with no awareness whatsoever that they can be dog whistles.

I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad development. New York bankers ... good for the Jews?

N. Friedman said...

chingona,

I did not mean to set the bar low. My only point was that David sees racism everywhere to the point that the word loses meaning and, at the same time, in a manner which avoid having to avoid considering what the accused is actually saying.

I was not defending Beck, who sounds like a half-wit. I think I watched his show for a few minutes while at the gym and do not know much about his views, other than he is on the far right.

I am not sure that claiming that there is a power behind the throne is, by definition, Antisemitic even when the alleged power behind the throne happens to be a Jew - although, Soros is a Jew in name only as he does not identify himself with Jewish causes and is effectively opposed to Israel's existence.

chingona said...

Soros is a Jew in name only as he does not identify himself with Jewish causes and is effectively opposed to Israel's existence.

Is that how you know who a Jew is? I hadn't realized.

N. Friedman said...

chingona,

It is my understanding that his association with all things Jewish is defined by its absence. The items I mentioned are those he has mentioned in his own writings.

sonicfrog said...

On the other hand, ignoring that one disgusting factual error and twisting of a quote. i do find it interesting that, of the three hours Beck has devoted to "exposing" Soros, this is the only thing that liberals are foaming at the mouth about. I watched some of it, and found many contradictions... it's a classic entertainment hit piece, throwing everything and the kitchen sink at you without really putting anything in context... but, of all the accusations, this is the only thing you guys attack?

N. Friedman said...

sonicfrog,

You write: "... but, of all the accusations, this is the only thing you guys attack?"

I agree and note that is one important why liberalism is in such disarray. Rather than go after what is said by Beck, liberals no longer see the need to look at the message being communicated (in this case by him). That approach, most especially if we can call the messenger a bigot.

joe said...

It's a given that he's a dishonest conspiracy nut (or rather, a dishonest shock jock who cornered the conspiracy nut market). It's not like there are a bunch of people watching him who are on the fence and waiting for a reasoned argument of why every group that George Soros sees as ideologically agreeable enough to give a check isn't a Marxist front group.

That just leaves the bigotry.

N. Friedman said...

joe,

Name calling is no strategy. It is a cop out. It is what many on the left opt for as the argument of first choice. And, it is a big mistake.

As for Beck's audience, it is my impression that he has a big audience, at least for a cable news channel. That means his audience is not limited, in all likelihood, to idiots. However, calling him a racist - as opposed to saying that he spoke insensitively, which is clearly the case - and, at the same time, failing to address his actual points amounts to ceding his points and, at the same time, convincing his audience that the left is a bunch of political correct loons.

chingona said...

I think you underestimate the number of idiots out there.

N. Friedman said...

chingona,

Whether or not his show is watched solely by idiots, the argument presented by the likes of David cedes to Mr. Beck the truth of the argument Beck presents and, instead, merely calls him names. That is a losing strategy that advances Mr. Beck's agenda.

PG said...

There were, as you will recall, assertions about Rasputin's magical power within and over czarist Russian in its late days, assertions that may be judged true or false depending on one read of the evidence.

Or it may be judged true or false based on whether one is a rational person who doesn't think there's such a thing as magic at all. That's a convenient shortcut to having to go through the evidence on whether a particular individual had magical powers. Then again, perhaps it is just name-calling for me to think Rasputin's enemies were nutters for believing in magic, and I ought to give their accusations more consideration.

Rebecca said...

Oh, but N. Friedman, Beck might know some people who know some people who uttered the phrase "Soros the Jew" once. Are your doubts settled now?

Rebecca said...

To be non-facetious: Friedman, if it were a Muslim making these statements about a Jew, even one who didn't conform to your biases about what a Jew should be, you would be outraged. I would not be surprised if you have been outraged and if proof of such could be found in comments, though I won't go looking because I am tired.

N. Friedman said...

Rebecca,

If a Muslim said what Mr. Beck said, I would think the remark impolite and insensitive. I would not, however, conclude that the remark is Antisemitic and certainly not solely because the speaker is Muslim. And, in any event, the issue would be what the speaker said.

There are times when it is reasonable to remark that what a person has said is bigoted, racist or Antisemitic. However, even if we are dealing with a David Duke type, it is not reasonable to call out every statement which might perhaps, somehow, someway, have some manner of stereotype that, by stretching the evidence to its breaking point, could be called bigoted. In due course, it will be seen as crying wolf - which is what many liberals are perceived to do and, as a result, liberals lose credibility.

To say that a person wants to be the power behind the thrown or that the person is the power behind the throne - i.e. the content of Beck's remark - does not make the statement bigoted even if the statement is about a nominal Jew .Doing what David is doing is called crying wolf.

I might note that Beck's more interesting remark concerned Soros collaborating with the Nazis. In that such has been noted and discussed by others, including those who take a dim view of Soros as a result of his role, that does not turn Beck's statement into bigotry - unless, of course, we no longer allow people to discuss things and say things you do not agree with.

joetote said...

Personally, I feel Soros is one of the most dangerous men in the world and I came to that conclusion “well before Glenn Beck” started his so called piling on. I must as always refer to a statement Glen makes over and over on every show he does, both radio and TV. “Do not take my word for this! I’ve presented facts. Look at the facts than decide” Well, I for one had looked at the facts well before this.

One other note here. Being Jewish myself, I question every day how the Jewish population in this country can stand behind not only people like Soros, but the Anti-Israel left itself. Yet, just like the black population ( and I know I’ll hear about that)they support the very people that would drive them to oblivion! Very odd in my book!

David Schraub said...

joetote: Two things. First, obviously, we should respect the right of dissenting voices in the Jewish and Black community to express alternate views about what is best for their communities. Nonetheless, it stands to reason that if the Black or Jewish community as whole thinks that certain leaders, policies, or ideologies are in their interest as a people, then that view should be given deference. After all -- they would know. The fact that most Jews and Blacks continue to support largely liberal politicians and policies is prima facie evidence that such policies are in the interest of the Jewish and Black community.

Second, as I put it in my prior post, "One should not have to agree with Mr. Soros or J Street on everything -- indeed, on anything -- to find the position Mr. Soros has been cast into in our society to be profoundly disconcerting." As a Jew, it threatens me when anti-Semitism is directed against any member of my community, regardless of whether I agree with them or not. Hence, I'm obliged to oppose anti-Semitism regardless of whether it targets Jews whose views I'm largely amenable to, or those whose views I find wrongheaded or even repugnant. If you're not willing to protect all Jews from anti-Semitism, than I can't depend on you to defend any.

joetote said...

David,

I appreciate your reply and the fact that you are willing to engage in discourse as I am not able to post on many sites. I truly believe, unfortunately I might add, that the American people, Jews and Blacks alike are wont to listen to the sound bite rather than actively dig deep and seek the truth. In my case, I find it hard to defend anyone like a Soros or a Sharpton or many others. Just the way I am. I don't really watch Beck that often but do try to dig deep and the beliefs I put forth are as I see them.

I personally di not see Anti-Semetism in it so we will agree to disagree.
Again, my thanks for allowing the open discourse, disagrements aside.

N. Friedman said...

David,

You write: "The fact that most Jews and Blacks continue to support largely liberal politicians and policies is prima facie evidence that such policies are in the interest of the Jewish and Black community."

I tend to agree with this proposition although, to note, there is a rather big split in the Jewish community on the current crop of liberals, most particularly the President. I might also note that you should consider viewing your proposition to other communities and realize that Israeli Jews know best what is in their community's interest. That, of course, does not stop you from following our dopey President in wanting to save the Israelis from themselves.

You write: "As a Jew, it threatens me when anti-Semitism is directed against any member of my community, regardless of whether I agree with them or not."

Mr. Soros is not threatened by Antisemitism. That is in your head. He is the victim of inconsiderate assertions by Mr. Beck, assertions which match more or less assertions made against him by Jews, not just Mr. Beck.

When someone, as you do, finds bigotry as readily as you find it, that someone has stopped thinking. Nietzsche noted that words signal the points where we have ceased to think. That is most especially the case when you label someone a bigot - hence, you do not need to consider anything the bigot says. My proposition: it is a mistake and a sign you have stopped thinking.

My other proposition is that given that others, including Jews, have noted peculiarities in Mr. Soro's doings - e.g., Barry Rubin, who has written about Soros in ways not dissimilar from what Beck said, except grounded entirely in fact (and thus less over the top) -, the assertions you are making about Beck are, to the extent you call him a bigot or racist or Antisemite, unfair and wrongheaded. I am no fan of Beck (and do not watch TV to boot) and, in fact, I admire some of what Soros does - except, most particularly, for setting up a front group called JStreet, designed to divide the Jewish community for purposes of undermining Israel.

somerville61 said...

N. Friedman wrote:
As for Beck's audience, it is my impression that he has a big audience, at least for a cable news channel. That means his audience is not limited, in all likelihood, to idiots.

Really? check out the comments at Beck's site - The Blaze - and tell the reading audience that those who post there at least are not only idiots but racists as well

N. Friedman also posted
However, calling him a racist - as opposed to saying that he spoke insensitively, which is clearly the case - and, at the same time, failing to address his actual points amounts to ceding his points and, at the same time, convincing his audience that the left is a bunch of political correct loons.

Nice bit of concern trolling. I must say though it is quite a bit more literate than most I have read.

We have two possibilities about Beck and his ideas:
Glenn Beck is a racist OR Glenn Beck is a 21st C Elmer Gantry who saw a gullible audience and has made a fortune for himself ($34 million income 2009) by lying to his listeners.

N. Friedman said...

somerville61,

1. Comments left by the audience are not a sample of the ability of an audience. They are a sample of those among the audience and, perhaps, others who want to post things. You might try reading the CIF page on The Guardian newspaper. It is filled with vile hate mongering and mindless comments.

2. Beck might be Elmer Gantry. He might also or, alternatively, be a racist. However, we have insufficient evidence about the racist assertion to state as much. What we do know is that elements of the left are opposed about using assertions of bigotry as a political strategy to discredit political opponents. It is, by and large, among the most loathsome and stupid, from a political point of view, ideas to come down the pike. And, on top of that, it causes people on the left to insulate themselves from criticism of their ideas. And, as I have noted, the main problem today for the left is the absence of viable ideas upon which to govern a society.

N. Friedman said...

CORRECTION:

Strike: "What we do know is that elements of the left are opposed about using assertions of bigotry as a political strategy to discredit political opponents."

Substitute:

What we do know is that elements of the left have been using assertions of bigotry, whether or not founded, as a political strategy to discredit political opponents.

Anonymous said...

I think the charges of antisemitism are exaggerated and actually tend to coddle antisemites. George Soros has been portrayed by Glenn Beck and assorted others at Fox News as a Dr. Mabuse kind of figure however Dr. Mabuse wasn't Jewish and the movies were banned by the Nazis.
What is repellent here is Beck's exploitation of the Holocaust for personal gain and the arrogance of this sleazy and conniving huckster stepping up to cast the proverbial first stone.

Anonymous said...

Friedman...
"What we do know is that elements of the left have been using assertions of bigotry, whether or not founded, as a political strategy to discredit political opponents. "

It is virtually impossible for a public figure in the U.S. to criticize the policies or actions of the Israeli state without being called an anti-semite by those on the right. When that ceases to happen we can begin to have adult conversations on the subject. Until then, your notion that it is the left that shuts down debate is fantasy.

"I might also note that you should consider viewing your proposition to other communities and realize that Israeli Jews know best what is in their community's interest."

This would presume that all Israeli Jews hold the same position on these issues which is certainly not the case. In fact the debates on the Israeli/Arab question in Israeli reflect a far greater range of opinion than is allowed in the U.S.

David Schraub said...

It is virtually impossible for a public figure in the U.S. to criticize the policies or actions of the Israeli state without being called an anti-semite by those on the right.

Examples, please? I hear this claim a lot, but it is almost never backed up by actual examples, which makes it exceptionally difficult to evaluate.

N. Friedman said...

Anonymous,

You write: "This would presume that all Israeli Jews hold the same position on these issues which is certainly not the case. In fact the debates on the Israeli/Arab question in Israeli reflect a far greater range of opinion than is allowed in the U.S."

I do not claim that all Israeli Jews agree on things. However, the country has elected officials who have formed a government. That government appears to represent the views of the public, which is wary of the views asserted by, for example, people who agree with David. His point of view is that of a minority group - and, of course, is a legitimate position - one that is wrongheaded in the extreme, in my view.

My view, however, is that, absent some reason for disagreeing, we should give the benefit of the doubt to Israeli for knowing their own interest. And, in that regard, I disagree with people like David who say, in effect, that we should save Israel from itself. To me, that is a dangerous and elitist position which places the view of persons only tangentially impacted over the expressed will of those who are directed impacted.

David Schraub said...

N. Friedman -- I actually agree that there should a presumption of deference that a democratic government's decision represents the best interests of its citizens -- one that goes up when it is an outsider seeking to justify superseding that decision. That applies to Israel as well, and in fact I am considerably more deferential to the Israeli government's decisions than many others would be (though less so than, for example, you). One countervailing consideration is the fact that polls of Israelis tend to demonstrate that a majority in fact oppose the settlements, indicating that continued Knesset support is a product of interest-group capture rather than generic democratic support. And of course, inherent in the word "deference" is that it can be overridden. But I will happily agree that a baseline assumption should be that Israelis know what is best for Israelis.

Of course, this whole logic only applies to the (very relevant) criteria of "what's best for Israelis. The Israeli government deserves no such democratic deference in terms of evaluating what's best or most just for Palestinians -- which the US should also be interested in. So if Israelis are split as to whether the settlements are good or bad for Israelis, and Palestinians are pretty unified in thinking the settlements are bad for Palestinians, and I'm independently convinced settlements are bad for Israelis and Palestinians, that's precisely the sort of formula which counsels overriding the baseline deference.

N. Friedman said...

David,

You write: "The Israeli government deserves no such democratic deference in terms of evaluating what's best or most just for Palestinians -- which the US should also be interested in."

It is not clear to me why the US should care to do what is best or most just for the Palestinian Arabs. While it would be nice to settle the dispute, it ought to be, for the US, a matter of secondary interest, well below the far more dangerous dispute over Kashmir. Moreover, it is far less important than whether Iran gets nuclear weapons, which, were that to occur, would amount to a major setback for the position of the US in the world.

As for the Israelis, they ought to want to settle the dispute. However, the grand result of Israel's efforts at settlement has been the decline in Israel's standing in the world. And, each compromise towards resolving with the Palestinian Arabs has, in short measure, harmed the country actively. So, if there is no up side for Israel - and, at this point, there really does not appear to be one -, why should Israelis care to do something for Palestinian Arabs?

I'd be interested in understanding how you conclude that doing what is best for Palestinian Arabs or what is most just for them is important for the US, given all the world's disputes and given that the dispute is so unlikely to be resolved. Please be specific and do not wax elegant, since I am attempting to understand the pragmatism in what you see. My view is that your view, as I currently understand it, is, to be blunt, a folly of the first order.

David Schraub said...

As noted elsewhere, I don't believe America has interests, only things we are interested in. I think we should be interested in securing Palestinian rights for the same reason I think we should be interested in securing Israeli rights (or Chinese rights, or Iraqi rights, or Swedish rights) -- because rights are important, and it's important for people to have them. It's not dependent on whether or not the people in question can "give" us anything in return (useful military bases, intelligence, provision of regional stability). Since my support for both peoples is predicated on support for self-determination, I have to apply my standards equally, which means concern for both (legitimate) Israeli and Palestine desires.

As I've argued previously, I'm deeply uncomfortable with the notion "that the marginalized have to earn their lives through trade". And I don't think it a positive development that, if America's "strategic" interests shift elsewhere, that we should hang Israel out to twist.

N. Friedman said...

David,

You have stated your position well although, to note, you fail to identify any reason why a person who employing accepted notions of what countries should do would accept your position. In a way, you have essentially validated my point that support for Palestinianism has no apparent benefit for the US.

My response is that states do not work the way you posit. Hence, an analysis which is based on that vision inevitably runs into the problem that it is not based on the world that exists. As a result, mistakes in assessing how states and peoples act are inevitable.

I think, with respect to the Palestinian Arabs, the mistake is thinking that a sufficient number of Palestinian Arabs - meaning those elites who control opinion - favor any more than an interim settlement with the Israelis. This, because upbringing and religion teach such people that Jews are not fit to rule and that all land within the House of Islam must be ruled by a Muslim. That, not only whether the Israelis settle this parcel or that of Jerusalem or the West Bank is the crux of the dispute - meaning that we have interests that clash, since those interests are focused on the same land.

Solve the noted problem and the dispute might be resolved. That, of course, assuming that a smaller Israel would not itself prove, as it once proved, to be a reason for hostility of its own.

As for the US, its interest is to balance among the states in the region. What the US is now doing is allowing the Arab states to dictate policy objectives for the US. As I have noted elsewhere, the UK tried that in the 1930's. It undermined UK influence in the region and caused a lot of bloodshed. I see no reason to believe that allowing the Arab side to control the agenda today will have a better result.

David Schraub said...

I'm not sure what "accepted" notions means here -- while neo-realism (i.e., the view that states inevitably act in accord with hard-defined strategic "interests", rather than out of moral considerations) is certainly still dominant in the academy (lead by its most prominent exponents, Walt and Mearsheimer), it's not the only school with any purchase -- constructivism has its backers. Neo-realism has always struggled to back up its claims of having predictive power, and it's always been rather hazy regarding whether or not it makes any claims about what states "should" do (as opposed to what they actually do). Hence, I would take serious issue with the claim that viewing state action through the prism of narrow, strategic-security interests, actually better accounts for state behavior than a constructivist approach (let alone whether or not the former approach, even if descriptively accurate, is normatively desirable)

In any event, I'm not sure why I should be expected to make a neo-realist case for Palestinian rights -- I leave that up to the neo-realists (and of course there are those who make precisely that case -- see again, Walt and Mearsheimer). I simply make a constructivist case for why Palestinian rights benefits us -- because we care about rights, and thus are benefited when more people enjoy them.

joe said...

Examples, please? I hear this claim a lot, but it is almost never backed up by actual examples, which makes it exceptionally difficult to evaluate.

Well, just for starters we could ask why Mr. Goldberg titled his post "Is President Obama Anti-Semitic?" Apparently he thinks the issue is under discussion somewhere.

Now, normally I wouldn't cite Jeffrey Goldberg as far as I could throw his ass, but you seem to think he's valuable enough to be on a blog roll, so who am I too argue? Still, for readers who'd point out the Mr. Goldberg also thought Saddam had a Bond Villain WMD arsenal so we shouldn't trust his perception of reality, we can also just google "obama the anti-semite" to get examples of the kind of discourse Anonymous is talking about.

And as far as critics of Israel go, Obama is pretty mild, to say the least. So the frothing attacks on him just prove the unreasoning and/or total intellectually dishonest nature of many people on the right.

Something that should really come as no surprise to someone who follows rightist political discussion. They also love to call opponents racist (again, Obama attracts this attack). I believe this is because many modern conservatives really do see such charges as "cards" to be played tactically. So if all those liberals insist on playing the race card, well, two can play at that game, by gum!

N. Friedman said...

David,

I was not arguing for the realist school. I was arguing that your viewpoint is not reconcilable with how states are understood, by pretty much any school of thought, to operate, not with this or that theory. Which is to say, one can even, if you prefer, follow what someone like Howard Zinn would assert - e.g. that states, in fact, act to the benefit of a dominant segment of society - but that does not make satisfy the problems which exist with your theory, which I would call, do the right thing for Palestinians because everyone should have rights (or something like that).

Palestinian Arabs ought have rights because we care about rights - your position - does not add up to everyone ought have a state. I have no problem with the everyone having rights idea but cannot imagine what it has to do with a Palestinian state. One can obtain rights for Palestinian Arabs by, for example, joining territories with majority Arab populations to Jordan and/or, for Gaza, to Egypt. There were few, if any, protests about such state of affairs when it existed. Whether that would be true today, I do not know but, clearly, Palestinian Arabs would have the same rights as other Arabs and, if part of Jordan, better rights than most. (I am not advocating this but noting it as something consistent with your statement.)]

I might add that the push for Palestinian statehood is a new one. It was not the consensus among Palestinian Arabs as recently as 1967. See this article by a Palestinian negotiator. And, as he notes, statehood was not the consensus even after that period. Instead, the ideas was armed struggle.

The issue of whether Palestinian Arabs ought have a state is one of whether it would end the dispute. If it does, I am for it. If it is merely a stepping stone towards further war - which, if we read Palestinian Arab opinion, seems likely - then it could well be a disaster. Why the US should be pushing to create another disaster, out of helping the Palestinian Arabs play that part after "settlement," is beyond me.

joe said...

I'd be interested in understanding how you conclude that doing what is best for Palestinian Arabs or what is most just for them is important for the US, given all the world's disputes and given that the dispute is so unlikely to be resolved. Please be specific and do not wax elegant, since I am attempting to understand the pragmatism in what you see.

Ah yes, Palestinians must appeal to US self interest, as defined by a totally impartial judge like N. Friedman, to justify any government concern for their fates.

Now why do I get the feeling Israel must do no such thing?

N. Friedman said...

Joe,

So, no doubt, you have a reason why, given the number of other worthy causes there are on this Earth and given how unlikely it is to settle Arab Israeli dispute, the US should care to help the Palestinian Arabs. Instead, of course, you merely make the snide comment that I would be the judge. So, let's here your ideas.

joe said...

In point of fact the US hasn't done that much to help, and stopping effectively subsidizing the occupation through foreign aid would actually save money, so that's moot.

N. Friedman said...

joe,

The question is why the US ought help.

David Schraub said...

NF: I think the right to self-determination is a right. I wouldn't have an intrinsic objection to retroceding the West Bank and Gaza back to Egypt and Jordan, except that the Palestinians have the same objection to that as Israelis have to a one-state solution combining Israel, Gaza, and the WB: Palestinians (in the former) or Israelis (in the latter) would be minorities and would not be able to self-determine. I oppose it when it would hurt Israelis because I respect their self-determination rights; I oppose it when it would hurt Palestinians because I respect theirs as well. In any event, regardless of whether that would or wouldn't be consistent with Palestinian rights, what is clearly inconsistent is maintaining the occupation, which violates democratic and self-determination rights tout court.

Joe: Your link to the Jeffrey Goldberg post is amusing, given that Goldberg's answer is clearly "no, and whoever is suggesting it is a moron". Now, to be sure, the links do demonstrate that some folks (Geller, with Kristol and Reynolds wink-winking) are, in fact, calling President Obama anti-Semitic, and that (as Goldberg notes) is patently ridiculous. But noting that one critical figure (to whom Geller, Kristol, and Reynolds have ... independent ... motives to attack) has been called or implied to be anti-Semitic by some figures on the right is a far cry from demonstrating that all public figures who criticize Israeli policy will invariably be called anti-Semitic by right-wing figures. Did anyone call Kenneth Bandler anti-Semitic? I mean, I bet if you search the bowels of the internet you can find some whack-job for everyone -- but at that point, it's banal.

N. Friedman said...

David,

You write: "I think the right to self-determination is a right."

Addressing your stated principle only, "self-determination" is not the same thing as the right to a state, and with good reason. It would result in the break up of many viable states that protect the right of self-determination rather well including the US, Canada, the UK, India, Israel, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, etc., where there are minority groups, some of which are not fully happy.

There are many rights but the right of self-determination is a right that can be fulfilled various ways - including without creating a state for every group. Which brings us full circle. Why ought Palestinian Arabs - who have made armed struggle their watch word over and above resolving disputes - be the object of our affection for granting self-determination in the form of a state? Should that "right" be advanced in the manner of a state even if it does not end the dispute? And, why would Jordan, which (notwithstanding what you write) is a majority Palestinian Arab state, not be a sufficient resolution, apart from phony objection that the Palestinian majority in Jordan is not really Palestinian.

I think your views are not clearly thought through here.

David Schraub said...

As I said, I'm agnostic to the particular mechanism by which we accord Palestinians democratic rights, so long as they get them. But either the "independent state" outcome or the "cede it to Jordan" outcome requires ending the Israeli occupation (a one-state solution with Israel doesn't have that particular problem, but I oppose that for different reasons).

joe said...

I'd say it's also banal to offer Kenneth Bandler as a counter-example. He doesn't even have a Wikipedia page, for one thing, so it's kind of like saying no one took the time to criticize "pandalove99" on Youtube. But even putting aside notability questions, what does the caveat of the Bandler example give us? Just that the cadre of right-wingers (not all of them, but I think recent "mosque" shenanigans show that Geller is in fact a very influential voice, and Kristol and Reynolds are, shamefully, considered mainstream) decided not to target him for tactical reasons. I dunno, maybe they didn't want to call the AJC antisemitic?

To me this suggests two things:

1) They often don't really believe it. (Okay, Geller probably would.) It's a convenient cudgel to use when someone takes a stance on Israel they don't like and, as you note with Obama, they see the person as a political enemy. It happens that the right-wing obsession with Israel is such that few major criticisms are permittable while staying on the right's good graces. Again, I think this reflects the general conservative belief (apparently shared by N. Friedman) that most allegations of bigotry are just "cards" to be shuffled around and played against an opponent, just another component in the Game of Electoral Politics.


2) They don't consider it a productive charge in this instance. Makes sense to me when we consider the "Obama is antisemitic" charge is a pretty transparent attempt to garner Jewish support for right-wing causes. (Such attempts themselves seem to be largely inspired by belief in the stereotype of Jewish hyper-power and a worldview that paints Jews as natural enemies of Muslims and thus low-hanging fruit for recruitment into a movement that defines itself in opposition to "Islamofascism.")


PS: I don't think I said Goldberg himself believed Obama was antisemitic, and I certainly didn't mean to imply it. I just linked to him as discussing examples of the kind of thing I took Anonymous to mean.

joe said...

Anyone else see the parallel between saying Palestinians are just a mess for existing Arab states to clean up, and, I don't know, Helen Thomas telling Jews to go back to Poland?

N. Friedman said...

joe,

You write: 'Again, I think this reflects the general conservative belief (apparently shared by N. Friedman) that most allegations of bigotry are just "cards" to be shuffled around and played against an opponent, just another component in the Game of Electoral Politics.'

1. I am not a conservative.
2. I do not believe that allegations of bigotry are just "cards." I think, instead, that we should not make allegations loosely.
3. I think that, in particularly, David uses allegations of bigotry far too loosely.

You write: "Anyone else see the parallel between saying Palestinians are just a mess for existing Arab states to clean up, and, I don't know, Helen Thomas telling Jews to go back to Poland?"

No. I see nothing similar at all. Arab states caused the problem with the refugees by invading, back in 1948. Arab states, rather than stand up to the Nazi loving Antisemite Hajj al-Husseini (in this case, an accurate description, one that he was proud of), encouraged Arabs to flee their homes en masse and attacked Arabs who wanted to resolve the dispute.

And, then, rather than take in refugees which their foolish policies largely created, decided to use the refugees as pawns and then talked the UN into, contrary to all other refugees, making refugee status for Palestinian Arabs into an inherited status, thus resulting in a travesty of justice in which multiple generations of people are treated as refugees rather than, as in all other cases on Earth, settled in the countries they ended up in.

While the Israelis have some responsibility with respect to those Arabs who were expelled from their homes - according to the rather good scholarship on the subject (i.e. both the left wing view of Benny Morris and the somewhat more right wing view of Ephraim Karsh, two eminent scholars on the subject), that accounts for some 50,000 people -, they certainly have no responsibility for the fact that the children and grandchildren of refugees languish in refugee camps. That languishing is something which the Arabs demanded and continue to demand and which, as I noted, is contrary to how all other refugee problems on the planet have been dealt with since the UN came into being.

So, we can have views that have some basis in fact or we can merely think that the Arab side plays no role other than a passive one in the dispute - a dispute they did not need to start and which might have been resolved, had religious bigots like Hajj al-Husseini not been involved.

joe said...

I'm not gonna play Israel/Palestine argument #104358334 here with you, but I will note that the "basis in fact" for supporting Palestinian statehood is very straightforward. The fact is that other Arab states have a history of discrimination against Palestinians, so the fact is they're not some indistinguishable group of Arabs- by virtue of that very treatment we see that's untrue! So blame away against Egypt or Jordan or any other state, but no bad behavior on their part should be taken out on what we've established is a separate group.

N. Friedman said...

joe,

You write: "The fact is that other Arab states have a history of discrimination against Palestinians, so the fact is they're not some indistinguishable group of Arabs- by virtue of that very treatment we see that's untrue!"

The problems that Palestinian Arabs have with other Arabs is for them to resolve, not Israelis. You, however, seem to place Israel in the position of being required to solve such problems. Israel cannot force one group of Arabs to love another group of Arabs.

As I have said, if ceding land to form a state for Palestinian Arabs ends their war to destroy Israel, I am for ceding land. If, on the other hand, it does not do such a thing, then I oppose it.

In evaluating what is likely to be the result of negotiations, we have, at present, the publicly stated position of the PA, which is that they refuse - in fact, vehemently refuse - to accept the legitimacy of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. Instead, and also the stated position of the PA, is that displaced people from the 1948 war should be forced into Israel, which, in simple terms, means, unless we are dealing with a mere bargaining chip, that the PA rejects a final settlement which leaves Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.

And, we have the Hamas - the majority party among Palestinian Arabs - who reject the notion of a final settlement; that based entirely, according to their covenant, on their view that Islam renders Jews inherently unworthy to rule and on their view that Israel is Muslim land in perpetuity.

Which is to say, if, at the end of the day, the Palestinian Arab side is unwilling to reach a final settlement which involves two homelands for two peoples, each with a legitimate claim which each has agreed to reach an historic compromise on the fullness of what they might claim, I see no reason to cede any land. It would merely be a prelude to another war.

I do not wish to go further with the direction of our discussion. The topic here is comment regarding Mr. Soros by Mr. Beck.