Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Founded by Mark Kleiman (1951-2019)
T-shirts we’d like to see
… and yes, I know that Netanyahu isn’t stupid in any ordinary sense of the word, and that it’s vulgar to use racialist language. But from the perspective of the Zionist project I still treasure, the latest move on the settlements is surely “worse than a crime; it’s a blunder.” He’s plenty smart enough to know better. But the policy itself is stupid, and – given Netanyahu’s intense racism – I can’t think of a more pointed way of saying so than to say that he has the mind of a non-Jew.
Author: Mark Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out.
Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken)
When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The EconomistAgainst Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993)
Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989)
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44 thoughts on “T-shirts we’d like to see”
If you wanted to be more pointed, you could always say that his policy is “mighty white of him.”
Funny. And ouch.
And further, when even *Ehud Olmert* says you did a dumb thing, you probably need to check in for serious recalibration. He was talking about opposing PA observer status, but hadn’t had time to weigh in on the latest follies.
Isnâ€™t there an epidemic of goyische kopf in the Israeli electorate as well? If Netanyahu wins by a landslide, what are we to infer about that?
The Netanyahu vote is not a monolithic wog-bashing vote. There are several distinct Israeli right wings. Somebody who is more familiar with Israeli politics can fill in the nuance, but as far as I understand, the different strands in the right wing coalition include:
1. The plutocrats (of course!)
2. Sephardim, who have a justifiable sense of resentment at the Ashkenazim who still run the show economically and culturally. It is much like Republican resentment of “liberals”, except that in Israel, the cultural elite is also the economic elite.
3. Russians. Pretty much ditto the Sephardim, except for the added resentment factor of being reasonably well-educated and still doing poorly in the economy.
4. The beards. (They tend to vote for their own parties, who then vote with Netanyahu.) Remember: they, too, are poor.
5. The racists. This is a bit mixed with groups 2-4. Some folk who are full of resentment will kick down; others will kick up. The ideological settlers may be more purely motivated by racism, especially emigres from America.
6. Some reasonably sensible people who are completely sick of the feckless Israeli left. You could call them Olmert-Livni types, who are now adrift. But who wants to cast their lot with Ehud Barak?
In re: 6 above — Ehud Barak?
Also – from the perspective of someone who doesn’t really pay nearly so much attention as I might – it seems like there’s just no meaningfully organized opposition to Bibi – no charismatic person with the respect of the electorate and the backing of a meaningful plurality of the left or the center-left. Certainly, the center-left entering into a coalition with Bibi seems to have been an epically dumb political move, on a par and of a kind with the self-destruction of Britain’s Lib Dems. And as with Britain, there is a largely disrespected and discredited government that is benefiting enormously from the perceived lack of a credible opposition leader.
Very helpful stuff, Ebenezer! I have encountered stuff about their complex brand of party politics but do not have a good handle on how they run campaigns and what kinds of fears/hopes/prejudices they play to.
I wonder if they have ads that say “I’m Ehud Barak and I approve this message.”
Probably their campaign season is very different from ours.
I have it on fairly good authority that Bibi was a teenage Randian.
IsnÂ´t Â¨teenage RandianÂ¨ a tautology?
No, James. Not all teenagers are Randians; not all Randians are teenagers. “Teenage Randian” is excusable. “Adult Randian” is an oxymoron.
Of course, if we’re talking about Randians, we must genuflect to John Rogers’ classic line:
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
Allen Greenspan joined the club in his 20s.
That’s _Alan_ Greenspan, thank you very much!
Here is an old story from the 1970’s. One summer I was living in residence at the University of Toronto when William Kunstler came to town to address a rally of the Students for a Democratic Society. The SDS were (are?) a radical left-wing group that opposed the Vietnam war etc.
I went to the meeting hall and sat in the audience for a while watching the crowd being warmed up by local SDS reps. I can only assume that these guys were all radical Jews because their warmup focused on Israel and the USA.
Their rallying cries were literally “We oppose the US and all it’s fascist allies, except Israel.” “We support all national liberation fronts throughout the world, except the PLO.” I don’t think they meant that they considered Israel to be fascist.
So, no, don’t tell me that Netanyhu “has the mind of a non-Jew”. This sort of self-serving self-interest goes back a long way and was an overriding consideration even in the most righteous.
I assume most of these guys went on to become neocons once they had to chose between Israel and principle.
Blah blah blah. I guess Zionism doesn’t count as a movement for national liberation. Those rights are only for other peoples.
Most movements for national liberation aren’t simultaneously colonial projects.
And there you go. It’s a colonial project, and there’s no compromise or conciliation to be had with such an effort. That other people might view it differently is entirely irrelevant.
How exactly a position like this is supposed to lead to a peaceful resolution of this conflict entirely escapes me.
What would you call building settlements on occupied land if not colonialism?
The situation is so enormously more complicated than this kind of categorization. History actually matters in assessing human actions, political or otherwise.
The story is long. But to be brief, the 1949 Armistice agreement specifically states that the Armistice lines are not borders and are not to be construed as in any way affecting future disposition of borders AT THE INSISTENCE OF THE ARAB SIGNATORIES.
And you should read the self-styled “liberal”, above, more closely. Ask what the referent of “colonial project” is. Settlements on territories captured in 1967? Or Israel itself, wherever located?
Just as a factual matter, I’m not sure how you deny that Israel as a whole has been a colonial project. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it has no right to exist, but that’s what it is. The British allowed large scale immigration of a non-native population that was dedicated to building a state of their own design without regard to what the people already living there desired. Is there any question that the natives of Palestine would have pursued an entirely different immigration policy had they controlled their own borders? This is just about the classic definition of a colonial society.
As Katja says, a determination to treat these types of questions as all important in the current context is counterproductive, but it would help if people on all sides wouldn’t deny the very obvious.
Even more history. Do the Jews have any national rights in their historic homeland? Who controlled this region before the British? Were the British actually supportive of the formation of a Jewish state in Israel (notwithstanding Balfour)?
This is what I’m trying to say. If you insist on calling this colonialism in the same sense, as, say, the European conquest and settlement of North America, or in a different flavor British control of India, that carries with it, to the people who call it that, a certain concept of a just outcome, of which Israel isn’t a part. I, obviously, don’t agree.
Do the Jews have any national rights in their historic homeland?
As of when? 1890? If that’s the time frame then only those Jews who actually live there have any rights to it. Members of an ethnic group do not have rights to territory because their ancestors lived in it 18 centuries previously. If that idea had any validity to it, the world would be a chaotic disaster. Why should Jews have a special exception to get to reclaim territory millennia later? If you think other ethnic groups should have that entitlement, how do you plan to adjudicate it?
Who controlled this region before the British?
The Ottomans. Do you want me to run through the whole list until I make it all the way back to the Romans? What’s your point?
Were the British actually supportive of the formation of a Jewish state in Israel (notwithstanding Balfour)?
Supportive enough to allow substantial immigration. In the end, that’s the only encouragement that mattered. As I said, does anyone actually think that had the locals been allowed to control immigration policy that Zionism would ever have taken root?
If you insist on calling this colonialism in the same sense, as, say, the European conquest and settlement of North America, or in a different flavor British control of India, that carries with it, to the people who call it that, a certain concept of a just outcome, of which Israel isnâ€™t a part.
It’s extremely similar to the European conquest of North America. Less so like that of Africa or India in that the immigrant populations there never displaced the natives. And much like Americans need to acknowledge that, let’s face it, we stole the land we now consider home, it would behoove Israelis to show a bit more humility about what they actually did. As I said, at this point I also disagree that Israel should be made to disappear. It has a large population that is now native and has no other home. But that doesn’t mean I have much respect for those that won’t at least acknowledge the actual history.
I’d say most Israelis, and most Jews whether in Israel or not, would disagree with the claim that the Jews have no national rights in Israel, notwithstanding the period of time that passed since the beginning of the (second) Diaspora.
As to the question of historic control, it speaks to the issue of how the land was viewed both by the states that controlled it and by the people who inhabited it.
So if what you’re looking for is a statement that numerous Palestinian Arabs were dispossessed and harmed by the immigration of Jews and the formation of Israel, yes, that’s true. I don’t think anybody would disagree with that proposition.
It doesn’t follow that what resulted in their dispossession was an act of colonial oppression similar to what happened in North America. The fate of the Palestinian Arabs isn’t anything like the fate of the Native Americans. In fact, with a greater desire to compromise, they would have had an independent state of their own for the past 60+ years — the first in their history.
Iâ€™d say most Israelis, and most Jews whether in Israel or not, would disagree with the claim that the Jews have no national rights in Israel, notwithstanding the period of time that passed since the beginning of the (second) Diaspora.
You didn’t answer my question. How can you take this idea and make it in any way coherent without positing that Jews have a special exemption? Do you really want to construct a legal regime in which people have rights to places where their ancestors haven’t lived for centuries? Or do you, in fact, feel that Jews are entitled to historical considerations that other ethnic groups are not?
As to the question of historic control, it speaks to the issue of how the land was viewed both by the states that controlled it and by the people who inhabited it.
Yes, and? I somehow have trouble thinking that anyone who lived there viewed it as a land that should be taken over by a bunch of foreigners.
So if what youâ€™re looking for is a statement that numerous Palestinian Arabs were dispossessed and harmed by the immigration of Jews and the formation of Israel, yes, thatâ€™s true. I donâ€™t think anybody would disagree with that proposition.
I’ve run into a number of supporters of Israel who argue exactly that. That is where all of their concerns about “how the land was viewed both by the states that controlled it and by the people who inhabited it” tend to lead. It ends up being a denial that the land was ever really theirs.
It doesnâ€™t follow that what resulted in their dispossession was an act of colonial oppression similar to what happened in North America. The fate of the Palestinian Arabs isnâ€™t anything like the fate of the Native Americans. In fact, with a greater desire to compromise, they would have had an independent state of their own for the past 60+ years â€” the first in their history.
And this is where you would benefit from more humility. The situation in 1948 was that they were required to accept that a group of foreign immigrants were going to be allowed to set up a country based upon a nationality that excluded them on land that really ought to have been theirs. If you can’t see why that would be incredibly hard to accept, in fact downright offensive, for any people then you are deeply lacking in empathy. Along the way, the British broke promises to them as freely as they did to the Jews. That you see the Israelis as being in any way generous in their offers to only steal a part of the land is very telling. There was nothing generous about it.
You’re imputing things to me that I don’t believe.
Jews believe they have rights in Israel. You want to argue with that, you’re just as similarly failing to look at it from the inside as you accuse me of.
You believe this will lead to worldwide revanchist chaos? My reactions are twofold: 1. How big a problem is this? Show me other cases of exiled peoples continuing an attachment to a piece of land for 2000 years. 2. You previously mentioned 1890 as some kind of cutoff point. So now we’re arguing over the date. I’ll pick 1949.
Jews believe they have rights in Israel. You want to argue with that, youâ€™re just as similarly failing to look at it from the inside as you accuse me of.
I’m not arguing that Jews don’t believe they have rights in Israel. That’s patently true. I’m arguing that, unless you can put together some coherent and usable approach to how we deal with allowing people to have rights in places where there ancestors haven’t lived in millennia, the rest of us shouldn’t take early 20th century Jewish arguments that they had rights in Israel any more seriously than we took Serbian arguments that they had special rights in Kosovo despite being a small minority of the population. The Palestinian Arabs, on the other hand, lived in Palestine at the time. The only argument needed to posit that they had rights there was a general argument against autocracy. They had the right to participate in setting immigration policy, a right that they were prevented from exercising.
It isn’t that I’m not looking at it from the inside. It’s that I think the Israeli perception involves a lot of self-delusion as to what occurred. Picking a date of 1949 means that you have already accepted large scale immigration against the wishes of the local population as legitimate. As a practical matter, yes, we should all accept Israel’s existence as legitimate because turning back the clock 65 years isn’t really any easier than turning it back 2000. As a matter of historical understanding, though, it betrays a desire to avoid uncomfortable facts. The entire existence of Israel depended upon the Palestinian Arabs being prevented from exercising sovereignty over their own land. If you believe in democracy, then its foundation really should make you uncomfortable.
1. How big a problem is this? Show me other cases of exiled peoples continuing an attachment to a piece of land for 2000 years.
In other words, yes, you think that Jews deserve a special consideration that other ethnic groups do not. If you opened your principle up to general consideration, rather than restricting it from the start, you’d find a lot of similar situations. What’s most striking is that implicit in your argument is that the longer a people has lived away from their point of origin, the stronger their claim becomes. If we open up the argument to include people who have held their attachment to an ancestral homeland for much shorter times, the list gets much longer. I mentioned the Serbs and their attachment to Kosovo above. Many American Indian tribes retain strong attachment to parts of the US; do the Cherokee have a right to set up an independent and sovereign state carved out of North Carolina and Tennessee if they so desire?
You are correct that very few ethnic groups have held on to that attachment strongly for 2000 years. That’s because most of them accept that the world doesn’t work in ways that justify their taking their old homeland back. If many of them did hold on to that belief as strongly as the Jews, we would have chaos.
I’m not sure what you expect him to do. This is certainly against the spirit and likely the letter of the Oslo accords that brought the PA into existence. Israel (and the US) argued with the PA not to do this and even warned against it publicly. Israel warned there would be repercussions.
We can argue about whether it was worthwhile to attempt to deter the PA from doing this (since I agree that it’s a violation of the Oslo accords, I’d say yes). But once you’ve committed to deterrence, not to carry through in some way is to make future deterrence entirely irrelevant. Israel doesn’t roll that way and I think it’s understandable why they don’t.
It would be as if the US said no way, no how will Iran get the bomb… and then Iran gets the bomb. Either you don’t say it in the first place or you carry through.
I’m not terribly concerned with the Israel-Palestinian Arab issue right now because one way or another the strategic situation is going to be entirely different within about a year. Egypt will be either an Islamic state inimical to US interests or a Muslim Brotherhood-ruled state that has decided that it needs to stay on our good side and is keeping the peace in Gaza. Assad will be gone and Syria will either be a shaky coalition or disintegrated; the key Arab ally of Iran will be gone, and their influence in Lebanon and their link in the chain that helps Iran project influence into Lebanon will be gone either way. Iran will either have agreed to end its nuclear program and we’ll be in the process of dealing with them on a broad range of issues, including this, or we’ll be at war. Or we’ll have acquiesced to letting them get the bomb — but I don’t think this outcome is likely.
After all this dust has settled, Israel and the Palestinian Arabs might get down to business. Before that, the context, and who has the upper hand, is too murky.
What we expect him to do is not expand settlements, especially in areas that seem calculated to make a two-state solution ever less possible.
I expect him to, at the very least, not actively sabotage the slim hope that the region may have left for peace.
Matters of who is right or wrong and who violated what particular provision of what agreement stopped being interesting about, oh, a decade or two ago. “He started it” does not become a more mature way of reasoning because it’s the argument employed by the prime minister of a sovereign nation instead of a nine-year old involved in a schoolyard fight.
The tune sounds sadly familiar. Where have I heard it before? Oh, right:
“Two nations, both alike in dignity,
in fair Jerusalem, where we lay our scene,
from ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”
“Where be these enemies? Israel! Palestine!
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate.”
Adding up decades-old grievances, both petty and grim, brings us nowhere. Each side has its own litany of injustices that provides ample justification in their own mind for everything they want to do, but in the end all they do is escalate an already dire situation. As Robert F. Kennedy said, “violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.”
Every peace process begins with de-escalation. I don’t know what on Earth Netanyahu thinks he is doing, but de-escalation it is not. Yeah, yeah, I know Hamas did this and that, and I don’t disagree, but I care even less, because it’s still a future that in the worst case sees mushroom clouds over the Middle East if the actors involved can’t park their respective egos at the door. And Netanyahu is one of the few people who can actually influence the future of the region through his actions, for better or worse.
What do I expect Netanyahu to do? To grow the hell up, that’s what I expect him to do.
Or, as this excellent article puts it, “how the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Israeli Right became co-dependents in an abusive relationship.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re saying that expanding the settlements is an appropriate response to the PA’s applying for observer status, aren’t you?
It seems to me that one of those policies causes immediate hardship for people on the other side and the other does not. That makes any sort of legalistic woffle about the Oslo accords (with whose spirit Netanyahu has repeatedly wiped his bum) kind of beside the point.
I’m not sure what the immediate hardship is. The claim actually is that settlements in this location will create a problem down the road in trying to draw boundaries for a future Palestinian Arab state that are reasonably coherent. But that problem is down the road. Settlements won’t be built in this area immediately. And they can always be taken down if a good deal is in the offing.
Most settlement activity makes it more difficult for Palestinians to move about in the PA (or between East Jerusalem and the PA), but in any case Israel’s withholding of $100 million in PA tax revenues is immediate hardship if anything is.
Yes, it is. Very few news reports, or complaints by European states, focus on this aspect of the Israeli counter to the PAs action here.
But this is because settlements really speak to the question of Palestinian Arab sovereignty over the land. The PA sought and received an expression of sovereignty from the UN. Of course, it isn’t clear what this means. Israel’s position (and that of the US) is that the only path to Palestinian Arab sovereignty is through negotiating a final and definitive resolution of the conflict with Israel.
Shorter Larry Bimbaum: “By next year everyone in the neighbourhood will be too weak to object to our continuing larceny”.
Well, of course, I don’t view the situation that way.
But to the logic of your claim, if it were obvious that the situation will end up being worse for the Palestinian Arabs’ strategic position, they’d be pushing like mad to negotiate now will the situation is more ambiguous. But they’re not. So either it isn’t; or the Palestinian Arab leadership is obtuse, or else unprepared to make peace under any circumstances at this time. Take your pick.
Negotiate? With whom? You need a partner who will stick to their agreements to make negotiations worthwhile.
My point exactly.
This cuts both ways. The Israelis have a long track record of breaking agreements on settlement expansion, whether made explicitly to the United States or implicitly in negotiations with the Palestinians.
Bibi does not have a “goyische Kopf” (not quite correct German). He has a goyisher kop (correct Yiddish in this sentence would actually be goyishn kop, since it’s a direct object). The combination “pf” doesn’t exist in Yiddish.
Worse than “not quite correct,” since the word “goyish,” being of Hebrew origin, does not exist in German.
Doesn’t implying that non-Jews are stupid violate the rules of The Reality-Based Community?
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