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Under Arrest

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On a Saturday morning in July I travelled to the South Hebron Hills with a group of Israeli and international activists. Around midday we arrived at a Palestinian area called Bani Naim, near an outpost of the Israeli settlement Pnei Hever. Elderly men with kefiyas and canes were climbing the unpaved road along with younger Palestinians to gather in front of the outpost. The Palestinians who owned the field below had brought a tractor to plough their land as an act of protest against the further expansion of the Israeli settlement. Two children reached up to attach a Palestinian flag to a metal pole. Within moments the Israeli army arrived.

‘Ze shetach tsva’i sagur,’ the commanding officer announced over a loudspeaker before the armoured jeep came to a halt. (‘This is a closed military zone.’) He was already shouting as he stepped out. ‘You have ten minutes to leave this area. Ten minutes.’

I was recording with my phone. An Israeli activist with a video camera asked to see the military order and the officer showed it to him, a piece of paper flapping illegibly in the wind. The officer then took the activist firmly by the arm, said he was arresting him, and pushed him off towards a group of soldiers.

‘You’re all hypocrites!’ One of the soldiers yelled at the activist with the video camera. ‘When I go every day to protect the kids in At-Tuwani – why don’t you film me then?’

At-Tuwani is another Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills near an Israeli settlement and outpost called Ma’on. Palestinian children need protection when they walk to school because the settlers throw stones and curse at them.

‘Who are you protecting them from?’ the activists asked.

‘What does it matter who I’m protecting them from?’ the soldier replied.

The officer came back to stop the soldier talking and get the activist with the video camera into the jeep. Then he stormed down the hill after the other protesters: ‘Three minutes!’ he shouted.

‘What you’re doing is excessive,’ I said in Hebrew as the activist was locked in the vehicle. ‘Not even five minutes have passed.’

When the commander came back up the hill and saw me still recording, he said: ‘You knew about the timing, so you’re coming with me.’ Ten minutes had not yet passed.

He grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me in the direction of the jeep. ‘No,’ I said. ‘What did I do? No. You’re hurting me.’

‘I don’t care,’ he said.

Two other soldiers grabbed me by the waist and shoulders to restrain me. One of them had told me under his breath a few minutes earlier that I could say anything I wanted to the officer, I just couldn’t touch anything or anyone. Now he said he didn’t understand why I had been arrested. By 12:45 p.m. there were seven of us in the back of the jeep on the way to a police station: two Israelis, two Palestinians, one Norwegian, one other American and me.

I was born in Israel but grew up in New York, and I have dual citizenship. I grew up speaking Hebrew and English at home with secular Israeli parents, but never studied Hebrew at school, so I can understand the phrase ‘shetach tsva’i sagur’ but would need a dictionary to make sense of a page-long military order. I came to Israel this summer to improve my reading knowledge of Hebrew for my doctoral research on documentary film and collective organising in Israel and Palestine in the mid-20th century. I also came to get a better sense of some of the Israeli and Palestinian groups who are working to improve conditions here.

It has taken me years to look straight on at what Israel has become, to take in the difference between the way I experience the place now and the way I experienced it as a child brought here every year to visit my grandparents, to swim in the Mediterranean beneath a hot sun, to eat cucumbers that tasted of something.

At the police station there were three chairs in the corridor. The rest of us sat on the concrete floor. As long as we were in military custody the soldiers had to stay with us, so they sat on the floor down the hall, getting up every so often to escort one of us to the bathroom. Eventually we were allowed to talk to a lawyer on the phone. One of the Palestinians, Badee, said he had been arrested at least fifteen times. If we hadn’t been there, he told me, they would have been treated differently, handcuffed and chained up.

Over the course of the afternoon, each of us was questioned separately and then fingerprinted. The police officer who interrogated me was called Eyal. They all had names. Some of them had wedding rings. Some of them had braces on their teeth.

Eyal read out to me in Hebrew the crimes I’d been arrested for. I was suspected of being in a closed military zone, of interfering with an arrest and with the commanding officer’s ability to do his job, and of resisting arrest myself. Eyal reminded me that I had the right to remain silent.

He showed me the footage that one of the soldiers had taken of my arrest and noted that I kept appearing in the frame, even after I had been told I was in a closed military zone. ‘But he’d said ten minutes,’ I said, off the record. I didn’t know the law well enough to argue. The statements Eyal read to me seemed to be written in deliberately abstruse language; I asked him to read them more slowly and to explain words I didn’t understand. He noticed that my voice was shaking and my eyes were wet.

As the interview came to a close, I asked him if he liked his work. Very much so, he said. He helped Palestinians as well as Israelis; over the course of the afternoon, a Palestinian grocer had joined us in the hallway with his brother to report on a settler who had pulled a knife on someone in his shop the previous evening.

We were at the station for six hours. The police chief gathered us together to explain the terms of our release: the Palestinians and Israelis couldn’t come to the South Hebron Hills for 15 days; the Norwegian and the American couldn’t return to the West Bank for 15 days. I had given the army my Israeli passport because the Israeli activists told me I’d get better treatment that way; with an American passport, there was the risk of being deported. Everyone, not least the soldiers, was glad to be done.

When we were waiting to leave, the soldier who’d said he didn’t understand why I was arrested told us that he was an American from California who had moved to Israel several years earlier. ‘I’m part of a system,’ he said. ‘So you’re on our side,’ one of the activists said, and the soldier didn’t demur. He made sure we knew his full name and said to look for him on Facebook.

One of the Israeli activists I spoke to afterwards said the protest had been a small victory: the Palestinians had managed to plough their entire field before they were forced to leave.

Comments

  1. Fred Skolnik says:

    This is all a little disingenuous. Why should Israel tolerate self-appointed “observers” looking to put Israel in the worst possible light. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. All the Ms. Gitlins in the world seem to be more upset by settlers throwing rocks at Palestinians than by Palestinians blowing up Israeli women and children in buses and restaurants.

    • Graucho says:

      Observers are never a problem if you have nothing to hide. As for what we do is OK because other people do worse, how low do you want to set bar ?

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        Unless they are dishonest, which all haters are. Take yourself for example. You know as much about the Middle East as I know about China. To pontificate about it on the basis of sources that you are unequipped to evaluate or verify is the height of dishonesty in my view. Don’t you agree?

        As for better or worse and setting bars, that is not really the issue. The issue is the writer’s hypocrisy. No one said throwing rocks is OK.

        • Graucho says:

          These dastardly observers may indeed have been motivated to put Israel in the worst possible light, but if the facts are as reported, the authorities were very obliging in fulfilling their wishes.
          I’m sure that you know a lot about China, the web censorship, the alarming rate of capital punishment, the persecution of human rights lawyers, the de facto annexation of Tibet. No doubt if LRB get around to a blog on this topic, and they should, someone will defend the peoples’ republic by saying it’s no worse than what Israel is doing on the west bank.
          On a personal note, the one subject on which you are utterly ignorant is what motivates me. I am not an Israel hater, just someone who enjoys a good argument. You must have noticed by now.

        • dmr says:

          Just what are these “sources” that are so necessary for evaluation, short of which “verification” of events is impossible? Surely not the IDF itself? The spectacle of IDF investigating itself and pronouncing itself innocent of the charges levelled against it is one of the most entertaining on offer, and unworthy of serious attention. All the world knows this – except Israelis

    • dmr says:

      Blowing up women and children? This has not been the case for many years now. Harassment of Palestinians and violent attacks on their persons and property, however, are a depressingly quotidian event.

      There is nothing disproportionate about Diana Gitlin’s dismay at them but your own indifference to them speaks volumes about blind parti pris.

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        It has not been the case because of Israel’s security measures, including the security fence.

        • dmr says:

          I am not so sure. Famously, the “security fence” has been permeable in several places ever sine its erection. The attacks ceased at as much because they were felt to be unsound and ultimately futile policy as because of the deterrent effect of the barrier.

          Be that as it may, however, your silence as regards my last point is eloquent. Hard though it is for you to credit (so neurotically “suspicious” are you of the motives of those who disagree with you),some of us deplore the loss both of Israeli lives and Palestinian. The lives of the former alone seem to be all that matter to you. That says it all.

    • dmr says:

      Precisely what, pray, has Ms Gitlin done to merit the charge of hypocrisy? Does she stand accused of having set out with malign intent (aka “hatred”)to provoke the IDF, all the while cynically pantomiming fellow-feeling for Palestinians?

      If so,where is the evidence – the concrete, irrefutable evidence – to prove that she is so minded and to lend substance and force to the charge that she has planned to do this from the word go in concert her colleagues?

      On the face of it,it’s a preposterous charge, one that calls into question (if he’ll forgive me for saying so) Mr Skolnik’s sanity.

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        “All the Ms. Gitlins in the world seem to be more upset by settlers throwing rocks at Palestinians than by Palestinians blowing up Israeli women and children in buses and restaurants.”

        Not true? Show me what she has written about terrorist attacks. Show me yourself bouncing around the Internet screaming about Arab terrorism.

        • dmr says:

          f.y.i, Mr Skolnik, far from “bouncing round the internet” as you so elegantly put it, I have contributed to this blog and to no other – ever.

          Since when by the way is it necessary to “write about” a matter of concern in order to entertain strong feelings about it? Can one not feel or think about it without giving expression to it in words? If Ms Gitlin nowhere “writes about” terrorist attacks, does in itself that signal her indifference to them?

          It is nuts to say so.

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            Give me an sample of your feelings about terrorist attacks. Write 10 sentences with the same venom that you reserve for Israel.

            • dmr says:

              Why? For the sake of “balance”?

              Sounds like the usual,writ large: prrmission to write about Israel/Palestine will only be granted if, at the same time or in times past, you can show to the satisfaction of invigilators like our Fred that you have written in criticism of all other conflicts and countries in which there hss been injustice.

              Otherwise, permission denied.

        • dmr says:

          As is plain to see, I am nothing like as clever or insightful or well-informed as you, Mr Skolnik. Who is?

          So Let me see (and not for the first time – do pardon my slow wits) if I’ve got this straight: because Daniella Gitlin or anybody like her may have published nothing about terrorist attacks online, it follows, as night follows day, and undeniably, that she must be in favour of them! Just as it follows that she’s more upset about settlers throwing rocks etc.

          Impeccable reasoning…

    • John Cowan says:

      Why should any liberal democracy tolerate its opponents? Because that’s part of being a liberal democracy. In the U.S., the democracy has actually elected its opponent to the highest office, and yet we think democracy will survive it.

    • bintladen says:

      “Why should Israel tolerate self-appointed “observers””

      Why should Palestinians be expected to tolerate living under occupation, their land expropriated to be used for settlements which are illegal and a direct violation of the Geneva Convention.

      The Israelis should not be subject to observation in the West Bank because they simply should not be there is the first place.

  2. farthington says:

    What happened to the opening comments? Censorship at the LRB? Has it been taken over by the Grauniad?
    The fearless Gideon Levy. who sees what the author experienced on a regular basis, seems to get to the nub of the matter regarding Israel’s leitmotif.
    https://mondoweiss.net/2018/03/gideon-question-crushed/
    There are three core values of Israeli culture that enforce the totalitarian discourse.
    The first value: we are the chosen people. … If we are the chosen people, who are you to tell us what to do.
    The second very deeply rooted value: we are the victims, not only the biggest victims, but the only victims around…. I don’t recall one occupation in which the occupier present himself as the victim. Not only the victim– the only victim….
    There is a third very deep rooted value. … if you scratch under the skin of almost any Israeli you will find it there, the Palestinians are not equal human beings like us. They don’t love their children like us. They don’t love life like us. They were born to kill, they are cruel, they are sadists, they have no values, no manners… This is very, very deep rooted in Israeli society.
    And this profoundly racist enterprise is promulgated as a beacon for global Jewry?

    • Joe Morison says:

      I have Israeli friends who would profoundly reject all three of those values. One thing, however, seems clear to me: the more people around the world who allow their hatred for this Israeli government’s actions to turn into a hatred for Israel per se, the more Israelis will start adopting them.

  3. Fred Skolnik says:

    Well, Farthington, you seem to be talking about Jews and not Israelis. Is that your problem?

    Israelis do not consider themselves chosen (unless they are Orthodox and then in a very specific theological way and certainly not as part of secular Zionist thinking), nor victims (except insofar as this pertains to the tragic Jewish past which the State of Israel will not allow to repeat itself), and Israelis talk about Arabs in the same way that Arabs talk about Israelis and all people at war talk about each other. If you require a guru to tell you what Israelis think in the absence of personal knowledge, you would do better to choose someone a little more balanced and a little less resentful than Gideon Levi.

    I am at a loss, Mr. Morrison, to understand why defending yourself against barbaric terrorism is hateful.

    • Joe Morison says:

      It’s ‘Morison’, Fred; and it’s not the what it’s the how – but, as I’ve said before, I’m not going to get into an argument about the specifics with you because you know so much more than me. As I’ve also said before, I have Israeli Jewish friends who you would not be able to outgun in an argument and I trust their judgement – they love Israel very deeply but hate what she is doing.

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        A very small minority of Israelis believe that Israel’s response to a barrage of 4,500 rockets directed against its civilian population or to 40,000 rioters aiming to overrun the border and murder Israelis deserves to be called “hateful,” so you are relying on the judgment of Israelis who hold extreme views. How is it that you don’t have any Israeli friends who have moderate views?

        • Joe Morison says:

          Metropolitan left-wing liberal intellectuals, birds of a feather …

          • Joe Morison says:

            A view that is only held by a minority is not therefore extreme, it’s perfectly possible for the majority to hold extreme views.

            • Fred Skolnik says:

              But the majority in Israel doesn’t hold extreme views.

              You’re not being honest, Joe. You are trying to make it seem as if you came to the conflict without bias, surveyed the entire spectrum of opinion in Israel and chose to adopt those of the extreme left because you somehow concluded that these are the most decent, trustworthy and knowledgable people in Israel. Who are you trying to kid? You came to the conflict with an extreme anti-Israel bias and chose to “trust” these people because they told you exactly what you wanted to hear.

              • Joe Morison says:

                You claim, Fred, without any evidence, to know what has been going on in my head; you are wrong. I have not done you that discourtesy, please give me the same respect. We can disagree with other’s ideas without resorting to personal insults about how we have come to them.

                (As it happens, I have arrived at my current position very painfully from a position of passionate support for and belief in Israel. I still believe in her which is what makes, for me, her current behaviour so distressing.)

                • Fred Skolnik says:

                  But since your knowledge of the “specifics” is deficient by your own admission, and you have to rely on the “judgment” of others to understand what is going on, the question remains why you chose to rely on people who put Israel’s efforts to defend itself in the worst possible light without yourself being in a position to verify or evaluate anything you are being told. One does not generally “switch sides” on such a basis. Obviously it is going to sound a little suspicious. And since the allegations being made against Israel are slanderous, it is also natural for people who have participated in Israel’s war against terrorism to be personally offended.

              • dmr says:

                The majority does not hold extreme views? Really?…

                Perusal in detail, and daily, of the Hebrew-language press in Israel suggests otherwise. If, like so many New Yorkers who have “made aliya,” your knowledge of Hebrew were anything more than functional, Mr Skolnik (this, despite so many years’ residence in the country), you would know better than categorically to deny this. The enthusiasm with which the Israeli man in the street supported the pogroms in Gaza – what else to call them? – and the numerous acts of extrajudicial killing (the Azaria case leaping to mind here) is documented in any number of readers’ comments on articles and reports in more than one newspaper. See for yourself, if your command of Hebrew suffices, that is. Reliable intramural surveys lend further support to the phenomenon of a casual, unthinking contempt for Arabs that is endemic amongst Jewish Israelis, a majority of whom, when asked, are not slow to express their horror at the thought of living side by side with them in the same block of flats and (horror of horrors) of their sons and daughters taking Arab partners. One has only to converse, in Hebrew, with Israelis for any length of time to register these views, held not by all of them of course but sadly by a great many. But then I suspect you’re, understandably, too firmly embedded within the “Anglo-Saxon” bubble of Rehavia/Katamon/Bak’ato acknowledge the depth and extent of the racism that is so commonly to be found beyond its parochial confines.

                • Fred Skolnik says:

                  You make it sound as if you are conversant with the Hebrew language, read Israeli newspapers, spend a great deal of time in Israel if not actually living there, are in fact an Israeli! Would you like to continue our discussion in Hebrew, so that you can test my fluency.

                  או שאתה לגמרי מתומתם או שאתה קצת שיכור

                  Of course most Israelis are moderate in their views. The are in the center politically and subscribe to the principles that I outlined below for a settlement to the conflict. They also believe that Israel’s response to a barrage of 4,500 rockets directed against its civilian population and to 40,000 rioters aiming to overrun the border and murder Israelis was necessary. Be a hero with your own children, not mine.

                  As I wrote, Jews talk about Arabs the way Arabs talk about Jews and the way all people at war talk about each other.

                  • dmr says:

                    Readers of this blog without Hebrew will be interested in the phrase intercalated in Mr Skolnik;s reply above, as one more example of his respectful and thoughtful polemical style and courtesy to his interlocutors. Translated, it reads: “you’re either totally crazed or drunk.”

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      Tell us about yourself. Don’t be bashful.

                      Your hate-filled slander doesn’t merit respect.

                    • dmr says:

                      What exactly is “slanderous” or hateful about what I or anybody else contributing to this blog have written? I fail to understand the rationale for your repeated use of these terms other than to silence dissent. Based upon what anyone can see and hear for himself, is one not allowed to object, and object vigorously, to what has been going on in Israel and to its part in the unfolding disaster that is being visited upon the Palestinian people, because a.you happen not to like it and are inclined to take such criticism personally, or b. it is not backed by the full array of documented sources that you regard as the sine qua non?

                      If you can keep your temper and restrain yourself from indulging in personal insult and from embittered recourse to “But Hamas says/does…, do explain please. Other than that it hears no evil and sees no evil where Israel is concerned,the Skolnik viewpoint as peddled on this blog remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      It is slanderous to represent self-defense as aggression.

                      Hate is something one feels. For example Jews felt the hate in the way the Nazis talk about them. I feel the hate in the way certain people talk about Israel.

                    • mototom says:

                      Fred, you say, It is slanderous to represent self-defense as aggression.

                      Are you really saying that you cannot think of a single act of aggression by Israel?

                      What about Lydda, 1948?

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      I refer to specific allegations that are slanderous. The war in 1948 was not a war of aggression on Israel’s part. It was a defensive war. Within wars unacceptable acts may occur. There were, for example, a number of rapes and outright executions, just as there were among Allied forces. This does not turn Israel or the Allies into the aggressors. I think that should be clear to you. Basically, if someone shoots at me and I shoot back and kill him, and a witness claims that I shot first and am a murderer, that is slander.

                  • dmr says:

                    Border? What border? Israel on its own admission has no frontiers. Moreover, borders are fixed with neighbouring nations and Israel does not, of course, recognise Gaza as one such.

                    It is surely more accurate and more truthful to speak in this instance of a perimeter fence surrounding a prison compound, well guarded from the outside.

                    As to what Israelis believe, they can believe anything they like but it is still myth or fantasy.

                    You are far too passionate, Mr Skolnik, in defence of your adopted country. Strong feelings are not enough. What is neededif things to be seen for what they are is a degree of detachment and a capacity for critical self-appraisal.

                    This seems to be wanting, in you and in your countrymen.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      You’re talking nonsense again. The international border is between Egypt and Israel. Gaza was under Egyptian jurisdiction until 1967, then occupied by Israel and then released to the Palesinian Authority. Hamas turned Gaza into what it is. Before it came along and started firing rockets and murdering Israelis, the border and the sea were open and up to 40,000 Gazan worked in Israel every day.

                • dmr says:

                  NB lest there be any misunderstanding, by “Israelis” I mean $shkenazi and Mizrahi alike – not just “mizrahim nirganim” or the crazed supporters of Betar football club.

                  • Fred Skolnik says:

                    Not talking anymore?

                    Since you permitted yourself to paint a highly unflattering portrait of me above (and you’re talking about being respectful yet!), I will return the compliment, because I’m beginning to get a picture of you and it’s very familiar. Made Aliya from America, couldn’t make it here, ran home with your tail between your legs and developed a monumental resentment of the country. End of story. Why pretend that you’re a champion of the Palestinians.

                    • dmr says:

                      “Made Aliyah from American etc.”:untrue in fact.

                      Guess again.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      Probably a lot closer than you’d care to admit and certainly a lot closer than anything you might think to say about me.

                      What exactly are you ashamed of? Tell us about yourself.

                    • dmr says:

                      V
                      F.y.i: (a) I am not American (b) I have never “made aliyah”- strange phrase in English,but let that pass (c) harbour no personal resentment,”monumental” or otherwise at Israel,just plain old disgust at what the country has become (a far cry from earlier days) and at what it has been doing.

        • Joe Morison says:

          Well, I’m with Xenophanes:

          The gods did not reveal, from the beginning,
          All things to us, but in the course of time
          Through seeking we may learn and know things better.
          But as for certain truth, no man has known it,
          Nor shall he know it, neither of the gods
          Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.
          For even if by chance he were to utter
          The final truth, he would himself not know it:
          For all is but a woven web of guesses

          In other words, we are all always deficient in our knowledge of any situation. To know all one needed to infallibly judge what’s happening in your country, one would have to know every thought, and the full of histories, of every person involved from the leaders of both sides to the most insignificant players. But that doesn’t stop us forming opinions.
          My reluctant change of heart came over many years of watching the news and reading the reports of journalists I have to come to trust. My closest friendship with an Israeli came after I had formed my beliefs, and what drew us together was their scientific work – I had no knowledge of their political opinions until we met in London and our conversation turned to wider matters.

          This is an odd experience for me, normally I am attacked on social media for defending Israel and my criticisms of the dangerously anti-Israel sentiment that is becoming predominant. I regret this shift very much, and I feel it is only strengthened by people like you who make no effort to understand where the criticisms come from, preferring instead to dismiss it all as a product of hatred for Jews. Do you really think it is anti-Semitism that led Desmond Tutu to call Israel an apartheid state, or ignorance that led him to say “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”?

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            Desmond Tuti was in Israel in December 1989 and could not have spent more than a few days in the West Bank. Where on earth did he witness “systematic humiliation”? Here’s another take on his views as long as the “reports of journalists” play such a role in shaping your own views:

            https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4107913,00.html

            But when precisely did you change side? In which years were you reading these reports and what were the specific events that turned you against Israel?

            • Joe Morison says:

              I’m sure you’re aware of the Sorites paradox, Fred: if you have a heap of sand and you remove one grain, it’s still a heap; so by consistently applying that law, one grain of sand is a heap and so is no sand. In other words, the boundary between something being a heap and it not being a heap is vague – there is no clear cut off point. That’s true of almost all non-abstract objects, and it’s certainly true of how I came to my opinions about Israel’s current behaviour. When did it happen? I’m not sure exactly, probably between the time I left university in 1985 and the mid 90s – but I can’t really remember.

              I read the article about Tutu. There are a lot of quotes in it that are taken out of context, but as I don’t know the original context I can’t judge them either way – but I will say that he has always struck me as one of the most decent and forgiving men alive (and, yes, I’m sure a few days are enough to witness systematic humiliation). One shameful calumny does stand out very loud in the article, though: conflating his call for boycott of Israeli goods in order to ease the Palestinians’ plight with the Nazi policy of “Kauft nicht bei Juden”. By all means disagree with Tutu, say that he is mistaken, but to suggest that his call which comes from a concern for others’ suffering is the same as the Nazi policy which came from a genocidal hatred is a grotesque distortion. To say that about a man of such obvious goodness can only do your cause huge damage – say he’s wrong but don’t dare say he’s evil unless you really want the world to judge you even more harshly.

              However, thank you, Fred, for on this occasion not resorting to personal insults directed at me – I deplore such behaviour whether it is directed at you or anyone else who is sincerely putting forward their views (as opposed to just trolling for the sake of it).

              • Fred Skolnik says:

                You’ll have to forgive me if I just don’t get it. I mean the process you are describing. You were a staunch supporter of Israel. Along the way you developed a set of criteria for judging the trustworthiness of journalists. By some incredible coincidence it turned out that the only journalists writing about the Middle East who met your criteria of trustworthiness happened to have nasty things to say about Israel. Consequently you switched sides. It doesn’t make sense to me.

                • Joe Morison says:

                  It’s probably because you don’t absorb the liberal/left leaning media over here; it’s not some, it’s pretty well all of it. But on further reflection, I’d say it’s been a continuous process of disenchantment. The news just gets more and more depressing, the nation state bill being the latest low – I would not have described your country as apartheid-like before that.
                  I understand the pressures Israel is under, I appreciate the world’s history of Jewish persecution and that you are surrounded by people who have vowed your destruction. It’s just that I think Israel’s policy, instantiated in your posts, will only make things worse. Sometimes the solution to a conflict can only come from one side making the exceptional, counter-intuitive, move – something that comes from love not logic. Without it, I think the Middle East will just sink further into chaos and bloodshed. My respect for Israel is such that I can only imagine such a move coming from her.

                  It seems the world might be about to enter a phase shift in global warming which will effect your part of the world as disastrously as any. Now, more than ever, we should be finding ways to work together – the very future of our species depends on it.

              • stettiner says:

                Joe Morison is appalled by “Kauft nicht bei Juden” comparison, but has nothing to say about how “a man of such obvious goodness” is ready to forgive the nazis, but has no forgiveness for the “un-Christian” Jews.

                “Whether Jews like it or not, they are a peculiar people. They can’t ever hope to be judged by the same standards which are used for other people”. Yet another quote from “one of the most decent and forgiving men alive…

                • Joe Morison says:

                  Well, some research online would suggest you have a point – very disappointing. Nevertheless, comparing his calls for a boycott of Israeli goods with the Nazi policy is as disproportionate and disgusting as those who compare Israeli treatment of Palestinians with the Nazi treatment of Jews.

                  • dmr says:

                    Why is the comparison illegitimate? We are speaking of analogues to Israeli behaviour that leap to mind, not of Israel itself or of its instrinsic nature or constitution. It would indeed be libellous, to say far-fetched in the extreme, to call Israel a Nazi state and no responsible person would dream of so doing. To draw comparisons between its treatment of a subject population and that of Germany long ago is another matter.

                    • Joe Morison says:

                      Because, whatever one thinks of it, it is nothing like organized and deliberate extermination.

                    • dmr says:

                      Ultimately an inaccurate and unjust analogy: you are right, Mr Morison. On this point I stand corrected.

                      Nevertheless, we judge people, and by extension countries, by their actions, not by their intentions. Such was the violence visited upon Gaza in the recent past as to appall observers everywhere,and, understandably, to invite comparisons with the reduction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German forces in 1943. The IDF incidentally was well aware of the analogy, its commander in chief having said at the time that the example of the Ghetto might need to be borne in mind if the advance on Gaza were to succeed.

                    • hag says:

                      Israel is not a Nazi state, and neither is Tutu a mini-Hitler.
                      Even the most guarded comparisons are bound to be spurious, and in a historical context, abhorrent.

                      The problem is that any discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ends in history crashing the debate, and drowning out all reason.

                      For example, can the Nazi slogan ‘Deutsche wehrt euch! Kauft nicht bei Juden!’ (Germans defend yourselves, don’t buy from Jews) be equated with a boycott of Israeli goods today in protest at Israeli state policy towards Palestinians? Of course not, and yet, how can we ignore it?

                      I think this is why so many want to see the concept of ‘intent’ added to a definition of antisemitism: is someone calling for a boycott of Israeli goods because they are antisemitic, or because they genuinely find Israeli policy abhorrent? What is their intent?

                      This is very difficult to ascertain, of course; yet either we talk about intent, or we issue a blanket ban of any criticism of Israel.

                    • Joe Morison says:

                      Intent is ideal in principle but impossible in practice. The IHRA excludes “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” In other words, it allows for any criticism of Israel which would be made of another country behaving in the same way, that is certainly not a blanket ban on criticism.

        • dmr says:

          A horde of 40,000 [sic] hate-filled, bloodthirsty automatons bent on murder and invasion?

          Tosh.

          Whether or not encouraged by Hamas to do so, the inhabitants of Gaza had massed at the barrier fence in protest at the inhuman conditions of life to which hermetic enclosure by Israel and semi-starvation had condemned them. They have said so themselves – not that anybody in Israel was listening – and there is no reason to think that so many are lying (to “show Israel in a bad light”?) or that they have, every one of them, been put up to it by Hamas, whatever may be the tactical/strategic interest of the latter in such seeing that such demonstrations take place.

          To suppose otherwise, as you do, is to fall prey to the propaganda put about by your Ministry of Hasbara. You parrot them, I see, word for word.

          But we have been at this film before (as one says in Hebrew). What is really weird, and disgustingly racist, about the aforementioned conceit is the idea that poor little Israel (ever the victim of course), its mighty defence force armed to the teeth with the most sophisticated weaponry and electronics, its tanks and armoured vehicles arrayed behind several barriers of electrified fence and sand berms, could in any way or at any time be seriously menaced by groups of unarmed civilians foregathered angrily at the perimeter but never threatening to breach it en masse,or even seriously threatened by flaming kites or by youths wielding slingshots. This conceit, of envenomed Muslims wishing death to all Jews, is on a par with an earlier one on your part, the one which asks us to imagine Palestinians poised even now, at any moment and without provocation, to slit the throats of innocent Israelis and blow them to bits, when in fact such attacks, occurring as they did a good many years ago, while certainly worthy of condemnation have become a thing of the past.

          The violence, like the threat of violence, is nowadays overwhelmingly, spectacularly Israeli. Why pretend otherwise?

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            Your entire rant is contradicted by the Palestinians themselves:

            On Facebook: Gazan protestors ‘bring a knife, dagger, handgun,’ kidnap Israelis, murder soldiers

            https://www.jns.org/bring-a-knife-dagger-or-handgun-kidnap-israeli-civilians and-murder-soldiers-and-settlers-instructions-on-facebook-to-gazans-for-march-of-return/

            And of course the Hamas announcement after the big riots in the middle of May that 50 of the 63 killed were Hamas “fighters,” and another 3 from the Islamic Jihad.”

            • dmr says:

              Ah yes, “jns.org.”, a neutral body famous for its objectivity and in no conceivable way partial to the official point of view in Israel.

              As for 63 fighters – even if this were true, that is 63 out of your imaginary 40,000 – negligible proportion. Were all the protesters at the perimeter fence bent on murder and mayhem?

              Hard to credit, if that is your claim.

              • Fred Skolnik says:

                Why imaginary? Hamas was talking aboout a million. They themselves have an army of 20,000-30,000 fighters. You can be sure that most of them were there. If 80% of the casualties were among these fighters, that should tell you who Israel was facing. But I have explained all this to you. 40,000 rioters bent on murder is a lethal force whether “only” 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000 are actually looking for blood.

                • dmr says:

                  “40,000 rioters bent on murder”: see my comment, above.

                  • Fred Skolnik says:

                    Your comment is meaningless. I have just shown you what their intentions were in their own words. Can’t handle it?

                    • dmr says:

                      “their intentions”: what, all 40,000 of them? Each and every man and woman?

                      But yes of course, it says so on Facebook,ergo it must be gospel truth.

  4. Rory Allen says:

    Can Fred Skolnik, who seems well informed about Israeli intentions, please tell me what is the long term Israeli government strategic plan for dealing with the West Bank? If they have one and are not telling us, that is worrying (the Elon proposals suggest that ethnic cleansing is on the cards) and if they don’t have one and are merely living from day to day, that is even more worrying, as it means noone is in charge. Mr Skolnik – please, what is going on?

    • Fred Skolnik says:

      If Israel believed that the Palestinians were willing and able to end the conflict, it would offer what has been on the table for a great many years now, namely a land swap that would leave around 75% of the settlements, occupying around 5% of West Bank territory, inside Israel’s new border. From the Palestinian point of view, this would mean in effect exchanging barren hilltops for barren hilltops, though Lieberman and others once proposed Wadi Ara, which has an Arab population of over 200,000, which would be a real bonus for the Palestinians, but of course Israeli Arabs refuse to live under Palestinian sovereignty, for reasons that shouldn’t be hard to figure out, so that apparently won’t happen. I would say that at most a quarter of the Israeli population, identifying with the religious-Zionist camp and the right wing of the LIkud want outright annexation. In my view that will never happen.

      As for East Jerusalem, the issue is the walled Old City. I doubt if the Arab neighborhoods outside it and to the east would be an issue for any Israeli government, so some ingenious solution will have to be worked out for the Old City.

      As for refugees, Israel has already offered to take in 30-40,000, which coincidentally or not is the number of the original refugees still alive. My guess is that Israel would go as high as 100,000 in a genuine peace.

      As long as the terrorist organizations are not dismantled Israel would remain responsible for security in the West Bank. Under no circumstances will Hamas be allowed to set up its rocket launchers 15 feet from Jewish Jerusalem.

      These are the outlines of a settlement that I believe at least 70% of Israelis would vote for in a referendum and one which Netanyahu could offer if he felt the Palestinians were ready to end the conflict.

  5. XopherO says:

    Fred, I did not realise you were so naive – or perhaps you are just being disingenuous. As the Israeli Jewish writer Avraham Yehoshua (from a Sephardic family and long-standing resident of Jerusalem)comments in an interview for the French weekly Telerama, the two state solution is dead in the water, and the new ‘Jewish Nation State’ law passed by the Knesset is a preparation for the annexation of the West Bank (Cisjordanie in French). This would produce an Arab majority which cannot be allowed to win power by democratic means. The new law makes Arabs and their language second-class with fewer rights than Jews, with rules which deny them the right to live where they want. It is a legalised form of apartheid (which already exists in essence, without legal justification, in the West Bank Palestinian Bantustans). Yehoshua says, “C’est un apartheid leger, qui ne dit pas son nom.” I won’t tell you what he says about Likud because it would just send you into a frenzy.

    • Fred Skolnik says:

      A.B Yehoshua is a long-time resident of Haifa.

      The Nationality Law, as superfluous as it is, is strictly declarative and has absolutely no practical meaning, let alone being a preparation for anything. It doesn’t diminish Arab rights in any way. You misunderstand how Arabic is used officially in Israel and how it will continue to be used in exactly the same way, and you misunderstand how members are selected in cooperative, communal and community settlements which have always applied and will continue to apply to both Jews and Arabs. Nothing in the Law changes where Arabs may live.

      A.B Yehoshua says … is not a fiat or an argument. If you don’t know enough to speak in your own name, you shouln’t be speaking at all. You also seem to be using the word Bantustan without really understanding what the word means and certainly without any concept of West Bank geography.

  6. dmr says:

    This is a disingenuous, even a dishonest and certainly a misleading reply. Declarative and of no practical significance the new Nationality Law may indeed be, but whatever its purport or motive its symbolic value and emotional impact on non-Jewish inhabitants of Israel are considerable; no wonder Israeli Arabs, not to say the whole world, is dismayed by it. It is as if Spain (say) were to legislate that the country exists in principal for Castilian-speaking Spaniards alone, it being made plain by implication to Basques and Catalans that they are to think of themselves as living there on sufferance, by permission of the majority, as guests in their own country, subjects but not full citizens, their languages enjoying no officially recognised standing in the national community. Hardly a state of affairs they or anybody else can be expected to regard with equanimity.

    • stettiner says:

      Actually, Spain’s Constitution makes Castilian Spanish the official national language, and requires all citizens to know it, even if their mother tongue is Basque or Catalan…

      • dmr says:

        So?

        An irrelevant and dim-witted response, stettiner.We are speaking of a law with politico-legal implications and a disturbing emotional resonance, not of this or that language. That most Israeli Arabs are functionally and often impressively fluent in Hebrew, the majority tongue, is to be expected and is neither here nor there.

        • stettiner says:

          It’s you who brought up Spain as an example, without knowing what you are talking about. Now your smart argument is suddenly irrelevant and dim-witted…

  7. Fred Skolnik says:

    As I said, the Law is superfluous. I agree entirely that it unnecessarily sticks it to Israel’s minorities. Its purpose is strictly political and it should not have been legislated, and we have in fact not heard the end of it yet. There will surely be amendments and modifications to come. But that is between Israel and its citizens. We certainly don’t need people frothing with hostility like you moralizing to us.

  8. dmr says:

    Amendments and changes? That, I’m afraid, is very much to be doubted. The new law, as you well know, enjoys widespread, nay enthusiastic support amongst Jewish Israelis, a tiny minority of despised left-wing intellectuals (dismissed as traitors), powerless and lacking in all influence on the making of policy or public opinion, alone objecting to it. Nor, surely, has this new law arrived out of the blue or thanks to the caprice or machinations of a parliamentary faction. Ideologically speaking it is may be thought of as foundational to Israel as a national enterprise. As an ethnic not a liberal democracy the country is a Jewish state tout court, its identity as such not open to question or modification in the direction of pluralism, tolerance and acceptance of the Other. That (alas, some would say) being its raison d’etre.

  9. dmr says:

    Nor I might add, is your Supreme Court,the highest arbiter in the land, apt to strike down this vile piece of legislation as it stands. Stocked as it by settler judges (war criminals under the statutes of international law)and given its disgraceful record of setting its seal of approval on every decision, expansionist or reactionary, of the Likud government and rubber-stamping every iniquity of the IDF, this body is most unlikely to invalidate it or call for its repeal. Sad.

  10. dmr says:

    May one comment on Mr Skolnik’s opening remark? He seems to reason that if the like of Ms Gitlin and her colleagues make a point of turning up at the scene she describes so vividly, she, and they, must ipso facto be actuated by malice, mischief-making on their part being the only possible explanation for there being there at all. Their mere presence attests, it seems to malevolent intent. (The corollary to this being that the army should be let alone to get on with its work, undisturbed by people dismayed by its treatment of a defenceless civilian population.)

    But why should this be thought so? Does not a moment’s reflection, not to mention the experience of any sane person, suggest that indignation at what appear to be injustice, combined with a desire to protect the weak, is at least as likely to be the motive form action here and in similar instances? Or does Mr Skolnik enjoy privileged access to Ms Gitlin’s innermost thoughts, such as may allow him to speak authoritatively about her “ real” or “secret” motives, these being – by definition? to show up Israel in a bad light?

    His is very puzzling not to say bizarre train of thought, judging Ms Gitlin and co. as guilty until she, and they, can prove herself innocent and requiring those like her, and them, to prove a negative – an invidious requirement and a well-nigh impossible task.

  11. Fred Skolnik says:

    I can see that you’re really all wound up.

    I have characterized the Nationality Law for what it is. Your understanding of how things will progress from here and your “takes” on Israeli society from your perch in front of the telly are meaningless.

    Israel is a Jewish national state in the same way that Turkey is a Turkish national state. There is nothing ethnic about it. The Arabs are a national minority whose national identity and primary loyalty is with a larger Arab nation whose declared aim from the beginning has been to destroy the State of Israel and massacre its Jewish population. That obviously creates a very problematic situation in terms of coexistence.

    There is nothing secret about the motives of people like yourself. Your animus comes pouring out every time you open your mouth.

  12. XopherO says:

    Fred, surely quoting the comments of a respected Israeli Jewish writer – whether he lives in Haifa or Jerusalem – on the new law is very relevant, as relevant as anything you have to say about the matter. There is a difference: he comments reasonably and somewhat sadly, whereas you write with much animus and no empathy. Where has it gone, what has killed your soul – or are you a kind of robot designed to challenge anything critical anybody says about Israel? Gitlin writes with a lot of compassion, and even has some sympathy for the IDF (often draftees some of whom must find their moral compass swinging madly). Also she writes from a direct experience. Some of us have had direct experience of Israel which has left our thoughts somewhat mixed as the people we have met have been very welcoming and decent but the state has acted with contempt for international law, UN resolutions, and at times all decent humanity. I didn’t meet any settlers, however, one of whom killed Rabin in cold blood. Yes, so my experience is limited, in this respect, thankfully. But I did work with businessmen to extend educational opportunity in Israel, mainly to Israeli Jews. I was impressed because they were visionary in a way, and worked much harder than most and with belief and conviction. They hated the Likud, because they saw it as stirring up hatred and blocking the proper development of the country.

    • Fred Skolnik says:

      Of course it is irrelevant where A.B Yehoshus lives, so why did you mention it? I corrected you as just a little indication of how you blindly copy “facts” or anything else that suits you without any way of knowing whether what you are copying is correct.

      Do you really not understand that the opinion of a “respected” writer or businessmen or someone who has “been there” is not evidence of anything when there are just as many opinions to the contrary?

      You don’t seem capable of acknowledging the fact that from the beginning the Arabs have been determined to destroy the State of Israel and that to achieve their ends they have engaged in the most brutal acts of terrorism imaginable. That is what Israel has legitimately defended itself against.

      Please don’t talk about my soul. If your idea of compassion is to allow someone to take potshots at your children until he kills a few of them, good luck to you. And I can assure you that I have had more human contact with Arabs in a month than you will have in three lifetimes.

      And by the way, Yigal Amir was not a settler. You never get anything right, do you.

      • XopherO says:

        If it is all just ‘an opinion’ then all the efforts you have made in contributions to LRB blogs and goodness knows where else are just ‘opinions’, your opinions, and no more valid than Yehoshua’s, or those of Israelis I have met, or even mine. The problem is Fred you do not help the cause of a free, democratic and independent (of the USA, for example) state of Israel because your contributions actually stimulate folk to discuss the injustices committed by the state of Israel and its laws and military. The way you write, your style of writing, in fact has the opposite effect to what you probably intend. I’m sorry, there perhaps could be a real debate, but this is prevented by the way you rush to engage with a blog, usually before anyone else has had the time to say anything. That in itself is irritating, not only to readers, but the blogger and probably the editors as well. And perhaps you could avoid the rude ad hominem comments. I think it might be better if you kept quiet for a while and let others, if they are there, come forward with ‘opinions’ like yours. Sorry to be a bit ad hominem myself here, but I hope not rude.

      • dmr says:

        “The most brutal acts of terror imaginable”: really? Let us see: three full-scale assaults on Gaza and the massacre and maiming of thousands including women and children; the levelling – twice attempted and nearly achieved – of Lebanon, with countless numbers of bomblets left behind in the ground to wound and maim (all this being quite unintended of course; inadvertent; accidental; in any event,no responsibility of Israel’s naturally), the vicious assault on the Mavi Marmara and brazen murder of protesters onboard;one could go on. In comparison, and in respect of numbers and force applied (though to be sure it is not a contest),Palestinian attacks pale.

        Talk about exaggeration, and self-pity. A strange idea of “self-defence” at all events.

        • dmr says:

          Re your “contact with Arabs”: meaningless and of no real value (in accordance with your own logic of “authenticity” and use of sources) unless you have some command of their language. For what it may be worth,I speak, read and write Arabic fairly fluently. Do you?

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            Didn’t you ever have human contact with someone who speaks your language with an accent? Or don’t you even know what human contact is? You’re creating the impression that something is seriously wrong with you.

            • dmr says:

              45 years in the country and you haven’t bothered to learn to speak the language of so many of its inhabitants, the better to know them intimately and on their own terms.

              Shameful. But forgivable: I suppose your linguistic skills are just not up to it.

              • Fred Skolnik says:

                I certainly know them intimately and on there own terms because I have had more human contact with them in a month than you will have with them in three lifetimes.

                • dmr says:

                  Contact? Where? At the checkpoints at which you did your reserve duty in the Occupied Territories? As hewers of wood and carriers of water (handymen to do your home repairs,carpenters, odd-job men, delivery boys and such like) encountered casually and superficially in the course of the daily round?

                  Your reply would ring truer and smack less of hollow bluster had you said that you have in fact close friends among Palestinians in Occupied Jerusalem or amongst Israeli Arabs in the Galilee for example or at least acquaintances, say among the medical staff at Hadassah or among university faculty (albeit that you are not – thank God! – a university teacher).

                  But then I don’t suppose you have any such.

                  • dmr says:

                    Cat got your tongue, Mr Skolnik?

                    I’m on tenterhooks to hear about your wonderful “human contact” with Palestinians/Arab Israelis, its nature, extent and depth…

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      In the workplace, in their homes, on the basketball court, even in random conversations waiting for a bus and hundreds of ordinary, everyday situations in which human beings exchabge a smile and have a simple conversation. Maybe you don’t know what human contact is?

                  • dmr says:

                    Your reply (below) bears me out, in full.

                    • dmr says:

                      I do so hate to pull rank on you, Mr Skolnik, or drag our little exchange down onto a personal plane any further, but I’ve lived for lengths of time in Arab countries, had good friends there, and travelled widely in others in the region you inhabit. Your bus-stop chats in Jerusalem and fleeting smiles in passing with strangers, which you wish me to believe rate as intimate knowledge, count for nothing in comparison.

                      A sense of modesty on your part is in order.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      You assumptions about my relations with Arabs are meaningless. I used the phrase human contact. You really don’t seem to know what human contact is.

        • Fred Skolnik says:

          Let’s see? Do you really want to see? And how many times does it have to be shown to you?

          Gazans were killed because Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel’s civilian population from in and around schools, playgrounds, hospitals, clinics, mosques and residential buildings and did not even allow its own civilian population to evacuate these areas when Israel warned them of impending attacks via flyers, emails and phone calls. And I can go on too.

  13. Fred Skolnik says:

    The opinions I express are mine and not someone else’s and they are based on actual documentation which I have reproduced time and again, particularly with regard to Arab intentions in 1948 and 1967 and their terrorism since then. If you have something substantive to say about it instead of running away from it – Azzam Pasha’s declarations, Nassar’s declarations, Hussein’s declarations, the Hamas Charter, the PLO Charter, the barbaric terrorist attacks – do so. If not, you’re the one who should keep quiet. As long as people like you continue to slander the State of Israel I will continue to expose both your ignorance and your malice.

    • XopherO says:

      I have never said there have not been such Arab threats, but almost all, except by the vicious Hamas (which Israeli policy helped to create and bring to power because those in Gaza did not know where to turn to escape Israeli (and Egyptian) occupation/blockades/invasion etc, have been dropped and the existence of the state of Israel has been accepted – the issues of boundaries and the status of Jerusalem remain, which either side can always use to cause a breakdown of negotiations.

      And I have no malice, and I have never slandered Israel (silly accusations), but like many have been critical of some of its policies. I wish Israel well, but as six former heads of the internal security service, in a documentary by Dror Moreh (The Gatekeepers) more or less agreed the struggle (their struggle) against terrorism has failed to secure Israel. “Israel cannot have the luxury of not talking to its enemies” (Carmi Gillon) “You don’t create peace by military means but by cultivating trusting relations” (Avi Dichter) They have been on the front line and admit to having had torture and executions among their methods. Perhaps in old age they have lost their marbles. But their comments must be invalid because I am simply quoting Israeli sources not my own thoughts, according to your strange heirarchy of ‘opinion’. Just let it be for a while, Fred

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        Sorry, it’s more than Hamas and it has been more than Hamas for 100 years. Israel does want to talk to its enemies. It has been begging the Arabs to talk to it for 70 years. The reply it got from Azzam in 1947 was “Nations never concede. They fight.” The reply it got from Khartoum in 1967 was: “No negotiations, no recognition, no peace.” The reply it got ftom Arafat in 2000 was: “They’ll kill me back home if I concede an inch.” The reply they’ve gotten from Abu Mazen is: “Not without preconditions.” Why don’t you just let it be. You are actually doing the Palestinians more harm than good. Reading what Israel haters have to say about the conflict, they’re liable to get the idea that all they have to do is sit back, kill a few Jews occasionally, and people like you will do the rest.

    • dmr says:

      Azzam Pasha? 71 years ago. Nasser? 51. Hussein’s statements? Also long since.

      Things change, they move on. That was then, this was now.

      The PLO Charter? Whatever else it may say or fail to say, it has signalled the movement’s unequivocal acceptance of Israel as a state. Not as “a Jewish state,” to be sure, but this recently concocted precondition represents a cynical ploy on the part of the Likud government to thrown a spanner in the works and is any case remote, historically speaking, from pre-State Zionism’s conceit of itself (as a Hebrew state, please note: a different thing altogether as you will have learnt from your own studies). The Hamas Charter? Granted, the movement has yet (and to the disappointment of some perhaps) to apply for full membership in the World Zionist Organization, nor are its members forming up to sing HaTikvah in chorus. None the less, they have offered a hudna, a hundred year truce, foolishly rejected out of hand by Israel, which, absurdly, requires ab initio moral purity from its enemy.

      All reference, to the Arab League’s peace plan of 2002/04 has, I see, been carefully omitted from the roster, perhaps because it offered to Israel the most advantageous terms possible for final resolution of the Middle East conflict. A low trick, it was said at the time, and in any case just not good enough…

      Having read Xopher’s remarks umpteen times now, I cannot for the life of me understand what on earth could possibly be thought to be slanderous about it. He describes things as they are calmly and factually, without rancour and drawing, as how could he not, necessary if profoiundly pessimistic conclusions from his observations. You don’t like it because he doesn’t exactly praise Israel to the skies or make show of defending it to the last ditch? Tough.

      • dmr says:

        Apologies: not Pre-State Zionism’s conceit of itself, rather that of the evolving and increasingly self-confident Yishuv (so-called.)

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        All long since or not, it’s Israel’s “critics” who try to pin the blame on Israel for every stage of the conflict. You’re overrationalizing.

        And why don’t you tell us who you are. Embarrassed?
        You did live in Israel, didn’t you, and you did leave Israel. That happens. Some immigrants just can’t make it and then have to explain to people back home why they left, so to save face they say because it’s a rotten country and resent it for the rest of their lives. Not you? Born here? A yored? Thought you’d do better somewhere else? OK. Good luck. But lose the resentment.

        • dmr says:

          Believe what you like,Mr Skolnik, but I am not nor have I ever been an Israeli. As to how I have come by my mastery of Hebrew, I will leave that to your fertile imagination.

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            Tell us about it. I’m sure at least a few people would like to know where the resentment comes from.

  14. hag says:

    A slice of life that rings true. A very sad situation described with honesty and fairness. And of course immediately hijacked by someone trying to obfuscate the situation in order to control the discussion.

    I recognize Skolnik’s language from my youth in South Africa. It demonizes the opposition, ascribes bestial intent and values to them that justify any response in the name of self-defense.
    But he is surely right in pointing out that both sides are guilty of dehumanizing their opponents through words, just as both sides are capable of the most horrendous acts.
    Yet when one side chants ‘one settler, one bullet’, it can only be understood in context. Who has taken land from whom, and who actually has all the bullets? Skolnik’s discursive relativism here is disingenuous.

    Of course it’s hard when you are a settler living on stolen land. You either have to build devilishly convoluted constructs in your head to justify yourself, or acknowledge your own culpability. It takes a toll psychologically. This article shows this neatly in the portraits it paints; as does Skolnik’s response.
    Ironically, it’s arguably easier when you are powerless and ghettoized, and your children are picked off by snipers with weapons paid for by taxpayers of other countries. Almost anything you do is somehow excusable then.

    I met an Israeli in early 2001, months before 9/11, who’d left with his family to settle in the UK, saying ‘they are all mad’.
    It’s haunted me ever since, because he didn’t mean the Arabs.
    He meant that the entire country of Israel existed in an increasingly warped reality that could get his children killed.
    A collective madness encouraged by a corrupt political elite, fed by religious and racist nuts, and stoked by all kinds of often contradictory agendas from Moscow to Tehran, from Washington to Beirut.
    I didn’t understand this man then, but seeing the desperation churning away underneath Skolnik’s words, I do now.

  15. Fred Skolnik says:

    I appreciate the enormous effort that you and other writers above are making to criminalize the State of Israel. But to do this you have to ignore whatever spoils the argument, and that is the fact that all the wars in the Middle East have been initiated by the Arabs with the declared aim of destroying it and massacring its Jewish population (in their own words). I don’t know how you personally rationalize this. In general, I Hate Israel arguments have the distinction of being both circular and regressive. Regarding Arab terror, the argument goes, Yes, but the occupation. Regarding the 1967 attacks, the argument goes, Yes, but the refugees. Regarding the 1948 invasion the argument goes, Yes, but Palestinian rights. The bottom line is that these people believe that Israel should not have been established. Why? Hard to say. At the start of Zionist settlement in the 1880s there were not much more than 400,000 Arabs residing in the Land of Israel in a territory that today accommodates over 10 million people. Room for everyone. Room for two sovereign states living side by side like Belgium and Holland in the Low Countries. But the Arabs wanted it all. Not a millimeter less. (To be continued.)

    • dmr says:

      “ Why? Hard to say.”

      Not hard at all, if you happen to be well-informed and dispassionate in your approach, as distinct from passionate and parti pris. Read Hannah Arendt (a shrewder and more distinguished thinker than you or I will ever be, and a more prescient one) to see why a Jewish state may have been a less-than-brilliant idea given the circumstances of its inception and the foreseeable consequences.

      Arabs started all the wars? I don’t know about all but that Israel on M. Dayan’s own say-so provoked the Syrians into hostilities in May 1967 is a commonplace by now, and it is understood that M. Begin spoke truth in 1973 in saying that the Six Day War was a war of choice on Israel’s part. Nor, despite widely experienced subjective feelings (panic in Israel and distress amongst Jews and Gentiles,is the claim that Israel was never really at dire risk of being destroyed in June 1967 disputed nowadays by serious historians (of whom an undoubted favourite of yours, one M. Oren, is,I fear, hardly one).

      Read Avi Shlaim to fill the glaring lacunae in your grasp of things. Much to be preferred to fairy tales.

      In any case, “they started it, “ like “the Arabs wanted it all” is a pathetically whingeing and childish argument, unfortunately the sort of thing to be expected from an American Zionist like yourself and worthy in the final analysis only of the schoolyard and its crude simplicities. Isn’t it time you faced up to the fact, acknowledged so many historians (Israelis among them, by no means all left-wing or “haters”, that Israel’s part in the conflict was real enough and must not be denied or fudged if a balanced view of war in the Middle East is ever to be attained?

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        Of course you don’t know. Syria had bee been shelling Israeli settlements in Galilee for months before the war. And since when do you have to be at risk of being destroyed to respond to aggression? Was Great Britain at risk of being destroyed by Germany? Not at all. At the most they would have gotten a puppet regime under the auspices of Germany with an occasional state visit by Hitler. Irrelevant who starts a war? Childish? Tell that to the families of the victims. Every time you open your mouth you sound more and more like, forgive me, a complete idiot.

        • dmr says:

          Well yes, actually, Mr Skolnik. The laws of war as internationally accepted do indeed require a country to be at grave risk of destruction, short of which a preemptive or preventive attack can be fairly regarded as being unjust. Other readers of this blog can decide for themselves whether the case of Britain in 194) was as you describe it.

          Syria as you know had been the object of an intended provocation on the part of Israel, if M. Dayan is to be believed, the act having taken the form of Israeli tractors deliberately setting out to plough land on terrain in dispute between the two countries.

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            Syria had been bombarding Israeli settlements for 20 years. Don’t get hung up on Dayan. And Jordan? Read “My War with Israel” by King Hussein (p. 60 ff.) to see what he had in mind. You are aware that he bombarded Jewish Jerusalem on June 5, aren’t you. I’ll be happy to recapitulate his thinking if you’d rather not read the book.

        • hag says:

          “Tell that to the families of the victims.”

          There are victims on all sides. For how long can you look at Palestinian victims and not see them? At what point does wilful ignorance become culpable?

          The kind of violent nation-building so common in the old days is, sadly, still prevalent today, from Myanmar to Kurdistan and yes, Israel; but is it acceptable to us?

          To you?

          We can see quite clearly how those in power in Israel have chosen to conduct themselves; maybe the real question is what ordinary Israeli voters let them get away with, and for how long.

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            There was nothing violent about Israel’s nation building. The UN made a partition proposal, the Jews accepted it and were prepared to live with it, the Arabs rejected it and went to war. The Palestinians have been victimized by their own leaders. In war, everyone certainly suffers, but I don’t, for example, think anyone would hold the Allies responsible for the suffering of the German people during World War II. The culpable party is the aggressor.

            • hag says:

              I agree with you re. WW2, though I have heard many people criticize specific Allied acts, such as the bombings of Dresden and Hamburg. There is such a thing as proportionate response, and specific acts by your armed forces can be legitimately criticized even if you/they clearly occupy the moral high ground.

              Importantly, in WW2 the Nazis were clearly the bad guys. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the situation isn’t that clear.

              There are certainly no good guys.

              There are victims, though, on both sides, though it would be churlish to count the bodies to see who has suffered more.

            • hag says:

              I don’t think you can deny that Israel’s nation building has been violent from the beginning, and it is still underway.
              It is an ongoing process, which did not end with the polite, voluntary removal of a million Palestinians seventy years ago, nor with the humane shooting of bloodthirsty Arab hordes earlier this year.

              The question is, when will it end, and how many more people on all sides are going to die?

              • Fred Skolnik says:

                It has been violent to the extent that Israel has had to defend itself against a murderous enemy. Every remark you make is a gross exaggeration. I have characterized what the “hordes” were up to in their own words and I have pointed out that Jews in Arab lands were displaced to the same extent as the Palestinians. Your figure of 1 million is a perfect example of your wild exaggeration. I’ll leave it to you to charecterize your own smug sarcasm.

                • hag says:

                  All of Israel’s violence has been in self-defense?
                  Israel is besieged on all sides by barbarians?
                  The government needs carte blanche to keep you safe?
                  That is the hook they want you to swallow.

                  One of the most powerful armies in the world, armed to the teeth with the latest weapons, with an illegal nuclear arsenal in reserve, against … slingshots?

                  “A small stone has landed nearby.”
                  That is the reality.

                  • Fred Skolnik says:

                    No, the reality is Israeli women and children being blown up in buses and restaurants or stabbed in the street or murdered in their homes. What does this have to do with a nuclear arsenal or the latest weapons? And you wonder why I tell you to be a hero with your own children. Don’t you dare tell me how to protect mine.

                    • hag says:

                      Again with the ad hominem spiel.

                      If you are concerned for your children’s safety, maybe you should make peace with your Palestinian brothers.

                      Maybe you should tell your government to stop what it’s doing. It has very few friends in the world, have you ever considered why that is? Are they all wrong, misguided fools, victims of insidious antisemitism, brainwashed by a bunch of left-liberal do-gooders?

                      What are the chances of that?

                      When I was a kid in South Africa they told us our only friends were Chile, Taiwan, and Israel, with Thatcher and Reagan hamstrung by the evil anti-Apartheid movement, though they secretly liked us.

                      Sometimes your enemies know you better than you know yourself.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      We have been trying to make peace with our Palestinian brothers for 70 years and I have outlined their responses in my comments.

                    • dmr says:

                      ” The reality is…”

                      What – nowadays? On a daily basis?

                      With the same violence and unpredictability as earlier this century or during the “knife intifada”?

                      Your children/grandchildren in West Jerusalem – going about their happy lives, are they really in the dreadful, constant danger you insist upon?

                      Hard to credit.

            • dmr says:

              Tosh,yet again.

              As a matter of fact, the indiscriminate aerial bombardment of German cities appalled not a few in the West at the time and more than one voice was raised in horrified condemnation of such acts. Who if not the Allies was directly responsible for the destruction, planned in detail, of Hamburg and Dresden?

              The idea that Israel was not simply responsible for the mass murder of innocents in Gaza beggars belief and defies common sense. To say, in mitigation or self-exculpation, that Hamas fighters were hiding behind a civilian population and using them as human shields makes no sense whatever: if you know that what you are about to do poses a grave danger to others in the vicinity and will cause harm them, then by God you shouldn’t do it.

              Hostages are seized in a raid on a bank. In the course of an attack on the raiders, the hostages are killed or wounded by the police. Shall we then say that the raiders, not the police, are instrumentally responsible for their deaths and are the proximate cause of innocents having been wounded?

              Of course not. They were shot by – who else? – the police, albeit unintentionally. By them and by nobody else. Saddened by their own acts though the police may be, and despite their pleas to the effect that it couldn’t be helped and was necessary, they alone remain accountable for the outcome.

              The responsible thing to do in such instances is to admit as much, not argue along the lines of “but sir, it’s not my fault, he made me do it!….

              “These things happen in war” is a contemptible excuse for atrocity b.t.w. and just what one would expect from an American-Israeli apologist.

              • Fred Skolnik says:

                I’m very sorry to have to tell you this but no country on earth will allow thousands of rockets to be fired at its civilian population. Israel made every effort to avoid civilian causualties. To call this murder is precisely what I mean when I characterize you as malicious.

                • dmr says:

                  Very well then, Mr Skolnik. By what other name shall we call it? Manslaughter? That mealy- mouthed term ” collateral damage”?

                  Whatever you choose to call it,it remains an act of killing, for which Israel is directly and ( I repeat) instrumentally responsible.

                  Israel and no one else, the extenuating circumstances notwithstanding.

                  There is nothing “malicious” about my pointing this out to you.

                  • dmr says:

                    To anticipate Skolnik’s reply to my last comment:

                    ” You’re not appalled. You’re just pretending to be. You’re a dishonest fake. Haters always are.

                    If you really felt as appalled as you say you are you, would be protesting the murder of women and children blown up on Israeli buses. But we don’t hear anything about that from you, do we, you foul-mouthed hypocrite. You have nothing if interest to say about Hamas and Israel and should shut your trap before you make a bigger fool of yourself than you already have.”

                • dmr says:

                  Very well then, Mr Skolnik. By what other name shall we call it? Manslaughter? That mealy- mouthed term ” collateral damage”?

                  Whatever you choose to call it,it remains an act of killing, for which Israel is directly and ( I repeat) instrumentally responsible.

                  Israel and no one else, the extenuating circumstances notwithstanding.

                  I could be mistaken of course in thinking so. Unlike you I don’t believe I am always right sbout everything. But where and how am I being “malicious”?

                  • Fred Skolnik says:

                    You are actually worse than malicious, because like Hamas you are using the bodies of dead children to score points. Israel made every effort to avoid civilian casualties and Israel had no choice but to return fire to silence the thousands of rockets Hamas was firing at its civilian population. When you try to charactize this as murder or killing you are implying that this was a nefarious act when it was not. If Israel had been out to kill civilians there would have been 100,000 dead as in Dresden.

                    • dmr says:

                      No choice? Rubbish. It most certainly had a choice. Biting its tongue and swallowing its pride, it could have decided to talk to Hamas and accept the hudna, so-called. Many lives and much suffering might have thus been saved, along with Israel’s plummeting reputation

                      But no. Hamas is the Devil incarnate. On no account could such talks even be considered, no matter what the cost in blood.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      Israel and not you will evaluate what Hamas’s intentions are when it offers a long-term ceasefire.

                    • dmr says:

                      Fred dear: as you know, a hudna is, precisely, “a long-term ceasefire.”

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      That’s what I said, dear: Israel and not you will evaluate what Hamas’s intentions are when it offers a long-term ceasefire. That, as you know, is what a hudna is. I’m really making an effort to keep from calling you a jerk.

                    • dmr says:

                      “Israel and not you will evaluate its intentions”.

                      Intentions matter far less than concrete actions.Hamas is not required to accept “the Jewish State” with open arms or declare its willingness forego its principled hostility towards it. It is required, no more and no less, to abide by the terms of a “hudna,” a long-term ceasefire.

                      The latter it has offered more than once but Israel, obstinate and short-sighted as always, will have none of it. The enemy must be pure of heart, must first repent of its wicked ways…

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      Your understanding of what matters and what doesn’t matter is not going to determine how Israel evaluates what Hamas is proposing and what it intends to do in actual fact. If you think intentions don’t matter, stop speculating about Netanyahu’s intentions and start urging the Palestinians to take him up on his offer to renew negotiations.

                    • dmr says:

                      (If only it were possible to italicise words and phrases in one’s reply in this blog…)

                      Nothing is more foolish than Israel’s demand for absolute security on the part of its enemies. Apparently imperfect security, all that one can reasonably expect in an imperfect world, is not good enough for her.100% or nothing! That,it seems, is the only thing acceptable to her.

                      Reminds me of nothing so much as a teacher standing before a class in hubbub, arms folded and lips primly pursed, demanding absolute silence, nary a peep or whisper,before the lesson can begin.

                      On this analogy Israel is just as arrogant, just as patronizing, and just as childish.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      I have no idea what you’re talking about and I wonder if you do either. Israel is not demanding perfect security but a level of security that it can live with it and that is what it evaluates under given circumstances.

                      Why are you continously breaking into these lame analogies and gratuitous characterizations, not to mention the meaningless rhetoric? Beyond this you don’t seem to have anything of substance to say.

                      You have plenty of Arab sites to write for. Why don’t you explain your theory of intentions and urge Abu Mazen to sit down with Netanyahu? Why don’t you curse Palestinians for murdering Jews the way you curse settlers for throwing rocks?

                    • dmr says:

                      “Jerk”:

                      Another gem for the list.

                      Thank you.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      Stick in the snide “dear” too. Thank you. That’s for the other list. When are we going to see it?

                    • dmr says:

                      “Thousands of rockets”: pitifully ineffective and, as weaponry, wholly useless home-made tin cans hastily assembled in back lots. They managed to fall on dead ground in Israel for the most part and harmed or injured a number of people that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, plus an out-building or two. I could be wrong, but no lives were lost.

                      This, in contrast to carefully aimed guided missiles killing and wounding thousands in tandem with an aerial bombardment laying waste to entire neighbourhoods, razing them flat.

                      No contest there.

                      I grant however that the idea (rather than the fact) of rockets falling arbitrarily on towns in the Negev was and is absolutely terrifying to inhabitants of the region. But if you don’t want rockets falling on your heads and endangering your children in their playgrounds, for Christ’s sake sit down and talk to the enemy with the aim of seeking a way forward that may – just may – result in an end being put to their use. Your enemy has offered to talk more than once. But you were having none of it. No sir!

                      Sad. And very, very foolish.

                      Mass murder , Mr Skolnik, is hardly excused by saying that “we warned them by phone calls/tweets/knocking-on-the-roof etc etc, but did they take any notice? No. So don’t blame us, they’ve only themselves to blame”. If you “warn” somebody that you’re about to assault him – let us go further and say that you add, in sheer humanity to your intended target/victim, that you’ll to “make every effort” not to hurt him too badly, going so far as to urge him to take cover from your impending attack which is going to proceed in any event – if, as I say, you do this and then proceed with your assault, grievously wounding him, you’re still responsible for the harm you will have caused.

                      The person you’ve so magnanimously warned, whatever action he may or may not have taken to get out of your way, is not responsible, whatever action he may or may not have taken to get out of your way.

                      You are. You alone. It defies logic and common sense to say or think otherwise. And here I was thinking you to be an man of some sense, Mr Skolnik.

                      “We warned them etc.” is a doctrine only Israel, groundlessly fancying itself part of the enlightened Western community of nations, is capable of dreaming up to salve its collective conscience (if it has one, that is) and to assure itself of its noble intentions. Any fool can see how daft it is.

                      “See how moral we are: we could have killed hundred of thousands more if we’d wanted to and if we’d really meant wholesale harm!” is an especially ugly example of smug self-exculpation, one that has been flung aside with scorn by everyone in his right mind outside Israel at least.By everyone,that is except the Skolkins of this world, a category that has now comprises a majority of Israelis and (sad to say) their fellow travellers in Jewish communities overseas.

                    • dmr says:

                      “Worse than malicious”:

                      Corrupt? Depraved? Sub-human? A foul beast?

                      Heartless and exploitative at any rate because appalled by such deaths, I suppose…

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      No country on earth will allow thousands of rockets to be fired at its civilian population. It will fire back, targeting the sources of the rocket fire. That is what Israel did.

  16. Fred Skolnik says:

    (To continue.) The Arabs arrived in the Middle East as a conquering nation. They have not exercised sovereignty in the Land of Israel since the 12th century. Those living in the Land of Israel had never claimed sovereignty as a people with a separate national identity. They thought of themselves as inhabiting Greater or Southern Syria and as an inseparable and indistinguishable part of the Arab nation. Why should the Jews with their historical connection to the Land of Israel, where their language, culture, religion and national identity were formed, not make a very modest claim to sovereignty in part of the Land and why should the world not have recognized the justice of the claim, as it did, and why should the Arabs have objected to a partition in which half the Jewish portion was a barely habitable desert (the Negev).

    I will be happy to engage you in a perfectly civilized manner if you are prepared to address any of the above questions specifically and directly.

    • dmr says:

      Jews as such,I’m afraid, have no “national identity.” Israelis have. Jews are not a people in (say) a French or Spanish – or Israeli – sense of the word. Belonging to the nations in which they reside and of which they are citizens, Jews are member of an ethnic and religious group, one formed historically speaking in the Diaspora, locus of its greatest achievements, and Judaism is a civilization, not a the basis of a national cult or a precursor to it.

      As to Palestine on the eve of partition, the best of cultivable terrain and arable land was awarded, as you well know, to the Jews, who were allocated 55% of the territorial mass of Palestine. Had I been an Arab alive at the time I might have been forgiven for being incensed by this, as might have you, Mr Skolnik,upon finding yourself similarly placed. Nor did the Zionist leadership under Ben-Gurion’s chairmanship make any secret of its territorial ambitions following partition. The ultimate aim, of seizing all of Eretz Israel or as much of it as could be taken, was well understood by “the Arabs” (as you insist on calling them, scanting their diversity and lumping them all together as unreasonable natives.) They were and are not fools.

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        Your determination that Jews have no national identity is false. They have always referred to themselves as a people or nation (“am yisrael”)and have always been attached emotionally and spiritually to the Land of Israe. The fact that Italian and Irish Americans are ethnic minorities does not mean that Italy and Ireland are not Italian and Irish national states and the fact that Jews live in the Diaspora as ethnic or religious minorities does not mean that Israel is not a Jewish national state as recognized among other places in Resolution 181, which uses the term Jewish state over 30 times.

        You are conveniently ignoring the fact that half of this 55% consisted of the Negev desert, which I mentioned above.

        It was not the aim of the Jews to seize all of the Land of Israel. The Jews did not act in any way to indicate that this was their aim. It was the aim of the Jews to defend themselves against the explicit Arab threat to destroy the state of Israel. The Arabs acted on this threat. I will be happy to quote Azzam Pasha for you again.

    • hag says:

      “The Arabs arrived in the Middle East as a conquering nation.”
      “The Bantu arrived in Southern Africa as a conquering nation.”
      “The Vandals arrived on the Iberian Peninsula as a conquering nation.”
      “The Afrikaners arrived on the banks of the Blood River as a conquering nation.”

      This depends on the definition of the word/concept of ‘nation’. And it reveals much about the speaker’s agenda.

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        I don’t understand what you’re saying. That is how the Arabs defined themselves.

        • dmr says:

          What is this reductive twaddle about “the Arabs”, Mr Skolnik? They form a diversity of peoples and nations are are not to be lumped together in one indiscriminate mass.

          Had you really had any sort of “human contact”, and so frequently, with Palestinians, you would know that they think of themselves as a distinct entity and not as one of “the Arabs.” You would also know (if you’d had any “human contact”) that Israeli Arabs, while strongly identifying with their Palestinian brothers, see themselves and above all wish to be seen as Israeli.

          Therein of course lies the whole trouble with the new nationality Law.

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            Palestinians only began to think of themselves as such after the establishment of the State of Israel. Israeli Arabs refer to themselves as Palestinias. Israelis refer to them as Israeli Arabs. The Arab peoples as a whole think of themselves as constituting a single nation with a common origin.

          • stettiner says:

            Article 1 of the Basic Law of the State of Palestine:

            “Palestine is part of the larger Arab world, and the Palestinian people are part of the Arab nation. Arab unity is an objective that the Palestinian people shall work to achieve”.

            But dmr knows better…

            • dmr says:

              Guess what, Mr Stettiner: you are right! My thanks to you. Unlike your friend Mr Skolnik I am always ready to be set right on points of fact.

              But even if it came into being after 1948 in the wake of the Naqba,and even if linked indissolubly to a larger sense of affiliation with the Arab world (much as Israel is linked to the Jewish world beyond its frontiers), is the Palestinian sense of national identity, which is no less real than the Israeli, to be considered therefore as mere myth, a manufactured and artificial conceit?

              They might beg to differ.

              • stettiner says:

                Awni Abd al-Hadi, at that time a member of the Arab Higher Committee, testified to the Peel Commission in 1936: “There is no such country [as Palestine]…. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented…. Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”

  17. dmr says:

    “am yisrael” : we can argue about this til the cows come home, Mr Skolnik, and I am not trying to be bloodyminded in dispute with you. It does seem to me however that for all its sentimental force and evocative significance this phrase does not mean “nation” in the modern sense of the term nationalism. That there always was and still is an imagined community of Jews no one in his right mind would seek to deny. That it has always been firmly oriented (outside the world of prayer and pious wishing, that is) on the land of Israel is altogether another matter. The Jewish presence in Palestine until the early 1920s was minuscule, and you don’t need me to tell you that the United States not Palestine was the terminus ad quem of emigration. More to the point: was there really a great longing all through the ages and on the part of the Jewish masses in eastern Europe and Russia to return to Palestine? This is open to question.

    Where and when by the way did I say that the republic known as Israel is not the Jewish national state? That it most certainly is I have indeed said, in an earlier comment. (You do know how to read, don’t you?) I did not however say that it belongs to the Jews ( your “am yisrael”) everywhere. On the contrary: in the primary sense of the verb to belong in legal-constitutional terms, i.e., to possess citizenship of as country and right of abode, it belongs, plainly enough to the people who live in it and to no one else.

    • Fred Skolnik says:

      I think you’re engaging in a bit of double-talk. Jews are not the only ancient people to modernize their concept of nationhood. When Greeks, Italians, Iranians, Arabs or Chinese spoke or speak of themselves as a nation or people, they meant or mean precisely what the Jews meant or mean.

      Just as Italy and Ireland will welcome first and foremost people of Italian and Irish descent as immigrants and consider themselves the nation-states of the Italian and Irish people, so does Israel consider itself the nation-state of the Jewish people.

      • hag says:

        Just as there are no unitary ‘Arab hordes’ wanting to destroy Israel or blow up Jewish women and children, there is no unitary ‘Israel’ that speaks with one voice and has one clear purpose. ‘Israel’ does not speak with one voice; ‘Israel’ is not a unitary subject that can make decisions or can ‘consider itself’ to be anything.

        All nation states (Britain, France, Italy) including Israel base themselves on creation myths and assorted tales of shared identities and destinies. (I grew up being told that God had shifted his allegiance from the Jews to us, that whatever we did in darkest Africa in His name was divinely sanctioned and ordained; this project is dead now.)
        In the process of creating a nation, competing stories win or loose, are reworked or merged; and minorities are sidelined, absorbed, eliminated. This was true of Italy, Britain, France – and you can see the same violence that this nation-building entails at work in Israel today.

        There is as much disagreement among Israelis as there is among ‘outsiders’ as to what Israel is or should be. Hence the attempt to legislate its definition.

        But whatever definition you favor, you still have to account for the people displaced through force and terror during its creation. Real people of blood and flesh have been kicked out of their houses, driven off their land; real people are marginalized, humiliated, ghettoized, imprisoned and killed daily. Of course these people lash out in return, no matter how outgunned; and of course they align themselves with whoever offers them support, no matter how insidious that support, or how compromised it leaves them.

        This can only be denied if you live in a bubble; and it can only be justified through the most convoluted and tortuous of double-think.

        • Fred Skolnik says:

          You are falsifying the history of the conflict again. If you are referring to the refugees, don’t neglect to mention the fact that an equal number of Jews were displaced from Arab countries during the war years and lost everything they owned. If you are talking about the occupation, don’t neglect to mention that all the misery of the Palestinians derives from the terrorist war their leaders have been waging for 70 years.

          • hag says:

            “all the misery of the Palestinians derives from the terrorist war their leaders have been waging for 70 years”

            The definition of terrorism is notoriously subjective. I grew up being told Mandela was a terrorist like Arafat. Mrs Thatcher concurred. Today the ‘terrorist’ Nelson Mandela is seen as an icon of peace and statesmanship.

            In 1960 at a place called Sharpeville, a police station was besieged by a ‘mob’ of ‘howling’ black people protesting the Apartheid pass laws, encouraged by their ‘terrorist leaders’. After a lengthy standoff, the cops opened fire, killing 69 people, 50 of whom women and children.
            Two months earlier at another protest, another black ‘mob’ had literally torn apart 9 policemen (5 of them black, incidentally), so the Sharpeville cops had rightly been on edge. And yet Sharpeville is now seen by history as a turning point, a moment that exposed the evil that was Apartheid, and not an instance where heroic enforcers of the legitimate status quo took actions against terrorism necessary to safeguard civilians, and maybe even civilization itself. Despite the international outcry, Apartheid lasted another 30 years after that, and it became a lot worse. Tens-of-thousands died. How many more will die in the Middle East?

            In Southern Africa, I went to school with two little girls who lived on a farm. One day some ‘freedom fighters’ came, cut off their parents’ heads and left them impaled on the front gate. The girls were left unharmed, but alone many miles from their nearest neighbours.

            I had an older cousin who was part of a military unit who’d drop ‘terrorists’ they’d snatched from local communities out of helicopters; sometimes a few feet off the ground, sometimes from a great height above the ocean. To this day he believes he was defending his children, his people, his race, his religion, even civilization itself; though history disagrees with him now.

            What will history make of Israel’s behaviour? Who will go down in history as terrorists, and who as freedom fighters?

            More importantly, how much of this are you prepared to tolerate being done in your name?

            • Fred Skolnik says:

              What I see being done in my name is a response by the Israeli army to Palestinian ot Arab attacks against Israeli civilians.

              • hag says:

                And the Palestinian or Arab attack against Israeli civilians was in response to an Israeli attack on Palestinian civilians, which was in response to etc etc.

                It’s a miracle people can still be myopic with so much eye-for-an-eye going on.

                Like a playground fight with real bullets.

                Where are the adults?

                • Fred Skolnik says:

                  No, there is always an ascertainable sequence of events. I see these sequences unfold on a daily basis and I don’t see Israel initiating them. It is not good enough, after murdering an Israeli and having its strongholds bombed, for Hamas to say we are retaliating for Israel’s actions. You seem to be perched safe and sound in front of a telly where you can permit yourself to cluck your tongue and make disparaging remarks about how Israel protects its population. Be a hero with your own children, not mine.

                  • hag says:

                    I haven’t yet made any disparaging remarks, Skolnik.

                    Do you really think what Israel is doing is improving the safety of children? Yours or any other?

                    It is clear you don’t care about the children of Arabs, but maybe in the long term what Israel is doing is not exactly creating a safe region for your children to flourish.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      Your ideas about the proper response to someone who is trying tio murder you is completely detached from reality.

                    • hag says:

                      The Israeli government wants you to believe you are besieged on all sides, only one step away from being overrun.
                      A fragile flame of civilization flickering in the face of the Arab storm, the last bastion of manifest destiny, an eternal victim of inferior peoples.
                      It wants you cowering inside a Laager so it can do whatever it wants to.

                      You are emblematic, Skolnik.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      I don’t even know how to characterize this stupidity of yours. Do you really think Israelis require the government to tell them that they are being shot at or stabbed or blown up by terrorists.

                    • hag says:

                      Israelis that are being attacked in the street don’t need to be told that they are being attacked in the street, no.

                      But why are they being attacked in the street? Why is there so much resentment and hatred?

                      Do you really not see it?

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      Do I really have to explain to you where the resentment and hatred comes from? It was there before the settlements, before the occupation and even before the 1948 war. Yes, the Palestinians suffer and this fuels the hate, but they suffer because the extremists among their leaders still refuse to reconcile themselves to the existence of a sovereign non-Muslim state in the Middkle East.

    • dmr says:

      For the sake of clarity:

      Recte: not “the Jewish national state” (as above, second paragraph) but “a Jewish state” tout court.

      i.e., a country like any other in the world yet one in which Jews happen to inhabit as a ruling majority and bearing, therefore, the impress of their distinctive culture.

      This, as distinct from a country declaring itself or wishing to be thought the representative of all Jews everywhere, all the time and in all ways.

      The former appellation makes as much or as little sense as “the French national state” or “the American national state” and is no less pompous, grandiose and (even) faintly menacing.

  18. dmr says:

    Let me see if I’ve got this straight: an Irish American (say) in Boston, taking a justifiable pride in its heritage and achievements, does not just wish the Republic of Ireland well at a geographical distance; he feels himself to be at one with Irishmen everywhere in believing that the country is the very epicentre of his existence, the indispensable locus of his emotional life, and takes it as read that that it exercises a claim – unconditional and irresistible – on his solidarity no matter what, his identity as an American being at bottom an adventitious affair in comparison.

    His primary emotional allegiance, that is to say, is owed deep down (and whether he knows it or not) not to the land of which he happens to be a citizen and in which he was born but to the faraway country of his ancestors, one that he considers, and more to the point that considers itself – unarguably – to be his “nation-state” though he has never visited it, has no plan to do so still less any wish to live there. He has basically little choice in the matter, being not simply an American of Irish descent but, like it or not, a member of a collective distributed round the globe that sees itself and wishes to be known as “the Irish people” (not to be confused with the people constituting the population of the Republic of Ireland).

    Ditto an Italian, a Greek, an Arab etc. And a fortiori for a Jew.

    I don’t wish to split hairs but that in effect is what you are saying, Mr Skolnik? Have I got it right?

    Ireland’s immigration statutes, incidentally, may indeed favour ingress by people of Irish extraction but the Republic welcomes others with open arms – Poles, Roumanians, Indians, Israelis too in fact. There is in operation there nothing remotely resembling an exclusionary Law of Return. The Chinese Nanyang is another story entirely and represents a limiting case. ( Having lived for years in China and amongst the overseas Chinese I know what I am talking about.)

    • dmr says:

      If I may say so, without being charged with “criminalizing Israel”, I would wish to point out to you, Mr Skolnik, that Greece, Italy, Ireland etc do not accord citizens of other countries stemming originally from them and possessing a sentimental attachment to them that may or not be lively the status of quasi-citizens or citizens-in-waiting. This, whether they like it or not.

      Nor do these countries arrogate to themselves the right to represent them, to speak for them in the international context, and to act politically in their name.

      Herein is to be found one important distinction between other nations and the Jewish “nation-state.” A distinction that makes all the difference in the world and that may serve to draw attention to its highly anomalous character.

    • Fred Skolnik says:

      No, you don’t get this straight. The primary allegiance of an Italian or Irish American is to America and the primary allegiance of a Jewish American is also to America. Some American Jews choose to settle in Israel and I’m sure some, though a much smaller number of Irish and Italian Americans, settle in Ireland and Italy, like the novelist J.P Donleavy, for example. So what?

      Dozens of countries have immigration laws that favor their own expatriate nationals over other people.

      • Donald Raeson says:

        Isn’t ‘expatriate national’ a contradiction in terms?

        • Fred Skolnik says:

          I use the term for someone of a particular national origin who has left his country to live abroad, including his children.

          • dmr says:

            Where I live,I can tell you that Jews who are passionate in their attachment to Israel most certainly see themselves in several important respects as quasi- or,more precisely perhaps,as para-citizens of the country.

            This is perfectly understandable in historical and emotional terms but does not brook comparison with the feelings of,say, Italian-Americans about the Old Country.

  19. Fred Skolnik says:

    Your thinking is so overwrought that what you are saying is a little hard to follow.

    Jewish Americans are not quasi citizens any more than Irish or Italian Americans are. The Law of Return tells them that if they choose to settle in Israel they will be received with open arms and I’m sure Italian and Irish Americans have the same feeling with or without a Law of Return.

    I don’t know that Israel “speaks” for Jewish Americans. What it generally speaks about internationally is the Arab-Israel conflict. It also responds to expressions of antisemitism around the world and I’m sure that most Jews are happy to hear a strong Jewish voice in the background.

    • dmr says:

      Let me spell it out for you, Mr Skolnik, for you seem to be slow on the uptake: Jews the world over have – not all of them, but many – a sentimental attachment to Israel as powerful as it is natural. But the country does not “belong” to them. It belongs to Israelis (Jewish and Arab) and to them only.

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        You’re not the one to spell anything out for anyone. They don’t have the rights or obligations of citizens. That’s understood by everyone, so what are you getting so wound up about and what do you care if they feel attached to it or if the country would welcome them as citizens.

        • dmr says:

          Hmm…well,if your prime minister is to be believed, as for example when speaking at a rally in Paris following the attack of a few years ago on a Jewish supermarket, Jews everywhere are duty bound to act on their attachment and emigrate to Israel, for it – not France – is really” their country.

          Mr Netanyahu makes my point for me.

        • dmr says:

          Do I care, I mean personally care? No. Does my not caring oblige me to keep silent? No.

          You hardly care personally about Rwanda et al but this does not stop you from taking an interest in the goings-on there, so far as can be seen. What is happening in Israel/Palestine is of vastly greater significance and longe-range importance, and of greater concern to all, than almost any other country (your native u.s.a excepted) one can think of.

          This, not “hatred,” accounts for the attention it receives on the internet and elsewhere, both on the parts of its friends and its enemies. If attention to its crimes verges on obsession, Israel has itself only to blame.

    • dmr says:

      Doesn’t speak for them? Hasn’t your prime minister referred to himself as ” the leader of the Jewish people”?

  20. Fred Skolnik says:

    That’s it? You found something from a rally a few years ago. But he didn’t say that Jews are duty-bound to do anything. He said that in view of Muslim terrorism in France Jews are becoming less and less safe there and would do well to consider living in Israel. That’s fine. Is this the kind of thing you get all wound up about as you simmer away with your resentments.

    Still waiting to hear who or what you are. Asked you before. Embarrassed?

  21. Eric Auerbach says:

    The LRB blog should really consider doing away with its comments section. The NYRB shut down its comments years ago, and is all the better for it.

    • XopherO says:

      I disagree. The LRB blogs generally have few comments. This is exceptional even by Skolnik standards of commenting. However it has been quite compelling, particularly to see Fred perpetually on the back foot, throwing accusations, some quite nasty – ad hominem ‘arguments’ are usually a sign of desperation and a lack of intellectual resource. I have previously commented that Mr Skolnik has little understanding of historiography, and therefore how ‘a history’ comes about, otherwise he would be more circumspect and less of a blinkered polemicist. The idiocy is that he is not helping his ’cause’ which I presume is to cast Israel as whiter than white over 40 years of ‘history’. Instead he has drawn out many examples and arguments as to why this is simply not tenable. He would do better to shut up for a while. But no such chance. It will inevitably be the editor who closes this down, fairly soon I shouldn’t doubt.

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        You’re quite a foul-mouthed piece of work yourself, aren’t you. As for historiography, what can I say to someone who believes that the opinions of journalists constitute evidence. You are the one who should shut up, because you are telling us more about yourself than you should want anyone to know.

        • XopherO says:

          You have a funny idea of foul mouthed like many things. I have not referred to any journalists in this blog, but to a respected Israeli writer and observer of the contemporary scene, some retired heads of Israeli internal security services, and some people I worked with in Israel. It is you who keeps pouring out polemical revisionist history. Indeed, anyone trying to make sense of the contemporary refers to contemporary sources, which includes journalists, politicians etc. Historiographers make great use of such documents produced by all and sundry, often hidden away and forgotten. One of the good and sensible things about Israel has been its concern to build up an archive of such documents tracing its history (it is what serious academic librarians and students of the past do, regardless of affiliation) – and when three Jewish historians who were sympathetic to your kind of ‘history’ accessed them recently, they were shocked to discover they had been believing many lies and half-truths put out by the likes of Likud, and that much of what has been said here by contributors is close to the truth. Your last sentence is a kind of school playground ‘yah boo!’ and not worthy of comment.

          • hag says:

            The past is constantly being reinterpreted to suit the present, especially in such a volatile place as Israel. Whether this is about what happened in 1948 or during the times of Solomon, it’s all part of the ‘nation-building’ process, and whose agenda congeals into reality.

            A few years ago I would have argued that all this revisionism is bound to be uncovered for what it is, but this is the age of fake news, so who knows.

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            Please tell us what journalistic material these historians discovered. You really don’t have a clue as to the kinds of materials used by Israeli or any other kind of scholars.

    • hag says:

      Why would you say that?
      If you don’t like the comments, don’t read them.

      In any case, they are excellent places for harvesting information about dangerous dissidents, no doubt.

  22. dmr says:

    “Malicious”
    “Complete idiot”
    “Fool”
    “foul-mouthed piece of work”
    “stupidity”
    “frothing with hostility”
    “simmering with resentment”
    “hate-filled slander”
    “ranting”

    Some typical items deployed in Mr Skolnik’s argumentative armoury, serving as his stock in trade in exchanges. They seemed worth listing, the better to get a sense of the sort of man we are dealing with here.

    But, mea maxima culpa: I see I have had the face to call a contributor to these exchanges dim-witted. No excuse for that and I hope the honourable Mr Stettiner will pardon me.

    A two-edged sword, the internet; dangerous too….

  23. dmr says:

    How can I have forgotten to add “completely detached from reality” to the list?

    • Fred Skolnik says:

      Now go over your comments and compile a second list.

      Then give us that sample of your feelings about terrorist attacks, writing 10 sentences with the same venom that you reserve for Israel.

      • hag says:

        You are deflecting again, Skolnik.

        The Palestinians are a powerless people, driven into corners, thrown into cages, living in ghettos, humiliated, starved. They are being bullied.
        They retaliate, but with comparatively little effect. They fall prey to unscrupulous gangsters and fundamentalists, but how can they not? How can you expect someone who for generations has been oppressed to do otherwise?

        Israelis are not powerless. They have all the advantages. They are the bullies.

        This is absolutely not to say that there aren’t still forces out there who would like Israel destroyed. The proverbial Palestinian boy with a slingshot might wish Israel to disappear, and can you blame him? Some schmuck in Tehran might preach against Israel, but that has more to do with his own desperation that any real power, or even intent.

        The reality is that Israel has won its position in the world, it is secure. There is no realistic challenger, no all-powerful enemy lurking. There is no reason to maintain the belligerence, the bullying, the oppression.

        In whose interest is it to believe otherwise, really?

        • Fred Skolnik says:

          But there is no bullying and oppression in the gratuitous sense that you are implyng. There is a direct response to terrorist acts that are not trivial, as you may also be implying, but intolerable. Maybe you think, as dmr seems to, that our caring about each other so much is an aberration. Maybe you come from an environment where people don’t feel this kinship toward each other. We do, and we cannot allow our countrymen to be murdered. I have outlined the parameters of a settlement. Insisting that Netanyahu will not go along with it is mistaken in my view as someone who is living the Israeli experience. But let the Palestinians test him. They have more to gain from trying than from refusing to negotiate.

          • dmr says:

            I take it we are to conclude then that the reports beyond number of such things ss the destruction of olive groves,humiliation of parents in front of their children and gross insults to women at checkpoints, the trashing of property and countless acts of arbitrary and gleeful crulety on the parts of a teenage soldiery – that all this, the whole wretched business about which we have been hearing daily for years now is nothing more than a ” malicious” pack of lies manufactured by those who wish Israel ill and and that they are perfectly intelligible and quite cceptable as ” self-defence.”

            If so, no wonder so many have turned their backs on Israel.

            As to caring about each other: admirable so far as it goes but not when such care is at the expense of others.

            • Fred Skolnik says:

              You are to conclude that they are grossly exaggerated when you take into account that the Israeli army is dealing with a volatile population of 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

              I served on active reserve duty for nearly 20 years, mostly in the West Bank, and can tell you that such incidents are rare.

              Reports “without number” would be – what? Have you counted them? Have you witnessed them? Have you investigated them?

              • dmr says:

                So that’s all right then. All’s well. Nobody has any no grounds for complaint. Haters hate, etc.

                Simple.

              • dmr says:

                More Skolnikery (a deliciously dotty example, this one):

                You must have enumerated precisely and have investigated personally, or else have witnessed with your own eyes, every single incident of real or alleged wrongdoing on the part of the IDF before you even so much as think to comment on them.

                Better still, just take the IDF’s word that it’s innocent of any misdemeanour.

                Short of which, you should “shut up.”

                • Fred Skolnik says:

                  Even in this you’re using a secondary source (me). The original “shut up” comes from the foul-mouthed Xopher above, who comments on my “idiocy.”

                  But, hey, who needs her. Where’s that second list of yours? I’ll start you off: neurotic, embittered, of Questionable sanity … You see what a fake you are.

                  • dmr says:

                    I’m afraid I must stand by my use of these less than complimentary terms. They seem to me to describe with considerable exactitude the character, as bodied forth in his tone of voice and in propensity to name-calling, of the man with whom so many of us here find ourselves in more or less fruitless contention.

                    The precise meaning of “fake” on the other hand, Mr Skolnik’s favourite term of abuse, what it is supposed to connote and why it occupies so central a place in his vocabulary, remains obscure. Does it equate to hypocrite? To insincere dissembler? To two-faced liar? Ms Gitlin must it, seems, be “a fake” in all these senses as do all others who find fault with Israeli policy and behaviour.

                    But a further question arises: by contrast, what sort of person is authentic, in Mr Skolnik’s eyes? A see-no-evil Israeli patriot? A proud Zionist Jew, who in his early twenties forsook the Diaspora for a pioneering life in the new Jewish state? A scourge of anti-Semites everywhere, his sixth sense preternaturally able to sniff them out and run them to earth in every dark corner? A true believer in the “right-to-exist” and in “self-defence,” no matter how irrationally construed and pursued?

                    Apparently so.

                    Fakery vs. authenticity: the polar opposites of Mr Skolnik’s personal world-view. The view of a very insecure man.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      I will also stand by my less than etc., etc., so what are you complaining about and compiling lists for? Is hypocrite on your list. Add it. A fake in this context, and among other things, is someone who professes to care about the Palestinians as victims when his only real interest is Israel as the culprit. I get this from the stink of hatred coming off you. A fake is also someone who looks to his right and sees a rock thrower and looks to his left and sees a bus bomber and writes blog entries cursing the rock thrower and, if anything, rationalizing the bus bombing. What makes him a fake is that he is pretending to care about human life but not opening his filthy mouth when Jews are being murdered by Arab terrorists.

                • Fred Skolnik says:

                  But to the point: You will hear about vandalism, including the uprooting of trees, maybe 5-10 times a year. What constitutes humiliation of parents and insults to women is certainly open to interpretation and I don’t know what phantom journalists have witnessed countless incidents or verified the stories they are told, as is also the case with “gleeful cruelty.”

                  B’Tselem itself, I remember, when a few of its reports were challenged a couple of years ago on Raviv Drucker’s Ha-Makor show (investigative reporting), confessed that it wasn’t equipped to conduct real investigations.

                  But you’re just lapping all this up.

                  • dmr says:

                    “What constitutes humiliation of parents and children is certainly open to interpretation,”

                    Let this remark speak for itself, in attestation of Mr Skolnik’s ethical values as a Jew, and of his sensibility.

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      It’s not open to interpretation?
                      If a Palestinian woman starts cursing a soldier at a checkpost and he curse her back, is that an insult to women. If a parent is arrested for attacking a soldier, is that a humiliation of parents? I made an observation above that you don’t know how to handle so you’re going into your enpty “I rest my case” mode.

                  • Fred Skolnik says:

                    But we all know how these things work, except you of course. One morning there’s a buzz in the village: “B’Tselem is coming”; “Haaretz is coming”; “Daniella Gitlin is coming.” Should we organize a demonstration? a provocation? a confrontation? Is the rock pile full enough? Should we produce a “victim.”? Do we have enough time to prepare him? And that is precisely what happens. And don’t pretend that I’m saying that nothing ever happens. But don’t get yourself off by mindlessly repeating everything that’s fed to you. I have described above the reality. I am an eyewitness. You are not, and neither is the reporter who scribbles down everything he is told and is already dreaming up a headline big enough to announce a world war, tailormade for people like you.

                    • dmr says:

                      Cunning bastards, those Palestinians, with their “Pallywood” antics and faked suffering.

                      There’s no trick in the book they won’t resort to in order to make Israel look bad.

                      And those low-down, unscrupulous reporters.e.g from the Guardian, who don’t give a tinker’s cuss about truth or facts: miserable lying s.o.b’s, every man jack of ’em!

                    • Fred Skolnik says:

                      You’re treading water again.

                    • dmr says:

                      Oy veh!,,,,

  24. dmr says:

    I think most contributors to this blog will have concluded privately that Mr Skolnik is by nature an exceedingly angry man, who alas lets his feelings run away with him and has not the self-discipline to remain cool and to keep a civil tongue in his head in argument. One comes away from exchanges with him feeling (in the words of the New Testament) that verily you cannot touch pitch and not be defiled. I daresay this is a feeling widely shared amongst his opponents in debate.

    One feels sad for those – and they are many – who are sincere in their support for Israel and who wish her well. They could do with all the help they can get nowadays. But it is abundantly clear that with friends like Fred Skolnik she has no need of enemies.

  25. dmr says:

    As is plain to see, I am nothing like as clever or insightful or well-informed as you, Mr Skolnik. But then who is?

    So Let me see (and not for the first time – do pardon my slow wits) if I’ve got this straight: because Daniella Gitlin or anybody like her may have published nothing about terrorist attacks online, it follows, as night follows day, and undeniably, that she must personally be in favour of them! Just as it follows from her not-having-written-anything to the contrary that deep down she’s more upset about settlers throwing rocks etc.

    Impeccable reasoning…

    • dmr says:

      (Sorry, this entry was misplaced. It ought to have appeared near the start of these comments.)

    • Fred Skolnik says:

      Let’s stick to you as you’re obviously birds of a feather.

      Have you written those 10 sentences about terrorist attacks with the same venom that you reserve for Israel?

      Have you gone over your comments and worked up that list of insults to place alongside your list of mine?

  26. dmr says:

    Not to be omitted from the list:

    “You should shut up because you are telling everyone more than anyone should want to know about you.”

    ( A dignified and mature response, redounding to the credit of this gentleman and to that of the cause – and land – that he is so loud in promoting…)

    • XopherO says:

      dmr, that is my favourite Skolnikslur, as I will call them, it is so wonderfully dotty! And he deliberately misreads or does not understand. What I said about the historians researching in the state archive was not to say they were looking for journalistic accounts only. The point I was making was that historiographers look for contemporary documents, among other evidence, including journalistic material if relevant. But of course all documents must be examined for validity using whatever methods a methodological analysis of the methods and the tools available for this suggests. I suspect I know more about good scholarship than Fred – at least going by the crudity of his claimed ‘evidence’.

      • Fred Skolnik says:

        What you know is how to make empty assertions that you can never back up. We had the “historiography” conversation in the past as you may remember, or prefer not to remember. That was when you informed us that you turned against Israel immediately after the Six-Day War, when you discovered Israel’s sins. I then wrote: “Try to explain specifically what you discovered in 1967 that turned you against Israel and what your sources of information were since, as you say, I am ignorant of the problems of historiography.”

        That’s when you ran away.

        Care to try now.

        • XopherO says:

          Fred, you must have some filing system for all the comments on Israel you don’t like. I never said I turned against Israel, or Jewish people.You know very well I have soft spot for several reasons, but I also believe in justice for the Palestinians, and the truth as far as it possible to ascertain it (hence my concerns for proper historiography, and we’ve seen how Trevor-Roper was exposed!) about the creation of Israel and what has happened since.

          I didn’t respond because I was just fed up with the way you appear to deliberately misunderstand or misinterpret or avoid the key points for your tirades. But you have come back, and who am I to deny you your request. However, I hope you can wait a day or so as my son and family are visiting and I do not wish to miss a minute with my fabulous 6 year old granddaughter. I hope you have had, have or will have such a pleasure in your life. But perhaps your heart is so hard to be softened by such a joy.

          Speak soon.

          • dmr says:

            All very well and wishing you joy of this fellow. But as in the expression (common in the betting trade) “the house always wins”, just so, in any exchange, Mr Skolnik will and must have the last word. Always.

            Alas, ineducable….

          • Fred Skolnik says:

            The snideness and nastiness of your last two sentences sums you up perfectly. You are too self-righteous for your own good.

            • Fred Skolnik says:

              I am referring to Xopher of course.

            • dmr says:

              Skolnik, you silly twit!! Are you nuts?

              This woman has spoken kindly and courteously to you, she has wished you well, her tone is by no means friendly, it’s open-hearted, she welcomes your reply – and you, what do you do? You answer her with insults.

              For shame, you boor.

              • Fred Skolnik says:

                If you wish to trade insults I can do that for a while too, though not at the above level.

                Speculation by this wonderfukl woman about whether I am capable of enjoying my grandchildren crosses the line.

                • XopherO says:

                  Fred, you are so predictable – you always rise to the bait! You are probably, at least on the evidence of your contributions, the most solipsistic person I have come across in a long time. I apologise for luring you into this anger, not for the first time, but I have suggested several times that you take a break.

                  As to what happened in 1967. I lived in London in the 60s, and between 1967 and 68 (and after) it was a cauldron of political debate, particularly in student circles (and much driven by the LSE). You just had to be there to pick up different perspectives on world issues, and I did, Israel included. Untainted by anti-Semitism.

                  And I think I will say no more. I think it has all been said by some excellent contributors. I think instead of responding angrily to this you should go back and read Gitlin’s blog again, but with empathy. In an short eye witness piece she covers a lot of ground about what is wrong with what is going on in the West Bank.

                  • Fred Skolnik says:

                    I realize that it’s frustrating to be asked questions that you can’t answer and I understand the effort you are making to shift the focus of the discussion to my mental state.

                    How do you dare to speculate about whether I am capable of enjoying my grandchildren? That is what you should be apologizing for.

              • dmr says:

                Recte: ” her tone is by no means unfriendly”.

  27. dchr2 says:

    Haha, I missed out on all the fun over the last few days I was away. Comment count going into the hundreds is a reliable marker of fanatics.
    As Nietzsche said, “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”

    Spare your energy and watch–even share–a video of Ilan Pappe on youtube instead to learn more about history of this conflict that per Joan Peters’s hoax (debunked in these pages decades ago, link to that article and discussion here: https://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/legacy-peters-immemorial ) dates back “from time immemorial” (1881, actually after the Russian Czar was assassinated by suicide bombers, but you’ll have to watch Pappe for getting the dates right).

    • Fred Skolnik says:

      I hate to be a spoilsport again but I wouldn’t get too hung up on Pappe. Joan Peters is not the opposition, though her popular history is fairly accurate. Benny Morris, who studied the same archives as Pappe, claims that not a single sentence in his History can be relied upon. Since you know how to find Pappe on the Internet, I’m sure you’ll know how to find Morris as well. I think his critique is in the New Republic. If you feel that you are equipped to decide between them, go right ahead.

  28. Richard Hinforr says:

    This Fred Skolnik person, whatever (or despite) his credentials is an absurdly egotistical, fanatical and abusive character not helped by a quality of profound deafness.

    The article about this relatively small incident in the occupied West Bank / Palestine is illuminating and well written and a worth while illustration, another valuable piece of evidence.

    Virtually all the comments to it in the LRB are quite beside the point. And that, in the case of the many tedious ones by Skolnik, especially, is just the point. It is not beside the point to point out that he has a considerable history of this behaviour. Récidivist


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