From the Times today:
At a news conference Monday, Hassan Qashqavi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, called the turnout a "brilliant gem which is shining on the peak of dignity of the Iranian nation."
From the Times today:
At a news conference Monday, Hassan Qashqavi, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, called the turnout a "brilliant gem which is shining on the peak of dignity of the Iranian nation."
A terrible thought, but what if the Iranian regime actually suppresses the revolt of the Iranian masses?
I don't think this is possible, in the long run, of course: A regime that slaughters its own children has no future. But it can presumably maintain its grip on power for at least a while. What does this mean for its looming confrontation with America and, in particular, Israel, over its nuclear program? Do the events of recent days prove Benjamin Netanyahu right?
Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Netanyahu told David Gregory that recent events have "unmasked" the true nature of the regime, and this is undoubtedly true: No one, not even the regime's apologists, believes that these men are secret moderates interested in seeing Iran rejoin the civilized world. So in one way, the regime's murderous response to dissent helps Netanyahu make his case that this is indeed a fanatic regime. But recent events also cut against Netanyahu's analysis, I think: The Iranian regime has exposed itself as interested mainly in self-preservation. Netanyahu told me earlier this spring that Iran is run by a "messianic, apocalyptic cult." But I think there's an argument to be made that Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are grubby men mainly interested in perpetuating their power. In other words, they seem to behave like rather quotidian dictators, not religious fanatics. A confrontation with Israel would certainly threaten the stability of their regime, and the stability of their regime is something they quite obviously cherish.
Goldblog reader Guy Handelman writes:
I just came back from Trader Joes. The manager told me that they only carry 2 Israeli products (couscous and feta cheese). They already sold out of feta cheese, so I bought a box of couscous. It looks like the anti-Israel folks picked the wrong store to boycott.
And this, from the Los Angeles Jewish Journal:
In Los Angeles... the only unusual activity reported was that of local patrons walking into the national food chain to ask to buy Israeli products in specific.
Since Trader Joe's only stocks two Israeli products, you'd think that the International Campaign to Scapegoat Israel would have picked a better target.
One other question has been raised in all this: Just what is Israeli couscous? As a friend once asked, isn't Israeli couscous Israeli the way that French toast is French? I'm not sure of the answer -- I suppose there could be an Israeli variant, developed in Israel's large community of Moroccan Jews -- but this question reminds me of the great hummus debate, as well as the periodic eruption of falafel fighting, described here in this Times article by Jodi Kantor:
It's nice to think that sharing a cherished food brings enemies together, easing tension and misunderstanding. But the world's rawest conflicts can include disagreements over common foodstuffs. Irish Catholics and Protestants have lightly bickered over whiskey. Turks and Greeks have feuded over coffee. And Jews and Arabs argue about falafel in a way that reflects the wider conflict, touching on debates over territory and history. ''Food always migrates according to immigration and commerce,'' said Yael Raviv, an Israeli student at New York University who wrote her Ph.D. thesis on Israeli nationalism and cuisine. ''But because of the political situation, falafel has taken on enormous significance.''
The incipient Iranian revolution has upset certain political categories at home, two to be exact: Scowcroftian realism and liberal interventionism (a/k/a neoconservatism). Both, IMHO, are inadequate to the current crisis. The bloodcurdling scenes of oppression on the streets of Teheran betray the limits of cold-hearted realism as an American doctrine: It is not who we are, to stand idly by. Realists believe that power, and power only, has salience in international relations, but American conceptions of right and wrong clearly do as well, and always have.
On the other side of the ledger, it seems as if some neoconservatives are demanding that Barack Obama do more than he's doing simply because that's what we Americans are supposed to do: More. This seems like an unwise strategy; the smartest strategy would be to follow the lead of the Iranian protesters. If they seem to need more American moral support, or other kinds of support, then we should reconsider. But Obama's strategy so far seems basically correct: He probably could give more direct and enthusiastic rhetorical support to the demonstrators than he's been giving, precisely because he's Barack Obama and could get away with it. But the idea that we should rush in and do something makes little sense at the moment. The overarching goal is to see the birth of a democratic Iran, not to make ourselves feel good, or get in the way.
That said, the liberal interventionist/neoconservative position is the easier one to understand, because it is the more human response. This has been my colleague Andrew Sullivan's basic response. He's done a phenomenal job of covering the chaos in Iran, but every so often he feels a need to throw an elbow at neoconservatives and at AIPAC, for no apparent reason, except to distance himself from people who, in the main, would like to see Ahmadinejad, to borrow a phrase, wiped off the map, just as Andrew would. Such was the case yesterday, when Andrew responded to the firing of Dan Froomkin, the liberal Washington Post.com columnist, by writing, among other things, that "maybe the quality of (Froomkin's) free-lancing was showing up the hackneyed AIPAC boilerplate they publish every day on their op-ed page." He went on to write, in reference to Froomkin's recent argument with Charles Krauthammer about torture, "Exposing the torture-monger Krauthammer would almost certainly have enraged (editorial page editor Fred) Hiatt. They look after their own the neocons."
For the record, I like Froomkin's column, read it often, and am sorry to see it go, but I don't know what this controversy has to do with Krauthammer (with whom Sullivan is in fundamental agreement on the righteousness and importance of the Iranian revolution) and I certainly don't know what this has to do with AIPAC, which, as far as I can tell, hasn't lobbied the Hill on this current Iran crisis and hasn't issued any statements at all about it. I think Andrew's attacks on Fred Hiatt, neoconservatives and AIPAC are a manifestation of the aforementioned category confusion. In any case, since I can't figure out Andrew's post, I asked Fred Hiatt if he could. He sent me this response:
"It is so incoherent, it's hard to know how to comment. But I will try. He says I was acting on neocon orders when we published a piece suggesting that Ahmadinejad may have actually had popular support. But elsewhere I am being attacked for publishing ostensibly neocon pieces criticizing Obama for not supporting Ahmadenejad's opposition. It's hard to see how both could be true.
I had forgotten until today that Dan (Froomkin) had gone after Charles (Krauthammer), which Sullivan says 'almost certainly' would have 'enraged' me. If Andrew wants to know whether it enraged me, why does he not call and ask? That's called reporting, and I would be happy to tell him. In fact nothing pleases me more than when our columnists engage with each other, in print or on Post Partisan, as any of them could tell you. It's good for traffic, and it makes for lively debate.
The disappointingly dull truth is that the decision not to renew Dan's contract--which was not made by me, but which I supported--was based on viewership data, budget constraints and judgments about how well the column was or was not adapting to a new era."
I'm guessing Andrew will probably have a response to Hiatt's criticism.
Several Goldblog readers have asked for information about the possibility of making donations to a fund for Stephen T. Johns' family. Here is a link to one such fund. Johns' funeral is today. A special section of the church has been reserved for Holocaust survivors. The heart breaks.
Rachel Lehmann-Haupt reports that DNA testing is helping people discover their Jewish ancestry. I think I'm going to take one of these tests. I've long suspected that I'm Jewish, and I'd like to find out once and for all.
To the jew Goldberg,Hi. I was just reading your Goldblog piece on those who insist that the world economy is controlled by Jews, and that Tim Geithner is a Jew. As a matter of fact I was one who googled 'Geithner Jew' to see if he was one, and I'll admit to a suspicion that he was Jewish even after discovering that he wasn't. This is partly because Wikipedia had Geithner listed as Jewish before changing its listing; and partly because there is a trend for the financial positions in the United States government to be weighted towards the Jewish side - which makes a supposition that Geithner might be Jewish perfectly natural. I am semi-literate, I believe, with a degree in English literature from Oxford University. I believe that the world economy is constantly extremely involved with the position of Jews. For example, the current recession is not unrelated to the pretence that nothing needed to be addressed in the world order after September 11 (which was an attack upon Jews). The Jews have this secret (even from themselves) which they don't want people to know about, which is that they are using America and Americans to keep them masters of Arabia. Instead of publicly mentioning or privately recognising this secret and its relation to the deaths of 3000 innocent Americans, simple-minded George Bush and his team of oil crooks embarked on an aggressive consolidation of previous policy, in collusion with the interests of zionists, which implicitly encouraged economic growth at home based on misconceived premises, growth which is now being reversed. The point I am making is that this economic growth and now recession was based on an misconceived philosophy that significantly related to the interests of Jews. I suspect this recession would not have been so possible were it not necessary for the business of Jews to be suppressed from the thoughts of humankind! In fact the recession and other world issues have a lot to do with Jews and their publicly unrecognised issues. It is regrettable that we aren't able to talk about it openly and in a mature fashion (or an immature one for that matter). Even more regrettable, perhaps, that those who are not in a position to understand may now start to take it out on innocent Jewish people.
Ta-Nehisi discovers that Pat Buchanan is a lunatic.
James Kirchick, who profiled the below-mentioned neocon gay porn king in The New Republic, passed along this press release:
June 15, 2009 (New York, NY) -- Lucas Entertainment is proud to announce that production has wrapped on its groundbreaking adult feature, MEN OF ISRAEL. This endeavor marks a first in the gay pornographic world, as the premier Israeli film produced by major adult studio with an all-Israeli cast. Executive Producer/Co-Director Michael Lucas and Co-Director/Videographer mr. Pam were on location for over a month, diligently scouting and shooting extensive amounts of footage for the film. MEN OF ISRAEL captures not only the irreproachable, physical beauty found in each and every Israeli, but also the unique and wondrous allure of the country itself. The exotic backdrops for many of the sex scenes eclectically range from the pristine desert cliffs of the Dead Sea, ancient ruins near Jerusalem dating back to over a millennium, to avant-garde skyscraper condos in the enriched metropolis of Tel Aviv.
Now the anti-Israel maniacs want people to boycott "Israeli couscous" at Trader Joe's. What prejudice! Israel has problems, yes (why, I just posted on one such problem), but the hard-left boycott-Israel folks are so discriminatory it's repulsive. My recommendation: Head to Trader Joe's and buy anything made or grown in Israel. I hear the Israeli couscous goes well with grilled scapegoat, by the way.
In an op-ed piece in the Jerusalem Post, Samuel Freedman writes:
With President Barack Obama's forceful, repeated calls for a total freeze on settlements, he is surely betting that he can assail a consistent policy of Israeli governments, both Labor and Likud, without alienating his substantial support among American Jewish voters.
Freedman has written an important piece. The leadership of the organized American Jewish community - that means you, Malcolm Hoenlein - doesn't seem to understand what is happening in America, among its Jews, and also, by the way, among its non-Jews. American Jews - or let's say, for argument's sake, the Jews who voted for Obama, which is to say, most Jews - no longer conflate support for Israel with support for the settlement movement. Quite the opposite: Many American Jews see the settlements, as I have written many times, as the vanguard of binationalism, which is to say, an ostensibly Zionist movement that is anti-Zionist in effect. But liberal American Jews not only see the colonization of the West Bank as a demographic threat to Israel; they see it as a moral threat as well, a moral threat to Israel, and a moral threat to the previously mainstream understanding that justice is on Israel's side.
What all this means politically is that Obama is positioned now, in ways that previous American presidents weren't, to tell Israel what it needs to hear; that the Zionist idea is just, but that the Palestinian idea has justice to it as well. He will be able to cajole, and ultimately force, Israel to make compromises that might be painful short-term (Judea and Samaria, a/k/a the West Bank, is historically Jewish, as well as, more recently, Palestinian) but that will save the Jewish democratic idea.
Malcolm Hoenlein and the other grandees of the organized American Jewish leadership believe that masses of Jews will rise up against Obama if he forces Israel out of its settlements. They won't. I believe the majority of American Jews want two things: A secure Israel, and a moral Israel that is a light unto the nations. Settlements make Israel insecure, and they make it seem immoral in the eyes of the world.
You can already imagine the self-lacerating criticism to come, once people in the news profession realize that they've become a bit too forgiving -- that's a mild word for it -- of the Obama Administration. David Zurawik writes, in reference to the upcoming ABC News broadcast from the White House:
"[T]he TV press desperately needs to step back and question how it is covering President Barack Obama... It really is a cozy game that the White House is playing with the TV news industry, and it will be too late for us as citizens when some enterprising journalist (are there any left?) chronicles it in a book that is published two years from now. But wait, she or he will have to have access to the White House to get a decent advance, which demands its own kind of getting into bed with the administration."
Stephen Walt's desperate effort to portray himself as a brave truth-teller battling the cabal of Americans who happen to like Israel continues apace. (I have promised myself never to mention Walt, or his more academically-accomplished though equally-grubby partner, John Mearsheimer, without quoting Walt's Foreign Policy colleague David Rothkopf on their detestable careers: "They may not be anti-Semites themselves but they made a cynical decision to cash in on anti-Semitism by offering to dress up old hatreds in the dowdy Brooks Brothers suits of the Kennedy School and the University of Chicago."
After the President's very good speech in Cairo (in which he expressed disagreement with Israel's current course vis-a-vis settlements) Walt informed us that the subject of even-handedness in Middle East policy-making "had become something of a taboo issue, especially for anyone seeking a prominent career in American politics or in the U.S. foreign policy establishment." This is part of their campaign: To argue implicitly that the Jews will strike down anyone who dares question America's support for Israel. This argument also helped sell their pernicious book (published by one of the most esteemed houses in America), an irony they refuse to acknowledge. In any case, it struck me that the "taboo" of which they speak is actually no taboo at all, in the following two senses: People talk about the power of so-called Israel Lobby all the time; and they are generally not punished for speaking up (Charles Freeman was not marginalized, by the way, for speaking against the "Israel Lobby," but for his obsessional loathing of the very idea of Israel, and of course for his shilling for Saudi Arabia, and for his deep sympathy for China's Communist rulers.).
In any case, if it is indeed a taboo to talk about the power of the so-called Israel lobby, it is a taboo that won't shut up. Here's some evidence:
Roger Cohen, NYT, March 16, 2009: "Another distinctive characteristic of Iran is the presence of the largest Jewish community in the Muslim Middle East in the country of the most vitriolic anti-Israel tirades. My evocation of this 25,000-strong community, in the taboo-ridden world of American Middle East debate, has prompted fury, nowhere more so than here in Los Angeles, where many of Iran's Jewish exiles live."
Charles Freeman, CNN, March 15, 2009: "The objective of their campaign against me was to reinforce that hammerlock, to enforce the taboo against any critical discussion of Israeli policies and what they might mean for Israel's future or the future of the United States as affected by Israel's future; to ensure that this group -- which is a very well-organized group, as can be readily discerned from their messages crowing about how they organized this campaign -- to reinforce their veto power over appointments to the government; to ensure that analysis was not value- free, but pro-Israel in orientation and, to some extent, anti-Arab; and finally, to ensure that the policy process remains supportive of whatever it is that whoever is in power in Israel demands."
Scott Williamson, Indianapolis Star, March 13, 2009: Freeman's appointment in the face of such heated criticism would have been a blow to the taboo that forbids our public officials from disagreeing with Israeli policies. Instead, the successful character assassination campaign waged against him will serve as a reminder that there is still a price to be paid for criticizing Israel's actions.
Editorial, The Daily Star (Beirut), March 12, 2009: One of the biggest challenges that President Barack Obama will face in office will be to confront a problem that directly impacts US national security, but that is so taboo that few people in Washington are willing to talk about it openly. That problem is America's blind support of Israeli terrorism.
Glenn Greenwald, Salon, March 10, 2009: In the U.S., you can advocate torture, illegal spying, and completely optional though murderous wars and be appointed to the highest positions. But you can't, apparently, criticize Israeli actions too much or question whether America's blind support for Israel should be re-examined.
Christopher Ketcham, AlterNet, March 10, 2008: "Breaking the Taboo on Israel's Spying Efforts on the United States"
Paul J. Bailes, redress.cc, March 8, 2009: About the worst thing one can do in America or Europe is to criticize
Israel. "Freedom" even in academia doesn't allow critical comments
about Israel or Zionism. Those who risk it can lose their jobs and be
labelled anti-Semitic bigots. ... The gravest injustice allows Zionists to silence honest critics for violating the Zionist taboo.
Bernd Debusmann, Reuters, March 5, 2009: While remarks critical of Israel are common coin among human rights groups and independent scholars, they are virtually taboo in official Washington, whose elected leaders - or those running for office - tend to stress unflagging support for the Jewish state.
Haroon Siddiqui, Toronto Star, January 18, 2009: Obama... won't succeed unless he is prepared to depart from the unspoken but most obvious premise of Israeli/American policy, which is, sadly, now also Canadian policy: placing a different value on Israeli lives and Palestinian lives - the first matter, the second do not.
Megan McArdle, TheAtlantic, January 13, 2009: It will not do my career much good to say it, but here goes. America has an influential Israel lobby in large part because of ethnic affinity.
Philip Weiss, MondoWeiss.com, January 2, 2009: "CNN Reporter Breaks Taboo in Sharp Criticism of Israel"
Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake, December 29, 2008: For years, the subject of Israel has been the biggest third rail subject we have to deal with. Any time we wanted to mention Israel in a post we had to alert the mods to strap on their hazmat suits, because the comments section would invariably turn into a shitstorm. Any criticism of Israel was greeted with catcalls of anti-semitism, which would inevitably draw out the anti-semites. The next thing you know, the mods are tearing their hair out and Bill O'Reilly is calling you a Nazi.
Roger Cohen, NYT, December 11, 2008: The second is that dialogue will be very tough. Iran's focus on Israel's unacknowledged nuclear weapons may cause discomfort in Washington, where the subject tends to be taboo, but it's impossible to understand the psychology of the Iranians without taking the Israeli bomb into account.
Don Rose, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, May 24, 2008: "Let's put the best construction on it," Rose says of Obama's shift to a more pro-Israel stance. "What he does is that he goes and listens to all sides and sometimes people take more away from those meetings than might actually have been said by him.
"But let's face it; Israel is the third rail of American politics [a reference to the high-voltage third rail in American subways]. It was necessary for his political survival that he moved to a position that was more 70 per cent Israel, 30 per cent Palestinian."
Remi Kenazi, Cross-Cultural Understanding, May 21, 2008: "When Free Speech Doesn't Come Free: US Taboo on Criticizing Israel"
Sabbah, Daily Kos, April 16, 2007: "Portrait of a Great Taboo: The Power of the Israel Lobby in the United States."
George Bisharat, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 2, 2007: Americans owe a debt to former President Jimmy Carter for speaking long hidden but vital truths. His book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid breaks the taboo barring criticism in the United States of Israel's discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. Our government's tacit acceptance of Israel's unfair policies causes global hostility against us.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Letter to American People, November 29, 2006: What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.
Jonathan Tasini, Huffington Post, July 26, 2006: I've touched the "third rail" of politics in New York: the Israel-Palestine conflict, the dreadful occupation and the never-ending violence that is spinning out of control, in large part because the United States--and politicians like Hillary Clinton--continue to blindly pursue a one-sided policy in the Palestinian-Israel conflict, a policy that is causing more death and sorrow for civilians on all sides of the conflict.
Deborah Howell, Washington Post, July 23, 2006: Reporting on Israel is the third rail of American journalism.
Arnaud de Borchgrave, Washington Times, April 28, 2006: Over the years, AIPAC has maneuvered to make Israel the third rail of
American foreign policy. The handful of members of Congress who have
been critical of Israel over the last 40 years have been publicly
chastised with a figurative dunce cap, or, worse, lost their seats to
AIPAC-backed opponents. Israel is an integral part of America's body
Robert Fisk, Counterpunch, April 27, 2006:"Anyone who criticises Israel's actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy," [Walt and Mearsheimer] have written, "...stands a good chance of being labelled an anti-Semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israeli lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism ... Anti-Semitism is something no-one wants to be accused of." This is strong stuff in a country where - to quote the late Edward Said - the "last taboo" (now that anyone can talk about blacks, gays and lesbians) is any serious discussion of America's relationship with Israel.
Tony Judt, NYT, April 19, 2006: The [Walt-Mearsheimer] essay and the issues it raises for American foreign policy have been prominently dissected and discussed overseas. In America, however, it's been another story: virtual silence in the mainstream media. Why? There are several plausible explanations. One is that a relatively obscure academic paper is of little concern to general-interest readers. Another is that claims about disproportionate Jewish public influence are hardly original -- and debate over them inevitably attracts interest from the political extremes. And then there is the view that Washington is anyway awash in "lobbies" of this sort, pressuring policymakers and distorting their choices... Each of these considerations might reasonably account for the mainstream press's initial indifference to the Mearsheimer-Walt essay. But they don't convincingly explain the continued silence even after the article aroused stormy debate in the academy, within the Jewish community, among the opinion magazines and Web sites, and in the rest of the world. I think there is another element in play: fear. Fear of being thought to legitimize talk of a "Jewish conspiracy"; fear of being thought anti-Israel; and thus, in the end, fear of licensing the expression of anti-Semitism.
Juan Cole, Salon, April 18, 2006: [T]his taboo has had enormous consequences, which are themselves off limits for discussion. Because America's blank-check support for Israel arouses enormous Arab and Muslim rage, Israel is a strategic liability, not an asset.
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, London Review of Books, "The Israel Lobby," March 23, 2006: [T]he Lobby's campaign to quash debate about Israel is unhealthy for democracy. Silencing sceptics by organising blacklists and boycotts - or by suggesting that critics are anti-semites - violates the principle of open debate on which democracy depends.
Said Amir Arjomand, Social Science Research Council, SUNY, Stony Brook, 2001: Level-headed thinking about the US-Israeli connection is much more difficult as it does run counter to a long-standing taboo against criticizing the Israeli government, and all the more so because the taboo is understandably reinforced in adversity. Mentioning Israel is pointing a finger to an ally the way the terrorists would have wanted, and we would be cowards to let them have that satisfaction as well as the horrendous destruction of American lives and property.