You truly think deeply and exercise you faculties accordingly. What do you read of a lighter nature?
Perhaps Judith's present read: an autobiography by Martin Sheen (someone from H-wood who I respect for his way of life and deep convictions even tho' I take exception to some of his politics). He is someone who you can disagree with agreeably.
My definition of operational success: Practically no rocket attacks on southern Israel for the next year or two. That would be justification enough. The rest is icing on the cake.
My definition of strategic success: (1) Getting Egypt to take more responsibility for Gaza, and getting the world (i.e., the US) to expect that from them. (2) Further separating Gaza politically from Judea and Samaria. Not "divide and rule"; divide so you can eventually stop ruling.
OK, I saw the movie. Some comments. It's a lot, so I won't be insulted if you don't read them.
1. Noam Sheizaf was right. What's the big deal? These guys are just saying what the Zionist left has been saying forever. If we're wrong about that, could someone please tell me what new insight I missed?
2. The most striking thing to me, which no one mentioned yet: There is absolutely no explicit discussion in the film of the root causes of the problem. One supposed root cause is implied only obliquely, in that the history starts in 1967, not in 1948 or 1917. But the conclusions drawn by some of the subjects, and obviously by the filmmaker himself, are crucially dependent on one specific theory of the root cause. In a nutshell: whether we're fighting the war of 1967 or the war of 1948.
If we're fighting the war of 1967, then the solution is obvious: get the hell out of Judea, Samaria, and (still) Gaza. The film predicates its whole message on a strongly disputed premise that is never explicitly addressed. As I said in my previous comment, Shabak people are no more competent than the rest of us to answer this question.
3. After a while of watching Assholes on Parade, I became interested in the question, "Which one is the biggest asshole?" I'm surprised this topic hasn't been discussed, actually. My vote definitely goes to Ami Ayalon. There's only one who did not come across as an asshole at all; that was Yuval Diskin.
4. Some of these people - the bully Ami Ayalon especially - are very shallow thinkers, who believe that they have great wisdom to impart whenever they open their mouths, so you'd better listen to them, dammit. What they lack in knowledge they make up for in arrogance. For instance, Ayalon's completely wrongheaded description of Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil," which is ironic because he apparently does not engage in what Arendt identified as the antidote to it: what she called "thinking," as opposed to "reckoning with consequences." But this isn't the kind of person whose mistakes you correct out loud.
5. The historical distortions promulgated by some of these people are breathtaking. Israel was not moving in the direction of peace when Rabin was assassinated. Rabin was already quite unpopular by that time, even among many former supporters. A majority of Jews favored Netanyahu over Rabin by the time of the assassination. Rabin's death moved Israel sharply to the left, not to the right; Peres could have won easily if he'd called elections sooner. What killed Israeli hope for peace was terrorism, which was clearly sponsored by Arafat - not Rabin's assassination.
One of the subjects blames the Aksa Intifada solely on Palestinian despair at the Oslo process, with no mention of the Camp David meeting or of the evidence that the Aksa Intifada was initiated from above, by Fatah.
6. Lisa's statement here that Diskin said he agreed with every word quoted to him from Leibowitz is true, but misleading. Right after saying that, when the interviewer presses him to elaborate, Diskin says that he does not agree that Israel has become a "Shabak state," but that he agrees with the rest. That was actually the biggest element of Leibovitz's prediction, in my opinion, and I think Diskin was correct to say that hasn't come to pass.
All that said, there are some interesting moments in the film as well. Pretty much everything Yuval Diskin says is interesting, but unfortunately he doesn't get that much screen time. There's some interesting stuff on how they killed "the Engineer." But like Noam said, not a whole lot new here.
1. I think the main reason for changing Western attitudes to Israel starting four decades ago is changes in the West, not changes in Israel's position. Even without the US friendship and the post-1967 occupation, Western Europe would have come to oppose a "Western" Staatvolk ruling over relatively poor non-Westerners. Cf. South Africa, which, whatever apartheid's very real injustices, started getting disproportionate condemnation at about the same time as Israel. So, even if there had been no Six Day War, Western attitudes would still have shifted, I think. And even if Israel withdraws completely from the territories, Western Europe's stance will remain anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. The war will most likely continue after any withdrawal, and people don't often switch sympathies in the middle of a war.
2. If anti-Israel attitudes are based on Israel being "white," it's often "white" as a proxy for "Western." Russians (white but not Western) mostly got a free pass with Chechnya.
3. Ben Gurion's famous remark about the war and the White Paper doesn't translate to the occupation. That's because the post-1967 occupation's function - the reason it exists today - is as a defense in the current war for Israel's existence. That's how Israelis perceive it, whether they're right or wrong. The occupation is not there because "the settlers are in the driver's seat"; the last twenty years have falsified that hypothesis. Therefore, the occupation cannot be decoupled from the low-intensity war with the Palestinians; that's in contrast to immigration (White Paper), which Ben Gurion could decouple from that war. What can be decoupled somewhat is the settlement project, but that is not the same as the occupation. But more basically, you're right that you can fight certain major elements of Israeli policy while supporting Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
4. Finally, I think it's really unfair to call Mearsheimer and Walt "Jew-baiters." They are not, despite Mearsheimer's blurb for Atzmon's book. In Israeli political nomenclature, they are left-Zionists. For what it's worth, I think they're mostly right about the Israel lobby in the US, but wildly wrong (and ignorant) about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Again, I think this article is refreshingly accurate overall. Well written, too.
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- University of California, San Diego
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
- WT Woodson High School
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