Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Clintons’ sordid race game: No one will say it, but the Clintons’ rise was premised on repudiating black voters

SUNDAY, JAN 31, 2016 04:00 AM MST

Here's what Bill and Hillary mean to me: Sister Souljah, welfare reform, Ricky Ray Rector and the crime bill

The Clintons' sordid race game: No one will say it, but the Clintons' rise was premised on repudiating black voters

It may be a generational thing—I was born in 1967—but this is what Hillary and Bill Clinton will always mean to me: Sister Souljah, Ricky Ray Rector, welfare reform, and the crime bill. And beyond—really, behind—all that, the desperate desire to win over white voters by declaring to the American electorate: We are not the Party of Jesse Jackson, we are not the Rainbow Coalition.

Many of the liberal journalists who are supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy are too young to remember what the Clintons did to American politics and the Democratic Party in the 1990s. But even journalists who are old enough seem to have forgotten just how much the Clintons’ national ascendancy was premised on the repudiation of black voters and black interests. This was a move that was both inspired and applauded by a small but influential group of Beltway journalists and party strategists, who believed making the Democrats a white middle-class party was the only path back to the White House after wandering for 12 years in the Republican wilderness.

But for me, it’s as vivid as yesterday. I still remember Clinton pollster Stanley Greenberg’s American Prospect article (reposted in 2005), which claimed that the Democrats were “too identified with minorities and special interests to speak for average Americans.” Black people not being average Americans, you see. This article, American Prospect co-editor Paul Starr proudly proclaimed last year, is “widely recognized for its influence on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign” in 1992. Starr, incidentally, just penned a defense in Politico of Hillary Clinton as the only serious Democratic candidate.

Maybe I remember this all because it happened at a formative period of my life, during my first years in graduate school. My roommate and closest friend throughout those years was Paul Frymer, who’s now a political science professor at Princeton. Paul’s dissertation—which he began to write in the apartment we shared on Canner Street in New Haven, and which formed the basis for his now classic book “Uneasy Alliances,” which shows how the combination of racism and the two-party system encourages African-American voters to be “captured” (taken for granted) by one of the parties—was born out of the tremendous frustration and anger many of us felt about the wrenching transformation the Clintons imposed upon the Democratic Party.

I was recently rereading some of Paul’s book, and it brought back that whole moment in all its sordid detail. Like the fact, according to an article by Andrew Hacker, which Paul cites, that “for the first time in almost half a century, the party’s [1992] platform made no mention of redressing racial injustice.” (I reread the platform: It does mention affirmative action and civil rights in passing, but it’s cursory.)

Or the fact that in their 1992 book, “Putting People First,” Bill Clinton and Al Gore only mentioned race once. And that was to oppose the idea of racial quotas.

Or the fact that their chapter on civil rights was mostly about people with disabilities.

Or the fact that Clinton’s real target in his Sister Souljah speech was Jesse Jackson, who was blind-sided and humiliated by Clinton’s tirade as he sat next to Clinton on the dais. (So embedded in the Clinton psyche is this Jesse Jackson boogeyman that Bill couldn’t resist calling it up in 2008, when Hillary was tanking in South Carolina. And why not? It had worked in 1992.)

Or the fact, which Frymer doesn’t mention in his book, that Hillary Clinton in 1996 resorted to the worst sort of animal imagery to describe teenage criminals:

They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way but first we have to bring them to heel.

As one wag said on Facebook the other night—in response to the question “Bring them to heel? Who says that shit out loud?”—“Dog trainers.”

What’s more, white people got the message: According to polls, white voters were more familiar with Clinton’s attack on Sister Souljah than they were with his economic plan. So did black people: Though they voted for Clinton, their share of the total voter turnout fell by 20 percent from 1988, when they cast their ballots for Michael Dukakis (and accounted for 20 percent of the vote for him and 10 percent of total turnout), and 1992, when they cast their ballots for Clinton (and accounted for 15 percent of the vote for him and 8 percent of total turnout).

Greenberg, for his part, celebrated all these changes in an influential book, arguing that this recalibrated focus “allowed for a Democratic Party that could once again represent people in the broadest sense.” It doesn’t take a close reader to know what that “people in the broadest sense” looked like.

This is what the Clintons were to millions of voters. This is what they will always be to me.

And not just me. As Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow,” which helped galvanize the movement against mass incarceration in this country, posted on Facebook on Thursday night:

If anyone doubts that the mainstream media fails to tell the truth about our political system (and its true winners and losers), the spectacle of large majorities of black folks supporting Hillary Clinton in the primary races ought to be proof enough. I can’t believe Hillary would be coasting into the primaries with her current margin of black support if most people knew how much damage the Clintons have done – the millions of families that were destroyed the last time they were in the White House thanks to their boastful embrace of the mass incarceration machine and their total capitulation to the right-wing narrative on race, crime, welfare and taxes. There’s so much more to say on this topic and it’s a shame that more people aren’t saying it. I think it’s time we have that conversation.

Lest we think this is just Bill or ancient history, we saw the ghost of elections past on Monday night at the Iowa town hall event. Asked which president most inspired her, Hillary Clinton said it was Lincoln. And then went on to say this:

Lincoln was willing to reconcile and forgive. And I don’t know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly.

But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the re-instigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.… let’s also think about how we do try to summon up those better angels, and to treat each other, even when we disagree, fundamentally disagree, treat each other with more respect, and agree to disagree more civilly, and try to be inspired by, I think, the greatest of our presidents.

That comment is straight-up Dunning School, a Southern apologist account of the Civil War, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, which dominated history textbooks and American politics more generally throughout the 20th century. It holds that the great mistake of the Northern anti-slavery forces was that they pushed too hard, that instead of taking on the slaveholders’ revanchism they should have accommodated it.

But Clinton’s comment reflects less, I suspect, the history lessons she learned in school in the 1950s and 1960s than it does the political lessons she learned in the Arkansas governor’s mansion in the 1970s and 1980s. Namely, that in the face of white reactionary intransigence, the best thing to do is nip and tuck, compromise, conciliate, mollify, appease. In other words, be a Clinton. And not a Sanders.

Or a Lincoln.

In 1858, Lincoln was running for Senate in Illinois. His opponent was Stephen Douglas, whom Lincoln debated in a series of famous confrontations. Opposition to the expansion of slavery was the fundamental question dividing them.

By all rights, Lincoln should have received the support of opponents of slavery like Horace Greeley, the famed newspaperman. He finally would in 1860, but in 1858, Greeley backed Douglas. Which raised questions for many of Lincoln’s supporters of whether Greeley was on the take.

In a famous letter to Charles Wilson, Lincoln tried to damp down on that speculation. It wasn’t money that led Greeley to Douglas, Lincoln wrote. It was a more corrupting lure: the desire to be practical, calculated, sophisticated, realistic. That’s what led Greeley to his pact with the devil.

It is because he thinks Douglas’ superior position, reputation, experience and ability, if you please, would more than compensate for his lack of a pure republican position, and therefore, his reelection do the general cause of republicanism more good than would the election of any one of our better undistinguished pure republicans.

Sound familiar?

Corey Robin is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Author of The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin and Fear: The History of a Political Idea, he is currently writing a book about Clarence Thomas.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Hillary Clinton comments on post-Civil War Reconstruction reflect Southern racist slander...quick! someone give her a copy of W.E.B. DuBois's "Black Reconstruction!"

What can be learned from Hillary Clinton's slurs against Reconstruction?

Ryan Cooper

January 27, 2016
On Easter Sunday in 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana, white terrorists murdered about 150 black Americans in cold blood.

The reason: simple political control. Democrats — then the party of white supremacist ex-Confederates — wanted control of the Colfax courthouse, which was the center of government for Grant Parish. Local politics in those days had largely decayed to a running guerrilla war between black Republicans and federal troops on one side, and white supremacist militias backing the Democrats on the other. So white Democrats overpowered the Republican garrison, forced them to surrender, then brutally murdered the black captives.

This was the single most violent episode of Reconstruction, according to historian Eric Foner. Yet when describing why Abraham Lincoln was her favorite president at a candidate forum Monday night, Hillary Clinton butchered Reconstruction's history. It's a good opportunity to correct the record, and glean why Lincoln really was America's greatest president.

Here's Clinton:

[Lincoln] was willing to reconcile and forgive. And I don't know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly. But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the re-instigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path. [CNN]

There are two problems here. Most glaring is the tacit endorsement of the racist Dunning School view of Reconstruction as some bungled and unjustified imposition from the north, when in reality it was a briefly successful attempt to build a true democracy in the South. Clinton implies that it was Southern anger at unjust Reconstruction policy that led them to institute Jim Crow, but in reality the entire point of the terrorist violence that overthrew Reconstruction was to re-institute white supremacy by crushing black political power. Jim Crow was the goal from the very end of the war.

The second problem flows from the first. Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, actually was extremely forgiving and tolerant towards the defeated Confederates. The result was to inflame violence. White Southerners were economically devastated and demoralized by losing the Civil War, and in early 1865 were largely resigned to whatever the North was going to impose. Later Reconstruction would get quite aggressive, but Johnson delayed things for many crucial months by vetoing everything Congress passed and pardoning tens of thousands of ex-Confederates. This gave the forces of white supremacy some crucial time to regroup and reorganize.

In other words, the problem with Reconstruction was not that it was too mean to the defeated slave-owning traitors of the Confederacy. The problem was that it was not mean enough — universal racial democracy should have been immediately and forcibly imposed, complete with a prolonged federal occupation of the South.

All this makes Clinton's explanation for why Lincoln was so great so much sentimental porridge. His entire presidency was consumed by the most violent war in the history of the Western Hemisphere — a war sparked by his election on a platform of halting the expansion of slavery. His true greatness lies in how he grew and changed during that war, deploying his peerless political mastery toward the preservation of the Union and the gradual extension of black rights.

At the beginning of his presidency, he still flirted with deporting black Americans to Africa; by the end he was a fervent defender of the rights of black soldiers. In response to pressure in 1864 to end the war by compromising on slavery, he leaned on the valor of black soldiers, 100,000 of whom were currently fighting in Union armies: "Why should they give their lives for us, with full notice of our purpose to betray them?… I should be damned in time & in eternity for so doing. The world shall know that I will keep my faith to friends & enemies, come what will." It was a speech in favor of voting rights for black veterans that inspired yet another Confederate terrorist to murder him.

In his book The Fiery Trial, Foner speculated about how Lincoln might have headed Jim Crow off at the pass. It's easy to imagine him gradually evolving towards where the Radical Republicans ended up by 1867: in favor of a true multi-racial democracy, imposed by federal troops where necessary. Instead of Johnson's vile racism making the government work at cross-purposes, Lincoln would have shepherded the project with his trademark skill from the start.

At any rate, such is naught but speculation. But what is certain is that Lincoln would have had to use government force to protect black freedmen, and that he was no stranger to such action. The lesson for Clinton, as she and Bernie Sanders compete for the black vote, is that sustained government force — imposed over the howling objections of many white elites — has historically been the only thing that advanced black rights in this country.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: corrupt corporate stooge

Meet Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s First-Ever Primary Challenger

By Glenn Greenwald
January 19, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "The Intercept" - Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the six-term Congresswoman from South Florida and Chair of the Democratic National Committee, has been embroiled in numerous, significant controversies lately. As The Washington Post put it just today: “DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s list of enemies just keeps growing.”

She is widely perceived to have breached her duty of neutrality as DNC Chair by taking multiple steps to advance the Clinton campaign, including severely limiting the number of Democratic debates and scheduling them so as to ensure low viewership (she was co-chair of Clinton’s 2008 campaign). Even her own DNC Vice Chairs have publicly excoriated her after she punished them for dissenting from her Hillary-protecting debate-limitations. She recently told Ana Maria Cox in a New York Times interview that she favors ongoing criminalization for marijuana (as she receives large financial support from the alcohol industry). She denied opposing medical marijuana even though she was one of a handful of Democratic legislators to vote against a bill to allow states to legalize it, and in her interview with Cox, she boasted that her “criminal-justice record is perhaps not as progressive as some of my fellow progressives.” She also excoriated “young women” – who largely back Bernie Sanders rather than Clinton – for “complacency” over reproductive rights.

In general, Wasserman Schultz is the living, breathing embodiment of everything rotted and corrupt about the Democratic Party: a corporatist who overwhelmingly relies on corporate money to keep her job, a hawk who supports the most bellicose aspects of U.S. foreign policy, a key member of the “centrist” and “moderate” pro-growth New Democrat coalition, a co-sponsor of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was “heavily backed by D.C. favorites including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the music and motion picture industries” and which, if enacted, would have allowed extreme government and corporate control over the internet.

In 2012, at the height of the controversy over the “kill list” that The New York Times revealed Obama had compiled for execution by drone, she said in an interview she had never heard of it and mocked the interviewer for suggesting such a thing existed. In 2013, she demanded that Edward Snowden “should be extradited, arrested, and prosecuted” because he supposedly “jeopardized millions of Americans” and then called him a “coward.” “The progressive wing of the party base is volubly getting fed up with her,” declared The American Prospect last week.

This year, however, Democrats nationwide, and in her district, have a choice. For the first time in her long Congressional career, she faces a primary challenger for the Democratic nomination. He’s Tim Canova, a smart, articulate, sophisticated lawyer with a history of activism both with the Occupy movement (he’s against the Wall Street bailout for which Wasserman Schultz voted and the general excesses of big banks and crony capitalism) as well as a steadfast opponent of the Patriot Act (for which Wasserman Schultz repeatedly voted).

He has worked with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson against the Drug War and private prisons; worked with the Sanders campaigns of the past; and was a former aide to the late Sen. Paul Tsongas. He is an outspoken advocate of the Ron-Paul/Alan-Grayson sponsored Audit the Fed bill, and a vehement opponent of the Trans Pacific-Partnership Trade agreement. And he has vowed to run a campaign based on small-donor support, calling Wasserman Schultz “the quintessential corporate machine politician.”

As David Dayen reported last week in The New Republic, the widespread dislike for Wasserman Schultz around the country has already triggered substantial support and donations for Canova. To compete, he will need much more. You can visit his website here. But beyond that, I spoke with him late last week to explore his views, his motives for running, and what he believes are the greatest contrasts between him and the incumbent he is challenging:

* * * * *

GREENWALD: My guest today is Tim Canova, who recently announced a primary challenge in Florida’s 23rd Congressional district to the Democratic incumbent, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who, in addition to representing that district, is the chair of the Democratic National Committee. It is the Congresswoman’s first primary challenge ever.

Tim is a former aide to the late Senator Paul Tsongas and currently a professor at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law. Tim, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me. I want to begin by asking you:

It’s one of the most difficult things in American politics to challenge an entrenched incumbent, and in this case, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz is sort of the embodiment of an entrenched incumbent. It’s her sixth term that she’s currently serving. She hasn’t really been challenged very successfully in the past, and she’s also the chair of the DNC and has that whole apparatus behind her. What are the motivators that led you to take on this challenge?

CANOVA: If we had spoken a year ago, this wouldn’t have been on my radar. Last summer, I was very active with a bunch of grassroots organizations here in South Florida, lobbying against the fast track vote for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and we were lobbying her office, trying to make contact with her or her top aides, and we got nowhere. And it was frustrating. She was one of the only Democrats in the House in the country to vote for fast track and she was the only Democrat in Florida’s delegation to vote for fast track. She had voted for the Korean Free Trade Agreement. She’s been taking lots of corporate money.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, she took $300,000 in just a two year period, 2012 to 2014, from groups that support the TPP, and only about $23,000 from groups opposed to it. The Citizens Trade Campaign that I’ve been working with, it consists of a lot of organized labor, a lot of union people, and a lot of progressive Democrats. And these are constituencies that she’s been taking for granted, precisely because she’s run unopposed all of these years. She’s been able to take working folks for granted.

And the TPP was really a lightning rod issue. I think it should be. We saw how just a week or two ago, TransCanada, the big Canadian energy giant, announced it was going to sue the U.S. government for $15 billion, for not going forward with the Keystone XL pipeline. And that’s under NAFTA’s investment protection provisions. The TPP has very similar provisions. So now we’re going to open up these types of challenges to another half-dozen to dozen countries that are not in NAFTA who will be able to challenge the sovereignty of U.S. law. And when I say “challenge it,” you probably have read up on this enough to know that these companies are not going to be able to overturn the laws, but they will be able to get the taxpayer to have to pay for their compliance with the laws. So it really shifts the cost of compliance from corporations to taxpayers.

It’s a way to enshrine in international law what these corporations could not get through in constitutional jurisprudence, which is the regulatory takings approach, the idea that whenever the government regulates in a way that impedes the value of an investment, it should be considered a taking of property requiring just compensation. They couldn’t get that line of analysis through the Supreme Court, they go around it and they enshrine this in multilateral trade and investment agreements, bilateral investment treaties. And it’s become a litmus test at this point, and deservedly so. It’s environmental laws, it’s health and safety, it’s labeling laws. It really puts an awful lot of the kinds of protections that we’ve come to rely on and need up for sale, in a way.

GREENWALD: The TPP is obviously controversial in certain policy and intellectual circles. My guess is that a small percentage of Americans have even heard of that agreement, let alone have strong opinions about it, although they probably are a lot more informed and opinionated about trade issues generally because of the effect it’s had on jobs and the NAFTA controversy.

Do you have a strategy for communicating why a seemingly esoteric conflict like the TPP is something that moved you and ought to move voters to reject their incumbent representative?

CANOVA: Well, my friends in labor who are very supportive of this candidacy, and are really like-minded in that somebody should step up and challenge her – they make the argument that it’s going to lead directly to a lot of job losses, and they’ve got the statistics about just how many job losses came about from the Korean Free Trade Agreement. I’ve been trying to link these discussions about TPP to what every Floridian should see as an existential threat, and that is climate change. In 20 or 30 years down the road, big parts of South Florida could be underwater.

It’s not just the tourist industry, it’s people’s homes and businesses that could be in danger. And if we’re going to start confronting climate change, either through regulating carbon emissions or to finding funds for infrastructure investments to mitigate the effects of climate change, TPP just gets in the way right down the line. Now I hear you, and I agree with you, that most people don’t understand those connections and many people have never heard of the TPP. I’m hoping this campaign starts elevating the discussion and informing people and helping to educate voters. I think it’s already beginning to happen a little bit.

But I’ve also got to say the TPP is not the only issue we’re running on. Wasserman Schultz has been taking – and you know this, The Intercept published a piece about the kind of money she’s been taking from big alcohol PACS. She’s for private prisons.

GREENWALD: While she’s been a hard core Drug War warrior and in favor of the penal state for putting people in cages for consuming drugs.

CANOVA: Exactly. And, you know, that’s not popular in this district. In 2014 there was a statewide referendum on medical marijuana. Fifty-eight and a half percent of the voters in this state voted for it, for medical marijuana. It needed 60% to pass, so it came close. She was against it. Her votes in Congress have been against medical marijuana. I say, allow states to decide these issues. On medical marijuana, and recreational marijuana. We should not be locking people up, for what? Using the same drugs that apparently the last three American presidents, and, by some surveys, a majority of the American people have tried.

GREENWALD: One of the things that I do think people understand relating to the TPP and some of the other critiques you’ve voiced is the idea that there are a lot of people who go to Washington, take lots of money from corporate interests, and end up serving those interests at the expense of the ordinary voter, often contrary to the rhetoric they like to spout. That’s probably part of the reason for Donald Trump’s success, who has sold himself as a self-funder and therefore immune to those influences, and it’s definitely a big part of Bernie Sanders’s success as well, critiquing this kind of systemic, legalized corruption.

Where does Debbie Wasserman Schultz fall on the spectrum of political officials with respect to how much corporate money she relies on, and then how much corporate interest she serves?

CANOVA: OK. First, let me say, your first question was what animated me to jump in, and I started with the TPP. But this question really gets to the thematic heart of the campaign. Across the board, whether it’s the TPP or the drug war, she’s taking a lot of corporate money, and she’s been taking it for years. She talks the talk about campaign finance reform – she will say she’s for campaign finance reform – but she’s not walking the walk.

She voted recently the way most of Congress did on this latest omnibus spending bill. There were a couple of terrible provisions that allowed dark money to remain in our politics. One provision that she voted for in this omnibus package was to prevent the Securities and Exchange Commission from writing rules for transparency – to require corporations to disclose to their shareholders the extent of their campaign contributions; their political spending. Another ties the hands of the Internal Revenue Service from creating rules to curb special interest donors from forming these sham social welfare organizations that hide political spending.

She’s been raising corporate money for herself; she’s been giving it away to other candidates. She is the quintessential corporate machine politician. She really is, across the board. And then it influences her votes. And it’s not just TPP and the drug war, it’s Wall Street issues, and this is really what I’ve been teaching and writing about for many years. Just in the past few months – the past year or two – she has voted to prevent the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to write rules to regulate payday lending, to prevent racial discrimination in car loans.

In December 2014, she voted to eliminate the part of Dodd-Frank that had prevented big banks from using deposits to speculate in financial derivatives. So she doesn’t have any real vision for public finance other than lining the pockets of her donors.

GREENWALD: So, one of the issues that has arisen over the past few years, most prominently with regard to the Federal Reserve, is this movement to subject the Fed to comprehensive, probing audits. And what I’ve always found interesting about that debate is that it had lots of support from people on the left like Dennis Kucinich and Alan Grayson, who were prime movers of that in the house, and then also from elements on the right. People like Ron Paul, this sort of libertarian faction who sees the dangers of crony capitalism.

Where do you stand specifically on the question of auditing the Fed, and more generally, do you see this potential for, on economic issues, and on issues regarding Wall Street and the Fed, for there to be some kind of a union between ordinary people on the left and the right who are both being victimized in the same way by these kind of systemic corruptions?

CANOVA: Absolutely. In 2010, I worked with Alan Grayson’s staff, and with Bernie Sanders’s staff, and with Ron Paul’s staff on the transparency and provisions that went into Dodd-Frank. The transparency of the Fed — the two GAO Audits. That I’m sure you know about. The GAO had one audit that dealt with the governance of the Fed and their conflicts of interest, and the second one dealt with the Fed’s emergency lending facilities, which lo and behold, rewarded those big banks that dominated and continue to dominate the Fed’s governance.

So I am very much in favor of auditing the Fed on a regular basis and reforming the Fed so that its governing boards more reflect the diverse interests of society, and not just bankers.

This is a tradition that goes back to John Commons, the great institutional economist of the 1930s and 1940s, Leon Keyserling, the head of Harry Truman’s council of economic advisers. This used to be, some decades ago, part of the discussion as far as reforming the governance structure of the Fed. It needs to be part of the conversation again. And, you’re hitting it on the head when you say this is a discussion – this is an agenda – that spans the spectrum from right to left.

I saw it when I was involved in Occupy Wall Street, at the Occupy Los Angeles encampment. There were plenty of tents and banners, you name it, saying “End the Fed.” I taught at the People’s Collective University at Occupy LA, and I taught a workshop on the Federal Reserve, and I was making the case “Let’s not end the Fed, let’s mend the Fed. Let’s reform the Fed.” And it’s a discussion that people on the right and people on the left can get engaged in very quickly. Unfortunately, in Washington, it’s the mainstream, establishment center of both parties that resist this kind of reform.

GREENWALD: Speaking of the mainstream establishment center in both parties resisting reform, obviously a lot of the topics I write about and that The Intercept covers center on surveillance policy and foreign policy, where there is an enormous amount of agreement between Republican and Democratic establishment wings.

Can you just sort of give me your general perspective on where Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in those areas, and how you differ from the standard Democratic orthodoxy and the Republican orthodoxy on those questions as well?

CANOVA: The Patriot Act is probably the original starting point in this discussion, and I was not a proponent of the Patriot Act at the time, and Wasserman Schultz is. So I’m very skeptical of concentrated power in this national security state. Dismantling that power and exposing it to the light of day is a job and a half, as you know personally, and how to do that? Congress is a place where you can start doing it.

I certainly hope if I’m elected and if I serve in Congress, that I would be a critic of this concentration of state power that’s being used for surveillance. And not just surveillance, I’ve got to say, it really goes to a lot of the United States’s approaches in its foreign policy abroad. I think the drone war has been a disaster. It’s a way that the President and the administration can talk tough and look tough, but in my estimation it is creating far more enemies than it is killing. It’s not serving our long-term interests.

We should be looking for a general disarmament in this part of the world, instead of the United States leading this race among major powers in arms sales to these regimes. The conflicts that exist between Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Sunnis, Shiites are centuries old – decades old, centuries old – and arming these countries to the teeth is not a solution. At all. For foreign policy. At least not in a way that’s going to serve the interests of humanity and try to bring peace to that part of the world. It used to be, 100 years ago, the world would have disarmament conferences. How effective they were, the history books can write about. But it’s not even discussed at this point.

GREENWALD: Yeah, even Reagan and Gorbachev and Nixon and Brezhnev had incredibly successful disarmament conferences as well and ultimately, treaties, and you’re right – it’s essentially off the agenda.

CANOVA: That’s right. And with Reagan and Nixon, the arms treaties are talking about are thermonuclear weapons. In our day and age, yes, we have to have disarmament of thermonuclear weapons, but we also have to have disarmament of all other kinds of weapons that we see being used in these proxy wars throughout the Middle East.

The proxy wars have been a disaster. There’s something to be said for the critique that I’ve heard Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump actually make, that we should have left “well enough” alone in Syria. And this policy of trying to continue with regime change – you know, Bush was criticized for regime change; it’s continued under the Obama administration, and all it has done is created vacuums for more radical groups like ISIS to gain greater influence; greater strength.

It’s led to all kinds of – not just destabilization, but massive death, dislocations of people. It’s a horror show. It’s got to stop, and disarmament, and talking through peacefully to resolve disputes has got to be put on the agenda, and I don’t see it on the agenda from most of these candidates, and certainly Wasserman Schultz doesn’t talk like that.

GREENWALD: Absolutely, she does not. Let me just ask you a couple of last questions here. People are just now for the first time hearing about your primary challenge, and becoming familiar with you, and who you are, and what your positions are, so could you just talk a little bit about your history of political activism and your professional background as well?

CANOVA: Sure. I am a lawyer by training. I studied at Georgetown University, and then was a Swedish Institute visiting scholar at the University of Stockholm. I practiced law in Manhattan for a large firm for a few years, and then went into teaching, and really my entire legal career was animated by the study of, you can say, making our institutions more democratically accountable. The thesis I wrote as a Swedish Institute visiting scholar was a comparison of Swedish and American labor law and corporate law, and comparing how in Sweden and in other European countries, labor had a seat at the table. Fifty percent of the board members were labor. And in the United States, labor doesn’t have a seat at the table. They get run over. So that is the orientation – more democracy – that has animated me throughout my career.

I served on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide to the late U.S. Senator Paul Tsongas in the early 1980s. A lot of this is on my campaign website, on the About Tim page, that I was an opponent of financial deregulation very early. I was writing in the early 1980s that the Garn-St. Germain Act, deregulation of depository interest rates and lending standards, would be a disaster, that it was a repeat of what had happened in the 1920s. It opened the door to predatory lending and sub-prime mortgages. I was calling that decades before that actually came to a crisis stage, you could say. In the 1990s, both as a lawyer and as a law professor, I was warning against getting rid of Glass-Steagall. Brooklyn Law Review article in the mid 1990’s, 1995. I warned against financial derivatives. So I’ve been a constant critic of Wall Street deregulation. I’m for Main Street; I always have been. I believe in the New Deal. I believe in bottom-up economics.

My activism has manifested itself in many ways, in many forms: certainly the anti-corporate globalization movement during the time of Seattle, against the Free Trade Area of the Americas Agreement. When I was a professor at the University of New Mexico, I threw myself into a grassroots campaign to get rid of felony disenfranchisement, and it was one of the great grassroots movements I’ve ever been involved in. It’s a small state and we were able to see change come real fast. It was right after the 2000 deadlock in Florida. There was a deadlock in New Mexico also, and we woke up to find that there weren’t enough electoral votes to count in New Mexico compared to Florida, but New Mexico was one of, I think, nine states at the time where someone who was convicted of a felony was barred from the rest of his or her life from voting. And we had an opportunity because we had, even though he was a Republican governor, he was a libertarian governor, Gary Johnson, who was trying to end the War on Drugs.

We got a grassroots movement that lit a fire underneath him. We got Democrats in the state house, in the legislature, to pass legislation within wo months, and Gary Johnson signed it. And that’s all it took, was two months of good organization and a lot of grassroots lobbying and New Mexico was no longer a felony disenfranchisement state.

And then there’s the Occupy movement, so I’ve been engaged really my whole life. I know some people have said “Well, you haven’t run for political office.” No, but I’ve been engaged in grassroots lobbying and activism, and the focus of my mind, my heart, my soul, has really been on public policy issues and trying to create a better world.

GREENWALD: The last question. The critique that you’re making of how Debbie Wasserman Schultz funds her political career and her reliance on big corporate money is one that resounds to a lot of ears. The problem, however, is the reason politicians go in and feed at that trough, is that it’s a really potent weapon. It helps them buy ads, it helps them build campaign staff and get re-elected.

What is your strategy for being able to be competitive with someone so well-funded by large corporate interests, and how can people who want to see her subjected to a real competitive challenge, and even lose, how can they get involved in your campaign and support it and help?

CANOVA: Well, I’m not taking any corporate money, and I think that that is resonating with folks. In the first three days after I launched the campaign, we got over 1,000 individual contributions. It’s now been a week and I’ve lost track, it’s somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 individual contributions. You don’t see that at most campaigns. I know in some ways, we’re fortunate compared to other first time insurgent challengers, because Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the poster child of a lot of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. That we’re attracting donors from all over the country.

We’re igniting the grassroots here in Florida. So we are raising money. We need to raise a lot more to compete with her, and I would just urge folks to go to, to give what they can. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but it adds up with people power. It has been adding up, so that’s our strategy, and we’re fortunate that we’ve gotten so much good attention so quickly.

GREENWALD: Well, I really want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me, I think it’s been super enlightening, and I wish you the best of luck.

CANOVA: Well Glenn, thank you. I really appreciate you having me, and I want to thank you for your lifetime of work. You’re an inspiration to me and to a lot of other people, and it’s an honor to be on your show.

GREENWALD: Thank you so much.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sam Harris can’t be redeemed: Ben Carson, Noam Chomksy and the defining hypocrisy of the New Atheist movement

WEDNESDAY, DEC 9, 2015 01:31 PM EST

In his anti-Muslim jihad, "New Atheist" prophet Sam Harris openly aligns with far-right politicians like Ben Carson

Anti-religious prophet Sam Harris has, once again, exposed the conservatism at the heart of the so-called “New Atheist” movement.

In the November episode of his “Waking Up” podcast, Sam Harris spoke with seasoned neoconservative pundit Douglas Murray about Islam, liberalism and the refugee crisis. Harris frequently flexes his liberal bona fides, yet the two spent much of the conversation in agreement. The neuroscientist even called the right-wing writer “one of the best people on this topic.”

The title of the episode alone, “On the Maintenance of Civilization,” says a lot. Harris is wont to argue that Muslims threaten the very fabric of Western civilization.

Most striking in the approximately two-hour-long discussion were comments Harris made about renowned left-wing intellectual Noam Chomsky and far-right Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson.

“Given a choice between Noam Chomsky and Ben Carson, in terms of the totality of their understanding of what’s happening now in the world, I’d vote for Ben Carson every time,” Harris said in the podcast, without hesitation.

“Ben Carson is a dangerously deluded religious imbecile… The fact that he is a candidate for president is a scandal,” Harris continued. “But at the very least he can be counted on to sort of get this one right. He understands that jihadists are the enemy.”

Anti-religious fundamentalism
Salon reached out to Chomsky for a response to Harris’ comments. Chomsky didn’t want to discuss Harris in detail, whom he accused of spreading “ignorant lies.”

In reply to Harris’ accusation that Chomsky would pursue a more perilous foreign policy than someone Harris readily admits “is a dangerously deluded religious imbecile” (and whose own advisers admit struggles with grasping basic facts surrounding international conflicts), Chomsky said, “A person who makes charges like that either provides evidence, or is telling us, loud and clear, that he merits only contempt. I presume that he provided no evidence.”

“I have no interest in Harris’ performances, which is why I’ve never bothered to comment on them, except in response to queries,” Chomsky added. “It’s not my affair.”

Chomsky is one of the most outspoken and principled voices on the American, or even global, left. He has always vigorously rejected dogma and steadfastly opposed violence and bigotry. It’s in fact his consistency, and his firm opposition to ideological conformity, that often gets him in trouble with not just conservatives and liberals, but even with fellow leftists.

Yet Harris will have none of this. Why? Because Harris is himself a fanatic. And although he’s a fanatic of the anti-religious stripe, he and Carson can find common ground in their anti-Muslim fanaticism.

Like fellow “New Atheists” Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins, Harris is not so much a secularist as he is an anti-religious fundamentalist. The difference between the so-called New Atheists and the “Old Atheists,” if you will, is that the Old Atheists did not adopt a knee-jerk contrarian zealotry. Old Atheists were opposed to all forms of fundamentalism, including the anti-religious variety; the New Atheists embrace it.

Chomsky, on the other hand, as a man of seemingly infinite reason and tact, doesn’t share the same scapegoated enemies as Harris and Carson. He sees beyond the charade both anti-religious fundamentalist liberals like Harris and religious fundamentalist conservatives like Carson gleefully promulgate.

It is such anti-religious fundamentalism that overrides New Atheists’ politics, placing them progressively (or rather, to draw on Harris’ terminology, regressively) further to the right.

Far-right apologism
This is by no means the first time Harris has expressed approval for far-right politicians. Harris’ remarks vis-à-vis Ben Carson are strongly reminiscent of his public insistence, in a 2006 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, that “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.”

A little less than two years before speaking positively of fascists, Harris asserted in no uncertain terms, in an op-ed in the right-wing Washington Times, “It is time we admitted that we are not at war with ‘terrorism.’ We are at war with Islam.”

Like the fascists whose Islamophobic ramblings he deems sensible, Harris constantly speaks of the need “to protect [Western] civilization from its genuine enemies” — to quote his LA Times op-ed. And who exactly are Western civilization’s ostensible “enemies”? Harris insists they are “backward” Muslims (yes, he does use the word “backward”). In an article published in Truthdig in 2006, Harris wrote:

“Throughout Western Europe, Muslim immigrants show little inclination to acquire the secular and civil values of their host countries, and yet exploit these values to the utmost — demanding tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques.”

Such beliefs, that Muslim immigrants are little more than uncivilized savages, have led Harris to support fundamentally anti-liberal policies, such as racial profiling; torture, in some cases; and even, if he saw it fit, preemptive nuclear war.

Harris reminds one of the liberal intellectuals who steadfastly defended the internment camps Franklin Delano Roosevelt created for Japanese-Americans during World War II, in the name of “defending liberal values.” He is so blindly insistent on defending what he calls Western civilization that he never stops to consider, even for a moment, what exactly it is he means by Western civilization, and what exactly he is saving, from whom. After all, the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the transatlantic slave trade, eugenics, Italian Fascism, and Nazism were all products of the West’s apparently irreproachable civilization. One can just as easily selectively emphasize the crimes of Western civilization as one can selectively emphasize the crimes of Islamic history.

Numerous other examples of similar comments can be found. Harris and his fans, who are themselves uniquely fanatic disciples, frequently insist such statements are taken out of context, yet they are anything but — and readers are welcome to look up the original sources and see for themselves.

Friday, January 8, 2016

It’s Too Late for a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine

It’s Too Late for a Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine

Why the two-state solution is even less likely today.

January 7, 2016
Many obstacles stand in the way of a two-state solution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

At the moment, negotiations are a nonstarter for all parties.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has only a razor-thin majority in one of the most right-wing Knessets in Israeli history. President Barack Obama has tossed the ball to his successor. Recently, accounts have emerged of the U.S. administration giving up on there ever being two states and beginning to focus on what a one-state solution looks like. And then there’s the ongoing violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank that has been called “a leaderless intifada.” This violence has cemented additional layers of distrust of Palestinians to the ones Jewish Israelis already harbor. The hatred is calcifying.

During the five years I spent researching the conflict in Israel and Palestine for my recent book, The Two-State Delusion: Israel and Palestine, it became increasingly clear that while talks over the past 25 years have focused on borders, settlements, Jerusalem, and the right of return of refugees, demographic changes may have made the idea of a two-state solution obsolete even before such a solution could be worked out.

Much is made of the fact that within a few years there will be more Palestinians than Jews “between the River and the Sea.” Without a Palestinian state, Israel will either have to give the right to vote to Palestinians or become an apartheid state like South Africa once was.

As I report in my book, other demographic changes that have received little attention but may be of far more consequence are taking place within Israel’s Jewish population.

Population shifts

The birth rates of Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, and of Palestinian-Israelis exceed those of Orthodox and secular Jews.

This is creating some fundamental structural changes in Israel. Between 25 percent and 33 percent of Israeli schoolchildren now attend religious Haredim schools. These are schools where no math or science is taught. They graduate pupils with few of the skills necessary to live in the modern world.

The Bank of Israel concludes that unless the Haredim receive more higher education, Israel will fall from 16th to 26th among 34 member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Twenty years ago, 60 percent of Jewish Israeli children attended secular schools. Today, that number is 40 percent, and the trend shows no sign of leveling off.

With more religious education, it’s perhaps not surprising that Israel’s best demographers foresee an increasingly religious Israel. The Haredim will account for 20 percent of the population by 2030, and between 27 percent and 41 percent in 2059, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

Moreover, a comprehensive survey conducted on behalf of Germany’s Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation, in cooperation with the Macro Center for Political Economics in Tel Aviv, of youth aged 15-18 and 21-24 suggest this age group is far more right wing than their parents. In particular, these young people are less tolerant of Palestinian-Israelis. When given a choice between an Israel that is more democratic and less Jewish or less democratic and more Jewish, they chose the latter.

Numerous polls show that a majority of Palestinian-Israelis want to remain citizens of Israel. However, religious Zionists believe that Palestinian-Israelis are hostile to Israel. Large majorities see Palestinian-Israelis, their fellow citizens, as a threat and would like to see the government push them to leave the country.

A changing army

Allied to the increasing propensity to religiosity among Israeli Jews are trends in the composition of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), a change that raises questions about the reliability of the army.

The IDF is increasingly a religious army, recruited from the settler community in the West Bank.

The rate of settler recruitment to combat units in the IDF is 80 percent higher than the rest of country. In 2011, two-thirds of draftees from West Bank settlements served in combat units, compared with 40 percent from the rest of country.

As the Christian Science Monitor recently observed, “The percentage of officer cadets who are religious has grown tenfold since the early 1990s.” Ten years ago, Orthodox Jewish men accounted for 2.5 percent of military graduates. Today, that figure has grown to more than 25 percent.

In some combat units, Orthodox men now make up 50 percent of new combat officers —four times their share in the population. There are now entire units of religious combat soldiers, many of them based in West Bank settlements where an implicit alliance between some settler communities and the IDF are commonplace. These religious combat soldiers answer to hard-line rabbis who call for the establishment of a greater Israel that includes the West Bank. These changes are paralleled by a decline in the number of combat soldiers and officers coming from secular families.

Putting an agreement into practice

The role of these rabbis in controlling the army raises the question: If a two-state agreement miraculously emerged out of the current rampant violence, what are the realities of putting it into place?

In a survey, 40 percent of national religious respondents said that IDF units should refuse to evacuate settlers if their rabbis ordered them to.

Could the IDF be relied upon to evacuate Jerusalem and West Bank settlements—as they did in Gaza in 2005—with battalion commanders who are increasingly religious?

Best estimates are that about 100,000 settlers would have to be evacuated from the West Bank under any such agreement.

There are no firm estimates of the number of armed settlers who are likely to resist evacuation. However, between 30 percent and 40 percent of West Bank settlers can be considered “ideological.”

“Ideological settlers,” according to Oded Eran, who served as head of Israel’s negotiating team from 1999 to 2000, “are the toughest.” In an interview for my book, Eran pointed out that this group tends to live deeper inside the West Bank. And, for ideological reasons, a small number may take the law into their own hands.

A call for evacuation could lead to violence between the settlers and the IDF and violence between settlers and the Palestinian population. “This is going to be a long, painful and expensive operation,” Eran said.

In 2010, Amos Harel, a military correspondent for Haaretz, the liberal English language Israeli newspaper, asked, “Has the IDF become an army of settlers?”

Harel noted the potential for mass disobedience in the face of such orders was making many Israeli politicians and senior officers have second thoughts before ordering soldiers to take actions against settlers. In the succeeding five years, with the continuing disproportionate influx of settler recruits to the IDF, the question is more pertinent.

Would an Israeli prime minister risk giving such an order, unsure whether it would be implemented? Such an order could tear apart the cohesiveness of Israel, already rife with multiple fault lines.

Right now, the weight of uncertainties surrounding a two-state solution seems to outweigh the benefits.

The future? There will be no mitigation of present trends. With every passing year using the IDF to evacuate settlers will become more problematic, and evacuation less likely.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Liberal Zionism and the ethnonational imperative


Liberal Zionism and the ethnonational imperative

Steven Salaita 30 December 2015

Liberal Zionists are terrified to hear Palestinians express a simple desire for equality. Ashraf Amra APA images
I recently shared a stage with Columbia University professor Joseph Massad and listened to him vigorously condemn anti-Semitism, deconstructing with his characteristic acuity the problems of conflating Jewish peoplehood with the conduct of the state of Israel.

Zionists often usually charge Massad with a number of sins including anti-Semitism, accusations raised loudly in the context of a decade-long campaign of defamation that aimed to get him fired.

Massad’s predecessor at Columbia, Edward Said, once referred to himself, proudly, as a Jewish intellectual.

Said eloquently castigated any articulation of anti-Semitism and demanded that it be no part of Palestine’s national movement. Zionists often deemed Said anti-Semitic and spent countless hours attempting to get him fired, too.

Ali Abunimah, another Palestinian luminary, so robustly criticizes anti-Semitism that right-wing anti-Semites accuse him of being a covert Zionist, unaware perhaps that they’re reproducing a feature of Zionism.

Last week, Avi Mayer, an American settler in Palestine who works for the propaganda arm of the Israeli government-backed Jewish Agency, alleged anti-Semitism against Abunimah. Abunimah’s transgression was to insist that the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur not be conflated with a celebration of Israel.

A significant community of Palestinian intellectuals, journalists and activists loudly disdains anti-Semitism and desires democratic coexistence with Jews. Members of this community frequently sustain slander as anti-Semitic and are targeted for recrimination or even criminalization.

It makes no sense – except in the context of liberal Zionism, where it is perfectly sensible.

The horror of democratic coexistence
That Zionists accuse adamant critics of anti-Semitism of being anti-Semitic isn’t actually a disconnect; it is a vital feature of Zionism, especially visible in its liberal incarnations.

Take Mayer’s claim against Abunimah. It’s easy (and tempting) to dismiss it as the paranoid dishonesty of a dullard whose vapidity surpasses his acumen, or, if we are to be more generous, as the preening war cry of a professional colonizer, but Mayer’s duplicity is systematic.

We must take it seriously even if we cannot extend the same courtesy to its purveyor.

To make sense of this bizarre sensibility, we should explore how Zionist notions of anti-Semitism function in relation to iniquitous norms of citizenship in Israel.

According to the logic of settler colonization, anti-Semitism is located not in hatred of Jews, but in the refusal to accept Israeli iniquity.

Those who disassociate Israel from Judaism frequently field false accusations of anti-Semitism. Those accusations don’t generally result from misreading. It’s precisely the disassociation of Israel from Judaism that so disturbs people who view Zionism as an atavistic duty.

The Zionist ideal of a state exclusive to Jews, as defined by a theocratic bureaucracy, reduces culture and history to the fanciful motifs of ethnonationalism.

Jewish peoplehood is thus contingent on fealty to Israel. Delinking Jewishness from Zionism constitutes a grievous act of anti-Semitism. All forms of Zionism, no matter how progressive they sound, rely on that linkage.

When Palestinians support democratic coexistence, which requires equal rights and nonsectarian citizenship, they implicitly desire the end of Zionism.

When Zionists reduce Israel to emblems of cultural uplift (Jewish redemption, biblical fulfillment, ethnic refuge, enlightenment of other nations), they elide its presence as a state that behaves in relation to certain geopolitical realities. It becomes exceptional and sacrosanct. It fulfills the exclusive destiny of an anointed few, sorted from the unchosen through the blunt rites of biology. (All forms of ethnonationalism do the same.)

The state’s critics, then, are not seen to be maligning unjust policies, but as performing acts of cultural insensitivity.

The Palestinian menace
Those of Palestinian origin are especially prone (and vulnerable) to charges of anti-Semitism. Israel’s propaganda technique of conceptualizing Palestinians as beholden to inveterate Jew-hatred initiates the oft-repeated assertion that mindless violence motivates Palestinian resistance.

The technique also serves a more insidious purpose. For Zionism to function, Palestinians must disappear or become anti-Semitic.

The Palestinian who welcomes the opportunity to share a nation and a national identity with Jews exposes the irreconcilable contradiction of Zionism, that something called a “Jewish state” can also be a legitimate democracy.

The Palestinian puts the Zionist in the unusual position of exemplifying what the Palestinian is supposed to embody: tribalism, irrationality, belligerence, fanaticism, chauvinism, superstition.

It is easier to either ignore Palestinians or defame them based on the Zionist’s peculiar obsession with ethnic purity.

These ethical contortions make little sense to those with worldviews that accommodate compassion, but we’re dealing with ethnonationalism, which values group supremacy above all other considerations.

The necessity of liberal slander
In the months after being fired from a tenured professorship at the University of Illinois in August 2014, for condemning Israeli war crimes, I was periodically aggravated that some commentators were unwilling or unable to recognize that my supposedly anti-Semitic tweets actually defend Jews against essentialism.

In those tweets, I warn against conflating an entire community with the behavior of a nation-state busy showering civilians with bombs and chemical weapons, a warning I offer in much of my work.

Yet Cary Nelson, Todd Gitlin, Mira Sucharov, David Myers, Michelle Goldberg and other liberal Zionist academics and pundits all declared or suggested that I had disparaged Jews.

It was remarkably frustrating. These folks could obviously read, even if not competently. They all have impeccable credentials, but I tried not to hold that against them. I couldn’t understand their phonic malfunction until I forced myself to think like an apologist for ethnocracy.

The political identity of liberal Zionists is filled with acute incongruity. They cannot consume or disseminate ideas without the magical benefit of denial. Disassociating Judaism from Israel renders Zionism superfluous. That kind of disassociation requires one to rethink the commonplaces of Israel’s self-image. It is more convenient to outsource failures of imagination to the Palestinian.

The liberal Zionist must constantly choose between a self-professed commitment to democracy and protecting Israel’s reputation.

When pressed, the liberal Zionist always chooses to protect Israel’s reputation. That choice defines liberal Zionism.

The ethnonational imperative
This mentality is evident in, say, the asinine interpretation of Abunimah’s tweets and in the career-long nonsense Edward Said endured.

Every Palestinian activist or intellectual who delinks Zionism and Jewishness – which is to say, nearly all of us – suffers the conflicted rhetoric of colonizers pretending to be enlightened.

The problem isn’t that liberal Zionists ignore what Palestinian activists and intellectuals actually say. They listen closely, in fact. They’re merely terrified to hear the native express a desire for equality. If actualized, that desire would force the destruction of an ideology they refuse to abandon.

I term this phenomenon the ethnonational imperative, which explains spurious accusations of anti-Semitism not as an inability to comprehend the delinking of Zionism and Jewishness, but as an inclination to link them permanently and to punish those who do not.

It does little good for a victim of the ethnonational imperative to insist that he or she refuses to define a complex and multivalent community in relation to a perpetual human rights violator. Such insistence will only intensify accusations of anti-Semitism.

I have no pithy alternative on offer. I can only represent my own experience and identify which approaches suit me at the moment.

Others exist in different circumstances. I encourage them to think closely about strategies that allow them to continue speaking from positions of belonging and to retain the dignity of the Palestinian struggle.

I will no longer respond to accusations of anti-Semitism by appealing to my accusers’ sense of fairness or discretion. They don’t raise those accusations to foster reconciliation or dialogue, to use the favored parlance of the liberal Zionist. They do it to cause harm.

The impulse, even when unstated, is to center themselves as stewards of Palestine’s destiny. In the meantime, their recalcitrance prolongs heinous suffering.

I am willing to work out difficult ideas with ideological opponents, but I have no interest in forestalling the liberation of Palestine to accommodate the colonizer’s identity crisis.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Israel's History in Quotes

Israel's History in Quotes

Hebrew essayist Achad Ha-Am, after paying a visit to Palestine in 1891:

"Abroad we are accustomed to believe that Israel is almost empty;
nothing is grown here and that whoever wishes to buy land could come
here and buy what his heart desires. In reality, the situation is not
like this. Throughout the country it is difficult to find cultivable
land which is not already cultivated."

Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of
the Arabs of Palestine,Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry:

"Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it
employment... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the
poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."

The Balfour Declaration to Baron Rothchild, on the 2nd of November, 1917:

"His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine
of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best
endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly
understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and
religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the
rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

Lord Sydenham, Hansard, House of Lords, 21 June 1922:

"If we are going to admit claims on conquest thousands of years ago, the
whole world will have to be turned upside down."

Vladimir Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall, 1923:

"Zionist colonization must either be terminated or carried out against
the wishes of the native population. This colonization can, therefore,
be continued and make progress only under the protection of a power
independent of the native population - an iron wall, which will be in a
position to resist the pressure to the native population. This is our
policy towards the Arabs..."

Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist Zionism (precursor of
Likud), The Iron Wall, 1923:

"A voluntary reconciliation with the Arabs is out of the question either
now or in the future. If you wish to colonize a land in which people are
already living, you must provide a garrison for the land, or find some
rich man or benefactor who will provide a garrison on your behalf. Or
else-or else, give up your colonization, for without an armed force
which will render physically impossible any attempt to destroy or
prevent this colonization, colonization is impossible, not difficult,
not dangerous, but IMPOSSIBLE!... Zionism is a colonization adventure
and therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force. It is
important... to speak Hebrew, but, unfortunately, it is even more
important to be able to shoot - or else I am through with playing at

David Ben Gurion, future Prime Minister of Israel, 1937, Ben Gurion and
the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985:

"We must expel Arabs and take their places."

Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency's Colonization Department in
1940. From "A Solution to the Refugee Problem":

"Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both
peoples together in this country. We shall not achieve our goal if the
Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way than to transfer
the Arabs from here to neighboring countries - all of them. Not one
village, not one tribe should be left."

Israeli official Arthur Lourie in a letter to Walter Eytan, director
general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry (ISA FM 2564/22). From Benny
Morris, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-49", p. 297:

"...if people become accustomed to the large figure and we are actually
obliged to accept the return of the refugees, we may find it difficult,
when faced with hordes of claimants, to convince the world that not all
of these formerly lived in Israeli territory. It would, in any event,
seem desirable to minimize the numbers...than otherwise."

David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben- Gurion, A
Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978:

"We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash
Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the
Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall
establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab
Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and
move on and take Port Said, Alexandria and Sinai."

David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, 18 July 1948, quoted in Michael Bar
Zohar's Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet, Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 157:
"We must do everything to insure they (the Palestinians) never do
return." Assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians will never come
back to their homes. "The old will die and the young will forget."

David Ben-Gurion, one of the father founders of Israel, described
Zionist aims in 1948:

"A Christian state should be established [in Lebanon], with its southern
border on the Litani river. We will make an alliance with it. When we
smash the Arab Legion's strength and bomb Amman, we will eliminate
Transjordan too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight
on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo... And in this
fashion, we will end the war and settle our forefathers' account with
Egypt, Assyria, and Aram"

[Begin, and Yitzhak Shamir who were members of the party became Prime
Ministers.] Albert Einstein, Hanna Arendt and other prominent Jewish
Americans, writing in The New York Times, protest the visit to America
of Menachem Begin, December 1948:

"Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the
emergence in the newly created State of Israel of the Freedom Party
(Herut), a political party closely akin in its organization, method,
political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties."

Martin Buber, Jewish Philosopher, addressed Prime Minister Ben Gurion on
the moral character of the state of Israel with reference to the Arab
refugees in March 1949:

"We will have to face the reality that Israel is neither innocent, nor
redemptive. And that in its creation, and expansion; we as Jews, have
caused what we historically have suffered; a refugee population in

Moshe Dayan (Israel Defense and Foreign Minister), on February 12 1952.
Radio "Israel.":

"It lies upon the people's shoulders to prepare for the war, but it lies
upon the Israeli army to carry out the fight with the ultimate object of
erecting the Israeli Empire."

Martin Buber, to a New York audience, Jewish Newsletter, June 2, 1958:
"When we [followers of the prophetic Judaism] returned to
Palestine...the majority of Jewish people preferred to learn from Hitler
rather than from us."

Uri Lubrani, PM Ben-Gurion's special adviser on Arab Affairs, 1960. From
"The Arabs in Israel" by Sabri Jiryas:

Rabin's description of the conquest of Lydda, after the completion of
Plan Dalet. "We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of
woodcutters and waiters"

Aba Eban (the Israeli Foreign Minister) stated arrogantly. New York
Times June 19, 1967:

"If the General Assembly were to vote by 121 votes to 1 in favor of
"Israel" returning to the armistice lines-- (pre June 1967 borders)

Dr. Israel Shahak, Chairperson of the Israeli League for Human and Civil
Rights, and a survivor of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp,
Commenting on the Israeli military's Emergency Regulations following the
1967 War. Palestine, vol. 12, December 1983:

"Hitler's legal power was based upon the 'Enabling Act', which was
passed quite legally by the Reichstag and which allowed the Fuehrer and
his representatives, in plain language, to be what they wanted, or in
legal language, to issue regulations having the force of law. Exactly
the same type of act was passed by the Knesset [Israeli's Parliament]
immediately after the 1067 conquest granting the Israeli governor and
his representatives the power of Hitler, which they use in Hitlerian

Golda Meir, March 8, 1969:

"How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return
them to."

Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April
4, 1969:

"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not
even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you
because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not
exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place
of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the
place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al- Shuman.
There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a
former Arab population."

Golda Maier Israeli Prime Minister June 15, 1969:

"There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed"

Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha'aretz, 19 March 1972:

"The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967
and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff,
which was born and developed after the war."

Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot, of 14 July 1972:

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly
and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with
time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization or
Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of
their lands."

Joseph Weitz, Director of the Jewish National Fund, the Zionist agency
charged with acquiring Palestinian land, Circa 194. Machover Israca,
January 5, 1973 /p.2:

"The only solution is Eretz Israel [Greater Israel], or at least Western
Eretz Israel [all the land west of Jordan River], without Arabs. There
is no room for compromise on this point ... We must not leave a single
village, not a single tribe."

Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in
the New York Times, 23 October 1979:

"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his
question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?'
Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out'"

Menahim Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, "Begin
and the Beasts". New Statesman, 25 June 1982:

"[The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs."

Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, New York
Times, 14 April 1983:

"When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about
it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle."

Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces - Gad Becker,
Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983:

"We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one
centimeter of Eretz Israel... Force is all they do or ever will
understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come
crawling to us on all fours."

Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo
Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983:

"We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live
here as slaves."

Isreali Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir, in a speech to Jewish settlers
New York Times April 1, 1988:

"The Palestinians" would be crushed like grasshoppers ... heads smashed
against the boulders and walls."

Israeli Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, Inferring that killing isn't murder if
the victim is Gentile. Jerusalem Post, June 19,1989:

"Jewish blood and a goy's [gentile's] blood are not the same."

Benyamin Netanyahu, then Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, former Prime
Minister of Israel, tells students at Bar Ilan University, From the
Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989:

"Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in
China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass
expulsions among the Arabs of the territories."

Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir declares at a Tel Aviv memorial
service for former Likud leaders, November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic
Radio Service:

"The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz
Israel from the Sea to the Jordan River for future generations, for the
mass aliya [immigration], and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be
gathered into this country."

Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of
militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France
Presse, November 15,1998:

"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to
enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours...
Everything we don't grab will go to them."

Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel at the time - August 28, 2000.
Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000:

"The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they
want more"...

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, quoted in Associated Press, November
16, 2000:

"If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead
would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, we would use much more

Israeli president Moshe Katsav. The Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001:

"There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies? Not just in
ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They
are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few
hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our
continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres,
as reported on Kol Yisrael radio:

"Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do
that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about
American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and
the Americans know it."

"Israel Koenig, "The Koenig Memorandum":

"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and
the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab

Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency's Colonization Department. From
Israel: an Apartheid State by Uri Davis, p.5:

"There are some who believe that the non-Jewish population, even in a
high percentage, within our borders will be more effectively under our
surveillance; and there are some who believe the contrary, i.e., that it
is easier to carry out surveillance over the activities of a neighbor
than over those of a tenant. I tend to support the latter view and have
an additional argument:...the need to sustain the character of the state
which will henceforth be Jewish...with a non-Jewish minority limited to
15 percent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as
1940 [and] it is entered in my diary."

Ben Gurion:

In 1899, Davis Triestsch wrote to Herzl: " I would suggest to you to
come round in time to the "Greater Palestine" program before it is too
late... the Basle program must contain the words "Great Palestine" or
"Palestine and its neighboring lands" otherwise it's nonsense. You do
not get ten million Jews into a land of 25,000 Km2". " The present map
of Palestine was drawn by the British mandate. The Jewish people have
another map which our youth and adults should strive to fulfill -- From
the Nile to the Euphrates."

Vladimir Jabotinsky (the founder and advocate of the Zionist terrorist
organizations), Quoted by Maxime Rodinson in Peuple Juif ou Problem
Juif. (Jewish People or Jewish Problem):

"Has any People ever been seen to give up their territory of their own
free will? In the same way, the Arabs of Palestine will not renounce
their sovereignty without violence."

David Ben Gurion (the first Israeli Prime Minister) quoted by Nahum
Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121:

"If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel.
It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to
us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has
been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their
fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their
country. Why would they accept that?"