March 31, 2012

GOP Hate Causes American Problems, While Europe is So Cool

I read a diary post this morning, written by an American who lives in Germany, which purports that life across the European continent is similar for all, and certainly better than in the USA, a place from which he "survived" to become an expat. Over time, through numerous posts, this diarist seems duty bound to argue from his German perch that Europe is somehow a better place, and America is to be admonished because of its problems.

Today, we are told, Republicans cause the problems. They are a scourge and hate Progressives more than they love America, so much that they want to bring us the scenario of "The Hunger Games," a story of a post-apocalyptic world controlled by a highly advanced metropolis that holds absolute power, where children are selected by lottery to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.

I do not support Republicans in most of what they say, but do black and white approaches that demonize generally help to resolve issues? Or do they help reinforce preconceived notions and take us farther away?

When some say the GOP hates Progressives more than they love America, I ask myself if they have considered how much Progressives hate the GOP? More than they love America? To read the prevailing Progressive narrative, one would think only the GOP engages in hate and only Progressives love America. 

Surely, America is a mess, but to me the truth is that both of the political parties have contributed, and we kid ourselves to believe it is just the other side.

I was also interested to see how easily a work of fiction, made for profit and entertainment, can be used to paint, in black and white, a complicated world, showing how subject people are to manipulation. Many who think they know better are no less immune from being indoctrinated by simple narratives that push their buttons.

As to the substance of the diary, that America is not fair and needs to improve, there are few among the readers unaware that other industrialized nations provide broader health coverage than in the USA. Or that average and especially poor Americans are under the gun economically. Yet there has been little concern for the vulnerable, in truth, and much more focus on the IPhone than on poverty, by Democrats and Republicans alike. Why pretend otherwise, as if one side has done so great and it's the fault of everyone else?

Yes, America has many problems that rise from the pull between liberty and equality. But the perception from a relatively secure, wealthy environment is perhaps skewed? So far as I know, the European economic picture is in its own shambles, particularly in places removed from the wealthier regions. Europe is not just Germany, but Belarus, Spain, Georgia, Kosovo and Greece, too. Just under the surface, across the continent are racial, ethnic, religious and political tensions that appear far more threatening than what exists in the USA. There is a growing democracy deficit occasioned by the EU, and a climate of human rights and tolerance where freedom of expression has become a criminal activity. 

Europe does some things fine. Good for Europe. But does that really have to do with American inequities? I would rather fix what is wrong here, absent demonization that makes progress virtually impossible, than be like Europe as it presently exists, or to imply that it is so much better because an expat in Germany has health care coverage. Europe has problems galore and and is in no less trouble than the USA, and perhaps much more so than many critics surmise.

March 28, 2012

What is the matter with Western pride?

At FrontPageMagazine is an article entitled, Western Survival Depends on Western Pride, by David J. Rusin.

Rusin implores that Westerners take care to protect and promote our core values. Not only have they improved humanity by their theory and practice, but they serve as our best weapon to defend ourselves and help the liberals and democrats living under illiberal systems.

It is absurd, yet necessary, to note that reading or citing FrontPage does NOT make one a (fill in blank). Actually, diverse sources help in the liberal search to understand the issues. Far too many ideologues from both sides adopt an echo chamber approach that requires conformity and examines sources as more determinative than the substance offered. I think that such an approach helps explain why there is so much demonization and corresponding inability both to hear what others actually say or to acknowledge one's own errors.

Rusin says:
Warraq declares that if their system is to endure, Westerners must acknowledge that “the great ideas of the West — rationalism, self-criticism, the disinterested search for truth, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and equality under the law, freedom of thought and expression, human rights, and liberal democracy — are superior to any others devised by humankind.” Likewise, it is critical to compare Western ideals to those of the Islamists, which are antithetical to liberty and increasingly threaten it.
Many Progressives these days fail to adequately see that the very Western system they oppose, through Israel and the USA, is the one that in reality affords them the opportunities and freedoms that are limited or nonexistent elsewhere. What do they offer as a replacement to the Western model? A dream? Imagine their situations if they were in Egypt, Iran, China, if they opposed the state or system similarly.

Daniel Greenfield put the matter into perspective in the context of his article discussing the crisis of Jewish Leftists, when he said:
When Peter Beinart praises the Muslim Brotherhood as non-violent, does he imagine that when Qaradawi praises Hitler for doing Allah’s work and calls for Jewish genocide that the Brotherhood cleric means every Jew but Beinart?
I think this applies to these Progressives by analogy. When it's all said and done, they are also seen as the enemy by those who wish to impose their ideology over us all. Yet, they assert that to stand for Western values, under attack, is somehow to hate, when it is actually confronting a hatred and intolerance that no one should have to endure in a peaceful world that cares for human dignity.

March 14, 2012

Abuse and Intolerance practiced by a "Progressive" Blogger

I usually refrain from things like this, but today I decided it was better to address what I see as a matter of intolerance and hypocrisy.

Sometimes I like to comment at a site called "The Progressive Zionist." (TPZ) One would imagine, with that moniker, it is a place where tolerance and respect for different opinions would prevail. After all, that is part of what "progressive" means to me.

Often, when I comment there, I am treated with great disrespect, told that I hate ALL Muslims, or that I am a Republican and should just admit it. My comments have been censored. Ironically, the last time I was called the a Republican I had just made a comment that was to the ideological left of the position being proffered. No matter. Although I NEVER use profanity or initiate gratuitous and personal insults or attacks on integrity, I cannot report the same in return.

Many at TPZ, in my experience, love to invoke name calling as a means of discourse, even as they pretend to occupy the high, honest, intelligent road. Although the site says it is "A haven for those seeking intelligent conversation on Zionism, Culture, Politics and Life" it is often just the opposite. Demonization is frequent. Censorship  Others are called deranged, dishonest. Take, for example, this comment directed at me and a blog where I contribute, "Israel Thrives," from about 10 days ago, by a fellow named livosh1:
Wow, volley. Just came to this now. I, for one, am very glad to have seen you give a dishonest right-wing troll all the respect he deserves. And count me in as one who favors taking whatever action is necessary to prevent hateful, lying, Republican bigots from vomiting all over your blog. As you said, they have their own hate site where they spew their vitriol; you should feel no obligation to tolerate such dishonesty and hatred here.
I can only speak for myself, but this seems like a hate filled comment, much more so than anything I write. It illustrates what I have noted above.

Today, a diary was written at TPZ about Gilad Atzmon, infamous to many for his antisemitic, anti-Zionist beliefs and writings. Yet to some anti-Israel Palestinians, like Ali Abunimah, Joseph Massad, Omar Barghouti, and a host of prominent professors and activists, Atzmon is now considered to agree with the ideology of Zionism and Israel.

The diary I refer to is here. It was penned by a contributor named fizziks. He used this post by Elder of Ziyon as his source.

Elder of Ziyon's site is one of the best. The Elder exposes the anti-Israel mentality that predominates among far too many. He looks at Arab news media, much like MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch. He is also critical of many on the Left that comprise or enable the anti-Israel movement. He actually admires Robert Spencer and others that speak out against Jihad and Jew hatred. Comments at his site can be vicious, especially toward Progressives, and I have objected to some on occasion, as a Liberal. Fizziks, however, can source The Elder and receive glowing comments.

Of course, I know that fizziks is not a Muslim hater or Republican, even as he relies on The Elder. In jest, I "warned" fizziks in a comment that doing might risk him being called a hatemonger and Republican, while also addressing the content concerning Atzmon. I wanted to point out a clear example of a practice where TPZ treats some people differently than others, for basically offering the same kind of content. Such disparate conduct in other venues would be classified as discrimination.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, in steps the person of Volleyboy1, the main administrator of TPZ. What follows is his response to me, and my replies. I am sorry that my first comment has gone to the hereafter, censored by him, but I suggest that one can read what follows and come to his/her own conclusion as to what transpired.
volleyboy1 Mar 14, 2012 11:59 AM
Note to oldschool: You're post was delected because you are not welcome to come in here and simply start talking crap about what I may or may not think about this.
Unless you have something to say about the issue - please refrain from posting here. This is not high school and if your previous post is going to be how you want to do things then you are not welcome to post here.
Oh and if you come back with another "BUT I'M BIENG CENSORSED... " comment - that too will be deleted. There are other sites on the web in which to trash me or other Center / Center Left Zionists - but you sure as shit are not going to do it here.
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:02 PM
I trashed no one, but merely pointed out the disparate treatment, that a contributor here can approvingly use a source that many here would be deem a hate site based on the content, while others who offer the same content are labeled haters.
I did speak to the issue as well, by offering more of what The Elder wrote and a remark about Atzmon.
If you want to practice discrimination, by treating like circumstances differently, you have that power, but I think you abuse it.
Perhaps if you did not take EVERYTHING so personal so as to make every grain of sand into a mountain, there would be more diversity and ability to discuss things. But it seems you only approve that which pleases or adores you.
You may not see yourself as a censor, but that is exactly what you are doing here, and I fail to see a good reason why. What is the problem with letting me make a point and adding to the conversation, which I did with a good-natured comment that seems to have struck a nerve by showing the disparity one encounters at your site. Or is it now above any reproach?
Why are you so oversensitive that you cannot see that my mild poking at people here that rush to label me and others was amply illustrated through the diary? After all, I am not the one that labels. Or must I now contribute anonymously to avoid the discriminatory treatment?
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:14 PM
One more thing. Your first sentence really takes the cake. You were not the diarist and my now censored comment in no way at all simply started talking crap about what YOU may or may not think about this.
Are you REALLY of the view that YOU, as compared to issues presented, are so important to me? I suggest you look at what you wrote and how it sounds.
The irony that the diary created has played out to a tee.
If you had not made such a big deal about it, my comment would have come and passed. It is just my view, after all. But the fact that you censored what was a completely appropriate comment and opinion not only deprives others the chance to consider the opinion, but gives it a greater prominence because you seem to fear the message itself. And that says something important about tolerance and the respect for real discourse.
In an abusive act of censorship, these comments were scrubbed from the site, but before that happened, a note appeared that the last one above was removed by the moderator. In response, I wrote: 
oldschooltwentysix Mar 14, 2012 01:30 PM
It's too bad that I did not save the original comment. You leave the impression that it was improper and deserved to be censored, and tarnish me as a consequence. That is wrong, but no one will ever know. That is why you abuse your power. Yet you call this progressive? I will henceforth make copies of my comments.
The most surreal part is that you not only make it seem as if I wrote something directly to you, which is not at all the case, but that you make yourself so important. Honestly, I think you are the one with the obsession, so much so that you cannot tolerate disagreement from me, it seems, in any fashion, which says a lot about the values you instill at your site.
Carry on!!
Predictably, this was then scrubbed.

Interestingly, shortly after my remarks, I noticed the sourcing to Elder of Ziyon also vanished! It was replaced by one to the Electronic Intifada (probably obtained from The Elder). The title of the diary was also changed, from "Pal. Arab" to "Anti-Israel" activists, even though the letter was sent by, according the the new source, "Palestinian writers and activists," and described by The Elder as rabid Israel-haters whose "single-minded aim is to take away the Jewish right of self-determination."

I wonder if fizziks make these changes? Or is this just another example of a person who takes liberty to change the editorial content of a writer?

Yes, I suppose to some this is boring stuff. However, it shows that some who profess to stand for progressive values and open discussion will not hesitate to quash the slightest criticism. It serves as an example of the intolerance and abuse that can be found inside the "Progressive" world, especially from those that accuse the same negative conduct by others. It seems overly dogmatic and authoritarian to me, and I therefore felt it was worthwhile to show this episode in the light of day.

March 7, 2012

Jewish right to State of Israel NOT recognized under International Law

So says Boston University Law Professor Susan M. Akram at the One-State Conference held at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University last weekend.

There is no legal basis for a Jewish state, let alone the right of the Jewish nation to self-determination.

Take a listen:

Here are the words in black and white:
Israel’s claim of a state, on the basis of exclusive and discriminatory rights to Jews [sic], has never been juridically recognized. In other words, the concept of the Jewish people as a national entity with extraterritorial claims has never been recognized under international law. 
But Professor, Israel's claim of a state is not exclusionary or discriminatory, but the opposite.

Court recognition is not necessary under international law. Sovereignty is what matters, either a state’s assertion of its sovereignty within the territory it exclusively controls or when when it is recognized as such by other states in a legal sense. Israel meets both international tests, among other indications. It has been recognized by the vast majority of states, the UN, the International Court of Justice, and scores of other intergovernmental and international organizations. 

Recognition is not a matter for the court to determine anyway. It is not "justiciable," meaning capable of being decided by legal principles or by a court of justice.

As for the recognition under international law of the Jewish people "as a national entity with extraterritorial claims" the Professor could not be more wrong.

The Jewish people have legal rights going back to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine of 1922. It took responsibility placing Palestine "under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home." It recognized "the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."

Not to mention the findings of the Peel Commission of 1936 and UN Resolution 181 in 1947 that both recommended a Partition that would include a Jewish state. 

I suspect that Professor Akram would say that the 2004 advisory opinion of the ICJ in Wall Case was terrific. If so, even though I dispute its findings, I would suggest that it recognizes Israel is sovereign and that Jews have self-determination.

There are excellent resources that fully discredit Professor Akram. In 2011, several world-renowned experts joined to present an authoritative exposition of Israel’s Rights as a Nation-State in International Diplomacy, published jointly by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the World Jewish Congress. It explains clearly why the Jewish people deserve a state of their own and refutes all the major claims against Israel’s rights.

One must therefore ask why Professor Akram would promote what is completely wrong and misleading?

Which gets to the Conference itself. Harvard really dropped the ball. I agree with Harvard Hillel president Sara Kantor that:
Harvard’s name has a certain power and it seemed to be presented as a Harvard one-state conference. It lends a certain legitimacy that this conference didn’t necessarily have.
This was not a "Harvard" conference at all, but one organized by anti-Israel students and supporters, created to:
Educate ourselves and others about the possible contours of a one-state solution and the challenges that stand in the way of its realization.
The Conference was sponsored by several student groups - namely, Justice for Palestine (HLS), the Palestine Caucus (HKS), the Arab Caucus (HKS), the Progressive Caucus (HKS), and the Association for Justice in the Middle East (GSAS).

Shmuel Rosner, senior political editor for The Jewish Journal said in the International Herald Tribune:
The event was less an academic forum than an activists’ party ... The program included just one speaker with first-hand familiarity with the peace negotiations.
The one speaker referred to was Diana Buttu, former legal advisor to the PLO and also an organizer of the event. Buttu is vehemently anti-Israel, and is not above giving false information in pursuit of the cause. (See video here and here).

As such, the reader may decide for him or her self about the Conference and Harvard's role. A CAMERA article offers more information about the main participants and responsibility of the university.

I would ask many of those who proudly call themselves Progressives AND Zionists, why is the Progressive Caucus part of this scene, so eager to hear and promote the likes of Ms. Buttu and other speakers at the Conference like Ilan Pappe and Stephen Walt, all avowed anti-Zionists? Where is the opposition to these people and what they stand for and are trying to do?

And to go further, is all this REALLY so small a part of the Democratic Party that all Democrats should see it as the work of a fringe? If so, how can one explain the Gaza 54, all Democrats, and the 91 Democrats that did not sign the Hoyer-Cantor letter

It is not as if the matter is pervasive, but is it prudent or wise to look away or treat as pariahs and deranged the people that identify what is actually taking place, such as what is shown above?

March 6, 2012

I Support Israel -- The Video and The Truth

What a great video. What a great state. Not without flaws, but there are few that compare when it comes to being democratic, open and free, even facing threats unlike any other state on earth.

(Tip to Daphne Anson)

March 3, 2012

Saudi Apartheid Week and "Haters"

Some of us ask, "When is Saudi Apartheid Week?"

From Progressives, much too often the silence is deafening.

The world burns and humans suffer from war, corruption and enslavement, away from our view, while resources are wasted to focus on Israel to the extent so many do. It is disproportionate and discriminatory.

More importantly: Is this behavior really promoting human rights?

Or has it turned into a vendetta against one country, one people, not to mention ourselves? There is plenty of evidence to suggest this vendetta theory. It helps shield the abusers who then act with impunity. UN Watch is just one web site that shines a light on what occurs.

As I see things, it would be nice to see more Progressives and human rights activists stand up to address those in their midst that fervently shout about Israeli Apartheid. Hearing speeches like this one from Robert Bernstein are too rare. (Read transcript here and blog entry here.) Reading letters like this one from Denis MaCoin are too rare.

It would also be nice to see more Progressives show less hesitancy about standing up to real instances of apartheid, such as that evidenced by Saudi practice. Transparency is not bigotry or prejudice. It is the truth!

Cries of "hater" are commonplace these days. It is often heard from overzealous Progressive "morality police" that seek to impose their own standard of politically correct behavior. The most feared thing among Progressives is to be called a bigot. It therefore is a weapon.

Haters, both states and others, know this and offer up the guise of human rights to divert attention from their behavior. Sometimes, partisans attempt to tear down "the enemy" so that a person can win office. The means justify the ends. Spin trumps reality.

Perhaps this phenomenon helps explain why problems don't get solved, and why there is little progress in getting to peace and security.

In that we are the masters of our own individual and collective destinies, our self-determination(s), perhaps we might re-examine the roles we play.