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Tuesday, December 27, 2011


But Newt's the guy Fannie Mae paid $1.6 million for being an "historian." Next thing you'll be saying is that the United State is an invented nation, when everyone knows it was part of God's plan from the very beginning.

How serious are you about this?

He says two states is the only solution. Foreclosing on other possibilities is not something someone in solidarity work should see themselves as entitled to do.

I don't like the whole "the situation is entirely symmetrical" game he seems to be playing with identities. The fact is that one identity was decided on as a choice by a group of people who decided to colonize an already-populated land and ultimately expel huge numbers of its inhabitants to have a demographic majority, whereas the other was a regional identity that became forged into a national one in the fires of the dispossession inflicted upon them by the first group.

This also seems like crap: "Seventy-plus years later, it is impossible to argue that the Israeli nation is not as authentic and worthy of recognition as any in the world (more authentic than some, in fact)." This is a "nation" that converts Peruvian Indians to ship in under the law of return. Its identity is so fucked up that "citizenship" and "nationality" don't even mean the same thing. What is authentic about such a "nation"? Does Rosenberg mean to include Palestinian citizens of Israel in this "nation"?

The focus on demographic superiority among Jews, whatever one can stretch that word to mean, is so bad that electoral politics looks like this. I guess for some values of "authentic" and "nation" that might work.

How serious are you about this?

I'm dead serious: MJ Rosenberg smashes testicles with a pile driver the size of the Superdome.

Really, I don't know how to answer that. It appears you're reading more into what I wrote than I intended. I didn't say this is the best article I've seen on Israel/Palestine, nor that I agree with every single thing Rosenberg says in it (though I don't share your disagreements--or at least not to the degree that you've expressed them). My point is just that he utterly demolishes the "invented people" argument. This is easily the best response I've seen to that asinine talking point (which is a faithful standby of Israel propagandists everywhere, not just Gingrich), and I'm very happy that someone's provided a definitive source for future refutations.

I kind of felt like "invented people" was in line with From Time Immemorial, which has been demolished rather thoroughly, but maybe that's a somewhat different talking point. All "nations" are invented in some sense; there's a word "ethnogenesis" that social scientists use.

It's not that I disagree with the main thrust; I guess I'm just the sort of person who looks more for things to pick at, a divisive one, who demands fealty to all my viewpoints! Seriously, if this is the best refutation, then I guess it's the best refutation, but as with all articles that fail to agree with me totally, I feel there's room for a better one.

I have to ask now: what disagreements do you disagree with?

Yeah, I think Michael Neumann does this sort of thing better. His The Case Against Israel is very impressive, as is his article on anti-Semitism from 2002. I have my differences with him too, just because I'm also divisive and look more for things to pick at. And John, I didn't know you were into CBT.

StO, you're certainly entitled to your opinion that this is the most vile bit of thinly-disguised Zionist propaganda ever published in the history of forever and the author should hang himself in shame. Different strokes.

As an example of a disagreement, I don't see him as painting the situation as "entirely symmetrical"; look at the title of the piece ("The real 'invented' people", which suggests one answer or the other) and the entire first section. And even as Testismashiclus specifically points out the extreme artificiality of Israeli identity--including glancing references to the notion of locating the Jewish homeland in Uganda or Argentina--he says "If the ultimate definition of authentic nationhood is continuous residence in a land for thousands of years, the Palestinian claim to nationhood is ironclad." So in terms of the question at hand I don't see symmetry.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy?

I said I agreed with the main thrust, but that there were things about the article that irritated me. That will probably be the case with most things the author has written. I guess I kind of feel that your characterization of my opinion about Rosenberg's article (or I guess, now that we're getting into it, my opinion of his motivations?) is somewhat different from my own actual opinion. But I suppose you are entitled to differ from me in your opinion of my opinion as well.

Here is where, to me, we get into the "symmetry":

And if those Arabs didn't call themselves Palestinians until the Zionist movement began, neither did the Jews call themselves Israelis. Until 1948, they were just Jews. But each of the two peoples knew who they were and who the other was.

The bottom line is that today, the Palestinian nation is as authentic as the Israeli nation - and vice versa. Those who think either is going away are blinded by hatred.

To put it simply, the first part of the phrase self-determination is the word self. Both nations have the absolute right to define themselves as two nations which, hopefully, will evolve into two states. The alternative is national catastrophe not for one nation, but for two.

I find that bit uncomfortable. It almost undoes the the good work of the previous part of the article in the way it makes things sound the same for both sides. That will help the article get more traction with the better of the liberal Zionists, but it will put me off.

[This is probably irrelevant, but I typed it, so I will include it.] I continue to object to this use of "nation" to apply to Israel as well. There are many Palestinians resident in Israel. An Israeli "nation" (meaning for Rosenberg, I guess, something like an agglomerate of ethnic and cultural groups who reside in the state of Israel, but such that this nationality continues to obtain if they travel elsewhere) excluding Palestinian citizens is, to put it mildly, problematic, and yet he does not seem to be saying that these "nations" intersect. So is Israeliness based in Jewishness? No, it presumably would include the official category actually called "Christians who are not Arabs." If you thoroughly apply the reasoning that allows you to excise the Palestinian population from the Israeli nation, you come up with something that barely meets a standard definition at all.

He's taking a pragmatic approach, and I largely agree with it (even as I have reservations about some of his phrasing and emphasis). Yes, Israel is a racist state that disenfranchises a large majority of its residents and refuses to declare borders that would limit its territorial ambitions--and yet, for all that, Israel exists and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. That's just the reality. So you're right that there's symmetry in terms of the existence of each entity being something the other (and the world) has to accept and accommodate. But in terms of the question of which one more closely qualifies as "invented", I think it's clear where he stands and I also think he makes the case very well.

(I can't believe I've ended up spending this much time defending a toss-off posting where I at most expected to get a response like "ha ha funny lol thanx!")

I don't think I said that Israel didn't or wouldn't continue to exist. I don't know which part you're saying is pragmatic.

I assumed too much because of your strong endorsement, and it took me aback because I respect your opinion, and so like it when we're in total agreement. Thank you for setting me straight. I'm sorry I've wasted so much of your time on this.

No, these are worthwhile issues to discuss; I just didn't expect to be doing it in this particular context. I'm sure some googlers are in for a surprise.

I'm saying that Rosenberg's conclusions about the current existence of both Israel and Palestinians, and the need to accommodate those facts, are pragmatic (thus his "So what?", which I'm sure he'd apply to Israel as much as he applied it to the Palestinians). And it's a pragmatism I largely share. I wasn't thrilled with things like "entitled to self-determination, peace and security in their own land"--what land, exactly?--but overall I agree with him, and in terms of refuting Gingrich's statement in a linkable way I think he does an excellent job.

It certainly is linkable!

I still don't understand what you mean about pragmatism completely, because I feel like the stance you describe is . What more idealistic takes have you been hearing that don't take into account the existence of the Zionist entity? I'm sorry to be thick about this. I don't really hear any major voices on "our side" (maybe I'm not listening carefully) arguing that everyone whose ancestors weren't there by 1900 should be deported (or driven into the sea). Who's saying the present existence of Israel doesn't have to be taken into account?

Uh, the stance you describe is standard.

They're worthwhile issues, but I'm afraid I really have reached my limit for discussion of this posting.

Happy new year!

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