Daily Archives: December 10, 2013


From Zionist to Anti-Zionist Activist – Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself pt1

The Real News Network is starting a new series in Reality Asserts Itself starting with the interview From Zionist to Anti-Zionist Activist – Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself pt1.

On RAI with Paul Jay, Phyllis Bennis traces her development from active Zionist youth to whom Jewish identity meant support for Israel, to a leading American anti-Zionist writer and analyst


Bennis initially has a hard time recalling what changed her mind about the issue, but eventually gets to the heart of the transition.

For me the transition started to happen in earnest when I started working with and becoming friends with some Palestinians. When you realize that these are real people with many similarities in background to me and some with educations superior to mine, you start thinking differently from the stereotypes that you grew up with.

When I started to think about the indignities that my friends suffered because they were Palestinians, it became impossible to accept that this was right.

Even after many discussions with one of my friends, I still clung to my view about the history of the formation of Israel and he clung to his. It wasn’t until many years after we agreed to stop discussing the issue, that I started to come to the realization that he had been right about more things than I had realized at the time.

Before I go any farther, I will recall my words from a previous post Scholarship and Politics: The Case of Noam Chomsky.

As I said to Sharon after reading the chapter on propaganda in the book Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges, you really don’t know who to trust anymore.  I am not even sure I trust myself.


I read the book Peace Be Upon You, The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence by Zachary Karabell. Then as sort of an antidote I reread the book Exodus by Leon Uris.

Only after reading Exodus again did I recognize the racism in the attitudes of the Jews in Israel toward the Palestinians with whom they had grown up. As Phyllis Bennis said in her interview with Paul Jay, we had grown up thinking what a wonderful book and movie Exodus was. Now I can see how one-sided it was. Now I can see how one-sided are the positions of many of today’s Israeli leaders.


December 12, 2013

The second part in the series is covered in my subsequent post Fmr. Israeli Intel. Chief Says Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Greater Risk than Nuclear Iran – Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself pt2.


December 13, 2013

The final two parts of the series are:

Syria’s Six Wars and Humanitarian Catastrophe – Phyllis Bennis on Reality Asserts Itself (3/4)

and

One State or Two, Solution Must be Based on Palestinian Rights – Phyllis Bennis on RAI (4/4)


Obama shakes hands with Cuba’s Raul Castro

USA Today has the story and video Obama shakes hands with Cuba’s Raul Castro.

picture of hand shake

Can you see the news stories spun around the “the brief moment captured in this photograph”? Imagine the Faux News headline “Obama bows to Castro”.

Of course, I don’t know what a guy over 6 feet tall is supposed to do when confronting a guy just over 5 feet tall when he wants to look him in the eye. You can bet that some people will see this as bowing.

I just thought I would take this opportunity to mention this before the media put there spin on it, but I am sure I am too late.


Scholarship and Politics: The Case of Noam Chomsky

The New York Times has the article Scholarship and Politics: The Case of Noam Chomsky by Stanley Fish.

I was enchanted, even ravished, by these lectures, not because I agreed with the positions they staked out, but because of the spectacle they presented of an intelligence exercising itself on a set of significant philosophical questions. It was thought of the highest order performed by a thinker, now 85 years old, who by and large eschewed rhetorical flourishes (he has called his own speaking style “boring” and says he likes it that way) and just did it, where ‘it” was the patient exploration of deep issues that had been explored before him by a succession of predecessors, fully acknowledged, in a conversation that is forever being continued and forever being replenished.

After finishing the article, I thought of it as a beautifully written tribute to the pursuit of academic thought. Even as I read it, I was taken aback by the statement in the article:

“…since language is thought rather than an addition to or clothing of thought, the limits of language are the limits of what we can fruitfully think about.”

So my question is, “Do non-human animals think?”  If so, how do they think, since they have no language to express their thoughts?  Do human babies think before they have language?  How do they acquire language without thinking?

When you see videos of an octopus figuring out how to unscrew the lid of a bottle, do you suppose the octopus is thinking (without language)?

Have you ever watched a squirrel try to get seed out of a bird feeder.  They have some mighty creative ways of approaching the problem after many failed attempts.  What are they thinking as they try different approaches?

I see that some of the other comments on the article mirror some of my questions.

Now I think the article reminds me of how easy it is to be lulled into a state of hypnosis by beautifully crafted words.  Perhaps this is what has troubled me about Naom Chomsky over the years.  Sometimes, i just don’t want to believe what he is saying politically.  Lately, I have been thinking my distrust was unwarranted.  What he has been saying has proven to be right more often than I imagined possible.  Or is it that I am just being hypnotized?

As I said to Sharon after reading the chapter on propaganda in the book Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges, you really don’t know who to trust anymore.  I am not even sure I trust myself.


Netanyahu will not attend Mandela memorial

The Jerusalem Post has the story Netanyahu will not attend Mandela memorial.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that he will not travel to South Africa for the memorial of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela on Tuesday.

A source at the Prime Minister’s office said the trip is too expensive and that there were “logistical concerns” preventing the prime minister from attending.

Putting aside whether or not you believe that Netanyahu has valid concerns about attending the funeral, can you imagine how uncomfortable it would be for an Israeli leader’s policies to be compared to what Mandela fought for?  Was Netanyahu going to stand up and praise Mandela for fighting to free a suppressed majority from the shackles of apartheid?  Was he going to be a proponent of Nelson Mandela’s reconciliation of the former ruling minority with the newly ruling majority?

If Netanyahu compares where Mandela stood in the eyes of some world leaders in the 1980s to how history is being rewritten now, what does he think about what his history will look like in 30 years?

If Netanyahu and his allies were successful in batting down President Carter’s stance that Israel is an apartheid nation, do they think they can succeed at this forever?

See my previous post Al Sharpton stops Meet The Press panel from revising the torrid American apartheid stance to see if you can get away with espousing your own version of history.

If you are a strong believer in the current Israeli stance, tell me what you think history will say 30 years from now.


Social Security expansion now very real. Thanks, Third Way!

The Daily Kos has the article Social Security expansion now very real. Thanks, Third Way!.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA.), honorary co-chair of Third Way and gubenatorial candidate, is now a cosponsor of a bill to expand Social Security. That’s after Third Way president Jon Cowan, Jim Kessler, the group’s senior vice president for policy called the legislation “exhibit A of this populist political and economic fantasy.” The “fantasy” that is going to doom, DOOM, Democrats.

If you are a fan of Hillary Clinton for President in 2016, tell me where she stands on this issue. Is she leading, following, or standing in the way?

You can start with The New Republic article The Next Big Fight Between Hillary Clinton and Liberals.


Al Sharpton stops Meet The Press panel from revising the torrid American apartheid stance 1

The Daily Kos has the article Al Sharpton stops Meet The Press panel from revising the torrid American apartheid stance

One of the excerpts that the article highlights is:

“I think it is a betrayal of history to act as though as Nelson Mandela evolved the world embraced it. There was a real battle in this country,” Al Sharpton said. “So when Randall Robinson and Maxine Waters and Reverend Jackson led that fight … there was major contention. They were attacked for supporting communists. Let’s remember the ANC that he refers to, they were pursuing freedom. Many of the communist nations embraced them. This country did not. So it is not like they were born Marxist. They were born people seeking to be free. Some of the Marxist nations, either genuinely or in a self-interest way, tried to embrace that. This country did not, and fought that, and denounced them, and denigrated them. And I think that for us now to sugarcoat that is a betrayal of history. We chose sides. We chose the wrong side


I avoided being told the wrong stuff and then having someone correct it by not watching Meet The Press anymore. Not watching the Sunday morning talk shows is one of the ways I keep my blood pressure under control.