Friday, February 13, 2009

Slightly OT: Israel, Democracy, Geert Wilders

When I saw this on Tuesday (screenshot of the 'Evening Standard' website with headline "Israelis go to polls to choose between three warmongers"), I felt it was mildly amusing[1]. (The comments included "I'm beginning to agree with Melanie..." and "How anyone can agree or side with this kind of reporting is beyond me. The media coverage in this country has been positively anti-semitic and tantamount to insighting racial hatred.") Anyway, also via the Spectator, Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic[2] wrote:

The stunner, for me at least: The Labor Party is dead. More than that, the peace camp is dead, or comatose, at least. According to exit poll numbers I heard, Haifa and Tel Aviv went for Livni (who is no leftist, except in comparison to Netanyahu and Lieberman); the south went for the hard right. The rockets voted, in other words.


It's a good tight piece, rather than quote it all, I recommend the whole thing. Goldberg doesn't care for Avigdor Lieberman. ("Washington should prepare itself for the possibility of Avigdor Lieberman as Israel's foreign minister. ... This isn't as bad as it sounds, since Israel doesn't have a foreign policy, just a defense policy.") Glenn Greewald called Lieberman "extreme and repugnant" (nb on Monday, before the election). Spencer Ackerman says, "the right-wing shift in Israeli politics has large implications for President Obama's stated desire to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace." He quotes from the Washington Post though I think the best line from there is this:

"You are going to have a very wobbly, dysfunctional, survival-minded coalition in Israel," said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator.


The joker at the ES called it pretty well in other words. That should get commenter organic cheeseboard excited.

This brings me to something. I'm pretty conflicted over the Geert Wilders thing. I find freedom of speech arguments very convincing, but at the same time I feel that he's beyond the pale. David T wrote a post yesterday attacking Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne for his justification of the exclusion of Wilders. (But why pick on Huhne? He's not the Home Secretary. Very odd.) And I sort of agree with him:

Although these characters should, in my view, be prevented from entering Britain, it is important that we hear what they have to say, so as better to oppose it.


He's talking, of course, about the subjects of Wilders' film - "utterly vile Islamist politicians and preachers". I'm not sure about preventing them entering Britain (I'd be against granting them work permits or paying them benefits; I wouldn't let them live here). I'm not quite sure what David's point is.

What a travel ban does do, primarily, is to signal this Government’s rejection of Wilder’s politics.
But, even here, the Government has bungled the message.


As far as I can work out, Chris Huhne was wrong for justifying the ban, though it's the message which was 'bungled' rather than the ban being wrong.

But Chris Huhne not only mistakes the Wilders affair for a free speech issue. He then seeks to defend the exclusion on grounds that are unsupportable.


This suggests that there are supportable grounds for the exclusion, but David doesn't discuss them. He clearly thinks that neither the government nor Chris Huhne know what these grounds are. I though the law was about precedents: if the government can ban Wilders, it will be able to ban the people David doesn't like in future, won't it? (Again, I'm not certain that this would be a good thing.)

Speaking of banning, Glenn Greenwald (link above) remembered the US and world reaction to the election of Joerg Haider:

Israel has recalled its ambassador and has announced that Joerg Haider, the party's figurehead, will not be allowed into the country.


There are, I suppose, unpalatable far-rightists and palatable far-rightists. Haider had more of a mandate than Wilders, too.

[1] Actually, my first thought was "Firefox on a Mac. Cool." I need to get out more.

[2] It's not just the Standard which changed its headline. The Goldberg url, which presumably came from the title is 'a_stunning_and_depressing_isra.php': the title is merely 'A Stunning Israeli Election.'

42 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"why pick on Huhne? He's not the Home Secretary. Very odd."

Not for Decents it isn't: they hate to have to condemn someone who does things when there's someone else who says things who can be condemned. Indeed, this is David T in a nutshell.

Chris

2/13/2009 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Nick C offers the usual drivvel, the guy he rubbished as being soft on Islamism is facing riots, death threats and arrest:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-despite-these-riots-i-stand-by-what-i-wrote-1608059.html

2/13/2009 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

OT, but a real double whammy here. Nick finally flips over into total insanity and HP laps it up.

2/13/2009 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

it was clear to me that when Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel it had declared war and had to accept the consequences

eh? dear me this is poor quality stuff...

2/13/2009 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

it was clear to me that when Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel it had declared war and had to accept the consequences

That's a very chilling, and dare I say, shocking statement.

One wonders whether Nick would have made such comments about KLA attacks in the late 1990s.

Some days ago I posted a report on Israeli victimhood and the perpetuation of the conflict. The research noted that:

Israeli Jews' consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering. The fighting in Gaza dashed the little hope Bar-Tal had left - that this public would exchange the drums of war for the cooing of doves.

"Most of the nation retains a simplistic collective memory of the conflict, a black-and-white memory that portrays us in a very positive light and the Arabs in a very negative one," says the professor from Tel Aviv University.


Although the research looked at the attutides of Israeli Jews its findings appear to be an accurate summation of the views of HP, Nick Cohen and much of the Decenct fraternity.

2/13/2009 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

OC, didn't you realise that before Hamas started firing the rockets Jews and Palestinians lived peacefully side by side in mutual harmony?

2/13/2009 01:17:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

yes - the 'declaration of war' statement is pretty offensive isn't it? It also appears to suggest that Nick approves of everything the IDF did; and also that Nick didn't even follow the incidents which caused the war. which is pretty worrying really, but it's not surprising since he wrote the square sum of fuck all on it as it was happening.

I'm not sure I even understand this bit either:

As the struggle between theocracy and liberalism intensifies, I can see some being pushed into taking the same journey I have taken and finding their views towards Judaism and Israel softening as they realise that antisemitism helps drive the fascistic ideologies of the 21st century just as it drove the Nazism of the 20th.

I will tell them that the opponents of totalitarianism must never be frightened. If their enemies say they are Jews, they should shrug and say: “All right, I am.” As long as readers of the Jewish Chronicle don’t object, of course.


Is it just me or does the final paragraph not make any sense at all?

2/13/2009 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

The main Spanish television news reported the election as "Israel chooses extremism". It's everywhere y'know...

2/13/2009 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

OC picks up those bits but what about this?

From the broadcasters, through the liberal press, the Civil Service, the Metropolitan Police, the bench of bishops and the judiciary, antisemitism is no longer an unthinkable mental deformation.

or this?

British Jews are living through a very dangerous period. They are the only ethnic minority whose slaughter official society will excuse. If a mass murderer bombed a mosque or black Pentecostal church, no respectable person would say that the “root cause” of the crime was an understandable repulsion at the deeds of al-Qaeda or a legitimate opposition to mass immigration. Rightly, they would blame the criminal for the crime.

If a synagogue is attacked, I guarantee that within minutes the airwaves will be filled with insinuating voices insisting that the “root cause” of the crime was a rational anger at the behaviour of Israel or the Jewish diaspora.


I would really like some evidence for these astonshing claims

2/13/2009 02:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick conveniently ignores the blockade.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blockade[2]

Function:
noun
Date:
1693
1: 'the isolation by a warring nation of an enemy area (as a harbor) by troops or warships to prevent passage of persons or supplies ; broadly : a restrictive measure designed to obstruct the commerce and communications of an unfriendly nation.'

Doesn't sound like the action of a peace loving state does it?

2/13/2009 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I would really like some evidence for these astonshing claims

Who needs evidence when you have Nick's guarantee?

But in general it's hardly worth bothering with, so pissweak are the claims he's making - and this is a trend in the recent output of decents in the JC...

2/13/2009 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Bubby's right, it's not so much the Israel apologia that get me, there is plenty of that around, it's the absurd generalisations about left wing opinion (ok hardly unusual for Nick it's even more extreme than usual here) and especially the "we are all Jewish" stuff.

2/13/2009 02:58:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

So this is what Nick's reduced to? We are all the IDF?

Of course, Nick isn't Jewish. He's always been very clear on that point. He isn't Jewish in a religious or cultural sense, and he never showed much interest in Israel until he started hanging out at HP Sauce. I think I wrote in the comments here a month or two ago that when Nick finally started pretending to be Jewish then a shark would have been jumped, and this looks like that shark.

Actually, the JC is well worth following - the letters page is often hilariously paranoid. Even some liberal rabbis have started criticising it for promoting the view that there's a massive pogrom around the corner. And the influx of Decents under the new editorial regime will make it increasingly OT.

Verification code "fainter".

2/13/2009 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

"why pick on Huhne? He's not the Home Secretary. Very odd."

Huhne went on the Today programme to defend the decision when nobody from the government had the balls to show up. Being attacked by the likes of Toube is a positive result for him.

2/13/2009 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

it's not so much the Israel apologia that get me, there is plenty of that around

there is, but Nick didn't utter a single word on it as it was happening. That's why i thought it was worth highlighting his stances, cos he seemed to duck the issue as it was happening but now, once again, accuses the left of all hating Jews and quite astonishingly seems to think that what the IDF did was fair game. even Aaro was equivocal on that...

When he says 'i guarantee x about TV and media coverage' it's pretty much lifted verbatim from an old standpoint column about how he can guarantee that as soon as muslims commit acts of terror people will go on the radio to claim that they're justified because of Iraq. it's untrue in both cases but that doesn't stop Nick saying it. increasingly he seems happy to explicitly lie in columns (MMR etc)

He isn't Jewish in a religious or cultural sense

no, he poses as a secularist, and that makes the ending, where he says this, all the more weird:

finding their views towards Judaism and Israel softening

the latter, ok I can understand even if i find it hard to believe that the IDF killing 1000 people for no real reason is likely to make people on the left have their opinions on Israel 'softened' - but the former? He's talking about the religion there, isn't he?

So now Nick and Aaro both pretend they're Jewish. you'll find NC writing 'we' soon, in articles about Jews; I can't help thinking this is a pitch for a JC column.

2/13/2009 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

He isn't Jewish in a religious or cultural sense, and he never showed much interest in Israel until he started hanging out at HP Sauce.

Actually I think the precise trajectory relates to what happened in early 2003. When Nick started writing his pro-war stuff he got deluged with a lot of anti-semitic abuse. At around the same time he burnt all his bridges with most of the left by writing a series of disgraceful and abusive articles along the line of 'anyone who opposses the invasion supports Saddam and is a disgusting appeaser'

Freed from his left wing moorings he has fallen in with a bad crowd and become increasingly unhinged.

Almost everybody on the left now thinks he's a wanker and there really is no realistic prospect of a rapprochment with this group. HP sauce, Horowitz, Kamm and the rest of the wingnut community are his only real pals now. If hadn't behaved like such a tosser you could almost feel sorry for him.

2/13/2009 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger pj said...

"British Jews are living through a very dangerous period. They are the only ethnic minority whose slaughter official society will excuse. If a mass murderer bombed a mosque or black Pentecostal church, no respectable person would say that the “root cause” of the crime was an understandable repulsion at the deeds of al-Qaeda or a legitimate opposition to mass immigration. Rightly, they would blame the criminal for the crime.

If a synagogue is attacked, I guarantee that within minutes the airwaves will be filled with insinuating voices insisting that the “root cause” of the crime was a rational anger at the behaviour of Israel or the Jewish diaspora.


I thought 'the Left' blamed the US and UK governments for the Sept 11th attacks and the London bombings - that suggests that NC at least thinks that bombings against non-Jews would be excused by 'the Left':

"The thing to watch for with fellow travellers is what shocks them into pulling the emergency cord and jumping off the train. I know some will stay on to the terminus, and when the man with the rucksack explodes his bomb their dying words will be: 'It's not your fault. I blame Tony Blair.'"

"If a bomb were to explode outside University College today, mainstream voices would fill the airwaves and say that responsibility for the carnage lay with the British, American or Israeli governments."

2/13/2009 04:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

British Jews are living through a very dangerous period. They are the only ethnic minority whose slaughter official society will excuse.

This must be Nick's 'Mad Mel' moment, he clearly thinks it's 1933 and he's living in Weimar Germany.

[redpesto]

2/13/2009 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I'd offer a rule of thumb, here, by the way, and not a very sophisticated one, that if there's a conflict and the side you're backing is doing most of the killing, then you're probably making some bad choices.

Have a snow-free weekend, all.

2/13/2009 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous stephen said...

I don't think David T would be defending Wilders if the target of his film were Jews instead of Muslims. As usual Harry's Place displays a remarkable tolerance for xenophobia if its target is Muslims.

2/14/2009 01:05:00 AM  
Blogger Sangiovese Fellow said...

When you put this piece of Cohen's next to his Goldberg review, you see just how far into Mad Mel territory he has now moved. Incredible stuff, on this evidence he's long past even the Seals of Dacre. I know we're not supposed to be watching Nick, but by my reckoning there are now only a few remaining areas - the reality of climate change, the role of religion in social order and more specifically the teaching of "intelligent design" - on which you can see daylight between him and the crazed ranter of "Londonistan", and it looks like even those gaps may be closing fast. Does anyone else reckon that we might have a successor to the Seals, a kind of Mad Mel-ometer in which we track the process of Cohen and Phillips becoming politically (and perhaps stylistically) indistinguishable?

2/14/2009 05:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the role of MMR, it's got to be the Woo Event Horizon. Cross that, and you are locked in Mad Mel's embrace for ever, unable to communicate anything worth reading to the outside world, there to trace a death spiral until ripped apart by your own tidal forces.

Chris Williams

2/14/2009 06:56:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Oh dear. Is this the retirement home?

http://tinyurl.com/dcupk8

2/14/2009 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

He started slow, but his Decent Delta-Vee is high and still rising. I don't know what fuel they're using, but the specific impulse is spectacular.

2/14/2009 09:26:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

That Mail column is fascinating isn't it?

Most of it is pretty spot-on IMHO. I'd disagree with the stuff about Labour responsing well to the crisis. We would have been better going for full nationalisation (and hence control) of the banks and ploughing cash into R&D and support for our dwindling manufacturing base particularly in relation to green technology- in preference to spunking billions on tax breaks.

Anybody interested in a deeper discussion of these issues could do worse than read this in the FT from one of the few economists who did accurately predict the crash.

What's so odd about the whole affair is that when discussing the financial crisis Nick is at least rational and appears to make sense. However when he gets onto the subject of Islamism, Iraq, Israel, the US and foreign policy he turns into a complete lunatic.

2/15/2009 02:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick's "Absurder" column about the economy isn't too bad. Some of the comments suggest that he should stick to this kind of thing and avoid Iraq and Israel.

If he applied his model of the Westminister-bubble and group-think to Iraq it might be quite interesting!

Moussaka Man

2/15/2009 05:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick's "Absurder" column about the economy isn't too bad. Some of the comments suggest that he should stick to this kind of thing and avoid Iraq and Israel.

If he applied his model of the Westminister-bubble and group-think to Iraq it might be quite interesting!

Moussaka Man

2/15/2009 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Indeed it is. That's what odd; that this comes from the same mouth as this is why I worry about NC's mental health. Pity his review couldn't have been more on these lines .

2/15/2009 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

EUSTON RELAUNCH!!!

Well at least a post.

http://eustonmanifesto.org/

2/15/2009 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

is why I worry about NC's mental health

Ah, mental health shouldn't be so casually invoked...

2/15/2009 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

ejh

I'm a Foucauldian when it comes to "mental health", so apologies for not making that clear. It was probably just a bad joke on my part.

2/15/2009 08:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

The stuff about RBS was OK, but I wish he'd leave that bloody skull alone - all he's doing is demonstrating that he doesn't get it.

2/15/2009 08:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"Euston Manifesto
No matching results

You seem to have found a mis-linked page or search query with no associated results. Please trying your search again. If you feel that you should be staring at something a little more concrete, feel free to email the author of this site or browse the archives."

:(

2/15/2009 09:03:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

it's a reprint, or maybe an edited version, of the obs piece from two weeks ago, isn't it? A lot of what he says is ok, but saying it now is fish in a barrel stuff. His first reaction to lehmans was to advocate the trickle down economy, and contrary to what he claims, he did not predict the recession-he occasionally bemoaned the middle classes and their spending money on organic food, because nobody buys organic on the dole, but even after northern rock he was wanking on every week about tgisoot. He claims that this imf report from last summer was missed by the govt but nick never mentioned it-in september he was mainly telling liberals that disliking sarah palin proved they have america. And yes-he really should steer clear of art in general. He doesn't understand. One other thing-though nick hasn't come out denying climate change yet, he has no time at all for the green movement in general so it's not too big a leap.

2/15/2009 09:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Dylan said...

I see that the pattern has changed - we now ignore Aaronovitch completely and go straight to smacking Nick Cohen around.

2/15/2009 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Not sure that's true, I think we've always criticised Nick Cohen a lot in the comments box.

I think the 'watchers' have decided to focus more on Aaro.

Ah, just thought - do you realise the comments are written by different people than the posts (although the posters do write some comments too)?

2/15/2009 10:23:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

why pick on Huhne?

Because, while working at the Independent at the same time as Nick Cohen (or possibly Aaro), he bought and drove a BMW. HTH. It's important to see these things in their true context.

Nick Cohen is still certainly part of the "World of Decency" and thus all of this stuff is on topic - I only declared I was giving up on him in order to have an excuse not to write about his fucking awful Standpoint TV reviews. It now also has the advantage that we aren't committed to reviewing his book, but none of us foresaw that.

2/15/2009 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Dylan said...

First off: I'm not entirely serious and of course the whole point of a blog is to write about what interests you.

It's just that AARONOVITCHWATCH is in such big letters and 'World of Decency' written so small and...

People use a lot of jargon/slang when discussing other topics most of which goes over my head and makes the non-Aaronovitch stuff more noticeable.

I'll stop mentioning it before it gets old but a glossary of Aaronovitchwatch (incorporating world of decency) would be handy for those of us who have come to decent bashing late in the day.

2/16/2009 08:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's just that AARONOVITCHWATCH is in such big letters and 'World of Decency' written so small and...

Dylan - it's a design thing: main part in big letters, all the other stuff slightly smaller, so it all fits tidily (a bit like when two magazines merge)

Meanwhile... Does that tinyurl link mean Nick's finally reached his destination and can join all the other brides in Duke Dacre's Castle? (Sorry, I was skimming as I typed that - I know realise it's from his book...I think I'll pass...)

[redpesto]

2/16/2009 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Utterly OT but Bryan Appleyard wrote a half-interesting piece on blogging by way of introduction to the Times Culture section doing a list of the 100 greatest blogs. Worryingly, Professor Geras came first in the list on World Affairs.
Intro here
List here

"www.normblog.typepad.com
Based in Britain, Norman Geras offers an indispensable window on the world, culling items from newspapers and blogs from around the globe so you get a regular focus on what’s caught his eye, as well as his intellectual, humane comments on what he's found."

Not sure they are his words as there is a disclaimer on his web-site

"Today in The Sunday Times I offer my world-changing thoughts on BLOGGERY. You are, therefore, required to buy six copies of the dead tree edition and bombard the web site with hits from midnight. Link will be here tomorrow. And here it is! Please note, the top 100 list is not mine alone, I merely contributed."

2/16/2009 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT for the post but fairly on T for the comments: Via Lenny's place it seems there may at last be drama Nick Cohen can praise.

http://leninology.blogspot.com/2009/02/it-aint-half-shit-mum.html

Von Pseud

2/16/2009 03:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffrey Goldberg?

Heh.

He's a joke:
http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2009/01/newsflashes.php

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/02/20/goldberg/index.html

http://washingtonindependent.com/1923/goldbergs-non-mea-culpa

Avoid him at all costs, even when he appears to be writing 'good' stuff.

2/24/2009 03:54:00 AM  

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