Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Solidarity with Aaro

There is a long very on-topic post on the Flotilla and Decency in my head somewhere. Mostly I'm fairly disgusted with the apologetics for Israel coming from people I think should know better (eg Gene of Harry's Place). And I could write a post on why Melanie Phillips isn't a Decent: for one thing Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch, Norman Geras are all atheists and rationalists and materialists. That, and that I'm what Nick refers to sarcastically or ironically as 'right-thinking' is one of the planks of what I have in common with them. Mad Mel, although she refers to herself as an agnostic, believes in lots of woo, like the MMR stuff, and continually talks about Judeo-Christianity, as if that was, well a good thing, when I imagine that the others see themselves in a tradition in which the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the English Civil War, American and French revolutions feature rather higher than Moses getting ten-ish orders on tablets of stone (or not), Ceiling Cat smiting everyone in Soddom and Gomorrah, and then drowning all life, etc.

Anyway, that's for another day. Our man gets tweets like this and I'd just like to say that however angry I feel about the Flotilla, people like this do not represent my (or I hope AW readers') views. I sent a tweet to 'britishcitizen'. I seem to have made an enemy. What a surprise.


Blogger flyingrodent said...

Yes, I suspect lots of leading decents will get email and comments like that fairly regularly. Nick has talked about this in the past and I try to take it into account when assessing his latest outburst. I imagine lots of indecents of various stripes get it too.

While I'm firmly of the opinion that the sudden discovery of all this shitty racism is largely because the internet allows us all to get out into the world and meet its many evil fucks, there's no doubt there's lots of that kind of crap floating around Israel/Palestine, Iraq conspiracy stuff etc.

6/01/2010 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, don't diss Ceiling Cat.

Yes, the internet does facilitate this sort of crap. Since I'm currently being hyper-aggressively spammed by some wingnut in Zagreb who's had nothing better to do for the last six weeks than leave nine abusive comments a night in my inbox (this is on top of the regular crap that a low-rent blog attracts - start me on that sometime), I can only imagine what somebody as high-profile as Dave has to put up with. Especially on an issue that seems to be asshole catnip. Cedar Lounge, which isn't a frothing anti-Israel blog by any means, seems to have pinged some kind of hasbara monitor and immediately attracted the other sort of asshole.

I'd like to think we try (if not always successfully) to make a point without being an asshole about it. Assholism breeding assholism and all that.

6/01/2010 10:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

'Ceiling Cat'??

Is that like 'Sky Fairy', beloved of CiF?

6/01/2010 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sky Fairy is a totem much beloved of the sort of CiF contributors who are determined to disprove the idea that atheists are automatically the most intelligent people around.

Ceiling Cat is a much cooler deity, much beloved by the feline occupants of my home. See the Lolcat Bible for more details.

6/01/2010 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

Thanks for the pointer Splinty.

"In teh beginz is teh meow, and teh meow sez "Oh hai Ceiling Cat" and teh meow iz teh Ceiling Cat."

Lol, as they say.

6/02/2010 01:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

I'm not too bothered myself that a Nick Cohen gets shit slung at him myself. It's what you get for pandering to power and serving illegal, evil wars in the name of the antifascist campaign in your head.

It's not that I want TBACAI, but I can understand the frustration and anger a lot of people feel at seeing those who lied to get illegal wars started being amply rewarded for it. Since they can't get to Blair or Bush, it's minor league henchman like Cohen that get the fallout.

As the rodent says, not a new thing, but thanks to the internet it's for the first time possible for people like Cohen or Aaronovitch to know what the public really thinks of them. Not nice, but considering the shit they themselves have pulled over the years...

6/02/2010 06:04:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

But it's not "the public", is it? It's "those elements of the public who give the public a bad name".

I hadn't heard of Ceiling Cat. I'll ask Her Majesty Queen Puss all about it when I get home.

6/02/2010 06:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK Martin, sauce for the goose and all that. "i can understand the anger..' etc. You mean the anger of the anti-Semites that the post actually refers to? Would you consider it to be internet accountability were I to call you a posing, self-righteous prick? No, and neither would I, so i won't.

6/02/2010 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Indeed, it's difficult to be accountable and anonymous simultaneously.

6/02/2010 07:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of Dick Tuck's famous words: "The people have spoken (the bastards)."

On a more serious note, no deference to vox populi justifies racist and anti-Semitic hatred. Jewish people, Muslim people, etc etc, are, after all, the public too.

Marc Mulholland.

6/02/2010 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

There's a very good piece on the problems with Israeli PR machine, which HP Sauce is part of, by Patrick Cockburn:

I always find it bizarre that Israelis don't seem to realise that their foreign policy and military adventures have been disasters since the 67 war. I suspect propaganda has played a part in that. Last year I was chatting to an American Zionist (self-described) who claimed that the last Lebanese war was a victory for Israel. I've seen similar claims on HP Sauce. That's some pretty insane denial.

6/02/2010 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

@Cian - you're talking about cheerleaders rather than pundits there. I've said this so many times I'm starting to bore myself, but think of it the way people talk about their own football teams' fortunes. I've had people swear blind to me that there was no contact in (x) stonewaller penalty incident, or that a blatantly chested ball was a handball etc. People will happily tell you black is white and get annoyed when you don't agree, because support is all about passion and blind faith rather than analysis of cold and often unpleasant reality.

I've asked various HP creatures about the Lebanon War before, and they're unanimous that it was some kind of Israeli victory on points and that those who think otherwise are All Hezbollah Now, Or Something. They don't literally mean Lebanon was a storming victory. They mean that like, the referee was biased, and the International Red Cross should've been sent off for unsporting play, and Who's the bastard in the black?

6/02/2010 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

FR: To some degree, but you'll also see pundits in the Israeli press make the same claim, together with Israeli generals. And there really wasn't the root and branch clearance you'd have expected after such a catastrophic defeat [1].

I think you get a sense of how out of kilter Israeli opinion has become by looking at the last piece by Seth Edelbaum on CiF. He used to be a hardcore Zionist, defended Israel to the hilt. Moved to Israel, discovered things were not so rosy and became a fairly perceptive critic. However his last piece, which defended the attack on the flotilla (indeed which praised it) was sheer wing-nuttery. He's probably quite representative of liberal opinion in Israel, so... Its a culture in denial.

Meanwhile in the real world Israel has made an enemy of probably the most powerful player in the middle east, Turkey. And a country which is slowly becoming even more important in the region, who is forging pragmatic ties with both Syria and Iran, and who is gradually becoming friendlier to Hamas. A country whose acquiesence is desperately needed by the US, but who needs the US less and less. Its a bigger disaster than the last Lebanese war. You'd never know it to read the Israeli press, though.

[1] its worth noting that they were defeated by S. Lebanese villagers. They never even reached Hezbollah's dedicated fighters. This for an invasion that had been planed at least a year in advance, where they had total air domination.

6/02/2010 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

During the assault on Gaza, Cohen (and his close comrade Martin Bright) stayed silent throughout the slaughter. Now Nick has tweeted on many issues, but unlike Aaro has failed to mention the attack on the flotilla.

At least Aaro isn't a coward.

6/02/2010 09:53:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I've said before that i don't think Cohen really cares about the Middle East at all. his 'silence' here is hardly surprising, though I do find Twitter a bit odd, people on both sides of arguments seem to think that having 'retweeted' news reports counts as having broken a 'shameful silence' - maybe so, but it's hardly writing an article, is it. I don't think that not having tweeted on this subject counts as 'cowardice', though it's certainly proof that Cohen's not really interested in this stuff unless it gives him a stick to beat 'the left' with, and this latest example of IDF idiocy doesn't really give him anything to work with.

I said something similar on FR's place but - what relaly confuses me about people who are 'pro-israeli' is just how much they're willing to: a) not speak on an issue until they've seen the IDF line to follow (see HP Sauce and Gene); tie themselves in knots with arguments based on this IDF line (the 'they were only carrying paintball guns, why would the protesters try to attack them' line, the line about IDF commandos being 'entirely peaceful' but also carrying pistols, stun guns etc, as well as a lot of the initial IDF claims about weapons - knives 'designed for lynching' where even the biggest are fairly clearly from the kitchens); argue counterfactually (countless examples, of course) and take what are clearly pieces of propaganda at face value (eg Gene at HP Sauce).

These people aren't all unreasonable, all of the time; it's something as FR alluded to up there about support, but people seem to support both sides in a manner more suited to football, where the worst that can happen on the pitch is a sending off, serious injury, or unjust defeat.

The approach to the blockade also rather damns anyone who takes te Israeli side as a matter of 'support', because the blockade is clearly completely pointless, ineffective, and downright morally wrong. HP Saucers et al can dress it up as about 'weapons smuggling' all they want, but it is not and has never been about that. We also get a lot of garbled stuff about interntional law, which is only 'convincing' if it fits in with a particular side's views. The recourse to law is also seen a lot in internet discussion of settlements, which again are A Bad Thing, rationally, but most 'pro-Israelis' seem to more or less support them in practice.

but... rockets on Sderot! you don't care! etc etc. What i continue to not understand is how people who usually can present their views in a fairly logical manner seem incapable of doing so in these contexts.

I always find it bizarre that Israelis don't seem to realise that their foreign policy and military adventures have been disasters since the 67 war.

You could use the same line with the USA, couldn't you. Strongly militarised countries whose economies have a fair amount of reliance on weapons manufacture have a tendency to encourage their citizens to be unrealistic about the quality and part actions of their military. we even get that to an extent here, though our record is slightly better.

by the way, flying rodent, have you given up on twitter?

6/02/2010 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

The Israeli "supporters" also seem to be keen to use ANY argument in their favour, not matter how contradictory it then becomes.

So we have have had "the blockade is mandatory as those heinous killers will smuggle in rocket parts even inside cement bags" at the same time as "the blockade is not harming Gaza because you can buy anything there, microwaves, luxury goods, etc.".

Both of those statements can't be true.

6/02/2010 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

What's Twitter?

6/02/2010 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger hardindr said...

Seth Freeman had a rather disappointing column on the Israeli attack in CiF. I usually like his stuff, but, man, is it a stinker.

6/02/2010 01:08:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Well the US has at least won a couple of wars. Against pathetic third world armies, but Israel's enemies are hardly military giants. Yet people still talk about the fearsome IDF.

6/02/2010 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Anybody can have a good reputation if they have enough friends in the press. I'm sure you can think of numerous examples.

6/02/2010 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I find Freedman a very odd writer; half the time his stuff is lucid, involving, and nuanced; the other half of the time it's belligerent rehashed propaganda as that piece so obviously is. He's also got form of using very dubious sources, e.g. honestreporting...

Where does this 'ultra-violent activists' thing come from, too? There seem ot be a lot of dark whispers about what those killed were like, and what they did, but their names haven't even been rleased ffs. presumably so the internet searching for dodgy pasts/comments can be done in advance.

6/02/2010 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

The fact that even the number of killed, let alone who they are, has taken so long to come out is very odd indeed.

[verification = wholkil, no really.]

6/02/2010 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

It's not that odd, GG. The Israelis are going to sit on this until it drops off the front pages, then release all the information they're withholding once it's only weirdos with blogs that will notice.

Re: Seth Freedman, it's yer nationalism, innit? I mean, articles with titles along the lines of Scotland the Bastards are guaranteed to get my dander up, even if it's a fantastically argued and meticulously sourced effort. It's the same thing that encouraged so many usually rational Americans circa 2003 to start wailing about the awful anti-Americanssess and the cheese-eating Frenchies, rather than taking a step back and thinking Wait a minute - are we about to make an epic mistake that will mire us in Vietnam II for decades? Basically, my country, right or batshit insane and ultraviolent. I can criticise it, but you can't.

(BTW, my favourite effort so far was the HP commenter - Kerching! - who thinks the flotilla debacle is primarily upsetting because it could damage human rights and aid organisations, by making them look violent. That's right - someone at Harry's OMG Amnesty International are actually, literally terrorist Islamists Place was contending we should all be upset with the dead and injured, because they might make humanitarian NGOs look bad! My ballsofsteelometer bust right then and there).

I should point out that there are plenty of your anti-zionist types who are B-ing just as much of ACAI charging about the internet right now, and that a lot of blog commenters that we might think of as "Decents" are really just godawful wingnuts with a thin veneer of half-assed propaganda. I always find it embarrassing whenever those jokers show up in my comments threads, especially since I can't work out how do delete posts.

@Cheeseboard - Yes, I am still on Twitter. I changed the name on the account to FlyingRodent because I got tired of having to explain why I was using two names.

6/02/2010 02:13:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

OK FR, not odd from the Israeli's side - but surely dead foreign nationals ought to have their embassies banging on the Israelis' door and you would expect them to release the information as soon as it was available. So, not wanting to start any conspiracy theories here, but where's the blockage?

6/02/2010 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...


6/02/2010 04:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin Wisse said...

The blockage isn't necessarily in Washington; for all the zionist propaganda about how unfriendly Europe is to Israel, the reality is that our governments routinely support Israel, tend to follow the Israeli line, though may make noises about whatever insane shit the IDF has pulled this time.

For example, the Dutch government is depressingly unable to condemn any Israeli action without blaming Hamas/Hezbollah/whatever for forcing the IDF to do something bad.

6/03/2010 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Well, since I seem to have torpedoed this thread with my incessant chatter, I'll bring it back on-topic in the general sense.

After following Aaro's tweets for a while, he seems like a very nice and rational man, doesn't he? I might have to buy his latest book, just to see what he has to say.

6/03/2010 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I agree (although his will-you-condemnathon was a bit depressing) yet wasn't that the original point of this site? It's the quiet ones you have to watch etc.

6/03/2010 09:05:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Something to look forward to on Sunday. From Nick Cohen's Twitter:

Editor has spoken and I am writing about Israel/Palestine. Well that should ensure a range of quiet and balanced responses in comments box

As I said, I don't think he's all that interested...

6/04/2010 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I don't disagree with Nick here, but, er...


6/04/2010 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Has anyone looked at Nick's latest in Standpoint?

6/04/2010 02:41:00 PM  

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