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Curious! Petraeus Uses Hillary’s Word “Unhelpful” Walking Back Assessment of Impact of US/Israel Alliance on Welfare of Troops

Both General Petraeus and Secretary of State Clinton used the mild-mannered adjective “unhelpful” in statements regarding Israel during the past year or so. Yes, in different contexts, but I couldn’t help being startled by the repetition.

Clinton’s use of that, in her case, “reined in” word concerned the 3/2009 demolition of dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. She said it was “unhelpful” to peace efforts . I thought at the time it was an incredibly lightweight word – ironically minimal considering the reality of dozens of homes being razed which was, also, as I understand it, the breaking of international law. She, as the United States Secretary of State, was registering a public objection.

But it was made regarding Israel, so, soon after, I read that she was actually being quite brave -- as brave and careful as she could be. To give credit where credit is due, she also called for a partial lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

From Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars:

Juan Cole warns that Clinton will be attacked by the far-right-wing Israel crowd, and urged people to support her speaking out - in fact, to urge her to use even stronger language the next time.

So this statement rocked the boat among Israeli neocons and many American sympathizers. Notwithstanding Secretary Clinton’s relative courage, I’d surmise the Palestinians still felt “unhelped.”

When I heard that General Petraeus had used that same adjective, “unhelpful”, in regards to another political scenario with Israel, my memory bell went off to Clinton’s situation. In Petraeus’ case, “unhelpful” was targeted not at Israel but at bloggers who considered a statement he’d issued as very bold and mensch-like, seemingly so, in this United States, the leaders of which walk a high, diplomatic tightrope of loyalty as far as Israel is concerned.

Israel’s lobby, AIPAC, has so many “steadfast” cronies in Congress and the administration. How interesting that Petraeus, a most popular and powerful general with the Right, said something so appreciated by many on the Left, frustrated by the over close alliance of the United States and Israel.

Jim Lobe in his 3/17/10 article, Petraeus Confirms Link Between Israel-Palestine and U.S. Security:

March 17, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- In prepared testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning, Gen. David Petraeus delivered the message that, as we’ve been writing over the last few days, Mark Parry reported on Saturday. Here’s the money quote:

Insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace. The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR. Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.

Now to many of us, this is not an earthshaking revelation. But in the AIPAC kool-aid swigging Beltway, it is an “emperor has no clothes” kind of moment.

BUT WAIT ... show’s over! Move along. Nothing to see here ...

General Petraeus is now walking the statement back. Natasha Mozgavaya, Haaretz Correspondent, in her article Petraeus Backs Down:

March 26, 2010 "Haaretz " -- Commander of the U.S. Military's Central Command Gen. David Petraeus phoned his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, this week to deny reports that he had blamed Israeli policy for the failure in a regional solution and for endangering U.S. interests.

Earlier this month, Petraeus warned the Pentagon that "America's relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America's soldiers," in a posting on the Foreign Policy Web site.

In a 56-page report, the Central Command had written: "The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests," the CENTCOM report read.

Petraeus told reporters on Thursday that the report - which he claimed had been taken out of context - had been drafted because: "We noted in there that there was a perception at times that America sides with Israel and so forth. And I mean, that is a perception. It is there. I don't think that's disputable."

"But I think people inferred from what that said and then repeated it a couple of times and bloggers picked it up and spun it," he added. "And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly." [my emphasis]

Sorry, General. Though, rereading your statement, it doesn’t seem anything was taken out of context. For a few seconds there, we thought honesty and forthrightness had come to the U.S. halls of power and were profoundly grateful.

And just in case anyone wondered if the U.S. Congress had grown any you-know-whats since the health care sell out, of course no one has.

Natasha Mozgavaya:

Meanwhile, nearly 300 members of Congress have signed on to a declaration reaffirming their commitment to "the unbreakable bond that exists between [U.S.] and the State of Israel", in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The letter was sent in the wake of the severe recent tensions between Israel and the U.S. over the prior's decision to construct more than 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, a project it announced during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the region.

As further explained by Pepe Escobar in Obama Squeezed Between Israel and Iran:

Israel rules, Washington follows.

AIPAC arm-twisted members of the US Congress to sign a letter to the White House calling for the US to bypass the United Nations Security Council and unilaterally sanction Iran. And AIPAC also urged lawmakers to pass with no comments the annual US$3 billion US aid to Israel. This means the new made-in-USA F-35 fighter jets Israel buys will be basically financed by US taxpayers.

No surprises here. This is a congress that backed Israel's assault in Gaza in late 2008 and condemned the Goldstone Report on Israeli atrocities in that conflict by a vote of 334 to 36. After all, the Democratic party depends heavily on very wealthy Jewish - and Zionist - donors for a chunk of its budget.

Just one day after Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced the building of 1,600 exclusively Jewish apartments in East Jerusalem (part of a planned, non-negotiable 50,000 which will block it from becoming the capital of a Palestinian state and prevent Palestinian residents of the city from traveling to the West Bank), publicly humiliated US Vice President Joe Biden went to Tel Aviv University and told his audience he is ... a Zionist.

He added, "Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as vice president of the United States."

Of course it does not matter that General David "I'm positioning myself for 2012" Petraeus, chief of US Central Command, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the Israeli-Arab conflict "foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel". Even though "perception" may be the understatement of the millennium, as a potential Republican presidential candidate Petraeus knows he will be in deep trouble with the Republican hardcore Christians and with the Christian-Zionist fringe.

One might begin to think that AIPAC’s and Israel’s needs in the minds of our Congress would override the needs of the United States citizenry, including the lives of our soldiers? Congress and the President seem to regard the massive lobbies such as AIPAC as their real constituents, despite their supposedly sacred oaths of duty to us all. The TARP bail out. The new corporation-friendly -- very corporation friendly -- health insurance law.

It feels to me as if Congress just issued Israel a super-sized blank check to do WHATEVER IT CHOOSES with full U.S. backing. Such a vast and near UNCONDITIONAL commitment of support seems .... well, I would like to say it approaches ... treason (?), but let me just go on the record here as calling it “unhelpful”?

In her article, US Lawmakers Stand Up Against Obama for Israel, Hana Levi Julian reveals that The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) published a complete list of the politicians who issued statements in support of Israel.

For whatever it’s worth, they include: U.S. Senate: Republicans: Arizona - John McCain (R-AZ); Kansas - Sam Brownback (R-KS); Nebraska - Mike Johanns (R-NE); Independent; Connecticut - Joe Lieberman (I-CT); Democrats: Maryland - Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), New York - Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Pennsylvania - Arlen Specter (D-PA). U.S. House of Representatives: Republicans: Arizona - John Boozman (R-AR); California - Mary Bono Mack (R-CA); David Dreier (R-CA); Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); Florida - Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Connie Mack (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Georgia - Tom Price (R-GA), Ohio - Jim Jordan (R-OH), John Boehner (R-OH), Illinois - Mark Kirk (R-IL), Indiana - Dan Burton (R-IN), Mike Pence (R-IN), Mark Souder (R-IN), Kansas - Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), Oregon - Greg Walden (R-OR), Michigan - Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Texas - John Carter (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Virginia - Eric Cantor (R-VA), Washington - Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Democrats: California – Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Florida - Ron Klein (D-FL), Illinois - Mike Quigley (D-IL), Michigan - Gary Peters (D-MI), New Jersey - John Adler (D-NJ), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), New York - Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Steve Israel (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Kevin McCarthy (D-NY), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Nevada - Shelley Berkley (D-NV).

By the way, do you know that the Israeli government provides universal health care to its citizens? I learned this from Ralph Nader’s article entitled Israel & Aid.

In the intervening years, Israel has become an economic, technological and military juggernaut. Its GDP is larger than Egypt’s even though Israel’s population is less than one tenth that of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The second largest number of listings on America’s NASDAQ Exchange after U.S. companies are from Israel, exceeding listings of Japan, Korea, China and India combined. Its venture capital investments exceed those in the U.S., Europe and China on a per capita basis.

Israel is arguably the fifth most powerful military force in the world, and Israel’s claims on the U.S.’s latest weapon systems and research/development breakthroughs are unsurpassed. This combination has helped to make Israel a major arms exporter.

The Israeli “economic miracle” and technological innovations have spawned articles and a best-selling book in recent months. The country’s average GDP growth rate has exceeded the average rate of most western countries over the past five years. Israel provides universal health insurance, unlike the situation in the U.S., which raises the question of who should be aiding whom?

Keep in mind, the U.S. economy is mired in a recession, with large rates of growing poverty, unemployment, consumer debt and state and federal deficits. In some states, public schools are shutting, public health services are being slashed, and universities are increasing tuition while also cutting programs. Even state government buildings are being sold off.

Considering all this military and economic strength in Israel, why again are we giving Israel $3 billion a year when our own people are struggling and even dying in mutual-agendaed wars with this favored ally, dying from inadequate health care, which deaths, to a great degree, will continue. Also, troubling is the belief that “war with Iran” is on Israel’s “to do” list. Given the enthrallment of our Congress to Israel, it might be seriously on our list, too. The frequent guest talking heads on Charlie Rose seem to regard it as inevitable. I say this with profound dread.

Anyway, maybe if we ask nicely for Israel to put in a good word for us -- the American citizenry – to our ... er ... their U.S. Congress, Israel can help us one day get universal health care, too?

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mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

hasn't exactly kowtowed to Israel. Obama humiliated Bibi last week. It may not seem a big thing, but in diplomacy, as Joe Biden would say, it's a big f*cking deal.

"So this statement rocked the boat among Israeli neocons and many American sympathizers."


"I’d surmise the Palestinians still felt “unhelped.”

Sure, but I would still argue it is at the least a change in tone from the Bush administration, and we'll see about the policy.

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

Read this article:

This sort of concern on the part of Jewish people, plus the plurality of of Israeli's who support giving back the territories, undermines Netanyahu's plans to continue construction to appease the rightwingers. I think Hillary got it right, as did Obama and Petraeus. I'd say they are moving in the right direction.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

... I read the article and appreciate its contents and I read maybe about 100 hundred of the extremely diverse comments. I have been on enough political websites to recognize that a discussion of Israel and Palestine can have a "third rail" intensity for all concerned. And my timing on Passover week ... well, it was not deliberate ... it arose from articles I was reading. But maybe it is a time to be thoughtful about what is happening and for all of us to pray.

I also appreciate that a neocon regime does not reflect the spirit of an entire population. Look at Bush's and now Obama's choices in terms of faux justified wars, etc. If I were to explain to a family in Iraq or Afghanistan that it is not my fault their relatives have been killed, I don't know how far their empathy and appreciation would stretch for me. They might justifiably want me to do as much as I could humanly do to stop inhumanity on the part of my government. It would be hard to argue with that. If I were in their shoes I would feel that way.

If the Goldstone Report reflects the truth, and the many accounts of the Gazan War, often from international sources, since the corporate American media too often is withholding imho accurate accounts, then Israel as a nation with its army has committed war crimes. Its sanctions and military control of the segregated areas for the Palestinians certainly sound inhumane.

Do American Jewish people not believe these accounts? Or do they feel such loyalty and are torn and worried about the future welfare of their kinsmen and women? I wonder.

Now I know there are refuseniks (?), young people who refuse to serve in the military. I know there is a peace movement there, though have heard the majority of Israel is more conservative now. Neocon leaders are more compelling.

Your article also stresses the concern of the Israeli people over the world "perception" of Israel. Shouldn't the priority be the reality of immoral/amoral non-humanitarian behaviors being perpetrated by Israel? Not just its loss of respect and sympathy from other countries? I know there is the shadow of the demonization by Germany and the genocide atrocities, so of course there is a chronic fear in the national and ethnic consciousness of the return to such a surreal nightmare. But there has to be a soulful effort to separate irrational fear from real ones. And to not spring to offensive defensiveness and justify it. I think of Blair and Bush with pre-emptive strike justification. That should be against international law and probably is.

I have read so much psychology about addictive behavior. It feels like there is an irrational power and control addiction going on with Netanyahu and the government in charge. And you don't coax an addict to stop dangerous and addictive behavior. You don't reward and bribe and patiently wait for the change, for sanity to prevail.

If the addict is damaging your world or the people in it you either detach or you use TOUGH LOVE. You assert. You say no. Tiptoeing along the diplomatic tight rope is not tough love. It is learned helpless behavior. It is enabling. And that often escalates the contempt and bad behavior of the addict. And the addict also will lie and make promises and take advantage. Granted the rage and frustration when told NO! will escalate from the addict and that will be intimidating and threatening. But it will eventually subside. But "kowtowing" will not.

I do not think the Obama administration was gratuitously arrogant to Netanyahu. From the accounts I have read, it seems it has been the other way around with him and the leadership in Israel. It seems like Netanyahu and the Israel leadership are not being consistent and honorable during the history of their negotiations. And the US is doing some kind of kabuki inconsistent communicating itself. "Demanding"? Not if you have nothing to back it up with. You would think we do, with $3 billion a year. But then look at AIPAC and our enthrallled Congress. And I think the Obama administration and now incredibly Petraeus are signalling all of us that our leadership is enmeshed with Israel and is waiting for Israel to "do the right thing." It is entirely reactive like a codependent with Israel. Codependents make lousy leaders, too, cuz they are consumed with the behavior of the addict and lose awareness and a sense of responsibiilty to others. Their relationship with the addict is exhausting, but it is also an adrenalin fix, too.

We can't make Israel perhaps do the "right thing" in terms of humanitarian behavior. But we don't have to enable it with power in America and with money and arms. We can detach.

And if Israel's will is putting our American young men and women in harm's way and innocent civilians in the Middle East ... as is the will of our own leadership ... we should stop enabling both Israel and America's leadership.

The Holocaust was a horrifying nightmare. But those crimes do not offer Israel a blank check of unconditional support for its present behavior.

What concerns me mass, and I am grateful to explore this with you, is that there is a natural sense of bonding of American Jewish people with their kinsmen and women in Israel. And this is codependency if American Jewish people are minimizing and denying out of cronyism, loyalty, etc., what the reality is for this country in terms of its alliance with Israel. To have those 300 signatures come forth so quickly.... is stunning and distressing. A highly partisan political entity turns bipartisan... on behalf of NOT its own citizenry, clearly they can't get on the same page for us, but stunningly for the good will and welfare of Israel? WTF????

Is this about money. About fear. About group think. About ethnic and religious cronyism. Does it trump loyalty to the welfare of one's own countrymen and women, especially those who are not Jewish?

When a child's parent has a harsh, harsh childhood that is sad. When the parent acts out on the child harshly and then is excused for doing it by an enabler who explains to the child the adult is doing it because of his cruel past.

And the child is made to endure the harshness of that parent during his or her childhood. And then when the child ultimately becomes an adult, and is out of the harsh parent's orbit, the child may either begin to act out harshness on his or her children perhaps, mimicking the harsh parent who made the child's childhood harsh, or the adult child will suffer the lessons of the enablers of "learned helplessness" and will endure and encourage others to endure the unendurable from an irrational and cruel acting person, excusing and pitying that person and not challenging or detaching from them.

In my scenario, Israel is the harsh parent right now with the horrifyingly cruel history.

Am I making sense? Call it tough love. The word "unhelpful" may whammy the leadership of Israel, but to me it is the language of learned helplessness and accommodation.

I know there are undoubtedly troubling provocations of Hamas and the US on Israel, but imho they are eclipsed by the destructive actions of Israel I have heard of.

Thanks for inviting communication over what I know must be a provocative blog, but I am appalled that there is not more discussion or reaction to what is happening in the Middle East and in our own dysfunctional government about so many things, but for this discussion, over Israel and what General Petraeus pointed out before he for political reasons, that is the real stunner, retracted it.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Where I turn off in the discussion is the perception that you, and many in the American left, have of the relationship between America and Israel.

America owns Israel. Owns it outright. Without America and Great Britain there would be no Israel in its current configuration. Israel is OUR agent in the Middle East. It does OUR bidding. We use Israel as a foothold for our own interests, because it's a little piece of sand surrounded by tons and tons of OUR OIL (which happens to be unfortunately located under THEIR SAND). The Project for the New American Century's website is a great source of undiluted truth about the American neocons and their true reasons for supporting Israel.

The idea that some Zionist cabal (AIPAC) is directing American foreign policy is, frankly, ludicrous on its face; and to a Jewish person, it screams of associations that have led to the worst human tragedy in the history of the world, and the almost complete extinction of my people. (And I do mean MY people - my grandfather was in Poland before the Holocaust; he got out but some of his family didn't.)

I would ask you one question about the Peace Process:

1) What can Israel do that would satisfy Hamas and Fatah?

My answer to that question is that Hamas and Fatah want Israel to cease to exist. Unfortunately, so do many on the Left in America, as they have decided and stated that Israel has no right to exist, with (apparently) very little thought as to what would happen if it didn't. Again, this is hardly a position that is calculated to win friends and influence Jewish people.

This is why I don't engage you more often on this subject. I just think we are coming from totally different universes of perception, and it's difficult to try to reach each other without deeply upsetting and offending each other.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I've been challenged on this assertion before and have produced "non-Jewish" evidence that Hamas and Fatah both have "Israel must cease to exist" in their charters.

Believe it or not, people who believe fervently in the horror and unjust criminality of the Israeli leadership and the utter rightness of the "Palestinian" cause never seem to ask themselves if known terrorist organizations led by known terrorists could possibly, you know, not be negotiating in good faith, nor what would happen if the Palestinians got everything they wanted.

This is what I mean when I say the American Left tends to be one-sided in their view of the Middle East and I/P relations.

Sorry Libby - I'm sorry you're having a rough time of it here.

Submitted by lambert on

One side being wrong doesn't make the other right. We have ample demonstration of that mindset here at home.

Also, sometimes there are no solutions. Chances are lost, and time's arrow goes in one direction only. I'm hoping that hasn't already happened here.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

in my own comments and posts that I don't think two wrongs make a right.

But if that's what you think I'm saying, I apologize for being unclear. I am only being general because I do not want to get into a huge argument with Libby and others who agree with her point of view.

The only solution I see going forward, is for the Palestinians and Israelis to get new leadership that actually is negotiating in good faith, and for countries like Libya, Egypt and Jordan to be willing to take some of the millions in the camps into their own countries.

The problem started with the countries of Europe not wanting the Jews during and after World War II, and now, no one wants the Palestinians either.

It is truly a human tragedy compounded by warmongering leadership on both sides. Meanwhile, the suffering, war and hatred go on, with no end in sight - mainly because the US doesn't want it to end (we sell weapons to every single country in the Middle East, too - remember those revenue streams!).

If only we had listened to Eisenhower...

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Thank you so much for walking along this third rail with me. I felt tasered earlier in expressing my own impressions and having kick baucus relate back to them by lambert's comment ... and I have to figure out what to do next. It felt like covert censoring.

But having you and sisterk respond is so gratifying and I want to hear. And I respect you for being willing to share and listen.

Our media, mainstream, is crap, and I have begun to seek news not only here and on sites like correntewire but also internationally. On sites such as information clearing house I read about the Goldstone Report. Madamab, can you respond about that? Goldstone seems reputable and did balance on both sides, but the Gazan war was horrifying, and we supplied the white phosphorous and other arms. And refused as a third party to even acknowledge it. ????? And I read some very passionate and compelling accounts from Palestinian and Israeli reporters and internationally renowned reporters about the Gazan war and the situation in Palestine. In Independent, Guardian, etc.

How frightening the American fundamentalists and the neocon Zionists in Israel have found common ground and are war mongering about Iran.

Yes, and internationally I read chilling things, too, about in some Muslim cultures, with girls age 12 being sold as wives to older men. And it is terrifying the radicalization to the right all over, and the violence of the wars just gives those extremists more and more power.

And human rights seems not even to begin to be a frame of reference in the behavior of nations. Our unwillingness to press China to help stop rapes in Darfur ... what is that about? Look at Obama and his behavior with our own privacy rights, and the drone casualties, tribunals and black ops.

I heard Petraeus on Meet the Press going on about how Geneva Convention must be honored and there be no torture. I thought, wtf? Why aren't the Dems saying that? What a surreal situation. And I was impressed with Petraeus for doing that, too.

I have no doubt this country has really been down and dirty using Israel, too.

I think of that expression, some friends help you move, other friends help you move bodies. That latter relationship seems to be the one Israel has with U.S and vice versa. And that makes you laugh about loyalty, but that is a sicko relationship... friends must not help you move bodies. Call in the tough love .. .and get the net if they ask you to move bodies.

madamab, we do need to have an open discussion about what is happening. But when there is such a stubborn refusal to acknowledge Israeli atrocities by our government that is frightening to me. A dangerous loyalty and sending a dangerous message to the world. Yes, atrocities of Muslim terrorists, too, and acknowledgments of that, but Congress' behavior? Do you think that is healthy?

So you think there is lying about the treatment of Palestinian civilians by Israeli military? Do you think there is not a dangerous demonizationn about Muslims? I know these are hard questions. But this is how it seems. I know there is demonization back at Israel, too. And I don't want to promote it here at all. But I think the fear of distressing Jewish friends and keeping the issue off the table will contribute to a worse backlash. We do need to give each other tough love and rigorous honesty.

I appreciate you so much sharing here. I thank you and I know we can't get "there" from here in one thread...but it shows me there is hope. Two intentions I have read, to explore and protect. And if one is being asserted the other one can't happen. I am for more explorations.

To be continued ... re correntewire ... as I have shared I am a "feeler" and those feelings I think help me as a blogger and hinder me as one at times, too, but I want to ride the bronco of that. And ego can enter in. I was feeling so much more at home here and willing to let my voice really open up and then I felt tasered and not all that related to by many. And know it is hard to read everyone. But how much is my ego troubles and how much is ... well ... stop pushing the river, libby. Maybe you need to explore other places, too.

I had the dark blues yesterday. I told my brother, I have a cartoon in my cube at work that has a man sitting with his feet up at home, a shawl around his shoulders and he is on the phone telling someone, "I am home today working on accepting the things I cannot change." That is what yesterday was devoted to. :)

Submitted by gmanedit on

not everyone agrees that "Goldstone seems reputable and did balance on both sides."

They see it as one-sided and serving the cause of delegitimizing Israel.

And no one has answered madamab's question.

Submitted by hipparchia on

I've been challenged on this assertion before and have produced "non-Jewish" evidence that Hamas and Fatah both have "Israel must cease to exist" in their charters.

heh [yes, i've seen those links around the web].

but, consider how the republicans got what they wanted on the 'health' 'care' 'reform' bill, they asked for the sun, moon, and stars, and all the planets too, and settled for most of the galaxy. democrats otoh asked for only half the face of the planet to start with and settled for maybe 5%.

the republicans appear to have not been negotiating in good faith, but they did get much more of what they wanted than anybody of us would have dreamed they'd get. fatah and hamas may or may not negotiate in good faith either, but you don't necessarily know whether their demands that israel cease to exist are just a starting point or their one and truly final non-negotiable point.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

The Republicans are indeed horrendous, but they're not demanding that the Democrats blow themselves off the face of the earth.

Demanding the extinction of an entire country is not a negotiating tactic. It's what they believe.

The rebuttal you have is "maybe they don't mean it?" Wow. That is a really, really weak argument in the face of decades of evidence that they do.

Here's just one reason to believe that they mean it: The only time that there was Middle East peace was when Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat STARTED negotiating from a point that Israel had a right to exist.

He was killed for it.

No Arab leader has taken that position since.

Yes, they mean it.

Submitted by hipparchia on

so i take it with a grain of salt [ok, a lot of grains of salt], but:

Hamas's 1988 charter calls for replacing the State of Israel with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.[32] However, in July 2009, the Wall Street Journal and Council on Foreign Relations reported an interview with Khaled Meshal, Hamas's Damascus-based political bureau chief, where he stated that "Hamas was willing to cooperate with the United States on promoting a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders provided Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to Israel and East Jerusalem be recognized as the Palestinian capital."

Submitted by hipparchia on

there are various versions of this map around the web. i don't know enough about their provenance to know if they're reliable or not, but if true, the palestinians have a legitimate basis for their recent grievances.

if you can give me a link to a credible source debunking the claims about the land loss, i'd definitely go read it.

Kick Baucus to the curb's picture
Submitted by Kick Baucus to ... on

but I can work with "unhelpful" if it is a starting point in a Washington push back against AIPAC, which I doubt it is.

When Joe Biden says Israel "has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as vice president of the United States" I think it's unhelpful.

When Hillary Clinton and Gen. Petraeus walk back their criticism so quickly and thoroughly, I think it's unhelpful.

Especially when 300 members of congress undermine them and the president by proclaiming an "unbreakable bond" between the nation they Constitutionally represent and a foreign state that has its own government. It is unhelpful to forget who you work for, as it is unhelpful to grovel unconditionally. Let me put it like this, my husband doesn't have an unbreakable bond with me. For me to let him think otherwise would be unhelpful.

I thought the Republicans believed in standing united behind the president on foreign affairs. For 300 members of congress to publicly undercut him would have been something the Right would have howled about if it had been done to Bush or Reagan. Maybe it is because they don't see Israel as a sovereign state. They should remember that it is and that history shows states change alliances over time. Our congress' need for campaign money might be unbreakable, but Israel can and will move on.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

It feels like our Congress are total... well ... lapdogs is too minimal a comparison... in terms of Israel's good will. Pavlovianly obsequious.

The drivenness for campaign funding or is it emotional or ethnic cronyism... whatever it is ... it is so not balanced and rational. It is irrationally codependent.

Who the heck are these people driving the bus, careening wildly, of our country? I have never felt more irrelevant as a citizen to my leadership, in a population of such fellow irrelevant citizens. And tragically, especially feeling irrelevant to the new President.

Clearly we elected and trusted those who collectively have tumbled down a slippery slope of opportunism and narcissism and greed. The gamesmanship and pressures, economic and social, have disconnected them from their moral duty and human connection with their constituents. Maybe not all, but most!

Anyway, thanks for validating my article.

Submitted by lambert on

... by evidence and reasoning, not by the agreement of others. That way lies tribalism!

Submitted by libbyliberal on

... is telling me something important.

I am a human being. I am temperamentally a feeling and intuitive, right brained oriented human being.

When I used the word "validated" I meant emotionally as the human being writing the blog I did. And I got satisfaction having someone else "validate" that feeling with her feeling that coincided with mine. I felt your correction of my word "validated" had a certain archness and wonder if it had something to do with your opinion of MY opinion in the blog itself? FWIW?

I have been struggling to decide if I do fit in here. I am learning so much. And you and many have been "validating" of me... but I may be too emotional and I am tired of being condescended to, and I am not saying I am here, but of that in blog spots, and I know hypersensitivity is my own issue and responsibility, and things are what they are.

Some times I do feel grounded here, sometimes I don't. I know we are all different ... but there is a collective, group style.. ... and I know I am a "feeler" and a right brained oriented person.

I thought my article on Petraeus was rather brave and deserved attention.

All I know is I am really tired right now. And need to re-rally my highly feeling self.

Thanks for listening. I feel safe enough to unload here and that helps.

Kick Baucus to the curb's picture
Submitted by Kick Baucus to ... on

And I don't know what to make of it. Maybe it is to be taken at face value: a reminder that positions are built on series of arguments and not just someone giving you a high five. Nonetheless, I appreciated your article and any venture into U.S.-Israeli relations is inherently brave as little critical can be said without someone objecting.

Anyway, the remark might not be directed at you. Perhaps to me, although I don't think what I said was irrational. Now, if I may validate what you are saying again (!), I subscribe to the school of thought that says that reason is limited and that rational processes include using emotion as a guide to what is important. Not one or the other, but both are important. Reason without feeling can lead one astray as easily as feeling without reason. Two oars in the water.

I am also very new around here, and am not sure if I fit in.

Submitted by hipparchia on

lambert has said this repeatedly over time.

so there are two kinds of validation, one where an argument or referenced article is validated by verifiable facts, or perhaps expert opinion when facts are few or appear contradictory, and the other is where a person's feelings about something are validated by the fact that other people share those same feelings.

people who navigate by feelings/intuition are often correct, because they notice and process the facts subconsciously, but some 'intuitive' people are way off base because they're processing only somebody's faulty interpretation or outright misrepresentation of facts. hence lambert's insistence on backing up everything with verifiable facts as much as possible.

meanwhile, attacking someone's argument is not the same thing as attacking someone personally, and lambert has been pretty adamant about keeping everyone in line on that too.

Submitted by lambert on

I agree with this also:

Reason without feeling can lead one astray as easily as feeling without reason. Two oars in the water.

It's late, so I can't find the study, but the argument is that without emotion, the reasoning process would never end and no decisions would ever be made (and in fact there's a brain lesion that produces that effect, IIRC).

One does not, for example, come to a burning sense of injustice using the reasoning faculties.

That said, the emotion is necessary, but not sufficient, for the sorts of arguments we have here. Is there a counter-argument to the position that 2 + 2 = 4 is neither valid, nor invalid, because of the feelings one has about it? I have never heard one. Of course, that's an absurdly simple example, about as relevant to public policy as the sort of mathematical-ese that economists (hat tip, Yves) use. "45,000 people will die because for-profit health insurance will not provide them care," is a union of reason and emotion. But it's valid not only because of the sense of outrage, but because the 45,000 figure comes from a refereed journal article from an authoritative source. As soon as we surrendur the insistence on evidence and reasoning, we end up sliding down the slippery slope of instrumentalism, just making shit up ("any stick to beat a dog") because, well, it's for a good purpose ("Of all the works of Sauron, the only fair"). We can't afford that, literally cannot afford it; maintaining the imperium's structure of bullshit and lies takes a tremendous budget and an entire creative class! As they say in AA, "Feelings aren't facts" and we have to resist the all-to-human tendency to consider one a substitute for the other.

NOTE One reason I/P is so hard to discuss -- even banned on some sites -- is that the "your argument is not you" is much harder to make than usual in that context.

sisterkenney's picture
Submitted by sisterkenney on

Biden,HRC, Petraeous were quoted, and HRC and Petraeous' "walk back" of their criticism, and the 300 votes in congress were cited, e.g., "evidence". So, how is that ""just agreement", or "tribalistic" thinking? To infer that posting as a validation is reasonable, IMHO. Granted, US-Israeli relations are a minefield, but thoughtful, reasoned discourse should be welcomed. (and if anyone wants to know, or feels that I have to justify myself, I lost over half of my family in the Holocaust and under Stalin).

(had to edit, used "HCR" at first..force of habit :-)

Submitted by libbyliberal on

It is always moving to have another commenter "validate" one's blog, so that having it wet-blanketed suddenly, and over this very hot topic was profoundly distressing and disappointing.

I do the same thing with HRC and HCR!

Submitted by lambert on

... like another Beltway-ese word, "concerned," isn't weak tea. In the Beltway, if you have a "concern," you're running around with your hair on fire.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Not at all unusual to hear it in DC, particularly from foreign relations folks. It is actually pretty strong language in that world, especially when used on an ally, although - of course - the important part is how sincere it is and whether it is followed up with any action.

Card-carrying_Buddhist's picture
Submitted by Card-carrying_B... on

from diplospeak to behavioral English:



[taunt: "You want any more of that?"]

Them's fightin' words.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

As for the feedback.

To suddenly use the word "tribalism" AT ME because I "validated" (and I have different legitimate connotations for that word and they are NOT wrong, they are from a psychological frame of reference) a fellow commenter, lambert, and in a short pithy, arch feedback have the word "tribalism" tossed at ME, btw????

Man, when I have just written a piece about the tribalism of Israel and the American Jewish people, and suddenly I am accused of tribalism for thanking a fellow commenter? Aren't projecting anything, are ya, lambert?

And then there is all this rational justification coming at me to defend your, lambert's, wise stance? Yeah, let's ignore the article.

Shit, I just accused 300 Congresspeople of treason and asked a legitimate question about American Jewish loyalties, and this is the best I get back? Blast my stance if you want, but don't insult me.

The last few articles I have produced had a lot of heart and thought in them. And spending the month's time up top wondering why other people here did not want to participate in publishing activism to Congress confused me and I'll say it, hurt me.

I gotta go away and process this all.

I thank you for the use of the hall ... and I did get a really great T-shirt.

And do I feel condescended to and patronized? You betcha. But I have given you your rationale... I'm a feeler ... so don't waste any time on this. But one last quote from St. Francis of Assisi:

"Nothing to excess, including moderation."

Submitted by lambert on

Go back and re-read what I wrote. Do you hear me say that you , personally, had slid down the slippery slope?

I'm a moderator. It's my job to watch for this stuff and prevent it from happening.

Submitted by lambert on

... is what almost always happens on I/P threads. We've lost some highly valued contributors before on this, and all to no good purpose, so far as I can tell. And now it's happening again. Yay!

I hate to go meta, but speaking as a moderator, I'm open to suggestions on reducing the toxicity.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I think it's because people aren't being precise in their language.

libby, I've enjoyed your contributions here, and hope you don't leave, but lambert was right in calling you out on that.

It's a very nice thing when our feelings are validated by others, and there is nothing wrong with that. And that's just the problem, is that you're feelings were validated by Kick Baucus, not your article.

Articles, posts, comments, blog entries, diaries can't be validated by people agreeing with us, as lambert says, that way lies tribalism. Articles, etc, have to be validated by information, facts and research.

What was a simple language correction, has now devolved into a two day drama, that is leading to a lot of hurt feelings, which is sad. But I'll just say, that if you had ended that particular comment with the sentence, "Anyway, thanks for validating my feelings on this", we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Language is important, as it's a tool of communication, and especially on the internet, where we have no other cues to determine intent, precision in our language usage is essential.

We've all seen how the devolution of words and their understood meanings has caused a serious crisis in this country. Obama's election is almost a direct example of this devolution. Words matter.

Submitted by lambert on

... "call out" is a bit harsh. If I call out somebody, they know they've been called out.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Word choice is important and also there are conscious and/or unconscious meta-messages. I think both may have been factors here.

I am grateful for the feedback on topic and on social and communication processes. I learned about this topic more deeply. I was given attention I was hungry for and hope I did not spend entirely my present account of good will. I am glad I had the right and room to explore and communicate. I am grateful to have heard suggestions, feelings and thoughts of others. Thanks. Kick baucus to... hope you will stick around after all this. :) I did appreciate your support, btw!!!

Re the I/P crisis ... so important to hear about both sides. Appreciate those of us pushing through the feelings of frustration to share core perceptions. The seeds for critical thinking for later are planted, even if they are not emotionally or intellectually "validated" (now that word is in my head.... sorry) immediately in this discussion. That message is for you in particular madamab and mass. You have helped me ask more intelligent questions ongoing with this exploration.

I continue to be pissed off at Congress.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Sometimes avoidance has its own slippery slope. Sometimes with truth it is best to steer into the skid. Sometimes...

this blog and thread was all about cronyism ... many levels... cronyism has yin and yang ends and the continuum in between. it can be such a wholesome fuel for collectively honoring and illuminating truth or it can be the opposite, the armature of denial. Or elements of both can exist. Awareness is key. Self and group awareness.

Maybe I'll play with that for a future blog.