Monday, September 29, 2003

Edward Said and his Discontents

Or: what does one say about an arrogant, petulant, pro-terrorist, anti-semitic intellectual bully who died?

Edward Said, who died last week after a long battle with cancer, was the subject of a recent article by Christopher Hitchens, who remarked in its opening lines that his first meeting with Said took place at an early '80s conference on the rights of small nations. Hitchens is rumored to have a memory somewhat truncated by a lifelong habit of consuming alcohol in heroic quantities, but I will take it for granted that his recollection is accurate. Judging by the rest of the article, a measured critique of Said's recent stance regarding 9/11 and the War on Terror, contrasted with the Hitchens assessed promise of Said's early career, it appears that Hitchens lacks a certain sense of irony. Were this not the case, Hitchens might have noted that, at the very moment Said was attending a conference on the rights of small nations, presumably arguing in favor of said rights, since people rarely attend such conferences to argue the opposite, he was a prominent member of a movement which was, at that very moment, busy violating, in the most brutal and savage manner imaginable, the rights of a small nation known as Lebanon.

It is a shame that Hitchens failed to recognize this paradox, for it manages to say a very great deal more about Said than Hitchens' assessment of his old friend, colored as it is by much admiration and affection. For Said, like many a late 20th century American intellectual, and, lest we forget, Said was an American, made his celebrity, if not his reputation itself, on a kind of ferocious hypocrisy, on an aggressive, vitriolic, condemnatory excoriation of real and perceived enemies which often existed in caustic dissonance with the realities of his own ideology. One of his most prominent critics, and he had far too few over the course of his long career, described him as the intellectual equivalent of a suicide bomber, an intellectual terrorist of the purest kind, a man for whom the violence he apologized for in real life became the means and method of his intellectual career.

Said was all illogic and dissonance, he personified it in the very marrow of his personal and intellectual identity: a Marxist who was also an ultra-nationalist, an utterly Westernized Arab who spent his career condemning America and the West in near-cosmic terms of approbation, a cosmopolitan to his bones who embraced an almost Fascistic ethnic romanticism, a Christian Arab who spent his adult life in the service of an organization which spent the better part of the 1970s slaughtering Christian Arabs en masse, a scholar of the most erudite of Victorian literature who nonetheless engaged relentlessly in the most vulgar kind of character assassination, a self-proclaimed advocate of human rights who spent his career advocating and apologizing for terrorists and terrorist organizations, a self-proclaimed advocate of peace and coexistence who called for the annihilation of an entire nation of people. Said sought purity, moral, political, intellectual, while imbibing the debased and cruel. In the end, as his old friend Hitchens noted with some sadness, he seemed to have wholly lost his grip on reality itself.

Like most college professors, his ego was of epic proportions, and he was used to deference, deference to his genius, deference to his wisdom, deference to his moral superiority. When a Commentary article blasted several battleship-size holes in his claim of Palestinian refugee status, he reacted with characteristic bluster, first calling the author a damn liar and then, when the article turned out to be accurate, accusing him of racism. It surprised no one, and it shouldn’t have. Said's specialty was a kind of superfluously verbose character assassination, the intellectual's equivalent of kindergarten name calling (his friend Hitchens often suffers from a similar tendency). He preferred slander to debate, buzzwords to logic, and polemic to reasoned argument. He was the godfather of that generation of academics for whom fury was the mark of insight, and rage the watchword of righteousness, and if intellectual consistency or reason threatened to dampen, or even extinguish fury and rage, then reason be damned and on with the struggle. Said must have seen no contradiction in advocating the Palestinian cause on the grounds of a universal right to self-determination and statehood, while simultaneously advocating, as the very consummation of that right, the denial of the Jewish people's own right to self-determination and statehood. To think otherwise might have dampened the furies at work within him, and that could not be allowed. His belief in himself as an anti-racist, even faced with the obvious racism of his own ideology, never seemed even slightly shaken. In fact, Said seems not to have noticed it at all.

And perhaps this is the most telling and disturbing aspect of Said's work, his utter lack of inner struggle. He appeared, in fact, to be utterly conscienceless. He seemed never to wrestle with the intellectual or moral implications of his ideas at all. His politics, over the course of thirty years, shifted not a single iota. He seemed to expend his considerable intellectual energy on building elegant, but ultimately empty, defenses against the changing world beyond. To twist the upheavals of a troubled age into complex and impenetrable knots, so that they might conform to the schema of his theories. So that he might remain secure in his own infantile resentments and carefully cultivated discontents. He was the purest kind of ideologist, the one who eventually sacrifices his ability to perceive the world in order to remain faithful to his creed. Said's recent writings, which so shocked Hitchens in their disconnection, denied, among other things, that terrorism was a mass phenomenon in Palestinian culture, that Iraqis saw Saddam Hussein as a brutal dictator who they wished to see deposed, and that 9/11 was anything much worth bothering about. It seemed that that precious fury and rage, which had intimidated so many and so inflated his reputation, was now reducing him, slowly but surely, into something small, pathetic, and perhaps pitiable.

But on the way to this perhaps pathetic nadir, he did an incalculable amount of damage. He fostered an entire generation of scholars dedicated to the proposition that Western culture is irredeemably racist and imperialist, that Israel has no right to exist and the Jews no right to national self-determination, that all the problems of the Third World are the product of capitalist/Zionist/imperialist machinations, and helped turn the American university from an institution of learning and investigation into an Orwellian nightmare, complete with Saidian thought police eager to root out the slightest hint of Orientalism. The man himself is gone now, perhaps to an oft-dreaded meeting with the Christians of Damour or the Israeli schoolchildren of Maalot, massacred at the hands of the PLO he did so much to legitimize, but the academic culture that spawned him and that he did so much to spawn is alive and well, and in many universities ubiquitous and hegemonic. His ideological offspring are mourning today at Columbia University, where a Saudi-funded Edward Said chair now exists for the foreseeable future. We will hear much from them in the coming years, much spitting of fire and poison, much fury and rage, all of it, ultimately, signifying nothing. The same cannot be said of Said. He did indeed signify something. And now, for that, he is no doubt facing a most uncomfortable reckoning.

Beersheva, Israel
September, 2003

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

In his two and a half years in office, Attorney General John Ashcroft has earned himself a remarkable distinction as the Torquemada of American law. Tom?s de Torquemada, you might recall, was the 15th-century Dominican friar who became the grand inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. He was largely responsible for its methods, including torture and the burning of heretics--Muslims in particular.

Now, of course, I am not accusing the attorney general of pulling out anyone's fingernails or burning people at the stake (at least I don't know of any such cases). But one does get the sense these days that the old Spaniard's spirit is comfortably at home in Ashcroft's Department of Justice.

Palsied old Leftist Walter Cronkite getting, as usual, everything wrong. First of all, Torquemada wasn't after adherents of other religions, like Muslims or Jews, he was after Christians who had been converted from those faiths but were secretly still practicing them. For the most part, these were the crypto-Jews known as marranos. It would have been difficult for Torquemada to persecute crypto-Muslims since, for the most part, there weren't any. Almost the entire Muslim population of Spain was expelled with the end of Muslim rule, long before Torquemada took control of the inquisition.

Honestly, I don't know why people can't just admit the fact that Cronkite is a fanatical Leftist and has been for years (he endorsed Ralph Nader, for God's sake). Maybe they're afraid it might impinge on his (thoroughly undeserved) reputation as the most trusted man in America. It does go a long way towards explaining his reporting on the Vietnam War though, doesn't it?

Monday, September 22, 2003

I am currently in the process of moving to another side of Ben-Gurion University, and Rosh Hashana is coming up, so blogging will be extremely light for the next few days. In the meantime, check out Israpundit, a great pro-Israel site that has been kindly linking to some of my stuff recently. Check 'em out.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Exorcising Arafat

The Chairman has, it seems, very nearly succeeded in dealing himself back into the game. Having successfully purged Mahmud Abbas and appointed a self-admitted puppet to the (largely meaningless) post of PA Prime Minister, Yasser Arafat remains firmly in control of the PA and its terrorist activities. Despite Israel's fairly obviously hollow threats to expel him and the United States's resolute (so far) refusal to deal with him directly, the palsied old terrorist mastermind is still alive and kicking, if a little greyer around the temples.

There can be no question that Arafat's continued presence in Ramallah and his continued stranglehold on Palestinian affairs is an obstacle to any peace process or even cessation of hostilities. He continues to encourage and to finance terror, to sabotage all possible challenge to his leadership by more moderate voices, and to generally engage in the type of vicious, bloodthirsty rhetoric that tends to get people killed in this part of the world. Why then does he remain so seemingly impossible to dislodge from his perch atop the besieged Mukhatah?

Without doubt, the foremost reason is the unwillingness of the United States, in particular its foreign policy establishment, to contemplate his ouster. In recent days both the Israeli threats to expel or kill Arafat and the tightening seige around his headquarters have been met with opposition and often outright condemnation by the Bush Administration and the State Department. This has had a decidely negative effect on the situation, emboldening Arafat and boosting his credibility among a population discontented with his imcompetency and corruption. This miscalculation on the part of the US is, however, not unprecedented, for the US also foiled an earlier attempt by Israel to rid the world of Arafat, securing a pledge in 1982 from then Prime Minister Menachem Begin to allow Arafat to escape unharmed from Beirut, a city he had, over the course of a decade, terrorized, and plundered the city as well as rendering diligent assistance to the attempted ethnic cleansing of its Christian population. This astonishingly short-sighted coda to the Lebanon War, engineered by the State Department, not only allowed the escape of one of the world's foremost war criminals, but also allowed Arafat to rebuild himself as a legitimate international leader and statesman, a reputation which has both made a callow joke out of the Nobel Peace Prize and brought us to our current impasse.

American policy in regard to Arafat, however misguided, does not exist in vacuum. In a perfect world, there is no question that most high-ranking members of the Bush Administration would be more than happy to be rid of Arafat (the same, I fear, could not be said of most of our university intellectuals), but feel constrained by two factors: the United Nations and the European allies.

It is no secret to any student of the Middle East that Arafat has long been the darling of the United Nations. Spoiled, corrupted kleptocrats of all nations naturally find a common kinship, and Arafat has long used his special relationship with the UN as leverage to guarantee his safety. The UN's formost gift to Arafat is legitimacy. When the UN, at its 1970's nadir, agreed to allow Arafat (weapon and all) to address the General Assembly, it gave him an imprimatur which has never left him. Others may simply be terrorist leaders, but Arafat is a terrorist leader of international diplomatic standing. Benjamin Netanyahu recounts an amusing anecdote in his excellent book A Durable Peace, in which he encounters Arafat in a hallway at the UN building (Netanyahu was Israel's Ambassador to the UN at the time) and cannot come within 100 feet of him due to the enormous crowd of reporters, diplomats, and various jetsetters crowded around him. It was, Netanyahu notes, the biggest crowd he had ever seen following a UN figure. It often appears to objective observers that the whole culture of the UN, in its violent denunciations of Israel, its constant funding of dubious Palestinian charities, and regular indifferance to Israeli life and limb, often seems to exist for the sole purpose of granting legitimacy to both the man and his cause.

While it is true that the United States has often acted independently of the United Nations, it will never move against someone who is a beloved totem of the organization. Whereas both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were essentially diplomatic isolates, Saddam having fallen out of favor and Osama never having bothered to acquire it, Arafat is the UN's favorite celebrity and, however debased and brutal his actions, the US will not collaborate in his downfall so long as this situation continues.

This plays into the second factor in US reluctance to end Arafat's reign, the states of the European Union. All of these countries (with the exception of Italy) boast center-Left governments run by men who came of political age in the late '60s and early '70s, when, even as his men were slaughtering Israeli schoolchildren, Arafat's PLO was the darling of the European Left (one often wonders if the two phenomena were connected). Leaders like Gerhard Schroeder simply find it difficult to conceive of Arafat as something other than the noble leader of a Third World revolutionary, anti-imperialist movement. Raised on Fanonian theories of violence as liberation, the very fact of Arafat's brutality legitimizes him in their eyes. His every inhuman act of violence merely indicts Israel in the eyes of the Europeans, for whom bloodletting on the part of Third World peoples is only a testament to the obvious evil of their enemies. For who but the most brutal of oppressors could drive human beings to such methods as suicide bombings?

Thus Arafat has become the focus of Europe's highly ideological and simplistic view of foreign policy. If people commit violence, the Europeans feel, it is only because they are being so badly mistreated by those they kill. Thus the assumed, if often unspoken, conviction among Europeans that America deserved 9/11, and the transformation in the European mind of Arafat (and bin Laden) from an incompetant and murderous leader of a terrorist organization into a fearless defender of the wretched of the Earth. There is also no question that most European leaders, who largely avoided military service, are often transfixed and intimidated by men of violence, and ascribe to them importance and power they do not necessarily deserve. Arafat must be given credit for exploiting so deftly this European neurosis, but it is doubtful that, in his mind, the likes of Joshka Fischer or Jacques Chirac are anything other than what Lenin called "useful idiots".

The effect of Europe's irresponsibilty on this issue is, however, extremely negative. The foreign policy establishment of the US, like the American intellectual elite, has an inbuilt inferiority complex in regards to Europe, and believes any European conception of foreign affairs, however naive and ill-advised, to be inherently superior to the American one. Thus any president who wants to marginalize or remove Arafat (as I believe president Bush does) must fight not only United Nations and European intransigence, but also the unquestioning deference of most of his foreign policy beaurocracy to these forces.

Which brings us to where we stand today, with the (mostly European authored) Road Map irrelevant and Arafat playing the role of the perennial spoiler. Both the United Nations and Europe must bear a large measure of the responsibility for this impasse. By seizing upon Arafat as the sole legitimate leader of the Palestinian national movement they have, in effect, guaranteed that no peace agreement will be forthcoming in the near future since, as almost all observers (Arab and Israeli) of the situation believe, Arafat will never sign one. This condemns the Palestinian people to perpetual statelessness, economic collapse, and subjugation under a regime universally acknowledged to be among the most corrupted in the world. It condemns Israel to endless acts to terror and the world to deal with the attendant political conequences. Rarely have two such collossal political forces acted in such an egregiously incompetant and counterproductive manner. Were they to revise their policy to demand Arafat's total removal and his replacement with a more moderate and democratic leadership which would not be subjected to his perpetual attempts at sabotage, peace would in all likelihood be possible in the near future. Their failure to do so must be regarded as irresponsibility bordering on the criminal.

There is no question that, for anything resembling peace, or even simply quiet, to be achieved in the Middle East, Arafat must be exorcised from the scene. He is an uncomprising ideologist of a genocidal creed which espouses terrorism and violence as its only means of advancement. For various reasons, some ideological, others purely racist, Europe and the United Nations are unable or unwilling to assist in his replacement by forces more amenable to peace and compromise. Only the United States can face down this opposition and purge the Chairman from power. To accomplish this, however, would involve an end to twenty years of deference to Europe and the UN on this issue, and the long record of inconsistant and unfocused policy in regard to Arafat and his status. Arafat is immensely adept at exploiting weakness, he must be dealt with summarily and with resolve. As Israel seems unwilling to undertake unilateral action against him, it is clear that the possibilities for an end to the current impasse now rest on the question of whether the United States can once again defy its burdensome allies and muster that resolve. I regret to say that, judging by recent history, one ought to adopt the motto of the Israeli Defense Forces and, for the moment, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

You can help stop the upcoming ISM Nazi rally by clicking here. I fully recommend doing so, protests have already gotten them thrown out of one venue, there's no reason to stop now.

After a brief parenthesis, the grands simplificateurs are back. Since the fall of communism, we've been witnessing the stupefying restalinization of part of the intelligentsia and the movement of the socially-concerned. No longer having any adversary to measure up to it, America appears all-powerful. And this image of American omnipotence has breathed new life into the pernicious idea that politics can do everything: all the world's misfortunes are perceived as crimes; the objective universe seems to be made up of subjective wills, those which resist evil and those which foment it. This is why the idea of conspiracy has once more seized hold of the feeble-minded, and whoever talks about conspiracy soon or later ends up talking about the Elders of Zion.

French-Jewish intellectual Alain Finkelkraut nails it in a few short sentances. The full interview is posted at Europundits, go check it out. Here's the kicker:

It is not the instutional left we are dealing with here but the so-called "Left of the Left" and its increasing grip on the spirit of the age. Back in 1968, leftists were reading Marx, Trotsky or Lenin. In our day, everyone is invited to read Noam Chomsky. I thought this intellectual had been discredited by his preface to Faurisson [a French academic Holocaust denier] and by his ardent denial of the Cambodian genocide. I was wrong. The most prestigious publishers are fighting over the rights to the political works of a man who condemns to non-existence every crime or atrocity for which the American-Zionist entity cannot be held responsible.

Wow. Wake up folks, Chomsky may be fringe in America but he is mainstream in Europe. I think this is an excellent evocation of how far the Left has sunk into neo-totalitarianism and anti-semitism and how much Chomsky's ideological takeover of the Left has to do with it.

Monday, September 15, 2003

There's a terrific new blog here, by another ex-Communist whose seen the light and now spends his time keeping a watchful eye on his former comrades. I have to say, ex-Communists have probably done the human race more good over the last century or so than any other brand of intellectual. He writes well too, check it out.

There is an Israel outside of the conflict. Here's something from one of her finest poets:

by Amir Gilboa

At dawn, the sun strolled through the forest together with me and my father, and my right hand was in his left.

Like lightning a knife flashed among the trees, and I am terrified of my eyes horror, faced by blood upon the leaves.

Father, father, quickly rescue Yitzhak, so no one will be missed at the midday meal.

It is I who am slaughtered, my son, and already my blood is on the leaves. And my father's voice was smothered, and his face was pale.

And I wanted to scream, writhing not to believe, and tearing open my eyes. And I woke up.

And my right hand was drained of its blood.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Johnny Cash died today, apparently of complications from diabetes, and with him has died one of the great traditions of American music: that brand of country music which wasn't about rhinestones and cowboy hats, but guns, booze, ruthless men and faithless women, the temptations of sin and the fear of damnation. He was the real thing, an honest to God believing fundamentalist Christian who knew what it was to fall from grace and survive to sing about it. His songs are caked with dirt, blood, spit, and fire. He sang about the love of women and the love of God, and the desperate loneliness of a life devoid of both. He belonged to the tradition of Hank Williams, maybe the greatest singer/songwriter America ever produced, and Cash, like Williams, could make a hit even out of even the most despairing lyric. No one, with the possible exception of Bob Dylan in his more lucid moments, is doing anything even close to this kind of work today. There is not merely a lack of skill but also, I think, a lack of courage. It takes guts to sing about things like God, death, and love, real love, not the shallow, hedonistic playground so popular in music today, but love terrifying and beautiful in its power. Cash wrote and sang of a dark world of elusive good and omnipresent evil, and the simple yet powerful faith that could transcend them both. He was a courageous voice in an often debased medium, we wont see one like him again for a good long while.

End of the Affair?

American Jews have been a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party for the better part of seven decades, constituting, along with black voters, the Party's most reliable and unshakeable constituency. This affinity is not confined merely to voting patterns. Most of the major Jewish organizations, charities, advocacy groups, and the myriad other forms of institutional communal Jewish life in America are, in one manner or another, tied fundamentally to the Democratic Party and to established American Liberalism. This phenomenon has, with some exceptions, gone largely unquestioned. It is considered to be simply assumed, as if it were a natural phenomenon, that Jews will continue to vote Democratic and embrace liberal positions. As the saying goes: "Jews live like WASPs and vote like Puerto Ricans". Few think this will change anytime soon.

Of course, there is now a strong and thriving group of Jews active in the conservative movement and in Republican politics. The neo-conservative revolution contained several Jews as its primary figures (although, contrary to Leftwing propaganda, not all the neo-conservatives were Jews, nor are all Jews neo-conservatives) and many prominent conservative voices today belong to Jews, including Bush Administration Press Secretery Ari Fleischer, speechwriter David Frum, National Review Editor-in-Chief Jonah Goldberg, and of course, the famous (or infamous, in Leftist circles) Norman Podhoretz, who has opined that the Jewish identification with the Democratic Party is nothing short of "suicidal".

It is well known, however, that the strong Jewish presence in the conservative movement has not translated into any mass exodus of Jews to Republican ranks, nor do the majority of American Jews embrace conservative principals. In the last presidential election, Al Gore received something along the lines of 80-90% of the Jewish vote. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, won an even higher percentage. Only the black vote is more monolithic in its partisanship.

But, of course, we now live in a different world, one defined not by the domestic discontents of the '90s but by an existential War on Terror which not only threatens the United States but also the Jewish State of Israel. Many observers, myself included, believe a major political realignment may be in the offing, and that President Bush's resolute response to terror and refusal to compromise the alliance with Israel even in the face of European and Arab pressure may result in the defection of millions of Jewish voters to the Right for the first time in the 20th century.

In many ways, the question of whether or not such a shift will occur misses the point. The important question is not whether Jews ought to abandon the Democratic Party but whether there is an overriding reason for Jews to remain loyal to it. Political affiliations ought not to be made out of purely negative reasons (although, not being naive, I understand that they often are). Is there something fundamental in the ideology or history of the Democratic Party which demands the allegiance of America's Jews?

Liberal Jewish pundits often argue this point in the affirmative. They point out that the Democrat's liberal economic agenda and staunch defense of minority rights and equal treatment under the law reflect both Jewish interests and essential Jewish values. They point to Jewish laws and traditions relating to the rights of minorities ("the stranger among you"), communal responsibility for the poor, and the utopianic pronunciations of the prophets to argue that liberal values are, in all essential points, Jewish values, many of them inspired by Jewish scripture. This, they claim, demands that Jews who identify with and embrace the values of their faith must, by definition, indentify also with liberalism and with its practical political incarnation: the Democratic Party.

This argument resonates as well with Jewish historical experience. Most Jews see the Republican Party and conservatism in general as a defense of established interests. For most of Jewish history, the relationship of the Jews to established interests was tenuous at best. As a result, conservative forces tend to be identified in the Jewish mind with reactionary anti-semitism. American Jews, being a tiny minority, are quick to identify themselves with the victims of anti-semitism and to see themselves as potentially discriminated against and oppressed. They see liberalism, with its doctrines of tolerance and equality, as a bulwark against the possibility of anti-semitic outbreak and institutionalization in the United States. This plays directly into their mistrust of the Christian Right, which they see as a reactionary force seeking to formally institutionalize Christianity as the state religion of the United States. The fear that this will inevitably lead to coercion, discrimination, and, finally, violence, is one which grips the American Jewish community to a near-irrational extent, and often is more than enough to keep the Jewish community solidly in the Democratic camp, which they regard as safely agnostic, and not a threat to Jewish religious life.

A cursory examination of this argument, however, reveals several very serious flaws. Firstly, it is obvious to anyone who has studied Jewish history that Judaism itself has strongly conservative tendancies of its own. Indeed, it stands to reason that a civilization which has managed to preserve itself and its traditions for 5,000 years in highly adverse circumstances must have a fairly strong conservative streak. Judaism, while it does require charity for the poor, does not require that charity to be coerced through the state. It advises tolerance for outsiders, but also demands strong communal identification. It endorses individual responsibility, the rule of law, and the recognition of an absolute right and wrong. All of these principles are inherently conservative, and fly in the face of the relativism which has become inextricably a part of modern Liberalism.

It is pointless to deny, of course, that there are strongly liberal (and even radically Utopian) aspects to Judaism as well. But this does nothing to support the argument of Jewish liberals that Judaism is fundamentally liberal. In fact, it does the exact opposite. Judaism, an ancient and vast civilization, embraces all manner of values and beliefs, some conservative, even reactionary, others highly liberal and antinomian. To posit the argument that the essence of Judaism dovetails precisely with the platform of the Democratic Party is to oversimplify one of the world's great faiths to the point of ludicrousness.

If liberalism is not a reflection of Jewish values but merely a political creed which Jews are free to evaluate on their own terms, it is worthwhile to then ask where liberalism stands in relation to issues of importance to the American Jewish community.

The issue most commonly identified with Jews and Jewish issues at the moment is, of course, the Arab war against Israel and the commensurate rise in anti-semitism in Europe and the Arab world which that war has occasioned in recent years. Most Jews assume that the Democratic Party and Liberalism in general share their affection and support for Israel and do not see this as a serious barrier to their continued identification with the Party. This belief is not entirely justified.

While a great many liberal Democrats do support Israel, it is no secret that the Left wing of the Democratic Party - and the world in general - has become consistently pro-Arab and anti-Zionist over the last thirty years. This phenomenon has now reached the point where the self-identification of the Left with Arab intentions and policy has become nearly total and absolute. The "anti-war movement" which sprang up in opposition to American military action in Afghanistan and Iraq and against American interests in general and was incontestably the product of the political Left, shocked many with its violent condemnation of Israel, condemnation which quite often degenerated into blatantly racist rhetoric. The sight of Leftists marching in the streets carrying signs comparing Ariel Sharon to a vampire and accusing him of drinking the blood of infants horrified a great many Jewish Leftists, who recognized immediately the resurrection of the Blood Libel, which had precipitated so much anti-Jewish violence in the Christian nations of Europe.

Even more disheartening to many liberal Jews was the response of the anti-war cadres to the rising anti-Semitism in their movement. For the most part, they simply denied its existence. In rare moments of candor, they acknowledged the fact but simply claimed such rhetoric was justified given the extent of Israeli (or American) malfeasance. Most telling was the spectacle of Jewish Leftist and self-appointed rabbi Michael Lerner, who was summarily marginalized and purged from the anti-war ranks for the crime of mildly criticizing some of the movement's anti-Jewish rhetoric.

Of course, the growing anti-Jewish tendencies of the Left do not axiomatically indict the Democratic Party itself, and a great many American Jews draw a strong distinction between the Party to which they belong and its radical fringe, claiming, and rightfully so, that the latter does not necessarily define the former.

It is a mistake, however, to assume that these forces are benign, or that they lack political power. George McGovern's reforms to the Democratic Party's nominating process, which give disproportionate power and leverage to the Party's Left wing (and, by remarkable coincidence, resulted in the nomination of none other than George McGovern), are still very much in place, and no Democratic candidate can gain the nomination or the enthusiasm of the Democratic ranks without deferring to the Party's extreme Left.

One can see the results of this unequal distribution of power in the candidacy of Howard Dean, who has achieved early and unexpected prominence by playing to the Party’s anti-war Left wing. Mr. Dean's recent statements on Israel are perhaps surprising to rank and file Jewish Democrats, but ought not to be surprising to anyone who has examined the numerous websites of Dean supporters and noted their violent animosity towards Israel and openly enthusiastic support of Arab terrorism. That many Jewish voters have convinced themselves that Dean and his faction of the Democratic Party are suitably pro-Israel is an indication that willful self-delusion, rather than ideological fealty, may be the major factor in keeping a great many Jews in the Democratic ranks. Clearly, there is a sickness at work in the Democratic Party, and I believe it is spreading. It does Jewish Democrats no good to simply ignore this fact.

But Jews are not enjoined by their ethnic or religious identity to make Israel their issue of primary concern, so it behooves us to examine the Democratic stance on some other issues, unrelated to foreign policy, and their effect on Jewish interests.

Most prominent is the issue of affirmative action. Most supporters tend to see affirmative action as having a positive effect, i.e. adding more people of a certain ethnic group to the mix. Few note that it also has a negative effect, excluding those not included under the rubric of the program. If there is a limited number of jobs, and a certain number must be given to members of a certain ethnic group, it is inevitable that members of other ethnic groups will find their numbers limited. It is simply a fact that this aspect of affirmative action is highly detrimental to Jews and Jewish interests. For instance, in the realm of college admissions. Due to the combination of minority quotas and requirements relating to geographic distribution of students, most major colleges and universities now have a de facto limit on the number of Jewish students that may attend their universities (this applies to Asian students as well). The fact that this policy echoes almost exactly the old gentlemen's agreements which also limited the number of Jews who could attend elite schools is too often lost on liberal Jewish observers. This is not to mention the fact that the extreme forms of affirmative action often advocated by the Democrats, distributing jobs or privileges in direct accordance to the percentage of a certain group in the population, would have disastrous consequences for Jews. Given that Jews make up no more than 1-2% of the country's population, the results of such a policy would constitute nothing less than apartheid. Affirmative action, in effect, punishes Jews for achieving success in American society without the help of the state or the liberal establishment.

It is known to every thinking observer of American politics that the Democratic Party, with its ideological investment in race-based politics and its reliance on the black vote, is never going to take a firm stand against affirmative action or even limit its spread. That the Party which Jews identify so intensely with their own interests takes positions so inimical to them ought to be a major factor in assessing Jewish political loyalties.

The Democratic stance on economic issues is also significant here. Jewish Americans, while not uniformly so, are a highly creative and successful minority group. The Democratic economic stance, advocating higher taxes, more state control and regulation (in the case of health care, the total takeover of a quarter of the country's economy by the government), an expanded welfare state and other forms of socialistic centralization is, quite simply, highly detrimental to the economic interests of Jewish voters. Jews do not need the welfare state and have no overriding reason to support it that is not purely ideological. As I have already noted, there is nothing specifically Jewish that advocates a redistributionist economic system, and Jewish voters should give serious thought as to whether they seriously desire their hard-earned dollars to be taken from them and given to people who did not, after all, earn them.

So the question seems to be not whether Jews will bolt en masse to the Democratic Party but, rather, why Jews continue to vote for a Party so inimical to their own interests and beliefs. The answer, it seems to me, is largely cultural. As much as we like to deny it, most people vote the same way their fathers and grandfathers did and Jews have been voting consistently Democratic for at least three generations. These patterns only change under seismic political shifts. It may be that 9/11, the War on Terror, and the inevitable approaching collapse of the Democratic Party into the arms of its extreme Left may constitute such a shift, but this outcome is by no means certain. If a defection does occur, it will likely be the work of young Jewish voters like myself, who are less invested in the political prejudices of our forefathers and more inclined to assess the situation objectively. Where we will go is, I think, one of the great unanswered questions of the upcoming election.

Beersheva, Israel
September, 2003

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Reflections on a Day of Infamy by Benjamin Kerstein

Who are we now, two years since our lives were touched by fire? What has America become since she was thrust into a conflict that had been brewing, silently but relentlessly, for over a decade before it tore a hole through New York City and the Pentagon? Are we better or worse? Stronger or weaker? These are the questions that plague me as I write today, in a foreign country, on the edge of the Negev Desert, at the border between two warring civilizations.

I don't care to waste my time recalling moments of horror and rage from the hours in which a lost generation saw its cheerful complacency consumed in shards of flame and glass. Such recollections will be thick on the ground in the coming days, and my meager memories cannot compete with those thousands who witnessed the atrocities themselves, or who suffered unfathomable losses both personal and psychological. I wish only to comment on the state of affairs as I see them now.

Initially, I was heartened and encouraged by the response of both my fellow Americans and the American government. President Bush seemed to instantly grasp the significance of the attacks and the necessity of a total realignment of priorities and interests in order to combat the phenomenon they represented. That phenomenon which has commonly been described as a "clash of civilizations", but is better seen as the rise to dominance within the civilization of Islam of fundamentalist, violent, and expressly imperialist forces. The president understood the fact that the attacks represented an existential challenge to liberal democracy and the umbrella civilization, secular, political and scientific, which is often grouped under the heading, however imperfect, of "the West".

On the part of many others, however, the response was more ambivalent and disturbing. There existed in the moment, and exists today, a not insubstantial percentage of the population (I would say somewhere between 25-35%) which reacted to the president's resolve and to the resolve of the majority of their fellow citizens with a mixture of dismay, perplexity, and, finally, anger. There seems to be a general assumption among this group that the West, such as it is, is simply not worth preserving, and the assault from without is merely symptomatic of the sickness within, as if Osama Bin Laden were a phenomenon of theoretical physics, bouncing back with equal and opposite force to every movement of Western power.

Even more horrifying, however, has been the reaction of America's artistic and intellectual elite, particularly centered in the universities and certain segments of the mass media. In this case, the collective consensus of this class was nothing less than treasonous. They grasped at Bin Laden as the catalytic factor that might at last bring about the revolution so long deferred. The brazenness with which they celebrated the slaughter of their fellow citizens, prayed for their country's defeat, and the ease with which they then slipped back into obscurity with nary a consequence was a sight which disturbed far too few Americans in the days immediately following the atrocity.

Worse still was the scene on the European continent, in which dark forces seemed to be unleashed, the likes of which have not been seen since the days of Weimer Germany. An eruption of anti-Semitism unprecedented since World War II presaged what can only be described as a confused, violent, riotous explosion of outer-directed self-loathing, concentrated most of all on the United States. Watching the Europeans excoriating America for the distinctly European sin of imperialism was like watching a pathetic auto-da-fe, the flagellents hell-bent on exorcising their demons in a petulant, spiteful act of collective suicide, and all accomplished in the name of the highest values of Western civilization.

Their extremist, one might even say fundamentalist, brand of humanism is a recent phenomenon, and it has been challenged as it has never been before by the assault of radical Islam, and, at every turn, it has failed to meet the challenge.

The clearest result of this failure has been the near total collapse of civic courage across the Western world. Belief in the axiomatic rectitude of one's civilization, which is the greatest strength of any civilization, has collapsed in the West, most particularly in elitist circles. One can see the constant, violent backstabbing that has come to be expected from the European nations and from domestic critics. They have made quite explicitly clear, in their violent hostility towards any defensive act on the part of the United States and their violent excoriation of any and all intellectual support for Western civilization against the assault of radical Islam, that they do not object to self-defense in details but in principle. They seem gripped by the belief that the West must consent to its own slaughter, as though it were the verdict of a heavenly tribunal. Their entire worldview, is, quite simply, powerless in the face of violent challenge, as indeed it was powerless 50 years ago against the hydra of Communism and Nazism.

The difference between then and now is that this fundamentalist brand of humanism has become the dominant ideology of the West. Unlike the national, religious, or historical values that once powered Western civilization, this new umbrella ideology lacks any discriminating power between faiths, factions, or ideas. All are considered equally valid and dignified, thus leaving judgment the only sin left on earth. And what the West needs now more than ever before is the capacity for judgment. Without judgment, there is no courage, and without courage there is no victory.

The argument can be made that this phenomenon is merely one of the elite, that the broad population of America (not to mention its president) have risen fully to the challenge despite the nagging of fringe groups and alienated elitists. I am not comforted by this assertion. Those advising surrender may be small in numbers, but they are firmly established in the universities and in many positions of power in government and media. They have great influence on the framing of debate and defining of terms that are so essential to political victory. The rise to political prominence of Howard Dean, a man who seems to lack any capacity for understanding, let alone facing, the threat of radical Islam or asserting the values of the West, speaks to the extraordinary coercive power of these small constituencies.

The truth, I fear, is that, at the moment at least, the West lacks something higher to fight for. A unifying force around which to coalesce. Something larger than merely the right to live in a society which considers all ideologies, however murderous, to be equally valid. The West needs a faith for which to do battle. Like Whittaker Chambers, I fear that the challenge of a fanatical, believing enemy may be too much for a civilization which has rejected belief as the domain of fanatics and madmen. I hope and pray that, like him, I am wrong.

Beersheva, Israel
September 11, 2003

Monday, September 08, 2003

And so, once again, I am forced to do battle with the necro-Socialists over at the Forward who, like all necro-Socialists, have never studied history, never taken an economics class, and still think its 1933.

Even the most determinedly partisan critics of the Bush administration have been taken aback lately — dumbfounded is more like it — by the spectacular unraveling of the administration's Iraq strategy. For all the doubts about the wisdom of the president's plans, few of us thought they would collapse this utterly or this fast. Now that it's happened, hardly anyone knows what to say.

OK, number one, the president's Iraq strategy is not "unraveling". The same thing is going on here as went on in Afghanistan, it took about two years to achieve anything resembling quiet over there and the process is still ongoing. The difference - the only difference - in Iraq is the level of media attention being accorded to the proceedings and the fact that a great many political futures (Mssrs. Chirac and Schroeder's to name just two) are highly invested in our failure. It takes a long time to get a country back together after a long spell of totalitarian dictatorship, economic meltdown, and war. The editors are laying it on as thick as they can here, but their arrogant assertion that we simply take their word for it that the Administration's strategy is a failure doesn't make it so. By the way, these folks know exactly what to say on this issue, they are about to waste seven paragraphs doing it.

Sure, there were naysayers warning all along that the president's war plans were inadequately thought through. There were European leaders insisting that the rationales for war — chiefly Saddam Hussein's weapons programs and links to terrorism — were not sufficiently proven. There were pundits who warned that going in without United Nations backing would weaken the war's legitimacy in international eyes, experts who fretted that Iraqis would not necessarily rally to America as a liberator, scholars who predicted that an invasion might inflame rather than dampen worldwide Islamic rage against America. There were military strategists who questioned the timing and size of the American-led force. At the extremes, there were Bush-bashers who believed the entire enterprise was beyond the ken of a president they still considered a bumpkin.

Everyone of whom, every one, was wrong. No one claimed, not even the French, that Saddam didn't have WMDs and no one thinks that he never had them, which seems to be what the Forward is asserting here. There are several thousand dead Kurds who can attest otherwise. The UN was never going to do anything about Saddam, which was exactly what he was counting on and why we went in without their (utterly worthless) approval. How Saddam would have been gotten rid of (an accomplishment the Forward doesn't deign to mention) without unilateral action by the US is a question the editors seem terrified to raise, for the very good reason that they don't have an answer to it. As for inflaming Islamic rage, these people want to annihilate us, they are not going to get more enraged then they already are. To take the position that if we just don't piss them off, the Islamic radicals will leave us alone is cowardly, naive, and, above all, stupid. I don't recall offhand any "military strategists" that openly attacked the president's plans, so until the Forward starts naming and quoting I'm going to treat that assertion as rhetorical balderdash. By the way, I love the way the editors try to legitimize their hysterical screeching by attacking the "Bush-bashers" at the "extremes". These wouldn't be your fellow Socialists, would they fellas?

Now that the American invasion has turned out to be a clueless blunder into a bottomless quagmire, there's a natural temptation for critics to gloat. Bush sold himself to Americans after September 11 as the tough cop who would chase down the terrorists wherever they were hiding and restore the nation's security and honor. It turns out his threats were not just empty but dangerous. Taking on Saddam didn't intimidate terrorists everywhere but rather inflamed them, emboldened them and brought them pouring into Iraq.

Where we can kill them quicker and more efficiently. Congratulations, boys, you got to paragraph 4 before you had to resort to "quagmire". You might want to wait a year or two and see how things are before asserting that we're stuck in Iraq for all time. By the way, how does eliminating the Taliban, imprisoning hundreds of Osama Bin Laden's men, drying up his funds, capturing or killing all his top echelon, destroying Saddam Hussein's genocidal regime and sidelining Yasser Arafat (hopefully for good) amount to "empty threats" in the war on terror? Oh, that's right, nothing Bush accomplishes exists until the Socialist Workers Party says so. Sorry, my bad, I forgot how totalitarian ideologies percieve reality.

Now the terrorists are stronger than ever, and we're stretched across the Middle East like sitting ducks. For those who still can't think of Bush without picturing hanging chads and butterfly ballots, there's a grim satisfaction in the president's quandary.

But, of course, we don't feel that way, heavens no. By the way, how do you spell "defeatist" in Yiddish?

If Iraq is broken, we're the ones who broke it. Now it's up to us to fix it.

There are wrong ways to do that, such as continuing the arrogant, unilateralist path we've followed up to now. And there are right ways to do it, such as bringing in the U.N. to share power and getting serious about rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure. We need to understand the elusive nature of terrorism and begin rebuilding the alliances that can isolate the terrorists and dry up their support bases. We need to accept the limits of power and the power of limits.

Sick, just plain sick. What is wrong with you people? Can't you accept that America is not responsible for everything that's wrong with the world. We did not "break" Iraq, 30 years of a murderous, fascist dictatorship broke Iraq, like it would have broken any other country. How is it that you can't even be bothered to mention the nature of Iraq's former regime, and that it was only the full force of American military power, excercised in the most "arrogant" and "unilateral" of fashions, which destroyed that regime forever? Or would that interfere with your oh-so-nuanced understanding of the irrefutable impotency of American power against the omnipotent and immortal terrorist threat? As for your policy recommendations, they're as asinine as your rewriting of history. Bring in the UN? They've got a steller record of nation-building so far, at least we have Germany and Japan to our credit. Rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure? No shit, we're doing it already. It takes time to do things like rebuild countries, time bargain basement gadflys like you will never give the president you despise. "Understand the elusive nature of terrorism"? I have a strange feeling that the White House, FBI, CIA, et al, are fairly well acquainted with "the elusive nature of terrorism". But you're right, they should call the editors of an obscure Socialist publication for advice on how to do their jobs. As for that last line, I have no idea what it means, I think you're just pushing words together in a desperate attempt to sound smart. Its not working.

What isn't an option is picking up and leaving, as if we could end the war by pretending there is no war. The forces threatening America today, whether in Baghdad or Bali, are the enemies not just of Republicans but of all Americans — and indeed, of the entire free world.

Congratulations, guys. Only took you seven paragraphs to get there. So it turns out your incompetent, idiot president is actually right about pretty much everything. Thanks for the wisdom from on high, fellas.

Israel should lift the restrictions on the movement of Palestinians that constitute collective punishment and that they should be imposed only in relation to a specific security threat and as long as they are non-discriminatory.

I think its important to keep in mind that, even though their reports are written as if handed down from Mount Olympus, Amnesty International's reports are written by people. People who, I am guessing, have never fought in a war, never held political office, and certainly never organized an anti-terror operation or attempted to seal a small, diamond-shaped country's long and nearly indefensible borders. In other words, people who don't know what their talking about. They couldn't protect their dog from a suicide bomber if they wanted to. Thanks for the advice Amnesty, I'll put my faith in Ariel Sharon, I know you don't like him but he's got a slightly better track record in this department than you do.

At least someone's keeping an eye on these lunatics...

Ahmed Qureia, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser
Arafat's nominee for prime minister, is highly
respected by the European Union and can count on
the 15-nation bloc's support for peacemaking, a
spokeswoman said Monday.

"He is a man who believes in
peace with Israel and he has
done a lot for that. Therefore
he will get all support from
the European Union," said
Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman
for EU foreign policy chief
Javier Solana.

And here comes the EU, once again dealing Arafat back into the game. Qureia is a real puppet this time, without even the slightest trace of independent power. Things are starting to heat up over here again, and the Europeans, as per usual, are doing everything in their power to fan the flames.

I'm really fighting this feeling that when he said earlier this week that whenever someone's "hurting," the "government has to move", he essentially jumped the shark. Maybe I'm just in a down mood about politics generally, but every day it seems more and more like the President is moving the Republican Party to the kissy-huggy liberal center at the behest of Rovian imperatives. I'll tell you, if he goes all Souter when/if there's a Supreme Court vacancy, I don't what I'll do. Ramesh noted a while back that when the Democrats move left, so does the GOP because the Center gets abandoned. It seems to me that's exactly what's happening and it just bums me out.

There seems to be a winter of discontent brewing on the Right, specifically in relation to the Bush Administration’s domestic policy. Andrew Sullivan (who seems to have gotten a lot more tense since his vacation) has been even more strident.

In three years, Bush has managed to wreak so much havoc with the nation's finances it's very hard to see who could do worse. In his first three years, you have an increase in domestic discretionary spending of 20.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 0.7 percent for Bill Clinton. If a Democrat had this record, do you think Republicans would let him off the hook? Here's Tom DeLay in 1995: "By the year 2002, we can have a federal government with a balanced budget or we can continue down the present path towards total fiscal catastrophe." If Clintonomics was a "fiscal catastrophe," what would an intellectually honest DeLay say about Bush? (I know an intellectually honest Tom DeLay is a bit of magical realism, but bear with me.) We don't just have big tax cuts; we have a big leap in discretionary spending, huge hikes in agricultural subsidies, no reform of corporate welfare, a huge new entitlement for prescription drugs, big jumps in the number of people employed indirectly by Uncle Sam, and on and on. Looking ahead, the future looks even worse - and that's even before we try and tackle the entitlement crunch of the boomer retirement. The GOP has to be punished for this. They run the Congress; and they're now officially worse than Democrats at keeping government solvent or small. Clinton was way, way better. Honest conservatives know this. Dishonest partisans look the other way.

Ouch. Sullivan actually sidles up to giving a tacit endorsement to Howard Dean as a preferable choice in the fiscal conservative department. This general frustration on the right hasn’t coalesced around any particular issues yet (although the growing deficit could become the rallying point), and its worthy to recall that Bush’s fiscal policy doesn’t look much different from Ronald Reagan’s at the moment, i.e. tax cuts and deficit spending. We’re also, and I hate to bring this up, involved in something like a war, and at least some of the normal rules of government expansion and expenditure simply don’t apply at the moment.

However, it seems clear that Bush is pursuing roughly the same strategy of Bill Clinton: talking fringe and governing center. Now obviously, there are serious differences of personality and character between the two men, Bush lacks Clinton’s aversion to action and his capacity for doubletalk, as well as possessing a far more substantial backbone (Clinton could never have stood up to the type of pressure Bush faced down over the Iraq War), but on domestic and fiscal policy, Bush does seem intent on echoing Clinton’s strategy of coopting the rhetoric and ideology of the opposition. I don’t think there can be much arguing with the fact that, notwithstanding the Left’s semi-psychotic hatred of him, Bush is the most liberal Republican president since Richard Nixon. Lest we forget, that’s exactly what he sounded like when he ran for president.

Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative”, in other words, a conservative that wasn’t the type of mean, nasty conservative that was personified by Newt Gingrich and the Clinton impeachment (which was, beyond a doubt, the dumbest political move of the last 20 years, notwithstanding the fact that the man was guilty as hell). Whenever he tried to delineate exactly what "compassionate conservativism" was, it sounded very, very much like liberalism. Conservatives looked the other way for the best of reasons: they were sick of being out of power and they thought all this “compassionate conservative” rhetoric was just that; warm, touchy-feely stuff everyone ignores when they get down to the dirty business of governance.

I think we made a mistake. We thought we were buying an authentic conservative when what we got was just another “modern Republican”, a man who is convinced that certain aspects of big government Liberalism are here to stay and its better not to fight self-destructive battles against programs like the prescription drug entitlement, which, however ill-advised, are popular with a large segment of the electorate. Major changes in the established order of things are not going to come from this man.

And don’t get me wrong, I like Bush. I think he is, to a great extent, a shockingly honest man for a politician, and someone who genuinely loves this country and intends to defend it against enemies within and without. I think he understands the threat of terror and how to deal with it effectively and I don’t think he’s going to allow philo-totalitarian academic charlatans or vainglorious European politicians hamper our efforts. These are, at the moment, the most important things in my book, which is why, no matter what, I intend to vote for him in the next election.

I am not harboring illusions, however, that he is going to reduce the size or role of government, or even curtail its growth, nor is going to appoint a strict constructionist to the Supreme Court, take a strong stance against affirmative action, or make any serious attempt to reform the public school system. And yes, Teddy Kennedy is going to get away with a lot. Bush will cut taxes and try not to raise them again, that’s the best we can hope for. It’s a shame really, he could have been a truly great president.

If you're going to call the man a Nazi, show me the children with tattoos on their arms. Show me the stockpiles of emaciated corpses. Show me files cabinets full of memos detailing how Bush and Cheney plan on disposing of millions of dead American citizens killed with poisonous gas.

If you can't show me any of these things - and you can't - then stop calling the man a Nazi. Because when you say he's no different from Hitler, you are also saying that Hitler is no different from George Bush. And that means that Hitler's crimes were no worse than George Bush's "crimes." And whatever you think of what George Bush has done or might do, if you think any of it is the moral equivalent of the Holocaust, you are in effect saying the Holocaust really wasn't that bad.

This is the point I'm always trying to make to my Leftist friends about Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. In none of their books does Nazism come in for anything like the excoriation they inflict on the United States. And if the United States, which fought Hitler, is so extraordinarily evil, than their ideology is, ultimately, absolving Nazism. If their great enemy, their great Satan, is the US; then the enemy of their enemy must be, in some fashion, their friend. Its only a matter of time before the Left declares Hitler a misunderstood freedom fighter seeking self-determination for his people until he was brutally suppressed by the American and British imperialists who committed horrendous atrocities like Dresden in the process. As for the Jews, its too bad he didn't finish the job and stop them from creating a brutal, apartheid, imperialist state on Arab land.

Mark my words. Only a matter of time

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Celebrating 30 years of Leftist idiocy on your nightly news...

Under international law, PLO/Hamas calls for the killing of Jews - whether indirectly in Jihad or directly through mass murder - constitute calls for genocide. Ironically, the PA authorities who issue such calls, including of course Nobel Laureate Yasir Arafat, are widely recognized by the international community outside the United States as official emissaries of "peace." It is time for this community, especially Europe, to acknowledge that the same individuals who call for commission of the world's most egregious crime cannot possibly be a proper source of partnership and reconciliation with Israel...

While most of the world outside of Washington and Jerusalem chooses to ignore such calls for the crime of genocide, international law has an unswerving obligation to stop and take notice. Expressed by leaders of the major states in world politics, the norms and principles of international law should be invoked in time - before the calls for genocide against Israel's Jews are allowed to become the materialised foreign policy of certain Islamic states armed with chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.

The Palestinian Authority and its associates are obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel. The Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) states, at Article XXII, that Israel and the PA "shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other...." In the Note for the Record which accompanies the Hebron Protocol of January 15, 1997, the PA reaffirmed its commitment regarding "Preventing Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement." Similar if more general reaffirmations can be found in the presently operational "Road Map."

Hmmm. I see a lawsuit coming... In all seriousness, I think its high time we started harnessing that amorphous thing called "international law" to our benefit. Why should the Chomksyites have all the fun?

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, weakened
by his power struggle with Yasser Arafat, told
lawmakers Thursday he would not launch a crackdown
on militants and hinted at resignation if he did
not win parliamentary support.

Mahmoud Abbas surprises nobody in his speech to Arafat's puppet legislature.

In an angry demonstration outside the parliament
building, about 200 activists in Arafat's Fatah
movement promised to defend the veteran
Palestinian leader, and seven masked men from
the crowd broke down a door to the building and
smashed windows. Unarmed guards eventually
forced the men out.

Just before the session, Palestinian gunmen
killed an Israeli in a shooting ambush near the
West Bank town of Jenin. The Al Aqsa Martyrs'
Brigade, an armed group linked to Arafat's
ruling Fatah movement, claimed responsibility.

While outside, the palsied old killers goons stir up as much trouble as possible. Its now clear that Israel's decision (coerced by the United States) not to kill or expel Arafat was a massive blunder, on a par with the decision not to kill him in Beirut in 1982 (also coerced by the US). He is now not only an obstacle to the peace process, but is doing everything within his power to collapse it. The Bush administration should give Israel the green light to finally rid the world of this odious insect and then crack down on his fanatical thugs (who are, apparently, too cowardly to show their real faces in public). There is no process that can work with Arafat still in power and his Euro/UN supporters are aiding and abetting in the destruction of the Road Map to serve their own selfish prejudices and vanity. The only thing that will change things now is unilateral action by Israel.

I felt this was worth reprinting. Enjoy.

Manufacturing Dissent
Noam Chomsky and the Dialectics of Treason

“Woe to them that call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter…Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight…”
Isaiah 5:20-21

Trying to sort out the tangled web of organizations and ideologies that make up the current Left is daunting by any stretch of the imagination. Adding in the tendency of these groups to misrepresent themselves before the public, and their talent for vicious infighting, the task can seem downright pointless and impossible. How does one understand the forces that can bring Muslim Fundamentalists, ultra-feminist groups, and anti-globalization anarchist cells into the streets simultaneously. That can find atheistic communists chanting “God is great” in Arabic while holding signs comparing George Bush to Hitler and attacking him for being religious. What unites these people, and who incites their passions enough to bring them all into the solidarity of direct action?

Of course, all of these people espouse something like an ideology, one which is almost identical to that of the various anti-American intellectuals and intellectual movements whose manipulations of their students and takeover of academic institutions provides the political base for the extreme Left in America. Where they all came from and how they managed to get together is a tangled web of ideological histories hardly worth going into here, but at the end of it, one often finds a total and unqualified admiration for a single intellectual – or perhaps intellectual is a misnomer – a single figure: a semi-obscure professor of linguistics at MIT named Noam Chomsky. Almost the entire American Left, the entire alphabet soup of organizations and ideologies breaking windows and clogging streets, almost the entire gaggle of campus organizations and their faculty enablers are, to a man, Chomskyians.

In Noam Chomsky we have a strange life story. The author of an endless stream of insomnia-inducing tomes and high school level political pamphlets and a regular speaker on radical campuses and Mainline Protestant churches who ought to know better, Chomsky has no background in the subjects about which he normally writes – politics and foreign policy. His professional background lies entirely in the realm of linguistics, an esoteric and entirely theoretical field especially prone to demagoguery and academic charlatanism. Chomsky came to prominence as the formulator of a theory known as Universal Grammar which claimed language was inborn and biologically determined, hardwired into the human species from birth. An unscrupulous academic infighter, Chomsky established his theory in the 1950s through violent defamation of his opponents, a pattern he has continued into his second career. Chomsky seems to have a pathological, almost childlike need to vilify his opponents in vicious and often outright offensive terms, indicating a basic personality flaw that is likely psychological in origin.

Although entirely discredited now – it is seen as overly simplistic and Eurocentric in nature, Universal Grammar bearing a suspicious resemblance to English – Chomsky’s influence in the ‘50s was immense, and he began to be spoken of in hushed tones by both his colleagues – who may or may not have understood his theories – and laymen admirers – who most certainly didn’t – by the early ‘60s he was known as one of MIT’s resident geniuses.

It was the Vietnam War that would propel Chomsky into the world of radical politics, although, like most high profile scientists, he had been attracted to the extreme Left at an early age. Beginning with his pro-North Vietnam tract American Power and the New Mandarins, Chomsky would become the darling of the academic Left wing establishment which was expending enormous amounts of money and power to engineer an American defeat and a Communist victory in the Vietnam War. Norman Mailer’s seminal Pulitzer Prize winner Armies of the Night provides a fascinating picture of Chomsky as a semi-schizophrenic nerd who can effortlessly flit from a thousand-strong march on the Pentagon to a radical chic cocktail party in the wealthy Massachusetts resort town of Wellfleet. Chomsky has never ceased this artfully dualistic existence, assaulting the American elite for all manner of crimes while gliding effortlessly through the rarified circles of established wealth and academic power.

There is little doubt, however, that Chomsky is a true believer, more then willing to lie, slander, and obfuscate in the name of his ideology. By the early 1970s, Chomsky’s blind fanaticism was becoming disturbing even to his former acolytes. The Cambodian genocide proved to be a definitive moment in Chomsky’s career, the point at which he ceased to be a completely benign and acceptable figure and questions began to be asked, even among Left wing circles, about the darker aspects of his ideology.

The complete story of the holocaust unleashed upon the Cambodian nation by the Khmer Rouge Communist regime, under the leadership of the psychotic dictator Pol Pot, is now well known. An astounding 3 million people lost their lives at the hands of Pot’s death squads, nearly a third of the Cambodian population. When the news began to leak out via courageous refugees and the occasional foreign journalist, the Left was immediately faced with a horrifying dilemma. They had campaigned long and hard for a Communist victory in Vietnam and indeed throughout the region of Southeast Asia. One of the arguments against an American withdrawal had been that the region would become a bloodbath at the hands of Communist tyrants should the US withdraw its support from non-Communist governments. The Left, Chomsky foremost among them, scoffed at this idea and charged that the bloodbath was already happening at the hands of the Americans. Now, however, it seemed that, not only had the Left been proven wrong and the Americans right, but the bloodbath had been larger, more widespread, and more horrific than anyone had predicted.

Some Leftists called for military intervention to stop the slaughter, some blamed it all the machinations of the CIA, some sought to differentiate between the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese forms of Communism, though they were tripped up by the North Vietnamese’s own atrocities. Chomsky, however, chose an entirely different tack: he simply denied the whole thing had happened in the first place.

In attempting to discredit the genocide, Chomsky used a technique which has now become something of a trademark, the systemic nitpicking of tiny facts and sources while ignoring the larger issues and charges at hand. Chomsky attempted to disprove certain specific sources, or at least cast enough doubt on their veracity to leave a certain measure of ambivilence in his more sympathetic interlocutors. More then anything else, this tactic was marked by the use of Chomsky’s preferred method of debate: character assassination. Chomsky’s main defense, as it has been in nearly all controversies in which he has been embroiled, was to cast aspersions on his critics, attacking their intellectual competence, their ideological motives, and, most viciously of all, their personal character. His preferred term of opprobrium, as it has been ever since, was racism, an accusation he has employed with such soporific regularity and childish recklessness that he now seems to consider himself and a handful of his personal friends to be the only people on earth who are not, in fact, racists.

As many of Chomsky’s critics have noted, the Cambodia controversy both killed Chomsky’s career and gave it a new lease on life. Although he became viewed by some of the more mainstream Left as an irresponsible distortionist and a possibly dangerous crank – and found himself banned from their publications, including the New York Review of Books and The New Republic – he used his denial of the Cambodian genocide as the blueprint for a broader analysis of American society which would become the defining worldview of the Far Left for the next twenty years.

Extrapolated most famously in his pamphlet What Uncle Sam Really Wants and the anti-media screed Manufacturing Consent, the Chomskyian worldview sees the United States as the new Nazi Germany triumphant. A government and media run by business corporations manipulates the unsuspecting American public into believing they live in a representative democracy, all the while pursuing the imperialist aims of their corporate overlords, who desire to enslave the entire world under the regime of global capitalism, run from its nerve center in the United States.

Discredited as a public intellectual by his defense of mass murder, Chomsky turned to a new audience, the semi-underground network of leftist academics, radical churches and campus groups, and the worlds of hardcore and punk music – to whom Chomsky has become the most unlikely of gurus. This new following, politically unsophisticated and temperamentally inclined towards rebellion and hatred of authority, embraced Chomsky as a kind of totalitarian Supreme Leader in miniature. When a major issue emerges in the news, be it social security or the War in Iraq, they rush immediately to their bookshelf or the internet to find out what their favorite professor thinks on the matter. To them, he is the last honest man in America, a fearless and incorruptible teller of terrible truths about the evils of his own society.

Within this group there is another, inner circle, one which has elevated Chomsky to an almost mystical status. To them, Chomsky is the sole arbiter of reality itself. Nothing they see on television or read in the papers is true until Chomsky says it is, everything their parents or teachers taught them is a lie until Chomsky informs them differently. They travel miles to attend his lectures in obscure churches and community colleges, they tape record his speeches and share them over the internet, they sit rapt in the first row scribbling the great man’s words into shabby looking spiral notebooks. The cult of Chomsky, the highly un-egalitarian, near idolatrous worship of a single individual, with its shades of Stalinism and fascist-style leader-worship, is the worst kept secret of the American Left in the 21st century. The fact is that that the lion’s share of the Left’s ideas, concepts, and talking points – the propaganda of a movement claiming to represent the masses – are the work of a single man whose assertions are swallowed uncritically by his dutiful followers. The worldview of today’s Left, which believes America is a fascist dictatorship consolidating its imperial power through oppression and murder, is unmistakably Chomskyian. The slogans of the anti-war movement, proclaiming all wars the product of American malfeasance, American exploitation, American imperialism, American oppression, comparing America’s leaders to the heads of the Nazi Party, and all but accusing the government of pursuing a policy of genocide towards the Third World, are nothing more then regurgitations of Chomsky’s most violent accusations. The “facts” cited by the Left to support its charges are clearly drawn from Chomsky’s many revisionist histories of America’s foreign policy, and the moral equivalencies posited between America and its enemies are often lifted verbatim from Chomsky’s books. That a single intellectual of dubious credentials in the realm of political analysis has managed to gain such sway on the Left is, perhaps, an indication of the bankruptcy of the 21st century Left, but it is a moral bankruptcy as well as an intellectual one, for no intellectual of the past twenty years – however radical – has engaged in intellectual atrocities as debased and ugly as Noam Chomsky.

Just how ugly began to become clear by the 1980s, when Chomsky began his flirtation with Holocaust Denial. He had been a longtime hater of Israel, declaring himself a partisan of the PLO Covenant, which called for Israel’s destruction, and denouncing Zionism in the familiar tones of the extreme Left and Arab propaganda. By the ‘80s, however, Chomsky’s hatred of Israel had hardened into a bitter and repulsive racism. He routinely referred to Israel as a Nazi state, and its soldiers as storm troopers, he endorsed books charging that the evils of Zionism were the result of essential ills hardwired into the Jewish religion, such as the concept of Jewish Chosenness and the inherent intolerance of monotheism, he denounced Israel’s supporters in the United States as conspiratorial manipulators of money and power, echoing anti-Semitic charges of Jewish control of politics and media. He ardently supported and defended terrorist acts against Israeli civilians and has never wavered in his call for the genocide of the state itself, even going so far as to denounce the Oslo Accords as a sellout of maximalist Palestinian demands.

Holocaust Denial, however, was something else entirely. Even in the violently anti-Israel atmosphere of academe, denying the Holocaust was still taboo. When Chomsky took up the cause of Robert Faurisson, it set off a firestorm which disturbed even some of his fervent admirers. Faurisson was a French Holocaust denier with connections to the French fascist Right and the anti-Israel Left. He had been fired from his university professorship over a book he had written charging that the Zionist Movement had concocted the Holocaust in order to provoke sympathy for their claims to Palestine. In ideological terms, Faurisson had accomplished a rhetorical sleight of hand which must have been quite seductive for Chomsky: unlike other Holocaust Deniers, who had merely attempted to absolve Hitler, Faurisson had linked the “concoction” of the Holocaust to the Zionist Movement, thus both absolving Hitler and “discrediting” one of the major historical reasons for the creation of Israel. Such a convergence must have been too much for Chomsky to resist. And indeed, it is startling how closely Chomsky’s ideology mirrored Faurisson’s. Faurisson had credentials not only as an anti-Semite but as a partisan of the Palestinian cause as well, he straddled the extreme Left and Right seemingly effortlessly, and more then anything else, Faurisson's methods of falsifying history echoed Chomsky’s uncannily.

Like Chomsky's, Faurisson’s books were copiously documented and purported to be reasoned explications of discoverable facts. In actuality, Faurisson’s methods of footnoting were, like Chomsky’s, highly creative, to say the least. His sources were often blatently pro-Nazi propaganda sources, others bore no resemblance to what Faurisson had claimed they contained, in others, Faurisson had extracted a single phrase or sentence which, removed from its place in a larger work, took on an entirely different meaning than its original author had intended. All of these methods of falsifying data and history were familiar to those who had waded through the copious footnotes of Chomsky’s tomes and discovered scholarly methods best described as dubious and, at worst, blatently manipulative and dishonest.

It may be that Chomsky saw himself in Faurisson, they shared the same violent attacks on established history, the same reckless disregard for scholarly conventions, the same brutal “persecution” for holding unpopular beliefs, and, of course, in Israel and the Jews – who in their eyes exploited their “myth” of the Holocaust to further their oppression of the Palestinians – they shared the same enemy. Nothing else can explain why Chomsky would have been so reckless – or arrogant – as to engage in an open defense of Holocaust Denial.

But defend he did, and with his usual alacrity and disingenuousness. Having both publicly condemned Faurisson’s firing and contributing an introduction to one of his books of Holocaust Denial, Chomsky was out of his depth from the beginning. His old techniques, character assassination and a subtle changing of the subject, worked badly this time around. He attempted charging his opponents with being unscrupulous Zionists, but this placed him dangerously close to actually formally endorsing Faurisson’s thesis, something he was desperately attempting to avoid, and also placed him in the unsympathetic position of hurling insults at critics who were often survivors of the Holocaust themselves. He clutched at a civil libertarian defense, claiming he was simply defending Faurisson’s right to express controversial and unpopular opinions without fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, this tack ran against the entire history of Chomsky’s career. He had never been a Free Expression absolutist in any sense of the word. He had often been at the forefront of attempts to ban speakers whose opinions he despised – such as Henry Kissinger – from college campuses, and was well known in academic circles for using his numerous Establishment connections to suppress criticism of himself and his opinions in academia and the mainstream press. Chomsky seemed unable to grasp that he had crossed a line. He had spent a lifetime defending the indefensible and it had only made him more popular, it had only served to increase his cache in the radical circles whose approval he so coveted, but now a wider audience was suddenly listening, and they were horrified at what they heard.

The truth, however, is that no one who had been following Chomsky’s career should have been in the least bit surprised at these developments. Chomsky had made a career out of cheerleading for any number of murderous totalitarian regimes and then endeavoring to deny or minimize their crimes. In his revisions of 20th century American foreign policy, the Soviet Union was portrayed as the innocent victim of American economic and military aggression, its brutal crimes were glossed over in the name of concentrating on American atrocities. He had lied relentlessly about the nature of the North Vietnamese regime, which he knew from his travels to be a brutal communist tyranny. He had outright denied the eclipse of humanity which – with the assistance of Western intellectuals like him – had turned Cambodia into a bloodbath. He had defended Arab racism and terrorism against Israel for decades, endorsing the destruction of the state itself and the massacre of its population. He had served as a dutiful propagandist for communist and communist supported tyrannies throughout Africa and Central and South America. His entire career swam in an ocean of blood. His whole body of work amounted to little more then shameless propagandizing in service of the 20th century’s most brutal totalitarianisms. Holocaust Denial was merely one more step in the descent, for he had long since disabled whatever braking mechanism might once have existed. Having denied the genocide of 3 million people, what was the denial of 6 million people? Only a matter of degrees, only numbers on a page, easy to wipe out, easy to erase.

And this underlines the most central and disturbing aspect of Chomsky’s career: some intellectuals are mere gadflys, a few are genuine loons, Chomsky is a monster. He is a monument to all the perversities of 20th century intellectual life: the sycophantic worship of power, the inversion of moralities by which crime and inhumanity are hailed as proof of revolutionary veracity, the erasure of millions of dead for ideological purposes, the double-speak that allows one to embrace racism, totalitarianism, and mass murder while claiming to condemn them all, the seemingly existential need to denounce and destroy the fabric of one’s own society, the relentless dehumanization and demonization of one’s opponents and the resulting paralysis of rational debate, the unwavering, ruthless, ultimately psychotic dedication to one’s own ideology, finally at the expense of truth itself, and, most of all, the destruction of truth and its resurrection in one’s own image, the appointment of oneself as the sole arbiter of truth, of justice, and finally of reality itself, the seemingly unquenchable desire to erect a totalitarianism of the mind, with oneself as Supreme Ruler.

This legacy of malevolence is by no means finished, and may have yet to reach its nadir. The 9/11 attacks have given Chomsky’s career a rejuvenation which, despite his failing health and odious reputation, has made him once again the central figure of the extreme Left. The anti-war movement, so utterly convinced of their own righteousness and the historically unprecedented depth of American turpitude, is unabashedly Chomskyian. His book 9/11 has successfully reached the 100,000 copy mark, the outer mark of the Leftwing book-buying audience, proving the ubiquity of Chomskyian ideas across the Leftist spectrum. He speaks across the world, proving particularly popular in the Middle East, where he holds court on the evils of American imperialism and attempts to incite anti-American violence by engaging in such slanders as charging the US with planning to commit genocide in Afghanistan, eerily echoing, in his inability to reach a coherent number of the projected dead – at one lecture 4 million, at another 10, another 8 – the perennial Leftwing boogeyman Joe McCarthy. His acolytes, dutiful as any religious cult, release a steady stream of CDs, websites, and videos dedicated to the dissemination of his ideas. He has become an icon to a subculture of artists, actors, rock and punk musicians who see in his ideology a reflection of their own violent impulses and semi-pathological hatreds of American society, garnering him endorsements from such unlikely quarters as Bono from U2, the actor John Cusack, and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam – figures otherwise unlikely to grant endorsements to esoteric ivy-league intellectuals of dubious integrity. And he has become the unquestioned figurehead of the numerous campus organizations and NGOs which march under the Leftwing banner. Despite the best efforts of some of the more conscientious Leftwing intellectuals, the rank and file, the disaffected bourgeosie who march in the protests, work in the NGOs, buy the pamphlets, publish the ‘zines, sign the petitions, hurl the rocks at the police, break the windows and get arrested, have given themselves over body and soul to Chomskyianism. He is their St. Augustine, their commandante, their fuehrer. It is clear, moreover, that this cult is pushing whatever remains of the rational Left further and further into the abyss. Chomsky is not a man who sees historical events and reacts to them, his ideology is religious in nature, immutable and unchanging. He is not a man who wrestles with his conscience, his righteousness is axiomatic. This willful blindness to reality, this disconnect from the truth in the name of egomania and leader-worship can result only in the fossilization and implosion of a once dynamic ideology. When the madman becomes the sole arbiter of truth, when people begin inverting their most cherished values to conform with the preachings of a fanatical demagogue, the fall from grace is inevitable. The entire Leftwing world, from the anarchist cadres to the well-heeled editors of academic journals, is living with a terrible secret: the Left is dying of the Chomskyian cancer. It is morphing into something terrible: violent, dictatorial, racist, and ultimately betrothed to treason. When Michael Walzer asked, as he recently did in Dissent, “Can There Be a Decent Left?” he might as well have been asking “Can There Be a Left Without Chomsky?” When one looks with open eyes upon the shambles before us, the Left after the descent into Chomskyianism, the answer, Mr. Walzer, must be no.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

I've just returned from the American Political Science Association's annual meeting in Philadelphia, at which I learned, among other things, that President Bush suffers from extreme amounts of repressed rage due to a childhood of emotional deprivation. This accounts for his eagerness to start wars, as well as his need to surround himself with "neoconservative ideologues" (it's so they can furnish him with justifications for starting all these wars he wants to fight). Or so argue Thomas Langston and Elizabeth Sanders of Tulane and Cornell Universities, respectively, in their seminal paper, "Predicting Ideological Intensity in Presidential Administrations: The G.W. Bush Presidency in Theoretical Perspective." Incisive stuff, what America's political scientists come up with.


Graphic sex scenes in Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci's new film "The Dreamers" will likely be cut out of the movie before it can be viewed by US audiences, the director revealed.

I think this is ridiculous. No one who can't handle graphic sex scenes is going to see this flick anyways (and children don't even know who Bertolucci is), so who exactly is this truncation intended to protect? Bertolucci might be a commie and a half, but he's still a genius, and I, for one, would like to see his work as he intended it. It kills me to say it, but sometimes the Europeans are right when they accuse Americans of being unsophisticated prudes.

In the newly-released DVD version of his Academy Award-winning documentary "Bowling for Columbine," filmmaker Michael Moore has altered a caption that he fictitiously inserted into a 1988 Bush-Quayle campaign commercial -- one of a number of misstatements and deceptive arguments we criticized when the film was released last year. Ironically, on the same day the DVD was released, Moore issued a libel threat against his critics on MSNBC's "Buchanan & Press," saying, "Every fact in the film is true. Absolutely every fact in the film is true. And anybody who says otherwise is committing an act of libel."

Sorry, I cant comment on this, I'm too busy gut-laughing. What a fat, stupid worm.

The most calculating person in Israeli politics
also holds the record for the shortest tenure in
office. His fall, contrary to all planning, is
attributable to the mysterious Y2K Bug that was so
in fashion in 2000. But the bug has been
destroyed, and now, in preparation for launching
"Operation Start from Scratch," Ehud Barak is
closing out all his active files, one by one: his
wife Nava, the house in Kfar Shmaryahu, the police
investigation into the nonprofit organizations
that worked for his election in 1999, and the Or

From a typically snarky political analysis in Haaretz, regarding the possible (I think inevitable) return of Ehud Barak. It does have its interesting moments, however:

Barak, who has made himself hated by many of his
former supporters, will not be unbeatable in
his own party, but his strength is likely to
grow over time, and polls showing that Labor
has a chance to return to power under his
leadership will quickly buy him forgiveness.

I was unaware of such polls, although it doesn't surprise me. Barak is the only candidate with the personal prestige and charisma to bring Labor back from its current malaise. There is, quite simply, nobody else.

Barak has used his copious spare time since
losing to Sharon to take apart the history of
Israel's governments and put it back together
again. Rabin's role was to follow an old leader
(Golda, Yitzhak Shamir). Peres' role, in both
the 1970s and the 1990s, was to lose to Rabin
and then inherit from him a few years later.
Barak's role is to wrest leadership of the
Labor Party away from Peres and then defeat
Netanyahu in the race for prime minister. And
if one shares the widespread assumption that
Sharon's government is nearing its end, due to
the criminal investigations of him and his son,
and that he will be succeeded as Likud chairman
by Netanyahu - then the stage is set for
another Barak-Netanyahu race.

This is really interesting. I personally think this is wishful thinking on the part of the author (clearly a Sharon hating Leftist), no scandal is going to bring down Sharon, but age and infirmity will likely make this Sharon's final term, and a Barak Netanyahu rematch would make for fascinating poltics. I personally would be quite torn, I like Netanyahu a lot, but I think Barak is right about unilateral withdrawal coupled with a security fence. I don't think Netanyahu is politically capable of such a radical move. Clearly, the candidates are beginning to line up for the next election, which could prove to be one of the mostr significant in Israeli history.