Does Israel Have a Right to Exist?, Part I

Sometimes, readers leave the kind of comments that deserve a wider readership than they might receive if they are left hiding in a long and popular thread. Reader V. (who is my friend but does not visit the blog out of a sense of obligation 🙂 ) left the following impressive comment:

I learned long ago that it is pointless to argue about Israel with the patriots of Israel… But today I have a weird inspiration, so here it goes (apologies to all native Americans for possible lack of cultural sensitivity):

2050. The great Iroquois thinker Kevin Wolfson develops the ideology of Hochelagism (Montrealers will understand) which involves all the Iroquois assembling on the lands currently known as the Island of Montreal, around the ancient holy places of Mount Royal, and founding their national/religious state. The idea takes hold, and eventually the Iroquois state is founded. All unable to prove their Iroquois origin are at best relegated to second-class citizen status (thoroughly questioned and searched every time they fly in and out of Magua International), or become stateless, or are expelled without the right to return (one cannot really run an Iroquois national state with so many non-Iroquois in it, can one?). Everybody daring to oppose Iroquois hegemony is persecuted, those trying to oppose it with force are labeled terrorists (which they are, but on the other hand “our” terrorists are always celebrated “freedom fighters”, while “their” freedom fighters are always “terrorists” for “us”) and hunted down mercilessly. Their houses are bulldozed, meaning their families are persecuted as well… Or occasionally they get blown up together with their terrorist/freedom fighter father/husband/brother by an Iroquois army helicopter… Regretful mistakes, of course…

Did Iroquois suffer throughout their history? Yes, they did, in ways which many believe constitute genocide. Do they have any less right for their national state than other nations? Of course they have the same right. Can they make justified historic claims involving the Island of Montreal? Of course they can. Does it make Hochelagism a good idea? Free of easily foreseeable conflicts? Any less painful for those on a receiving end of it? Is it reasonable to expect no opposition to Hochelagism? Is opposing Hochelagism morally equivalent to justifying genocide of Iroquois?

But of course, The Great Asian Democratic Empire is interested in a thorn in the Anglo-Saxon (less likely – French) ass. So it supports the Iroquois state with several billion yuables a year… As long as the Iroquois agree to be their lightning rod in the Western Hemisphere…

God knows, I didn’t want to start a conversation about Israel. People keep suggesting that I’d do anything for popularity, but that’s not true. This is a subject I am only going to broach because I have been insistently asked by readers to do so. I have a lot to say on the subject but nobody is going to like what  have to say. I warn everybody from the start that the position of “Israelis walk on water, Palestinians are barbaric animals” is just as alien to me as “Palestinians are saints, Israelis are genocidal maniacs.”

I understand that this is a sensitive topic, so I warn everybody in advance: if you are traumatized by any position that differs from the two I just described, you’d be better off simply not reading this series of posts.

I believe that V.’s comment is a great way to begin a dialogue. All I ask is that people avoid calling each other Nazis. If there is a way to annoy me, that’s it. Unless you know for a fact that somebody walks around with a swastika, they are not a Nazi, OK?

38 thoughts on “Does Israel Have a Right to Exist?, Part I”

  1. I’ve just left 2 comments, answering V on that old thread, which I’ll now copy here. They don’t describe all what I think, may be not the best way, but are some of things that immediately jump to my head.

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  2. First, I want to say that I am not blind to the fact that there is tension between words “Jewish” and “democratic” in Israel’s declaration of Independence. I also understand that in war both sides do lots of ugly things, that’s what war is. It has never been and can’t be clean.

    However, the situation isn’t simple cut to be the story of Bad Coming Jews vs Good Native Arabs as Bak. described. The following isn’t lies, it’s what happened. Of course, many other things happened too at the time. I don’t claim to tell ALL from all sides. At least, give me a chance, meaning “if it protects Israel, doesn’t mean it’s a lie”.

    Your analogy f.e. fails on several very important counts:

    1) The Island of Montreal is USA, right? Before Israel the place was a colony, there wasn’t any independent country here. It’s a huge difference imho.

    2) Unlike Jews with more than 2000 years of history the Palestinians as a separate people is a very recent development. Arabs then weren’t viewing themselves as Palestinian people, distinct from other Arabs from surrounding countries. The following was quite interesting:

    Way back on March 31, 1977, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. Here’s what he said:

    “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.

    “For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

    3) Jews agreed to divide the land from the beginning. Arabs refused and opened in a war. I have recently read an interview with somebody from those pre-country days and he talked of talking with Arab neighbors on living peacefully together. The Arab chief told him *every* Jew will be killed, but he as a good person may hide in his home with his wife and kids. Many Arabs left their homes themselves, hoping to return when the Jewish country with its’ Jewish citizens is destroyed. If they were mistaken in their guess, I honestly don’t see why Israel should welcome them. I am not even talking that it isn’t possible, but from justice pov. You want country X destroyed, you leave the place, why should you be a citizen now after your side lost a war?

    4) Yes, it’s better to be a Jew in Israel. Partly for the same reason it’s better to be a Russian in Russia and for most part because the war has never stopped. How did USA view Japanese people living in it in WW2? Many organizations (Hamas) and close to us countries never recognized Israel, not give it a right to exist, I don’t see any real peace at all. Israel is in a very hard place since its’ numerous citizens are Arabs, who aren’t loyal to the country, don’t serve in the army, often do terrorist acts and yes unfortunately are able to be a huge threat in a right situation. F.e. horrible forest fires last year (and this year too, though less since fire department was more lucky), which were obviously started on purpose. One can give numerous reasons why they feel thus and do it, including ones I would understand, but it doesn’t change that I want to live, Jews here want to live in their already existing country and that most of your descriptions of hurt Israeli Arabs is what happens when you live in a country, which has every reason to worry you’ll open another front inside it in case of war.

    To convey some more understanding how many Jews view things and how Israeli authorities behave:

    During those horrible forest fires, which made huge economical damage and killed ~40 people trapped in a bus, when unknowns (of known nationality for everybody with 1 brain cell) put fires in numerous other places, when citizens (not fire or police departments, which can’t be everywhere) started patrolling in some places trying to prevent more fires and may be catch those who did it, newspapers and government tried to hush, to not stress national side of it, not to make the place even hotter, to calm people down. Would “nazis” behave in this way? Would any Arab country before or after Israel’s creation behave thus?

    Most Israeli Jews aren’t fanatics from either side and want to be like European country and to live in peace with our neighbors and with Israeli Arabs.

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    1. During those horrible forest fires, which made huge economical damage and killed ~40 people trapped in a bus, when unknowns (of known nationality for everybody with 1 brain cell) put fires in numerous other places, when citizens (not fire or police departments, which can’t be everywhere) started patrolling in some places trying to prevent more fires and may be catch those who did it, newspapers and government tried to hush, to not stress national side of it, not to make the place even hotter, to calm people down. Would “nazis” behave in this way? Would any Arab country before or after Israel’s creation behave thus?

      Why wouldn’t they?

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      1. *Why wouldn’t they?*

        Because they do the opposite *in RL*, and use unti-semitism and anti-Israel sentiments (I described it as 2 diff. things here, don’t say I said it’s the same) to take their peoples’ minds from their countries’ numerous problems.

        Btw, have you checked on great lives of not-Israeli Jews in the Middle East? What popular street sentiment is? One has to be very naive and ignorant of history then and now to ask such a question. I wish people would minimally educate themselves, before deciding they have views on the issue.

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      2. Just 2 quotes from wiki:

        1)
        In the immediate aftermath of trilateral invasion during the Suez Crisis of 1956, on November 23 by Britain France and Israel, a proclamation was issued stating that ‘all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state’, and it promised that they would be soon expelled. Some 25,000 Jews, almost half of the Jewish community left, mainly for Europe, the United States and South America, and Israel, after being forced to sign declarations that they were leaving voluntarily, and agreed with the confiscation of their assets. Some 1,000 more Jews were imprisoned. Similar measures were enacted against British and French nationals in retaliation for the invasion. In Joel Beinin’s summary: “Between 1919 and 1956, the entire Egyptian Jewish community, like the Cicurel firm, was transformed from a national asset into a fifth column.”[19]

        After the 1967 war, more confiscations took place. Rami Mangoubi, who lived in Cairo at the time, states that nearly all Egyptian Jewish men between the ages of 17 and 60 were either thrown out of the country immediately, or taken to the detention centres of Abou Za’abal and Tura, where they were incarcerated and tortured for more than three years.[26] The eventual result was the almost complete disappearance of the Jewish community in Egypt; less than a hundred or so remain today. Most Egyptian Jews fled to Israel (35,000), Brazil (15,000), France (10,000), the US (9,000) and Argentina (9,000).[citation needed] Today, anti-Jewish feelings run high in Egypt, and is common in the media. The last Jewish wedding in Egypt took place in 1984.

        2)
        Jewish citizens are permitted to obtain passports and to travel outside the country, but they often are denied the multiple-exit permits normally issued to other citizens. With the exception of certain business travelers, the authorities require Jews to obtain clearance and pay additional fees before each trip abroad. The Government appears concerned about the emigration of Jewish citizens and permission generally is not granted for all members of a Jewish family to travel outside the country at the same time.

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      3. The 1) describes Egypt, the 2) – Iran. In other countries the situation isn’t much better.

        Btw, I didn’t know that:
        Jews are conscripted into the Army like all Iranian citizens. Many Iranian Jews fought during the Iran-Iraq war (1980–1988) as drafted soldiers. About 15 were killed

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  3. “The Island of Montreal is USA, right?”

    -Montreal is in Quebec, Canada. That’s where my home is. 🙂 Canada is also a colony and is still a member of the British Commonwealth. The British Queen is our Queen, too. Initially, the indigenous lands of Canada were colonized by Europeans and taken away from the rightful owners, the indigenous people.

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  4. “Unlike Jews with more than 2000 years of history the Palestinians as a separate people is a very recent development.”

    -If that’s true, then the entire US should be disbanded immediately. It’s a very recent creation as a nation. There are still no separate USian people, to be honest.

    “and that most of your descriptions of hurt Israeli Arabs is what happens when you live in a country”

    -And that is very true. There is no national identity without a discriminated Other. It is simply not possible to have such a national identity.

    “Would “nazis” behave in this way?”

    -As I suggested, we should remove the word Nazi from this discussion entirely.

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    1. *-And that is very true. There is no national identity without a discriminated Other. It is simply not possible to have such a national identity.*

      I get your idea, but I referred to something different. I started talking about the position of Israeli Arabs specifically. Even in this never ending war since before 1948 there were more peaceful periods, which I didn’t see but heard about. Then it became dangerous to enter Arab villages and parts of town. And naturally it influences how they are seen by Jewish citizens.

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      1. The Other is seen as terrifying and dangerous no matter what it does. In cultures where Jews were the Other, a whole mythology about how they sacrifice Christian babies would arise. I’m not saying Palestinians are not violent. I’m saying it would change very little if they were completely non-violent.

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  5. * Is opposing Hochelagism morally equivalent to justifying genocide of Iroquois? *

    I never said it is. I am interested what people who say “Zionism is a huge problem all around the world” want start happening in practice *now*. Should we all come to USA to live with them? Or let in all Palestinians who say they have a right of return? Or they want a Palestinian state to be founded faster with Israel fully supporting doing it this September in every way? Telling “you’re a problem” is very easy, proposing working policies – much more difficult.

    Now I think, probably the most ironic thing in all this is that without Jews Palestinians wouldn’t exist. After British departure, neighboring countries would get each a slice of land and nobody would know that there is such a people, a Palestinian people. Including those people themselves.

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    1. ‘Now I think, probably the most ironic thing in all this is that without Jews Palestinians wouldn’t exist. ”

      -And the state of Israel would not exist without them. Or some other enemy. This is how nationalism ALWAYS works. There is no irony here whatsoever, just normal workings of identity.

      “Telling “you’re a problem” is very easy, proposing working policies – much more difficult.”

      -Very true.

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  6. Clarissa, Well, first of all I find the title of your post too provocative for the subsequent discussion to be constructive. Second, you misrepresent my reasons for visiting your blog. 🙂 I do visit your blog, but not out of sense of obligation. 🙂 Reread what you have written and what happens if one takes it literally. 🙂

    el, I find the issues of what particular government or state was there in British Palestine by the time of founding of Israel, or if the “Palestinians” were recognized or recognized themselves as a distinct nation, not very relevant. What matters more (to me) is that there were large numbers of non-Jewish people within that territory, who lived there for generations and justifiably considered that territory their “home”.
    And I do not feel there is any antisemitism in my position. I find that trying to build a national/religious state of any one nation within the territory populated by multiple nations with different religions is a very bad idea. It does not matter if said national/religious state is Jewish, or Russian, or Estonian, or Tutsi or Hutu for example.

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    1. The title of the post is a direct quote of a question I was asked by a reader. So I’m just trying to answer it. After the Dean’s penis bone post, how can anything be too provocative? 🙂

      As for the comment about your not visiting out of obligation, yes, I think my manuscript has defeated me. 🙂 I now create weird verbal constructions.
      Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

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      1. *The title of the post is a direct quote of a question I was asked by a reader.*

        I hope you don’t mean me. I would never ask such a thing.

        Hope to see soon thoughts on Israel lobby in US, how much it can really influence, why US supports Israel and whether America wants the conflct to continue. Also what conservatives gain from supporting Israel. I got the (mistaken?) impression it’s fashionable for USA Right and Left be fore For / Against Israel, why so?

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        1. I don’t think fashionable’s the right word. It is socially and politically acceptable to support Israel. Except for a handful of the most liberal folks, ideas which rarely if ever make it into the public domain, it’s not at all acceptable to be against Israel. Even I, who am sort of “Israel-skeptical,” do not talk to people about this in person because it is absolutely against the unspoken rules.

          The US, and especially conservatives, frequently defend their support of Israel by pointing out that it is a very rare democracy in a troubled area of the world and therefore a very key ally.
          It also allows them to be able to act superior to others who question Israel, because it’s very easy to lob words like “anti-semite” and “Nazi” in debates about Israel. I honestly think this is one reason so many keep supporting Israel. It’s a shortcut to show how compassionate and morally correct you are.

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          1. “It also allows them to be able to act superior to others who question Israel, because it’s very easy to lob words like “anti-semite” and “Nazi” in debates about Israel.”

            -At this point, both the supporters and the detractors of Israel have started to use the word Nazi against each other very often. I find this deeply disturbing. The word ends up being emptied of all content and comes to stand for “a person that annoys me.” All this does is ignore the true horror of Nazism.

            “The US, and especially conservatives, frequently defend their support of Israel by pointing out that it is a very rare democracy in a troubled area of the world and therefore a very key ally.”

            -This sounds very cynical but at least such people are honest in that they support a country as long as they find it useful to them and for no other reason.

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            1. *This sounds very cynical but at least such people are honest in that they support a country as long as they find it useful to them and for no other reason.*

              Clarissa, are you the same person, who recommended me this book on Stalin? Very cynical? It sounds only a bit more honest than one often hears.

              Does USA really have a discourse of popularity in politics? (Another post’s idea for you!) Why do many have (or have they?) kindergarten ideas of countries as friends like 2 people can be friends, instead of business partnerships, which last as long as their profitability and not a second longer? Or am I mistaken in it? One would think with US as The Country of Capitalism, its’ citizens would at least apply the same ideas to politics easily. This mistaken approach doesn’t benefit anybody, only lets people happily tell how US (!) is played as a fiddle by Israel’s (!) lobby.

              I also forgot to mention below that I am naturally interested in what good solutions are *today* for Israel and for Palestinians (which probably aren’t the same solutions) and how you think the situation will develop in reality.

              But most of all, again, I am interested in discussion of US behavior and situation there since you live there and can know the situation.

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  7. I very much agree with what V’s said in this latest comment. Sure, “Palestine” wasn’t really a nation that could’ve sat down to the table with other nations…but individual Arabs living in the area certainly saw it as their home, and that high and mighty conceptual stuff isn’t all that important in the face of things like people being suddenly alienated in a place they have called home since birth.
    We are supposed to support Israel for two main reasons, that I can see: 1) that the Jews suffered such indescribable horrors during the Holocaust, that maybe it’s not only justifiable but morally requisite to give them a nice little corner of the world to retire in. (I can’t take seriously – on a political level – claims based on religion, so I’m not going to look at those) and 2) that some Palestians (or Arab Israelis, if you prefer?) have behaved horrendously in what they see as defense of their homeland.
    For many of us who are skeptical of Israel, it has nothing at ALL to do with a purported dislike of Judaism. Instead, it’s about (response to concern #1) the wrongs done to Jews – however unbelievable – do not justify removing generations of residents from the only homes they have ever known. It’s #2 that gives me most pause. But some Israelis behave horribly, just like some Palestinians. So for me it comes back to what I see as an immoral origin of the nation.
    Some of this has to do with the transition from the British colonial world to post-colonialism. Of course, under the old regime it was perfectly legitimate for Britain to allow whomever it wished to settle the lands it controlled. By the time this occurred, though, I think we already had developed our politics to a point where we were questioning colonial power over the already-existing inhabitants of an area.
    Honestly, I wish this issue had been settled decades ago. Now (under my interpretation of how things “should” be sorted out) it’s so much more complicated, because there are generations of people born and raised in a Jewish Israel who have the right to keep THEIR homes in their native land – even while a handful of people are still alive who were born in the Arab-controlled pre-Israel territory who certainly have not given up whatever natural rights they may have. So the solution? Damned if I know.
    I’m taking it for granted that entire groups should not be condemned based on the actions of the most extreme people willing to associate with them – both for the Israelis and the Palestinians. Others, I am sure, do not agree.
    I’m sorry this got so long! Obviously, it’s a complex issue. Thanks for promising a more or less civil discussion, Clarissa

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    1. *We are supposed to support Israel for two main reasons, that I can see: 1) that the Jews suffered such indescribable horrors during the Holocaust, that maybe it’s not only justifiable but morally requisite to give them a nice little corner of the world to retire in.*

      In Israel most Israeli Jews don’t agree with this at all. Instead, Israel has this right because:
      1) every people has a country, Israel is the historical motherland of Jewish people, for generations they prayed “next year in Jerusalem”,
      which
      2) was recognized by the United Nations.

      In declaration of Independence is written:

      “The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people – the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe – was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the comity of nations.”

      Another clear demonstration, not a reason!

      *I can’t take seriously – on a political level – claims based on religion, so I’m not going to look at those*

      I am an atheist, so I can’t either, but many other people from all sides can and do. Including Arabs.

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      1. Well, I’m approaching it from the perspective of an American. That’s probably worth admitting, since it affects my views.

        I do not believe that, because generations of Jews living in Europe dreamed of a distant ancestral homeland, that means that the political world should give it to them. In my mind, one’s citizenship is based primarily on geography. If your family has lived in, say, France for generations, your family is French. You can wish to move to a Jewish Israel, but if one doesn’t exist, you’re out of luck. I long deeply to live in an America where Obama is a right-wing nutjob, but nobody’s giving me and far-left progressives our own little corner of the country. When comparing Jews of Europe whose families were scattered from Israel many generations ago to the Arabs who actually called the place home during their lifetimes (and most of them not occupying the land, during that time, via terrorism), my sympathies lie with the people who had the land at the time.

        Of course, being recognized by the United Nations is a major sign of validity. But it doesn’t address the question of whether Israel *should* exist, which is the question here. So to me, it’s fair to question whether the UN *should* have recognized it. To my understanding, Europeans weren’t thinking about how sorry they felt for the Jews living for hundreds of years or more in Europe and always longing for Israel when they created it….instead, they were thinking of the Holocaust and how to make amends. Which is clear in the bit of the declaration of independence you quoted.

        The “problem” of Jewish homelessness is only such if you consider that Jewishness isn’t compatible with citizenship. Personally, I see religious identity as something that does NOT (inherently) conflict with local identity. We have no reason to believe that Jews will always be mistreated outside of Israel.

        Part of the reason the UN was able to recognize Israel so easily was because the land had belonged to Britain to do with as she pleased, after all. If she wants to lose some of her land to a new state, why not let her? To me, this idea of colonial powers having full control over their territories, to the point where they can take land from those who have lived there all their lives and give it to people who never have, is absurd and passe. I don’t think we would buy that today.

        So…does Israel have a right to exist? Today, I’d say probably, yeah, because you can’t throw out the new people who live there any more than you should have thrown out the old people who live there. But I’m not convinced that should have happened in the first place.

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        1. *We have no reason to believe that Jews will always be mistreated outside of Israel.*

          Except for history of 2000 years, Jews’ “loving” feelings today in many countries (which were there before Israel), and how most people *love* the different from them I see no reason at all either.

          Frankly I am not interested in the discussion what was right or wrong then, I am very interested in:

          – analyzing the current, today’s situation
          – making predictions for the future, will we ever have a calm Middle East with a friendly Palestinian state, like USA and Canada or like Russia and Ukraine kind of friendly. When?
          – Most Of All since it’s a blog with Clarissa and readers from US and Canada I think I know better what feelings in Israeli Jews are, and you know better how people view it in US, why many people talk of this “horrible, powerful Jewish lobby” – what is in reality? Also US role in the conflict, which I asked Clarissa to write about. Will it leave Israel any time soon? What does US want to happen in my corner of the world?

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          1. I think this is where we have to disagree. Jews have gotten a raw deal throughout history in a lot of places. And in a lot of places, a lot of Jews have had pretty normal lives. I don’t think it’s fair or correct to say that Jews are inherently downtrodden and mistreated. Even if they were, I see the solution as treating them decently, not kicking them out of the various societies that mistreat them.
            All this history, the question of what was right then, is extremely relevant to what is right now and what may happen in the future, so I don’t think it should just be dismissed.

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  8. I am not a university educated woman but I do know I’m not an anti-Semite. Yes, I believe Israel has the right to exist. When I think of the 6 million Jewish, Polish, German and others, who were exterminated….to think that the Holocaust is STILL being denied.l….reminds me in a way of the delusional killer (Norway) Anders Behring Beizik and his ramblings about Islam.
    There is still anti-Semitism and it’s alive and well and flourishing in southern California.

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  9. el :

    *This sounds very cynical but at least such people are honest in that they support a country as long as they find it useful to them and for no other reason.*

    Clarissa, are you the same person, who recommended me this book on Stalin? Very cynical? It sounds only a bit more honest than one often hears.

    I think that only supporting someone (or a group of people) because it suits your momentary need and then discarding them when it doesn’t is, indeed, cynical. So what, if many democratic countries appear in the region, then to hell with Israel? Yes, that’s cynical, in my view.

    How is this connected with Stalin’s biography, though?

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  10. I am talking RE politics on international level, among countries, not people’s personal behavior in their private lives among friends. Reality politics, that’s the name? Often the need isn’t “momentary”, but lasts a while, then, if a president sees his country’s best interests are in finding new “friends” and letting the old do for themselves, it’s his job to do what’s best for his citizens, right? Isn’t politics thus, maneuvering to put yourself in the best position?

    Stalin’s biography shows how (the author thinks) Stalin, a ruler, thought. How others thought too. The games played between him and Hitler, him and the West, him and former supporters & “old friends”. Yes, Stalin was a dictator. Yes, his and Hitler’s names have a bad reputation to say the least. But he was normal. Even if other politicians’ plans are different (not world revolution), they include imperialistic tendencies, economical interests worth going to war and killing people for (at least, that’s what I see in RL), mutual spying and special forces who don’t give away candy, etc. I mean reality is messy, ugly and cynical, and studying history may help one try to psychologically understand how people in charge think. It’s not like Stalin was this special creature from the moon, and today’s politicians don’t have “cynical” as job requirement.

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    1. I’m sorry but on no planet can homicidal maniacs like Hitler and Stalin be considered normal.

      ” I mean reality is messy, ugly and cynical, and studying history may help one try to psychologically understand how people in charge think.”

      -I am very far from justifying genocidal dictators on the basis that everybody would have done the same. No, they wouldn’t. People in charge get there because we put them there. And until we have it very clear that norms of morality should not be abandoned in politics, we will keep putting dirty politicians in power. If today are politicians suck, we only have ourselves to blame.

      ‘It’s not like Stalin was this special creature from the moon, and today’s politicians don’t have “cynical” as job requirement.”

      -Obama is not perfect, in any sense of the word. Putin is REALLY not perfect. Comparing either of them to Stalin, however, makes no sense. The only acceptable attitude to genocidal maniacs like Hitler and Stalin can be outright condemnation. I’m not even sure we read the same book if the conclusion you drew from it was that Stalin was “normal.”

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      1. OK, let’s leave Stalin out of it. My point was only messed by bringing him in. Do you agree that a president’s job is furthering his country’s interests and that there really isn’t a frienship between 2 countries, like there is a friendship between 2 people? Don’t countries have to use espionage, lie, special forces, hide secrets (I remember you were against Julian Aussage with wikileaks since governments have secrets and, yes, lie)?

        And I would love a post RE Putin and Medvedev. Do they do a good job? Why or why not? What’s going on in Russia economically, politically? How do you see its’ future?

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        1. ” Do you agree that a president’s job is furthering his country’s interests”

          -The problem is that agreeing on what furthers a country’s interests is not an easy thing to do. The absolute majority of Americans have been profoundly dissatisfied with their politicians’ handling of foreign affairs for a very long time. Because of the logic you described, the US first armed the Talibans in Afghanistan and is now sending young kids to die fighting those same Talibans. Who are armed with American weapons. Because of this logic the US and Britain sat there impotently as Hitler gained power in Europe. This logic ultimately comes back to bite every single politician who attempts it.

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