Respectful Insolence

Iranian President (and Holocaust denier) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed up at Columbia University yesterday to give a speech. Given my interest in Holocaust history and Holocaust denial I had debated whether to comment on it before it happened. Given my contempt for him, his anti-Semitism, and his Holocaust denial, I was rather torn by the whole affair. On the one hand, I am very much in favor of free speech, and having this loon speak can in one way be argued to be evidence of what is great about this country (although it would have been more convincing if Columbia had a better record on this score with regards to controversial home grown speakers and how the administration has caved to disruptive students whose purpose is to interfere with the speech of people they don’t like). On the other hand, given that this man is a Holocaust denier, leads a government that is supplying weapons to insurgents in Iraq who are killing U.S. soldiers, and has called for the destruction of the State of Israel, I have to wonder if, as Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt put it, the administration of Columbia is being so open-minded that its brains fell out.

In some ways, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, Ahmadinejad did his usual dancing around tough questions about his Holocaust denial and his sponsoring of terrorism, among other things, but what surprised me is the vehemence with which these points were brought up. I had expected oh-so-polite euphemisms and no tough questions, but President Lee C. Bollinger went after him right out of the box.

For example, here is what he said about Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial:

In a December 2005 state television broadcast, you described the Holocaust as a “fabricated” “legend.” One year later, you held a two-day conference of Holocaust deniers.

For the illiterate and ignorant, this is dangerous propaganda. When you come to a place like this, this makes you, quite simply, ridiculous. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.

You should know that Columbia is a world center of Jewish studies and now, in partnership with the YIVO Institute, of Holocaust studies. Since the 1930s, we’ve provided an intellectual home for countless Holocaust refugees and survivors and their children and grandchildren. The truth is that the Holocaust is the most documented event in human history. Because of this, and for many other reasons, your absurd comments about the “debate” over the Holocaust both defy historical truth and make all of us who continue to fear humanity’s capacity for evil shudder at this closure of memory, which is always virtue’s first line of defense.

Will you cease this outrage?

“Either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated”? Not bad, but I would have included another possibility: that he is, quite simply, a liar about the Holocaust. It’s a convenient way for Ahmadinejad to look as though he is showing solidarity with the Palestinian cause and to whip up anti-Semitism. Bollinger also went after Ahmadinejad for his sponsorship of terrorism, his support of a proxy war against U.S. troops in Iraq, his brutal crackdown on scholars, journalists, and human rights advocates, and his call for the destruction of the State of Israel–all in the opening remarks.

If you really want to get an idea of just how credulity and poor reasoning begets credulity and more poor reasoning, one has only to look at some of Ahmadinejad’s remarks on science, 9/11, and the Holocaust. For example, he seems to be more than flirting with 9/11 conspiracy theories:

Then he appeared to question whether al-Qaida was responsible, saying more research was needed.

“If the root causes of 9/11 are examined properly – why it happened, what caused it, what were the conditions that led to it, who truly was involved, who was really involved – and put it all together to understand how to prevent the crisis in Iraq, fix the problem in Afghanistan and Iraq combined,” Ahmadinejad said.

Note the call for “more research.” Unfortunately, a member of the audience asking questions fell into this trap with the Holocaust, as Deborah Lipstadt recounts:

Question to Ahmadinejad: why is more research necessary on the Holocaust [as you say it is] if everything has been so well documented?

Oy. Even as this is being asked I see what’s coming. This is an example of a poorly worded question: OF COURSE THERE IS ROOM FOR MORE RESEARCH…

But what Ahmadinejad says is he wants “MORE RESEARCH TO DISCOVER THE FACTS.” In other words he is arguing that the truth of the event itself is not fully known.

Exactly! And Ahmadinejad’s answer is breathtaking in its crank logic:

Ahmadinejad says: Well what about physics? We know a lot about physics but we keep studying it? Who says we already know everything?

Yes, we still study physics, but the certain aspects of the basics (for instance, Newton’s laws) were worked out centuries ago and are well accepted. Similarly, for the Holocaust, it is not disputed that Nazi Germany had a policy to expel or exterminate the Jews or Europe and that they nearly succeeded, killing approximately six million in the process. Fortunately, he was called out on this dodge:

But Coatsworth, who is chairing the event, is calling him on it. Good for him…Coatsworth responds to Ahmadinejad’s answer by saying that we have certain facts which are established about an event. What you, Mr. President, are doing is calling for more research not to “fill in the details” but to “establish the facts.” And establishing the basic facts, Coatsworth points out, is NOT necessary since they have been firmly established.

This is about as excellent a response to crank logic as I have ever heard. Cranks like to argue that “more research is needed,” a sentiment that no scientist or scholar could argue with. However, that’s because scientists and scholars know the difference between research to establish the facts or to establish a phenomenon and research needed to push beyond what is already known. Cranks usually mean the former when they call for “more research”; scientists and scholars mean the latter, and cranks exploit this confusion.

Perhaps the statement most hilariously unmoored from reality made by Ahmadinejad came in response to a question about his government’s treatment of homosexuals:

He provoked derisive laughter by responding to a question about Iran’s execution of homosexuals by saying: “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country … I don’t know who’s told you that we have this.”

As I said, utterly hilarious, even if there are credulous fools out there who didn’t see through Ahmadinejad’s bloviations and have gone so far as to compare him to Martin Luther King, Jr. or even Ghandi.

Cranks obviously attract cranks.

Believe it or not, I’m beginning to think that this appearance did more good than harm (although marginally). On the one hand, Ahmadinejad did get a chance to speak to an audience, and no doubt he will broadcast an edited version of his speech and question and answer session (minus the embarrassing bits in which he was asked uncomfortable questions) for propaganda purposes. On the other hand, however, the very fact that he came in, so full of hubris, and miscalculated so badly, allowing himself to be lectured on his policies and his crank ideas, was refreshing. I’m guessing he’s never experienced something like that before. Moreover, by making such patently ridiculous claims as that there are no homosexuals in Iran Ahmadinejad revealed himself perhaps even more plainly than ever before as a complete and utter wingnut–and in the process revealed a lot about how cranks think.

Comments

  1. #1 SLC
    September 25, 2007

    The sad part of all of this is that Mr. Amadinejad is not an uneducated boob. He is a college graduate from a reputable university with a degree in transportation engineering.

  2. #2 wfjag
    September 25, 2007

    “On the one hand, Ahmadinejad did get a chance to speak to an audience, and no doubt he will broadcast an edited version of his speech and question and answer session (minus the embarrassing bits in which he was asked uncomfortable questions) for propaganda purposes.”

    That’s a bit of an understatement. See,

    http://www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-24/0709252616013529.htm

    Islamic Republic News Agency

    “IRI President addresses students at Colombia University”

    “Despite entire US media objections, negative propagation and hue and cry in recent days over IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s scheduled address at Colombia University, he gave his lecture and answered students questions here on Monday afternoon.

    On second day of his entry in New York, and amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is not going to attack any country in the world.

    Before President Ahamadinejad’s address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to hear Iran’s stands as the Iranian President would put them forth.”

    See also,
    http://www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-24/0709252042114806.htm
    “President Ahmadinejad meets Jewish rabbis in New York”

    “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Monday afternoon met with a group of Jewish rabbis who gave him a silver grail as a sign of friendship.”

    [and]

    “The president said the future belongs to the monotheist faiths and that liars would be eliminated.

    He stressed that all followers of divine faiths were responsible to promote monotheism and defend peace, justice and brotherhood.”

    He wasn’t playing to a US audience. He was playing to a Mideast audience, and to Muslims who have emmigrated to Europe and the US, but do not wish to assimilate into their cultures. CU Pres. Bollinger is a fool and played into his hands. The Deans of Columbia’s Law and Business Schools were correct — the invitation to speak should have been withdrawn. Freedom of speech does not require giving a forum to people to repeat lies.

  3. #3 gwangung
    September 25, 2007

    wfjag …

    Your point would be a stronger one in a world without the internet, where states controlled more of the media outlets. You don’t think tapes and YouTube clips won’t get circulated in his home country?

    No, Columbia did the proper thing–exposed this fool like the pig he was and skewered him in front of a snickering audience.

  4. #4 anangbhai
    September 25, 2007

    Freedom of speech does not require giving a forum to people to repeat lies.
    Seems to be working out pretty well for our allies in the house of saud and kuwait and the people’s republic of china. And its not like they would even think about taking questions from the public, let alone academics.
    I just thought this whole thing was ridiculous, they’re making him out to be capone.

  5. #5 Chemgeek
    September 25, 2007

    Of course the Iranian “media” is going to spin this as a sort of victory, but I’m glad he got the chance to speak on American soil.

    If nothing else, the evil and hatred he spews was front and center for all to see and hear. He will get a stage to say these things anywhere. Not letting him speak at Columbia would not silence him.

    Now hopefully, everyone in America will see what the US will have to deal with sooner or later. Whoever enters the White House next will have to deal with this raving moron. Sadly, it may be a raving moron fully equipped to wage serious war against that which he hates.

  6. #6 IanR
    September 25, 2007

    &uotRegarding the destruction of Israel comment (or rather, the oft-repeated “wiped off the map” bit), Canadian Cynic has linked to a couple sites which say that it was a mistranslation: Prison Planet and Mohammad Mossadegh. Since I don’t speak Farsi, I have no clue. Not that I have any desire to defend Ahmadinejad.

  7. #7 beajerry
    September 25, 2007

    I loved the 60 Minutes interview. Scott Pelley must’ve been thinking “OMG, this is just too easy (to make this guy’s craziness shine)!”

  8. #8 Oldfart
    September 25, 2007

    Next, the PM of Israel needs to address the students and answer some hard questions…..except, of course, no one would dare to ask him the hard questions. Like, what are Israels intentions now that they have had nuclear weapons for some time? Does Israel have a nuclear weapon program or do they just buy them under the table from US administrations? Do they enrich their own fuel for nuclear power? Does Israel have nuclear power plants? Who supplies them with their enriched fuel? Does Israel ever believe it will become a force for stability in the middle east? Does Israel believe it has some kind of god-given superior rights in that part of the world? Does the Israeli PM believe Palestinians and other arabs are sub-human deserving only of second class citizen ship? Will Israel give up it’s religious form of government and become a secular state? When will Israel start obeying UN mandates? When will Israel allow UN weapons inspectors to inspect their WMDs? When will Israeli agents stop spying on the US? When will Israeli agents like Lieberman get out of Congress? Will the IDF stop missing combatants and hitting women and children any time in the near future? When will Israel allow the next class of Palestinian school children to attend school?
    And so forth.
    A pox on both their houses I say.
    And curse the British for dumping this mess on we unsuspecting Americans.

  9. #9 Save Your
    September 25, 2007

    Boy, everybody wants to make him out to be the new “Hitler.” You’d think we were already at war with Iran and that he’s enemy #1. (I know that’s what the administration and Israel want, but we’re not at war yet.)

    Ahmadinejad doesn’t seem to want war nearly as much as the current administration and Israel do. Nor does he seem any more nutty than any of numerous homegrown US politicians, which admittedly leaves plenty of room for nuttiness.

    Actually, I think it’s admirable that he was willing to make the address and face the questions in such hostile territory. Hard to imagine that George W. Bush would have been willing to do the same in Iran, or even in the USA to a non-screened live audience for that matter.

  10. #10 Paul
    September 25, 2007

    “The president said the future belongs to the monotheist faiths and that liars would be eliminated.

    He stressed that all followers of divine faiths were responsible to promote monotheism and defend peace, justice and brotherhood.”

    So now Jews are not the enemy anymore, now he’s got his sights on Hindus and Richard Dawkins!

    Or was this a an attempt to reach out to the Christian fundies?

  11. #11 Thomas
    September 25, 2007

    It is very rude to introduce an invited speaker by an all out attack like Bollinger did. If anything that is likely to have given Ahmadinejad support from people who haven’t already made up their mind.

    Are you aware how many Americans still believe Iraq was involved in 9/11? That there are those who nowadays are trying to blame Iran instead, to get a pretext for another war. Maybe Ahmadinejad was “flirting with 9/11 conspiracy theories”, but from what he said he may just as well has meant the opposite, that Americans are flirting with conspiracy theories and refusing to see the real background to who attacked and why. (“They hate our freedom” isn’t really a good explanation)

    You accuse Iran of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq. There is actually very little evidence for this, even if USA keeps imprisoning Iranian guests to the Iraqi government claiming they support terrorists. (Which really is an accusation against the Iraqi government as well). Even if Iran is supplying some weapons to some of the militias, in what way is that worse than the US invasion and arming of other militias? Iraq is falling apart in civil war after the US invasion, do you expect the neighbors to just sit around and watch? (Then there is all the evidence that US leaders has for a long time had Iran as their next target as soon as Iraq is calm enough, which would make it a perfectly sensible strategy for Iran to make sure USA is kept busy).

  12. #12 TheProbe
    September 25, 2007

    SLC said: “boob. He is a college graduate from a reputable university with a degree in transportation engineering.”

    That explains it. Allah said “brains” and he heard “trains” and took one to StupidVille.

    He IS stupid, for want of a better word. His denials are so “out there” that I question just how smart he is. It is not just one or two of the things that he says, but the entire picture of what he spouts that makes me question just how smart he is.

    What clinched it for me was that he seemed genuinely surprised as to the hostility of his greeting. Either his intelligence services make the CIA look like it is perfect, or he is really stupid. He acted like he never saw it coming.

    Being that ‘stupid’ and having nukes is a major worry.

  13. #13 TheProbe
    September 25, 2007

    To OldFart:

    Israel has had its own nuclear program for several decades. They maintain a facility at Dimona. There is no serious question that they do have nukes. They have them to ensure their continuing existence since no hostile country would want to risk their use against themselves. It is MAD all over again. MAD works.

    BTW, your frankness in demonstrating your anti-Semitism is refreshing. Most bigots try to hide it a bit.

  14. #14 Orac
    September 25, 2007

    &tIanR,

    Prison Planet isn’t exactly a sterling site to be linking to. It’s full of loony 9/11 conspiracy theories, for one thing.

    You’re also attacking a bit of straw man here, I’m afraid. I never cited the oft-quoted bit where Ahmadinejad supposedly calls to wipe Israel “off the map.; Go ahead. Read my article again. I’ll wait. I never said it or cited it–intentionally.

    What I did say was that Ahmadinejad “has called for the destruction of the State of Israel.” And, in fact, if the proposed translation (“The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.”) is correct, then I stand by what I said, because Ahmadinejad has in essence called for the destruction of the State of Israel, presumably to be replaced by Palestinian rule.

    In retrospect, I will grant you that Lee Bollinger probably shouldn’t have used that “wiped off the map” translation, though. It was a relatively minor misstep. Similarly, perhaps I should have used the word “elimination” instead of “destruction.” However, the basic idea is not all that different. Ahmadinejad would like to get rid of the State of Israel.

  15. #15 Norman Doering
    September 25, 2007

    He provoked derisive laughter by responding to a question about Iran’s execution of homosexuals by saying: “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country … I don’t know who’s told you that we have this.”

    Ahmadinejad is dangerous and religiously delusional, but keep something in mind: There may be radically different cultural concepts and translation problems going on when trying to talk about homosexuality. Ahmadinejad speaks Farsi, not English, and has to be translated. It sounds like “gay” got translated into something that means merely “sexual criminal” with the emphasis on the “criminal.”

    I don’t think Ahmadinejad was able to understand the question due to an Orwellian distortion that’s happening to the Farsi language.

    I blogged on it.

  16. #16 Ginger Yellow
    September 25, 2007

    “So now Jews are not the enemy anymore, now he’s got his sights on Hindus and Richard Dawkins!”

    This is nothing new. That bizarre letter he sent to Bush a year or so ago was mostly taken up with a weird vague plan to unite Iran and US under a monotheistic banner and fight the forces of secularism.

  17. #17 Thomas
    September 25, 2007

    Orac, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly stated that what he wish is a referendum where both Jews and Palestinians can vote about the future of the land. Is this realistic? Not really, but neither is it as militant and dangerous as some want it to sound. Regardless of exactly how you translate that “wiped off the map”, the context is that he had just used the analogy of how the Soviet Union was dissolved, which wasn’t done by any foreign invasion or nuclear attack.

    Ahmandinejad seems to be a bad leader for Iran not a threat to anyone else (he doesn’t even control the Iranian military!), but the attempts to smear him seem more designed to justify an attack on Iran as shown by some of the comments here. Do you support such an attack?

  18. #18 Tyler DiPietro
    September 25, 2007

    I’ll just go the easy route and blame the joos for this entire incident.

  19. #19 Tyler DiPietro
    September 25, 2007

    Thomas, I know the question was addressed to Orac but I’ll stab at it anyway: I think we have to acknowledge that the man is rather intransigently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. From what I understand, his “wiped off the map” comment was mistranslated and taken out of context, but I don’t think that completely absolves him of his anti-Israel stance (a long-standing stance shared by his higher ups, the Ayatollahs).

    As for war against Iran, I don’t support it. Such a war would only further destabilize the middle-east, not to mention further compromise our international reputation.

  20. #20 Uncle Dave
    September 25, 2007

    As absurd as MAD was and is, it only worked between two mega powers that understood the pursuit of power, how to hold onto it, and the futility of the situation. However I am not so sure the playing field for Mutually Assured Destruction exists in a region of very angry fractionalized religious zealots. Iran might not use a nuke first but some faction in that region will likely try it.

    That being said, the Iranian President is likely far to in love with himself to risk nuclear exposure to close to his own skin.

    Denying the holocaust publicly, says a lot about thier intended audience (not us), not to mention thier sincere love of thier own dysfunctional dogma. After all when asked about homosexuals, the President said they have no homosexuals in Iran (which left the audience in complete laughter). Why are all these NPD leaders and big mouthed nut jobs all little guys? They seem to all have some sort of inferiority complex that drives thier personality. Hitler was believed to be turned on by his own speeches. It is bleieved that he basically had no sexual relationships (Eva Braun included). He got off so to speak on his speeches to large audiences (look at the films of him drooling and sweating during his speeches).

    It is said that hatred is a disease that consumes the soul, and the Iranian president seems to feel right at home addressing all those who have non or are interested in getting rid of one.

  21. #21 Bad
    September 25, 2007

    I have to admit that I’ve never quite understood the inclination to want to stop offensive and evil people from speaking. I mean, I’ve certainly had such feelings, but I’m not sure I understand why anyone thinks they are logical.

    I would rather have this guy out there speaking and know what he really thinks and says than only know about it through what FoxNews declares in their run-up to war with Iran. At the very least, knowing what a horrid guy thinks and says helps us understand him better, which if we are committed to defeating him more effectively, is an entirely good thing. Period.

    It’s also worth noting that this guy is not actually in any real sort of position of power. The President of Iran is sort of like the cheerleading captain of a school, not its principal. The real leaders are many times worse than this guy.

  22. #22 Chris
    September 25, 2007

    I think we have to acknowledge that the man is rather intransigently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. From what I understand, his “wiped off the map” comment was mistranslated and taken out of context, but I don’t think that completely absolves him of his anti-Israel stance (a long-standing stance shared by his higher ups, the Ayatollahs).

    Absolves? Israel has committed mass murder in the past year and routinely oppresses ethnic and religious minorities in ways that would make the South Africans proud. I don’t think opposition to it *as a political entity* is a sin requiring absolution. Characterizing his stance as “calling for the destruction of the State of Israel” is, at best, dodgy: “destruction” implies violence, which was not stated. “Calling for the abolition of the State of Israel” might be more accurate.

    You have to remember that people in the U.S. have seen Ahmadinejad almost exclusively through the lens of a propaganda machine subservient to the administration, which is openly hostile to Iran. Anything good they can say about him, they’ll hide, and anything bad they’ll exaggerate or make up altogether. I wouldn’t trust most of the media as a source on Ahmadinejad if they told me he had two feet – I’d want to see pictures.

  23. #23 Tyler DiPietro
    September 25, 2007

    “Absolves? Israel has committed mass murder in the past year and routinely oppresses ethnic and religious minorities in ways that would make the South Africans proud. I don’t think opposition to it *as a political entity* is a sin requiring absolution.”

    Iran overtly supports groups like Hisb’allah that routinely commit violence against Israel and steadfastly fail to recognize Israel’s basic right to exist. That is much more than mere political opposition. That doesn’t excuse Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories (which, in a geopolitical sense, has nothing to do with Iran) or Lebanon, but that doesn’t change the fact that Iran takes an aggressive stance toward the Jewish State, at least far more aggressive than you let on here.

  24. #24 EnzoAntonius
    September 25, 2007

    Crankism goes both ways. There are also Jews that believe they are entitle to Israel and the West Bank because some sand deity promised it to their claim mythical founder millennia ago. Furthermore, Iran isn’t not a perfect country and I in no way want to be seen as defending the totalitarian regime there. However, Iran has never invade another nation for oil, nor does Iran have racist all-Iranian settlements in the West Bank.

  25. #25 EnzoAntonius
    September 25, 2007

    @ tyler di prieto

    What is the difference of between Israel being a “Jewish state” and the former South Africa being a “white state”? Is there not a sizable and increasing growing percentage of the population that isn’t Jewish? Why do Jews get to be different and have their own state? Israel has a right to exist, but not at the price of non-Jews and Palestinians as second class human beings as is now the present case.

  26. #26 Tyler DiPietro
    September 25, 2007

    EnzoAntonius

    Iran is officially Shi’ite Muslim, most of the nation-states in the Arab peninsula are officially Sunni Muslim. Both identities are implicitly (and often explicitly) connected to ethno-cultural identities in the same way that Judaism is. I oppose official mingling of religion, ethnicity, etc. on my own turf, but I don’t dictate such things to foreign countries.

    It’s also worth noting that Israel is far less oppressive toward ethnic/religious minorities than the Islamic regimes that surround it. At least they have the right to vote, and practice religions outside of the officially recognized tradition.

  27. #27 Marcus Ranum
    September 25, 2007

    BTW, your frankness in demonstrating your anti-Semitism is refreshing. Most bigots try to hide it a bit.

    It’s not anti-semitism to disagree with Israeli policies. I didn’t see anything in “Oldfart”s posting that was anti-semitic – can you point out where he was engaging in hate speech please?

  28. #28 IanR
    September 25, 2007

    Orac – I didn’t mean to imply that you had said “wiped off the map”. But I can’t read “has called for the destruction of the State of Israel” as equivalent to “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”. I think Ahmadinejad is a horrible person, and I think Holocaust denial is about as vile and disgusting a lie as anyone can come up with. While I realise you see it otherwise, I can’t see the two sentences as equivalent. I loved seeing Ahmadinejad get laughed at. Nothing takes down a “strong man” like laughter. But not representing what he said fairly wins him sympathy.

  29. #29 Oldfart
    September 25, 2007

    TheProbe: LOL. Why did I know that someone here would say that? And your openly pro-Zionist anti-arab bigotry is also refreshing. I am not in any way an anti-Semite. I am anti-Zionist. I do question Israel’s right to be there. I do question the justification for the land grab. And the consequent and long-term mistreatment of the Arab peoples that lived there. I know that Zionist bigots will baselessly claim that no one lived there when they were give the land by the British but there are no facts supporting that. I know that the Zionist bigots will put down every single voice of reason within Israel that, in their view, seeks to limit their drive to oust the Arabs from all of what they consider God’s gift to the chosen people. I know that there is little difference between the Zionist bigots and the Nazi bigots they ran from. You have met the enemy and he is you. You have become what you claim to hate the most. Are you proud?

  30. #30 Marcus Ranum
    September 25, 2007

    Re: MAD

    My mother always told me “Never play Mutual Assured Destruction with little Billy down the street. He’s a member of a messianic death-cult. His idea of ‘winning’ may not be the same as yours.” Good old mom!

    Of course, it’s never that simple. Ahmadenijad, Jong Il, and GWB and all political ***holes are worldly people and their quest for worldly power and privilege is evidence of that. Which means that – as long as they’re alive and well and enjoying power and comfort – they are unlikely to do something that personally upsets the applecart for them. Sure, they may send your kids to war but they’re going to sit in their palaces behind their guards and they’ll be careful not to do anything that would provoke a comfort-ending nuclear exchange. The trick is to get their hands away from the button when they’re heading for the big dirt nap and have not much left to lose.

  31. #31 Tyler DiPietro
    September 25, 2007

    Due to the long term mistreatment, systematic displacement and some would say outright genocide of indigenous populations, I question the right of all nations in the Anglosphere to exist. Let’s all head back the British Isles, boys.

    Of course that brings up the issue of Britain’s multiple trade-offs between Celts, Saxons, Danes, etc. But we can deal with that when the time comes.

  32. #32 S. Rivlin
    September 25, 2007

    Chris,

    I seem to remember you from the old CNN Mideast FORUM (long gone). If I am not wrong, you are from Canada and your tune haven’t changed. Always escalating the Israeli actions to the most extreme level and reducing the Arab’s actions to an excusable behavior. You should invite Ahmadinejad to your university in Canada and check for yourself if he does have two feet. And while you are at it, asked him where in Iran he hides Nasralla, the Hizbullah leader.

  33. #33 Marcus Ranum
    September 25, 2007

    It’s also worth noting that Israel is far less oppressive toward ethnic/religious minorities than the Islamic regimes that surround it.

    That’d be a great marketing slogan: “we suck less!

    Seriously, I never thought I’d hear someone defending evil by claiming that “at least it’s the lesser of evils.”

  34. #34 Tyler DiPietro
    September 25, 2007

    Marcus Ranum,

    Read the post I was responding to, as well as several others. I never said that I thought Israel’s conduct in the West Bank, Gaza, Southern Labenon, etc. was completely acceptable. I was responding to this part of EnzoAntonius post: “Why do Jews get to be different and have their own state?” There is demonstrably nothing “special” about it.

    As for supporting the lesser of two evils. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s called “pragmatism” or “realism”, and it’s an integral part of any foreign policy outlook.

  35. #35 aracne
    September 25, 2007

    I’m not from the US, and I am no fan of Ahmadinejad or the Iran regime, but I think maybe the “brave” interviewers should have been a little more polite.

    …it is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies, to have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil, and to prepare ourselves to act with the right temperament… (From Mr. Bollinger’s introduction)

    He called implicitly another nation’s leader “evil”? Someone that they invited?

    I’m sorry to tell you that Ahmadinejad ended looking better because the interviewer started talking directly like a bully.

  36. #36 aracne
    September 25, 2007

    Ouch, sorry. I wanted to hit preview. The second blockquote is my opinion.

  37. #37 Marcus Ranum
    September 25, 2007

    Why do Jews get to be different and have their own state?”

    What about that is anti-semitic?

  38. #38 Ktesibios
    September 25, 2007

    I agree with Marcus Ranum on the subject of deterrence. The claim that if Iran (or insert brown bogeyman of choice) has access to nuclear weapons they will start throwing them at their enemies irrespective of consequences depends entirely on viewing the chosen brown bogeyman as being, somehow, not fully human in the sense that oneself is human- the sort of “they don’t feel pain the way we do” or “they don’t value human life like we do” arguments that are so tiresomely familiar.

    Funny, but despite the similar claims about Russians (and Dobbs only knows what the Party line about Americans was), Cold War deterrence held for fifty-odd years, even though, as we now know, highly-placed lunatics on both sides were actively trying to provoke World War III.

    Eliminate the sick need for something to hang one’s own superiority on and you can apply the same fears to anyone. For example, what would happen if the Israeli arsenal were to come under the control of a government made up of the same people who produced and still venerate Baruch Goldstein? What if the President of the USA were a fundy who believes that the End Times are near and hasn’t any qualms about bringing them closer?

  39. #39 wfjag
    September 25, 2007

    gwangung
    “Your point would be a stronger one in a world without the internet, where states controlled more of the media outlets. You don’t think tapes and YouTube clips won’t get circulated in his home country?”

    Don’t assume that the free exchange of opinions, biases, information, fallacies, etc., on the internet, as operated in the US, Canada, and most of Europe, exists elsewhere. Many states do try, some with a fair amount of success, to control internet access — the PRC only being the best known example.

    However, to focus more on Ahmadenijad’s target audiences (which I suspect doesn’t include people like you, who appear willing to ask questions), how many people in Mideast Muslim nations have internet access? How many Muslim immigrants to the US and Europe have internet access? Of those people (both preceeding groups), how many are fluent in English? And, when considering Iran, how many people are willing to face the various internal security forces, both the offical ones like SAVAMA (which was the reorganized version of SAVAK after the revolution), or the semi official ones like Iran’s Revolutionary Guards the Qud Force?

    I’m not aware of YouTube having a big following in Iran. While there may be some circulation of tapes (or other information that those in power in Iran consider subversive), I see no evidence of that being wide spread.

  40. #40 Rebecca
    September 25, 2007

    In terms of internet usage in Iran, and access to Youtube and the like, take a look at Kamangir.net – he’s an Iranian blogger currently living in Canada (and thus able to say what he wants), and he reports about a lot of what’s happening in Iran. From what I can remember, he mentions that sometimes sites outside Iran are blocked. And if you go to his site, then click on the many links he has to other blogs in the Iranian blogosphere, both in English and in Persian. There are lots of Iranian blogs.

    It is amazing to me how when the subject of Israel is raised, rationality goes out the window for many people. I am not a fan of the settlements on the West Bank, I am an advocate of a two-state solution, and I am not happy about the often second-class treatment of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. But Israel is not a theocratic state – it is not ruled by rabbis, nor is it the state in the world with the worst human rights record. There are several Arab parties with representation in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and they very vigorously protest many actions of the government (along with left-wing Zionist parties like Meretz). Israeli is hardly perfect – which is obvious to anyone who has lived there for any period of time – but it is not the worst state on the planet.

  41. #41 Chris
    September 25, 2007

    Chris,

    I seem to remember you from the old CNN Mideast FORUM (long gone).

    Nope, different person.

    It wasn’t my intention to defend Ahmadinejad from anything that he has actually done – merely to put some brakes on the propaganda train painting him as the reincarnation of Hitler. (Hitler’s words would not have been sufficient, IMO, to justify WWII; that took his actions, which Ahmadinejad, to my knowledge, has never attempted to emulate.)

    Many of Israel’s neighbors have cultural and geopolitical reasons to oppose it, and vice versa; I think it is, at best, unwise to identify as strongly with one side as we have done for the last several decades. It undermines our credibility as peace brokers (hell, we’re arming one of the belligerents). Of course our actions in Iraq are quite sufficient to deprive us of any credibility on human rights issues.

    The whole region needs a good strong dose of separation of church and state – or better yet, large-scale abandonment of the religions (plural) that have brought only division and destruction. But that seems unlikely in the near future. In the meantime I’ll settle for peace and as little injustice as practically possible (which definitely does not include building and expanding more “settlements” – a blatant attempt to expand on the already questionable land grabs that created Israel.) Even that may be impossible if one or both sides prefer continued violence (possibly due to a need to appear strong internally).

    And while you are at it, asked him where in Iran he hides Nasralla, the Hizbullah leader.

    Even if Nasralla is in Iran (what source do you have for that information? Something better than Bush Administration unsupported claims, I hope), I don’t assume that everything that happens in Iran is under Ahmadinejad’s control (or that any particular thing is). He’s not a dictator – he’s practically a figurehead.

    Israeli is hardly perfect – which is obvious to anyone who has lived there for any period of time – but it is not the worst state on the planet.

    Nobody’s saying it is – but it doesn’t have to be the worst state on the planet to be deserving of some condemnation. It is possible to believe that both (or all) sides have done significant wrong – I do believe that. I also believe that someone should take up a neutral, “referee” position trying to speak up for human rights (on both sides – the existence of a real threat does not justify a police state, a point that applies just as strongly to Israel as to the post-9/11 USA) and promote peace, but that the USA lacks credibility to do so because of our history of bias (and now torture and various other evil practices). Maybe the EC or UN would be able to take some positive action.

  42. #42 DuWayne
    September 25, 2007

    gwangung -

    Iran has pretty strong media controls, including the internet. There are worse, I imagine, but I daresay that anything that gets widespread enough to be noticed, gets blocked. The impression I have gotten from Iranian blogs and newspapers (I admit that it’s been more than a year since I really paid a lot of attention to them), is that if you fly under the radar, you can get away with quite a bit. But if a lot of people take notice, you will get cut off. I also got the impression that if your rhetoric reaches a certain level of offense, you will get cut off. So I doubt that unedited videos of the speech and q&a will get much, if any play there.

    OTOH, I’d be willing to bet that it will get a lot of play in other mideast countries.

  43. #43 Marcus Ranum
    September 25, 2007

    What if the President of the USA were a fundy who believes that the End Times are near and hasn’t any qualms about bringing them closer?

    That’s not funny.

  44. #44 Orac
    September 25, 2007

    I am not in any way an anti-Semite. I am anti-Zionist. I do question Israel’s right to be there.

    Virtually all anti-Semites claim that they are not anti-Semitic. Many say instead that they are “anti-Zionist.”

    For the moment, I will take you at your word that you are not anti-Semitic, but you should be aware that to me your language does flirt with sounding blatantly anti-Semitic. Indeed, you should not be surprised that that is the impression you give. Giving you the benefit of the doubt for now, I will give you a word of advice: Whether you realize it or not, your sorts of arguments are frequently used by Holocaust deniers as code for their anti-Semitism or as a smokescreen behind which to vent their Jew-hatred. In fact, you should be aware that your comparison of Zionists to Nazis would be, were I not for the moment giving you the benefit of a doubt, not only an excuse for me to do a Hitler Zombie parody with you as the victim getting his brain chomped but also a dead giveaway that you are an anti-Semite. Indeed, it is a favorite ploy of arch-racist, anti-Semite, and Holocaust denier Michael A. Hoffman II (here also) to equate the Palestinian situation with the Holocaust and Israels to Nazis (which is really funny, given how much he seems to like Nazis).

    You may think that it’s unfair of you to be labeled an anti-Semite, but surely you can’t be ignorant enough to know that the sort of rhetoric that you used is stock in trade for anti-Semites smart enough to provide themselves with plausible deniability in claiming that they’re really just criticizing the policies of the State of Israel. For those who ask why Mark labeled you an anti-Semite, that’s why. It was not unreasonable, although it may have been incorrect. (Actually, whether Mark’s assessment was incorrect remains to be seen.)

    By the way, do you know why Holocaust denial, such as the kind espoused by Ahmadinejad, is so vile?

  45. #45 Oldfart
    September 25, 2007

    Maybe, just maybe, Orac, I do not know that comparing like behaviors is an anti-semitic tactic of jew haters because I don’t hang with them. On the other hand, comparing like behaviors is ???, what? Basically, if you do not agree with Israel’s agenda you are labeled as anti-semitic. And you must agree with ALL of Israel’s agenda. It is much like the attitude of the extreme right and left wings in this country. If you are not ALL the way with them, then you are labeled as the extreme opposite even if your views are not really the extreme opposite. It is also the behavior of the Randists, the Scientologists and any number of other cults.

    From Wikipedia:

    In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic (from the Biblical “Shem”, Hebrew: שם, translated as “name”, Arabic: ساميّ) was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages. This family includes the ancient and modern forms of Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, Akkadian, Ge’ez, Hebrew, Phoenician, Maltese, Tigre and Tigrinya among others.

    As language studies are interwoven with cultural studies, the term also came to describe the extended cultures and ethnicities, as well as the history of these varied peoples as associated by close geographic and linguistic distribution. The late 19th century term “anti-Semitism” refers specifically to hostility toward Jews, further complicating the understood meaning and boundaries of the term.

    If you agree with the Wiki definition, calling me an anti-semite because I disagree with Zionism means I am anti-a-whole-bunch-of-disparate-cultures in addition to being anti-Zionist. So, no, I am anti-Zionist not anti-semitic. I am anti-Zionist, not anti-Jewish.

    Being anti-Zionist also does not make me pro-Hezbollah or pro-Syrian or pro-Terrorist or any other of the pro-’s that will be cast at me any more than being anti-Scientology makes me pro-psychology.

    Now, how would I become pro-Zionist, if anyone cared? Let the Zionists say, “We are here because this land was given to us by the British after years of complaining by us and we earned it with 60 years of our peoples blood.” “This blood of our people is mixed in this land with the blood of our brothers, the Arabs.” “ENOUGH blood has been shed.” “It is time to share the land and the blessings of the land between all of us.” Now there is a decent goal for a group of people who have been oppressed for 3000 years and who ought to know what it is like to be oppressed and landless…. When that happens, when the Zionists who believe that are not afraid to stand up and speak louder than the bullies, that is the day I will become pro-Zionist.

  46. #46 Thomas
    September 26, 2007

    Rebecca, the real problem isn’t for the Palestinians who were able to remain in Israel and become citizen. It’s for those who were expelled when the state were formed and for those who live on territories occupied by Israel. The Palestinians on the West bank have no right to vote, they only have the right to see their land slowly absorbed by Jewish settlers.

    As for the difference between antizionists and antisemites, there is a simple question that can with reasonable accuracy tell them apart:
    “If Israel cease to exist as a Jewish state lots of Jews are going to want or be fored to leave. Are you willing to accept some of them where you live?”
    The antisemite will at that point start stuttering and reveal that he after all prefers to have them far away. Has anyone asked a question like this to Ahmadinejad? Is he willing to let Jews of Iranian descent return from Israel?

  47. #47 Orac
    September 26, 2007

    OldFart,

    Reluctantly, I have to say that you’re making me more and more doubtful of your protestations of not being an anti-Semite. You see, I’ve been around the block a few time and have dealt with many, many anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers since the late 1990s. Bringing out a dictionary (or, these days, Wikipedia) definition of “semitic” and trying to use that definition to say you are not an anti-Semite is a an absolutely classic ploy of Holocaust deniers to try to claim that they are not “anti-Semitic.” (I’ve seen it done so many times it isn’t funny.) So is this statement of yours:

    Basically, if you do not agree with Israel’s agenda you are labeled as anti-semitic. And you must agree with ALL of Israel’s agenda. It is much like the attitude of the extreme right and left wings in this country. If you are not ALL the way with them, then you are labeled as the extreme opposite even if your views are not really the extreme opposite. It is also the behavior of the Randists, the Scientologists and any number of other cults.

    That could have been cribbed word-for-word from Michael Hoffman II’s website, the Institute for Historical Review, or any of a number of other Holocaust denial websites, and that’s why you sound like an anti-Semite: You talk like one of the smarter ones who are able to disguise their Jew-hatred as “anti-Zionism.” Even trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, I’m starting to think that Mark was probably correct about you. Stop talking like an anti-Semite, and then maybe I’ll start to believe that you aren’t one.

    Besides, who on earth ever said that I agree with ALL of Israel’s policies? That’s your straw man argument. I have in the past condemned the invasion of Lebanon last year as being an overreaction and too brutal, although, unlike you, I understand that there was at least some provocation with missile attacks. In any case, I tend to take a view similar to that of Andrew Mathis’ view on the whole Israel-Palestinian conflict. However, I strongly disagree with you regarding Israel’s right to exist. You apparently do not think it has one; I do, which is why I favor a two-state solution. I also can’t help but note that you are rather quiet on the subject of suicide bombing, Palestinian terrorism, etc. I also can’t help but note that you know damned well that you sound like an anti-Semite, given that I found this comment on your blog, which was made not long after your first “anti-Zionist” rant; so don’t play dumb.

    But, be that as it may, back to the topic at hand, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial. I’m curious: Do you agree that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier? If not, why not? If yes, why? Also if yes shouldn’t he be called on it?

  48. #48 wfjag
    September 26, 2007

    Dear Rebecca:

    Thank’s for the site, I’ll check it. Over the last 2 years I’ve seen some of Ahmadinejad’s speeches reported in the Austrialian Times. I’m not sure why the Aussies are so interested in him (or, maybe it’s just the contrast with the general lack of coverage in the US MSM).

    I guess that the US MSM has more important subjects to cover — like blondes: Dead ones: Marilyn, Princess Di, Anna Nichole; Live ones: Jenny McCarthy, Brittany, Lindsey, Paris, O.J’s girlfriend. Blondes are so much more news worthy that things like Israel bombing a site in Syria and whether that site had nuclear technology transferred from North Korea; or that a Syrian SCUD blew up and killed a lot of people in the surrounding area, raising the question of what was in the warhead — VX, maybe? It’s much too hard for the US MSM to keep an eye on publications like Jane’s Defense Weekly, since they’ve got their eyes on blondes.

  49. #49 Chris
    September 26, 2007

    Whether you realize it or not, your sorts of arguments are frequently used by Holocaust deniers as code for their anti-Semitism or as a smokescreen behind which to vent their Jew-hatred.

    This is sheer unadulterated guilt by association. I expected better from you. Even if you think your opponents are vile, that doesn’t justify abandoning your own commitment to truth and integrity in order to trample them into the mud.

    As two-state suggestions go, Mathis’s seem pretty reasonable. But I also fear that two states will be doomed to mutual hostility – perhaps just as deadly as what is already there – and in the *really* long term, what the region needs is *non-sectarian* states. A state named Israel will never be non-sectarian – the historical context of the name itself proclaims that non-Jews will be second class. That’s inflammatory and discriminatory (even without the policies that back that up).

    That’s what I mean by not being sure that “Israel has a right to exist”. Obviously the individual people have a right to exist, but they don’t necessarily have a right to form political entities that proclaim hostility toward non-Jews, any more than Christians have the right to hijack the government of *this* country and make it hostile toward non-Christians.

    Being opposed to discrimination in favor of Jews does not equal being in favor of discrimination against Jews. And I don’t see why recognition of the wrongs done by one side should compel blindness to the wrongs done by the other – we’re not under any kind of obligation to weigh the wrongs against each other and criticize only the greater.

    Do you agree that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier? If not, why not? If yes, why? Also if yes shouldn’t he be called on it?

    I have insufficient information to reach a reliable conclusion on that subject, because most of the information available to me is tainted by a propaganda machine intent on producing hostility toward Iran and toward Ahmadinejad in particular (since the Decider has decided that Iran is Evil). If yes, then certainly he should be called on it (or educated if he is genuinely ignorant/deluded; there is a lot of evidence out there, but many people study history very parochially or not at all). But I’m uncomfortable with drawing anti-Iranian conclusions based only on the testimony of anti-Iranian witnesses.

    What evidence do you personally rely on to reach that conclusion? Maybe it is sufficient and I just haven’t seen it yet. (I hope you’re not insulted that I’m not taking your word for it: as a scientist you know how dangerous it is to take people’s word for any question of importance.)

  50. #50 akibare
    September 26, 2007

    Interestingly enough, IN Israel too there have been comparisons of people with the Nazis, but the comparisons are drawn by religious Zionist settlers, they call the police and army forces who take down the illegal hilltop settlements (ones actually voted illegal and moved out) as Nazis, claiming that most of those forces aren’t even Jewish (due to at least some of them not being religiously Jewish). Those particular settler groups put on orange stars (borrowing orange from events in the Ukraine) and sparked a LOT of backlash from more middle of the road Israelis, for using such terrible imagery and minimizing the real Holocaust events.

    Anyway, just an interesting twist on the “are some Israelis like Nazis” thing since it’s the opposite of the usual “Zionazi” thing.

    I think Bollinger should have been more polite, also (sometimes icy politeness is the best strategy) and not given Ahmadinejad the few PR points he got. Calling the guy “evil” in the introduction was just over the top, it makes people sympathize.

    But is Ahmadinejad a Holocaust denier? Yeah. He’s not exactly shy about it, either. Is that even in question?

    …or maybe his stance just “deserves further study.” Ha.

  51. #51 Orac
    September 26, 2007

    What evidence do you personally rely on to reach that conclusion? Maybe it is sufficient and I just haven’t seen it yet. (I hope you’re not insulted that I’m not taking your word for it: as a scientist you know how dangerous it is to take people’s word for any question of importance.)

    Here’s one bit.

    Here’s another, along with his cavorting with Holocaust deniers.

    There’s lots more where that came from. Heck, even in his answering questions at Columbia, he laid down some serious denier canards about “needing more research,” etc. There’s just no question that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust “revisionist” (a.k.a. denier). I was surprised to see such an obvious conclusion questioned.

  52. #52 Oldfart
    September 26, 2007

    Hmmmm. Did I in any way comment about Ahmadinejad’s version of insanity? No. Do I think he is a Holocaust denier? He is obviously a holocaust denier. Do I think he is some kind of fruitcake that the Iranian people need to divest themselves of? Yes. I find it strange that so many fruitcakes were elected or appointed at the same time. Take Bush…….please. (With apologies to Henny Youngman).

    You believe Israel has a “right to exist.” I have no idea upon which myth you base your belief but, while I now believe they had no original right to exist, they certainly have the right of occupation. It would be very difficult to convince them to leave; as difficult as it would be to convince all we Euro-Americans and Afro-Americans to leave after 400+ years. Once you move onto a place and start farming and burying your family there, it tends to become very much yours. But that does not justify the behavior of the militant Zionists against their Arab cohabitors. Since you are presumably an intelligent person and well read, you know the behavior of which I speak. Here is a small story that is an example: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/19961.html

    As for the Palestinians and Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel carries out a war against unarmed combatants. The Palestinians have no army, no large weapons, no tanks, no air force, no nuclear weapons and only a few primitive rockets. They are not supported by a 2 billion dollar allowance from Uncle Sam and they haven’t the threat potential of say, an Egypt or a Jordan who have been bought off by Uncle Sam. The Palestinians do not automagically have their arms periodically renewed and replacement parts do not magically appear in their inventories. Given their constraints, the best they can do is use people to bomb people. Do I like the idea of people bombing people? Hell no. Do I think that targeting innocent civilians is a good thing? Hell no. In fact I think if you are trying to oust an occupying force, it is counterproductive. If you are going to use people instead of airborne bombs and rockets, then you would be better off attacking the equipment your enemy uses and the armed forces he uses – maybe Uncle Sam will stop paying the bill after awhile. Do I understand what they are doing? Deep in my gut I do not understand why people would want to blow themselves up and blow other people up with them. But I do understand resistance to an occupying force that would prefer I go away, live in poverty or starve to death and quit being a problem.

    BTW, Israel is in no way a secular state. The Zionists keep telling us over and over that Israel is a JEWISH state. I believe them.

  53. #53 Shiritai
    September 26, 2007

    “Right to exist”, “right of occupation”; this is just splitting hairs. No one on this thread has argued that Israel has a theological right to exist, so why assume that?

    “BTW, Israel is in no way a secular state. The Zionists keep telling us over and over that Israel is a JEWISH state. I believe them.”

    Most republicans keep telling us the US is a Christian state. Does that make it true?

  54. #54 Chris
    September 26, 2007

    Hmm. That’s pretty bad stuff. From my reading of those links (I don’t think mistranslation can plausibly be a factor for those), it’s possible Ahmadinejad is deluded and hasn’t studied enough history himself to know which of the “two opinions” is “politically motivated”. It’s easy to accept the side that suits your prejudices even when the facts are lopsided against it. Or he could be bullshitting for political gain, helping drum up a controversy he *knows* is fake.

    In either case, he is at least a Holocaust questioner (to an unreasonable degree; I wonder what evidence he would consider sufficient if the actually existing evidence isn’t!) and arguing with him is necessary, but trying to deny him a forum is a bad thing. Turning his position into a personal insult bothers me, too, even if it’s accurate. He is either stubbornly ignorant or dishonest, but IMO we (or at least I) don’t know which and there’s an important difference.

    His point that the Palestinians shouldn’t be made to pay for someone else’s crimes is dead on target, though. However ridiculous his “if the Holocaust happened” clause may be, the Palestinians *were* innocent bystanders who had no effect on the Holocaust. Reparations are always collective responsibility and unjust to at least some extent, but you could at least pick the right *country*.

    Of course it isn’t exactly practical to try to roll back the creation of Israel completely at this late date (and what, ask the Israeli Jews to “go back” to where their ancestors lived before WWII? Many may have never even seen the old countries). Some amount of the status quo will have to be accepted to reach a peaceful solution. But saying, as some do, “the Jews have a right to a homeland” obscures the question: do they have the right to *someone else’s* homeland that they were already living in?

    It’s a difficult set of questions all the way around; but unless all parties are going to abandon or modify their religions and get along, someone and probably everyone will be unhappy with at least part of the results.

  55. #55 Oldfart
    September 27, 2007

    Shiritai:
    To quote Orac: “However, I strongly disagree with you regarding Israel’s right to exist. You apparently do not think it has one; I do, which is why I favor a two-state solution.”

    To quote myself: “I have no idea upon which myth you base your belief..”

    I mentioned no theological argument at all. (That I can recall).

    Sorry, Zionists rule Israel so you sorta have to pay attention to what they say. I’m sure if I had the time and money I could document the theistic nature of Israeli government.

  56. #56 Orac
    September 27, 2007

    His point that the Palestinians shouldn’t be made to pay for someone else’s crimes is dead on target, though.

    A straw man argument. Zionism existed before the Holocaust, and it is not because of the Holocaust that Palestinians are suffering.

  57. #57 Oldfart
    September 27, 2007

    As for the comment on my blog, Orac. I am not playing dumb. Those comments were made AFTER I posted here, not prior to my post. The reaction here was predictable, however. It doesn’t take a genius to know what happens in this country if you start pointing out that certain heroes have feet of clay………..

    I am amazed that in a blog called “Respectful Insolence” you all have no respect for insolence at all unless it fits your personal scheme of insolence.

    Back on point, no one, of course, ever responded to any of the actual questions I would have asked the PM of Israel nor did they ever respond to my thoughts on how to make Zionism a useful force again. They only concentrated on one thing: That, in their opinion, I was anti-Jewish and how dare I question Israel and the Zionists? The technique of marginalizing criticism by placing it in a pigeon-hole of some kind and then attacking the pigeon-hole is just a different kind of straw man argument. Much in use by the right wing I might add, but also by the left.

    I might also note that I am 66 years old and have been watching or reading about these people slaughtering each other for at least 60 years. It makes me sick. The Irish-British-Catholic-Protestant thing made me sick too. I suppose that makes me (pick one) (1) anti-Irish, (2) anti-British, (3) anti-Catholic, (4) anti-Protestant or (5) anti-people-slaughtering-each-other. How about the Hutus and the Tutsis? Were I to critcize them would I be anti-?????. Too much blood by too many people over too long a time. All in some kind of holy war where each side claims the right to kill the other.

    While I recognize the necessity for a defensive war and cheered, along with most of America when Israel kicked ass back in the early days, it became apparent after a while that Israel was NOT the representative of Democracy (or Democratic Republicanism, if you prefer) that America thought it was. That it was repressive, expansionist and ruled by a rigid right wing machine. Instead of addressing these problems, American Governments continued to bless Israel with largess as they do to this day. If you want to know the foreign policy of Israel, just listen to Joe Lieberman screaming for war with Iran, hawking the Likud agenda point for point in the Congress of the United States of America.

    None of what I say here will have any effect whatsoever. You will continue to marginalize my arguments by categorizing me as being anti-semitic or as anti-Jewish as you would any who dares to speak out against what they see to be injustices encouraged if not supported by Israeli policies.

    Now, your biggest straw man: Why don’t I speak out against the behavior of the Palestinian Intifada, Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah etc., etc. ad nauseam? Hmmmmm. Did you want me to join your chorus and be a good boy? Would I go into a church and give a sermon on Evil? There is a whole rash of people out there verbally attacking the Arabs on a daily basis. Did you somehow think that one person speaking in that hurricane of protest would somehow turn the storm against you? lol.

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