Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fanatics, Left and Right

Well, that was certainly fun, wasn't it.

I've been giving rather a lot of attention to the Israelis at the far left fringe who, intentionally or merely irresponsibly, aid and abet Israel's enemies in their campaign to bring it to its knees through lawfare, diplomacy, boycotts and other methods of delegitimization. This morning I thought I'd engage in a spot of even-handed balancing, so I criticized the fanatics of our political right. Had I given it much thought I'd have said I was (temporarily) siding with my lefty readers, of whom there are a number, including two who identify themselves.

It didn't work out that way. I was offline all day, but when I got back I found some 25 comments dissecting what I'd said from all directions.

First, my thanks to all the participants for the civil discussion. Blog discussions often don't remain civilized very long, and I'm honored that the ones on this blog mostly do.

The fact that our resident representatives of the hard left took umbrage at a post that was mostly critical of the far right is instructive. It rather reinforces my observation that the extremes are not only similar, they even feed off one another - which of course is not a new observation nor original, there are many historical examples. Fanatics will be fanatics; what makes them far from the mainstream is common to them all. So for those of you who questioned my use of the term "loonies", I was applying it as it usually is meant: folks who have severed themselves from the diverse perspectives to which a very large majority of their society adheres. When you've got a free and democratic society, with the diversity of opinion that such societies have, and then you've got small splinter groups of odd folks way off at the edge, I don't see the harm in calling them loonies.

Alex and Didi engaged in a spot of sleight of hand. They claimed I had said that the extremes of left and right have in common their eagerness or willingness to be violent; then they got all worked up about this accusation, though I hadn't actually said it.

So first, to be clear: yes, there are elements in Israel's looniest left who engage in violence against Israeli security forces. Not in murder, nor in terror as in random attacks of civilians, but low-level violence against officials of the state going about their legal and reasonable actions? Yes. Some of it has been reported in the media, some of it I take from the stories of my son Achikam who has been at the brunt of it as a soldier doing his job near Bil'in last year.

The reason Alex and Didi tried that rhetoric trick is that while political life-endangering violence in Israel has always been extremely rare, there has been a bit of it from right on left, and almost none from left on right. This gives the left a feeling of moral superiority. Yet the whole phenomenon is so limited and rare, that this is more sanctimony than plausible political reasoning. I can think of two political assassinations in 60 years, and a handful of attempts that may or may not have been intentionally unsuccessful. Tarnishing an entire camp with that thin a brush isn't reasonable, and exonerating the other camp for being the victim is feeble reasoning.

Anyway, it's a red herring, as Gavin calmly explained. Our loony left and frenzied right don't engage in the exact same activities: that's obvious. The right attacks innocent Palestinians, while the left undermines Israel's legitimacy as a democracy; the fanatics to the right are thugs, while their counterparts to the left are well-heeled academics, legal types and journalists; the ones to the right look outlandish in almost any setting while the ones on the left could easily melt into the background at a posh European conference - but that's the point, not an exoneration.

One of the most peculiar things about our loony left is how extraordinarily thin their skin is. They dish out barrels of filth, much of it either dishonest, downright false or at best tendentious, and they do so ever more often in foreign languages for the gleeful consumption of our enemies; yet whenever anyone calls them out for doing so, they shriek to the high heavens that democracy is being tortured to extinction. Jest yesterday we had yet another example.

Amir Benayoun is an orthodox singer who uses Arab forms of music. It was my intention to slow down the shirim ivri'im thread now, but sooner or later I'll obviously need to discuss the Sephardi music and its great contribution to Israeli music. I presented Benyoun briefly the other day.

This week Benayoun recorded a sing called Ani Achicha, I am Your Brother. The Hebrew lyrics are already up at shiron.net, here; there's no English translation up, nor am I convinced there will be. Im Tirzu posted the recording on You Tube.

What the song is about depends, apparently, on the beholder. The lyrics themselves express anguish. They are sung from the perspective of a young reservist, calling on his lefty brother to desist from hating him since they're brothers. I defend you, you spit on me; the enemy doesn't manage to kill me but you're trying to; as I charge forward my back is to you, but you're sharpening your knife; I'm your brother you're the enemy; I love you hate.

It's not a nice song. Nor is it fair, since there are soldiers of both political camps in the same combat units, and both camps have their share of shirkers. The most potent line in my opinion is Ata mosser oti le-Zar, you're turning me over to foreigners - except that the term mosser has centuries of baggage to it, and is a devastating accusation. (Jews who have betrayed their brothers to persecution are, alas, not as rare as we'd like).

Having read the lyrics over and over, and watched the video repeatedly, it seems to me a song of anguish, not hatred. In no scenario is it a threat to democracy.

Unless you read Haaretz. They put their story about it on the front page of the Hebrew paper edition (alas, not on their English-language website). The item uses all the tricks of the trade, telling of "enormous anger" but without any quantification and citing two excitable sources as if they're vox populi in classic Guardian agitprop style. Since these are quotations you can't quite attribute them to Haaretz itself, which is merely reporting. Of course, no quotations of supporters are forthcoming.

The final paragraph offers the observation of one Igor (no last name): "Benayoun stole his lyrics from the songs of Hoerst Wesel".

I don't think there were songs (plural) of Hoerst Wesel, only one - but that one was the Nazi battle song. So Haaretz has cast Amir Benayoun as a Nazi. Because he doesn't like the NIF.

71 comments:

AKUS said...

Yakov:

Good article and why some of us at CiF Watch take on these "theobald Jews" daya after day.

But I think you missed something here:

"Unless you read Haaretz. They put their story about it on the front page of the Hebrew paper edition (alas, not on their English-language website). "

Actually, what I have noticed is that there is a huge difference between the Hebrew and English version of Ha'aretz on the web. The Hebrew version by and large acts more or less like a standard local newspaper,even with its loony left complement of articles, while the English version is almost completely dedicated to Guardian-like articles day after day in English trying to show every but of dirt, every error or scandal that they can dredge up about Israel.

I've never heard that song - but it reminds me a bit of the endless arguments in miluim between left and right reservists, serving together, despite their political differences, against a common enemy. And that enemy 1s not their fellow Israelis.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

As has been pointed out to you, Yaacov, the rightist loonies engage in far worse forms of violence. They burn down cars, houses, olive trees; they stone schoolchildren; they send their own children to harass the Palestinians. All of that with the unlimited impunity afforded to them by Israel's government (or do you see the guys who last December torched a mosque in jail?).

The extreme right shares power with the moderate right; the extreme left is basically powerless. The extreme right inflicts brutal physical violence on defenseless shepherds; the extreme left at most condones stone-throwing against soldiers armed to the teeth. The extreme right violently confronts soldiers who protect Palestinians on their way to work; the extreme left confronts (mostly pacifically) soldiers who fire tear-gas canisters against dispossessed villagers.

The violence of the extreme left is the violence of the protesters at Tian An Men, Kwangju, Tlatelolco. The violence of the extreme right is the violence of the Ku Klux Klan.

So that sorry, but there's no moral equivalence. In fact, it's immoral to draw one.

Didi Remez said...

Yaacov,

I think your characterization of the "umbrage" is disingenuous.

I do not want to distract however, from the genuine question that I tried to ask you. I am not posing this question in order to score points, but rather to clarify the framework of discussion.

So, here it is, I'm asking it directly and I humbly request that you answer it directly: Can we agree that the legitimacy of political action in a democratic society be defined by rule of law? Rephrased:Can we both use Voltaire as our guide in advocating for the right to expression of those we do not agree with as long as they operate within the rule of law?

Didi

Yaacov said...

Didi -

Yes, of course we can. Which is why you've never caught me advocating criminal treatment for the far left so long as they're within the law. Castigation, ostracism, condemnation, even vituperation because that's the way Israelis talk: they've honestly earned them all, in spades. Looking into their sources of funding, even considering shutting down crass intervention of foreign governments in the Israeli political process: that's OK.

Violence against them is off limits, and legal action aimed at their freedom of speech is unacceptable.

Not hard to understand, you'd think, until you read Haaretz and recognize that in their minds, any brisk disagreement with them will be cast as a threat to democracy. Tosh.

Alex Stein said...

Calling people 'loonies' because they don't conform to the consensus is absurd. As the Rambam said, just because everyone in the world believes something to be so, doesn't necessarily mean it is. I also wouldn't be so smug when it comes to Israeli public opinion.

I still would like more concrete examples of what you mean by "low-level violence" from figures on the Israeli left. And I think you should also withdraw the allegation you made against the protesters at Sheikh Jarrah.

Also: we weren't simply discussing the issue of right on left violence. The Yizhar case was one of settler on army violence, as a result of the army doing its job in preventing an outbreak of settler on Palestinian violence. This happens frequently, perhaps not at murderous levels, but frequently nonetheless.

Did Benayoun even serve in the army? He's got a great voice, mind.

I realise that disingeneous isn't the best way to describe your analysis: rather it's the routine deconstructing of straw men, which is always easier than dealing with substance.

Didi Remez said...

Yaacov,

Thank you.

I regularly engage in condemnation and scrutiny of the right. Regarding castigation, ostracism and vituperation, however,I think it's important to question these techniques. If not from a moral/Jewish perspective (see Goldstone Bar Mitzvah incident,) then at at least through the prism of effectiveness.

I'm glad to have a partner for this debate who does not agree with me ideologically, but shares some basic principles. An echo chamber has many limits, not least of which is intellectual sloth. I don't, however, want to waste time in a rhetorical boxing match. That's because I want use all of what I have for a constructive purpose -- saerching for a way out of our nation's crisis. This is a purpose, which I also think we share.

Respectfully,

Didi

Sylvia said...

"Can we agree that the legitimacy of political action in a democratic society be defined by rule of law?"

In any democracy, organizers of demonstration are responsible for the excesses within their ranks, with the authorities overseeing the safety of all sides. This is the rationale for the demonstration permit requirement.
But not the Israeli uber-left. They don't need a permit. This frees the organizers from all accountability.
That way they can claim innocence when their demonstration turns violent - as Alex has done - and that their arrest was arbitrary.

The rule of law, up to a point.

Another worrisome (recent) development is when the legal apparatus of the radical left starts providing legal assistance to the radical right. Something fishy there.


Regarding Benayun song, the reaction has been dirty particularly on youtube - where it went as far as infringement on his copyright, calling him "Arab-Israeli", and worse gutter rethoric.

Didi Remez said...

PS -- In th context of the above, my criticism of your previous post was: The Yitzhar settler's act was outside the rule of law. When drawing a symmetry with left-wing action outside the rule of law, specificity is important and generalizations are dangerous. I used the Sheikh jarrah reference, which you mentioned in your follow-up comment and with which I am familiar first-hand, to demonstrate this point.

Didi Remez said...

Alex,

Benayoun didn't serve in the IDF, he received a psychiatric exemption.

BTW -- Here's a brilliant demonstration of how easy it is to turn that song upside down into incitement against the right: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug7O2shRbYo&feature=player_embedded

Didi

Didi Remez said...

Sylvia,

"The rule of law, up to a point."

Who decides that point? You? Me? In my mind, multiple judges should be sufficient. That's the essence of democratic philosophy.

I won't debate you after this comment. We have no common ground from to launch a constructive discussion.

Didi

Sylvia said...

The "I" in poetry can be anything or anyone the poet chooses it to be.

This insistence that someone like Benayun should remain confined to his personal identity and history is disturbing - and that's an understatement.

It says more about the intellectual level of the uber-left and their state of mind than about Benayun. As I said, gutter rhetoric.

Didi Remez said...

Sylvia,

There's no change in the words -- they're exactly the same. Where's the rhetoric?

Alex Stein said...

Sylvia - when you produce evidence of violence/spitting at Sheikh Jarrah, I'll engage with your allegations. Given that you don't accept collective responsibility when it comes to settler violence, I can only assume that you don't accept it when it comes to the left.

Barry Meislin said...

I don't believe that anyone on this blog is justifying or has justified right-wing violence and lawlessness.

On the other hand, I do know that at least one person on this blog has justified left-wing lying and misrepresentation, which encourages those who wish to delegitimize and cause harm to the State of Israel. And many of those with similar views have justified Anat Kamm's illegal actions, as if such actions have no repercussions, and have called those who disagree with them "disingenuous."

Given the current predicament that Israel finds itself, is it any wonder, then, that the voters of the country, most of whom fifteen years ago would have identified with the left and center-left, have abandoned those positions (and political parties)?

At the same time, if this same bloc saw any chance of achieving peace with the Palestinians, is there any doubt that they would jump at the opportunity?

And so most Israelis---some earlier, some later---have realized, based on the words and deeds of their purported partners in peace, that their dream (and definition) of "peace" is, alas, not the same as those so-called partners, and they regard with suspicion and distrust those who continue to try to convince them otherwise.

Didi Remez said...

Barry,

I did not see any questioning of the principle of majority rule in this debate, so why steer it there?

The focus has been on other democratic principles, primarily tolerance of dissent. I asked Yaacov whether dissent within the limits of the rule of law was legitimate in his opinion. His answer was "yes." Sylvia differed. What is your position?

Didi

BTW -- Why do you speak (second time I've noticed) on behalf of "readers of this blog" and not on behalf of yourself? How do you know who they are? I've been reading this blog for a very long time, but only commented for the first time last week. Even, if you're speaking on behalf of commenters, which is a skewed sample, do you make any kind of empirical assessment before stating their opinions as fact?

Sylvia said...

Alex
Continue burying your head in the sand. You can find that yourself. I imagine your organization has all the police reports, particularly in view of the fact that there were two arrests that day, plus the questioning of foreign activists.

"Given that you don't accept collective responsibility when it comes to settler violence,"

Where did I say that? What is under discussion at present is violence by the self-described left - represented on this board and able to respond. When I'll see settlers presenting their arguments on this board and accusing people of being disingenous and saying lashon hara, I'll say what I have to say about it.

I notice you and Didi are prudently avoiding the subject of accountability and permits, which has been the subject of a small debate on reshet bet.

By the way, I am not pro-settlement, never been (although I could always see their potential as a negotiating and engagement incentive). Jerusalem is not a settlement.

Sylvia said...

"Sylvia differed."
Well, you know you're taking this out of context and misrepresenting what I said. I am for the rule of law, unlike those leftist organizations who refuse to take responsibility for their demonstrations and go as far as demonstrate without permits, yet claim they respect the rule of law - up to that point.

Didi Remez said...

Sylvia,

That's why there is no way to have a discussion with you. I'm not talking about style, aggressiveness or lack of respect.

Multiple judges in Google it in JPost)have ruled that there is no need for permits (we have not "prudently avoided" the subject, I devoted an extensive comment to it in the previous post debate, which a responsible commenter would have seen before making his allegations) The problem is that you, apparently because you don't see rule of law as absolute, but rather "up to a point" make reckless ad hominem attacks based on things like "a discussion on reshet bet" rather than prima facie evidence.

Barry Meislin said...

What is your position?

How do you define dissent?

1. How do you define lying?
2. How do you define misrepresentation?
3. How do you define slander?
4. How do you define shouting "fire" in a crowded theater?
5. Are all definitions equally "valid".

P.S. Indeed, these things have been talked about for hundreds of years.
P.P.S. And thanks for getting me back on topic....

Didi Remez said...

Barry,

That's exactly the point. Because those questions are subjective, democracy has provided us with rule of law as an objective measure, with judges as its subjective interpreters.

Do you accept this priniciple?

Didi

Didi Remez said...

Sylvia,

Something very rare, in Israel and the blogosphere, happening here: People who hold very different political positions are making an effort to understand each other and create a framework for reasoned, dispassionate and constructive debate.

They are doing this by showing each other respect, accepting challenges, taking responsibility for what they have written, correcting themselves when they have made a mistake, and refraining from ad hominem attacks.

This is, literally, precious. Why do you insist on a very different behavior? If you want to let loose on those you disagree with there are so many places you can do so.

Didi

Alex Stein said...

Wot Didi said.

Barry Meislin said...

Depends.

I was never terribly comfortable with didactict types.

Should I mention, though (i.e., is is apropos?, I mean, really apropos?) that I believe that one should, generally, be law-abiding--- assuming that the laws of the land are not totally insane (ah, but what is "insane"?....)

I probably should mention that I feel more comfortable with aspirations towards "truth" (ah, but what is "truth"?....) and a more generalized moral aspiration toward "What is hateful to you, don't do to others" (etc.), together with a, no-doubt flawed sense of utilitarianism combined with a sense of tribal solidarity (try to work that one out---here's a hint: finding the the general in the specific---and vice-versa(!!))

Oh, and did I mention that during times of existential danger, all bets are off (ah, but what is "existential danger"?...)?

To recap:
1. What is fire?
2. What is a theater?
3. What is shouting?
4. Do people have the right to defend themselves?
5. What is ethical?
6. Do people have the right to prefer their endogamous group over another (more exogamous group)?
7. What does "compromise" mean?
8. What do "rights" mean?
9. Does one have a "right to exist"? etc.
10. Any other (puerile? obvious?) questions/remarks/assertions_____?

Barry Meislin said...

I should add that I am particularly not very comfortable with patronizing (e.g., holier than thou) didactic types who, having a bit of trouble with "the truth" themselves, are quick on the trigger to label others "disingenuous".

To me, it leads to a rather strange kind of "communication".

(However, I do realize that some people can't help themselves. And diversity is wonderful, etc., etc.---especially MY kind of diversity(?)....)

Didi Remez said...

Barry,

This is a fundamental, and I'm sorry to say, probably unbridgeable difference. Society needs a framework that balances the protection of the individual and the collective. Precisely because the important philosophical questions you pose are subject to very different interpretations. The essence of modern democracy is disagreement within the framework of the rule of law.

Adherence to this principle is not a didactic luxury. It is a necessity in an open society. I cannot constructively debate politics (as opposed to, religion and ethics, for example) with someone who reserves the right to suspend the rule of law when he disagrees with parts of it.

Best,

Didi

Barry Meislin said...

Um, are you human?

Didi Remez said...

Barry,

In the public square as opposed to your home, comfort is not a priority. Civility is.

I'm not patronizing you. I am trying to state my positions precisely and as unambiguously as possible. I'm not holier than thou, on the contrary, I'm genuinely interested in your honest opinion. That's why don't let up on a line of questioning until it has been exhausted.

Why do you disrespect me by "type"casting and throwing around phrases I never said like "diversity is wonderful" etc.? Why not just say "I disagree" and move on to the next debate?

Didi

Jazz said...

The hard left (represented by Haaretz, the Guardian, Jimmy Carter, Goldstone and his followers, etc.) is little more than a mouthpiece for autocratic, warmongering regimes that deny the most basic human rights to their own citizens.

Their refusal to take a stand against a global wave of religious mayhem that is irrational, antisemitic, misogynist, homophobic, inquisitional, totalitarian, imperialist and genocidal, is a great moral failure that only supports the victims of autocratic regimes for whom they are mouthpieces (like Palestinian victims of their own leadership).

The hard left functions like a fanatic cult in which many people are manipulated by slogans, prejudices, and emotions. Most of these cultists are true believers who tell themselves lots of lies and push themselves to believe them - probably because it makes them feel good. Their leaders stress the value of emotions, of spontaneity, of the angry reaction.
 They downplay the value of reason and facts (facts don't matter) which are seen as restrictive on man’s freedom and desires. They are belligerent, ignorant, self-righteous, believe in Big Lies, are unreasoning and intolerant.

Thus, they're very influential - in all the wrong ways.

The only hope is that their hysteria will ultimately render them so ridiculous they will lose all credibility outsider their own lunatic fringe.

They're far more harmful to the cause of peace and human rights than the hard rightwing.

Didi Remez said...

"Um, are you human?"

Wow, that was a pretty quick unraveling. Surprising, when it comes from a follower of Yaacov.

Goodbye, Barry.

Barry Meislin said...

Profound apologies. It began to sound like a computer simulation.....

Alex Stein said...

Jazz - enjoy playing with your straw men.

Sylvia said...

"I'm not talking about style, aggressiveness or lack of respect".

These characterizations below the belt date back to the immigrations of the fifties (btw you forgot "the emotionality"). I admit that I can't accuse you of originality.

The question I've been asking is this: Should the leftist organizers of those demonstrations - and eventually their funders - be held responsible for the conduct of said demonstrations?
Yes? No?

Didi Remez said...

Barry,

That means you hearing but not listening. Everything I wrote was responsive to what you wrote.

There really is no point in spending time on thoughtful writing when your partner skims you.

If I want play, I'll do it with my son.

Goodbye,

Didi

Didi Remez said...

Sylvia,

Since the conduct of the demonstrators has been scrutinized several times in court and judged legal, the question is moot.

For the sake of discussion, I will oblige you, however. If one accepts the principle of the rule of law, then answer to your question is governed by two groups of legislation: Incitement and conspiracy. I accept these laws and the courts' interpretation of them. Has anyone even been indicted, let alone convicted, for breaking these laws in Sheikh Jarrah? No.

Note that I accept the rule of law in this case, despite the fact that I disagree fundamentally with many facets of the Knesset's definition of incitement. It has been used against the right much more than against the left. I have spoken out in defense of my ideological opponents when they were indicted based on it. I do this, because that's how a democracy works.

Didi

Barry Meislin said...

Here's an idea:

Let's agree to talk right past one another (and call it "listening to one another" and/or "asking for answers").

And while we're at it, let's agree to be really agressive (and call it "civility").

Should work to everyone's satisfaction....(in our glorious Looking-Glass world)....

Jazz said...

Alex,

It's no strawman. Allow me to prove my point:

In a nutshell, what do you think of the Goldstone Report and all that can or possibly will result from it? I ask because 'Goldstone' is a prime example of all that's wrong and dangerous with the hard left.

Sylvia said...

Yes? or No?
Should Israeli leftist organizers be held accountable for the conduct of their demonstration, like in any other self-respecting democratic country?

Anonymous said...

when reading Didi's first comment I felt proud of myself that it was my advice he may have heeded - his "divorce" from Sylvia also seemed familiar to me from Ibrahim's buddies.

So Didi - here is the question: is there a distinction between "granted" organized demonstrations where the organizers may be held accountable and spontaneous outbreaks of whatever?

Silke

Alex Stein said...

Sylvia - Didi's point is that the Israeli courts have never found the Sheikh Jarrah demonstrators responsible for breaking the law with their protests. Do you or do you not accept this point?

Jazz - I don't know that much about the Goldstone report. From what I do know, it seems that some of what he says is true, some is false, and some is impossible to judge without more information.

Anonymous said...

from my humble German point of view I would like to remind people that even "rule of law" can get it wrong sometimes and thus should always be subject to the same scrutiny as everything else the "mighties" in a society do - always checking whether it is good for the life (of the peopla AND the land) or not. After all even people with the highest morale possible need a piece of land or sea to live on.

As to left and right wing violence:
below there are lefties in all innocence covering their faces before they get going
the other link is of rights just before they grab their baseball bats and go on the attack
- oh oops I may only be believed if I find the video showing exactly that, n'est-ce pas (and never ever mix even the most lunatic settlers with their wannabe killers - it is wrong and I know of a lot of reasons why that is so)
Maybe I am naive but I can't see much of a difference between the two in these pictures except in my country I am sometimes glad when the left decides to take on the right because the police seems to feel and act helpless
but of course in Israel everything is totally different ... there they don't resemble eachother no way.
Silke
PS: once a debate has reached the point where delegitimizing the other by digging up ever more minute details and mixing them with ever more high flown principles one may forget about it, it has become futile.

and another PS:
I very much appreciate Barry's comments and are quite happy to be in a "we" with him
http://www.bild.de/BILD/politik/fotos/2009/juli/2009-07-08-g8-rom-proteste/Vor_20G8-Gipfel_20in_20L_20Aquila_20-_20Demonstration_20in_20Rom__12768661__MBQF-1247041229,templateId=renderScaled,property=Bild,height=349.jpg
http://i.ytimg.com/vi/mmn0OzQHDo4/0.jpg

Anonymous said...

Didi at 11:03

oh now you have given up the "you evade the argument" gimmick you go for the inquisitional style

I am really learning from you only why do your tricks include such a drearyness into the thread - you seem to be not after searching solutions you are you are aiming at the ultimate nail your opponent to the wall argument - Ibrahim likes that kind of stuff also

Silke

Anonymous said...

ooops typo - it is Didi at 11:30

Didi I admit I can't follow your argument - your style and your high-mindedness reminds me more and more of our 68ers who stopped "us the people" from listening to them first of all through their language.

Silke

Anonymous said...

Did at 12:41

isn't Didi a great one for breaking off relationships - first Sylvia but then he can't keep away now Barry

- I like his style - it reminds me of something - the problem is this pompousism usually won the office feuds because there would always turn up an appeaser who couldn't let them do their moping unaided.
Silke

Gavin said...

Didi. Your argument leads nowhere. The basic principle upon which laws are based is the concept of right and wrong.... morality in other words. You treat law as objective whereas morality is not. Morality is subjective, all societies differ slightly in their moral beliefs. The rule of law in a democracy is an extension of the majority consensus on what defines morality. Yaacov hasn't bothered pointing out the obvious but the underlying theme of his argument is that the extremists on both left and right are morally in the wrong ergo it's time the laws were changed to reflect it.

Your argument leads to the simple question; Are murder, Theft, Violent assault, Incitement to violence, wrong because they're illegal or are they illegal because they're wrong?

Your argument is based on the principle that if it's legal then it's ok. That is not only wrong it is irrational.

Gavin

Anonymous said...

thank you Gavin for giving words to my gut feelings
Silke

Didi Remez said...

Gavin:

According to your logic, that action in society be predicated on subjective interpretation of what is right and what is wrong, if one believes that the law that allows settlers to evict the Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah from homes is unjust, immoral and wrong, they can forcibly remove them even though the courts are on settlers' side. It's all a matter of who can muster more force to implement his own interpretation of right an wrong.

I'm glad the thousands of people who have protested at Sheikh Jarrah follow a different civic code.

---

Barry, Silvia and Silke:

Thank you. I mistakenly assumed that on Yaacov blog, reason, logical argument, precise articulation and a dispassionate approach -- all those things you have called "high-mindedness" or "pomposity" or "holier than thou" -- were part of the culture. My assumption was based on Yaacov's style and I rarely read the comments in the past.

Obviously, I was wrong. Your's is a different culture of debate and I respect your right to enjoy it undisturbed.

I am truly sorry that I mistakenly saw an opportunity to engage with other Israelis who disagree with me. I'll go back to writing elsewhere.

Many thanks and bon voyage,

Didi

Anonymous said...

this event bodes ill to me insofar as it is likely to become a boost to the deluded left
- Amitav Ghosh and Margaret Atwood - I don't remember her stance on Israel but she sure likes it high-minded (but I like her on woman against woman bitchery)
- here is Ghosh defending himself against the left chiding him for accepting the price
- note how skilfully he in clarifying his "perfect" morality happens to mention only Israel for bad deeds in your area.
Silke

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?265154

PS: - I liked his book about the ancient ties between Egypt or thereabouts and India before the Portuguese showed up and he had a very good piece on how the tsunami hit survivors but the glass palace, sorry a resounding no - I managed a maximum of 100 pages - its people just didn't come alive for me, they remained constructs, types.
Sometimes I think once you have acquired guru status with the high ethics left the literary punditry is safely in your pocket. (before I tried to plow through the glass palace - a must read for me because Orwell was a civil servant there at some time - I had made it through two more rather dreary books by him - but as I lack formal education I am always willing to blame myself first and to keep trying)

Anonymous said...

Didi
to date I happen to have had never ever experienced the slightest difficulty in following Yaacov's writings/arguments.
So before you claim to be an equally clear and skilled writer and explainer as Yaacov happens to be it may be wise to have a critical look at your own writing which you consider to be so wonderfully flawless - a claim btw I am pretty sure Yaacov would never make.
Silke

Barry Meislin said...

Yes, especially a dispassionate approach....

Gavin said...

No Didi. I said morality is subjective, not law. Laws affirm the collective morality of a society, and those laws can be changed as society deems it necessary. You treat laws as absolute. They're not, they're continually evolving to suit changing mores & demands of society at large. Following your logic; if Israel was to enact a law banning the funding by foreigners of Israeli rights groups then you'd be quite happy with that because it would be in accordance with the rule of law. But you wouldn't be happy about it would you? You'd start decrying it as a anti-democratic, an attack on freedom of speech. There's little about your argument which is founded on logic or reasoned thought.

Gavin

Carrie said...

Gavin,

You are 100% correct, but the argument is even simpler than that. The "law" in Israel stated that the Jews legally owned the Sheikh Jarrah real estate, yet in this case Didi/Alex preferred to protest against said law.

I don't remember if Didi or Alex made the argument, but I remember specifically one of them saying they didn't break the law and their protests were kosher because the judge threw out the case against the arrested protestors. They were saying we should respect the judge's decision and accept that they were acting lawfully....Yet, in the same breath they argue that Israelis should not accept the same (Israeli) court's decision that ruled in favor of the Sheikh Jarrah Jews. This is hypocrisy by any standards.

Alex Stein said...

Carrie - Wrong: it's not hypocrisy by any standards. People have the right to protest peacefully whenever they see fit. What's not to understand about this? There is a difference between protesting a law and breaking it.

Carrie said...

Not so fast. You guys argued that you were not breaking the law because you (or the other protestors) were not convicted. Therefore you want us to respect (or agree with )the law because it worked in your favor. I am shocked you don't see the hypocrisy.

Gavin said...

Thanks Carrie, and I agree with you there. The solution is easy huh? Israel just needs to enact a law banning protests and they'll all go home & obey the rule of law. No more protests, peace will prevail.

Cheers, Gavin

Sylvia said...

Silke, you didn't imagine wwhat you call box of tricks. It is real. They are actually called "power tactics" and are based on Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals",which has been around for at least half a century. Its foundation is the premise that the end justifies the means - in other words, morality can't possibly inform the argument. And from there everything else flows.

Here are a few of those rules/tactics that have been practiced here this week:
------
2. Never go outside the experience of your people. It may result in confusion, fear and retreat. [Didi: stay within the debate]

3. Wherever possible go outside the experience of the enemy. Here you want to cause confusion, fear and retreat. [the court has ruled, of which of course no one has any knowledge but they]

4. Make the enemy live up to his/her own book of rules. [that's the biggie -to say to a religious person that his words are "lashon hara, or disingenuous - meaning lies is making him live up to his own rules)

5. Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. [Sylvia's style, aggressiveness, which every Israeli knows what is meant by that]


7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. [I am not going to debate you anymore]

8. Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.[take your pick]

10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.[well they did their best]

11. If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside. [the purpose of so many hours of work spent pressing on]

12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative. [well, they succeeded a few days ago with Yaacov, and came back for an encore]

13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. [This is an easy one to figure out]


You can find more info on the net if you google "Rules for Radicals". Enjoy.

Yaacov said...

Sylvia,

Fascinating.

Do you think they really read it, as a manual, or just make it up as they go, an opportunistic use of whichever tactic seems most useful at any given moment?

Sylvia said...

My guess Yaacov - and it's only a guess - from what I have observed so far is that they are adapting it to the realities on the grounds. Testing their arguments on "negatives" to see what works and what doesn't.

Of course they are familiar with tthose rules. That's basic training for every radical and most pf those organizations provide training.

Anonymous said...

Sylvia - thank you
I must admit I am not good at understanding theories but I promise I come back to your list and google it whenever I will have figured out another one by myself for confirmation that the good ol' Sapere Aude doesn't go astray.

right now it very much reminded me of stuff I knew from Doris Lessing's novels about when she was a communist in Africa and her later far left encounters. The reason why Didi and Alex have the power to make me get angry though is because they have a talk down attitude which I remember from childhood all the way through to office life
- and come to think of it, tactic no. 13 was a favourite with guys during the sexual revolution when you didn't want to do "it" with them but they wanted to insist using high-minded saving girls from being "unawakened" arguments. (sorry I can't do the O-voice in English)

somewhere during the US-campaign I read that Hillary Clinton had been at one time a devotee to Alinsky - with Obama the connection wasn't as clear and direct - that's when I first came across the name and wikipediaed it- and now reading through yours it reminded me on Hillary Clinton's advocating that the Brits talk to the Argentines about the Falklands without mentioning what Falklanders want - I can't say it any clearer but I see a connection to your 13 points there.

Silke

Anonymous said...

Yaacov
I can't describe the tactics Sylvia made such a neat list of in so many words but I recognize them better and better once I had realized how familiar they are to me.

They were so all over the place in corporations once everybody from middle management upwards had been consultant trained that by now they may have picked them up anywhere i.e. just as easily at a McKinsey-like "workshop" as at an Alinsky book club meeting. (another contact point where left and right seem to have no problem with eachother)

While on the job there is nothing but quiet obstruction against them (at least nobody I know of below middle management has come up with something else) but encountering them here makes me remember again how bad it made us feel to have to tolerate and sometimes even smile at getting manipulated in such a crude and dishonest way.

Silke

Victor said...

I don't understand the point of this discussion. Alex, are you taking personal responsibility for the actions of left wing protesters in Israel? Does one misdeed mean that you entire world view is wrong?

Let's get back to a discussion worth having.

Alex Stein said...

Carrie - first of all stop lumping me and Didi together. We're two separate people who have never met one another (to my knowledge). To clarify my position: the Sheikh Jarrah protesters haven't broken the law because they've never done anything illegal. If you can find something to the contrary, please let me know...

Alex Stein said...

Yaacov - I genuinely respected your intellect until the point you gave credence to the 'Rules for Radicals' stuff. Extraordinary.

I've never read the book, although I have heard of it. I also don't consider myself a radical nor an activist. Literature's my real passion.

Victor - mainly I'm trying to defend the Sheikh Jarrah demonstrators against the thoroughly dishonest allegations that are being levelled at them here. And I'm trying to assert democratic values.

Yaacov said...

Well, Alex, it must have been a pretty fragile sort of esteem if one vague comment extinguished it. All I did was follow Sylvia's suggestion and look up the fellow (who was Jewish... wouldn't you have known). Oh well. Easy comes, easy goes.

Anyway, if you stick around I've got some posts up my sleeve that will probably aggravate you more than that one slip.

Anonymous said...

Alex
what exactly is an activist? sincerely, I don't know - just being active no matter what, can't be a goal or can it?
and why not a radical, I keep getting told that being radical is good because the word means roots, stemming from roots back to the roots etc in short it is a synonym for unadulterated pureness.

and another question when literature is your real passion don't you cringe when reading a touchy feely whiny kind of text like the "combatants"' one? or are you a Coelho fan? but even he does better if only slightly.

Silke

Alex Stein said...

Yaacov: straw men, disingeneousness, barely contained rage at the treachery of the Leftist enemies: at the very least its endlessly entertaining. And, despite my problems with your politics, you don't seem such a bad chap.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a self-indulging paranoid delusional madhouse!

I've seen a lot, but this outdoes even Beck and Limbaugh. At least they're self-aware. You guys actually think you've uncovered TRUTH!

A cut and paste for posterity. It needs to be read in its entirety to be fully appreciated. May I'll add it to one of Lozowick's book reviews on Amazon.

Alex Stein said...

Silke - I hate Coelho; the CFP mission statement doesn't claim to be literature, so what's the problem?

Anonymous said...

Alex
where's the joke in my being German?

Silke

Carrie said...

Alex,

It is clear in the video I posted on the other thread, and others on Youtube that the protestors were rushing the police. I don't know about in Israel, but in the US that would be considered illegal and cause for arrest.

Alex Stein said...

Silke - no joke, don't worrie about it.

Carrie - it's not clear at all. I say that because I've been there on a number of occasions, when the only provocations have been from the police. Didi has a lot more to say about this, but for now suffice to say that no Sheikh Jarrah related arrest has stood up in court. I wonder why that is....

Joe in Australia said...

Because in Israel, unlike in many other countries, there is no law against assembling a mob calling for the expulsion of Jews from their homes.