Israel to World: "Suck It."

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So there've been several bomb attacks on Israeli government and embassy personal around the globe today (India, Georgia). Netanyahu points the finger at Iran, saying Iran "is the world's biggest export nation of violence". Meanwhile the death toll of Iranian (nuclear) scientists has been steadily rising too.

I get the scary idea these are the "small beans" of two nations not willing to back down. However macabre it is, it's almost like it is bullying, to and fro. Israel blows up an Iranian scientist, Iran sends someone on a scooter in India to stick a magnet bomb on a diplomat's car. Nothing anyone can do about it, until one of both countries loses its cool. Pretty grim outlook.

Flag post? I hardly knew her! (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 13 February 2012 23:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

Norman Finkelstein coming out strongly against BDS. I'm kinda shocked since this is obviously not where I expected him to come out on this:

I'm wondering if the speech he gave later that night is available online bc I'd like to see that too.

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 01:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

I should clarify, he comes out strongly against elements of BDS that seem to be implicitly calling for an end to Israel. He does say that he supports BDS tactics about midway through the video.

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 01:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

he says it in the first few minutes!

i love pinfold cricket (gbx), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 01:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

He probably says it a few times but if you watch the whole video it seems to be very much an afterthought to his primary point which could be read very expansively.

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 01:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

it sounds to me (as someone who knows nothing about all this) like he's pretty clearly for "a two-state solution"

or is there some nuance i'm missing? srs q

i love pinfold cricket (gbx), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 01:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's less about nuance here and more about what I (and I think a lot of people) assumed he believed about a few issues that he completely steps back from in this video.

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 01:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

We should encourage the opposition groups who turn to us over and over

The problem for Iran is its major opposition politicians like Mousavi are (correctly) believed to be puppets of the formerly ruling and utterly corrupt Rafsanjani clique, while current president Ahmadinejad is more or less the local version of Hugo Chavez. Hated in cities, beloved in most of the country for finally bringing government patronage etc.

Were outsiders to advocate for regime change, we'd have the choice of corrupt financiers that the rural/poor/religious people hate (Rafsanjani), and...<crickets>

Second most powerful political opposition in Iran is the rump commies. Not many of those left.

Really need to do the research to finish the chart but millitary interventions by sovereign states in the past 200 years:
US: dozens
Israel: at least a dozen
Iran: zero.

Ie, I personally feel safer in a world with Iranian nukes than one with Israeli nukes.

Pauper Management Improved (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 02:15 (2 years ago) Permalink ?

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 02:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

Iran: zero. ?

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 02:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

This is a more useful primer on the political factions behind the Iranian Green movement:
I'd certainly agree with you that the rank and file protesters in 2009 Tehran wanted more openness/Westerness/democracy etc. But for the elites, it was a power play, and for most of the population it was views as a contest between proxies for the Rafsanjani and Khatami bloc (neither of which on the ballot), very little of which emerged in U.S. media.

As for Hezbollah, they're the effective regional government of southern Lebanon. They provide the health clinics and trash pickup. Iran likely has a veto power over Hezbollah operations, but for the most part its seems a Shia Lebanese organization that took help from the only party that offered it. There will probably always be an animosity with Israel due to Hezbollah's birth as the local resistance to the Israeli invasion and occupation in 1982-2000. There's been a tit-for-tat cycle of occupation, soldier kidnappings, invasion & infrastructure bombing, and retaliatory rocket strikes. That cycle will likely recur so long as Hezbollah is viewed as terrorist organization, rather than as a micro-state that can conduct negotiated settlements of boundaries etc. After the successful repulse of the July 2006 invasion they're certainly viewed with more respect in the Muslim world than just about any national entity.

Pauper Management Improved (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 03:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've never read anything or heard of M K Bhadrakumar before but he's got an interesting POV (I looked at a couple of different things - he's got a voluminous output on foreign affairs but not for many publications I've actually heard of). Do you know anything about him besides what it says under his byline?

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 03:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

That's probably not the best column by former Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar on Iran. His coverage in 2009 for the Asia Times Online (a Thai based English webdaily) was miles more insightful than anything that its way into the US/UK/Aus press.

Pauper Management Improved (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 03:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's unclear to me where a lot of the stuff he's claiming is sourced from. Either he's got a really impressive networks of unnamed diplomatic sources throughout the world or a lot of this is conjecture?

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 03:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

But the point is, most lefty Americans will have an opinion on Hugo Chavez (not least through that masterful documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Its useful to see Ahmadinejad's character as the Iranian Chavez (eager to place foot in mouth, hated by the educated and wealthy, beloved by the rural poor), rather than as he's generally portrayed here. Its useful to know the money and influence behind the 2009 political contest to see why things played out how they did.

Pauper Management Improved (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 03:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

A couple different points. One, I'm not sure what the thrust behind your Chavez/Ahmadinejad comparison is, except that it seems like you think they are both leftist leaders who are misunderstood? Actually, I think I can parse that one myself.

The second question is probably the more interesting one anyway, which is how does Bhadrakumar know some of the claims that he's making? For instance, how does he know Rafsanjani was the power behind Mousavi (which is really the central claim of his article)? It seems entirely based on the suggestion that Rafsanjani was "the only politician in Iran who could have brought together such dissimilar factions," and a mention of him that Ahmadinejad made in a campaign speech. Despite the fact that he himself says Mousavi was the "very anti-thesis of Rafsanjani," and that Rafsanjani kicked Mousavi out of the government because he had no time for his anti-Capitalism, anti-Western impulses. He also puts down urban protestors as the "largely inconsequential 'Gucci crowd' of north Tehran" and condescendingly describes them as having "no doubt imparted a lot of color, verve and mirth to Mousavi's campaign." Plus, of course, Rafsanjani's plot to take over Iran (by dragging the election into a run-off and winning there) and the belief that Iran's election was democratically conducted and the results not doctored.

I mean, this is a lot to believe without sources, facts, data, actually demonstrating how money travelled -- I mean. It's written very compelling and in a very readable style. But who is this guy and where is he getting any of this?

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 03:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm very skeptical of any claim that posits the Democratic protestors in the Green Revolution as secret pawns of pro-Shah old guard Iranian forces and Ahmadinejad as actually a misunderstood liberal hero-of-the-people.

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 03:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

There were independent polls (by Western/outside pollsters) conducted prior to the 2009 elections that gave the same pretty much the same results. The counter-protests tended to be larger. I don't think there's much evidence that the 2009 elections were stolen. I also have little doubt that the Green opposition carried Tehran (about 17% of the population) handily.

I have no more idea who Bhadrakumar's unnamed sources are than who in the Pentagon is in Seymour Hersh's rolodex. All I know is his commentary in 2009 helped me account for what was transpiring better than any of the coctail party mavens on the NYT editorial page. Atimes is a good editorial/opinion page, imo. It's my second go-to after Project Syndicate when I'm looking for insight.

Pauper Management Improved (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 04:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

The Tehran Green protestors all have legit grievances, and I'd like to believe I'd be brave enough to join them had I been born in Tehran. But the political parties in Iran are no more likely to be born of grass-roots dissent than they are in the U.S. Moussavi was seen as the lesser of evils by a majority in Tehran, Ahmadinejad elsewhere.

Pauper Management Improved (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 04:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Project Syndicate thought I might particularly enjoy this columns:
Why Do Jews Succeed?
Is Pornography Driving Men Crazy?
and A Nation of Vidiots

I'm sure there's lots of good stuff there, but I lol'd.

(Answers: Because of their familial traditions, yes it is, and the vidiots are in the United States.)

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 04:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't think there's much evidence that the 2009 elections were stolen.

I'm not so sure of that, there were statistical analyses of the published 2009 voting results that seemed to convincingly argue that they were very unlikely to be a true reflection of voter preferences.

I'm very skeptical of any claim that posits the Democratic protestors in the Green Revolution as secret pawns of pro-Shah old guard Iranian forces and Ahmadinejad as actually a misunderstood liberal hero-of-the-people.

Not so much commenting on the first part as the second. Ahdmadinejad did win his first election on a vague sticking-it-to-the-man champion-of-the-plain-folk-of-Iran ticket, taking advantage of a perception that there was a corrupt establishment (somewhat epitimoised by Rajsanjani) in Iran who had things all sown up. I do not consider him a misunderstood liberal or leftist - he largely failed to deliver on his election promises and turned to clownish foreign policy pronouncements as a way of deflecting attention away from his administrative and economic failures.

we could perhaps do with an Iranian politics thread separate to this one, but such is life.

The New Dirty Vicar, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 10:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

LOL Iran. I've heard of being caught with your pants down but caught with your legs blown off?

Charles Kennedy Jumped Up, He Called 'Oh No'. (Tom D.), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 12:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

u a Spengler fan sanpaku?

max, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 12:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

speaking of chavez:

DG, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 13:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

max: a pal on a finance forum introduced me to Spengler in 2001. Can't say I've read him regularly for the past 5 years, as like most op-columnists he's long exhausted his reserve of insights and is on the retreadmill.

Pauper Management Improved (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 17:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

Ahmadinejad as actually a misunderstood liberal hero-of-the-people

Not liberal but he plays rural culture war politics well. The Green Movement was very urban as I recall.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 17:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

this is how ahmadinejad operates

the presidential motorcade rolls through the town of bumfuck, egypt
ahmadinejad suddenly stops the motorcade and gets out to talk to a farmer sitting on a pile of dirt
"what ails you, old man?"
"ain't got a shovel"
the very next day, the old man had a new shovel, as did all of his neighbors

if you watch iranian state news, shit like this happens on a weekly basis

the late great, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

he also spends a TON of time burnishing the myths of the iraq war and the revolution, paying tribute to the martyrs and the revolutionary guard

ie he is not a leftist or a liberal, he is an ultra-populist

the late great, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

i don't know much about chavez but i think the comparison is apt - both spend a lot of time catering to the least educated / most reactionary parts of the population, who may or may not have a strong understanding of how gov'ts and economies work on a national or international level, and spend a lot of framing things in manichean terms (it's either nuclear weapons OR be slaves of israel!) and a lot of time "speaking truth to power"

the late great, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

Off-topic, about NYT new Jerusalem Bureau chief:

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

what a weird piece

max, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Rafsanjani's daughter was a Mousavi supporter, I thought.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

I kinda get what Marc is saying. She's not an op-ed writer, so a lot of that source collection stuff (I understand the pragmatic necessity of buddying up to ppl you may find reprehensible if you're going to be covering them) should probably stay off the record? Maybe she sees twitter as a networking platform and Marc is saying that she needs to realize ppl will be reading into her own beliefs thru it?

Mordy, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

i just dont really get the tone there. feels very concern troll-y

max, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:21 (2 years ago) Permalink


it's not 'the times should not have hired someone so friendly to the dove side of this conflict', it's 'boy she should be quiet if she doesn't want people to hate her!'

Critique of Pure Moods (goole), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

Ppl are likely to hate her regardless

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 15 February 2012 18:30 (2 years ago) Permalink,1518,816491,00.html

SPIEGEL: So we should admit to ourselves that the two-state solution is dead?

Nusseibeh: Mathematically speaking, a two-state solution is an excellent solution. It causes minimum pain and it is accepted by a majority on both sides. Because of this, we should have brought it into existence a long time ago. But we did not manage to do so.

SPIEGEL: Who is to blame for that?

Nusseibeh: First of all, it took Israel a long time to accept that there is a Palestinian people. It took us, the Palestinians, a long time to accept that we should recognize Israel as a state. The problem is that history runs faster than ideas. By the time the world woke up to the fact that the two-state solution is the best solution, we had hundreds of thousands Israelis living beyond the Green Line (ed's note: the 1949 Armistice Line that forms the boundary between Israel and the West Bank). There is a growing fanaticism on both sides. Today, the pursuit of a two-state solution looks like the pursuit of something inside a fantasy bubble.

Great interview - but Nusseibeh's idea of "a joint single state, Palestinians should be given civil rights, but no political rights" seems really problematic to me, especially since self-determination has been at the root of the matziv.

Mordy, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 15:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

Palestinians should be given civil rights, but no political rights

It's a total Trojan horse. Nothing would more deligitimize Israel in most of the world's eyes than actually codifying the accusation of 'apartheid'. Ironically, it might improve the lot of many Palestinians.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

Also re assassinated nuclear scientist:

"Mostafa's ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel," Fatemeh Bolouri Kashani told FNA on Tuesday.

Bolouri Kashani also underlined that her spouse loved any resistance figure in his life who was willing to fight the Zionist regime and supported the rights of the oppressed Palestinian nation.

Iran's 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, a chemistry professor and a deputy director of commerce at Natanz uranium enrichment facility, was assassinated during the morning rush-hour in the capital early January. His driver was also killed in the terrorist attack.

Roshan was killed on the second anniversary of the martyrdom of Iranian university professor and nuclear scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, who was also assassinated in a terrorist bomb attack in Tehran in January 2010.

The method used for Roshan's assassination was similar to the 2010 terrorist bomb attacks against the then university professor, Fereidoun Abbassi Davani - who is now the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization - and his colleague Majid Shahriari. Abbasi Davani survived the attack, while Shahriari was martyred.

Mordy, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

Man, I never know what to make of this kind of stuff. Is it true? Is it to counter the dissuasive effect of Mossad assasinations? Does it matter? Heck, he could have been totally lukewarm about the whole issue except for the whole threat of Evin so it may be a moot point.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

What never fails to kind of weird me out about the ideological reality of Iran is how much it's old school, anti-colonial, romatic chic married to a really repressive version of an already repressive religion. In a religion where there's no really established church, this is about as closed and established a politico-religious authority as you can get yet they pay homage to the anti-West leftism of the 50's and 60's.

le ralliement du doute et de l'erreur (Michael White), Wednesday, 22 February 2012 16:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

If I posted every time Sullivan said something stupid I would never get anything done but I had to share this:

Matt Duss reports on how Israel's border restrictions have reshaped society in the Palestinian enclave:

The result of the policy of closure ... has been the development of a sizable black market economy based upon illegal tunnel trade. This has been accompanied by the growth of influential constituencies in both Egypt and Gaza that oppose any effort to shut down the tunnels, and will lobby hard against the creation of a more open, regulated border. By empowering a large new merchant class that profits from the tunnels, the closure policy has effectively created another stumbling block to normalization of relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

And that wasn't the point?

Sullivan believes that Israel instituted a policy of closure in order to create a new black market merchant class so as to make normalization of Israel/Palestinian relations more impossible. It's like there's something wrong in his brain where if X leads to Y, it must be that Y was the intended result of X. He must believe the Israelis responsible for the policy are genius psychohistorians who could somehow predict exactly what would happen years down the line.

Mordy, Friday, 2 March 2012 15:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

I believe he was implying less possible, Mordy, but I'm with you on the whole improbable stretch of logic there.

Morning becomes apopleptic (Michael White), Friday, 2 March 2012 15:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

What do you mean he was implying less possible?

Mordy, Friday, 2 March 2012 15:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think all sullivan is saying is that the intent of the closure policy was to make normalization more difficult in general, not that it was intended to create a black market in specific

goole, Friday, 2 March 2012 15:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

Bibi Netanyahu presented President Obama with a scroll version of the Book of Esther from the Hebrew Scriptures.

Maybe it’s just a favorite of Bibi’s (though I don’t know that he’s renowned for personal piety). Maybe it’s an allusion to the Jewish Feast of Purim (which began tonight), commemorating Queen Esther’s success in foiling a plot by a Persian schemer to exterminate Jews. Or maybe it’s something else, as Jeffrey Goldberg (among others) has suggested:

The prime minister of Israel is many things, but subtle is not one of them. The message of Purim is: When the Jews see a murderous conspiracy forming against them, they will act to disrupt the plot. A further refinement of the message is: When the Jews see a plot forming against them in Persia, they will act to disrupt the plot, even if Barack Obama wishes that they would wait for permission.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 7 March 2012 20:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

fuck a netanyahu

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Wednesday, 7 March 2012 20:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

obv with his meeting coinciding with purim there's no way bibi could resist the allusion.

Mordy, Wednesday, 7 March 2012 20:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

Commence operation Trojan Hamentashen

simulation and similac (Hurting 2), Wednesday, 7 March 2012 20:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

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