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Post Are Sanctions a Form of Terrorism? No
Created by John Eipper on 10/14/18 4:53 AM

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Are Sanctions a Form of Terrorism? No (Brian Blodgett, USA, 10/14/18 4:53 am)

I admit that I had not read Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich's posting on that covered sanctions being equated to terrorism, but now that I see her follow-up post of October 13th, I must disagree that sanctions are terrorism. For if so, then the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States are all guilty of conducting terrorism due to their passing of sanctions against various countries.

Per the EU, sanctions may "target governments of third countries, or non-state entities and individuals, such as terrorist groups and terrorists. These measures may include arms embargoes, trade restrictions such as import and export bans, financial restrictions, and restricting movement such as visa or travel bans" (European Commission - Sanctions, 2018).

Additionally, the EU's overarching objectives of imposing sanctions are to "promote international peace and security; preventing conflicts, defending democratic principles and human rights; preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs); and fighting terrorism." Thus, if we believe the last overarching objective by the EU is valid, then how can a sanction itself be an act of terrorism.  Wouldn't the EU then place a sanction upon itself?

When Kofi Annan stated his opinion on terrorism that Soraya quoted, he was no longer the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Additionally, the US Code that defined international terrorism may be irrelevant because the term "international terrorism" is related to the definitions that occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and involve "violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed with the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State" (Section 1.A of 18 U.S. Code § 2331).

In the quote by Timothy Brown (2018, October 11), "I suggest that measures taken by a sovereign nation solely, or primarily, for purely national purposes such as protecting the well-being of those it governs, is not an act of aggression," there appears to be a general agreement by the governing bodies of the United Nations and the European Union.

The United Nations currently has sanctions against Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan.  Such a definition would make the UN a terrorist organization. Likewise, the European Union would be guilty of terrorism due to thematic restrictions (sanctions) against Venezuela, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Burma (Union of Myanmar), Russia, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belarus, and Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  As a note, Russia placed sanctions on the EU and the USA in 2014 due to sanctions on their country.

While I believe, as stated in a previous post, that the view of sanctions and if they are an act of war or not is in the eye of the beholder, to me they are clearly not acts of terrorism.

European Commission. 2018. Sanctions. Retrievable from http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/fpi/what-we-do/sanctions_en.htm

18 USC - Crimes and Criminal Procedures. 2018. Retrieved from http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title18/part1/chapter113B&edition=prelim

JE comments:  Who would have estimated nearly two dozen (I count 23 above) for the number of countries under EU sanctions?  One thing we haven't specifically pointed out in our analysis:  almost all the sanctioned states are poor, and probably would be poor even without sanctions.  The sanctioning states are invariably rich.  What can we conclude from this?  Let's discuss.

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  • Are Sanctions a Form of Terrorism? Yes (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/15/18 2:53 AM)
    Yes, the UN, EU and US are all guilty of conducting terrorism due to their passing of sanctions against various countries.

    Do not pay attention to the nice words with which they present their actions. The Atlantic Charter of 1941 was full of nice words, but in practice at the end of the war it was just BS. For confirmation of this, just ask Poland and many other countries worldwide.

    JE comments:  I still don't see the connection between sanctions and terrorism, other than their scattershot approach to victimizing a population.  Granted, the two tactics have a certain symbiosis.  Do you believe a state supports terrorism?  Slap on some sanctions.  Are the sanctions inflicting pain on your country?  Respond with terrorism.

    Do I oversimplify?

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    • Sanctions Have Nothing to do with Terrorism (Istvan Simon, USA 10/18/18 3:47 AM)
      In reply to Eugenio Battaglia (October 15th), sanctions have zero to do with terrorism. That sanctions are terrorism is a distortion of the meaning of terrorism beyond recognition.

      Now to turn to John E's comment:

      "I still don't see the connection between sanctions and terrorism, other than their scattershot approach to victimizing a population. Granted, the two tactics have a certain symbiosis. Do you believe a state supports terrorism? Slap on some sanctions. Are the sanctions inflicting pain on your country? Respond with terrorism.

      "Do I oversimplify?"

      Yes, I think you oversimplify.  Sanctions are simply a form of economic pressure to try to induce change in the behavior of a country's government. It often fails and only punishes the people of the country rather than their dictatorial governments, in which case it is counterproductive, because that is never the aim of sanctions. But there are examples of successful outcomes of sanctions as well. For example, the campaign against Apartheid in South Africa.

      Terrorism and sanctions have no symbiosis. Sanctions are not imposed only for state-sponsored terrorism, so that is a red herring right from the start. For example, I do not think that Russia significantly sponsors terrorism (except terrorism of its own, like the murders of Litvinenko, Anna Politkovskaya, Boris Nemtsov, and so many others.) Yet in my opinion we should impose severe sanctions on Russia for multiple reasons.

      That sanctions hurt and bother Putin is evident from his efforts to revoke the Magnitsky act. It is now law not only in the United States, but in many other countries. Putin is terrified of what might happen to his ill-gotten billions if it spreads really widely. Putin can utter all sorts of lies about why we imposed the Magnitsky act, but the same arguments sound plainly ridiculous against Canada for example, so Putin fears it will spread further.

      JE comments:  I'm not as categorically certain as Istvan is.  Couldn't we also say that terrorism is a form of economic pressure to induce change in the behavior of a country?  Look at the financial, as well as human, cost of 9/11.

      Can we revisit the topic of sanctions vis-à-vis Putin?  Ordinary Russians are absolutely feeling the pain, but the suffering is not hurting Putin's popularity at home.  Once again, do I oversimplify?

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      • How Effective are Sanctions? (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, USA 10/19/18 3:23 AM)
        I am delighted to see that topic of sanctions has gained some traction on WAIS.

        Sanctions have been described as many things by various players. Alternate to war, prelude to war, war itself, economic terrorism, economic blackmail, terrorism, and so forth. So not everyone can agree on a single definition and so it is useful topic to discuss.

        Regardless of where we stand on the issue, there are facts that are irrefutable, even though we may want to ignore them or brush them aside. What is required is to simply put aside bias, apply intellectual honesty, and take a close look at facts available to us.

        On October 14, Brian Blodgett simply brushed aside Kofi Annan's description of terrorism I had cited, by stating that Anna was no longer Secretary-General of the UN. He was not the Secretary-General at the time of my writing the piece, but he defined it in 2004 when he was most certainly the UN chief (as well as a recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace prize).

        Brian Blodgett further wrote: "Additionally, the EU's overarching objectives of imposing sanctions are to "promote international peace and security; preventing conflicts, defending democratic principles and human rights; preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs); and fighting terrorism."

        I have to ask how death by sanctions of 500,000 children in Iraq prevented the proliferation of WMDs? Or promoted peace? In fact, Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, and many other top officials resigned from their posts in protest to the sanctions, saying: "The policy of economic sanctions is totally bankrupt. We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and as terrifying as that."  In 1999, seventy members of Congress appealed to President Clinton to lift the sanctions and end what they termed "infanticide masquerading as policy."

        But Madeline Albright felt it was "worth it"--as it would seem, did others.

        So how do we reconcile taking hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, infanticide, and claim to be "defending democratic principles and human rights"? Ditto all the other nations we impose sanctions on.

        I have to ask if arming Saudi Arabia and the UAE to bomb Yemeni children promotes peace and security, human rights and democracy. It does not. But it does recycle a whole lot of petrodollars.

        As for the proliferation of WMD, one has to ask if this is the objective of the EU (and US), then why does Europe trade so extensively with Israel, India, and Pakistan--rogue, nuclear-armed states? Not left unstated the horrific violation of human rights in those countries.

        Brian also argued that sanctions cannot possibly be terrorism because the that would mean "the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States are all guilty of conducting terrorism due to their passing of sanctions against various countries." This is an odd argument. If we do it, then it can't be bad? This is precisely why I called my article "Sanctioned Terrorism"--terrorism sanctioned at the very top.

        For decades, the false notion of "foreign terrorist" has been driven home. "Terrorists" are always the other, justifying our actions while ignoring our crimes. It is far easier to brush aside all concern for human life, for the wrongs we are committing, by believing that we are punishing bad actors.

        We then reinforce our self-righteousness and justify our crimes by stating that sanctions brought down Apartheid South Africa. The former is simply wrong, and the latter grossly inaccurate.

        Sanctions did not put an end to Apartheid, though they were a factor, perhaps a relatively minor one compared to other factors. There is extensive literature on the topic (for example http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp796.pdf ).

        Researchers have presented other factors, more important ones, such as divestment, boycott, as well as South Africa's extensive external borrowing, and not least, the demise of the Soviet Union, which removed any fear of opposition getting support from the Soviet Union and tilting the balance of power.

        The success of BDS has not been lost on Israel. This is why there are extensive attempts by supporters of Israel and Israelis themselves to stop BDS.

        I don't believe it is constructive to deny reality if we are to make our world a more livable one. We many not like the definitions, but surely we must face the impact and consequences of our actions.

        JE comments:  The paper linked above argues that more than sanctions, the collapse of the USSR brought down Apartheid.  In brief, the end of the Cold War took away Western fears of Soviet influence in a post-Apartheid South Africa.  The correlation is there, but the causality?  We'll never know--history rarely allows for control groups.

        Remember the Peace Dividend of the 1990s?  How remote and quaint it sounds.

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      • Israel's "Jewish Nation-State" Law (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/22/18 2:18 PM)
        Very interesting post from Istvan Simon, 18 October.

        Of course we remain at opposite positions on the subject of sanctions vis-à-vis terrorism, but there are others points which may deserve further analysis.

        I somewhat agree with Istvan about the fact that sanctions contributed to the fall of Apartheid in South Africa (but see also the excellent post of Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, which argues the opposite). I was expecting, however, a recommendation from Istvan to impose sanctions on the new Apartheid state of Israel, following that nation's Fundamental Law of 19 July 2018.

        Israel is a small state of "officially" 20,770 square km. and a total population 0f 8,500,000, but it is divided into at least 5 main "tribes"--lay Jew 35%, ultra-Orthodox Jew 25%, Arabs 21%, Druze 4% and national Jews 15%.

        Last July the Knesset was at work to try to unite these "tribes," choosing between two options--whether to go back to the proto-Zionist democratic utopias of harmonizing all of them, or preserving the racist Zionism which is a virtual Apartheid. The majority of the representatives chose the second option. By the way, the word "democracy" does not appear in the entire law. According to some reports, the law is not supported by almost half of the Israeli population, including for sure, Arabs and Druze (the latter feel betrayed).

        It is noteworthy to mention that three representatives--Gamal Zahaiqa, Hamin Zubi and Guma al Zabariga--presented an alternative democratic Fundamental Law (not approved) that theoretically could unite all the peoples of Palestine in a single state and not in two by a now impossible option.

        Such a proposal is a surprise, as the Israeli Arabs seem to take the leadership of the opposition.   They see that the present path may lead only to a Greater Israel, with the expulsion of all Arabs from Judea and Samaria. Possibly only the Gaza Strip will remain as a giant concentration camp useful to test once in a while the military readiness of the Israeli Army, Navy and Air Force.

        I also agree with Istvan Simon that Putin does not support terrorism, but here again I was expecting the recognition that the Empire supports terrorism. See the interview of Z. Brzezinski in the Nouvel Observateur on 21 January 1998, when he stated that he had created the Jihadist terrorists in Afghanistan in 1978 and he was very proud of it. These fighters then moved to Chechnya, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria etc., creating havoc.

        JE comments:  This is the first time we've discussed the "Jewish Nation-State" law on WAIS.  Eugenio Battaglia's analysis will inspire some pushback, but let us begin with this question:  why was such a law necessary?

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        • Israel is Not an Apartheid State (Istvan Simon, USA 10/25/18 4:56 AM)
          I am sorry to say that Eugenio Battaglia's post of October 22 contains a lot of rhetoric with little if any substance. Let me state unequivocally from the outset: Israel has zero in common with Apartheid.

          Eugenio directs his ire at the recently passed controversial Jewish nation-state law. I enclose the complete text of this law. WAIsers can read it for themselves and make their own judgements. It was passed by the Knesset 62 to 55. Clearly, it has very significant opposition within Israel.


          I personally think that this law was unnecessary, perhaps even undesirable and counterproductive. But it does not change the fact that Israel is a wonderful, multiethnic, free democratic state, with a Jewish majority population, where Jews, Arabs and others live in remarkable harmony. Where minority rights are protected, even those of Arab extremists in the Knesset, who openly advocate for Israel's destruction. Frankly, I know of few democratic states in the world where this would be tolerated. It is tolerated in Israel. Furthermore, all this occurs in spite of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations doing their level best to constantly instigate conflict. Unhappily, Eugenio appears to support this conflict with his extreme rhetoric and unfair criticisms. Luciano Dondero put his finger on it recently when he correctly diagnosed the severe unjustifiable anti-Israel bias in some WAISers.

          My first remark is that in order to understand my comments in the paragraph above, it is necessary to visit Israel and experience the atmosphere of freedom where these multiple ethnic groups co-exist relatively peacefully. To see that one can walk at night without fear in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Jaffa nearby, the latter an Arab-majority town. To see that the streets are full of people with great diversity who go about their business at all hours. That one hardly sees police and armed soldiers on the streets in spite of the terrorist threats. I saw more military with machine guns in Paris than in Israel. It is this atmosphere that immediately proves the absurdity of the heated rhetoric of Eugenio.

          But let us examine the issue more deeply:

          First a question: Why is it that Eugenio does not seem to mind that in all the Arab world Islam is explicitly in the forefront of legislation, that there is open discrimination in legislation against non-Islamic populations, which do not receive 1/100 the protections afforded to non-Jews in Israel, yet he calls Israel an Apartheid state? Why is it that Italy is not an Apartheid state? It is proudly a majority Catholic country. That it is OK for Iran to be the Islamic Republic? Why is it that Coptic Christians are subject to periodic murder in Egypt by an intolerant majority without a peep from Eugenio? When I arrived in Brazil, Brazil proudly called itself a Catholic country. Why is it that only Israel cannot mention being a Jewish state? Please point to a single Muslim-majority country that had a Jewish ambassador. Israel has Muslim ambassadors. I bring all this up, because it makes the anti-Israel bias evident.

          When the Islamic Republic came into existence in 1979 there were 80,000 Jews in Iran. Today there are 1/4 as many. If Israel is the Apartheid state, why is the same emigration of Muslims not happening in Israel? Israel's Muslim population has been growing in the same period.

          It is too early to tell if the recent law will have any significant practical effects. It appears to be more of a security blanket for the more militant Jews in Israeli society. My guess would be that the new law will have no significant practical effects on the peaceful coexistence within Israel that I mentioned above.

          JE comments:  WAIS has been accused of anti-Israel bias, as well as pro-Israel bias.  So we must be doing something right...or something wrong?   Prof. Hilton always relished a heated discussion on world issues, so he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

          I've read the nation-state law, and there is much to flame controversy.  How about this passage:  "The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people."  There's a definite discriminatory tone in the word "unique."  Also, the law contains a legal codification for the expansion of settlements.

          As for Muslim Israeli diplomats, I found Ali Yahya, who served as ambassador to Finland and then Greece until his death in 2014.  Any others?

          Next, we'll hear from Luciano Dondero in a response to his dear friend (and sparring partner on all things political) Eugenio Battaglia.

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        • Israel as "Apartheid State"? Wrong (Luciano Dondero, Italy 10/25/18 5:40 AM)
          My friend Eugenio Battaglia has written an intriguing essay about Israel (22 October). I only want to take up the issue of "Apartheid Israel" to show how wrong that is.

          People, Eugenio included, usually talk about "apartheid" without really knowing what they are talking about. But instead of getting into the ins and outs of the South African legislation and practice, let me use the example of the United States, "el imperio" as Fidel Castro used to say, or the "Empire," as Eugenio repeatedly calls it.

          When I grew up in the 1960s, the US was the theatre of a momentous struggle for black equality. The Southern states of the country, those who had lost the Civil war a century before, but seemed intent on not accepting that defeat in practice, were raked over the coals for their discrimination against blacks. You could see all over the place these kinds of notices: "Blacks not allowed here," with practical consequences like "Colored people are to sit at the back of the bus."

          This was a milder version of the racial discrimination practiced in South Africa, but nonetheless it was a form of Apartheid.  It was fought throughout the country, and many Jews were at the forefront of this battle fighting for equality, as representatives of the whites, so to speak.

          Does anything of this kind exist in Israel?

          This is the question that must be answered in the positive to make your case, and not some silly reference to the Bible (or Tanach).

          I can understand that there are Italians (and Europeans) who don't realise that not all Jews are "whites." But it is a terrible mistake. Jews come in all colors, shapes and forms, as they spread out from ancient Eretz Israel (or Syria Palestina, as the Romans called it) to Africa, Asia and Europe. And in Israel, not only are there "colored" Jews, but people of other religious denominations are not discriminated against as such.

          There are problems with the existing legislation which prevents mixed marriages, but I would like to point out that this affects everybody, not just non-Jews, and it is indeed, as far as I am concerned, a problem linked to too much religious interference with the daily lives of normal people.

          But Arabs (Muslims as well as Christians) and Druze, and other minorities, are well represented in Israel in all sorts of activities. Here is a gallery of pictures of people (all of them non-Jews) who have chosen to take upon themselves crucial responsibilities in this or that aspect of the country's life.

          And now I would like to draw your attention to two pictures, which show the exact opposite of "apartheid." They are daily occurrences on the beaches of Tel Aviv and the buses of Jerusalem, with Jews and Arabs (the women in veil) intermingling.

          Is this comparable to Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas, etc. in the 1950s and 1960s? Does the Israeli army have to be sent to this or that city to enforce access for "blacks" (read: Arabs) in this or that school or hospital? (Like President Eisenhower had to do in 1957 in Little Rocks, Arkansas?)

          This equanimity even extends to those Arabs who are not Israeli, namely people from Gaza (under Hamas), or the so-called West Bank (under the PNA/PLO), or from Syria during the recent civil war. Thousands of people are regularly treated in Israeli hospitals, who not only are not Israeli citizens, but in some cases are hostile enemies of Israel.

          The very same people who accuse Israel of discriminating Arabs/Palestinians, send their own families to Israel for treatment--like PNA President Abu Abbas or Hamas chief Moussa Abu Marzouk. What a hypocrisy!

          Oh, and by the way, if you want to really practice BDS against Israel, you might start from relinquishing your cell phone, your computer and many other things. As it happens, most likely the chips and the software that provide those tools with a "brain" of sorts were invented in Israel, and in some case, they are actually "made in Israel." Consider the possibilities shown in the cartoon below.

          Luckily some people are not so easily swayed by their own emotional responses. The Genoa Science Festival of 2018 has taken Israel as its country of choice because it is truly "a start-up nation." Well done, Genoa!

          In conclusion, amicus Eugenio sed magis amica veritas.

          JE comments:  Luciano Dondero forwarded over twenty memes to accompany this essay.  Not to overwhelm people's e-mail systems, I include a sampling below.  

          Istvan Simon raised a question echoed here by Luciano.  Are we guilty of a double standard if we decry Israeli discrimination against non-Jews, but accept the discrimination against non-Muslims in Islamic nations?  By the by, doesn't Iran of all places grant specific rights to non-Muslims?  Freedom of religion is guaranteed for Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, although Baha'is (the largest non-Muslim minority) are considered apostates and are specifically discriminated against.

          "Too much religious interference in daily lives"?  I swear to God that Luciano is right.

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          • From My Experience, Segregation is Everywhere (Timothy Brown, USA 10/25/18 7:00 PM)
            An interesting double-sided and rather defensive set of exchanges. So I might as well throw in my two-cents' worth of comments.

            At age 16, before I left Nevada for different pastures, Nevada was still racially segregated. Louis Armstrong was showing at a major hotel, but had to stay at a smaller one, because he was black. Many Chinese were then and are now enthusiastic gamblers. But they had their own casino because they were not welcome in any of the other casinos. I first experienced racial segregation the year before, when I went to visit an aunt in Fort Worth by Greyhound bus.  When it stopped at the Texas border, the driver announced, "whites to the front: blacks to the back."  I protested because I liked sitting further back and had been sitting there since leaving Reno, but this was illegal in Texas.

            I later served as a Marine and diplomat in 14 different countries. During my decade as a Marine NCO, when I asked why the President wasn't at the Managua, Nicaragua Country Club for the Annual National Day party, I was told in no uncertain terms that President Somoza wasn't welcome in the Country Club because he was an "indio." In Guatemala, no Mayas were allowed into several hotels and restaurants (and most probably couldn't have afforded them anyway). In Thailand, racial tensions and social segregation were ubiquitous. (Oh, and since I was just a Sergeant I wasn't welcome in the Officer's Club.)

            When I was a Foreign Service Officer, my first post was Tel Aviv, where there were lots of divisions. The closest small cafe was run by a German Jew. When my wife tried to take our next-door neighbor there for lunch, our neighbor was denied service because she was a Persian Jew. Next cams Spain, where I learned quickly that Gypsies weren't allowed in many a store because they were all thieves.

            In Vietnam, Hmongs were considered savages. In Mérida, Mexico the Yucatecans despised "hwatts!" (pronounced with a spit on the floor). In Amsterdam, Surinamers were despised--and pushed aside (and there were separate "accommodations" for women since they were not welcome in bars). Oh, and in Cuba there is now token acceptance of "blacks and "campesinos," but de facto segregation by race still exists.

            Everywhere (except for the Marine Officer's Clubs), inter-identity relations have changed--and improved. And I suspect every one of my fellow WAISers can tell us stories based on their own experiences. But self-differentiation and voluntary segregation by race, religion, belief system, age, and sex will continue and I doubt they will ever totally disappear. All we can do is try to make things better.

            JE comments:  And the final hurdle of segregation will never be crossed:  social class. 

            Regarding Tim Brown's experience in Israel, I've heard many anecdotes about Jewish Israelis of European background discriminating against their Middle Eastern coreligionists.  Is this still widespread?

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            • Officers' Clubs: A Waning Institution (Michael Sullivan, USA 10/26/18 3:13 AM)
              To amplify what Tim Brown said about Officers' Clubs (October 25th), today there are only a few remaining, and what is now in place is an "all-ranks club" for everyone.  So instead of three clubs on base in the past--Officers, Staff Non-Commissioned Officers, and Enlisted--there is now one club that they all share.  And it's sparsely attended!

              However, Officers' Clubs were not truly segregated, as anyone who could qualify and became an officer was able to attend. It had nothing to do with race, religion or gender. There are many who came into the military services as privates, sailors and airmen yet retired as officers, with some going all the way up through the ranks to General and Admiral.

              JE comments:  There seems to be a decline in social clubs across all sectors of society.  Robert D. Putnam explored this phenomenon in his 2000 Bowling Alone:  The Collapse and Revival of American Community.  What are the reasons for this?  Are we too busy making a living?  Afraid to be seen as aloof and exclusive?  Or have on-line communities (see WAIS and thousands of others) replaced their brick-and-mortar predecessors?

              Rumor has it that the local country/golf club in Adrian is about to close due to lack of membership.

              Are social clubs also a dying breed in other countries?

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              • The Decline of the Golfing Club (John Heelan, -UK 10/26/18 12:35 PM)
                In response to Michael Sullivan (26 October), it is noticeable that even golf club memberships are starting to decline in the UK. Mostly the root reason is that they are costly to maintain, resulting in annual membership subscriptions are increasing dramatically year-on-year.

                My local golf club of which I was a member for more that 10 years would now cost me £1250 to join. No thanks!

                JE comments: Another thought I had this morning on the decline of "clubs": today's children are increasingly regimented in sports, dance/music/karate lessons, tutoring, and structured play dates. The days of the free-range kid are over. Might the grown-ups have sacrificed their own activities in favor of keeping their offspring busy and..."safe"?

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              • In London, Private Clubs are Thriving (Timothy Ashby, -Spain 10/27/18 4:26 AM)
                John E asked on October 26th: "Are social clubs also a dying breed in other countries?"

                While I can't comment on golf and country club membership levels, I can state that private members clubs in London are thriving. There is a dividing line between the newer (I've heard them called parvenu clubs) and traditional clubs which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The latter include The Athenaeum (where Rosemary's father Professor RV Jones was a member), White's, Brooks's, East India, National Liberal, and of course the Carlton Club where I am a member.

                Many members of the old clubs wouldn't cross the thresholds of the newer clubs, although some such as 5 Hertford Street (where Rosemary is a member) are splendid and I've encountered some fellow members of the Carlton Club there, who rather ashamedly confided that they joined "for the food and the cellar." I've been to several of these new clubs such as the Groucho, Arts, Soho House and The Ned (which is like a big noisy nightclub catering to City millennials and which I couldn't wait to escape from). More of these new clubs seem to be springing up monthly. Membership fees are expensive--much more so than the traditional clubs.

                The Carlton Club was founded in 1832 and is the oldest and most elite Conservative club in London. Until 2008 women were only allowed to be "lady associate members" unable to use the gentleman's bar or vote for club officials (although Margaret Thatcher was the sole woman to be given full membership before that date).

                Times have certainly changed. Half of all new members under age 30 are now women (the youngest is 19). My daughter, Georgina (age 24), has just completed her membership application process, which requires a Proposer (her godmother, Lady Griffiths) and a Seconder (yours truly), after which she is given a page in a large ledger book kept in "Cad's Corner" (a cozy nook with a fireplace where ancient peers nap). She must then get 10 signatures from other club members on her page (which I recently procured after dutifully hanging out at the Macmillan Bar and plying members with drinks). Her final induction step will be an "interview" by Membership Committee members, which is all quite civilised and involves sipping sherry in the boardroom and chatting about career, family and (of course) politics.

                Annual fees for under 30 members such as Georgina are just £450 with no joining fee. This is excellent value, as the Club has two very good restaurants and a fine cellar. A two course lunch in the (quite formal--think silverware, crested china, white tablecloths and a sommelier) Churchill Room costs £15, which is remarkable given how expensive nearby restaurants in St. James's are. Also, Members and their families can stay at the Club for a third to half the price of nearby hotels. I routinely use the Club for business meetings (it has a business center with computers, printers etc., called "the Study').

                John--you have a standing invitation to be my guest for lunch at the Carlton Club!

                JE comments:  Ah, the perks of WAIShood!  Many thanks, Tim.  I owe London a visit--can my most recent one be as long ago as 2011, with the WAIS conference in Torquay?

                Might London's "old clubs" be thriving because they offer (of all things) value?  The only club that does this in the US belongs to Mr Walton--Sam's Club.  Costco is a club, too, along the lines of the exclusive-yet-egalitarian model.  Anyone can join for a fee.  But as John Heelan said, "no thanks."  I am philosophically against paying for the God-given right to shop.

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          • Religious Freedom in Israel (Luciano Dondero, Italy 10/29/18 4:11 AM)
            Regarding JE's comments of October 25th: I would like to return briefly the issue of Israel and religious freedom in the region.

            Below are two composite pictures. One queries in which country of the Middle East are Arab women as free as they are in Israel. And the answer is obvious:  nowhere!

            The second shows a map of ethnic cleansing in Northern Africa and in the Arab countries surrounding Israel. As the figures indicate, most Jews were expelled from those countries. By contrast, the Arab population in Israel has grown over ten-fold.

            With respect to the Ayatollah's Iran, a barbaric and evil state which routinely murders homosexuals for the "crime" of being gay, I suspect that the community of Jews there is treated more like chimpanzees in a zoo than as genuinely "free."

            JE comments:  See below.  Can it really be true that both Iraq and Syria have absolutely no Jewish population left?  In any case, I'm curious about the provenance of these memes.

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            • How "Free" Are Non-Jews in Israel? Response to Luciano Dondero (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, USA 10/30/18 4:33 AM)
              I am never surprised to see that any criticism of Israel is responded to with deflection. Instead of responding to facts, the finger is pointed at "others."

              Luciano Dondero (October 29th) must surely understand that while pictures may paint a thousand words, compiling a set of pictures and presenting them as evidence of the fair treatment of Arabs by Israel is not the whole picture. There are plenty of other pictures which depict the morbid mistreatment of Palestinians--Christian, Muslim, and Druze.

              Luciano presented a picture of an Arab/Muslim in the IDF. Desperation is a strange thing. I suggest he read the story of Muslim recruits (10 in all as of 2013). I believe reading the link will be helpful in understanding the Muslim/Arab motivation for joining, and that of the Israelis for recruiting them: https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Two-Druze-officers-leave-IDF-over-nation-state-law-563834

              Up until recently, Christians were forbidden from joining the IDF. http://www.israeltoday.co.il/Default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=24570

              The Druze are not treated any better: https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Two-Druze-officers-leave-IDF-over-nation-state-law-563834

              I am not clear what the woman posed in an IDF uniform is supposed to tell us about Israel. Nor do I understand the presentation of a 1999 "Arab-Israeli" beauty queen, or women voting. We are to look at these pictures and think women are free in Israel?

              Further, I fail to understand Luciano's definition of "free." Isn't that a value judgment?  Again, one could go back and forth on what "free" is and compare to other Arab states--as Luciano has done here. But does Luciano want to defend Israel on the basis of it being better than other Arab nations? As the former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan said last year: "Morality is you compared to you. You compared to your standards, not to those around you." http://www.timesofisrael.com/outgoing-general-defends-controversial-holocaust-remembrance-day-speech/

              Luciano wrote: "The second image shows a map of ethnic cleansing in Northern Africa and in the Arab countries surrounding Israel. As the figures indicate, most Jews were expelled from those countries. By contrast, the Arab population in Israel has grown over ten-fold."

              What is the source of this map? We are not children who should be taught and informed by pictures. Why not provide the source for the information?

              For thousands of years, Jews have been expelled from various countries. No doubt. I would love to find a decent book which lays out why this has been the case and why there has always been this horrific prejudice against Jews around the world, Africa, Europe, Middle East, etc. But while many Jews faced prejudice in their home countries, many chose to migrate to Palestine/Israel after the state was established.

              Certainly, after the formation of the state of Israel on Palestinian land, the prejudice and suspicion of Jews was exasperated. But most Jews made a choice to go to Israel. Isn't this the whole point of Aliyah? (See for example Operation Magic Carpet, later named Operation Messiah's Coming.)

              And why would they want to go to Israel? For decades, the United States has been sending huge sums of money to Israel.  A person living in Israel has a much higher standard of living than those living in America--thanks to American generosity. Imagine how much better off they are when they leave their home countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, etc., for what they see as a haven.

              Two points worth mentioning here--Israel has excellent relations with the countries stated in Luciano's map. And, American policymakers control these nations while they put Israel before America both in aid and in political cover.

              Luciano wrote: "As the figures indicate, most Jews were expelled from those countries. By contrast, the Arab population in Israel has grown over ten-fold."

              What is his source for this graph? I am very curious to know, as it clearly shows that Jews from other countries have occupied Palestinian land--certainly to the detriment of the Palestinians.

              Luciano's picture indicates that in 1948 Palestinian Arabs numbered 150,000 versus today's 1,640,000. What odd, inaccurate numbers! If one looks at historic numbers, the population of non-Jews in 1948 was 1,319,000 versus a Jewish population of 650,000 http://palestineisraelpopulation.blogspot.com/

              As of 2018, Palestine's population stands at 5,096,457 http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/palestine-population/ . I believe the 10-fold increase refers to Jews, at least, according to the Jewish Virtual Library https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/latest-population-statistics-for-israel

              Luciano then insults the Iranian Jews by writing: "I suspect that the community of Jews there is treated more like chimpanzees in a zoo." Well, Luciano, your suspicions are wrong and indicate your prejudice towards non-Ashkenazi/white Jews and not the realities in Iran.

              Even though Israel attempted to bribe Iranian Jews into leaving their home, they refused. Some people just don't sell out. In spite of daily threats from Israel and the US, the sanctions imposed on Iran, they refuse to sell their identity for money. If I were Luciano, I would extend an apology to the Iranian Jews. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jul/12/israel.iran

              As for homosexuals being killed--regurgitating an old, inaccurate story does not make facts. And does not exonerate Israel from its crimes. It is an old tactic that no longer works. Any time Israel is criticized, the inevitable reaction is "look at Iran." What a sad way to justify crimes.

              Luciano, and indeed the Forum may be interested in knowing that the United States toyed with the idea of a "gay bomb." In other words, the nation leading the way to promoting gays, trans-genders etc. thought of homosexuality as a weapon to be used in wartime. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4174519.stm

              JE comments:  How is Israel's standard of living higher than that of the US?  Numbers slice up in countless ways, but the per capita GDP in Israel is $40,000, vs $59,000 in the US.  Israel's cost of living is also among the highest in the developed world.

              A spelling question for Soraya:  you write "Moslem" in your WAIS submissions, but the accepted journalistic form is "Muslim."  I make the edit for publication.  Style manuals write that Moslem is outdated and possibly offensive, akin to "Peking" or even "Negro."  Is "Moslem" common among Iranians writing in English?

              A thought exercise for the WAISitudes:  Would you rather be a Jew in Iran, or a Muslim in Israel?

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              • Muslim vs Moslem (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, USA 11/02/18 4:13 AM)
                John Eipper asked me on October 30th:

                "You [Soraya] write 'Moslem' in your WAIS submissions, but the accepted journalistic form is 'Muslim.' I make the edit for publication. Style manuals write that Moslem is outdated and possibly offensive, akin to 'Peking' or even 'Negro.' Is 'Moslem' common among Iranians writing in English?"

                I am not sure which style manual would possibly state such a thing (unless it is funded by Arabs?), but it very inaccurate, and simply wrong to say the use of "Moslem"spelt with an ‘o' is offensive!

                Iranians and Arabs speak different languages. It is all a matter of pronunciation. Ditto the name Mohammad. Arabs write Muhammad, Iranians write Mohammad (and I believe Turks end the name with a T and not a D). I even had an exchange with a "devout" Arab who told me that writing Mohammad with an ‘o' instead of a ‘u' is an insult to the Prophet. I think the poor chap lacked intelligence, and no understanding of the faith he followed!

                The same people who write Mohammad with a U also write Moslem with a U (and vice versa of course).  Arab money has great influence in the West--they contribute huge sums to American universities.  See for example the money pored into MIT and Harvard: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/30/elite-universities-selling-themselves-mit-harvard-saudi-arabia-mohammed-bin-salman

                In addition to their buying power to influence the media, it does not surprise me that there should be such a misunderstanding--or misinformation. If I were a betting person, I would bet that when the former Shah was on the throne, the "accepted journalistic" spelling would have been Moslem!

                There are two many important issues going on in our world and it would be petty of me to ask that JE does not edit the spelling in favor of Arabic spelling, but as editor, that is his prerogative . That said, I would very much appreciate knowing which style manuals have so misinformed JE.

                JE comments:  There are two issues here--how one is "supposed to" spell the word, and how these accepted norms got that way.

                For the former, the sources are myriad.  A few years ago Rupert Murdoch created controversy by tweeting "Moslem" instead of "Muslim":


                For its part, Merriam-Webster on-line describes "Moslem" as old-fashioned, increasingly rare, and sometimes offensive.  (I don't want WAIS to offend.)


                But why?  Soraya raises the important question of possible Arab influence, which could also explain Quran taking over from Koran, as well as the Prophet's modern spelling:  Muhammad.  From the Western perspective, Islam is an "Arabic" religion, and the two vastly different realities (language and religion) are often used interchangeably.

                In Detroit we have many Muslims.  There are Moslems too, but they belong to the local chapter of the Shriners--those fez-wearing, tiny-car-driving pillars of every US town:


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                • Unpacking "Muslim" and "Moslem" (A. J. Cave, USA 11/09/18 12:19 PM)
                  The thread about Moslem vs Muslim reminded me of the old days of SPAISing at WAIS, when we used to discuss the spelling, transliteration and pronunciation of (some) words.

                  In a nutshell, "Muslim" now is the more neutral and gentrified Anglo-American version of the Arabic loanword "Moslem," which remains in use, mostly in more politicized discourse, as well as in other languages. Moslem is closer to the Arabic pronunciation (with O and S), whereas Muslim is pronounced with a long a sound (Maaslem).

                  Here is a fuller discussion:

                  In principle, I agree that the role of the editor is to edit a post, and that editing is objective or subjective (or a little of both) depending on the editor. I am always thankful when major booboos in my posts are fixed before they hit the ‘Web.

                  In this case, however, the difference between Moslem and Muslim in Anglo-American context, is not a simple one-for-one substitution of modern for obsolete. Words are like living cells in the body of a language, and these words are alive and well in different parts of that body. Use of one or the other, especially in a setting like WAIS, signals ideological, political and theological, as well as historical and lingual markers of the writer. If WAISers are using these two words interchangeably, I would get to their differences in a New York minute, after my usual disclaimer.

                  I am neither a scholar nor know much about Arabic and Turkish languages, outside of the basics. I know a little more about the Persian language and its history, as well as the history of Islam, since Arabs and Islam have had a direct impact on old Persia and modern Iran--now known as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

                  First, and most importantly, we are talking about the transliteration of an Arabic loanword in Anglo-American languages. Other languages have their own version of the word; some follow the Anglo-American version, but most don't.

                  I looked at these two terms a while back and there were a lot more references online, but when I checked again couple of days ago, most have been updated and revised-from Moslem to Muslim--so, I would write this as my opinion, since I don't have time for an in-depth research at the library. The topic would make a good research project for some graduate student.

                  It is common for transliteration of loanwords in English to improve over time, as we become more familiar with foreign cultures and their languages. Arabic words are no exception. The question here, however, is not a simple and straightforward transliteration of an Arabic word, but old and lingering views about Islam as a religion.

                  The religion has always been called "Islam" (s and short a) by the Arabs, dating as far back as to the early days of its formation (revelation, but mostly a monotheistic movement not a religion yet). In the early years (during or after 622 CE), before the period of expansion by conquest, the Arab-Muslims referred to themselves as mu'menins (or mu'minins in Arabic, meaning believers), as evident in the Constitution of Medina (also called, Charter of Medina, dastur_e al-Madinah in Arabic)--an early Islamic document that has survived in secondary Arabic literary sources. Not a constitution, like the US Constitution, or a charter, like the Charter of the UN, it is a document called "kitab" in Arabic, which defines the roles and responsibilities of the tribes of Medina and the followers of the Prophet Muhammad who had arrived from Mecca, as well as his local supporters. The reference to "the believers" could have been inclusive of all those covered and co-existed by this treaty. In later sources, that Arabic self-identification becomes "We, the Moslems..." as a marker of members of a religion. We don't know when the shift from mu'menins to Moslems happened. It could have been after the massive conquests transformed the Arab-Muslim identity as somehow different (and perhaps superior) to other non-Arabian "believers."

                  Strictly speaking, (masculine) "Moslem," or (feminine) "Moslemah," pronounced with o and s, is closest to the Arabic pronunciation of the word, but pronounced with o and z (instead of s), it is offensive to Arabs.

                  Arabic and Persian are entirely different languages, from different families. "Moslem" written in Persian alphabet is an Arabic loanword in the (new) Persian language (divided to Old Persian, Middle Persian, and Persian) as well. The Persian word that refers to a "Moslem" is Mussalmaan (short a followed by long a)or Mussalmoon (short a followed by long o). There is no gender in Persian language, and Iranians do not refer to themselves as "Moslems" or alternatively "Muslims."

                  As a side note, Farsi is the Arabized form of Parsi (due to lack of the phoneme p in Arabic). A majority of Iranians I know reject the term Farsi for Persian language. We use "Persian language."

                  (I am simplifying here): Arab-Muslims were generally referred to as "Saracens," meaning easterners, or simply as heathens or pagans, by the Christian westerners, as Arab conquest turned westward. The re-engagement of the West with Arab-Muslims (after the Crusades of the Middle Ages) was in context of searching for the Biblical lands and people. The term Saracens was replaced by the Turkish? "Mahometans," as the Europeans crossed the Ottoman Empire to get to the Biblical lands. Mahometan was replaced by the Arabic "Mohammedans" as the British and French worked on breaking the Ottoman Empire in early 20th century. I don't know exactly when "Mohammedans" became "Moslems." In her books written prior to her death in 1926, the incomparable British Arabist Gertrude Bell (the white woman of the desert), referred to "Moslems" as Mohammedans. In her biography Gertrude Bell written by her relatives and printed in 1940, the transliterated loanword "Moslem" had already found its way into British language: From introduction by Ronald Bodley: "... One must remember that attitude towards the ‘infidel' of the Moslem who has that ineradicable certainty that the only people who are worthy of respect and can have any hope of future salvation are the followers of Mohammed..."

                  Around the same timeline, the British transliteration of "Moslem" is a part of the American language. In Arabs, Oil and History: The Story of Middle East (1949) Kermit Roosevelt wrote: "... the Middle East may offer the most promising ground for Occident and Orient to meet and understand each other. If one world is to become a reality, there must be not only Russians and Americans in it; there must be 250 million Moslems, 250 million Hindus, 450 million Buddhists and Confucianists, together with Shintoists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, and others..."

                  How did "Moslem" became "Muslim" in Anglo-American language? I can't say for sure, since lots of online sources have already been revised by the well-meaning editors. I am just guessing by looking at the list of religious organizations and political lobby groups formed by Arab-Americans in the 20th century. My guess is that it has a lot to do with the history of Islam in the US and the founding of the Black Muslim movement in 1930-later, Nation of Islam (NOI), in Detroit.

                  Arab-Muslim immigration to the US started around 1914, mostly settling in and around Detroit. After the passage of Johnson-Reed Immigration Act in 1921, the first issue of The Moslem Sunrise Quarterly was published to counter misrepresentation of Islam in the press. To start differentiating themselves from the political NOI, the newly arrived Arab immigrants might have moved to a slightly different transliteration of Moslem, like Muslim, substituting o and e with u and I, which sound almost the same. In 1939, Islamic Mission Society was founded in New York and published Islamic Sunrise magazine. Most Muslim organizations used the term "Islamic" until 1990, when American Muslim Council (AMC) lobby group was formed in Washington, DC. Former President Obama, a Congregationalist, called himself the son of a lapsed Muslim.

                  Spelling of the name Mohammad to Muhammad (and other variations with o and u) might have followed the same path.

                  So, "Muslim" now is the more neutral Anglo-American version of "Moslem," which also remains in use, mostly in more politicized discourse, as well as in other languages.

                  JE comments:  Remember "Hindoo"?  It was the common spelling in the 19th century, but now it offends.  Not sure how, but it does.  "Philology" is also old-fashioned, but let me reclaim the word.  A. J., you've given us philology at its very best.  I'm both newly enlightened and convinced to stick with Muslim.

                  WAISers of the Oldish School may not remember our SpAIS days.  I just re-read my 2009 April Fools post (link below), and I'm struck by how forgotten the Spice Girls are today.  (See my joke about not knowing what to call female SpAISers.  My 19-year-old students wouldn't grasp the sophomoric humor.)


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                  • Muslim-Moslem, Sunni-Shia (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/13/18 2:06 PM)

                    Following this interesting discussion on Moslem versus Muslim name-calling, I wondered if the Sunni versus Shiite split has any relationship to it?

                    JE comments:  I've been chewing on this for a couple of days.  My first thought was to draw attention to the thirteen + centuries from the Sunni-Shia split (632) to the rise of "Muslim" over "Moslem" in the 1960s-'70s.  But might there be an indirect connection, with the passing of hegemony from a Persian-influenced to an Arabic-influenced spelling?  Perhaps this "SpAIS" puzzle may indeed boil down to the struggle for dominance between Shiite Persians and Sunni Arabs.  This possibility was first suggested by Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich.

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            • Why There is No Jewish Population in Iraq or Syria: The Farhud (Violent Dispossession) (Istvan Simon, USA 10/31/18 3:57 AM)
              I was astonished by John E's comment on Luciano's excellent post of October 29th. John said: "Can it really be true that both Iraq and Syria have absolutely no Jewish population left?"

              Yes, John, it is true.

              I have written about this in WAIS several times, so this should have been no surprise for John. Perhaps he forgot.

              The Farhud (violent dispossession) happened in 1941, during the Second World War, years before the modern state of Israel was established. It was organized by the war criminal Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, fleeing from an arrest warrant by the British authorities for terrorism in Palestine, on his way to Nazi Germany via Iraq, who decided with Nazi co-conspirators in Iraq that killing nearly 1000 Jews in organized riots for the "crime" of being Jews, would go a long way to expel these people from Iraq. It was indeed the beginning of the end of the Jewish presence in Iraq, a thriving community that had peacefully continuously lived in that region for 2,700 years!

              The anti-Semitic killings of Jews organized by Al-Husseini started in the 1920s in Palestine. These murders were responsible for the founding of the Haganah, a defense force established to defend the Jewish farmers in Palestine from the terrorist attacks instigated by Al-Husseini. The Haganah, which means defense, became the backbone of the IDF, after Israel was established.




              The Wikipedia article (first link) gives a very complete overview of the Farhud.

              JE comments:  The Farhud has been described as the "Arab Kristallnacht."  There are reports of a small number of Jewish Iraqis returning to Baghdad.  Consider this 2017 article in Haaretz:


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              • Farhud...and Nackba (John Heelan, -UK 11/03/18 4:57 AM)
                In response to Istvan Simon on the Farhud (31 October), one should also remember that some 800,000 Palestinians were deprived of the homes, businesses and farms and had to live in Jordanian refugee camps--an event they call the "Nackba" (Disaster).

                The Times of Israel published a blog blaming the Palestinians themselves. Presumably German Jews were not accused (other than by the Nazis) of being responsible for Kristallnacht?


                JE comments:  Blogger Yakov Marks (above link) describes the Palestinians as seeing themselves as perpetual victims.  What does this mean?  Is there any acceptable way to question a victim's claim to the moral high ground?  I can't think of any, so I'll leave it at this:  in the region WAIS calls "Israel/Palestine," folks are very accomplished at playing the victim card.

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                • You Cannot Compare the Nackba with the Farhud (Istvan Simon, USA 11/04/18 2:56 PM)

                  John Heelan said on November 3rd: "One should also remember that some 800,000 Palestinians were deprived of the homes, businesses and farms and had to live in Jordanian refugee camps."

                  I have no objection to discussing the Palestinian exodus. If John desires to do so, be my guest. If we do discuss it though, it should be done in a serious manner, as history, rather than parroting the myth created by Arabs to keep terrorism alive in a sea of grievances never to be resolved.

                  I do object that this be raised in connection with the Farhud, because the two events are not directly related and should not be mixed together as if they were. The Farhud happened seven years earlier, in a completely different context. It was unprovoked, premeditated murder and mayhem on a grand scale not committed in the context of war. In contrast, the Palestinian exodus happened in a war, in which a far larger and far better-armed enemy attacked Israel from all sides. Further, the scope and manner of the atrocities committed during the Farhud far exceeded any atrocities committed by Jews during Israel's independence war against non-combatants. See:


                  There is a false narrative perpetuated by Arabs which John Heelan seems to agree with, that the massacre at Deir Yassin caused 800,000 Palestinians to flee. That seems to me absurd. It trivializes and simultaneously hides the true causes of the Palestinian exodus.

                  Unhappily, there are frequent massacres like Deir Yassin all over the world, including terrorism in the United States, on the same scale, or even larger scale, yet hundreds of thousands of people do not flee their homes in response. The claim that 800,000 Palestinians did so is simply preposterous and it is not true.

                  Also, John said that Palestinians had to live in Jordanian refugee camps. Really? They had to? Why? Who forced them to live in refugee camps? Certainly not Israel. I'd like to suggest to John Heelan to look at a map of the region and explain why 800,000 refugees could not have been absorbed by the vast surrounding Arab countries, to build new lives, like the more than a million and a half Jews expelled from Arab lands did (see Luciano Dondero and Sasha Pack's posts). Why is it that none of the latter ever got a penny from the UN, and somehow were able to fend for themselves in distant lands all over the world? Why is it that, unlike the Palestinians, none of them throws pipe bombs filled with nails in pizzerias in Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, Alexandria, etc. all the places responsible for their traumatization, but instead lead responsible lives wherever they ended up, thousands of miles from their original homes?

                  I do not wish to trivialize here the seriousness of Palestinian suffering. I neither justify nor condone what happened to the Palestinians in 1948 and since. But I must ask the seminal pertinent question regarding this history: What makes Palestinians so special, that 70 years after their traumatic event, their now 3.2 million descendants still live in refugee camps, still supported by the UN and the charity of the world?

                  JE comments:  Comparative victimology is a difficult exercise.  How do you place an absolute value on suffering?  Isn't the official reason the Palestinians don't assimilate in, say, Jordan, that they would then give up their claim to return?  At the same time, Istvan Simon asks an important question:  why do the Palestinians alone refuse to "move on" and assimilate in different lands?  There have been many displaced peoples over the centuries.

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                  • Palestinian Refugees and Assimilation (John Heelan, -UK 11/06/18 3:55 AM)

                    Istvan Simon strides to the defense of Israel again (5 November).

                    JE commented:  "Istvan Simon asks an important question: why do the Palestinians alone refuse to 'move on' and assimilate in different lands? There have been many
                    displaced peoples over the centuries.”

                    Good question, but perhaps it should be coupled with that of “why did the neo-Zionists refuse offers of locations such as Ararat City (US), the British Uganda Program, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (USSR), the Fugu Plan (Japan), British Guiana or Port Davey (Australia) or Madagascar?

                    One might find clues in the eternal fight between Israeli religious leaders (such as Kahane, Schach, Liebervitch and others) using their Knesset seats to protect the boundaries of Eretz Israel--because God told them to! Schach’s televised speech apparently swung an election from Labour to Likud.

                    In my view, there can never be peace in the Middle East until Israel ceases to demand the Eretz Israel borders remaining as they are, until Hamas changes its stated objective of eliminating Israel, and until Iran and Saudi Arabia stop stirring this witches brew.

                    Istvan further questioned 800,000 Palestinians displaced by Nackba as a myth.

                    However the UNRWA website states, "It has contributed to the welfare and
                    human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as 'persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1
                    June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as
                    a result of the 1948 conflict.'” Note the original quoting 750,000
                    refugees quoted that has now expanded to 5
                    million (https://www.unrwa.org/who-we-are ) as the descendants of Palestine
                    refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for

                    JE comments:  The "generations of Palestine refugees" leaves one puzzled.  This literally means that many of the refugees were born outside Palestine.  What's more, the population of 1946-'48 Palestinians must be getting very small.

                    Perhaps there's some relation here to the "birthright citizenship" debate now boiling in the US.  Or perhaps not. 

                    In any case, US WAISers, go out today and vote.

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                    • Palestinians and Citizenship; A Visit to a Refugee Camp in Jordan (Paul Pitlick, USA 11/07/18 3:33 AM)
                      In this discussion, perhaps one should clarify what "citizenship" means for Palestinian refugees.

                      About 15 years ago I visited a refugee camp in Jordan. While "refugee camp" brings to mind tents, etc., the Palestinian families in this camp lived in houses many years old, often with tanks for water storage on the roofs. The buildings were fairly substantial. Jordan does not have "birthright citizenship," which is Mr. Trump's latest distraction to stimulate his base (an appropriate term). Thus a baby born in Jordan does not automatically become a citizen of Jordan.

                      Most of the refugees are not citizens, going back several generations, and they are denied the benefits of citizenship. For example, when the babies grow up, they cannot join the military. This is significant because active duty and many retired military families receive their medical care through the military. As I recall, of the children born with heart defects in Jordan, about 1/3 of them receive their care, including surgery if necessary, through military hospitals. This is a resource not available to Palestinian babies, because they are not citizens.

                      I don't know about other Arab countries, but I suspect this is true of most, perhaps all.

                      JE comments:  Very important points, Paul.  I am still unclear on whether the Palestinians in Jordan are barred from citizenship, or whether it is a choice of the Palestinians themselves.  If the former, wouldn't it be in Jordan's interest to assimilate these often restive populations?

                      Our late colleague Miles Seeley visited the Jordanian camps in the 1960s, during his tenure with the CIA.  Half a century later, it seems little has changed:


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                      • Palestinians with Jordanian Passports (Carmen Negrin, -France 11/07/18 12:34 PM)

                        Adding to Paul Pitlick's information (November 7th), when the Palestinians do get the passport, it will show that they are of Palestinian origin and they will not have access to the same jobs.

                        JE comments:  Presumably this means Jordan?  I don't want to sound like too much of an apologist for any side, but why isn't there an outcry about "Jordanian Apartheid"?

                        Carmen, could you share more of your experiences of working with the Palestinian refugees?

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                        • My UNESCO Experiences with the Palestinians (Carmen Negrin, -France 11/08/18 3:25 PM)

                          John E asked me to elaborate on my experience working with Palestinian refugees.  I was not involved in work with the camps, just assisting in building ministries related to UNESCO's fields of competence.

                          But the Palestinians didn't necessarily follow our recommendations. For instance the pyramidal structure and organization was always broken: if a staff member was friends with the Minister (Secretary), he/she would skip the hierarchy, creating a mess of disinformation within the Ministry. A long tradition to go against!

                          We also suggested for example the separation of Culture and Tourism for the obvious reasons of the exploitation of a site versus its protection; this was not followed. We suggested certain limits for a protected historical zone in Bethlehem.  The next day we found out that in spite of Arafat's personal signed agreement, the Mayor made his own deal with a Japanese hotel chain in exchange for a road leading to his own home (I left before finding out if it was actually carried out).

                          And so on. Agreements were broken by the Israeli government, as it was the case with the television station, which was bombed, as well as with Palestinians. But we did manage to help carry out some long-lasting positive changes, if anything an increase in awareness. Always frustrating to see how difficult it is to build and how easy it is to destroy!

                          JE comments:  Alas, Carmen, your last sentence is wisdom for the ages.  Thank you for this frank appraisal.  There's something surreal about the Japanese running the inns of Bethlehem.  (No room at the inn, the manger option, etc.)

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                    • "Next Year in Jerusalem," not Madagascar (Istvan Simon, USA 11/08/18 2:43 AM)
                      With all due respect to John Heelan, he asks questions of "neo-Zionists," whatever that means, and in my view his questions are offensive. Frankly, it is no different than Marie Antoinette saying "let them eat cake" or making a remark like "the rich and the poor are equally entitled to live under a bridge."

                      I am not a Zionist, and I do not live in Israel. But contrary to John Heelan, I understand those who do.

                      Metaphorically John Heelan should walk a mile in Jewish shoes before making criticisms of those who did not want to live in say Madagascar. An offer, which by the way, was never made by the people of Madagascar, but their murderers in Europe.

                      The history of Jews in the last 2,000 years is one of a sea of tears imposed by others. In almost every land where Jews were forced to live, they were eventually savagely persecuted, murdered, or at best given the option to either be tortured to death or convert, as in the Spanish Inquisition. The excuses for why they were singled out to be murdered varied. The means by which they were murdered also varied. But the fact that they were in every generation murdered did not. It is this history that created Zionism, and John Heelan's apparent lack of sympathy or understanding of this history is very much part of the problem, not the solution.

                      Every Jewish family of the Diaspora for thousands of years greeted the Passover with the phrase, "Next Year in Jerusalem." The connection of Jews to Israel have long-lasting deep roots. Once again it explains why many Jews desired to return to Israel, not to Madagascar.

                      John also said: "In my view, there can never be peace in the Middle East until Israel ceases to demand the Eretz Israel borders remaining as they are, until Hamas changes its stated objective of eliminating Israel, and until Iran and Saudi Arabia stop stirring this witches brew."

                      I agree partly. The following clarifies this further.

                      First I disagree with John's first premise. Israel will never cease to demand borders that are internationally recognized by all, including the Arab States. So if John really thinks what he wrote, it implies that there never will be peace. However, I do not believe that to be the case.

                      I asked this question of a Palestinian merchant in Jerusalem. I asked: in your opinion what is the percentage of Palestinians who want peace with Israel? The merchant, who lived in Bethlehem, and came every day to his shop to sell his wares in Jerusalem, did not directly respond, but said most wanted peace. It was obvious that he was one who wanted peace. He had a direct economic interest in wanting peace. No peace, no income. An elegant beautiful young Muslim woman came into the shop, and the merchant asked her the same question. She said maybe 10%. She evidently did not want peace. I did not voice my opinion, but it is evident that if you do not want peace, you shall have war. I also asked an Israeli soldier the same question. He said, I have many Palestinian friends. 80% are fed up with Hamas and want peace.

                      Israel will not cease to exist, will defend itself against terrorism and aggression, and is self-reliant. I do not support Prime Minister Netanyahu's many policies, but Netanyahu is not Israel and may not even be Prime Minister for very much longer. I believe that anyone who visits Israel with a fair mind, will see a remarkable free, modern, technologically advanced multi-ethnic democratic state, that learned to live better with unending terrorism than any other country I know of, and nonetheless created an admirable little country largely at peace despite efforts to destroy it, and which will undoubtedly endure no matter what its belligerent neighbors throw at it in the future.

                      Finally, John Heelan said incorrectly that I dismissed the Palestinian exodus as a myth. No John, I did not dismiss it as a myth, I acknowledged explicitly the Palestinian exodus. What I said was a myth are the causes for that exodus, which were not what the Palestinians and the Arab countries say it is.

                      John's citation of the UNRWA web site does not contradict what I have written in the slightest. It confirms it.

                      JE comments:  Who can walk us through the "alternate Israels" that were proposed over the years?  Wasn't the Madagascar "solution" actually the brainchild of the Nazis?  There were also attempts to create Jewish colonies in the Argentine Pampa.

                      Istvan, I believe your are in Colombia at present.  Your thoughts/impressions?

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                      • History's "Alternate Israels": Angola (Mendo Henriques, Portugal 11/09/18 3:09 AM)
                        JE asked about the "alternate Israels" that were proposed over the years.  (See Istvan Simon, 8 November.)

                        The idea of a colonization of parts of Portuguese Angola through the relocation of tens of thousands of Jews dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century.

                        After the 1910 proclamation of the Republic in Portugal, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved on June 15, 1912, the "Manuel Bravo Project," which provided for the granting of 60 to 100 hectares of land to Jewish immigrants. Despite final approval in the Senate, a year later (June 29, 1913), the project never materialized. A detail was missing: in order to become law, the project needed to be submitted to an approval by both chambers.

                        On the eve of World War II, in the face of an ever-decreasing number of states willing to absorb a growing number of Jewish refugees increasingly impoverished, the colonization of Angola became even more appealing. One of the most prominent voices in this process was the American press magnate, William R. Hearst. who wrote about an homeland for dispossessed or persecuted Jews in the San Francisco Examiner, 20 November 1938.

                        After the pogroms of November 1938, he defended the delivery of former German colonies to Jews who had fled from Germany; the territory should be expanded by the incorporation of Belgian Congo and the Portuguese Colonies of Angola and Mozambique. This Israeli territory on African soil would correspond to about half the area of the United States and would permit the formation of a new political superpower in Africa. The territories could be acquired in exchange for "cash or other concrete advantages."

                        This proposal provoked a reaction from the Portuguese consul in San Francisco, Jordão Mauricio Henriques, actually my grandfather. In his communiqué to the press, in The Monitor 3 December 1938, my grandfather emphasized the official position of the Portuguese government, that colonies were not on sale since they formed with the mother nation, Portugal, an indivisible whole with reciprocal interests and moral affinities.

                        The debate went on and it reached the British Parliament where a certain Cazalet M.P. proposed the colonization of Angola by Jewish refugees. It provoked an uproar in Portugal and the debate went on and on. It was good for my grandfather because his firm reaction brought him a promotion to Consul at São Paulo, Brazil and then first general Consul at Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Capital.

                        You can see more about this issue in "Portugal e os refugiados judeus provenientes do território alemão (1933-1940)," by Ansgar Schaefer. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, 2014.

                        JE comments:  This is fascinating history, Mendo--I've said before that the very best WAIS posts mix the historical-international and the personal.   Dare I say the chances are very good your grandfather met Ronald Hilton in his early Stanford days?  Did you have the chance to discuss this possibility with Prof. H?

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            • Sasha Pack's "The Deepest Border" (Sasha Pack, USA 11/02/18 3:27 AM)
              In the discussion of the status of non-Jews in the Jewish state, Luciano Dondero (October 29th) posted a graphic depicting "ethnic cleansing" of Jews from Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East since World War II, and the concurrent increase in the Muslim population of Israel. I'd say my attitude toward the Israel/Palestine problem is about as dispassionate as possible, and I would vouch for the accuracy of Luciano's graphic.

              I have just completed a book on the modern history of the Hispano-Moroccan borderland (The Deepest Border, set to drop later this month with Stanford University Press). The book covers many topics, but deals a fair amount with the Jews of modern Morocco and their mass exodus after 1956. The Jewish population dropped from 250,000 in 1948 to 120,000 in 1961, to 7,000 today. I settled on the phrase "mild ethnic cleansing" to describe the Jewish departure from Morocco--firm, but in slow motion, and without the cruelty of, say, the Trail of Tears or the expulsion of Germans from Poland in 1946, or for that matter the cleansing of Jews from Spain after 1492.

              The Moroccan example runs roughly along the lines of the Jewish experience in much of the Arab world, though Morocco tends to be moderated by its distance from the Holy Land and by a preponderance of US influence. I offer a summary pulled together from what I and a number of other historians have written about the topic. Most Moroccan Jews were descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th century. Their conditions in some respects resembled those of their coreligionists in Europe: most lived in ghettos and were subject to sumptuary laws and prohibited from practicing certain professions. Yet relations were not hostile, either. Muslim and Jewish communities exchanged gifts on holidays and sometimes took pilgrimages together to the same shrines. A chosen few were favorites of the Sultan and granted special privileges to trade with Christians.

              As European nations began to compete for influence in Morocco, they tended to hire Jews as go-betweens, and by the 1860s a small minority of Jews--mainly in port cities--went about under British, French, or Spanish protections, immune from prosecution for transgressing the bounds imposed by the apartheid system. Some, apparently, used this freedom to avoid paying taxes altogether, growing wealthy in the process. The French Alliance Isréalite Universelle opened Jewish schools throughout North Africa to bring European education to Jews of the Arab world. Thus, over time, Jews acquired the reputation as domestic agents of European imperialism. Anti-Semitic messages circulated by the many Nazis, Francoists, and officials of Vichy France stationed in the country during the WWII years resonated widely, though Sultan Muhammad bin Yusef (the future King Muhammad V) rather courageously affirmed his commitment to protecting his Jewish subjects.

              Postwar Moroccan nationalism officially considered Jews to be members of the nation, and its major organizations included a few Jews among the leadership. Moroccan Jews remained generally aloof from Zionism, but the transnational bifurcation of Zionism and Arab Nationalism proved too powerful to escape. Intimidation and violence toward Jews increased after 1948. After 1956, the independent Moroccan state barred Jews from emigrating as part of an effort to meet criteria for membership in the Arab League, which sought to limit Israel's demographic expansion in this way. The Jewish community became understandably quite nervous, especially given the recent European experience. The US government arranged for Moroccan Jews to gain temporary exit permits to Canada or the US, facilitating passage to Israel. In addition, Mossad set up a kind of underground railroad to smuggle Jews into Spanish territory (either Ceuta or southern Spanish coast), from where they gained passage to Israel. In the revolutionary atmosphere of early postcolonial Morocco, these efforts likely prevented an uglier turn of events.

              JE comments:  A WAIS-sized congratulations to Sasha Pack for the new arrival!  I want to be one of the first to read The Deepest Border.   How many of you knew that the Arab League barred its member states from allowing Jews to emigrate to Israel?  One intuitively would have thought the exact opposite.

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              • Varia: What is Meant by "Israel Today"? Bolton on Khashoggi Killing, and Muslim/Moslem (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, USA 11/04/18 4:55 AM)
                Congratulations to Sasha Pack (November 2nd) for completing the book The Deepest Border. I have a world of respect for authors. It takes amazing discipline to write a book, be it historical, scholarly, fictional, or any other. I believe books are the most valuable possession a person could have.

                When it comes to writing history books, one must surely go through a great deal of research. Accuracy is paramount. Although history is often subject to revision, and different perspectives reflect different realities, one can only learn by reading all perspectives.

                Given that I have not read Sasha's book, I cannot comment on it. But I am surprised that Sasha vouched for the accuracy of Luciano Dondero's picture (referred to as graph). Surprised because the picture/graph's flaw is the absence of pertinent information. For one, there is no date. So when it states "Israel 1948 and Israel Today," does "today" indicate 2018, 2000, 1990, or ...?

                What is considered "Israel Today"? The 1948 borders, the 1967, the Occupied Golan and Jerusalem?

                So when there is no time set for "today," or "borders," how can Sasha vouch for the accuracy?

                Furthermore, how can one call Aliyah "Ethnic Cleansing, or "Mild" ethnic cleansing? Is there a breakdown of those who left voluntarily for ideological reasons, or for greener pastures, or due to prejudice? Which would beg the question why the picture only depicts Arab settlers and not, say, Russian Jews or African and European Jews.

                If Aliyah is ethnic cleansing, what does one call the fate of the Palestinians?

                As John Eipper correctly pointed out, the Arabs at the time opposed Jewish migration to Israel as they considered the state of Israel disenfranchised the Palestinians. And as Sasha wrote, they wanted to limit the expansion of Israel. Today is a different story. Arabs, for the most part, are partnered with Israel. Some openly, and some not so openly.

                Again, as Sasha wrote: "Thus, over time, Jews acquired the reputation as domestic agents of European imperialism." I would imagine anyone, regardless of creed or religion that cooperates with invading colonial powers would be considered traitors. According to some literature, many Armenians in Turkey faced a fate far worse than Jews for being accused of siding with Russia.

                Doesn't every country have a penal code for working with, or spying for hostile forces? I know we do in the United States.

                So maybe there is something I missed in Luciano's picture, which is why I asked him for the source. All the sources I provided put the population of Arabs (non-Jews) in 1948 Israel at well over a million.

                Incidentally, many of the Iraqi Jews migrated to Iran.

                Regarding The Guardian article and Timothy Ashby's post.

                I sent this post "for JE" and it was not intended as a post but for John to pass along to Mr. Ashby should he wished to do so. Had I intended it to be a post, I would have elaborated more.

                I was fascinated by Mr. Ashby's post, as I could not figure out how this green light from Bolton for the Khashoggi killing would have benefited Trump or America. So I did some research.

                A little attention to the article would have made the reader aware that the article pre-dated Mr. Ashby's post by 3 days. So while the article claimed that the killing of Khashoggi could not have happened without the knowledge of the White House, Mr. Ashby elaborated by stating that John Bolton knew of this. To my knowledge, John Bolton is very much a part of the White House.

                As for the spelling of Moslem versus Muslim, JE wrote: "For its part, Merriam-Webster on-line describes 'Moslem' as old-fashioned, increasingly rare, and sometimes offensive. (I don't want WAIS to offend.)


                Thank you for the link, John. But as you must be aware, Merriam-Webster was bought by Encyclopedia Britannica (EB). An American company bought EB and it was later sold to Jacqui Safra--a Swiss Syrian-Jew. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqui_Safra So for some time, it has been owned by a company and an individual.

                I use Merriam-Webster and Encyclopedia Britannica often. The initial encounter of English with Islam was within the context of the Persian language, which was the lingua franca of the Middle East, which is why the English language used "Moslem." Given the Arab money and the friendship with Arab states, one gets an indication as to why the Persian-inspired spelling was outdated and even considered offensive. (Arab money has also attempted to change the name of the Persian Gulf.)

                Regardless of how and why the spelling was changed, I am not as troubled by WAIS using the Muslim, but I am troubled by the Iranian English-language media using "Muslim" instead of Moslem.

                No doubt there are several reasons. One is that the English-speaking news reporters have all come of age after the Revolution and they simply follow what is "out there." The other is the increased use of Arabic words in Farsi which is perhaps owed to the Islamic nature of the government.

                Either way, I will not be one bit offended if someone calls me a Moslem.

                JE comments:  Much to reflect on here.  Soraya, perhaps you could elaborate on your claim that most Arabs are "partnered" with Israel?  Do you refer specifically to Saudi Arabia?  Is this a common belief in Iran?

                And my apologies for passing along the Guardian article that was intended for Tim Ashby only.  Sometimes when a piece is particularly relevant to WAIS discussion, I cannot resist sharing it with everyone.

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        • Discrimination Against Non-White Jews in Israel (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, USA 10/26/18 3:55 AM)
          Eugenio Battaglia's post of October 22 is refreshingly honest and to the point. Frankly, I am both surprised and delighted to note that we can discuss the issue in our Forum.

          Without a doubt, Israel and Apartheid are very similar. The facts are undeniable.

          It is odd for Israel to declare a "Jewish Nation-State" when even Jews are not equal in Israel. The white, European occupiers of Israel have little regard or tolerance for their fellow Jewish Israelis if they are not white. In 1945, Eliezer Rieger, a vocational education official and later director-general of the ministry of education, spoke of the necessary separation between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi pupils in the schools: "Pursuit of a pre-vocational track should be a blessing for Mizrahi students, since... children from Mizrahi families, or at least many of them, are not capable of abstract learning and will not profit very much from study that is not practical in nature."


          The practice continues to this day. The white, European occupiers of Israel have little regard or tolerance for their fellow Jewish Israelis if they are not white. Israel has segregated Mizrahi Jews from Ashkenazi Jews:


          In 2013 it was reported that black Jewish migrant children were sent to segregated kindergartens https://www.thedailybeast.com/israels-most-liberal-city-introduces-racially-segregated-kindergartens . Not to mention the practice of injecting women of Ethiopian origin with the long-acting contraceptive (Haaretz).

          Netanyahu openly displayed his racism when he talked about his "Mizrahi gene," though he later apologized for it. https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-apologizes-for-mizrahi-gene-remark/

          Given the racism towards fellow Jews, it boggles the mind why one would declare Israel a "Jewish and Democratic State," as Netanyahu did at the UNGA.

          If we are offended by the racism displayed toward Jews, imagine the suffering of Christians and Arabs, though we do not need to imagine.  We can read about it. While it is easy to compare Israel to Apartheid, it is far worse. It kills women and children, young and old, indiscriminately. It is holding almost two million souls in an open-air prison. It throws raw sewage at the Palestinians. Its crimes are endless and it is impossible to mention them all here. Crimes which are made possible by the United States and European allies. In fact, we in the US are funding the racism, the crimes, the incremental genocide. If we deny this, then we are blind to reality.

          To quote Mark Spencer: "I surely don't think ignorance is bliss. But like everything else that has survived thousands of years of human evolution, ignorance--like denial, self-delusion, and magical thinking--seems to have its uses."

          JE comments:  Just yesterday, WAISer Tim Brown spoke of the Tel Aviv cafe that refused to serve his Persian Jewish friend.  I imagine the plight of Jewish Ethiopians is worse--or is the problem overblown by Israel's critics?  This is a topic I'd like to know more about.

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      • Economic Cost of Terrorism: 9/11 (Istvan Simon, USA 10/24/18 3:20 AM)
        JE asked on October 18th: "Couldn't we also say that 'terrorism' is a form of economic pressure to induce change in the behavior of a country? Look at the financial, as well as human, cost of 9/11.

        "Can we revisit the topic of sanctions vis-à-vis Putin? Ordinary Russians are absolutely feeling the pain, but the suffering is not hurting Putin's popularity at home. Once again, do I oversimplify?"

        My response: Yes, I believe John E oversimplifies, and no, in my opinion terrorism  is not a form of economic pressure. The cost in money of the direct damages caused by 9/11 is insignificant. The World Trade Center cost about 4 billion dollars. That looks like a lot of money for ordinary people like you and me, but it is insignificant for the United States as a whole. I exclude in this analysis the cost of our military response, which far exceeded the cost of the direct damages. Also, fortunately, terrorist incidents of the magnitude of 9/11 are very rare.

        About Putin, I do not think that our sanctions are hurting the Russian population very significantly. The Magnitsky act is great because in fact it hurts whom it is meant to hurt--Putin and his oligarchs. I also dispute John's take on Putin's popularity. I met a many ordinary Russians who do not hide their contempt of Putin.

        Consider the Kemerovo fire that killed many children at a shopping center when I was leaving Russia earlier this year.


        There were angry mass demonstrations against Putin following this fire, because of the irresponsible criminal way that it was handled, the lack of adequate sprinkler systems, the lack of foresight in its construction. People were trapped inside the shopping center when the fire erupted, because they locked the doors and could not flee.The place was full of children, as it coincided with spring break in Russia. A horrible tragedy, yet one that could have been far smaller, if the shopping center had been built with adequate automatic sprinklers that may have extinguished the fire when it started, and if the doors weren't locked as they should never have been.

        Returning to the original topic, a more complete list of various economic costs related to 9/11 can be found here:


        JE comments: The New York Times, in this admittedly ambitious calculation, places the cost of 9/11 at $3.3 trillion. Even if we halve that, it's hardly insignificant.  Al Qaeda got a massive "return on investment" of $7 million for every dollar spent on planning and executing the attack.  Hit 'em in the wallet.

        The big question is, sans 9/11, would there have been wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?


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