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08 May 2014


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I think you are correct in your analysis of Bibi. Wonder if Obama has figured this out yet?


The last two pieces give hope that the American people might be losing their blinders re the Israeli government.


I recall that back in the days of Assad pere he and the Izzies had all but reached a deal on the Golan heights, and the Izzies then bugged out.

Stories like this underline to me that the main obstacle to any settlement in the Middle East, as far as the Holy Land is conerned, was and remains Israeli intransigence.

That they manage to gloss that over time and time again doesn't change that and only gives testimonay to the efforts they expend on PR. So Bibi vetoed this? Apparently the palstinians have no partner for peace. You won't hear that on TV.

And then there is this so-called US 'mediation' of the dispute, etter described as US collusion and united US-Israeli armtwisting: With folks like "Israel's lawyer" at the table, the Palestinians have in such talks always faced two opposing parties. It is in that light relatively easy to understand why Palestinians would come to see such talks as an exercise in futility.

To Israeli partisans George Mitchell's evenhandedness - a laudable quality, and a precondition for being an honest broker - was seen as a threat to the Israeli maximalist sense of entitlement. So they rather want pro-Israeli partisans (dishonest brokers?) like Dennis Ross.


David Habakkuk


There seems to be increasing recognition that the fact that the two-state solution has now finally been taken off the life-support system makes the intellectual tensions implicit in the ‘liberal Zionist’ position unmanageable. In a recent article in ‘Haaretz’, Dov Waxman suggests that ‘liberal Zionists’ will now face to confront the question of whether should support the ‘one-state solution’. He continues:

‘To be sure, a one-state solution may be just as impossible as a two-state solution, if not more so – civil war and even ethnic cleansing are more likely outcomes than peaceful coexistence. Perhaps this long, interminable conflict cannot be resolved, at least not for the foreseeable future. In that case, liberal Zionists much accept that there is no easy way for them to reconcile their liberalism and their Zionism. Instead, they must either abandon their liberalism or their Zionism, or just learn to live with the constant tension between them. Whatever they choose, it will only become harder to be a liberal Zionist.

(See http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.586932 .)

Another interesting piece in ‘Haaretz’, by Rebecca Steinfeld, develops the argument, and in the process provides a definition of Zionism whose implications may be more alarming than she realizes:

‘Zionism is premised on the belief that Jews constitute an ancient nation that requires self-determination in its historic homeland, Eretz Israel, in order to protect itself from ubiquitous and annihilationist anti-Semitism.’

(See http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/the-jewish-thinker/.premium-1.589200 .)

A century ago, members of the Anglo-Jewish elite did not need to feel under personal threat to support Zionism – all they needed to do was to be concerned about the position of their fellow Jews in less fortunate lands, in particular those of the Russian Empire.

Nor indeed is it immediately obvious why, to be a Zionist, one has to believe that ‘annihilationist anti-Semitism’ is a significant danger in the contemporary United States. If however contemporary Zionists do believe it to be a latent danger, they lay themselves open to an obvious objection on the part of the ‘goyim’: if you so palpably distrust us, why should we be see you as fit people to play critical roles in shaping our country’s destinies?



Almost every Jew, I have known, and there have been quite a few, has a fear of annihilationist anti semitism to one extent or the other.

It permeates their souls. And my reading of history, yields more than a little evidence to support their attitude. Of all the earth's tribes,the Jews are the most unique for better or worse.

I live in one of the most peaceful places on the planet,and even the few Jews here, when probed have a deep down insecurity.

In the United States Jews are so embedded in the highest levels of government and society in general. For better or worse,their critical roles now and in the future is a given. I'd get used to it, if I were you.



Many years ago while lunching in the NY City Hq. of Lazard Freres in 30 Rock, a Jewish American businessman with whom I dealt often told me that to understand American Jews I had to understand their pervasive fear of us all. I do not altogether accept this view. My wife's BFF is a woman from Portland, Oregon who is nothing like that and I know Jewish Americans who are American before all else. They refuse to visit Israel in spite of my urging that they do so. pl

David Habakkuk


“In the United States Jews are so embedded in the highest levels of government and society in general. For better or worse, their critical roles now and in the future is a given. I’d get used to it, if I were you.”

You misconceive me. My wife and I, in different ways, come from the traditionally most philosemitic elements of British society – a quite disproportionate number of our colleagues and friends, and in particular of our oldest remaining friends, have been Jewish.

It is we, and people like us, who were most enthusiastic about the breaking down of those barriers which used to be raised to prevent Jewish immigrants rising in British society.

Many of the people I have most admired have been Jewish – as also some of those I have most despised. But then, most of the Jews who have played ‘critical roles’ in British history did not have much in common with people like Netanyahu, Sharon, Tzipi Livni, Wolfowitz, Perle, Adelson, or indeed Ari Shavit.

Back in 2002, the veteran Labour politician Gerald Kaufman told the House of Commons:

“It is time to remind Sharon that the star of David belongs to all Jews, not to his repulsive Government. His actions are staining the star of David with blood. The Jewish people, whose gifts to civilised discourse include Einstein and Epstein, Mendelssohn and Mahler, Sergei Eisenstein and Billy Wilder, are now symbolised throughout the world by the blustering bully Ariel Sharon, a war criminal implicated in the murder of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila camps and now involved in killing Palestinians once again.”

(See http://www.deiryassin.org/gkaufman.html .)

What he was saying was part of a British conversation, which I am not certain I can explain to Americans. Part of it, however, is that Sir Gerald is well aware that Israeli policies have caused massive antipathy in precisely many of those people here that Jews have traditionally trusted and had good reason to trust.

Very many such people, indeed, regard contemporary Israeli society with frank contempt. But, by the same token, one of our nightmares is that the antipathy to Israel which has become endemic here in the wake of the events of the past decade could relegitimise anti-Semitism.



The Confederate Army? I tried to make them walk and talk in my trilogy. pl

Larry Kart

I'm not sure that I fully understand the Colonel's "My wife's BFF is a woman from Portland, Oregon who is nothing like that [i.e. having "a pervasive fear of us all"] and I know Jewish Americans who are American before all else. They refuse to visit Israel in spite of my urging that they do so." As an American and a Jew who has been around for a while (I'm about to turn 72), I've never felt any conflict between either identify (on the contrary, they seem to me to be direct -- if not always simple -- existential facts), nor do I have "a pervasive fear of us all"), if "us all" means gentiles, though I am of course aware that some Jews might have good reason to fear or distrust some gentiles at some times. That said, and having just returned a month ago from my first visit to Israel, which left me with a great deal to feel and think about, I'm not sure why the Colonel's wife's friends "refuse" to visit Israel. It's not an interesting place? To go there would compromise their American-ness, either in their own eyes or in the eyes of others? What?



I didn't mean to sound as if, I was accusing you of antisemitism.

You seem to me to be a British gentleman of the highest character.


And may you have god's blessings for that alone.


Larry Kart

My remark concerning Jewish fear was not about you. My wife's friend from Oregon was raised in an environment in which there really was no separate Jewish social community and although observant does not feel much separation from the larger gentile community here. She and her husband have never been to Israel. she had a full career working for B'nai Brith headquarters in Washington. her husband was a well know US government research scientist. Her daughter spent a couple of months in Israel on a kibbutz but decided not to stay, married a gentile and lives in Europe. The daughter is observant and raised her children to be Jewish. The other people whom I happened to mention are my friends, not my wife's. They include a classmate from VMI who is also a retired officer. such people, who refuse to visit Israel are clearly concerned that their interest might be interpreted as evidence of mixed loyalty. As I said, I have urged all such to visit Israel. As you say, it is an interesting place. I have been there many, many times in good circumstances when there seemed hope for social justice and in other times when the level of oppression was very high. This is one of the bad times. Did you not see that? pl

Larry Kart

Colonel -- What I did not fully understand (and I guess I would have to know the people involved and their life circumstances fairly well in order to understand) is why they felt that a visit to Israel "might be interpreted as evidence of mixed loyalty." A visit on the part of a retired officer? Who would be looking and perhaps passing judgment on his loyalty? As far as what I saw in Israel, I saw and heard a good deal, which I'm still trying to sort out as best I can. One thing that struck me as a former journalist, is the bluntness, bordering at times on contempt, with which the Israeli press, including to my surprise the right-leaning Jerusalem Post, speaks of the political leadership, Netanyahu in particular. (He is condemned, by and large, for being a cynical manipulator who has only his own political surveil at heart.) Further, this bluntness is free from the self-serving, would-be-clever snarkiness that pervades so much American journalism (vide Maureen Dowd, for example). The tone is that of desperately urgent family argument.



"Who would be looking and perhaps passing judgment on his loyalty?" He and those like him would be watching and judging themselves. Did you see many interactions between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis? Are you aware that Arabs who are natives of Jerusalem are being systematically squeezed out of the city? Where did you stay while there? pl

Larry Kart

I was on a tour with members of our synagogue, and our guide throughout was a former major in the Israeli Air Force -- thus what I saw and heard was couched and somewhat constricted (the latter mostly, so it seemed, because of the demands of the crowded tour schedule; our guide certainly had his points of view, but he was so voluble about so many things, from the time of Herod to the present, and many points in between, that I felt able and free to sort out a good deal for myself). Further, I already knew (or thought I knew) a fair amount about the history of the Jews, and the history of Israel and the region as well, though the intense physical and emotional actualities of the place and the people I did not anticipate. We stayed at the Dan Panorama hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and in between at a resort on the eastern side of the Kinneret. Interactions between Palestinian and Jewish Israelis I saw (or thought I saw) in the teeming Jerusalem market on the afternoon before Shabbat, but then that's not what you have in mind. BTW, a side issue but one that struck me as interesting. We went to the Mt. Herzl military cemetery, where many of Israel's leaders are also buried. Our guide pointed out that all the military graves are identical in size and design; the graves of the former leaders were larger, though still fairly modest, with the exception of the more imposing grave of Yitzhak Rabin. One of our group wondered about the difference, to which our previously forthcoming guide curtly said, "Don't ask me -- I won't go there." My sense was that this was not because of any disagreement he might have had with the policies of the assassinated Rabin but because of the implicit violation of an egalitarian principle. Also, at one point I asked our guide how he felt about the fervent support for Israel on the part of many American Evangelicals when this support is based on their last-of-days vision in which the flourishing of Israel in the near run leads directly to Armageddon. He said that he often guides tours of Evangelicals and typically says to them when this issue arises, "If the Messiah comes, we'll ask him, 'Have your been here before, or is this your first time?' If it's the former, you win; if it's the latter, you do." "How do they respond?" I asked. "The same as you -- they laugh."


Larry Kart

You got "the treatment." Israeli tour companies are good at "the treatment." The whole country specializes in delivering packaged information about how great it all is. Congressional delegations, business groups, groups of student, etc. The Ministry of Tourism runs theatrical presentations to which tourists are herded to hear and see the all dancing, all singing tale of joy. I have had the treatment a number of times. After the first few iterations of visits to Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Museum, my handlers could see that this method of political warfare had reached a point of diminishing return. They may have sensed this when I emerged from the Shoa Museum and an exhibit on the participation of the Wehrmacht in killing children and other civilians. I was then asked what I thought and I told him and the other IDF officers present that the exhibit was illustrative of the fact that soldiers who deliberately harm civilians are not soldiers. They are mere hoodlums. This was during one of the intifadas and the general who was my host said he got the point. After that they started taking me to archeological sites and the like. It is a small country and after many such informational "massages" they began to run out of locations so they took me on one occasion to the air force school at Birsheva in the Negev. On that trip my dailyescort officer was a woman IAF major from Yemen by birth. Since I could speak Yemeni Arabic, she and I had a good time chatting as we traveled. At Birsheva the local guide was a 20 year old woman conscript who had lived in Sopranoland in Jersey while her father was stationed at the UN. She looked, talked and acted just like one of the female creatures in that TV series. At one point we went to the IAF museum where they had examples of all the aircraft the IAF had ever flown. It was mildly interesting until the Jersey Girl told me that the IAF had bought Agusta helicopters in order to prepare for the day when the Americans betrayed and abandoned Israel. I asked her to say it again and she did. I asked her if she knew who I was and why I was in Israel. She said she didn't care. At that point the Yemeni born major intervened and told her to shut her mouth before she made things yet worse. this kid had not gotten the whole message on the briefing to be given. The point is that they manage perception skillfully. It is a nationsl industry but occasionally things don't go exactly right. pl

Larry Kart

Yes, I was well aware of the "treatment" aspect, in part because it was genially undisguised. But our guide -- a mature man in his mid-40s who had lived in Palo Alto in the early 2000s while his wife, a gene therapy researcher, was getting an advanced degree at Stanford -- was so voluble in general and overflowing with all sorts of information and opinions that it was fairly easy for me to separate the treatment from the rest of what he said -- and there was a great deal of that. Further, he retained/conveyed a strong sense of his own personal identity -- for instance, one could see that he was well aware of the ultra-Orthodox "problem" (if that's the way to put it), and then there was his seemingly intensely personal reaction to the question about the size of Rabin's tomb on Mt. Herzl and many other things as well over the course of ten days. A mensch, I thought. A further example -- I was very much struck by the air of melancholia of the guide at the IDF Tank Museum at Latrun. An ex-tanker of course, he seemed utterly haunted. Our visit to the archaeological dig at Tel Maresha was absolutely fascinating.


Moshe Ya’alon just revealed that, ghasp, the Israeli military is broke.

And that's probably what the Israeli government is pressing the US for an not just for an extension of their annual $3 billion in military aid, but to beef it up to something more like $3.5 billion annually.



Larry Kart

The Battle of Latrun. That was one hell of a fight. pl


There is nothing unusual in a country seeking to present a good face for itself. All countries do it. When foreigners take tours of the United States, they aren't taken to slums or prisons or sites of pollution or toxic waste.



Nah! It's not the same thing at all. What we are talking about in Israel is a national propaganda campaign complete with centrally distributed talking points and systematic development of Hasbara themes. What are you, a tour guide in Israel? As for the US we have a big business done here in tours to places like Andersonville and Alcatraz pl

Larry Kart

Colonel -- FWIW, this morning I ran into a Jewish friend who is about five years older than I am and who lost relatives in the Holocaust and summarized what you and I and others have been saying on this thread. He absolutely endorsed the dual point that Highlander made ("Almost every Jew ... has a fear of annihilationist anti semitism to one extent or the other. It permeates their souls. And my reading of history, yields more than a little evidence to support their attitude") and the similar point that your businessman acquaintance at that Lazard Freres HQ lunch had made some years before. He added that he himself felt that way, told me that I was naive to think otherwise, and then made the familiar argument that, given all that, Israel is a necessary place of refuge for the Jews when and if the next wave of annihilationist anti-Semitism arrives. I will take time to marshal my counter-arguments, such as they are, and will try to talk with him again about this.

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

The Jew I knew who had most direct contact with ‘annihilationist anti-Semitism’ – the father of a schoolfriend of mine – never gave any visible sign of being frightened of anything. As teenagers, we knew that he had made it here shortly before the outbreak of war, after spending six weeks in Buchenwald following Kristallnacht, and that he had subsequently been interned as an ‘enemy alien’ on the Isle of Man.

He told us that he had spent the war in the Pioneer Corps. Only after his death did I learn that he had been telling us lies.

The British intelligence operation at Trent Park was premised upon the belief that one would get more information out of POWs but getting them to talk to each other, and listening in, than by interrogating them. The operation suffered from the same problem – doubtless familiar at NSA – that making full use of intercepted material commonly requires the kind of grasp of a language which, characteristically, only native speakers and a very few others possess.

The fact that until some time in 1942 ‘enemy aliens’ were not admitted to units other than the Pioneer Corps turned out to be a blessing in disguise, in that by that time – with preparations for the landings in North Africa in full swing – it was clear that there were likely to be many more German prisoners to be bugged. So some of the brightest of the ‘enemy aliens’ were drafted in to be ‘secret listeners.’

The transcripts of the bugged conversations from Trent Park and related facilities – and parallel facilities set up in the United States – are actually one of the best sources on the behaviour of the Wehrmacht in the Second World War. They were the basis for an interesting book published in 2011 by two German scholars, Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer, entitled in English translation ‘Soldaten: Fightin, Killing and Dying: The Secret World War II Tapes of German POWs.’

The book adds to the mass of evidence that the idea that the atrocities in the East – against Jews, Russians, and other Slav peoples – were simply the work of the SS, and that the Wehrmact were only marginally involved, is BS. It is an horrifying portrayal of a military turned by ideology into something approaching a collection of ‘hoodlums.’

One might have thought that my friend’s father would have ended up as ferociously anti-German as so many American neocons are. But this was not so. He became a scholar of medieval German literature, and in middle life threw up a professorship at Oxford to go back to work in Germany. If I came to have contempt for the Germanophobia common among my fellow countrymen, it is, ironically, largely the result of his influence, and that of other Jewish émigrés from the German-speaking world.

What he did not do was to get ‘stuck’ in the Holocaust. This is precisely what Israeli society as a whole seems to have done, as also the major part of the American Jewish community. I can see no good end to this.

I also learnt, after his death, that my friend's father had distinguished himself in the Imperial German Army in the First World War.

(see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/professor-peter-ganz-416037.html .)



The Ghetto Tours of the Bronx take mostly European tourists on bus excursions through the ghetto. Some of the tours promote the cultural heritage of jazz and salsa of the area, while one company that made fun of the poor shut down because of pressure from the residents. In the seventies I saw the burned out brick buildings which remained after the Bronx burning. It was depressing.



David Habakkuk

I think it is easy to exaggerate the role the Heer played in the Shoa. There certainly was a role but the use of their troops was strongly resisted by many commanders. Rommel would be an example as everyone's favorite German. I used to know a lieutenant colonel in the US Army whose family were German Jews from Frankfurt am Main. His grandfather had also served in the Imperial German Army in WWI and had a box full of medals to prove it. According to my US friend the Gestapo showed up at the grandfather's doorstep in 1942 making deportation noises. The old gent took his medals and papers to the Wehrkreis commander who brought a couple of trucks to the house, loaded the goods and took them to an army kaserne in the Black Forest where they lived until the end of the war. After that the grandparents came to live in New Jersey where they lived until the new Germsn government offered the grandfather pension if he would return to Germany. He did and is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Frankfurt. pl

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