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Archive for September, 2016

Why Does The Left Hate Israel?

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on September 18, 2016

Respectable opinion knows which side wears the black hats in this conflict.

What is it about Israel that arouses so much anger? Is it because it’s a theocratic state, committed to destroying its neighbour, which uses civilians as human shields, tortures and kills its political opponents, persecutes homosexuals, and holds freedom of speech and the rule of law in contempt?

No, hang on, that’s Hamas. No matter how appallingly they treat their own people and how many innocents they blow up, shoot or kidnap, nothing can damage their image in the left’s eye.

Israel can’t even protect its own people without drawing criticism. Israel is like the older brother who is expected to know better. His younger siblings can run riot, because they’re held to different standards, but big bro should sit there quietly, no matter how many times he takes a kicking.

Not that the media does much reporting on the kicking Israel receives. It would much rather lament the significantly higher Palestinian losses, as if they automatically put Israel in the wrong and let Hamas off the hook for striking the first blow. Israel, it seems, should show restraint that no one would realistically expect of Hamas if it possessed the same military might. The relativists who see no moral difference between a liberal democracy and a terrorist regime have no problem expecting the two sides to behave differently.

One thing’s for sure, if it was just another flyblown Islamic hellhole, Israel would get a much easier ride on the world stage. More blood is typically shed each year in Somalia, Pakistan and Nigeria than in Gaza, but outrage at those horrors pales beside the indignation Israel’s actions provoke. Heads are buried, standards doubled and blind eyes turned to provide an excuse for bashing the country everybody loves to hate.

So is this just about anti-Semitism? It is certainly rife in the Arab world, and long-standing critics of Israel probably pick up a little Jew-hatred along the way. But I don’t think it’s at the heart of Western, liberal antipathy. If anti-Semitism were to blame, it would be directed at Israel wherever it was in the world. Yet it’s hard to imagine it having as much trouble with its neighbours, or attracting as much hatred, if it were a European state. The chances are it would be another Switzerland, and would arouse the same amount of ill-feeling.

The fact is that when it comes to Israel, nobody seems to be interested in the truth. No one cares that it gave up the lands it seized during the Yom Kippur War, in the hope of securing peace. Nor that it gifted the Palestinians 3,000 greenhouses, opened border crossings and encouraged trade. Nor that the Gazans responded by destroying the greenhouses and electing a government committed to eradicating the Jews, which has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, and digs tunnels under Israeli territory from which to launch surprise attacks.

No one cares that Israel gives Gazans advance warning of raids, while Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians. Nor that Hamas places its weapons in schools, mosques, hospitals and private homes, to maximise the chance of civilian casualties. Nor that Israel arrested those guilty of murdering a Palestinian youth, and offered reparations to the victim’s family, while Hamas did nothing to capture or punish the killers of three Israeli teenagers. Nor that no Israeli soldiers are actually based in Gaza, despite talk of an ‘occupying force’ by Hamas apologists

No one takes these facts into account because they are unhelpful to the narrative propagated by the pro-Palestinian Left – namely, that this is a battle between a strong, macho oppressor and a weak, downtrodden underdog, which leftists can feel virtuous about supporting.

Israel is a distillation of everything leftists hate about Western nations: capitalist, conservative and fiercely patriotic. It is a projection of their own prejudices about the supposed injustices of societies that cherish the ‘wrong’ values and the ‘wrong’ people. They don’t share the Palestinians’ spiritual beliefs, but they share a common enemy. Indeed, if Israel was removed from the equation, its critics would have little good to say about Gaza or Hamas. Theirs is a marriage of convenience.

The Left’s use of the Israeli-Arab situation as a platform for moral preening, and as a metaphor for its own hang-ups, blinds it to the evils of Hamas and the rest of the Muslim Brotherhood. It seems oblivious to the ideological conflict between Islamic fundamentalists and Western progressives, because it persists in regarding the former as pet victims of the latter. It may discover the hard way that it is giving comfort to an enemy that makes no distinction between liberal hand-wringers and any other infidels.

By Russell Taylor

The Left Hate Israel Because It Is Everything They Despise: Capitalist, Conservative and Patriotic

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The Surge Of Trump-Fueled Anti-Semitism Is Hitting Jewish Reporters Who Cover Him

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on September 9, 2016

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop in Indianapolis. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/DARRON CUMMINGS

Donald Trump has an anti-Semitism problem.

Granted, the Republican nominee for president has long insisted that his is not himself anti-Semitic, and regularly points out that his daughter is a Jewish convert. Yet Trump has done little to quell a rising tide of anti-Semitism among his supporters since launching his campaign last year: Trump initially refused to disavow anti-Semitic Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, a Trump surrogate implied at a rally that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders should convert from Judaismand “meet Jesus,” prominent anti-Semites went on radio shows to encourage their supporters to “get out and vote” for Trump, and a man was filmed leaving a Trump rallyshouting in Cleveland shouting “Go to fucking Auschwitz.”

To make matters worse, anti-Semitic white supremacists recently announcedthat they view Trump’s relative silence on the issue “as an endorsement.”

This surge of anti-Semitism has been unsettling to many, but is hitting one group especially hard: Jewish political reporters who cover Trump, many of whom who say they are regularly subject to anti-Semitic harassment by his supporters online.

When Jewish journalist Julia Ioffe published a lengthy profile of Donald Trump’s wife Melania in April, for instance, her computer was reportedly flooded with an avalanche of angry, anti-Semitic tweets in response. Ioffe began retweeting the attacks to highlight their unsettling intensity, such as photoshopping a Jewish star used by the Nazi regime onto her clothing or digitally inserting her face into an image of a person detained the Auschwitz concentration camp. She also received death threats by phone and email, prompting Ioffe to solicit the help of the Anti-Defamation League and file a police report alleging that the hateful messages included a “threat to kidnap or injure a person.”

When DuJour magazine asked Melania Trump about the incident weeks later, she condemned the tweets but turned the blame back on Ioffe, implying the attacks were her fault because she “provoked” the hateful commenters.

“I don’t control my fans,” she said, “but I don’t agree with what they’re doing. I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.”

Donald Trump was also asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to comment about the situation but demurred, saying he didn’t know much about it before adding, “You’ll have to talk to them about it.”

Ioffe declined to be interviewed for this story, telling ThinkProgress via email that she thinks her work and the Trumps’ response “speak for themselves.”

A similar fate befell New York Times editor Jonathan Weisman earlier this month, who reportedly received a rash of anti-Semitic tweets simply forposting an opinion piece critical of Trump entitled “This is how fascism comes to America.” Weisman was promptly “outed” as Jewish by Twitter user “CyberTrump,” and others soon began tweeting anti-Jewish slurs and threatening retribution.

The online hate doesn’t appear beholden to any political ideology, targeting seemingly any prominent writer that blasts Trump — both liberal and conservative. In late April, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro recountedthe anti-Semitic backlash he received for criticizing Trump, saying, “I have never received the amount of anti-Semitic hate I currently do each day for the crime of criticizing The Great Trump.” Two weeks later, Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic received an email from someone saying that he will be “sent to a camp” if Trump wins the presidency.

As the number of incidents grew, so too did calls for the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) — which includes Trump backer Sheldon Adelson — to speak out. They finally released a statement on Tuesday condemning any and all attacks on Jewish reporters, but declined to hold Trump supporters uniquely accountable.

“We abhor any abuse of journalists, commentators and writers whether it be from Sanders, Clinton or Trump supporters,” the statement read. “There is no room for any of this in any campaign. Journalists, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity should be free to do their jobs without suffering abuses, anti-Semitic or otherwise.”

As the Washington Post pointed out, the statement’s attempt to lump Sanders and Clinton supporters in with the wave of anti-Semitism rang hollow to many Jewish reporters, who argue the vitriol is emanating primarily from Trump fans. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which studies and tracks hate groups, acknowledged that anti-Semitism is especially common among Trump’s digital devotees.

ThinkProgress’ own reporting staff has also been impacted by the phenomenon. Kira Lerner and Alice Ollstein — both political reporters and both Jewish — say they have encountered anti-Semitic remarks online while covering Trump.

“I immediately blocked them,” Ollstein said. She pointed out that the attacks were unique to this election season, noting, “I’ve been reporting in Washington, DC for six years, and this is the only time it’s ever happened to me — either in person or online.”

The same is true for Bryce Covert, ThinkProgress’ economics editor. Covert says she received a deluge of anti-Semitic tweets in May after she published an op-ed in the New York Times decrying Trump’s policy agenda as disproportionately benefiting white men. The tweets personally attacked her for being Jewish and referenced her family — even though she never mentioned her Jewish heritage (she’s half-Jewish) in the story.

“The Trump supporters had to really dig deep to figure out that I’m Jewish,” Covert said. “They unearthed this tweet of mine from months ago referencing my Jewish grandma.”

“I haven’t gotten any anti-semitism in my mentions for writing about any other candidate,” she added.

One of the anti-Semitic tweets Covert received in response to her op-ed. CREDIT: Screenshot
One of the anti-Semitic tweets Covert received in response to her op-ed. CREDIT: Screenshot

Indeed, this ThinkProgress reporter — who is Presbyterian — also received anti-Semitic tweets simply for putting out a call for help with this story. One commenter appeared to deny the Holocaust and mock the Hebrew language, and another awarded the author with a “gold star” — meaning the yellow Star of David used by the Nazis to identify Jews.

The connection between Trump and internet-based anti-Semitism has gotten so bad that The Donald’s name and image are now brandished as an excuse to unleash insults whether or not he is being discussed. In mid-May, a Twitter account sporting an image of Trump attacked a Jewish reporter at the Charleston Post and Courier for commenting on shifting opinions regarding the Confederate flag, tweeting, “I guess daddy didn’t love her enough to get her a nosejob for her Bar Mitzvah.” The account’s bio notes that liberals should be sent “straight to the ovens.”

The growing culture of hate shows few signs of slowing down, and reporters are increasingly concerned the vitriol won’t stop so long as Trump refuses to condemn the attacks — and stop attacking reporters himself.

“I’m not surprised that Trump supporters feel comfortable assaulting journalists on Twitter,” Lerner said. “Trump is leading by example.”

 T

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Trump:What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on September 8, 2016

for-men-not-to-rape

Donald Trump apparently still believes that if you put women and men together in the military of course it’s going to lead to a lot of rapes. ‘What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?’  Trump was confronted by Matt Lauer Wednesday night in the Commander-in- Chief forum with a three-year-old tweet of his.

Trump defended his 2013 tweet suggesting that high rate of unreported rape allegations could have been predicted when men and women were allowed to serve in the military.”It is a correct tweet. There are many people that think that is absolutely correct,” Trump said to Lauer.

Later Lauer asked trump if he still thought he knew more about ISIS than our Generals and he said”They have been reduced to rubble, our Generals.”

Later he said part of his “Secret Plan ” to defeat ISIS would be to give the Generals 30 days to come up with a plan.

The Generals he knows more than, the ones who have been reduced to rubble.

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Put Simply, Kaepernick is an Idiot

Posted by Zamir Ben Etzioni on September 4, 2016

As a first amendment absolutist I support Colin Kaepernick’s right to make whatever statement he wants about his political beliefs. But since I’m a full bore proponent of the marketplace of ideas, I also feel very comfortable saying this —

Kaepernick is a f#cking idiot.

Let me explain.

Here is what Colin Kaepernick said about his decision not to stand for the national anthem during last night’s preseason game.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

First, who is getting away with murder? That’s a strong accusation. Who in particular has committed murder in this country and not been charged with it? If you’re going to make this statement then you need to give us particulars that motivate your decision and your beliefs. I don’t want bland generalities, I want specifics here. If you feel strongly enough to refuse to “stand up to show pride in a flag,” then you need to have some basis for your decision. So far Kaepernick has shown none. Indeed, his Twitter feed is a hodgepodge of unintelligible retweets of random, often incorrect, Internet articles that have no coherent connection. In typical social justice warrior, PC bromani fashion, Kaepernick has chosen to make his voice heard in a way that pretty much only draws attention to him and does nothing to make any situation better. That’s fine, but what exactly is Kaepernick proving by making this point?

Moreover, why, in his sixth season in the NFL, did he suddenly decide that the country is oppressing black people and people of color. Presumably the country’s black president didn’t make a decision this year to suddenly lead a country into systemic oppression of black people. So what has suddenly changed that made him willing to stand for five years for the national anthem and unwilling to stand this year? He needs to offer a reasonable explanation for what has changed that led to his decision to stop supporting the country’s anthem.

Again, I support Kaepernick’s right to voice his political opinion — a robust and uninhibited first amendment is what makes this country great — but if you’re going to demand that your voice be heard, you better be able to explain why you want your voice to be heard when we give you the attention you’re demanding. Kaepernick’s explanation is a bland and cliche-riddled statement lacking in specificity or direct connection to any tangible goal. This isn’t Ali standing up to the Vietnam War or athletes demanding equal treatment under the law during the civil rights movement, it’s an absurd attention-seeking statement with no substance behind it.

Once you make the decision to enter the marketplace of ideas, in my opinion, you’re obligated to put forward a coherent reason for your decision-making if you want to be taken seriously. Otherwise, I can feel free, thanks to this same first amendment that you’re using to gain attention, to pronounce you a daft prima donna whose football talents have so deteriorated you aren’t even capable of beating out Blaine freaking Gabbert to be quarterback. As if that weren’t enough I can also say that based on your Twitter feed you look like a lost and psychologically unstable individual.

Second, what does the United States do to oppress black people? I’m not being obtuse with this question, what tangible decisions does the United States government — currently helmed by a black man as president and a black woman as head of the justice department — make that oppress black people and other people of color? I want actual governmental actions that legally treat black people differently in a negative fashion and that Kaepernick feels need to be changed. Again, once you demand that your voice be heard in this fashion, you need to explain what you want changed. I don’t want bullshit generalities, I want specific issues that have so troubled you that you feel the need to stop standing for the national anthem for the first time in your six year NFL career.

Because when I review federal law, what I see is the exact opposite of black oppression. Everyone is treated as equally as they possibly can be by the federal government. There is no systemic racism in our federal government. In fact, affirmative action is actually a governmental attempt to treat black people unequally — that is more favorably than other people — solely because of their race. If anything, the United States government’s laws discriminate in favor of black people based on their skin color. I’m open to hearing what systemic oppression Kaepernick believes the United States government is undertaking and what he believes need to be redressed. But he has provided none of these specifics so far. If you want me to treat your opinions with respect, you need to provide opinions worthy of respect. Not just insipid generalities.

Third, once you make a political statement like this your own life becomes worthy of discussion and analysis. Kaepernick was raised by two white parents after his own birth parents weren’t willing or able to raise him themselves. If the country is fundamentally racist, doesn’t the fact that two white people chose to raise an abandoned black child offer persuasive evidence that his analysis of the country’s racial composition is overly broad and not supported by his own life experience? Moreover, Colin Kaepernick received a free college education based on his football talents and he’s currently being paid over $19 million this year. Last year he made over $20 million. If that’s governmental oppression, sign me up.

Fourth, Kaepernick has put his team, his coaches, and his organization directly in the firing line based upon his political statement. Every single teammate and coach will be asked about his refusal to stand for the national anthem. Already the 49ers organization has had to issue an official statement that disagrees with Kaepernick’s stance:

“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

As if that weren’t enough, Kaepernick, despite being paid over $19 million, is currently being beaten out by Blaine Gabbert to be the starting quarterback for the 49ers this year. It would be one thing if Kaepernick had made this statement as one of the top quarterbacks in the league — which at one point he was — instead this just looks like the desperate and unsubstantiated rantings of someone who is aware he will soon fall back into football oblivion. What’s more, this also gives him a convenient excuse if he’s benched or released by the 49ers, they did this based on my political opinions, not based on my talent. Maybe that will make him feel better when he’s unemployed, but it shouldn’t.

Fifth, whether or not you believe that the national anthem should play before sporting events — I’ve personally always found it strange that pro sporting events, which are just entertainment, play the national anthem before games. After all, we don’t play the national anthem before movies. — your decision not to stand has been defended by countless soldiers of all races who have lost their lives defending your rights to make millions of dollars playing a game for a living. Many of those same soldiers, of all races, religions and creeds, are fans of your team or your league. When you choose to make a political statement that directly attacks what they defend, you better be really damn sure that you’re offering a coherent political statement that advances a cause worthy of the lives that have been lost to give you the right to disrespect the country.

And the sad truth is this — Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the national anthem, at least thus far, isn’t supported by any actionable or coherent political belief or tangible call to action. Worse than that, it’s not just an insult to many people in this country, it’s an insult to anyone with a working brain.

Put simply, Colin Kaepernick is a fucking idiot.

By Clay Travis

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