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A battle of words and pictures


by Sunny on 2nd August, 2006 at 3:08 pm    

Last week I wrote about the media war taking place in parallel to the conventional conflict in Lebanon. This seems no sign of abating.

Blogger and journalist Roy Greenslade today points to growing controversy over a British blogger accusing the BBC and photo-journalists of propaganda because of invoking the “shock value” of pictures. Let me get this straight. If women and children are being blown up, do these people want to see pictures of pretty flowers on their news screens? There was plenty of blood and crying when the pictures for 9/11 and 7/7 came out - should they have been suppressed too?

To be clear I’m not a fan of such pictures and carry them sparingly. During the Indonesian and Pakistani earthquake we did, to encourage people to donate towards relief efforts. But, as Greenslade points out, bloggers are deliberately mis-representing pictures to suit their own prejudices.

They were “lies” that diminish the profession of photo-journalism, adding: “Truly, we are dealing with loathesome creatures.” Unsurprisingly, this allegation was seized on by right-wing talk show hosts in the States, such as Rush Limbaugh. He told his listeners that it was clear the photographers were willing participants in propaganda. The rescuers were posing for the cameras, and the photographers knew it.

Yesterday the agencies hit back. Reuters “categorically” rejected the allegations, as did Agence France-Presse, and AP took the trouble to explain the contradictions of the time-stamping. These were misleading for several reasons, it said, including the obvious - and widely acknowledged - fact that websites use such stamps to show when pictures are posted rather than when they are taken. AP’s senior vice president and executive editor, Kathleen Carroll, said: “I know from 30 years of experience in this business that you can’t get competitive journalists to participate in the kind of (staging) experience that is being described”. And the agency’s director of photography, Santiago Lyon, explained that during news events, with photographers filing as and when they can, pictures are not transmitted to the wires sequentially.

Last week Francis Sedgemore wrote for comment is free on Hamas wisening up to using propaganda. I don’t know why he was so surprised. Israel has always been helped through its political clout and official standing to be seen as more legitimate than the Palestinian organisations Fatah (corrupt) and Hamas (suicide bombers). This is a fact. He said later in replying to me:

I’m simply pointing out that Hezbollah is not the amateur outfit that many of its apologists make it out to be. Peace will come when the threat from Hezbollah is no more, and the Lebanese government control the whole of their country. When UN resolution 1559 is implemented, in other words.

I agree with him. But there are a few points he misses out. In the past few years the USA and Israel should have poured investment into Lebanon to help the government and make it stronger against Hizbullah. But they didn’t. Not only that, Hizbullah will not just vanish overnight when it’s reason for existence, territorial disputes over Lebanese and Palestinian land, still exist. In other words Israel also needs to implement the UN resolutions it has so far ignored.

I prefer having propaganda from both sides because it makes it more imperative that this long-standing conflict be resolved. It also means Israel’s viewpoint is not the only one we hear.

Francis also said:

The only other thing I have to say now is that I hope very much that Israel and hezbollah agree to the call by the UN for a 72-hour truce to allow aid into southern Lebanon, and casualties to be removed.

But that didn’t happen did it Mr Sedgemore, because one side decided instead to step up its assault. What would you say about that?



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74 Comments   |  


  1. sonia — on 2nd August, 2006 at 3:20 pm  

    the twin towers falling down shown ‘live’ on television is as close to a media event as you can get..

  2. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:03 pm  

    About two weeks after the Tsumasi a “friend” broadcast an email with a series of pictures of partial decomposing babies. Those didn’t turn up in Western media, but they existed.

    It is curious that Westen media like to show pictures of people with no legs in hospital with the grave voice over “his children and wife weren’t so lucky”.

    I think that what people are complaining about is influence of Al-Jazera in your face reporting is being taken up by our media.

    I’m in two minds if this is a good thing. On one hand we are increasingly seeing the true face of War. On the other hand it brings highly charged emotion to issues bigger than individual lives.

    By this all I’m saying is that if we’d looked to hard at the fire bombing of Dresdon we might not have countinued to fight the Nazi’s. Equally they might not have countinued to fight us if they saw what they were doing to London and Coventry.

    TFI

  3. Kismet Hardy — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:05 pm  

    Seeing as the shocking photographs of Vietnam went a long way towards shaming the American government to back off, I’m quite disappointed there aren’t enough gruesome yet poignant pics that instanly makes everyone see the true extent of horror the US are responsible for unleashing on the kids. Or maybe we’re just too hardened to feel sick and angry. Or maybe we’ve realised feeling sick and angry won’t make the slightest difference in toppling an unmovable regime in its plight to destroy the irresistable farce. Or it could be I’m just relly stoned

  4. StrangelyPsychedelique / Kesara — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:11 pm  

    I mentioned this on a Current Affairs post re: the cover of the Independent. Devastation and death sometimes need to be shown but there comes a point where it crosses into the boundary into sensationalism.
    If one scours the world one can find pictures that are just as horrifying, the story however is different and thats what people need to look at. Plastering pictures of dead kids over and over again is a cheap shot at trying to get people to seek their inner Morality.
    There were some photos on Getty showing Lebanese officals holding up mangled torsos of children for the cameras as if they were sides of cattle.

    Then again perhaps people have become so unmoved by such subject matter (or references to it) that it needs to be splayed out repetitively until they get shocked into getting the message.

    There was plenty of blood and crying when the pictures for 9/11 and 7/7 came out - should they have been suppressed too?

    I cant remember seeing any images of the dead (after 7/7) as they’ve been depicted re the recent conflict in Lebanon or following the tsunamis, earthquakes etc.
    I did see photos of decomposing bodies in the Western press.

    The press in Sri Lanka piss me off. After a violent incident the pages of most national newspapers are filled with photos that belong in criminal/forensic/medical textbooks. I’ve seen similar stuff in India and the far east - but thats just zero respect for the dead (many hacks do hide behind the ‘pres freedom’ tagline - bollocks, they just know that gore sells).

  5. Sid — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:12 pm  

    Media Offensive
    -Ewan MacAskill

    “It is not Hizbullah that the Israeli government has to counter, but the many western journalists in Lebanon cataloguing the horrors of the daily bombing. The Israeli PR machine may be slicker, but that does not mean it is winning.”

    In In full

  6. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:14 pm  

    Nice idea, but I don’t think pictures of dead Israeli’s ripped apart by ball bearings in missiles would cause much upset amougst hardened Hamas and Hezabolla supporters.

    The problem is the dehumanizing of people on both sides of the conflict. They don’t see “dead children” they see “dead Arab children” or “dead Israel children”

    TFI

  7. Kismet Hardy — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:15 pm  

    SP, I actually wanted to say exactly what you said but I think it came out weird

    Yeah, what SP said

  8. StrangelyPsychedelique / Kesara — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:17 pm  

    The Israeli PR machine may be slicker, but that does not mean it is winning.”

    Agree…I hardly see anything thats positive towards the Israeli campaign.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00171/p1-310706_171094b.jpg

    Thats the cover of the Indie i was referring to. It just screams “We’re desperate to get our message across and this is the only way (oh btw dont forget about the big blue banner advertising the Cezanne pullout)”.
    Whoever set that page up was trying to make it poigniant, to me it comes off as half baked and missing the bulk of the story. I expect to see similar imagery again and will most likely be less moved by it as will the public at large.

  9. Titus Aduxass — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:18 pm  

    Surely you would have seen by now the number of postings that have discredited (by way of video-factual dissemination)many of the ‘celebrated’ human rights abuses, purporting to have been deliberately carried out by the IDF in Gaza and Lebanon?
    Hamas and Hezbolah are past masters at manipulating the media.
    ‘Yes you can video and record here’ but only when the site has been cleared, bodies interred and professional mourners engaged.
    Never before has the world’s theatres of war been so open to distorsion, interpretation and favour than it has been now.
    ‘Go out and get me quotes’ say the editors ‘get me something the others hav’nt got’; ‘we need to sell ad space… we need spectacular… we need stupendus…
    We need truth, we need honesty… unfortunately, it doesn’t sell copy.
    For Fxxxs sake, Islamic extremists are trying to take over the world… Yer average Muslim can’t see it this way, unless he/she askes themselves why the bastards that advocate suicide/martyr events never include themselves????
    Let Israel live, let everyone live, stop wasting this life worrying about what happens after death.
    Any one interested in an alternative should try sites like the British Humanist Association or similar.
    Non religious folk have a right to exist and explain their views as much as any other. Check them out!

  10. Rakhee — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:28 pm  

    A tricky one.

    On one hand, media use pictures to sell papers and it’s harsh fact that distressing pics make people sit up and take notice. To that end, it makes my stomach turn sometimes to know that editors are grinning away as thousands of people buy their papers and make their pockets fatter by showing a dead child or the results of a bombing.

    On the other, these pictures play such an important part in making people realise what’s going on in the world. The world press photo competition produces powerful images and I don’t think words could ever have such impact.

    I’m not sure that journalists can get away with ‘propaganda’ images in mainstream media as much as they perhaps used to. Piers Morgans’ Iraqi images I think made even the most hardened editors check and check again before printing pics that are so controversial.

    However, pictures on the net/blogosphere are not regulated, so what’s stopping them….

  11. Sunny — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:47 pm  

    TFI, here is something from the article Sid linked above:

    For journalists, it is easy to get a quick quote from an Israeli government spokesman. An article in the German-language Spiegel last week detailed a highly professional Israeli press and PR operation that sees accredited foreign journalists deluged every morning with lists of possible stories and emailed immediately after Hizbullah attacks with mobile phone numbers of victims, witnesses and grieving relatives. The proffered experts and interviewees speak a range of languages; transport to press conferences is laid on, and there is always coffee and sandwiches for those attending. Access couldn’t be easier.

    I think both sides try and use the war for their own propaganda. Their intended audience is the west, not the people involved, since I don’t see much empathy for the dead Lebanese from Israelis right now either (though there have been a few peace prtests they have been marginalised).

    So while you’re right in saying Hizbullah supporters don’t care much about dead Israelis, the opposite also looks to be true. Hardened IDF supporters are not too worried about Lebanese casualties either.

  12. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:54 pm  

    Sunny we are perfectly aligned on this.

  13. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 2nd August, 2006 at 4:55 pm  

    (”we” as you and I are reading from the same page)

  14. Saracen — on 2nd August, 2006 at 5:35 pm  

    It’s good you raised this. I’ve always felt that we can begin to understand world politics much better when we see what goes on in the minds of others. It can’t be right that we let the images of our suffering drive us to anger and support of irrational reaction, yet throw our hands up in bewilderment at the lack of level-headedness shown by those who have suffered similarly for decades. Seeing the suffering of others allows us to explain, though not justify the actions of others, rather than just labeling them as rabid lunatics intent on shedding blood. I dare say that were the continent to invade the UK, the government become complicit and appease them, followed by international recognition of the occupation as valid, we’d have a lot of Brit ‘terrorists’ fighting back.

    I’ve written a bit more here: http://www.saracen.nu/2006/07/27/showing-the-grim-realities-of-war/

  15. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 2nd August, 2006 at 6:38 pm  

    Well in the eyes of the Irish this is exactly what happened with Northern Ireland. Today the area still exists and there is a power sharing agreement. Northern Ireland wasn’t “wiped from the map and the people displaced” as many people appear to agrue is the correct and only resolution for Israel.

    I think that Israel is a decomcratic state which contains people of many different religions and cultural backgrounds, it should be countinued to be allowed to exist as a secular regime but should also include the Palestinian people. If the Palestinian people don’t want to live under a secular goverment with laws made by man, not god, then there should be a two state solution.

    I understand that in some peoples eyes this stance that makes me a Zionist. I think that is unfortunate.

    TFI

  16. sonia — on 2nd August, 2006 at 6:39 pm  

    yes inded - grim reality of war. for those lucky not to be involved should they be sheltered even more. one may ask. in any case seeing some images isn’t really going to make that much difference is it ->

    today’s august the 2nd - 16 years ago i had my own experiences of war.

    http://shorno.net/2006/08/02/august-2nd-on-this-day/

  17. sonia — on 2nd August, 2006 at 6:54 pm  

    TFI - i don’t know where the suggestions came from that Palestinians have don’t want to live under secular laws - hardly. It’s not as if they’ve had much choice so far - and I think they’re more interested in land and rights at this stage.

    Just because in desperation they’ve felt they’ve had no choice but to put their support behind groups who’ve turned things into a ‘Muslim vs. Jewish’ thing - and thus focused on putting an Islamic slant/banner to liberation. and perhaps that’s also a reaction to the Zionist strategy which to put a similar religious slant and ( and look how that appealed to similarly displaced people) At the end of the day, very little of what is happening in the Middle East is actually down to the individuals’s religious convictions - hardly -they’ve become banners of different sides. and it’s very silly because Christian Palestinians have suffered just as much as any Muslim Palestinian might have done - so what. Also this is compounded by the problem of Muslim groups elsewhere choosing to feel they have some empathy with the Palestinian Muslims etc. etc. - and that of course muddied everything further.

  18. sonia — on 2nd August, 2006 at 6:56 pm  

    TFI - i wouldn’t say that makes you a Zionist. how silly. what you say is quite sensible. But i think a lot of people will disagree that Israel is a secular regime - and some Zionists among them.

  19. sonia — on 2nd August, 2006 at 6:56 pm  

    oops just in case you misunderstood me - i didn’t mean you were silly - but it would be silly of someone to think you were a zionist based on what you said.

  20. Zak — on 2nd August, 2006 at 6:59 pm  

    The civilian losses are expected, i personally feel sorry for the UN soldiers who seem to get hit “accidentally” everytime the Israelis striike

    In other news I am thinking of going to the Islamexpo in manchester, but I keep wondering how many pictures of me are gonna be taken going in and going out..and will i get people checking my mail?

  21. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 2nd August, 2006 at 7:14 pm  

    Sonia, you’d have to try alot hard than that to penetrate my thick skin, besides I’m flattered that you think that what I say is quite sensible - you’d be amazed how many people in my life would disagree whenever I talk about any of this stuff.

    I say that because I’ve been listening to George Galloway who explained to his adoring audience that “you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist” and that Maxell is a Zionist because he supports Israel. This is why the claim “Zionists” control the worlds media is true. He back this up by calling any caller that defends Israels right to exist a “Zionist”. Therefore in tortured world of Galloway and his merry band of salivating followers, because I believe that Israel has right to exist I’m a Zionist.

    As for Israel being secular, I think it is mostly, certainly more than Turkey, to take an example.

    Incidentally I was shocked to learn from my Germany friend there is a compulsory religious tax on top of income tax. I’d have to go and valid this somewhere …

    TFI

  22. Saracen — on 2nd August, 2006 at 7:23 pm  

    TFI, I’d love you to put the one-state solution to any supporter of Israel; I’ve done it before.

    Let’s say government is abolished. All those inside of Israel and the Occupied Territories are now members of one state. They all have equal right to vote, and be voted for. That’s fair isn’t it?

    Only problem is the Israelis refuse since this would compromise the “Jewish character of the state”. Of course it would also involve all those who were displaced from their homes being given the right of return.

    Try and get anyone on your side with this one.

  23. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 2nd August, 2006 at 7:28 pm  

    Ah well that “right of return” should be thrown out the window straight away. It is a completely ludicrous concept.

    The bit about “Jewish character” is a coded way of saying that they don’t wont the installations of Sharia courts.

    TFI

  24. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 2nd August, 2006 at 7:31 pm  

    Hang on just reread your post, the Jewish right of return needs to be thrown out of the window. The Palestinan right of return needs to be negotiated as part of a peace deal, ie. land swap.

    TFI

  25. Saracen — on 2nd August, 2006 at 7:34 pm  

    Yep, my point entirely. Jewish character by the way is more than that. There are already vast differences in the rights of Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis. I reckon (on good authority) that with a deal like that the vast vast majority of Palestinians would be willing to settle. Of course, you would have to deal with the issue of how to return people and so on. What if their homes are now built-over, etc…

    But the reality is that Israel has ruled this out countless times. Read the Wikipedia articles linked in my last comment.

  26. Simon Benjamin — on 2nd August, 2006 at 7:59 pm  

    American journalist, Tom Palmer said: “Media moguls have long known that suffering, rather than good news, sells. People being killed is definitely a good, objective criteria for whether a story is important. And innocent people being killed is even better.”

    Every newspaper has an agenda and a need to sell papers. It’s tragic, but this is the reality of what dictates news content and what makes a front page lead. Take the independent for example. It’s front page ethic is to educate the public in what they believe is the most pressing story of the moment - the set the agenda of popular discourse, and although I like the independent and often agree with its editorial, they tend to go for blatant in your face kind of a style.

    So, read and watch many a news source and the lies and distortion soon ebb away.

  27. Tanvir — on 2nd August, 2006 at 8:47 pm  

    Bush famously said “The realities have changed on the ground” in other words, they’ve squatted there long enough its now Israel’s to keep and the Palestinians driven out of their homes need to accept refugee status forever.

    As with the words and pictures, I have on more than one occasion caught Sky News being more than biased. One time where a newsreader, actually adding “which obviously was accidental” referring to breaking news just coming in of an Israeli hit on a non-Hizbollah target.

    As much as the media portray the plight of the Lebanese, its pretty much a given to anyone with common sense, from the reporting we receive that Hizbollah started it. Is that the case though? I’d like to read everyone’s opinion here on it. Do we have a chicken and egg situation? Or could it be the Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails without charge? Imp not talking about the hizbollah fighters, but Lebanese civilians taken by the IDF.

    What about the pictures of Corporal Shalit, his family, etc, When Hamas took him. We also are shown the pictures, and families of the two soldiers taken by Hamas, but barely get a glimpse of the people held in Israeli jails without charge, or their families.

  28. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 2nd August, 2006 at 11:16 pm  

    TheFriendly,

    “The bit about “Jewish character” is a coded way of saying that they don’t wont the installations of Sharia courts.”

    Rather a secular Jewish character.

  29. sonia — on 2nd August, 2006 at 11:29 pm  

    i bet no one wants the ‘installation’ of sharia courts anyway.

  30. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:06 am  

    I bet Bikhair does. Then she can get to throw stones at bad girls that f**k around.

    … oooh … that was below the belt …

    TFI

  31. Sunny — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:11 am  

    Heh, well thank god most Muslims don’t sound like Bikhair. Though saying that I wasn’t too impressed with Aki Nawaz on Newsnight tonight either. Grrr…

  32. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:16 am  

    Amen to that!

    Cheers, Sunny. Now I’ve got to watch Newsnight!

    TFI (the proud owner of a homechoice box)

  33. Katy Newton — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:54 am  

    Better.

  34. Francis Sedgemore — on 3rd August, 2006 at 1:32 am  

    Mr Hundal

    If you’re going to address a question directly to me, it would help if you let me know, either by email or through leaving a comment on my blog. I know I include Pickled Politics on my blogroll, but that doesn’t mean I read it every day. I only discovered about your post through a referral link in my site log, and I don’t check the log very often.

    To address your points…

    The focus of Roy Greenslade’s CiF article was Dr Richard North’s laughable “EU Referendum” website, and the allegations contained therein about supposed inconsistencies in the photographic record of Qana following the Israeli attack on the residence containing the Shalhoub and the Hashem families. It was not about the pros and cons of showing the grisly effects of military action. I’m not prepared to comment in detail on the EU Referendum allegations as there’s too little hard information in the public domain, and, on the face of it, the evidence presented is very weak (e.g., time-stamping of digital photos). Also, the way in which the allegations were put forward indicates a political agenda that completely overrides the search for truth. That said, there are legitimate questions to be asked about Hezbollah and Palestinians media manipulation, and editors’ need for sellable copy. Whither truth?

    The BBC Newsnight programme this evening discussed the story, but their focus was on the wider issue of journalistic impartiality. There was a major flaw in the Newsnight coverage, in that they presented Human Rights Watch without question as an impartial observer. HRW do some fantastic work in many areas, but I don’t know of one single human rights lobby group that is even-handed in every sphere, and HRW is no exception. It has been said that HRW’s coverage of Middle East issues is skewed against Israel, and it’s been suggested that the influence of its major benefactor, George Soros, is the reason for this.

    As I said in reply to you in the CiF thread, there’s no “surprise” on my part. Little does surprise me nowadays, I’m very sad to say, and the Israel-Iran conflict is no exception. What irritates me is to see Hezbollah portrayed by so many of those condemning Israel as some kind of plucky little resistance movement. We even had Bella Freud claim as much on Monday’s Newsnight, in discussion with fellow Jewish commentators Alain de Botton and Julia Pascal. As the Israelis have pointed out on numerous occasions, Hezbollah is a quasi-state actor in this conflict; it should be seen as an extension of the Iranian government, and its behaviour judged accordingly. Instead, we get the moral and political cesspit that the CiF comments section descends into so often when issues such as this are discussed.

    As for the points you say I’ve missed out, I’m not sure what to make of your comment that Israel should have “poured investment” into Lebanon. Given the amount of money spent on destroying stuff, I’m of the opinion that the winner in any war should invest in the reconstruction of their vanquished enemy. There is much historical precedent for this, and the investment is almost always guaranteed a good return. However, whether Israel had any moral obligation to invest in Lebanon is another matter. Personally, I think that Israel, given its complicity in the massacres committed by their South Lebanon Army allies, should have stepped in to help, but their failure to do so cannot be seen as the cause of Hezbollah’s continued rise.

    Lack of empathy on both sides? I wouldn’t be so sure. If you were living in a war zone, and a reporter shoved a microphone in your face and asked what you thought about your enemy bombing you to buggery, what do you think your answer would be? And what might your answer be if the question were phrased differently, and put when your pulse rate was nearer normal?

    Dealing with Hezbollah has always been the responsibility first and foremost of the Lebanese government, yet they’ve done virtually nothing. And as for the UN (leadership, not UNIFIL observers), they passed UNSCR 1559 and then immediately sat on their hands. Israel’s obligations to implement other UN resolutions is another matter. I’m really not interested in “Yes, but…” discussions of Middle East politics, and, friend though I am, I certainly do not speak for the State of Israel.

    You prefer having propaganda from both sides? Well, you’re going to get it whatever you prefer, but surely the issue is how the media and public interpret what’s being fed to them, and the need for a critical approach un-emcumbered by moral blackmail (as discussed briefly here).

    I’m disappointed by Israel’s refusal to heed the call of the UN for a 72-hour temporary ceasefire to allow civilians to leave the areas affected. Why they refused I do not know. My guess is that military imperative has trumped humanitarian concerns, and Israel sees itself as being under pressure to achieve its military goals before agreeing to an international force restricted by formal rules of engagement that forbid it from confronting Hezbollah in any meaningful way. Isn’t that the most likely outcome of UN involvement in the crisis? Please tell me I’m wrong.

    Yours, etc,

    “Dr Sedgemore” (Francis)

  35. Sunny — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:53 am  

    Heh, love that official tone Francis. I was expecting you to check your referrer logs, but next time I’ll let you know, promise. Now….

    “It was not about the pros and cons of showing the grisly effects of military action.”

    I believe Mr North made some comments about Hizbullah using those pictures deliberately to put people against Israel.

    That said, there are legitimate questions to be asked about Hezbollah and Palestinians media manipulation, and editors’ need for sellable copy.

    C’mon Francis, manipulation happens on both sides, no?

    There was a major flaw in the Newsnight coverage, in that they presented Human Rights Watch without question as an impartial observer

    Yeah, well they present Tony Blair’s obscenely stupid comments (”arc of extremism”?? I mean wtf is that all about?) I guess that balances it out.

    Hezbollah is a quasi-state actor in this conflict; it should be seen as an extension of the Iranian government,

    Sure, I agree. It’s not piddly but it’s military might does not even vaguely compare with Israel. It’s like a lion trying to swat an annoying buzzing fly.

    Dealing with Hezbollah has always been the responsibility first and foremost of the Lebanese government, yet they’ve done virtually nothing.

    Easy to blame them Francis. But given Israel’s previous occupation of the country and leaving it in a bad state, and leaving it wide open for Syria to come in, this isn’t surprising.

    However, whether Israel had any moral obligation to invest in Lebanon is another matter.
    After blowing up the bloody country? I think so.

    ’m disappointed by Israel’s refusal to heed the call of the UN for a 72-hour temporary ceasefire to allow civilians to leave the areas affected.

    As am I.

    My guess is that military imperative has trumped humanitarian concerns,
    Yes, that’s the problem.

    that forbid it from confronting Hezbollah in any meaningful way.

    I think if you’re under the impression that Hizbullah can be so easily destroyed then I think you’re mistaken. To destroy Hizbullah the Lebanese state needs strenghtening not weakening.

  36. Francis Sedgemore — on 3rd August, 2006 at 10:21 am  

    Good morning, Sunny

    I believe Mr North made some comments…

    He may be a neoconservative shit, but if you’re going to be formal, it’s “Dr North”, not “Mr North”. As for my official tone, how I wish for ironic type. It was you who addressed me as “Mr Sedgemore” (it’s actually “Dr”), and I thought your formality amusing.

    Sure, I agree. It’s not piddly but it’s military might does not even vaguely compare with Israel. It’s like a lion trying to swat an annoying buzzing fly.

    That’s not so. Military might is only part of the equation, as this is an asymmetric war in which Hezbollah have a distinct advantage. Unless the Israelis are totally incompetent, they’re going to win the military battle, but the nature of the conflict means it could be drawn out. Today’s Grauniad features a timely and informative article on the military situation, by Amyas Godfrey.

    C’mon Francis, manipulation happens on both sides, no?

    Sunny, haven’t I acknowledged this, at least implicitly?

    To destroy Hizbullah the Lebanese state needs strenghtening not weakening.

    The Lebanese government? They’re shitting themselves. From an interview with Hezbollah fighters by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad:

    “The real battle is after the end of this war. We will have to settle score with the Lebanese politicians. We also have the best security and intelligence apparatus in this country, and we can reach any of those people who are speaking against us now. Let’s finish with the Israelis and then we will settle scores later.”

    Knowing this, the Lebanese political establishment should have requested more in the way of military and diplomatic help from outside. They were never able to cope with Syria and Iran on their own, yet so far they’ve failed to acknowledge this and seek help.

    Yes, that’s the problem.

    I should have written: “My guess is that military imperative has trumped immediate humanitarian concerns,…”, as there may be a valid, moral reason for the Israelis to take escalate the ground war in the hope of making significant progress within days. We know there’s a tension between the military and political spheres within Israel, and it appears now as if the government are heeding the counsel of the military.

    I think if you’re under the impression that Hizbullah can be so easily destroyed then I think you’re mistaken.

    The Israelis can eliminate Hezbollah as a military force. It means destroying the bulk of its materiel, killing or capturing a significant number of its military commanders, and convincing Syria and Iran not to attempt a re-arming of the terrorist group. The latter may require a serious threat against Syria and Iran from the international community. Dealing with Hezbollah politically will take a lot longer, but that’s more of a domestic Lebanese issue, and is not, nor should it be, an Israeli problem.

  37. Francis Sedgemore » Blog Archive » On the PR war in Lebanon (part 2) — on 3rd August, 2006 at 12:19 pm  

    […] Sunny Hundal over at Pickled Politics continues his criticism of my Comment is Free article on the PR war in Lebanon. […]

  38. bananabrain — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:17 pm  

    In the past few years the USA and Israel should have poured investment into Lebanon to help the government and make it stronger against Hizbullah.

    one of the things you fail to take into account is that when things like that happen - and they have done - hizbullah are then able to turn round and say “you see, your government are in the pay of the israelis and the americans, they’re a bunch of zionist stooges”. this is an argument that carries great weight in the “arab street”. israel hasn’t forgotten its original attempt to build infrastructure in the occupied territories was condemned by the international community. and let’s also not forget that hamas was funded and supported initially by israel, in order to provide a charitable and religious alternative to the plo. and obviously that hasn’t prevented them from, shall we say, disliking the israelis a bit!

    So while you’re right in saying Hizbullah supporters don’t care much about dead Israelis, the opposite also looks to be true. Hardened IDF supporters are not too worried about Lebanese casualties either.

    look, i have to say i don’t have a great deal of sympathy for the lebanese government, after all they are syrian lickspittles and have taken precisely no action to implement resolution 1559 which would have presented this whole ghastly imbroglio. *however*, i - and many, many others in the jewish community am very worried about lebanese civilian casualties. the trouble is that hizbollah only care about them insofar as they help them win the media war. from their PoV, “they all go to heaven anyway, so really they should thank us”. the israelis under under no such illusions. by contrast, *where*, oh where, are people in the arab and muslim world criticising hizbollah’s targeting of israeli civilians? let’s not forget that when israel kills civilians, it’s a mistake. when hizbollah do it, it’s deliberate.

    I personally feel sorry for the UN soldiers who seem to get hit “accidentally” everytime the Israelis striike
    every time? sheesh.

    TFI, I’d love you to put the one-state solution to any supporter of Israel; I’ve done it before.

    Let’s say government is abolished. All those inside of Israel and the Occupied Territories are now members of one state. They all have equal right to vote, and be voted for. That’s fair isn’t it?

    Only problem is the Israelis refuse since this would compromise the “Jewish character of the state”. Of course it would also involve all those who were displaced from their homes being given the right of return.
    in the long run, the nation-state is a barrier to peace. in the absence of this, however, an equitable two-state solution will include:

    arab citizens of israel (already does)
    jewish citizens of palestine (that means jews get to live in hebron)
    “all those who were displaced from their homes” - are you including the half of israel’s population that came from the arab world, turkey and iran? and if they don’t want this “right of return”, will they be compensated? perhaps by the property and money that was confiscated from them when they were kicked out of their countries after 1948? do the jewish refugees get to do a “land swap” with these other countries?
    palestinian refugees in arab countries getting citizenship and equal rights if they want it, as opposed to what goes on in lebanon, syria, jordan etc - stuck in refugee camps as a stick to beat israel with.

    of course, if jews were sure they were able to live as jews and live throughout the biblical “eretz yisrael” - which includes places in jordan, syria, iraq, lebanon and egypt - there would be not such a strong need for israel to try and maintain its “jewish character”. and the demographic issue would be less of one.

    they’ve squatted there long enough its now Israel’s to keep and the Palestinians driven out of their homes need to accept refugee status forever.

    why does everyone ignore or discount the jewish connection to the land of israel? THIS IS WHERE WE ARE FROM. this is the place we remember, every day in our prayers. we’re not going to go and live in uganda, or australia, or antarctica. we are the people of israel and the land of israel is our spiritual home. are you going to tell me that the chinese have been in tibet for 50 years now, so the tibetans can never go home? or that in 2000 years the tibetans won’t have a right to return to tibet?

    It’s not piddly but it’s military might does not even vaguely compare with Israel. It’s like a lion trying to swat an annoying buzzing fly.
    really, sunny? well, this annoying buzzing fly has caused a million israelis to be living in bomb shelters for the last 22 days. the fact that hizbollah haven’t got the biggest rockets doesn’t affect their ability to damage the israeli infrastructure and economy and injure and kill its civilians. i’m astonished you seem to be able to ignore this.

    and where’s nasrallah hiding? SYRIA, of course - while “his people” get pounded. HAH.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  39. Sunny — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:49 pm  

    hizbullah are then able to turn round and say “you see, your government are in the pay of the israelis and the americans, they’re a bunch of zionist stooges”. this is an argument that carries great weight in the “arab street”.

    So instead you just bomb them, because that is presumably going to give the Lebanese govt more stability and make Israel look good?

    The above would be a good excuse Bananabrain if it weren’t for the alternatives that are currently being played out. Given the choice between Israel and USA helping Lebanon become stable by funding them (they do that with Egypt too remember, at least there is some semblance of stability there), and bombing Lebanon to get rid of Hizbullah I think I’ll take the first option as more fruitful in the long term.

    and have taken precisely no action to implement resolution 1559 which would have presented this whole ghastly imbroglio.

    I dunno why people keep coming back to this. In the same breath you could also have mentioned all the UN resolutions that Israel has neglected to implement, which I can say would have prevented this scenario too.

    well, this annoying buzzing fly has caused a million israelis to be living in bomb shelters for the last 22 days.

    Agreed. But their military capability is still squat comparatively. We’re talking relative here Bananabrain, tell me how much damage Israel is capable of doing, and has done, compared to Hizbullah?

  40. Refresh — on 3rd August, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

    “Hizbullah are then able to turn round and say “you see, your government are in the pay of the israelis and the americans, they’re a bunch of zionist stooges”. this is an argument that carries great weight in the “arab street”.”

    This could have been easily settled from the outset. Israel should have been made to pay reparations for the destruction of Lebanon the last time. Perhaps 1559 could have included this.

    Eretz Israel - yes Jews should be free to live in their own countries which include Arab states, as well as in Israel. And I believe they were.

    One state solution would be a great boost to the Middle East. However do not keep forgetting that the people of the middle east did not invite 1948. It visited them.

  41. Saracen — on 3rd August, 2006 at 3:15 pm  

    I’ve decided it’s time for all Muslims to remember the US in their prayers; we’re all from there you know. It’s ours.

    Seriously, what proportion of Jews in Israel are actually semites? Ashkenazis are Europeans. What you’re suggesting, bananabrain, is that by virtue of Religion, one can lay claim to land. The Arabs of Palestine were more Semites than those who raided their land. What of the many Palestinian Jews who were displaced? Or the truckloads of Ethiopian Jews shipped to Israel, who have no ethnic relation to the region whatsoever?

  42. bananabrain — on 3rd August, 2006 at 4:23 pm  

    So instead you just bomb them, because that is presumably going to give the Lebanese govt more stability and make Israel look good?

    come on, sunny, you know that’s not what i mean. the lebanese government weren’t going to bring hizbollah to heel for whatever reason, but it is hardly an option for the israelis to stand by and let them do what they’ve been doing.

    (they do that with Egypt too remember, at least there is some semblance of stability there)
    and a dictatorial, repressive government, not entirely dissimilar from that of saddam’s iraq, or indeed most places in the middle east. and, as you know, jihadi ideology considers the existence of these “apostates” to be one of their primary casi bellorum (my latin’s pretty ropey these days). actual direct democracy results in a religious dictatorship, as we see in iran and more or less in iraq. so it’s really not that simple.

    In the same breath you could also have mentioned all the UN resolutions that Israel has neglected to implement, which I can say would have prevented this scenario too.

    but we’re talking about lebanon, aren’t we? in any case, it is clear that even fulfilling the un resolutions relating to lebanon as israel has done, hasn’t prevented excuses being manufactured to claim a cause for continued hostilities. in fact, israel has a comprehensive peace deal with egypt, secured by the return of the sinai - and don’t the egyptians just love the israelis!

    But their military capability is still squat comparatively.

    it hardly matters that they have relatively rubbish military capability if they’re still capable of closing down the north of israel and sending a million civilians to shelters?

    tell me how much damage Israel is capable of doing, and has done, compared to Hizbullah?
    hizbollah have the singular advantage of having a clearly identified enemy, who wear uniforms and ride around in tanks, rather than site their military assets amongst civilian human shields. plus, of course, they don’t bother with these piffling little distinctions about civilians or not - israeli, or even jewish, it’s all the same to them. the idf at least (whether it really does care or not) is held to account by the government, the citizens, the world at large and in particular the media.

    Eretz Israel - yes Jews should be free to live in their own countries which include Arab states, as well as in Israel. And I believe they were.
    oh really?

    http://www.midrash.org/articles/farhud/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farhud

    this happened to people i have met. and that’s just the most famous of these - everything from the damascus blood libel of 1840 onwards. the only thing you can say about jewish life in the islamic world is that it was a hell of a lot nicer than the christian world. but still no bed of roses. and, lest we forget, in 1948, the whole jewish community of the entire arab world was unceremoniously told to get out. my cousin’s wife family were sitting round their friday night table in baghdad when the knock came on the door. they were told “15 minutes to leave” - their whole lives. they *walked* to israel.

    However do not keep forgetting that the people of the middle east did not invite 1948. It visited them.

    no, the “people of the middle east” were just imposed on, like all the arab states who voted against the partition plan of 1947. the palestinians could have had a state then….

    Seriously, what proportion of Jews in Israel are actually semites?
    for feck’s sake, read this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitic

    it’s a LINGUISTIC term, you ignoramus.

    Ashkenazis are Europeans.
    and make up less than half of the population of israel. jews come in all colours, but in israel, those from the arab world, the far east and the mediterranean, including everything from moroccan to bukharan via iraq, iran and yemen, are not european.

    What you’re suggesting, bananabrain, is that by virtue of Religion, one can lay claim to land….the truckloads of Ethiopian Jews shipped to Israel, who have no ethnic relation to the region whatsoever?

    what you’re suggesting, mr saracen, is that ethnicity is the sole criterion, which is of course an utterly self-serving - and misleading - viewpoint. of course, if you are a believer in the religious texts where our “title deeds” are, as it were, laid out, that is exactly what we can do. but the fact is, mate, despite everything that has been done to try and cover up and falsify the archaeological and historical evidence, this is where we’re from. 2,000 years later, it’s *still* where we’re from. not uganda, not the us, not poland. if you think the israelis should give it up and go and live back in iran, iraq, poland, russia and so on, you are welcome to try and convince them. and good luck with that.

    just a little thought experiment for you. suppose in 2000 years the tibetans manage to declare an independent tibet again, after living in india and the americas for much of that time. they don’t all “look” terribly tibetan after all that time. are they reclaiming the land by right of their tibetan buddhist religion or of their ethnicity? does it give the chinese who have been living there the right to refuse them to do so?

    the rights of the palestinians will not be secured by people like you, but by peace and reasonable behaviour by all concerned, including the israelis.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  43. Chairwoman — on 3rd August, 2006 at 4:59 pm  

    Saracen, I’m Ashkenazi, but I defy you to look at me and say I’m not a semite.

  44. Desi Italiana — on 3rd August, 2006 at 5:44 pm  

    “Saracen, I’m Ashkenazi, but I defy you to look at me and say I’m not a semite.”

    Chairwoman—

    Are you saying that Ashkenazi Jews are of Middle Eastern Descent? Because from what I understand, based on genetic experiments, they are actually of Slovak and Kazhar (sp?) descent.

    Not to deny religious affiliation, obviously. But I think we tread on dangerous territory when people start making genetic arguments for religious identification and claims to certain lands. If every religious group did this, we’d be in trouble. Especially when it is evident that Ashkenazi Jews do not genetically have much in common with say, Arab, or Ethiopian Jews. Again, based on what I’ve read, Ashkenazi Jews are genetically similar to Slovak and Kazhar (does anybody have the correct spelling?!), while Ethiopian Jews are similar to other Ethiopians, Arab Jews are similar to their Arab Muslim and Christian counterparts….

    Anyway, peace out.

  45. Desi Italiana — on 3rd August, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    Saracen:

    “I’ve decided it’s time for all Muslims to remember the US in their prayers; we’re all from there you know. It’s ours.”

    What?

    I don’t get what you are saying above.

  46. Sajn — on 3rd August, 2006 at 11:58 pm  

    I think he (she?) is saying that we should claim that America is our “promised land”.

  47. Katy Newton — on 4th August, 2006 at 12:47 am  

    Desi, the word “race” in this context is a little deceptive.

    Most Jews who are not converts are descended at least in part from the Jews who left Israel when the Second Temple was destroyed. Some of those Jews went towards Eastern Europe and became known as the Ashkenazim, the others either stayed in the Middle East or went towards the Mediterranean or Africa and became known as the Sephardim. I am not sure where you get the idea that Ashkenazi Jews have little in common with Sephardi Jews genetically. Genetic tests on Cohens (people within the Jewish race who are said to be descended from Moses’ brother Aaron, the first Priest) showed that they have a common male ancestor, and you only need to look at the faces of many Ashkenazi Jews - including mine, I am told, despite my colouring - to see that there are at least some Middle Eastern genes knocking around.

    But that is not the same as being a race, and many Jews would passionately resist the notion that they are a race because of several thousand years of ghettoisation, segregation and ostracism based on the notion that they were an alien race. However, the Jews are not just a religious group either. They have a common ancestry and an ancient culture with ancient laws and ancient customs. Because of that, it is a given within the Jewish world community that a Jew who is not religious and actively disbelieves in Gd is still to be considered a Jew.

    The word that was once used to describe the Jews was “nation”. That has jingoistic echoes which I don’t like, but it describes the closeness of the genetic and cultural ties which connect us, rather than the word “race” which suggests that we are physically different from other races.

    As to this part of what you said:

    “People start making genetic arguments for religious identification and claims to certain lands”

    If you are suggesting that the Jews have manufactured a racial identity to legitimise a claim for Israel, I am afraid that you are dead wrong. You could not be less right, in fact. Not only have the Jews considered themselves a nation and looked upon Israel as their lost homeland for literally thousands of years - whether you think that they are justified in either of those propositions or not - but the host communities in the countries in which the Jews settled segregated them on the basis that they were an alien race too.

  48. Katy Newton — on 4th August, 2006 at 12:50 am  

    My point is that the idea of the Jews as a separate and distinct race unlike anyone else was manufactured for them centuries before they had any hope of a homeland in Israel. They didn’t just decide to start calling themselves a race in 1948.

  49. Katy Newton — on 4th August, 2006 at 1:01 am  

    Some links on Jewish common ancestry, if anyone is interested:

    http://www.uoregon.edu/~jbloom/race/general/lemba.htm

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/97/12/6769

    This one deals with the Khazar theory:

    http://www.sdss.jhu.edu/~ethan/jFAQ.html

  50. Chairwoman — on 4th August, 2006 at 9:10 am  

    Desi Italiana - Until the inception of the State of Israel, most Jews didn’t know that they were Ashkenazi or Sephardi, they just knew they were Jews.

    What a dichotomy you present, you appear measured and evenhanded, but spend an awful lot of time at the books looking for references to do down us Jooooos.

    Frankly, I suspect your motives, do you think that subconciously you may be a little prejudiced against us?

    Still, on a positive note, you have certainly crystalised my position on the Middle East. I now feel that Israel has no choice but to press on with the invasion. What is the alternative for Jews in Israel or in the diaspora? Without Israel, the rest of the world is absolutely free to anhiliate us, and have no doubt that when the future European Caliphate comes to be, that is exactly what would happen. And who would we turn to for assistance, you and many of the other commentators here or at CiF? I’m not holding my breath.

    Anyway, I appreciate your candour, and congratulate you on doing a good job of helping me revise my opinions.

  51. bananabrain — on 4th August, 2006 at 1:24 pm  

    Desi, the word “race” in this context is a little deceptive.
    to say the least! people who talk about judaism in racial terms should be aware that this tendency dates back to the 19th century, mostly in germany and france (surprise surprise) when the jews started to be emancipated. previous to that, judaism was something you could escape by converting to christianity. once religion ceased to be an insurmountable barrier, the idea of racial judaism arose. you may escape religion, but you cannot escape your “race” - whatever the term means.

    The word that was once used to describe the Jews was “nation”. That has jingoistic echoes which I don’t like, but it describes the closeness of the genetic and cultural ties which connect us,
    in fact, the word is ‘am - the hebrew equivalent of the arabic ‘umma, with very similar connotations. so if muslims are entitled to use it, there is no reason we should not - and there needn’t be any shame in doing so, or jingoism.

    Desi Italiana - Until the inception of the State of Israel, most Jews didn’t know that they were Ashkenazi or Sephardi, they just knew they were Jews.
    chairwoman, that’s not actually correct. in fact, the state of israel, by its “melting-pot” policy, attempted to devalue *all* expressions of what, at least until the 70s, its eurocentric, secularist political class described as “ghetto culture”. the new state attempted to ditch all of that (including much of the music and other cultural manifestations) in favour of a Brave New [Socialist] Utopian World of pioneering, desert-blooming back-to-the-land sabras. which was, as we all know, like all designed identities, doomed to failure along with the idea of the self-sufficient kibbutz movement. just ask anyone who is concerned with sephardi culture! we spent a great deal of time being characterised as “backward” because we weren’t “european”. fortunately, that is now over, as sephardim are fully integrated into israeli society and asserting themselves in all areas. in fact, as bernard lewis has sagely put it, much of the division in israeli politics, society and culture is basically the struggle between the jews of christendom and the jews of islam.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  52. Chairwoman — on 4th August, 2006 at 2:10 pm  

    banabrain

    I’m not being picky, but in reality in the diaspora, at least in the UK and probably the US, when Jews talked about each other, they talked about the European/Asian country they’d emigrated from. They used Polack, Litvak, Deutsche, Turk, Ruski. I never heard the terms Ashkenazi or Sephardi in common parlance much before the 60s. By the same token, my grandfather, a Polack, and many of his friends, prayed at the Spanish and Portugese Synogogue, and my grandparents are buried in their cemetary,or burial grounds as we call it. They would have been surprised to learn there was any difference but the order of service.

    Shabbat Shalom

  53. bananabrain — on 4th August, 2006 at 4:43 pm  

    sheesh, not in the uk that i know of. the ashkenazis i’ve met seem to consider sephardim like they’re from another planet. and they don’t even know the difference between sephardim proper and the ‘eidot ha-mizrah.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  54. Chairwoman — on 4th August, 2006 at 6:03 pm  

    banabrain - I’m not disagreeing with you on the current state of play, the era I’m talking about is prior to, and at the inception of the State of Israel, which was the point I was making.

  55. […] Er, what has that got to do with anything? But I’ll humour you. You’re wrong about the Middle Eastern, but right about the race. See my explanation of Jewish common ancestry here. What the Jews are is a group of loosely interrelated people with a common ancestor or small group of common ancestors who have remained relatively closely tied genetically because of many centuries of segregation. I suppose what we really are is a very extended family. But we are not a race. The term “race”, as I understand it, refers to physical differences setting you and people like you genetically apart from others. Apparently a big nose isn’t enough. Jews do not want to be considered a race. Forgive me for raising the Holocaust again, but it suited people like Hitler to believe that we were an alien and separate non-human race because it meant that he could slaughter us with impunity. […]

  56. Desi Italiana — on 14th August, 2006 at 5:15 am  

    Apologies for having left a comment and then never checking back, not knowing that I sparked a thread of comments! Especially from Chairwoman who states:

    “What a dichotomy you present, you appear measured and evenhanded, but spend an awful lot of time at the books looking for references to do down us Jooooos.

    Frankly, I suspect your motives, do you think that subconciously you may be a little prejudiced against us?

    Still, on a positive note, you have certainly crystalised my position on the Middle East. I now feel that Israel has no choice but to press on with the invasion.”

    Please do not accuse me of anti-Semitism. I explicitly stated that I think it is dangerous to utilize ethno-religious claims to disposses another people off of their homeland. I also stated in comment #44:

    “Not to deny religious affiliation, obviously. But I think we tread on dangerous territory when people start making genetic arguments for religious identification and claims to certain lands. ”

    I do not understand where I am being anti-Semitic and looking “down on you Joos.” I explicitly stated that this is not to deny religious affiliation by any means. If you mistake my opinion that I think that Jews genetically resemble the populations of where they come from- which is entirely natural and there is NOTHING wrong with that- then I am sorry. But please look at my comment and yours, and see how defensive you get, and how your comment- accusing me of anti-Semitism- is inaccurate and visceral. Bananabrain’s comment appears to be far more thought out (though I disagree with it) than yours. You are conflating my criticisms of Zionism and Zionist policies and idealogies with anti-Semitism. I am sorry that you do so.

  57. Desi Italiana — on 14th August, 2006 at 6:05 am  

    Katy:

    I do not understand why you closed down that thread. You stated that I am “arguing with myself,” no one ever gets anywhere with my assertions, and that I got the thread to “degenerate” into “hysterical” assertions. I don’t see where this happened. In fact, I had thanked you for taking the time to express your opinions. I also pointed out that I understand if you did not really refer to the Palestinians in your post (except for Hamas and undefined ” legitimate Palestinian grievances”) since I myself write posts and know that it takes a long time to put together something coherent. As such, I made it a point to underline that I was just stating my views, particularly when the post’s title was “A Wider Perspective” of the Middle East. Just because I was stating my opinions- and nowhere did I use profanity, no where did I take on a strong tone- you brand that as hysterical? I was anything but hysterical.

    Furthermore, the fact that I stated that Jews are genetically linked to the populations of where they come from DOES NOT mean that I am denying or discounting religious affiliation and I am criticizing Jews. If I were to say that Hindus are genetically similar to the populations that surround them, I don’t think that could be branded as anti-Hindu. When I said that to me it seems implausible that after 2000 years, Jews all over the world share the same common descent, I provided the example of those who intermarry and still claim a particular identity and religion. NOTHING wrong with that. It doesn’t mean that they are less Hindu, Jewish, or whatever. And I am NOT making a personal swipe here, but just to give you an example: isn’t your father Catholic? Yet you call yourself Jewish. You identify with Jewish people. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

    I had looked at those links you provided- those are the links that come up when you google in “Khazar, Jews genetics”. I already know that those sources exist. I also know that there are sources that refute the links that you provided. The reason why I told you let’s agree to disagree was because I know that there are back and forth rebuttals. You can find the sources that you want, and I can find sources that refute them. Since you state that it doesn’t matter anyway, why would you get so angry and defensive? Please go back and re-read what I had written and the tone of your responses. If you are upset that I disagreed with you, then your responses to my post lead me to think that you don’t really appreciate people criticizing your positions.

    Here are some links and excerpts. You can have any take you’d like on it. You can still continue to believe what you want. The links and excerpts I provide here are just another perspective. I hope you don’t take that as “hysterical rants” and I hope Chairwoman doesn’t accuse me of anti-Semitism. To read the full texts of certain articles, you need a university proxy/access as I do. Apologies!

    **************************************************

    1. On the politics of science, an Observer article stated that a scholarly study which found that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians were almost genetically identical was pulled out a leading journal:

    “A keynote research paper showing that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians are genetically almost identical has been pulled from a leading journal.
    Academics who have already received copies of Human Immunology have been urged to rip out the offending pages and throw them away.

    Such a drastic act of self-censorship is unprecedented in research publishing and has created widespread disquiet, generating fears that it may involve the suppression of scientific work that questions Biblical dogma.

    The journal’s editor, Nicole Sucio-Foca, of Columbia University, New York, claims the article provoked such a welter of complaints over its extreme political writing that she was forced to repudiate it. The article has been removed from Human Immunology’s website, while letters have been written to libraries and universities throughout the world asking them to ignore or ‘preferably to physically remove the relevant pages’. Arnaiz-Villena has been sacked from the journal’s editorial board.

    The paper, ‘The Origin of Palestinians and their Genetic Relatedness with other Mediterranean Populations’, involved studying genetic variations in immune system genes among people in the Middle East.

    In common with earlier studies, the team found no data to support the idea that Jewish people were genetically distinct from other people in the region. In doing so, the team’s research challenges claims that Jews are a special, chosen people and that Judaism can only be inherited.

    Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East share a very similar gene pool and must be considered closely related and not genetically separate, the authors state. Rivalry between the two races is therefore based ‘in cultural and religious, but not in genetic differences’, they conclude.

    But the journal, having accepted the paper earlier this year, now claims the article was politically biased and was written using ‘inappropriate’ remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its editor told the journal Nature last week that she was threatened by mass resignations from members if she did not retract the article.

    One of them said: ‘If Arnaiz-Villena had found evidence that Jewish people were genetically very special, instead of ordinary, you can be sure no one would have objected to the phrases he used in his article. This is a very sad business.’

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,605798,00.html

    To read the offending and thus withdrawn study:

    http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:Ogn1a-fWlckJ:kinoko.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~duraid/stolen_science/The_Origin_of_Palestinians_and_Their_Genetic_Relatedness_With_Other_Mediterranean_Populations.pdf+origin+of+palestinians+and+their+genetic+relatedness+with+other+mediterranean+populations&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1

    2. The data presented by the above genetists was consistant with the data presented by Israeli scientists, Amar et al. Amar et al, who found the same data, presents a conclusion that goes contrary to their findings (contrast first two paragraphs with the last one):

    “The Jewish population in Israel comprises of inhabitants of heterogeneous ethnic backgrounds. Genetic studies classify the Israeli Jewish population into two major groups: Ashkenazi from Central and Eastern Europe and Sephardic or non Ashkenazi, from the Mediterranean and North Africa. The present study was aimed at elucidating the differential influx of HLA class II alleles in Ashkenazi, in various non-Ashkenazi subgroups and in Israeli Moslem Arabs. Using the PCR-SSOP technique, a large number of alleles were detected at each of the loci examined (DRB1, DQA1 and DQB1).

    In addition, gene frequencies, characteristic DR/DQ linkage disequilibria, population distances and their corresponding dendogram, were used to study the relationship between Israelis as a group, non Jewish Caucasians and Blacks. These populations could be grouped into three main clusters: the first consists of all the Israeli groups with the exception of the Ethiopian Jews; the second consists of non Jewish Caucasians, with a clear distinction seen between Israelis and non Jewish Europeans and U.S. Caucasians; the third, composed of Blacks, is distinctly different from the other populations. Ethiopian Jews were found to be closer to the Blacks than to any of the Israeli Jewish groups.

    We have shown that Jews share common features, a fact that points to a common ancestry. A certain degree of admixture with their pre-immigration neighbors exists despite the cultural and religious constraints against intermarriage.”

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T3B-3WY9RK0-B&_coverDate=08%2F31%2F1999&_alid=434565049&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_qd=1&_cdi=4942&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000001358&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=5745&md5=7af0bb5122cd8d3afe98e0215a031c32

    3. The PNAS link that provided also concludes with assertions that contradict their own findings. Hammer et al’s data reveals that:

    a. Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews are closer to Arab populations than both are to Ashkenazi Jews.

    b. Ethiopian Jews are genetically the same as other Ethiopians.

    But in contrast to their findings, they conclude that:

    “…Most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.”

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/97/12/6769

    4. Jersusalem Post on February 28, 2001 published the following article:

    “Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin (Ph.D) of the department of hematology and genetic pathology at the medical school of Flinters University of South Austrailia in Adelaide, recently published an article in the German-language ‘Journal of Comparative Human Biology’ that attempts to cast doubt on Skorecki’s Study. Zoossmann-Diskin, who during the 1990’s worked in the laboratory of Tel Aviv University genetist Prof. Batsheva Bonne-Tamir….maintains that ‘Jewish populations around the world descend from a variety of maternal and paternal origins…preliminary genetic studies of mitochondrial DNA (from maternal ancestries) have already demonstrated the connections between Jewish populations and non-Jewish populations.”

    I tried to dig up a link that brings me directly to the article, but I couldn’t get to it. Info:

    Siegel, Judy. “Experts find genetic Jewish-Arab link.” The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition 6 Nov. 2000. 22 May 2001 http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2000/11/06/News/News.14948.html.

    5. For those who are simply interested to read more, here is the “Bibliography for Genetics and Identity:”

    http://www.bioethics.umn.edu/genetics_and_identity/biblio.html

    *****************************************************

    These are the rebuttals of publications. There are also rebuttals of THESE rebuttals, so you don’t have to include them here, since I am already familiar with them.

    This is just to see another perspective. I also stand by my comment that I do not agree with ethno-religious claims being used by ANY group- regardless of whether they are Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, whatever- to justify the ultimate right over a specific territory. These are my opinions.

  58. Desi Italiana — on 14th August, 2006 at 6:58 am  

    Sorry, for point #4, whereby I provide info on the article that I couldn’t get direct access to is wrong. The correct title of the Jerusalem Post article is:

    J. Seigel, “Genetic Kohanim descent claims disputed”, The Jerusalem Post, February 28, 2001.

    Also, it would be great if someone could tell me how I can color quotes red, italicize, and boldface. Does everybody have those text bars on their comments form, or is everyone using computer codes?

  59. Desi Italiana — on 14th August, 2006 at 7:53 am  

    Another comment- now I am really getting carried away…spent a lot of time writing above comments when I should have been doing things to meet my deadlines :)

    Chairwoman:

    “What a dichotomy you present, you appear measured and evenhanded, but spend an awful lot of time at the books looking for references to do down us Jooooos.”

    It’s interesting that you smirk at my spending “an awful lot of time at the books for looking for references to do down us Jooooos” because a while back on this thread

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/645

    you had, in response to my comment #54 where I presented quotes from Israeli politicians, you said:

    “Thank you for the amount of research you have done in preparing your reply to me, kudos to you. ” (comment # 56).

    I can’t believe I am getting ridiculed for “spending an awful lot of time at the books” when in the past you gave me “kudos.” Is there something wrong with reading documents, policies, articles and books that look at Israeli history, politicians, and policies?

    Judging from your comments (not making a personal attack), I am under the impression that you believe in the concept of Israel without having looked at the substance of the political dynamics and realities that are on the ground. Generally speaking, I have met a lot of diasporans who unquestioningly accept the politics and idealogies of the country that they, for one reason or another, feel tied to. Indian Americans who are Hindus, for example, are fervent supporters of the Hindutva movement in India. Many of them are either uninformed, misinformed, or ill-informed about the actual policies, politicians, and facts behind the political movements that they support. But what they believe in is the IDEA of the political/religious movement that they agree with. What they are in the dark about is the actual policies and its content and consequences. After all, it’s too easy to live in another country and not have to personally feel, live, and deal with the consequences of certain policies enacted in the “homeland.”

    Anyway, if I don’t respond to this thread (now, later, or never), it’s because I’m busy working away on life and death matters :)

  60. Katy Newton — on 14th August, 2006 at 8:57 am  

    Desi

    You cannot be a Catholic unless you have been baptised and have taken Holy Communion. I was never baptised, let alone anything else. I was raised as Jewish. I am not and never have been a Christian. I did not “choose” Judaism. It is what I am.

    I closed the thread because I am tired of pointless, repetitive ranting that goes nowhere. I didn’t close it specifically because of you, but yes, I do include you in that definition.

    You keep posting links which demonstrate that the Jews are not a race. I know that already. The point that I, and the people you have linked to make, and which you either won’t or can’t understand, is this: Jews may not be ethnically different from other races, but they are more closely related to each other than they are to people outside the Jewish people. They have common ancestry. They are like a very distant family. It is nothing to do with race. You would probably find the same sort of relationship in small villages in Britain. If Village A and Village B are both Caucasian but both communities have been isolated and therefore mainly (but not exclusively) married within themselves, then the people within each village will be more closely related to each other than they are to the people in the other village. This is not rocket science. You’re the one who keeps turning it into an argument about race.

    Apart from your links on ancestry, which only demonstrate your own lack of understanding or refusal to understand, you have brought absolutely nothing to either my thread or this one that hadn’t been said before, both there and elsewhere, both by you and by others.

  61. Katy Newton — on 14th August, 2006 at 9:10 am  

    By the way, if you can’t see how offensive your obsession with proving that the Jews are or are not a particular thing is, then there is something wrong with you. It was a topic raised by you on another thread long before I wrote my article, and not something that I had thought about in any detail before then. I don’t believe that the nature of the relationship that ties the Jews together is anything to do with the Middle Eastern conflict and in that sense, politically, it takes things no further. But as a human being I dislike and am offended by your continued efforts to try and tell me, and the Jews, who and what we are and what our relationship to each other is, or to make comments about my mixed ancestry.

    But it is kind of you to tell me that there is nothing wrong with me identifying with the Jewish people. I was losing sleep over that. Really.

  62. Chairwoman — on 14th August, 2006 at 11:00 am  

    Desi Italiana - If you read this site, you will be aware that I try all the time to reach out, move forward and try to find some kind of concensus. You however only want to apportion blame. Surely it is better to achieve some of one’s aims by negotiation, than none by rejection.

    For you there is no middle ground, no compromise, only your way is the right way. I hold the olive branch, you ignore it. You are intractable.

    If you are as intractable in ‘real life’ as opposed to your blogging persona then you are going to be extremely unhappy. No compromise leads to misery and loneliness.

    Life Yassir Arafat you never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity

  63. Chairwoman — on 14th August, 2006 at 11:02 am  

    Desi Italiana - typo, last line should read

    ‘Like Yassir Arafat you never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity’.

  64. sonia — on 14th August, 2006 at 11:21 am  

    Oh this is all round and round the mulberry bush.

    The simple fact is once people start being referred to unpleasantly - as ‘one group’ by ’somebody else’ i.e. designated as the ‘Other’ - it’s pretty simple - people soon may start feeling that way. some people don’t and some people do. this can apply to jewish identity and muslim identity ( amongst others..)

    rampant anti-semitism meant that if you were Jewish, you were discriminated against, and clearly that’s played a part in lots of Jewish people feeling like they had something in common apart from religion and drew people together. being discriminated against often draws people together. we are seeing similar things now with ‘Muslim identity’ - the more people keep insisting Muslims are some kind of homogeneous entity the more likely someone’s ‘muslim identity’ may be sparked as a result of feeling ‘othered’. Who knows - 50 years down the line people will probably be referring to the ‘Muslim race’ and some Muslims will be pointing out how silly that is and some will have started feeling like they are and saying so. In any case the usage of the term ‘race’ has changed significantly over the centuries, this is well documented in social anthropology.

  65. Desi Italiana — on 14th August, 2006 at 4:59 pm  

    Katy and Chairwoman:

    If you guys include me in the group of “ranters,” and somebody who’s got something “wrong” with her who posts “hysterical” comments, than I can’t imagine what “hysterical” means. No where do I ever resort to name calling, call “Joooos” a dirty race, deny the Holocaust,etc. I’m sorry to say this, but YOUR guys’ comments come off as hysterical and defensive. And frankly, it sounds like you are either trying to bully people who disagree with you or you can’t handle opinions that diverge from yours. Katy, maybe you should think twice when you write a post titled “A Wider Perspective.” The only way you guys are counteracting what I am saying is by branding me as a hysterical anti-Semite who’s like Arafat. Real smooth. You spoke of the other thread “degenerating” into hysterical rants. Your comments there and here are actually evolving into useless arguments-ie “you’ve got something wrong with you”, Chairwoman likening me to Arafat, etc. Keep pulling out names and empty insults and sure the thread is going to degenerate into something useless.

    Also, your comments prove this point perfectly: if you criticize Zionism and Zionists- which is NOT the same as Judaism and Jews- you get shut down by being branded as an “anti-Semite.” Yeah, my comments are “anti-Semitic”: they are tantamount to burning down synagogues, calling Jews “kikes” and hating all Jews, calling them a filthy race, killing Jews and so on. Honestly, come up with a definition of anti Semitism, please. Also, I don’t think I would have won any other way. If I would have said that European Jews are a distinct race from other Europeans, I would have been labeled as someone similar to Hitler who argued that Jews were an alien race that needed to be killed off. If I were to say that they are in fact Europeans, I’m an anti-semite. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Now that you have written the type of comments that you have, the discussion IS getting silly. Which is a waste of my time. Have a nice day.

    Sonia:
    Excellent points.

  66. Katy Newton — on 14th August, 2006 at 5:21 pm  

    Your suggestion that I can’t cope with people criticising or disagreeing with me is unfounded, as my responses to commenters who disagreed with me on the other thread and elsewhere demonstrate. I have never called you an antisemite and your suggestion that I try to bully people who disagree with me is laughable.

    As for hysterical, I’ll leave people to read your comments, especially that last one, and judge for themselves.

  67. Chairwoman — on 14th August, 2006 at 5:25 pm  

    Desi Italiana - You really didn’t get what I said at all did you? I keep saying all over this site that the way forward is for both sides to stop the name calling, stop the blaming, stop the whole ne- ne ne ne-ne ing that goes on, and try to find a solution together. You still seem not to want to do that, and the only way I was likening you to Arafat was in continually losing the opportunity to try to think of a way forward that would give both sides to get some of what they want, to save everybodies face, and to bring tranquility and prosperity to people who desperately need it.

    Take a deep breath. There’s peace to be made if people have the will to make it, and let’s face it, if we, who are not directly involved can’t make peace, what hope for the protagonists.

  68. Desi Italiana — on 14th August, 2006 at 7:54 pm  

    Katy:

    “As for hysterical, I’ll leave people to read your comments, especially that last one, and judge for themselves.”

    Are you being serious? Compared to the comments that others made, I really don’t see where I was being “hysterical.” I told you that I agreed with you about the whole race thing. I also pointed out that some continue to fall back on this as well, and so I thought that it was important to address. Then I posted links here, and I even conceded that there are rebuttals and critiques to what I had posted and thus, let’s agree to disagree since each of us can find the links that we want. Where the heck am I being “hysterical?” I re-read my comments, and I really can’t see what you are accusing me of.

    Did YOU read my comments? I’m not sure you read them all the way through.

    “You really didn’t get what I said at all did you? I keep saying all over this site that the way forward is for both sides to stop the name calling, stop the blaming, stop the whole ne- ne ne ne-ne ing that goes on, and try to find a solution together.”

    No, I don’t get what you are trying to say. On the one hand, both you and Katy say, “there are things that Israel shouldn’t be doing” and that there are “legitimate Palestinian grievances.” I say that in order to flesh these two concepts out, we have to look at what is actually going on so that we can see the roots and causes. How to find a solution without understanding where and why these problems come from?

    I’m actually not calling anybody names (even though others have called me names). I don’t see where I’ve ever done that on PP. I do however say that many of the problems that afflict Palestine/Israel do stem from Israel, by virtue of the disproportionate power and support Israel enjoys in the face of now what is a Palestinian minority living under military occupation.

    BTW, I take it that you think that Oslo was the offer of a lifetime. However, if you read the Oslo accords and the analyses that followed, you’ll see that it was in fact deeply flawed. It gave more concessions to Israel and impeded total Palestinian sovereignty.

    So, in sum, if both of you think that I’m being hysterial, ranting, I hate Jews, and am pointing fingers just because I point out that we need to understand the roots and causes of conflicts- in order to think of a JUST solution for the Palestinians,whereby the solutions are composed of not what Israel exclusively wants and sets the terms-then you can continue to believe what you want.

    I also agree with Sonia about what direction this discussion is going.

    Have a nice day.

  69. mirax — on 14th August, 2006 at 8:29 pm  

    Desi now that you off the I-P case, would you like to contribute to the Srilanka peace cause? That thread is lagging for want of peace warriors and root cause analysists. Jump in whenever you want!

  70. Desi Italiana — on 14th August, 2006 at 8:44 pm  

    Mirax:

    “Desi now that you off the I-P case, would you like to contribute to the Srilanka peace cause? That thread is lagging for want of peace warriors and root cause analysists. Jump in whenever you want!”

    Unfortunately, I do not know much about SL politics. I have a general idea, but not enough details and specifics where I would feel comfortable in making any assertions :)

    Also, can I put in another repeated request? Would somebody be kind enough to explain how the hell you can boldface, italicize, and color words/phrases in red? Maybe people are misinterpreting my comments as hysterical because I’ve been CAPSIZING certain words (so as to emphasize or underline a point) because I do not know how to boldface or italicize :(

  71. mirax — on 14th August, 2006 at 9:04 pm  

    From the bare bones guide to html.The instructions given by Sunny never worked for me but these do.

    Bold
    Italic
    4.0* Underline (not widely implemented)
    Strikeout (not widely implemented)
    4.0* Strikeout (not widely implemented)
    Subscript
    Superscript

  72. mirax — on 14th August, 2006 at 9:06 pm  

    >>Unfortunately, I do not know much about SL politics. I have a general idea, but not enough details and specifics where I would feel comfortable in making any assertions

    Surely you were at the same point once with the I-P conflict, no? Isn’t Srilanka worth your time? Seeing like how it’s a desi country and all…

  73. Desi Italiana — on 14th August, 2006 at 10:17 pm  

    mirax:

    Thanks for the instructions :)

    “Surely you were at the same point once with the I-P conflict, no? Isn’t Srilanka worth your time? Seeing like how it’s a desi country and all… ”

    Hmmmm….you know, I detected the sarcasm in your first comment and let that one pass by and tried to be nice. Now this one. You might think you are being cute, I think it’s just a waste of time to go back and forth with snarky comments :)

    I didn’t write about SL politics, but since it’s a desi country and all, here is a link to a blog that one of our bloggers wrote:

    http://www.passtheroti.com/?p=133

    Apologies for trying to engage in debate, not responding to sassy comments, and admitting that I am not familiar with SL politics.

    Peace out.

  74. mirax — on 15th August, 2006 at 5:38 am  

    Sorry that the html instructions did not come out well, just google for the bare bones guide to html.

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