Friday, October 30, 2009

Cognitive Dissonance in Action

Just a quick post for today before I leave for Boston. Cognitive dissonance is, simply put, where a person's preconceived notions (or worldview) clash with new information that he or she has recently discovered.

Examples: I believe that my parents never lie, but I just caught my father fibbing to his boss about being sick. How can this be?
I believe that Israel is always responsible for everything bad in the Middle East, but the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with it? How can this be?
Palestinian violence is always justified because they are "resisting Israel?" But a Palestinian just killed a thirteen-year-old kid! How can that be justified?

There are two ways that people deal with cognitive dissonance. One is that they change their worldview. My parents are honest people in general, but they aren't perfect. Palestinian violence is only justified against soldiers. The trouble with this is that changing worldviews is difficult to do. We need them to go through our lives, and they serve a very valuable function. They don't like to be challenge.

The second way of dealing with cognitive dissonance is to embrace it. You repress what you have learned, or you justify it. A secret cabal of Israelis somehow started the Iran-Iraq war with the US' help. The Palestinians are justified in killing little kids because they are settlers. This is where real trouble comes in: Because maintaining that worldview has become more important to the person than being honest or looking at new information objectively.

There seems to be an example of cognitive dissonance on this thread that started last night on the Huffington Post. The user "alysheba3" is making the case that Israel started Cast Lead because of their tunnel attack on November 4th. If you look at the thread you will see that she repeated the same copy and pasted statement at least twice.

The problem with this theory, of course, is that Cast Lead started on December 27th, not November 5th. So what happened during the intervening month and a half? alysheba3 doesn't know, nor care.

One possibility for this denial of reality is cognitive dissonance. It has been made clear from her posts that this commentor has the mentality of "Israel is always wrong. Israel always starts the wars." In that case, clinging to the only time that Israel retaliated to Hamas pre-Cast Lead is the only possibly way to maintain that worldview. Unfortunately, we know that Hamas was firing multiple rockets for weeks before the airstrikes started on December 27th. What's amazing is the way alysheba3 refuses to admit that they happened.

Of course, the other possibility is that she is simply lying and hoping that no one will call her out on it. But it's an extraordinarily weak lie. Even a child could see that there was too much time betwen the two events to make the claim that the second was a continuation of the first.

HuffPo User Profile: "phute"

The user "phute" has been on the Huffington Post since December 2008 and has 824 posts and 16 fans. Unlike lbsaltzman, he is clear violation of many of the Huffington Post's rules of conduct. As I will show below, he states the usual tropes of AIPAC controlling the US and Zionism being racism. But what makes him special is his frequent use of ad hominem attacks. I am amazed that he has not been banned yet, as he constantly berates and insults pro-Israel posters.

Let's start off with the standard AIPAC stuff as a warm-up:

Phute: "Ah well - sooner or later America will be seen as the zionist's servant. Won't do it any good - and the zionists will find themselves exposed to some uncomfortable questions. Oh what a tangled web we weave when, at first, we start to deceive."
posted Oct 12, 2009 at 11:22:00

Phute: "Strong and bright are no excuses for undermining Obama at every opportunity. She [Hillary Clinton] ought to show more rspect - AIPAC stooge."
posted Sep 20, 2009 at 07:26:48

Phute: "But AIPAC buys the majority in Congress to peddle their lie that what's in Israel's best interest is the same for the US. And of course the US pays."
posted Aug 30, 2009 at 06:15:17

Phute: "What about Clinton and Biden - AIPAC's stooges."
posted Aug 18, 2009 at 17:10:01


And then he attacks Israel as a state and Israel's actions:

Phute: "All Arabs back to Arabia - and all Europeans back to Europe. Can't leave the immigrants out." posted Oct 13, 2009 at 13:14:12
Phute: "rzza - Israel is the world's 4th largest military - if this doesn't mean it can and should stand on it's own 2 feet then there is something wrong - don't you think. It doesn't need America's help -it's a dishonest entity." posted Oct 13, 2009 at 12:01:12
Phute: "Maybe that's because there were no crimes committed. De rigeur for non Jews in Israel - but then I guess that's beside the point, hmm?" posted Sep 16, 2009 at 12:35:12
Phute: "It is essential that the world is conned into believing that Israel wants peace. That is the modus operandi. Closer examination of the facts show a very different desire." posted Aug 25, 2009 at 16:39:26
Phute: "It's very simple - the Israeli military deliberately target UN faciities then blame Hamas. The Palestinians don't deride the UN - you just wish they did." posted Aug 24, 2009 at 16:14:34
Phute: "Why not - got any poblems? Oh yeah the IDF have a clear preferrence for shooting fish in a barrel. What's good for the illegal occupiers is good for those subject to land theft." posted Aug 02, 2009 at 04:48:52
Phute: "Yes but Israel's preferred oath has a distinct whiff of apartheid to it." posted Jul 25, 2009 at 17:04:22
We got a couple Holocaust-related comments as well:
Phute: "Not the holocaust - but there are uncomfortable similarities in ploicy. De-humanization of Jews by Germany is no different to de-humanization of Arabs by Israel. Herding Jews into ghettoes - Wasrsaw is no different from herding Palestinians into Gaza. Restrciting the movement of Jews is no different than restricting the movement of Palestinians within Palestine. It's disgusting regardless of who is the perpertrator and who is the victim." posted Aug 27, 2009 at 10:53:11
Phute: "I find it offensive to use the death of millions as justifiation for stealing the land of others Quite disgusting. Criminal in fact. Lousy way to commemorate th suffering during WW2." posted Sep 01, 2009 at 11:08:18
Now we get to the heart of Phute's character, his frequent and malicious personal attacks. His favorite word is "hasbara" which, for those of you who have not encountered this word, is Hebrew for explanation. However, it's used by HuffPosters to mean Israeli propaganda/lies, as some Israeli information ministries have been called by this term. When Phute calls a person "hasbara", he means that person is an Israeli propagandist paid by the Israeli government or some other organization to go online and defend Israel. This should absolutely be considered an ad hominem attack, because Phute is suggesting the poster's argument is not their own belief or even true and calling into question the poster's motivations, and therefore their argument should not be considered. Hold on to your hat, we've got a lot of slanderous attacks to go through.
Phute: "lightningbolt - what a good job you're around to point out that Amnesty International is lying. And a really really really big thnaks to you for also pointing out that Hamas mistreats the people of Gaza just so it can make the Israelis look bad. One slight problem - you're a stooge, so no kudos." posted Oct 30, 2009 at 06:16:59
Phute: "wbmd - vibrant democracy. Hasbara." posted Oct 27, 2009 at 04:16:21
Phute: "lonelygod - here he goes. Another sad attempt."posted Oct 27, 2009 at 04:07:47
Phute: "the stories are made up for them [Israel supporters] - they just type them verbatim." posted Oct 26, 2009 at 12:48:31 [the hasbara argument in so many words]
Phute: "moshe - grow up" posted Oct 26, 2009 at 12:37:43
Phute: "rand - classic hasbara." posted Oct 26, 2009 at 10:21:40
Phute: "none of stcuthbert's answers are his - they are provided for him - hasbara. So when a more pertinent question is directed at him and because he cannot think for himself - there will be no answer." posted Oct 26, 2009 at 06:09:00
Phute: "'the world holding Israel to a different standard' - hasbara." posted Oct 25, 2009 at 07:45:09
Phute: "These posters who try to intimidate by way calling others anti semitic tend to be paid posters. Usually from the Israeli Govt or Embassies etc around the world. They can't even differentiate between zionism and Judaism - a pre requisite." posted Oct 22, 2009 at 06:44:35
Phute: "mommamia - simple fact - the Israeli Government declined all opportunities to engage with richard Goldstone; to put forward their defence, air their grievances and engage in a meaningful process. Instead - they chose to bad mouth Goldstone at every opportunity. There were the oh so predictable charges of anti semitism, the usual hasbara, the usual deliberate obfuscation. Fact. Noone forced the Israeli govt to take this stance - they chose to. Have a break mommamia - you're fighting an increasingly lost cause." posted Oct 22, 2009 at 06:26:38
Phute: "lightningbolt - hasbara is such that it's digested easily by stooges. They are the only ones happy to peddle it." posted Oct 18, 2009 at 06:10:27
Phute: "lightningbolt - hasbara. That sad old script you work from - needs updating." posted Oct 18, 2009 at 05:57:18
Phute: "gzi - clutching at straws. You need to understand that not everyone is as ready as you are to fall for hasbara." posted Oct 18, 2009 at 05:54:32
Phute: "bubbaC33 - well that's the hasbara take." posted Oct 17, 2009 at 11:47:04
Phute: "Zenju - 'new smart anti Semitism' - hasbaratchik speak." posted Oct 17, 2009 at 09:25:23
Phute: "the footage you point to Jerry Levy - WAS NOT A FABRICATION. Anything to suggest otherwise is hasbara. Too bad."posted Oct 16, 2009 at 09:42:31
Phute: "WBMD - you simply gush hasbara - despite your words being your own. Doesn't change the message one iota." posted Oct 16, 2009 at 07:34:38
Phute: "Wel I could never describe you as enlightened Amato. Offensive maybe." posted Oct 13, 2009 at 13:21:19
Phute: "Give him a break -he's real hasbara. Don't take him seriously - he's just very immature."posted Oct 12, 2009 at 05:26:48
Phute: "You so love a concept don't you gzilives - but then again that's just what your manufactured history is.Get it?" posted Oct 12, 2009 at 05:16:52
Phute: "So was this the diversion insisted upon by your bosses when you started work today lonely god? Hasbara." posted Oct 11, 2009 at 05:47:00
Phute: "gzilives - you excel in empty rhetoric. Oh - and it's unpleasant." posted Oct 11, 2009 at 05:41:47
Phute: "Fabulous hasbara lonely god." posted Oct 10, 2009 at 10:54:50
Phute: "for some resaon lainey - I just don't find your posts credible." posted Oct 10, 2009 at 08:40:40
Phute: "Such romantic prose - such propoganda. such faux concern." posted Oct 10, 2009 at 05:44:30
Phute: "Going to the region Lainey ? In what capacity? Can't imagine aid work would come into it - you don't seem capable." posted Oct 10, 2009 at 05:43:25
Phute: "They're out in force - - obviously they're riled." posted Oct 10, 2009 at 05:35:10 [the periods among hasbara are an attempt to fool the moderators from censoring the post]
Phute: "lg - good to see you speak for yoursel and not the informed." posted Oct 07, 2009 at 09:48:34
Phute: "Pure undiluted propoganda lg." posted Oct 06, 2009 at 11:01:07
Phute: "Goldstone realyy got you rankled eh st Cuthbert. he must really have hit home - your discomfort proves it. But then you aren't paid to be honest are you?" posted Oct 06, 2009 at 09:25:05
Phute: "Ilan Pappe - sure enough the mere mention of him and the sliming begins - he's no revisionist even though you get paid to say so." posted Oct 05, 2009 at 17:33:55
Phute: "And the existential threat - you haven't established anything remotely valid on that - apart from the usual propoganda spouting." posted Oct 04, 2009 at 17:24:51
Phute: "Lonely god - enough with the constant whining." posted Oct 01, 2009 at 10:43:03
Phute: "Lonely god - if you're asking whether or not David Ben Gurion's demands were met - it can only be because your head is so firmly entrenched up your ................ To paraphrase 'why don't you try answering the question. Assuming you can of course.'"posted Sep 20, 2009 at 07:14:48
Phute: "It's not about highlighting movies from a particular Israeli city - it's about Brand Israel - a pr offensive. Those in the pro [Israel] camp are stooges." posted Sep 19, 2009 at 10:01:35
Phute: "Oh he's just another in a long line. Hold on a mo.....isn't he the one all these paid posters praised to the hilt for the last military incursion into mistake - he's a hero who fell foul of the law. Just another in a long line.........[Corruption] seems to be a pre requisite for an Israeli pm....can't resist a bung." posted Aug 31, 2009 at 07:17:15
Phute: "Tzippi - your history is manufactured." posted Aug 27, 2009 at 15:21:19
Phute: "Do emotions ever run less than hysterical in your settlement?" posted Aug 26, 2009 at 11:04:05
Phute: "And on what page of your manual did you find that response?" posted Aug 24, 2009 at 15:57:47
Phute: "Sad isn't it. Shows the very narrow confines of the box in which they think." posted Aug 22, 2009 at 09:33:39
Phute: " don't smell too good yourself. No friends?" posted Aug 16, 2009 at 12:40:51
Phute: "How pathetic - the usual -'well look what they did' response. Whatever.........still doesn't cancel out the IDF's conduct in Gaza. Hasbara - yawn.........." posted Aug 14, 2009 at 10:48:12
Phute: "Give m times 1 the hasbara gong of the week!" posted Aug 05, 2009 at 10:10:28
Phute: "Well your question is valid - to a hasbara devotee as is the response you provided. For the enlightened it's a load of ****. Boy hasbara enlisters will give work to anyone these days." posted Aug 03, 2009 at 04:26:13
Phute: "moderntimes1 - dishonest as ever." posted Aug 03, 2009 at 04:10:19
Phute: "Too much for you Doris? Closed minds do tire more easily." posted Aug 02, 2009 at 17:02:43
Phute: "At the end of the day - you are just going to have to be strong. You are going to have to break with your addiction to propoganda. It's been done before." posted Jul 28, 2009 at 05:54:51
Phute: "WBMD - has only ever been exposed to zionist nationalism and the revisionism that is it's stablemate.
He is very good at retelling myths."

Whew! I told you there was a lot! To be honest, I only examined the latest 500 of Phute's posts, so there's probably even more out there. If I have more time, I'll go back and post the rest on here.
As usual, we will email the link to this blog post to the moderators at HP and hope that this person gets the punishment he deserves. Everyone deserves to be able to speak their opinion without suffering the kind of personal attacks this user dishes out.

UPDATE: All comments written by phute since this post was published will go here.

Well you're so busy jackbooting around the joint and megaphoning like crazy it's hardly surprising you don't hear everything.

"Isn't it wierd that the zionists in Israel never attempt to quell the utter stupidity of the rapture but use it for their own means. Desperate and dishonest - so well suited - both sides."

"How about telling ALL the christian zionists to back off. Oh sorry that can't be done - they're way too needed, because after all zionism needs all the dupes it can get."
You're not doing too bad if you live among such bad people [Israelis] - you've lived to tell the tale.
posted Jan 16, 2010 at 18:00:09

Hasbara not facts.
posted Jan 15, 2010 at 12:10:01

jj - I don't buy into any pretense - it is accepted - as fact - that it is impossible for Hamas to do away with the state of Israel. So the pretence that it is a threat - other than existential - is zionism at work. ["Zionism at work" huh?]
posted Jan 15, 2010 at 07:04:34

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HuffPo User Profile: lbsaltzman

As HuffPo users go, “lbsaltzman” (active since 2006 and with over four hundred posts) is something of an anomaly. He claims to be Jewish, though he has never shown any kind of knowledge of Judaism or an understanding of what Zionism actually is. He does use his Jewish identity to great effect to deflect criticism and to gain self-granted permission to use anti-Semitic language, though. Although he claims that others have called him an anti-Semite and a “self-hating Jew,” I personally do not think he is either. Instead, I think he has simply internalized the anti-Israel narrative to the point where he doesn’t even think about what he says anymore, or its implications.
But you didn’t come here for my analyses of the psyches of Internet denizens. Let’s start with a couple blatantly racist comments from Saltzman toward his fellow Jews:

“Without independent evidence, I will always doubt the Israelis. They are hypocrites and liars, and are pursuing genocide against the people of Gaza.”
permalink Posted 06:57 PM on 02/05/2009

"I am glad there are some Israelis left with a conscience."
permalink Posted 05:16 PM on 03/04/2009

"I hope you are right about Livni, but I fear she as big a fascist as the rest of them."
permalink Posted 01:57 PM on 02/10/2009

Notice how all continue to remain on the threads even months after being posted. But Saltzman saves his biggest insults and hateful language for the state of Israel itself. There are too many to list here, but in his time he has called Israel “oppressors,” “an ethnocracy,” “a rogue state,” “a terrorist state,” “the most dangerous destabilizing force in the Middle East,”a snarling bully,” “a pariah state,” and of course an “apartheid” Most of these accusations have been repeated in dozens of different posts.

Saltzman attacks Israel’s existence and right to exist as a Jewish state, which as we determined earlier is clearly anti-Semitic:

"I think you are right. The longer Israel continues the occupation the more it is guaranteeing the that Jewish ethnocracy will fall and be replaced by a saner single state solution.
permalink  Posted 02:53 PM on 11/28/2009

 "As a Jew I am sickened and disgusted that Zionism has degraded into Apartheid. Israel exists on land stolen taken from the indigenous Palestinians. A people who ironically are as much the legitimate descendents of the ancient Judeans as European Jews. And certainly more legitimate than a large portion of the two million Russians who descended on Palestine, many of home are barely Jewish, so that Israel could maintain their white European racist majority, and continue to dominate the indigenous Palestinians"
posted Sep 25, 2007 at 11:09:48

"I agree that Israel never should have been established. It was an arrogant and insane idea to establishe Israel in somebody elses country. For that reason, I think the single state solution is the best option for ending the madness."
permalink Posted 03:24 PM on 10/11/2009

“I think your analogy is excellent. American's justified the theft of indigenous land based on the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. Israel bases it's land claims on doctrines of Zionism, and a 2000 year old land claim. I don't see a lot of difference, neither doctrine was valid.”

permalink Posted 01:42 PM on 10/28/2009
“Israel is built on the persecution of the Palestinians and the theft of their land. As long as Israel continues , with Apartheid policies, and commit war crimes and human rights abuses, they will reap what they sow. ....It was wrong from the beginning to steal another people's land to create your own.”
permalink Posted 07:33 PM on 05/08/2008

Notice the implication there that Israel can’t exist without “committing war crimes” and so there will never be peace as long as it exists.


One of lbsatlzman’s favorite target of rants is the control the Jews have over America, a classic anti-Semitic myth. Of course, he makes it clear that it’s only right-wing Jews, (notice how the exact term changes) who have hijacked Congress to their own nefarious ends. That would not include him, of course. He’s one of the good Jews.
"Breaking AIPAC's power with politicians is the key. I support J Street despite how centrist their views actually are. But in this case it will probably take a centrist group to break the stranglehold of AIPAC on American politics."
permalink Posted 02:40 PM on 10/26/2009

“There must be a strong effort to break the stranglehold that the pro-Israeli lobby has on American foreign policy. President Obama has good instincts but too many battles to fight. It is up to the rest of us to pressure Congress until it is safe for them and the President to stand up to the lobby.”
permalink Posted 07:15 PM on 10/13/2009
"You got that right. AIPAC has played a brilliant game of labelling all critics, including Jewish critics of Israel's occupation as anti-Semitic. They have been extremely effective at stifling legitimate dialogue on this crucial issue.
The Zionist lobby has no hesitation in destroying the careers of politicians or journalists who dare to speak the truth. Even objective, factual reporting is suspect, and only parroting the Israeli propaganda line is considered acceptable."
posted Aug 14, 2007 at 19:29:37

It is time for the U.S. to break the grip that the unholy alliance of Christian and Jewish Zionists have on our foreign policy. Israel is upset because we may not do their dirty work. Israel is the biggest and most dangerous destabilizing force in the Middle East. Israel is the rogue nuclear power. Israel is the state that is practicing apartheid.”
permalink Posted 05:59 PM on 12/15/2007

He also doesn’t have the slightest quam about invoking the history of Jewish victimization at the hands of non-Jews to slander Israel, including the ubiquitous Nazi comparison:

“Who Israel thinks will believe these blatant lies is beyond me. Most of the world is well aware of the criminal nature of Israel's blockade of Gaza, and the subsequent large scale pograms just carried out by the IDF. No amount of whitewashing by the IDF will excuse their crimes.”
permalink Posted 01:28 PM on 04/22/2009

“at the same time it kept stealing land in the West Bank and permitted radical Zionists to act like Cossacks and engage in vicious pogroms against the civilian population. Zionist spin isn't convincing most of the world. They are awake to the crimes of Israel.”
permalink Posted 07:23 PM on 01/05/2009

[My personal favorite]: “When will America wake up to the fact that Israel is a state engaged in ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people. They have systematically violated international law. Conditions in the Gaza Strip now rival those that Jews suffered in the Warsaw Ghetto. How long before Israel moves to the final solution?”
permalink Posted 01:33 PM on 09/19/2007

Lest we think lbsaltzman is fair and criticizes both sides equally, he makes it clear that the Palestinians are more than justified in using violence against Israel in any form. In the following comments he proceeds to minimize and justify terror and make it clear he thinks Israel has no right to self-defense, levelling a clear double standard:

“Simple but correct stop the occupation and stop the settlements otherwise the Palestinian resistance will continue.” permalink Posted 08:46 PM on 10/10/2009

"I was disappointed to see Bill Maher fall into line behind the Israeli propaganda machine and in effect call Israeli war crimes and general savagery "self-defense". [You, on the other hand, call their self-defense actions “war crimes” and “general savagery.”]

posted Aug 03, 2006 at 10:22:59

“We cannot let the actions of the radicals in the region let Israel off the hook for its' far greater war crimes and human rights abuses. At least Hezbullah and Hamas have the excuse of fighting for the freedom from a well armed and implacable oppressor. Israel has no excuse for almost 60 years of criminal behavior.
posted Jul 21, 2006 at 13:49:03

“I have to admire Israel's propaganda machine in the abstract. They have turned mass murder and ethnic cleansing into "self-defense." An astonishing feat with the world watching their growing list of serious violations of international law."
posted Jul 19, 2006 at 16:10:52

“You've got it right. the spin is to blame the Palestinian victims for fighting their oppressors the Israelis.”
permalink Posted 05:24 PM on 09/19/2007

“Israel hypocrisy continues unabatted. The Israeli's wring their hands about how they would treat the Palestinians right, if only they would stop using violence. But Israel ignores it's nonstop ethnic cleansing of Palestine.... It is the Palestinians who lack a partner for peace. And we wonder that a some of them turn to violence after sixty years of non-stop aggression aimed at them by Israel”
permalink Posted 05:25 PM on 03/09/2008

As usual, the Palestinians are not responsible for their own actions. Israel is the only one with any power to affect change. Terrorism doesn't really exist, it's just Israeli paranoia. Give me a break.
I’ll throw in a few more hateful comments directed against Israel and its supporters that didn’t fit in anywhere else. Here are a couple of reminders for those of you who don’t know already: Israel has never been convicted of any war crimes, and the vast majority of Jews (80%+) in America, from every political stripe, are supporters of Israel.

“Normally, I don't approve of violence, but I like the idea that no Israeli diplomat can appear anywhere without being harassed. The Israeli government is guilty of serial war crimes and must be brought to judgement.” [Normally, racism isn't okay, but since the Jews are so bad, I'll make an exception]
permalink Posted 06:51 PM on 02/05/2009

“Reading Al Jazeera [that explains a lot] is essential to getting a reasonable understanding of the true nature of the current massacres in Gaza. This is not warfare, it is a criminal massacre by the IDF of a barely armed and largely helpless population. It will go down in history as a terrible bunch of war crimes perpetrated on a largely civilian population.”
permalink Posted 07:18 PM on 01/05/2009

“The arrogance and disdain for basic human decency that Israel displays, will not stop until the U.S. cuts off Israeli foreign aid and forces Israel to negotiate a fair peace until then Palestine will not have a partner for peace.”
permalink Posted 09:37 AM on 01/15/2009

“Zionism degenerated from a movement which recognized that Jews should get out of Europe to a neo-colonialist movement that thought they had the right to commit ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. Zionism has covered the Star of David with blood.”
permalink Posted 05:47 PM on 05/26/2008

“What a tragedy that these soldiers and countless Lebanese died for nothing. The blood rests on the hands of successive Israeli governments that have been seduced by violence as the answer to their problems.”
permalink Posted 11:08 AM on 07/17/2008

“Israel doesn't show any sincere desire to end their cruel and criminal occupation of the remnants of historical Palestine.”
permalink Posted 05:53 PM on 01/15/2008

“Israel loves to call its' Palestinians citizens, that they couldn't ethnically cleanse, Arabs....The Palestinian-Israeli citizens like their fellow Palestinians in occupied Palestine are an oppressed people. They do not have equal rights with Jewish-Israeli citizens at all.”
permalink Posted 05:28 AM on 10/13/2009

“The point being that Israel is attempting to subvert archeology from a science to another form of propaganda for Zionist ideology.”
permalink Posted 05:19 PM on 10/14/2009

“Two wrongs don't make a right. All those committing war crimes should be brought to justice. Israel for its' size has more than its' share of war criminals and one of the worst human rights records around.”
permalink Posted 02:00 PM on 10/16/2009

“I always like reading what Rabbi Lerner [an extreme anti-Zionist] has to say. He has been an inspiration in my life. But for people like him I could take no pride in being Jewish. Israel and the pro-Zionist lobby has tarnished Judaism and covered it's symbols in the blood of innocents.”
permalink Posted 12:27 AM on 04/10/2009

And the icing on the cake:
“Israel didn't let Palestine do anything. They have completely blockaded Gaza. They can't even fish the local waters. Fingerpointing at the victim doesn't let Israel off the hook for six decades of ethnic cleansing, an attempted Holocaust, and war crimes to numerous to mention. you criticise the Palestinians for wanting to arm themselves against one of the best equiped and most savage armies in the world, the Israeli Army of aggression.”
permalink Posted 10:01 AM on 12/28/2008

Attacking the alleged actions of Musims living in Europe is a not to subtle form of fingerpointing and is irrelevent. What is relevent are the massive war crimes that Israel has committed against Palestinians and Lebanese. Harris can't complain about criticism of Israel without dealing with Israel's reprehensible behavior. That behavior does nothing to help the position of other Jews outside of Israel. by its' actions, Israel has created the perfect climate for the spread of anti-semitism. But let's not confuse the fact that most criticism of Israel is not anti-semitism by any stretch of the imagination.
Oh, and you’ll be glad to know that this website doesn’t need to exist. For you see, the Resident Jew is on the case, and he has given the HuffPosters a clear bill of health to post hateful comments without worrying about coming off as anti-Semitic.

“Crimes against women in Somalia are certainly terrible, but fingerpointing won't get Israel off the hook. Israel has committed war crimes, and crimes against humanity in its' decades long occupation of Palestine. I am Jewish and sensitive to anti-semtiism, but I have seen little if any anti-semitism posted on Huf Post. What I have seen is legitimate criticism of Israel.”
permalink Posted 09:43 AM on 10/17/2009

The comments above crossed the line from mere criticism a long time ago. They falls squarely into the realm of hate speech and defamation. It is unlikely that lbsaltzman is either an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew. But compare his comments with the rants of both groups, and I sure as heck can’t tell the difference.

What Happens When Countries Start Wars (and Lose)?

People on the Huffington Post frequently demand that Israel be "punished" for "crimes" against the Palestinians. The fact that the Palestinians do not currently have a state, the fact that the eventual Palestinian state will be smaller than the one given to them by the UN in 1948, and the fact that Israel has expanded beyond it's given 1948 borders are all seen as crimes on Israel's part and evidence of Israel's "aggression" and "land-stealing".

There is no doubt among people who are educated about this conflict that the Arabs started the 1948 war, both from inside the borders of the Mandate and invading states from the outside. But when Israel fights back and takes territory, those actions are condemned and ruled unfair by Israel's detractors. The occupation is, of course, an incredible crime worse than anything the Palestinians have done. Fast forward to today, where Netanyahu's hope of a demilitarized Palestinian state is considered ridiculous by the HuffPosters and many others. But let's compare all of those complaints in the context of another war, World War II.

Germany and Japan started World War II, Germany by invading Poland and Japan by bombing Pearl Harbor. No one contests this, just as no one contests the Arabs started the fighting in 1948. When the Allies eventually defeated the Axis, there were some consequences on the states that had caused the war. Germany had to give up some of its own territory, some of which was given to other states like Poland, and was itself partitioned. Both countries had to demilitarized for a period of decades after the war, as well as be occupied by Allied troops for an indefinite period. American soldiers are still stationed in Germany and Japan today, 60+ years after the conflict!

Does this sound familiar? The Palestinian Arabs started an aggressive war, just like Germany and Japan, and lost, also like Germany and Japan. Shouldn't it stand to reason, therefore, that they should suffer identical consequences? The loss of territory, demilitarization, and occupation should be the direct results of the war they started, not a crime committed by the mean Israelis against the innocent Arabs. The Palestinians could create a vibrant independent state in spite of the Israeli occupation, not use the occupation as a crutch to prevent themselves from taking responsibility. The sooner people look at Israeli actions as the logical and understandable response to Arab aggression, the sooner we can all move away from the conflicts of the past and towards the peace of the future.

HuffPoWatch: Hamas To Ban Holding of Elections in Gaza

Last night the Huffington Post carried this article detailing about how Hamas rejected Palestinian President Mahmound Abbas’ call for elections. Although it’s true that Abbas’ legal backing for his power is practically non-existent, refusing to allow people to elect their own leaders is about as undemocratic as you can possibly get. What kind of people would defend such actions?

The answer of course is obvious: The HuffPo talkbackers will gladly defend Hamas’ right to oppress their own people.

Many posters liked to take the track that because Abbas doesn’t have the authority to call elections, it’s okay for Hamas to refuse to hold them:

Wisdo permalink
“Hamas are absolutely 100% correct in rejecting Abbas calls for an election.

For people who read the headline only, this would be like Rush Limbaugh or Michael Steele announcing there will be a new presidential election next year - they simply do not have the authority.”

alysheba 3 permalink

“No matter what Israel and the US say, Abbas is not the elected leader of Palestine and has no right to call an election.”

Ergon permalink

“Abbas was elected separately, as President. His term of office ran out in January. He had NO right to call an election.”


This kind of thinking is problematic for two reasons: First of all, if Abbas has no authority, and Hamas won’t allow elections, then how is anything going to change in the Palestinian government? Even if Abbas leaves, Hamas and their supporters on HuffPo will just the same argument to his successor. Secondly, even if the HuffPo talkbackers don’t recognize Abbas’ authority, what can be wrong with another election? Are they afraid of the results? Are they afraid of another demonstration of how flawed the Palestinian government is?

Of course, other posters used the classic playground “If I am then you too” argument, to try and make the case that even if Hamas is undemocratic, so is Israel and the USA. These comments are listed along with straight up Israel-bashing, off topic and hateful but still allowed:

who38 permalink

“Democracy and human rights are a joke in Israel as well. Why single out Arabs on this issue?”

[Ed note: Freedom House would seem to disagree ]

chonus permalink

“Prediction: Israel will not stop its occupation and oppression until it annexes all of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.”

alysheba 3 permalink

“Like an Israeli supporter would know what is democratic. Israel isn't.”

Ergon permalink

“A democracy in that it holds elections, yes. But a 'Jewish' Democracy? An oxymoron surely?”

And most unbelievable of all, there were the commentators that defended Hamas. Yes, that’s correct. In a bastion of liberal thought Islamist dictators were considered to be on the side of the right.

Wisdo permalink

[In a response to how Hamas calls for Israel’s destruction] “yeah Jerry - how dare they vote for "total liberation"
They deserve total oppression right?”

LeeCalif permalink

“[Palestinians elected] a party with backbone and independence from Israel.”

chonus permalink

[In response to a post that Hamas doesn’t want peace and are out for destruction]

Only "destruction" of the powers that harm and oppress them.


In their devotion to Israel hatred, it seems the “progressive” bloggers among the Huffington Post talkbackers have managed to convince themselves that Hamas are people that deserve their support. Cognitive dissonance surfaces yet again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anti-Semitism and the Left

It probably won’t come to anyone’s surprise that the Huffington Post is a bastion of liberals and leftists. If Matt and I wanted to focus on the amount of hate directed against Republicans, conservatives, “neo-cons,” and the Bush administration instead of hate directed against Jews and Israel, it would take the rest of our lives to get it all down. And it’s fine for the HuffPo’s audience to have these political leanings.

So then the question is asked: Why is there so much anti-Semitism among this leftist audience? After all, liberals are all about inclusion, multiculturalism, and acceptance. Clearly, somewhere along the line it became acceptable to not only declare hate against Israel, but also to use anti-Semitic tropes and canards to do it.

Now, I am far from the first person to write about this. Here is one article among many, but I would like to write down some of my thoughts. I recently had a discussion with some of my students on this topic and I wanted to get it down before I forgot everything we talked about.

I think something that younger people forget is just how much the past few decades have been an aberration, when it comes to anti-Semitism. My grandparents were brought up in a time when it was normal for churches and religious school teachers to tell them that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. The way things have been recently have caused some to say that anti-Semitism is gone, or is only present in the thoughts of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. In other words, extremists.

This has changed. Big time. Anti-Semitic terminology, myths and accusations have taken on a resurgence, even in mainstream society. The fantastic website zombietime contains many of these, but here are a couple of examples. Notice how both are of left-leaning rallies.

Anti-War rally in San Francisco

Anti-terrorism rally in Berkeley, CA

What has changed since the Holocaust (which rendered anti-Semitism in its current form as “un-PC” and therefore poison to the leftist sensibility) is twofold: The rise of Israel’s military and political strength, and the rise of its enemies’ propaganda weapon.

There are particular parts of the leftist ideology that make up a worldview, and as such can never be changed. Some of these include:

1. Suffering is only due to inequality. If there is no inequality, people will not abuse each other.

2. It is the responsibility of the rich to take care of the poor. If the poor are doing something wrong (like breaking the law) it is because the rich are not doing a good enough job helping them become productive. In other words, the rich are always wrong, the poor are always right.

3. The West is always wrong. Accordingly, in a dispute between the two, whoever is not in “the West” is always right.

4. The USA in particular is always wrong. In a dispute between other countries and America, the other countries are always right. Unless those other countries include Israel, in which case Israel is wrong and are only trying to manipulate America. (In disputes between America and Israel, you may see a sudden resurgence in blind patriotism and “America-firstism” among the leftist, which in any other situation would be unacceptable).

5. Military force is never justified. Unless it is against the West.

Obviously, I’m generalizing a bit. But I have found that you can really see these kind of worldviews playing out in much of the population on the HuffPost and elsewhere. So how does this get us back to anti-Semitism? Because Israel in its current form became rich, powerful, and Western. All of which are antithetical to getting leftist support. Even Israel’s democratic government and inclusive society were not sufficient to gain the support of the Far Left. Israel is seen as a powerful, American-backed nation oppressing poor, non-white, uneducated “natives.” The fact that the “oppressed” were just as oppressive towards their own people, if not more so, did not phase the left even the slightest. It’s a good example of cognitive dissonance, a subject I intend to write more about in the future.

But this alone would not be enough to explain the anti-Semitism that has grown so pervasive among the Far Left. It is true that anti-Semites would see the anti-Israel cause (though of course they would call it the “pro-Palestinian cause”) and jump on board accordingly. If you scan some more of the zombietime photo documentaries this will become pretty clear. But among those who really have nothing against Jews to start with, what cause their acceptance of such clearly bigoted attitudes?

This brings me to the second part: The propaganda of Israel’s enemies. In the book “Upside Down History” the author talks about how Yassir Arafat was talk to speak the language of the left by his Communist backers:

Muhammad Yazid, the minister of information in Algeria [told Arafat]:
"Wipe out the argument that Israel is a small state whose existence is threatened by the Arab states, or the reduction of the Palestinian problem to a question of refugees; instead, present the Palestinian struggle as a struggle for liberation like the others. Wipe out the impression …that the Zionist is the underdog. Now it is the Arab who is oppressed and victimized in his existence because he is not only facing the Zionists but also world imperialism."

As you can see, Yazid didn’t tell Arafat to actually change the goals or tactics of the Palestinian movement, he just told him to change the way he presented it to the world and the kind of language he used. Arafat and the other Palestinian leaders went right on declaring their devotion to the destruction of Israel in Arabic, relying on the cognitive dissonance of the leftists supporting them for cover. Looks like they were right. By the time we got to the ‘90s and ‘00s, the Palestinian position has become one of the favored “causes” among left-wing college students, right up there with saving the Darfurians from a real genocide, women’s rights, gay rights, and the environment. One of these things is not like the other...

I’m getting sidetracked again. This sort of belief led to anti-Semitism because American Jews overwhelmingly support Israel. But the pro-Arab propagandists changed the argument so that Israel’s very existence was an injustice and a blot on humanity, everything they did was a crime, and anyone who ever so much as spoke positively about them was complicit with all these terrible things. It became pretty natural to equate Israel and their Jewish supports, forming them into one cruel creature dedicated only to stealing land and killing Palestinians.

There is little room for compromise in the minds of many extremists, including those among the left. You are either with us or against us. If you support Israel, even if you disagree with its policies, you are endorsing “a system of oppression and racism.” And the Jews are against us, because they want Israel to exist. Therefore, we hate them. And we are justified in hating them, because they like the “Zionist entity.”

Once the Arab propagandists had their followers seeing “Zionists” (Jews who don’t despite Israel and wish it destroyed) as the enemy, the rest of the anti-Semitic myths came quickly:

-Jews control the government? Sure, it’s contained in the protocols, but let’s just change it to “AIPAC controls Congress.” It’s just as wrong, but why else would our Democrat president be supporting the evil Israel unless some nefarious Jews were forcing him to do it with campaign money?

-Jews kill the children of non-Jews? The Arabs are all too happy to wave the bloody shirt whenever one of their child soldiers or human shields is killed, and their leftist defenders are all too happy to minimize the possibility of Arabs using either...or to blame exclusively Israel for it.

-Jews steal organs? Well, the Palestinians said they did, and even though they had no evidence, we’ll believe it anyway. After all, we all know how evil Israel is....

-Jews are like Nazis? I don’t think I even need to explain this one. As much as it’s become all too common for everyone in this day and age to equate something we don’t like with Nazi Germany, I would expect better from the super-PC leftists.

And yet despite the overwhelming belief among the left that Israel is one of the most odious countries on the planet, they still don’t mind holding it to a higher standard than 99% of the world. As we determined in this post, double standards are unquestionably bigoted regardless of who is on the receiving end. Yet among the HuffPo crowd, double standards are perfectly okay as long as their chosen enemy is the one being subjected to it. They don’t see a problem in equating hypocrisy with justice.

I’ll talk a little bit more about the psychology and worldviews of the HuffPo crowd and the leftists among them, but I’ll close with this plea: Remember what’s important. Standing for peace is the most important thing on this topic. Don’t be sucked into a morass of ideology where punishing Israel or the USA for what they did is more important than the wellbeing of human beings on the ground. Isn’t freedom and peace what we all want? How is supporting Hamas going to accomplish that?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Comment Shakedown

The other day in the “Israel Raids Temple Mount” I posted a rather long comment that I described as hitting all the talking points. It occurred to me that we haven’t done a counter-argument post, so let’s fisk hrholmes’ comment. It can be found in the thread at this permalink . Let's get started

Israel is a well crafted shell game of religion, race and state. Shell number one is Israel is a democratic nation. Only if you are Jewish and allowed to become a citizen can you vote.

So right off the bat he gets his facts wrong. There are multiple Arab parties and every non-Jewish citizen of Israel votes. Besides, the ‘allowed to be a citizen’ comment is a distortion. There’s no nation on earth that allows people who aren’t citizens to vote in their elections.

They are a minority in that country, most are Muslim Arabs. Everybody else within the borders is second class at best.

I’m not exactly sure what he’s referring to when he means “that country,” as any link will tell you that Israel is 75% Jews and 25% non-Jews. It seems as if he thinks that the disputed territories are part of Israel and Palestinians are Israeli citizens. Not the most common of misconceptions, but still a rather grievous error. It explains how he drew his conclusions.

The second shell is that they are a separate race as the chosen ones. Chosen for what is rather unclear as in all theocracies. They make up their own brand of racial supremacy.

I would refer this poster to a basic Judaism course. “The chosen ones” refer to a nation, not a race, who have been selected by the big guy upstairs to fulfill a mission. Note the typical attack on Israel as a “theocracy.” Unless Netanyahu is also the head rabbi and no one decided to tell me, this latest canard falls flat on it’s face.

The third shell is where you have to be a member of their chosen religion under the control of your local Rabbi to have any voice whatsoever. Jews that object are proclaimed self hating.

I could explain why he is wrong, but instead I’ll just link him to Bradley Burston’s column in Ha'aretz. Really, all you ever need to do is open an Israeli newspaper. There are plenty of voices, both Arab and Jew, and there is plenty of criticism as well. I guess that’s what happens when you spend too much time in the echo chamber of the Huffington Post. You internalize the myths that are repeated endlessly there.

All dissention by anyone else causes them to whine their coined term ‘anti-Semitic’ or ‘remember the holocaust’.

Even though I don’t want to give such ignorant and spiteful comments any more attention than they deserve. Instead, I’ll remind Mr.hrholmes that it was a German named Wilhelm Marr who “coined the term” of anti-Semitism and that Israel has never used the Holocaust’s memory to justify anything they do. Not once. If he would like to find an example and put it forward, consider this a challenge.

They do utilize the shell game to great advantage especially when bombing neighbors, robbing them, erecting walls, stealing their properties by calling them settlements and thumping their version of their bible.

Classic HuffPoster decontextualization of the situation. Yeah, Israel just runs around bombing things because they are eeeeevil Jooooos, not because their enemies are, you know, shooting rockets at them. As usual, what the Arabs do “doesn’t count” for some reason and is swept under the rug, so accordingly Israel is being cruel to them for no reason at all. Let’s not forget also that the vast majority of Jews are secular, and the vast majority of settlements are not built on expropriated land. But facts have never stopped hrholmes’ type before.

I for one am ashamed that we as Americans are forced to pay for them. Time to cut off their free welfare payments for which we get nothing in return. They don’t even pay taxes here.

1. Who exactly is forcing America to give aid to Israel? I wasn’t aware that America could forced to do anything. Learn something new every day, I suppose.

2 America receives plenty of material, information, jobs and technologies in return for their aid to Israel. It’s just that anti-Israel posters will refuse to admit this because they don’t want to admit that there might be some real-world advantage for America taking an action that they disagree with.

The Point System

It’s a slow day on the Huffington Post, so I thought I would post the point system that Matt and I are putting together for scoring our Most Hateful Comments. We will try to award this once per thread, and maybe at some point keep track of a Top Ten list. Without further ado, here’s the scoring as it stands. We are open to further suggestions in the comments section.

1 pt per buzzword used in the comment. Examples including “racism,” “apartheid,” “Nazi,” “genocide,” “colonialism,” "massacre," etc.

1 pt per ad hominem attack made on another poster.

1 pt for spelling Jews as “Jooos.”

1 pt for making any of the following comments but using “Zionists” in place of “Jews.”

2 pts for comparing Israeli actions to those of the Nazis. This includes accusing Israel of genocide.

2 pts for claiming that critics of Israel are stifled by accusations of anti-Semitism.

2 pts for accusing the “Jews” of something bad. (This includes insinuations about “the chosen people”)

2 pts per conspiracy theory reference (e.g. USS Liberty or 9/11)

3 pts for claiming that anti-Semitism isn’t real because Arabs are Semites too.

3 pts for claiming that the Jews control America. (2 pts if it’s just AIPAC)

3 pts for referencing a classic anti-Semitic trope (such as the Protocols or baking matzah with blood)

3 pts for stating that the Jews should “go back to Europe” or “go back to where they came from.”

3 pts for accusing the Jews of controlling the media.

3 pts for a call for people to boycott Israel.

4 pts for accusing American Jews of being more loyalty to Israel than America. 1 pt in addition if this includes an accusation that American Jews are pushing America to a war they won't fight in themselves.

4 pts for claiming that there is no Israel or other attacks on Israel's existence.