The Right Coast

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bernstein on the LA Times tapes
Tom Smith

David puts it very well.

FWIW regarding whether Obama has any conservative friends (besides Warren Buffet, of course) -- I was talking to a well-known conservative scholar who was at Chicago when Obama was there, and he said Obama was well to the left of the Chicago faculty, and refused to have lunch with him.  He said Obama considered conservatives "evil".  He regarded an Obama presidency as "scary".

I have been told American Jews don't care about Israel any more, or at least the young ones don't.  Israel is not my top priority, but I certainly care about it.  I think US policy should be simple in a sense. Israel should be secure, period.  Lots of things are possible after that, but the security of the state of Israel should not be in any sense negotiable.  I think anyone for whom Israel's security is any sort of priority to support Obama, would be a grave mistake.  Unfortunately, I fear this will be clear soon enough.

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Tom Smith


Well, there are a lot of young Jews out there who think the only people who want to kill us are Christians. Thus, "The Passion of the Christ" is a travesty, Iran's Holocaust-denying isn't even news.

Also, those poor Palestinians must be very oppressed - why else would they be suicide bombers? /sarc

Posted by: Elena | Oct 30, 2008 10:10:59 AM

" . . . and refused to have lunch with him"

Obama refused to have lunch with the conservative scholar, or the conservative scholar refused to have lunch with Obama?

Posted by: SotS | Oct 30, 2008 10:17:47 AM

Its not that young Jewish Americans dont care about Israel anymore. Its just that we recognize that the Palestinians arent going anywhere, so if we continue this hawkish bs than things will never get better. That being said, growing up in LA we had an armed gaurd at our temple because we were more afraid of Neo-Nazis who shoot up jewish community centers than Arab "terrorists."

Posted by: Jake | Oct 30, 2008 10:55:35 AM

Jake: I don't think the Palestinians are going anywhere - nobody else wants the fools. Neither are the Iranians. That doesn't mean we have to act like it's perfectly acceptable to talk about bombing Jerusalem or actually kill Israeli civilians.

As for neo-Nazis who shoot up JCC' you get many of those in California? *sighs* Sarcasm aside, there are always people who do awful things, and they should be vilified and punished, preferably with the death penalty. But as a movement to kill Jews, I think the concerted organized effort to kill Israelis with suicide bombers traveling to Israel from the territories or the Iranian government's repeated desire to destroy Israel, preferably with a nuke, are more dangerous than a lone gunman in America.

Posted by: Elena | Oct 30, 2008 11:06:17 AM

We were talking about Jewish Americans, not Israelis. I'm personally more scared of the lone gunman. Most American Jews that I grew up with know diddly squat about Israel, mandatory drafts, suicide bombers, or bulldozers. And come on, dont even bring up the Iranian nuke thing considering that Israel already has nukes. In reality, when I went to Israel I found that the peace movement was actually really strong, especially for a country with such an established military culture.

You wrote that "suicide bombers travelling to Israel from the territories..." As in occupied territories? As in places where there's no sovierngty, right to self-detemrination, or freedom of travel? All I'm saying is that I hope the next president really forces both sides to sit down and work out a 2 state solution already. Nobody's gonna destroy Israel, everyone knows it, they've established their right to exist by force over the past 60 years, now the Palestinians are trying to do the same.

Posted by: Jake | Oct 30, 2008 3:29:41 PM

Jake - I watched an interview by a Canadian of a Hamas leader after they won the election in Palestine. The Hamas fellow had this funny way of talking - he kept saying that Hamas had no desire to rule the world, nothing against Canada, was no problem for anyone outside the Middle East. You notice that there is a certain something implied there, no?

The Canadian writer George Jonas tells the story of his father and uncle arguing over Zionism. His uncle believed that the people living there would welcome the Jews along with the jobs and development they would bring. His father said that the Arabs would rather live in a Muslim hell than a Jewish paradise. I seem to recall hearing something about rocket attacks on a power plant run by the Isrealis powering part of the "occupied" territories. (sure it's occupied. And when they leave what happens? The rockets come from a little closer)

Maybe the majority of Palestinians would prefer peace. It cannot be known in a society dominated by young men with guns who have been taught from birth that all of palestine is their birthright of a thousand years. (See "farfur dies" or "hamas bunny" on youtube) What can be done about it? I don't pretend to know. I can only think that perhaps perceptions of the situation would clarify if Isreal simply said: "no negotiations will be considered and not an inch will be given until no one has intentionally massacred innocent Isrealis for three years".

Who ever beleived it would happen in Germany? Who can know that the Iranian theocrats would not try? It's not the sort of thing you want to get wrong.

Posted by: Robbie | Oct 30, 2008 7:19:53 PM

As an American Jew, if someone tries to kill me, I'm going to try and kill them right back. It's called concealed carry. So no, I'm not scared of a lone gunman. As for nukes - I don't really worry that Israel is going to nuke their neighbors. Can you say that same about Iran?

I don't know much about Israeli internal politics. If Israel decides it's in their best interest for a two-state solution, they are free to act on it - and in fact, they have. The occupied territories are occupied no more, and the Palestinians do indeed have their own government - they elected Hamas, a group whose original (and still active) purpose is killing Jews.

You said, "Nobody's gonna destroy Israel, everyone knows it, they've established their right to exist by force over the past 60 years, now the Palestinians are trying to do the same." Well, tell that to Hamas and the government of Iran. They haven't gotten the message. Lots of people haven't gotten the message.

I'm not an Israeli. I can't speak for them. But when people talk about "wiping Israel off the map", I take that very seriously. You, of course, can choose not to. It's a free country. I just don't want our coreligionists to suffer for our choice.

Posted by: Elena | Oct 30, 2008 7:33:41 PM

You're all thinking about this from one perspective. Try to flip the paradigm. Why does Iran hate Israel? Even better question, why does Iran hate the US?

"... if someone tries to kill me, I'm going to try and kill them right back" - Dont you think there are millions of young Palestinians thinking the same thing? Are things so bad that we cant even imagine the possibility of breaking this cycle of killing.

"I can only think that perhaps perceptions of the situation would clarify if Isreal simply said: "no negotiations will be considered and not an inch will be given until no one has intentionally massacred innocent Isrealis for three years"." - Couldnt the Palestinians say the same thing: Open all checkpoints within the Westbank, no more bulldozing Palestinian houses, no more IDF patrols, and no helicopter or artillery attacks for three years and then we'll stop killing Israelis. Seems just as logical.

Posted by: Jake | Oct 30, 2008 9:34:43 PM

Why does Iran hate Israel and the US? I don't know, maybe because they're a radical theocracy and we're not?

The difference between me and a radical Palestinian suicide bomber is this: I don't go seeking out people to kill. I have no desire to strap on a nail bomb, find an area populated by civilians, and blow myself up. If I ever (god forbid) have to shoot someone, it will be because he or she is trying to kill me first.

As for your last point - do you remember the second intifada at all? Heck, have you read anything about the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? When they had open checkpoints and all that, they had an awful lot of suicide bombers. The Israelis built a wall - and the suicide bombers had a hard time getting in, so they moved to rockets. Now they can't do that, so they've moved to kidnapping soldiers, killing the, and ransoming their bodies, which is awful, but still better than killing civilians. I think the onus of change is on the Palestinians at this point. They've been killing civilians since the 1970's at least, so it's not like it's new behavior in response to "oppression" on the part of Israel.

Posted by: Elena | Oct 30, 2008 10:17:13 PM

Warren Buffet isn't a "conservative." He's one of the many Learjet liberals (actually, he owns a fleet of Gulfstreams doesn't he?) who believe taxes on wages should be strikingly higher but is satisfied with the much more favorable tax treatment his dividends and capital gains receive.

As the Wall Street and Silicon Valley multi-millionaires and billionaires come out as big government soft-core leftists they'd be wise to watch out for the people who do America's daily work as they shift increasingly to the Republican party. If taxes on wages shoot up as much as Democrat partisans would like, working class folks might well create a constituency within the GOP for retaliatory taxes on, say, accumulated wealth and then where would the Gulfstream Gramscis be? They'd have to depend on the Democrats to beat back a tax hike and how likely is that going to be?

Posted by: Micha Elyi | Oct 30, 2008 11:53:59 PM

I know Warren Buffet is not a conservative. I use irony and parody a lot, perhaps too much. Over on my other post supporting Obama, I see there is one poor fellow who thinks I really do support Obama on the grounds that he is going to send me money. But the Buffet remark is more recondite, I admit. I think Buffet is a bit on a loon on politics, and his economic policy is probably pretty cranky as well. Gulfstream Gramscis is good. Haven't heard that one before.

Posted by: Tom Smith | Oct 31, 2008 8:07:15 AM

Gulfstream Gramscis : ) The interesting thing about Iran is that Iranians are among the most pro-American people in the world.

This is precisely because their government is an anti-American theocracy and the people feel that Americans like Bush support their desire for freedom. "Live free or die" is New Hampshire's motto - and it is a motto of Iranian student protesters.

I think Elena is right - whether or not it is ultimately productive to bulldoze houses being used to shelter terrorists (and I think I've heard that some of these houses are simply those of families of suicide bombers) - the bulldozing didn't come first. I think I can fairly see both sides of the issue. I have an old version of "The Israel-Arab Reader" by Walter Laqueur which is mostly documents and statements by groups and individual on both sides. From the Arab view, the outside world imposed an alien population on land that is their birthright and source of security. It is this view of things that led many countries where the Diaspora filtered into to outlaw Jewish land ownership which led them to make livings in finance or other things that eventually gave the native populations the view that these Jews were living off of their production - parasites sapping their strength. To many Arabs the Jewish ownership of part of their land is a long term threat to their group. It is based on the fear or assumption that alien groups have opposing interests - which makes perfect sense in life's long history of conquest. We do not understand kinship group tribalism very well and so we do not understand why people would want to wipe Isreal out. But it's been tried, beginning with the first day of Israel's existence - when the only reason for all the Arab nations to destroy Isreal was it's existence in their neighborhood. The Nazi hatred of Jews was not rational and Hamas and the Iranian theocracy don't have rational reasons either, in my view.

Posted by: da wolfe | Nov 1, 2008 12:59:42 AM