Graham Fuller on Hamas

The very sensible and well-informed long-time CIA analyst Graham Fuller has an excellent new paper out on Hamas, here
His bottom line:

    Washington must abandon the fantasy that it can get “moderate” Palestinians to crush Hamas and proceed to accept what are unsatisfactory peace terms offered by Likud. The much-reviled Arafat could not do so, nor could Mahmud Abbas, the “moderate,” both of whom were exquisitely aware that Hamas represents the views of a large number of Palestinians who cannot be excluded or suppressed. The Western search for a “Palestinian Quisling” in effect, based on a one-sided reading of the problem, is doomed to failure. The West will have to engage in a much more measured and balanced approach with Hamas if any prospect of political progress is to take place.
    In the end the Israeli occupation remains the central problem, from which all other problems—despair, rage, and terrorism—flow. We must start by treating the core of the problem and not its symptoms. If the trajectory of other democratically-based Islamist parties is any indicator, there are reasonable hopes that Hamas, given the chance, will continue its evolution towards hard-headed pragmatism, even while not yielding its bargaining cards for free in advance.
    Can we assume wisdom and patience on the part of the United States, Israel and the Palestinians in this next stage? If it is forthcoming, Hamas just might offer a surprise—the most legitimate Palestinian force to eventually reach a de facto settlement with Israel.

33 thoughts on “Graham Fuller on Hamas

  1. WmPeele

    “In the end the Israeli occupation remains the central problem”
    What exactly is the Hamas definition of the extent of “the Israeli occupation”?

  2. Joshua

    So this is what we have lowered expectations to? A group that will “eventually reach a de facto settlement with Israel.”
    Hamas has stated and restated its beliefs. It views Israel as a temporary phenomenon. It will not agree to recognition but at best a prolonged armistice while it builds a military.
    This is the root of the problem, not the Israeli occupation, not the settlements.
    I also have to question whether Fuller is as competant as Helena makes him out to be. He mentions “peace terms offered by the Likud.” If he is talking historically, he forgets that peace terms have offered by Labor. If he is talking current events, then he doesn’t seem to realize that Likud is for all intents and purposes out of power, and barring a major shock in March, isn’t going to be back in power any time soon (I guess it could happen, particularly if Israelis feel that Fuller’s line of thinking has any currency).
    Fuller seems to be saying that no Palestinian leadership can effectuate any compromise. It is not clear if he is saying that Palestinians will only be satisfied with MAXIMALIST demands (ie, all of Gaza and the West Bank, all of the old city of Jerusalem and anything else which Jordan successfully expelled Jews from in 1948) essentially a do over of the 6 day war) or if they insist on their ELIMINATIONIST demands (no Israeli right to exist).
    Fuller further considers that any attempt to settle the matter on other terms results in a Palestinian “quisling.” This is a cute term bandied about by anyone who wants to delegitimize any compromise. For Fuller, and for Helena, the only legitimate Palestinian is the one that takes a rejectionist position against Israel. No one but the PLO was legitimate for quite some time. When they appeared to moderate, they “sold out” and are now replaced by Hamas. If Hamas somehow does moderate, no doubt people will say that Islamic Jihad is the “true voice” of the people.
    The U.S. can’t go it alone in this instance. What is needed is for the international community, and particularly the donor community, to take a calm but firm stand on the issue. Anyone who purports to represent the Palestinian people must accept that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, and come prepared to compromise on territorial and other (refugee related) demands. The Palestinian leadership should not be allowed to assume that they will continue to receive international aid, as well as the annual parade of Arab League sponsored UNGA resolutions, if they continue their rejectionism.
    I’m particularly surprised that Helena has such regard for a former CIA official. U.S. government intelligence operatives are usually looked upon with contempt, unless they happen to be from the Arabist branch of State or CIA. And yes Helena, I know how you hate that term. Now you know how some of us feel when you dismiss so called “special pleading” or the “neocons.

  3. Peter H

    To add to Joshua’s comment, the world should also demand that the Palestinians stop building thousands of Palestinian-only colonies in the Israeli territories and cantonizing the Israeli territories with checkpoints and bypass roads. We need to look at Palestinian deeds, not their words.

  4. Peter H

    It’s always better to read the whole article before you attack it. Graham Fuller is not justifying Hamas’ policies but rather explaining why they reasonate with Palestinians and charting the best course for the United States to deal with Hamas.
    As for “Arabist” label — if you define “Arabist” as somebody with knowledge, cultural contacts, and understanding of Arab countries, then, yes, Grham Fuller qualifies as an Arabist.

  5. Chris Mitchell

    Thank you for the wonder trackback to the Fuller article. Understanding both sides is something we we omit far to often. The analysis should not be used as an excuse, but an understanding.
    Joshua, I’m not convinced you have a grip on the subject matter here. Fatah (and in general the PLO and PA under their direction) were not thrown out for their moderation. In fact, Fuller briefly mentions, as have scores of others, that Fatah has failed miserably at other important aspects of governing outside of the occupation issue. Palestineans are quite poor, have a faltering education system, have little internal security, few governmental services, and ripe corruption. The electorate, IMHO, chose to fix those issues. One can also argue that Fatah’s track record at improving the occupation issue is poor. Fatah can show little progress, even on Gaza, since they had little hand in it. Hamas generally took credit for ‘forcing’ Israel’s hand.
    Thanks again Helana. Wonderful read.

  6. JES

    Chris,
    I generally agree with you on the fact that the electorate seemed to be voting more against Fatah corruption and lack of leadership than they were voting for Hamas and its stand vis-a-vis Israel.
    This means, I believe, that Hamas’ mandate is clear, and that they will largely be judged by the electorate (assuming that there will be future elections) on their ability to deliver on improving the economic and social conditions in the Occupied Territories. As Fuller says in the article:
    “Hamas faces the classic dilemma of all Islamist parties: it is always easier to play from outside the system than from inside. Criticism of a bad status quo is always easier than providing answers. Islamists who have long repeated their slogan that “Islam is the answer” find they must deliver once they attain power. But gaining an absolute majority is not fully what even Hamas had bargained for: they had hoped to share power with Fatah, thereby sharing the burden as well. They know they will now have to face new and extremely complex challenges, if they ever do actually take over power.”

  7. M. Upharsin

    Posted the following an hour ago or so. But much further down – i.e., on a thread whose battery life is almost kaput. (It was a reply to JES.) But having just read Fuller’s article – and read through the comments it’s sparked – I thought I’d also tag it on here. Because it’s cut from the same cloth. Yeah yeah I know, off the starting line it’s about Karsh’s review of Fisk’s book…but in the event it leads straight into the weiners that are being toasted here.
    JES,
    My dictionary defines ad hominem as: directed against a person rather his arguments.
    What I painstakingly set out for you – at no little risk of belabouring the obvious – is ad hominem.
    So, no, that dawg just won’t hunt, JES. Karsh’s review is clearly ad hominem. Which is why it’s dishonest. Which is why I don’t like it.
    It’s not a question of simple, bare faced assertion, of “just saying so”…it’s a question of demonstrating, of proving, of seeing a thing for what it is, of calling a spade a spade, of nailing a lie.
    Mr. Karsh seems to have a little problem with that approach vis-a-vis Fisk’s book. I think it’s fair to assume that that’s the case because had he been able to fight fair and square with the book he surely would have tackled it along those honest, above board, reputable lines. He apparently wasn’t equal to that – or maybe Fisk’s book is in fact proof against it because it’s fundamentally sound – so Mr. Karsh has to resort to a shoddy, dishonest, nasty little ad hominem attack.
    And he got called on it. By me. And for that mattter by that other reader who chimed in and said something along the lines of: hold on a minute that’s certainly not been my experience, I’ve read lots of Fisk’s columns and he regularly holds the Arabs responsible – takes them to task – for their shortcomings, be it folly or stupidity or worse.
    And since you keep shoving that “core argument” of Karsh’s in our face…yes, let’s take a good hard look at it.
    The curious effect of this effort to absolve Middle Easterners of any blame or responsibility for their region’s problems, or their own deeds, is to make Fisk guilty of the sin for which he endlessly berates the West; he patronizes his subjects in the worst tradition of the “white man’s burden.”
    Hmmm. It hadn’t occurred to me at first, but since that particular hobby horse keeps coming round and round on the carousel…well, you know what? I think that’s ad hominem as well. (Full marks to Mr. Karsh for being consistent.)
    It’s ad hominem. And it’s stale. It’s that old what’s wrong with the Arabs, what’s wrong with Islam chestnut. It’s the cultural equivalent of sickle cell aenemia – a faulty ethnic gene if you will.
    Pin that on them and you don’t have to pay any mind to the elephant on the patio – to what I believe they call “the catastrophe”; in short, why they feel aggrieved, what happened – and is happening – to them.
    To their undying credit there are Israeli historians – Morris springs to mind – who have the honesty and integrity to call the cards the way they’ve fallen. As have Israeli leaders, though perhaps not for very wide public consumption.
    Not looking at that squarely, fearlessly is the medical equivalent of pretending that a lump isn’t there. It’s quackery. Hokum.
    Look at thing squarely – see it for what it is – well, then at least you’ve got a chance.
    As to the modalities and instrumentalities…well, all that’s for the people of the region – and their statesmen, if, God willing, cometh the hour cometh the man or woman – to work out.
    I’m sure the rest of us would be only to happy to drop a few ideas in the Suggestion Box. E.G., a moratorium on suicide bombs. E.G., a moratorium on more settlements and the bulldozing of Palestian homes and land grab after land grab and generally making life impossible for the Palestinans (and then IDFing them when they respond, not in kind but howsoever they can). E.G., maybe at least entertain the thought that a viable Palestinian state also has a “right to exist”. E.G., “kicking the addiction” by seeing it for what it is – and admitting that it’s very bad for both peoples – and the way things are going, for the rest of the world – and then, once the decks are finally cleared of the lies and flummery and wishful thinking and smoke and mirrors…seeing if there isn’t a way through, a modus vivendi. Starting with, perhaps, a Truth and Forgiveness Commission – or whatever that inspired piece of South African “statesmanship” was called; followed by a hugely generous reparations and compensation scheme. Why not? Why shouldn’t Palestinians be compensated for their losses? Ditto Iraqi and other Middle Eastern Jews for their personal “catastrophe” in 1948 – losing their homes in Baghdad, etc. I mean. There’s of course a huge historical precedent for same. And, for that matter, I suspect the rest of us would be willing to pay for it.
    Grasp those nettles and there’s some hope. The alternatives hardly bear thinking about. What are they? Forcing “them” out. “Them” being…well, it’s hideously obvious what the two sides are to that particular coin. And down the end of that road you’re into Conrad’s territory: exterminate the brutes.
    It’s a catastrophe all right. For both sides. It’s trying to get out of a hole by digging it deeper. A hole that’s a grave.

  8. JES

    And he got called on it. By me. And for that mattter by that other reader who chimed in and said something along the lines of: hold on a minute that’s certainly not been my experience, I’ve read lots of Fisk’s columns and he regularly holds the Arabs responsible – takes them to task – for their shortcomings, be it folly or stupidity or worse.
    You know Upharsin, why don’t you take it up with Karsh himself? Here’s his quite public email address:
    efraim.karsh@kcl.ac.uk
    Perhaps he’d like to come here and discuss it with you and the rest of us.

  9. Helena

    WmPeele, perhaps you’re not getting an answer to your question because it seems obscure and most likely intended to provoke, rather than enlighten.
    It’s very unclear what you’re referring to. The only reference to “the Israeli occupation” on the blog post is Graham Fuller’s, not one from Hamas. So do you want to ask what Graham means by “the Israeli occupation”? In his case, since he worked in the US government for so long i imagine he would hold to the longstanding USG line that all the territories occupied by israeli forces in June 1967 are technically speaking, “under Israeli occupation”.
    I imagine that that is the Israeli occupation of which he says that it remains the central problem, from which all other problems—despair, rage, and terrorism—flow. We must start by treating the core of the problem and not its symptoms.
    If you want to find out about Hamas’s view, why don’t you read the whole of Graham’s paper instead of coming here with your weird form of questioning?

  10. rozele

    i’m dashing off to read the fuller piece right now, but wanted to quickly add something to HC’s response to WmPeele, which is also something of a reply to JES’s first comment above…
    it seems pretty clear that a lot of hamas’ support (historically always strongest among palestinian refugees in the gaza strip camps) comes precisely from the fact that hamas is the main palestinian organization which does *not* agree with the idea that the occupation of 1967 is “the central problem”.
    hamas, unlike fatah, has tended to take seriously the conditions of the majority of palestinians, who are 1948 refugees. an end to the 1967 occupation simply does not address the most basic need of this majority – the implementation of their right to return home.
    contrary to JES’ view, “improving the economic and social conditions in the Occupied Territories” (which i assume is a euphemism for a kinder, gentler occupation and/or bantustanization), is not likely to bring hamas much popularity. and this is true precisely because the occupation is not “the central problem”, but one of its symptoms.
    the exile of about 6 million palestinian refugees, and the second-class citizen status of another million palestinian citizens of israel (about 1/4 of them internal refugees), along with the occupation, are results of the basic structures and ideology of the state of israel. hamas has support because it is the largest palestinian political force that says publically what a number of progressive israelis have pointed out in recent years (jeff halper among the most vocal) – there is no way out through ending the occupation alone; a ‘solution’ that ends at the green line is at best justice deferred. and we all know what happens to a dream deferred.

  11. Sd

    M Upharsin
    Since you re-posted your long text from “a thread whose battery life is almost kaput,” I thought I would tag along with this re-post, just to recharge the battery.
    ***
    Touche’ is the proper call.
    Readers might check that Karsh once produced a hollow critique of Benny Morris’ work. This was an entire book, so hollow it was an embarassment that no self-respecting academic would cite because it was simply a sham, a mirror Karsh held to his own face. Nothing more than a sham could have been expected from Karsh on Fisk.
    It is to be noted how the contras that populate this comments section resort to Karshian tactics, instead of reasoned analysis about the elephant sitting on the patio.

  12. M. Upharsin

    Addendum: Thanks for calling my attention to it. But I won’t be going there. Life is too short ever to read another word from Mr. Karsh.
    You don’t happen to know off the top of your head do you whether B. Morris did in fact review Fisk’s book? How lazy am I in the Age of Google? Ok, real reason for “asking” was to get a chance to cyber- “high five ya”. Thanks again.

  13. Sd

    Sorry I don’t know the answer to that question. Don’t know what direction B Morris has headed since his venture into Darwinian politics.

  14. WmPeele

    rozele
    Thanks for answering my question rather than sidestepping it. I did not believe that “the Israeli occupation…[of a portion of the West Bank]…” was the central concern of Hamas and appreciate your exposition of why this is the case.

  15. JES

    contrary to JES’ view, “improving the economic and social conditions in the Occupied Territories” (which i assume is a euphemism for a kinder, gentler occupation and/or bantustanization), is not likely to bring hamas much popularity. and this is true precisely because the occupation is not “the central problem”, but one of its symptoms.
    Rozele,
    You assume wrong! I refer to the areas as “Occupied Territories”, because that’s what the West Bank and Gaza are today. Improving the economic and social conditions is there means exactly what it says – providing people with employment, to put food on their tables, education and, most important, providing stability and law and order.
    From what I’ve read and seen, that’s appears to be what a great many of those who voted for Hamas wanted and expect from Hamas. I think that Fuller says this as well. Personally, I don’t think that Hamas, as an organization, is capable of delivering the goods.
    As Fuller points out, the Palestinians have learned a lot about democracy and electoral politics from Israel, and one characteristic of the Israeli electorate is that they are fickle and likely to change horses as soon as they see that they aren’t getting what they were promised when they went to the polls.
    Also, Rozele, I suggest you check your numbers:
    “the exile of about 6 million palestinian refugees”
    I think that the majority of Palestinians live in Mandatory Palestine.

  16. WarrenW

    The “Occupation” is not the Central Problem. All the wars up to and including the 1967 war happened before the occupation. The occupation was a result of the 1967 war. Get your heads on straight. It’s not that hard.
    It is closer to the truth that the Central Problem is that the Arabs don’t want to recognize Israel.
    The violence between the Arabs and the Jews started before the creation of Israel in 1948. The Mufti of Jerusalem decided that Islam forbade the creation of Jewish independence — he insisted on dhimmmi status or expulsion for the Jews. That is still the Central Problem.
    Fuller may have a more ominous definition of “Occupation”

    If we seek to untie the complex knot of fifty years of Palestinian-Israeli confrontation we must begin at the very source of the problem: the occupation itself.

    2006 – 50 = 1956. Maybe Fuller means the 57 years since 1948? The Suez Crisis was in 1956. Is that when Fuller thinks the “Confrontation” began?
    I think Fuller is a well-meaning person who wants things to be better than they really are. But I don’t trust his thinking. Fuller redefines “Islamism” and then stuffs Hamas into this new category, guessing that since some “Islamists” are more moderate, then Hamas will eventually evolve into moderation. Maybe. And maybe they’ll “Evolve” the other way. Perhaps Iran is a good example of this. When Khomenei first came to power people said his movement would moderate. Has it?
    I think that Fuller is one of those whose minds will not accept the reality that the election of Hamas means that Peace is not here, is not coming, is not around the corner, and is not likely. I truly wish it were different, but it isn’t.

  17. JES

    Meanwhile…
    An international monitoring team said on Wednesday it was temporarily leaving the West Bank city of Hebron after angry Palestinians attacked their office in retaliation for the publication in many European countries of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/680404.html
    Insanely, the Palestinians have managed to chase out a group of Europeans who have consistently supported them. Talk about biting off one’s nose to spite their face!

  18. Sd

    Vadim (and JES?),
    So you are a Karshian!
    And you really think we all should read more of Efraim Karsh’s writings, in order to be courageous and strong like you?
    Oh, fiddlesticks, you have unwittingly cut yourself off at the knees.
    This dueling has lost its fun, since it is hardly worth taking a pen out of its sheath when the contra-pen has a habit of skewering himself.
    “Skewering himself”: this became Karsh’s claim to fame.
    You see when you take pen dueling so seriously, like Karsh does, you soon start acting strong and courageous, throwing out wild charges and accusations, and then … poooouuuufffff!!!, before you know it, these charges and accusations are stuck on you.
    This is exactly what happened to Karsh with his book “Fabricating Israeli History,” which was intended to be a full scholarly critique, not just a little book review.
    Everyone else could see that Karsh’s charges and accusations about Benny Morris, and Avi Shlaim, and …. (and now Robert Fisk) were written across his own face. But he couldn’t see it. He just did not get it.
    And now, before you know it, Vadim, before you will have time to figure it out, the same has happened to you.
    Drats! The sport of this dueling with M Upharsin has drained away.

  19. JES

    Sd,
    What on earth is a “Karshian”?
    This is all very interesting (and amusing), and very typical of those who insist on evaluating the works of academics based on identification with their polemics rather than on scholarship and are concerned more with identifying with a “trend” rather than with evidence and intellectual honesty. As Baruch Kimmerling says in an article about Benny Morris:
    “…he was accused by mainstream Israeli academics and intellectuals with ‘post-Zionism’ and subverting the very legitimacy of Israel’s existence. This triggered endless nonsense and semi-professional and mainly political debates in Israel and abroad about the meaning and extent of ‘post-Zionism’ (frequently labeled as “anti-Zionism” or even ‘post-modernism’) that included arbitrarily any serious or less serious critical (or supposedly critical) study on Israeli history, society and politics. Most of this debate caused great damage to Israeli historical, social and cultural research. Books and papers were judged not by their intrinsic values or shortcomings, but by their categorizations as Zionist, post-Zionist or anti-Zionist. Instead of being preoccupied with serious research, people devoted a lot of time and energy to polemics on this futile issue. Younger academics were scared and chose their research projects carefully in order to avoid being identified with one of the ‘camps.’”
    [N.B. I am not a “Kimmerlingian”, and I do not agree with a lot that the good professor says in his writings, but I do agree very much with the statement above.]
    You see when you take pen dueling so seriously, like Karsh does, you soon start acting strong and courageous, throwing out wild charges and accusations, and then … poooouuuufffff!!!, before you know it, these charges and accusations are stuck on you.
    So, why don’t you start educating us by specifying what are the “wild charges and accusations” that you speak of. Or is it possible that you were referring to yourself in the above text and that you are, in fact, the shish kebab?

  20. vadim

    So you are a Karshian!
    Poor Sd — he’s been so busy high-fiving, backslapping and towel-snapping that he’s failed to notice one or two things:
    1.) I didn’t cite Karsh’s article in Commentary (oops!)
    2.) my reaction to it having read it was that it was unnecessarily ad hominem! (oops again!)
    I believe I’ve read all of four articles by Mr. Karsh in my entire life. By this standard I’m far more of a “Fiskian” since I’ve read dozens by Robert Fisk. Or a “Cole-ist” since I read Juan Cole’s tendentious weblog daily in spite of its looseness with facts, sloppy rhetoric and grandstanding. But unlike some I’m neither a groupie nor a character assassin. McCarthyism & book burning are for cowards and ideologues. And Juan Cole, Robert Fisk and Efraim Karsh are completely uninteresting to me as personalities. If Karsh makes bad arguments or factual errors you should take great pleasure in discovering and cogently detailing them. Maybe Counterpunch or Antiwar.com or any of a dozen other Israelophobic platforms would provide the venue. Sadly, no- instead we get “Life is too short ever to read another word from Mr. Karsh!” Pompous & completely affected indifference.

  21. rozele

    two quick replies to JES:
    Also, Rozele, I suggest you check your numbers:
    “the exile of about 6 million palestinian refugees”
    I think that the majority of Palestinians live in Mandatory Palestine.

    JES, i’m surprised at your implication that “living in mandatory palestine” and “refugee” are contradictory. 75% of the people living in the gaza strip are refugees – which is why hamas’ refusal to accept solutions that stop at 1967 has brought them lasting, not particularly fickle, support there in particular.
    population numbers are a touch dicey when dealing with refugees and diasporas, as anyone who’s ever tried to get jewish population figures knows. but the palestinian population is remarkably well-documented… these numbers are from a global exchange factsheet(http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/mideast/palestine/refugeeFacts.html).
    of a palestinian population between 9 and 10 million, slightly less than half live between the jordan and the mediterranean. of those 4-5 million, about 2 million are refugees from villages ethnically cleansed in 1948, some now ‘present absentees’ – internal refugees – in israel, most in refugee camps in the occupied west bank and gaza strip.
    of the other 5-6 million palestinians, about 4 million are ‘1948 refugees’, most living in jordan, lebanon and syria. most palestinan refugees live less than a day’s travel from their homes.
    your confusion about the numbers may stem from the fact that UNRWA’s “registered refugee” numbers do not include all palestinian refugees.
    as to your other point, JES:
    i’m not disagreeing with you about the status of the west bank, gaza strip, and east jerusalem. they’re under military occupation, as they have been for decades.
    but “providing people with employment, to put food on their tables, education and, most important, providing stability and law and order” under conditions of military occupation is at best to play a lovely game of badminton in the eye of a hurricane. it’s simply not possible for anyone to provide security or employment in any meaningful way while an occupying army regularly bombs, shells, shoots, and places under curfew all places of human habitation. to say nothing of the web of checkpoints, jewish-only roads, and settlements that make anything resembling a functional economy impossible. until the occupation ends, these goals are fictions, and everyone knows it.
    sure, hamas has done a much better job providing services for palestinians than fatah/the PA – but that’s like saying the coast guard did better than FEMA at helping out after hurricane katrina. anything’s better than nothing.
    i don’t think hamas has any intention of taking on fatah’s role as subcontractor of the occupation. and they’d be fools to take on that judenrat job. and i don’t think palestinians are fools. they know this better than anyone else. and their votes, like anyone’s anywhere, are based (in roughly this order) on the options available to them, the long-term programs of those parties, and an assessment of the plausibility of their plans for short-term improvements.

  22. Sd

    JES and Vadim-
    “Karshian” is just part of your game, a foil to a foil. But it makes the point (touche) that you only pretend to make. What you say is true: the sport of it all is more than the game itself. But in this sport, it matters a great deal on which side “the point” is struck.
    One example: contrary to what you say, Kimmerling did not make the statement quoted above “about Benny Morris.” He made it about Morris’s critics like Karsh. Would Kimmerling say that Morris set out in his research to identify more with a “trend” than with “evidence and intellectual honesty”? Clearly not. Karsh in his book “Fabricating Israeli History” was the one obsessing about new developing “trends” that he wanted desperately to put a stop to. There was zero, none, zippo intellectual honesty in his book.
    Thus, typically, you have it backwards. Kimmerling makes the statement above “about Karsh” and “mainstream Israeli academics and intellectuals” who “triggered endless nonsense and semi-professional and mainly political debates in Israel and abroad about the meaning and extent of ‘post-Zionism’.” In other words the sport of it all is far more important than the little games that people like Karsh (and the two of you on Helena’s comments section) tend to play. This is Kimmerling’s point (touche).
    The point is on the other side when you say that Karsh and Morris should not be treated as just names defining certain polemics. Intellectual honesty matters a great deal, and one has to investigate the historical evidence in larger contexts. After a certain time, one reaches the point where one understands that said author “A” is more respectable and has more intergrity, thus when “A” produces a new and lengthy book on controversial topic “X,” one reasonably considers investing the time to have a thorough read. On the other hand when author “B,” who previously cut himself off at the knees, produces a new and lengthy book on the same controversial topic “X,” it is perfectly reasonable for reader MMU to judge what is the best way to spend his precious time. MMU took the time to give a thorough read of what Karsh had to say in a short article, and he got the point. So he moved on.
    All smart readers do this, and I am sure you would agree. So move on. Otherwise, one wonders: why, if you agree, do you make charges and accusations against MMU, or Helena, or anyone else, who has the understanding and intelligence and thoughtfulness that you claim or pretend to share? This is the real point. Thoughtful, intelligent people (who are capable of reading thoroughly) get tired of others like you who come along pretending to share thoughtfulness, intelligence, and understanding, but end up cutting them down with comments like “Helena is a consistent supporter of terrorism.” These are the “wild accusations” that are stupid and pointless. (Touche.)
    I read Helena’s website for a long time before I ever began to list my comments in this comment section. And for a very long time I witnessed the way that the two of you, and others like Warren and David and Inkan and Joshua and… and … engage this distracting game of foils.
    The point is that intellectual honesty matters, and historical evidence matters. On the issue of Israel-Palestine, it matters a great deal if we think about the reality of the Zionist project, rather than the myth that was perpetuated and continues to be perpetuated by people like Karsh. If we don’t see the reality, then we miss that big elephant sitting on the patio, as MMU has put it. And if people don’t see the elephant, and don’t act to remove this elephant, then history is likely to repeat itself in increasingly violent and destructive and horrific ways.
    If you don’t see the reality — let’s pick one randomly among many, such as the fact that Israel will continue to be an apartheid regime until it proves otherwise (for instance, by terminating its perimeter control of Palestinian lives, lifiting the internal checkpoints, opening the city of Jerusalem to dual sovereignty, encouraging and subsidizing, whether by its own funds or American funds, the building of new homes, schools, and hospitals for Muslims and Christians, so more refugees can return home to the land) — if you don’t see this and other realities, then yes, history will continue to repeat itself in increasingly violent and horrofic ways, as myths and lies are built on top of still more myths and lies.
    When most readers come here and see that Helena is helping to point out the elephant and seek ways to remove the elephant, they are naturally more interested in reading what Helena has to say and engage her in her ideas, rather than continuously wave these stupid foils. (Touche) It is like the difference between Benny Morris’s books and Efraim Karsh’s books. After some time, one understands that one is worth the investment more than the other. If MMU wants to spend his precious time engaging Helena with her ideas rather than the HeadHeeb and the ideas over on his website, then MMU will log on here and not over there. Now it is fine for the HeadHeeb to have his website; I consult it at times. And it is also fine for the HeadHeeb to make comments on JWN and raise issues and make links. But when it gets to the point that other commenters and critics (like the two of you) create a regular distraction, then as Helena suggests you may want to go create your own little websites, such as Davidblog. Just think: Vadimblog or JESblog might work.
    The point in this increasingly pointless game is that intellectual honesty requires all of us to move Helena’s kind of analysis to the “front and center” of American discourse about an insane “war on terrorism” and a self-generating “clash of civilizations.” Why do these things have to be marginalized, as you point out, to marginal journalist outposts? The point is that more people are beginning to see the “margin” as the mainstream, and you should encourage this outcome, instead of obstructing it. (Touche)
    It matters a great deal what side you stand on when the point is struck. This is the sport of it all. And if you do not see this, then you are just a hypocrite who would rather spend a hypocrite’s time cutting other people down. Stop the game, and get into the sport.
    I am beginning to feel like Steve Martin in that comedy about Cyrano de Bergerac, where he with his long pointy nose uses a tennis racket to dispense two ruffians armed with ski poles. A few swats on the head and one final upper cut under the chin, and the game was done.
    I fully expect you to get the last word, as I see the HeadHeeb belatedly did on a post long ago. But I am done with these games. Hopefully you won’t follow the HeadHeeb here, but you will at least follow him in his general commitment to reasoned analysis and to the withholding of “wild charges and accusations” against Helena on JWN.

  23. WmPeele

    It seems quite Orwellian to deem a Mideast nation that provides full citizen benefits and rights to a large Arab minority (well over 1 million Israelis) as “an apartheid regime.”

  24. JES

    Well, well Sd. I think it was pretty clear to everyone that you have been firing blanks.
    …contrary to what you say, Kimmerling did not make the statement quoted above “about Benny Morris.” He made it about Morris’s critics like Karsh.
    Why don’t you take your own advice and actually read what I wrote. Kimmerling was referring to the effect of the whole debate (he never even mentions Karsh) in an article about Benny Morris (in which he castigates Morris for his apparent justification of ethnic cleansing.)
    First, don’t go calling a scholar’s work “hollow” if you can’t substantiate it. That is intellectually dishonest. Karsh has provided two critiques on the works of the “new” historians, including pointing out serious flaws in Benny Morris’s work (including selective use of evidence and misleading editing of quotes). Morris has not really ever been able to defend his position. In one instance when given the opportunity to respond, he simply replied in a manner similar to yours and Upharsin’s.
    Second, I wasn’t aware that this was the Helena Cobban “fan site”. I thought that, as the title states, Helena Cobban’s blog was a place for “info, analysis” and discussion – not just agreement with everything that Helena writes or says. (And lest I be misinterpreted, I believe that Helena agrees with this view.)
    I don’t have to agree with every tautology that you, or anyone else puts forward. Picking one “randomly from among many,” as you say, I don’t have to agree with your assertion that Israel maintains an “apartheid regime”, any more than you have to agree with assertions that others have made that the PA is a “terrorist regime”. The purpose of discussion is to exchange ideas and promote understanding. It is not to rally around and agree on dogma so that insecure people can feel better.

  25. JES

    Well, well Sd. I think it was pretty clear to everyone that you have been firing blanks.
    …contrary to what you say, Kimmerling did not make the statement quoted above “about Benny Morris.” He made it about Morris’s critics like Karsh.
    Why don’t you take your own advice and actually read what I wrote. Kimmerling was referring to the effect of the whole debate (he never even mentions Karsh) in an article about Benny Morris (in which he castigates Morris for his apparent justification of ethnic cleansing.)
    First, don’t go calling a scholar’s work “hollow” if you can’t substantiate it. That is intellectually dishonest. Karsh has provided two critiques on the works of the “new” historians, including pointing out serious flaws in Benny Morris’s work (including selective use of evidence and misleading editing of quotes). Morris has not really ever been able to defend his position. In one instance when given the opportunity to respond, he simply replied in a manner similar to yours and Upharsin’s.
    Second, I wasn’t aware that this was the Helena Cobban “fan site”. I thought that, as the title states, Helena Cobban’s blog was a place for “info, analysis” and discussion – not just agreement with everything that Helena writes or says. (And lest I be misinterpreted, I believe that Helena agrees with this view.)
    I don’t have to agree with every tautology that you, or anyone else puts forward. Picking one “randomly from among many,” as you say, I don’t have to agree with your assertion that Israel maintains an “apartheid regime”, any more than you have to agree with assertions that others have made that the PA is a “terrorist regime”. The purpose of discussion is to exchange ideas and promote understanding. It is not to rally around and agree on dogma so that insecure people can feel better.

  26. Ray Stewart (Quaker Retired)

         The Smile of the World, by John Morley
    “And what is this smile of the world, to win which we
    are bidden to sacrifice our moral manhood;
    this frown of the world, whose terrors are more awful than the withering up of truth and the slow going out of
    light within the souls of us?
    Consider the triviality of life and conversation and purpose, in the bulk of those whose approval is held out for our prize and the mark of our high calling.
    Measure, if you can, the empire over them of prejudice unadulterated by a single element of rationality, and weigh, if you can, the huge burden of custom, unrelieved by a single leavening particle of fresh thought.
    Ponder the share which selfishness and love of ease
    have in the vitality and the maintenance of the opinions that we
    are forbidden to dispute.  
    Then how pitiful a thing seems the approval or disapproval of
    these creatures of the conventions of the hour, as one
    figures the merciless vastness of the universe of matter sweeping us headlong through viewless space; as one hears the wail of misery that is forever ascending to the deaf gods; as one counts the little tale of the years that separate us from eternal silence.
    In the light of these things, a man should surely dare to live his small span of life with little heed of the common speech upon him or his life, only caring that his days may be full of reality, and his conversation of truth-speaking and wholeness.”

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