Sep 5, 2010

No! No! No! Churchill did not order the assassination of Mussolini


Guy Walters

Guy Walters is the author of nine books, which include four wartime thrillers and the critically acclaimed histories Hunting Evil and Berlin Games. Frustrated at the enormous amount of junk history around, Guy sees it as his personal mission to wage war on ignorance and misconceptions about the past. His website is:


SEPTEMBER 3RD, 2010 16:42

No! No! No! Churchill did not order the assassination of Mussolini

Churchill: No penpal of Mussolini

Churchill: No penpal of Mussolini

Another day, another great piece of junk history. (Hat-tip: the estimable Adrian Weale.) Today's effort comes from the Italian press and was picked up by the Telegraph (nobody's immune, you know). According to one Pierre Milza, who is apparently an expert on fascist Italy, Winston Churchill may have wanted Mussolini killed in order to hide the existence of a secret and compromising correspondence conducted between the two leaders.

Writing in his new book, Les Derniers Jours de Mussolini, Milza further theorises that the reason why Churchill chose to spend a holiday in Italy in August 1951 was because he wished to retrieve the letters. "Perhaps he went there just to paint," Milza speculates. "It is credible, however, that he was there for other reasons, as one now know… Read More

SEPTEMBER 2ND, 2010 19:24

It's not news that Simon Wiesenthal worked for Mossad

Mossad agent Simon Wiesenthal walking in a Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt, Austria, that had been vandalized by right-wing extremists. Photo: EPA

Mossad agent Simon Wiesenthal walking in a Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt, Austria, that had been vandalized by right-wing extremists. Photo: EPA

There has been a lot of news today about the revelation made by Tom Segev in his new biography of Simon Wiesenthal that the Nazi hunter worked as a Mossad agent in Austria in the 1940s and 1950s.

As I'm reviewing Dr Segev's book for the Sunday Telegraph, I shall refrain from commenting at length, but I thought, in the interests of accuracy, that I should draw the attention of readers to the claims made in a book called Hunting Evil published last year. (Full disclosure: I wrote the book.)

If you look at page 223 of the… Read More

AUGUST 26TH, 2010 18:55

Nazis and beautiful spies: How tittle-tattle becomes history

Ballerina-turned-Abwehr agent Marina Lee

Ballerina-turned-Abwehr agent Marina Lee

Everybody loves a good spy story, and none better than one which involves a glamorous woman. The latest Security Service releases from the National Archives appear to contain a real gem – the tale of the beautiful ballerina Marina Lee, a German secret agent who somehow managed to wheedle the campaign plans off Sir Claude Auchinleck when he was conducting the ill-starred fight against the Germans in Norway. If you put your trust in the vast majority of the news stories, you might be forgiven for thinking that the story was true. However, if you look at the original MI5 file, KV 2/3281, which is downloadable for free, the picture that emerges is somewhat different.

Beware of Nazis telling tall tales...

… Read More

AUGUST 20TH, 2010 10:52

Battle of Britain myths

As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the media is in overdrive with all sorts of guff about the events of the summer of 1940. Those expecting a completely revisionist post in which I claim that the battle wasn't important and it was the Navy wot won it anyway will be disappointed, but there are a number of misconceptions that need to be addressed. By far the most authoritative work on the battle is the latest book by James Holland, and I recommend it for anybody who wants to know the true story unvarnished by wartime propaganda. You may have heard James at 8.30 this morning on the Today programme, and he'll also be appearing on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 today. (Declaration: James Holland is a great friend, but please trust me – it's a really good and important book.)

1…. Read More

JULY 22ND, 2010 9:20

Mr Miliband is wrong: Britain never stood alone

They're both wrong

Two practitioners of Junk History

Although David Cameron is rightly being excoriated for suggesting that the United States was fighting Nazism in 1940 (yes, yes, I know about American convoys and Lend-Lease, as well as the odd American in the RAF), David Miliband's knowledge of Second World War history is similarly unimpressive. "1940 was our finest hour," the shadow foreign secretary commented. "Millions of Britons stood up and gave their lives to defeat fascism. We were not a junior partner. We stood alone against the Nazis. How can a British prime minister who bangs on about British history get that so wrong? It is a slight, not a slip."

First, it's worth noting that although millions of Britons did stand up to fascism, millions of Britons did not give up their lives, as Mr Miliband seems to suggest…. Read More

JULY 20TH, 2010 10:12

Hanging Hitler in your own home

A must-have picture for the bedroom?

Haus style: A must-have picture for the bedroom?

What would you do if you found a portrait of Adolf Hitler hanging in your hotel room? That was the situation faced by a man from Nuremberg who visited a small guesthouse on the outskirts of Frankfurt last September. Although the guesthouse was full, the owner, Horst S., allowed the visitor to use a room in the private part of the building, which was where the picture of the F├╝hrer was hanging. The guest was so enraged, that a little later, he returned with two police officers and the hotelier was charged with breaking the law that forbids the displaying of images of Hitler in public.

Last Tuesday, the case eventually came to trial, and the guesthouse owner won, because he proved that the room in question… Read More

JULY 14TH, 2010 15:24

Is it Nazi to stop people calling each other Nazis?

At lunchtime today I appeared on the Jeremy Vine show to discuss whether it is acceptable to call someone a Nazi on the airwaves. (The segment appears at 1:08.25.) The issue has arisen because DJ Jon Gaunt has lost his legal battle with Ofcom concerning an on-air exchange in which he labelled a local councillor as a Nazi. The transcript of Gaunt's interview can be found here, and can be heard on YouTube if you google "gaunt youtube nazi". (Skip to around 2 minutes.)

During Jeremy's show, I presented the case that calling someone a Nazi is unacceptable. It not only cheapened the word, but it insulted those who were – and continue to be – affected by the monstrosities of the Nazi period. Furthermore, using "Nazi" is a tired and offensive form of ad hominem attack, and is typical of a type of verbally aggressive "shout radio"…Read More

JULY 14TH, 2010 12:33

In praise of endnotes and superscript numerals!

OK, so I know I should win a prize for the most boring headline ever to appear on a blog, but bear with me.

At the moment, I'm thoroughly enjoying The Nine Lives of Otto Katz by Jonathan Miles (declaration: we share an editor, but sincerely, it's great) and it's good to read something that's both well-written and well-researched. What's also welcome is that the book contains both endnotes and numbers placed within the text that refer to those endnotes. Recently, many publishers have eschewed the use of these 'superscript numerals' because of the mistaken belief that they irritate readers.

As a result, many perfectly decent history books now have to adopt the following methods of noting source material. (Stop yawning in the back!)

1. Endnotes listed with pullquotes and no numbers in the text

This method is almost entirely useless. I had to endure it at the insistence of a previous editor… Read More

JULY 7TH, 2010 12:09

Can Iranian mullet-wearers be granted asylum?


It's hard not to appear a bigot if one questions the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court to allow the appeals of two gay men from Cameroon and Iran against being refused asylum in the UK. As I understand it, under the Refugee Convention Act, applicants do not have to be granted asylum if their situations in their homelands are 'reasonably tolerable'. As a result, the Supreme Court justices ruled that covering up their sexuality would be to deny the men a 'fundamental right', and that their lives would indeed be intolerable. I think this is the correct decision, but it does surely provide an opportunity for others to claim mendaciously that they too are persecuted homosexuals in order to be granted asylum.

However, I wonder whether we will soon be seeing an influx of young Iranian men with mullets and…Read More

JULY 5TH, 2010 15:13

Those who bash Pius XII ignore the other side of the story – his efforts to save Jews

Pope Pius XII has been criticised by scholars and Jewish groups for not taking a firm, public stance against Hitler (Photo: Getty)

Pope Pius XII has been criticised by scholars and Jewish groups for not taking a firm, public stance against Hitler (Photo: Getty)

With the Pope's visit to the UK just under 11 weeks away, we can expect scores of stories bashing the Roman Catholic Church over the summer. My colleague Damian Thompson suspects that such a campaign is gearing up, and he may well be right. One line of attack will presumably be directed at Pius XII, often referred to as "Hitler's Pope" because of his seeming tolerance of Nazism and regimes such as the Ustashi in Croatia. So much junk history has been written about Pius XII, especially by those with an anti-Catholic agenda, that received… Read More

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Prof. Kevin MacDonald: 200 Years Together: “Before the Six-Day War”


Chapter 23 of 200 Years Together: "Before the Six-Day War"

Kevin MacDonald

September  5, 2010

As noted in Chapter 22, Jews began to be purged from prominent positions in the government after World War II up to the time of Stalin's death. Thereafter, things improved for the  Jews but deteriorated again. Chapter 23 has several familiar themes:

·         Jews continued to be overrepresented in all areas requiring education, but less so. For example, "if in 1936 the share of Jews among students was 7.5 times higher than that in the total population, then by 1960s it was only 2.7 times higher.


·         Jews continued to dominate some areas. Solzhenitsyn mentions the special role of Jews in Soviet psychiatry (e.g., Lifshitz and "his Jewish gang" at Kaluga Hospital) at a time when "healthy people" were being locked up in mental institutions. As is typical of his style, he notes a Jewish writer commenting that Russians were displacing Jews in the bureaucracy, but then points out that Russians were being displaced in the ethnic republics as well.


·         Solzhenitsyn also points to the special role of Jews in economic crimes, where quite often Jews formed the "vast majority" of these accused.


·         Jewish activists tended to exaggerate the plight of Jews. For example, Jews accused the government of enforcing the law on economic crimes in an anti-Jewish manner ("rampant anti-Semitism," according to one writer). Solzhenitsyn pointing out that merely printing the names of defendants hardly counts as anti-Semitism: "to name them was equal to Jew-baiting." The ethnic connections among defendants were typically ignored in the press.


·         Jewish power in the USSR was linked to their power in the West. When Jews were being accused of economic crimes, "the entire Western media interpreted this as a brutal campaign against Jews, the humiliation and isolation of the entire people; Bertrand Russell sent a letter of protest to Khrushchev and got a personal response from the Soviet leader."  This campaign was effective because the government became reluctant to prosecute Jewish economic criminals. The Western media continued to ignore issues like the millions of deaths during forced collectivization while "official Soviet anti-Semitism" came to be seen as a critical issue. Similarly, an article on the Jews who were murdered in 1937–1938 and 1948–1952 in a Jewish newspaper in France resulted in worldwide condemnation of the USSR among leftists.


·         Solzhenitsyn points to real conflicts behind anti-Jewish actions. For example, the 1956 Hungarian uprising had strong anti-Jewish overtones because of the prominent role of Jews in the Hungarian government. And when Russians sought to improve their social status, they came up against previously existing, well-entrenched Jewish elites.


·         Jews retained their powerful sense of being Jewish: "Jewish identity was never subdued during the entire Soviet period. In 1966 the official mouthpiece Sovetish Heymland claimed that 'even assimilated Russian-speaking Jews still retain their unique character, distinct from that of any other segment of the population.' Not to mention the Jews of Odessa, Kiev, and Kharkov, who "sometimes were even snooty about their Jewishness — to the extent that they did not want to befriend a goy."


·         Jews who fancied themselves assimilated engaged in self-deception. He quotes a scientist who rejected "any nationalism" but then it dawned on him that all his friends were Jews. Even non-religious Jews defended the idea of "racial purity." Other Jews, like Natan Sharansky, suddenly realized that they were very different from non-Jews, especially after the 1967 Six-Day War. "I suddenly realized an obvious difference between myself and non-Jews around me ... a kind of a sense of the fundamental difference between my Jewish consciousness and the national consciousness of the Russians." They then consciously realized what had only been implicit —that they had much stronger ties to the Jewish people as an international entity than to Russia and the Russians. Solzhenitsyn quotes a Jew: "The Jews felt free from obligations [to the Russians] at all sharp turns of Russian history," and comments, "Fair enough. One can only hope for all Russian Jews to get such clarity and acknowledge this dilemma."


·         Jewish consciousness became much stronger with the Six-Day War. "Israel has ascended in their minds and Soviet Jews awoke to their spiritual and consanguineous kinship [with Israel]." However, Israel's victory was over Egypt, an ally of the USSR, so the result was a "thundering campaign against the "Judeo-Zionist-Fascism." Amazingly, it included the charge that "because of the consistent pursuit of the ideology of racial supremacy and apartheid, Judaism turned out to be a very convenient religion for securing world dominance." The effect was to spur large-scale Jewish emigration to Israel and the West.

A central message is the power of Jewish ethnocentrism. Yuri Slezkine and a host of Jewish activist organizations make much of the idea that Jewish Communists in the USSR had no Jewish identity at all, at least until WWII. (See my rebuttal here, p. 75ff.) To some extent Solzhenitsyn buys into this, since he charts an increasing sense of Jewish identity beginning with WWII and the Holocaust and culminating in the Six-Day War. But, as the example of the self-deceptive Jewish scientist shows, Jewish identity is pliable. Jews continued to associate with Jews, marry Jews, and participate in and benefit from Jewish ethnic networks during the entire period—as Solzhenitsyn shows elsewhere, e.g., in his chapter on the 1920s 

Solzhenitsyn's example of the Jewish scientist reminded me of the self-deception of Jewish radicals described in Ch. 3 of The Culture of Critique:

Most Jewish Communists wear their Jewishness very casually but experience it deeply. It is not a religious or even an institutional Jewishness for most; nevertheless, it is rooted in a subculture of identity, style, language, and social network. . . . In fact, this second-generation Jewishness was antiethnic and yet the height of ethnicity. The emperor believed that he was clothed in transethnic, American garb, but Gentiles saw the nuances and details of his naked ethnicity…. Evidence of the importance of ethnicity in general and Jewishness in particular permeates the available record. Many Communists, for example, state that they could never have married a spouse who was not a leftist. When Jews were asked if they could have married Gentiles, many hesitated, surprised by the question, and found it difficult to answer. Upon reflection, many concluded that they had always taken marriage to someone Jewish for granted. The alternative was never really considered, particularly among Jewish men. (Paul Lyons (1982). Philadelphia Communists, 1936–1956. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 73, 74)

Jewish self-deception is a critical feature of trying to understand Jewish behavior and the topic of a chapter in Separation and Its Discontents. Jews sincerely believed that they had no ethnic identity even though it was apparent to everyone else. The general point is that Jewish ethnocentrism creates a blindness to things that are completely obvious to neutral observers.

This is apparent in contrasting how Jews see their experience in the USSR with how Solzhenitsyn sees it. Jewish intellectuals and activists see the entire Soviet trajectory through ethnocentric blinders. They see Jews as a hapless persecuted minority under the Czar, then rising to well-deserved prosperity after the Revolution. Jewish communists at least until WWII completely lost their ethnic identity, so whatever they did as an elite during the most murderous regime in European history was only due to their being loyal, idealistic communists, not because they were by far the most numerous and most powerful component of a non-Russian ethnic coalition that viewed the traditional people and culture of Russia with murderous hostility. Whatever social status they attained was solely due to Jewish merit—completely unrelated to Jewish ethnic networking and completely unrelated to the active suppression and eradication of the previously existing elites and their descendants. It was only because of the Holocaust and completely irrational anti-Jewish attitudes after WWII that Jewish communists became disenchanted with the USSR and began to identify as Jews, culminating in their embrace of Zionism, particularly after the Six-Day War.

Solzhenitsyn paints a very different picture — a picture that is not only historically accurate but also reflecting the reasonable concerns of a Russian ethnic actor who feels that his people have been done a great injustice. During the Czarist period, Jews aggressively overreacted to reasonable policies of the government designed to protect the Slavic population — the basic duty of any government that pretends to represent the interests of the ethnic majority (Chapter 5). During the 1920s Jews became a hostile elite—Stalin's "Willing Executioners" —entrenched in all the high ground of Soviet society — the public face of the most brutal regime in history, and provoking a great deal of hostility among the Russian people. Then, after Jews failed to do their fair share of front line fighting during WWII despite the fact that it was a war against the most deadly anti-Jewish force in history, Russians seeking to improve their social status came up against previously existing, well-entrenched Jewish elites. The purges of Jews that followed were certainly far less violent than the purges of the pre-revolutionary elites during the 1920s and had much to recommend them from the standpoint of ethnic fairness. Nevertheless, even after these purges, Jews remained highly overrepresented in high-status positions requiring education. Jews, however, responded negatively to being removed from their virtual ethnic monopoly on heights of power. With the rise of Israel, they also rediscovered their connections to the international Jewish community and a great many bailed out of Soviet society completely because they were more loyal to the international Jewish community and its identification with Israel than they were to Russia and  Russians.

Having been around the block a few times on issues like this where there is a self-serving Jewish consensus on their own history, I realize that communication is impossible. Jewish activist intellectuals and organizations will continue to present their side of the story and do everything they can to vilify or ignore any account that departs from their orthodoxy. As an evolutionist, I am not surprised. That's what ethnic conflict is all about — just as deadly when it is conflict among intellectuals over interpretations of history as it is in mass murders of Russians and Ukrainians carried out in the name of international socialism.

Kevin MacDonald is editor of The Occidental Observer and a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach. Email him.

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Amazon's: DEBATING THE HOLOCAUST: A New Look At Both Sides by Thomas Dalton



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I.F. Stone supported state force to kill a racist movement before it poisoned society


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Here are the headlines from Mondoweiss for 09/05/2010:

While Netanyahu harped on 'the blood of innocents,' Mitchell seemed to warn of Israel's demise
Sep 04, 2010 01:36 pm | Philip Weiss

I watched Thursday's State Department show on the peace talks on C-Span the other night and was left with a sense of despair. 

There were very few people in the fancy rooms and little sense of excitement. The leaders all seemed motheaten, except for Netanyahu, who always reminds me of a landlord or a mob boss. George Mitchell is the most impressive, but even he looks out of date and a little hard of hearing. (Here's a link to the Clinton, Netanyahu, Abbas table. And here to George Mitchell.)

Clinton seems to know she's screwed. She appealed over the heads of Abbas and Netanyahu to real people over there-- and implicitly to you and me at our dinner tables-- not to desert her.

I want to conclude by just saying a few words directly to the people of the region. Your leaders may be sitting at the negotiating table, but you are the ones who will ultimately decide the future. You hold the future of your families, your communities, your people, this region, in your hands. For the efforts here to succeed, we need your support and your patience. Today, as ever, people have to rally to the cause of peace, and peace needs champions on every street corner and around every kitchen table. I understand very well the disappointments of the past. I share them. But I also know we have it within our power today to move forward into a different kind of future, and we cannot do this without you.

Translation: these guys can't deliver a newspaper.

Abbas has dignity and Netanyahu is frightening. Abbas spoke concretely of the final-status issues, including water, and called on Israel to honor its commitment re settlement building, while Netanyahu spoke emotionally about his only real topic, Israel's security:

In these 12 years, new forces have risen in our region, and we've had the rise of Iran and its proxies and the rise of missile warfare. And so a peace agreement must take into account a security arrangement against these real threats that have been directed against my country, threats that have been realized with 12,000 rockets that have been fired on our territory, and terrorist attacks that go unabated.

Translation: We have remote control machine guns in towers set up to kill Gazans, and we will never give up the Jordan Valley.

Then Netanyahu ratcheted it up, with "the blood of innocents":

The last two days have been difficult. They were exceedingly difficult for my people and for me. Blood has been shed, the blood of innocents: four innocent Israelis gunned down brutally, two people wounded, seven new orphans. President Abbas, you condemned this killing. That's important. No less important is to find the killers, and equally to make sure that we can stop other killers. They seek to kill our people, kill our state, kill our peace. And so achieving security is a must.

Kill kill kill. Or as Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace says, "while the U.S. government condemned Tuesday's brutal attack, it never condemned even the assault on Gaza almost two years ago, when over 1400 people, mostly civilian, including over 400 children, were killed.  This disproportionate response is an indicator of the apparent inability of the U.S. to be an 'honest broker' in these talks." No wonder the rooms seem empty.

It is common to hear the analysis that Israel needs nothing from these talks because the conflict is being managed, while the Palestinians need a deal to get freedom. I don't buy this and neither does George Mitchell. The Palestinians haven't had freedom in their entire history. Most Israelis may be complacent, but the soul of their society is shriveling, and any intelligent Israeli senses the loss of the world's good opinion. Israel is stuck in an earlier era of history and daily losing legitimacy, due to rightwing ethnocentric politicians like Netanyahu.

Mitchell said as much at the end, when he appealed for a sudden shift in the weather:

we believe that there are dynamic changes that [can] occur. There are more obvious difficulties that lie ahead for both sides if they don't reach agreement that may be even more obvious than they were five or eight or 12 years ago.

You have to remember that these leaders must weigh two things. They must weigh the difficulties they face in getting agreement and they must weigh the difficulties they will face if they don't get an agreement. And we believe it's a very powerful argument that if you subject these to careful, reasoned, and rational analysis, to conclude that the latter difficulties, if they don't get an agreement, will be much greater and have a much more profound impact on their societies than those they face in trying to get an agreement.

Mitchell wasn't talking about the Palestinians there. He was saying that if Israel doesn't make sacrifices, in a hurry, it faces a choice of official apartheid, ethnic cleansing or one-state. He understands that the 62-year-old Jewish state is now at risk; he is despairing too.

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Report finds US policy toward Israel/Palestine contradicts American values
Sep 04, 2010 12:22 pm | Adam Horowitz

In April the American Friends Service Committee organized an important daylong mock Congressional hearing on whether US foreign policy towards Israel/Palestine upholds American values. The organizers explain:

Rather than wait for Congress to debate the morality and utility of U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine, we decided to hold an independent hearing, calling upon people who have directly experienced or witnessed the effects of the occupation to tell their stories. We invited Israelis, Palestinians and Americans to testify and assembled a distinguished panel of listeners, composed of academics, clergy and a Senate staff member, to question and draw out the ramifications of these testimonies. We sought to lift up the voices and hopes of those people who are never seen on television or discussed with compassion in Congress.

They have just released a 29-page report on the conference findings to coincide with the resumption of US-led talks between Israel and the Palestinians. In an AFSC press release Middle East Program director Miryam Rashid says, "We feel this report is critical reading for all who are concerned about finding a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. American values are not being upheld in our government's policies in Israel and Palestine, and the reality is that negotiations will only succeed when human rights and international laws are no longer ignored."

Here's the report:


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The settler killings– morality and effectiveness
Sep 04, 2010 10:21 am | David Samel

The recent killing of four West Bank settlers by Palestinian gunmen raises the ever-present issue of violence in resistance to occupation and oppression. I write in respectful response to Seham, who has expressed some understanding and perhaps sympathy for the killers, and disagreement with my analysis.

It seems to me that there are two principal issues here: morality and effectiveness. Let me first deal with the more contested issue of morality. So many of the arguments I hear in defense of this murder seem like the mirror image of Israeli claims. We have been driven to the point of desperation. What else could we do? These people aren't really civilians; on the continuum of civilianality, they lean toward the military end and are therefore more killable than other civilians. We live under a constant threat of terrorism, where everyone in the country knows someone who died in the wars or were victims of terror, thousands of people going about their daily business until their bodies were suddenly blown apart. Until you've had to live like this, we are told, don't tell us how to act.

Seham, you no doubt feel that your arguments are more cogent and theirs more hypocritical and dishonest, that you are fighting evil oppression and they are perpetrating and defending it. Indeed, I am in complete agreement with those positions. But just as I feel that Israel's use of double standards is wrong, so is ours. If we are going to adopt an ethos that excuses killing civilians in certain circumstances, that same ethos can be used by Israel.

Perhaps because I am a lawyer I am very sensitive to the question of universally applied principles. If I accept a principle of conduct, I anticipate that there may be other applications of that principle that I might not like so much. The principle here seems to be that if a group of civilians generally acts in brutal fashion toward fellow human beings, it may be OK to kill a random sample of them to teach the collective a lesson. I absolutely reject that principle. For one thing, it certainly has been a driving force of Israeli ideology for many decades. They rationalize that Palestinian civilians overwhelmingly support terrorist attacks, so it's perfectly reasonable to kill Palestinian civilians in an attempt to reduce that support.

Let me propose another hypothetical. For the past decade, Americans, who have the electoral power to control their government, have obliviously gone about their daily business while their government and military has wreaked havoc in Iraq and Afghanistan. In sheer numbers – well over a million dead and several million forced to flee their homes, not to mention all sorts of consequent suffering -- these catastrophes have dwarfed the awful experience of the Palestinians over the last six decades. It would not be surprising if some of the many millions adversely affected by our government's actions (and our citizenry's near-total indifference) retaliated with another terrorist attack directed at random US civilians. In my opinion, though it would be heretical to say so in the wake of such an attack, the US would be partially responsible for fomenting such anger, but I certainly would not excuse or forgive the terrorists themselves.

My bottom line is that I don't want to parse those circumstances that give rise to justifiable homicide of civilians. In my view, it's never justified, period – not in Lebanon, Gaza, New York, Hiroshima, Dresden, and no, not even among the settlers of the West Bank, a good percentage of whom are surely loathsome and reprehensible. The shooting victims were not killed in the course of perpetrating an act of violence themselves. The people who killed them knew only one thing about them, that they were probably settlers. They might well have been vicious racist settlers.

But maybe not. Maybe they were recent immigrants from Russia who were offered generous subsidies by the government to settle in the West Bank. Maybe they were human rights activists who live within the green line and had just come from a meeting with Palestinian counterparts, and were attacked because of the mistaken assumptions made about their Israeli license plate. We may now know that this wasn't the case, but the gunmen most probably had no idea who they were killing. Maybe these were four parents who left behind 16 children who are going to grow up with the same anger that you have, Seham, but more power to translate that anger into physical brutality directed at Palestinians.

Which brings me to your personal story. You have been commenting here for quite some time without revealing this memory before, and I am truly sorry that I played any role in compelling you to publicly recall this horrible experience if you were reluctant to do so. I'm sure you know it was not my intention to cause any discomfort. Please accept my sincere condolences, however belated and ineffective they may be.

Finally, this distance between us may be smaller than it first appears . We both think the settlers are willing participants in an international crime. We both think their brutal treatment of Palestinians inevitably leads to shocking acts such as this. You are angrier than I am because you are a Palestinian who has suffered a grievous wound at the hands of Israel's insistence on its right to control your people's lives. I don't deny your right to anger, nor do I resent your refusal to join me in condemning the gunmen in this case. I do have much less tolerance for those who would agree with me in this instance of Palestinians killing Israelis, but ignore, excuse or even praise Israel's violence which has been so much more costly and destructive.

Now to the question of effectiveness. Even some of those, such as yourself, who have expressed understanding for the perpetrators' hatred of their victims, have noted that there seems to be no good that can come of this. Many have observed that the attack appears to be a gift to the Israeli government, and some have even theorized that Israel might have been surreptitiously behind it. I think there is no evidence to support that speculation, but I understand its source, because the potential benefit to Israel is quite significant. Will this killing convince settlers that they can never be safe, and that they had better evacuate to a location where their legal right to reside is recognized by at least somebody outside Israel? Of course not. It will steel their resolve to never budge from "their" land to which they have a divine right that definitively trumps world opinion. Even greater repression of Palestinians and settlement building are far more likely outcomes than panicky flight, whether or not that was a motivation for the gunmen.

A spokesman was quoted as saying the killing demonstrates that the "armed Palestinian resistance is present in the West Bank despite the war to uproot it." Great, so you're still here, and they're dead. Excellent point. The attack came on the eve of the Washington peace conference, and it's hard to view this as a coincidence. As I argued in my original post, and Richard Silverstein argued as well, the peace conference is bound to fail anyway, and this incident was hardly necessary to push it over a cliff. In fact, many have commented that each party appears to be primarily concerned with the PR chore of blaming the other party for failure.

One of the actual reasons for failure is that the Palestinians are not adequately represented by Abbas, and that Hamas has been shut out of the negotiations. There are all sorts of persuasive reasons why Hamas should have been included, but now, the decision to exclude it – supposedly because they are murderous thugs who can't act civilized like we do – seems a little more justified. Moreover, it will be easier for Netanyahu & co. to argue that the talks failed because they couldn't recover from the initial trauma of the terrorist murder of four Israelis designed to derail the talks. Once again, Palestinian intransigence has destroyed whatever chance their was for peace ... missed opportunities ... blah, blah blah.

A few years ago, the great Israeli columnist, Ran HaCohen, persuasively argued that Ariel Sharon, when faced with periods of cessation of violence against Israeli civilians, initiated some new horror to provoke further terrorist attacks. Ask yourself why Sharon would risk Jewish life and limb, which you know he valued far higher than others'? It's because of the public relations bonanza reaped by Israel whenever Israelis, especially civilians, are attacked. Palestinians may well feel that non-violence has not worked, that it has never been rewarded with an alleviation, much less elimination, of their hell. That's true, but maybe things are changing.

Israel's hold on public opinion has been sharply eroding, with its murderous wars in Lebanon and Gaza, the Goldstone report, and the Mavi Marmara massacre. Why, in the midst of Israel's series of self-inflicted wounds, does Hamas (or whoever) remind the world that Palestinians are capable of shocking violence? People sympathize with those who are victimized by intolerable crimes; why at this point did the gunmen shift that sympathy from Palestinians to Israelis? In the absence of violence, Israel must be forced to explain, in ever more shrill and transparently dishonest ways, why a few people the world over who believe they have an ancient connection to this strip of land have superior rights to it over those who have lived there for centuries.

Let them explain why native Palestinians must accept domination and subjugation in perpetuity by this more recently arrived ethno-religious group. There are no reasonable arguments likely to appeal to those with no stake in the conflict. In fact, more and more Jews such as myself are rejecting this undeserved privilege because it is so indefensible, because we could not tolerate living as second-class citizens or worse, and we must not impose such civil liabilities upon others, especially based on accident of birth. Ahmed Moor no doubt is correct when he states that superior morality is infinitely more likely than guns to win Palestinian freedom. I haven't seen any defense of this killing on the ground that it is likely to be strategically effective.

There is no way this incident could be viewed as a positive step forward in the liberation of the Palestinians, and it might very well be a giant step backward. On this issue alone, the decision to carry out this operation is inexcusable. This was not an act perpetrated in the heat of the moment, but a well-planned execution perpetrated in cold blood. Some people got together in a room and hashed this out. As I stated in the title of my original post, what were they thinking?

Postscript: I anticipate that some will criticize my right, as a person who lives in complete comfort and security, to "lecture" oppressed people on the acceptable methods they may utilize to win their freedom. I don't look at it that way at all. I'm merely expressing my opinion, and do not need to earn the right to do so. Moreover, I have taken rather strong stands against the barbarity unleashed by Israelis against Palestinians, and I'm perfectly entitled to identify which responsive measures I endorse and those that I condemn.

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I.F. Stone supported state force to kill a racist movement before it poisoned society
Sep 04, 2010 10:12 am | Philip Weiss

I haven't gotten into the debate over non-violence on this site for a few reasons, mainly because other articulate voices are engaged, though I tend to be on the non-violent side, because this moment is just too important in reaching out to Americans who are finally opening their eyes but are turned off by the cycle of violence. And when people say, But look, you're a privileged American, I say, You're right, and we want privileged Americans engaged.

That said, I've been reading I.F. Stone from the '50s and it interests me that when it came to the Jim Crow South--a situation somewhat similar in the American experience to what the West Bank represents today (let alone Gaza)-- he was for the use of force to bring about integration. His writings leave me no doubt that he would have called for state force to evict the settlers from the West Bank, long ago, to save Israeli society. And now? 

Let's go to the videotape.

I'm reading Stone's book The Haunted Fifties. Two columns are of interest. Back in '56, white mobs for a time prevented the integration of schools in Alabama and Kentucky. In both cases, Stone called for the state to crush the mob.

In the University of Alabama case, Stone even likened blacks to Arabs. He viewed the white mob as similar to French hoodlums in then-colonial Algeria, who in 1956 kept a liberal French minister from assuming power and granting more freedom to the Arab elite.

That French mob cut the ground from under the French-educated Arabs... That Tuscaloosa mob, and the cowardly way the University and Governor Folsom gave in to it, is doing the same to the moderate elements in our Negro community. The longer that responsible white leadership delays the unpopular step of enforcing educational integration which is now law, the harder it will become, the stronger the mob will grow. This lawlessness is a monster best killed in its cradle.

Later on in September 1956, in the case of an elementary school in Clay, Kentucky, Stone went even further in his denunciation of racism and its effects (and pushed for Adlai Stevenson over Eisenhower):  

There will be no orderly determination without some show of force. A false dichotomy has been set up about force and persuasion. Both are needed... mobs can never be merely persuaded. They will overwhelm the good people of the community unless dealt with firmly. What progress has been made in Kentucky and Tennessee was made because Governors Chandler and Clement to their credit called out the militia to show that they meant business...

Unless some firm moves toward enforcing compliance are soon made from Washington, the lines may harden for a long, long fight in which the South, its destiny and its good people, will more and more come under the control of the worst elements and poison the political life of the whole country. Behind the school struggle is the shadow of a conflict as grave as slavery created. The South must become either truly democratic or the base of a new racist and Fascist movement which could threaten the whole country and its institutions. On this, more than any other issue, fresh leadership in the White House is urgent.

Wow, what a scenario Stone foresaw! Some may call it paranoid, but I call it wisdom when applied to Israel. The thrust of Stone's thoughts must be clear even to liberal Zionists. A racist movement representing the worst of Israel (the settlers) has been allowed to grow. Their mob rule of an entire region should have been prevented by force. It has not, and it has poisoned the whole society and truly threatened all Israeli institutions.

Stone clearly would have supported the use of force against the settlers by the state. Would he condone the murder of settlers? I am sure he would not. But as he indicates in the southern situation, the problem has so degenerated in the Jim Crow West Bank-- lack of freedom for millions of Palestinians for decades now, as the advanced world is moving toward multicultural democracy-- that we have a political problem as bad as slavery in the U.S. I am not even talking about Gaza; and again leading U.S. institutions are corrupted by it.

I pray for a bloodless transition to democracy. But reading Stone, it's hard to imagine such a transition without a strong militia making its appearance.

P.S. I'm stuck on Stone in the '50. In Prophets Outcast, a fine collection of Jewish non-Zionist thought, edited by Adam Shatz of the LRB, Stone in the 60s urges his beloved Israel to climb the "steep and arid mountains of prejudice" against Arabs. I'll get to that later....

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