Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14, Syria

Who’s Afraid of a False Witness?

The “false witness” issue has gone from being a conspiratorial throw-away line in one of Nasrallah’s early summer speeches, to a full-blown scandal involving several arrest warrants from the Syrian judiciary, and threats by Lebanese opposition parties to boycott cabinet sessions until the issue is resolved.

Who is to blame for this fiasco? While it is fairly clear that the false witness file is just one part of an opposition campaign to discredit the STL, I feel that Saad al-Hariri is ultimately responsible for allowing this issue to snowball. Did he not recognize months ago that this was going to be the opposition’s game plan? Did he think that he was going to get off with a poorly-worded mea culpa in a Saudi newspaper?

By remaining out of the spotlight and not tackling the issue head-on, he has allowed the opposition to take complete control of this story. And the longer he tries to ignore it, the more suspicious and deceitful he and his allies look. Does it matter whether or not the 33 summoned individuals actually offered false testimony or tampered with evidence? No. What matters is that the opposition has been given an open floor to argue that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is nothing but a vast conspiracy relying on false witnesses.

I’ve gotten a lot of flak over the past two weeks for suggesting that Saad al-Hariri’s premiership is little more than a sustained absence, and that March 8th politicians have better rhetorical chops than their counterparts in March 14th. Let me ask you naysayers once again: let’s imagine the tables were turned, and that a media campaign was being waged against Hizbullah. Would Nasrallah remain quiet, or would he respond to his accusers calmly and clearly (and, probably, disarmingly), batting away their claims like the wispiest of dust bunnies?

Compared to what Hizbullah is facing, the false witness issue is small potatoes. Nasrallah is allegedly staring down an STL indictment built on five years of in-depth investigation, interviews, and forensic evidence. What does he do in response? He goes on the offensive a few months in advance, and one-ups the U.N. with a three-part TV special featuring Israeli satellite footage and confessions from convicted espionage artists. Nasrallah could handle the false witness thing in his sleep. Meanwhile, Hariri seems to be asleep.
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263 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid of a False Witness?

  1. Of course the last section above goes also to B&D, whose talents I really think would be well spent in participating more effectively in the debates in the U.S.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 12, 2010, 7:53 pm
  2. Who appointed you blog nanny, HP? Is it your place to tell others they aren’t welcome here?

    B&D is one of the growing number of Jews who are refusing to submit to the zionist orthodoxy and the attacks on him are typical of that tribal phenomenon of casting out and isolation utilized by the threatened. It gets much uglier; witness the vile & vicious campaigns mounted against Judge Goldstone. AIG is right about understanding Jewish history and I would submit that the sicarrii were an extremist manifestation of this tradition.

    QN is right about the plethora of blogs on THE SUBJECT, but most of them attract members of the choir. Even wide open lefty/liberal/progressive American political blogs tend to shy away from THE SUBJECT because discussions can go nuclear in a nanosecond. Thus far, this thread has, in contrast, been quite civilized as far as such things go.

    Where were you when THE SUBJECT was under extensive review @ SC among the same crew?

    B&D, it takes awhile to become acclimatized…..

    AIG, I was remiss in not complimenting you on what is the best cautionary koan ever for those of us outsiders seeking to get a handle on Lebanon et al. I hope you don’t mind my formatting:

    “Lebanon is a strange place.
    The more you try to learn,
    The less you understand”


    In fact, QN could post this fair warning (with attribution) somewhere on his Home page…..

    Posted by lally | October 12, 2010, 10:14 pm
  3. Separate Lebanon from Israel? Sure. Give all the Palestinians in the camps full citizenship.

    “More than 3,861 people have so far fallen victim of mines in Lebanon… Israeli forces dropped millions of cluster bombs over the southern regions of the country, with 4 million munitions scattered during the last 72 hours of the 2006 summer conflict”

    [It’s 1972: try separating debate about Cambodia from from Vietnam ]

    My sources for Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi and the whole ME seem to overlap for some reason.

    Onward to Peter:

    … Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor and former Air Force lecturer, will present findings on Capitol Hill Tuesday that argue that the majority of suicide terrorism around the world since 1980 has had a common cause: military occupation.

    Pape and his team of researchers draw on data produced by a six-year study of suicide terrorist attacks around the world that was partially funded by the Defense Department’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. They have compiled the terrorism statistics in a publicly available database comprised of some 10,000 records on some 2,200 suicide terrorism attacks, dating back to the first suicide terrorism attack of modern times – the 1983 truck bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 241 U.S. Marines.
    “We have lots of evidence now that when you put the foreign military presence in, it triggers suicide terrorism campaigns, … and that when the foreign forces leave, it takes away almost 100% of the terrorist campaign,” Pape said in an interview last week on his findings.

    Google Robert Pape. It’s his second book on the subject. Did you know the Tamil Tigers led the world in suicide bombings? Sure you did.

    CAMERA… Oh jesus.

    “This is true in dehumanizing the opposing debater whether by tagging them as non-humans or by using the “n” word. Shame!”

    Honest, can you read? Did I insult the Jews, or did I remind you what my people were to Europe, and what new immigrants are to Europe now?

    Posted by bored and disgusted | October 12, 2010, 10:24 pm
  4. lally, I am not blog and no one appointed me as such. I am expressing the opinion that personal attacks and the use of pejorative epithets contributes nothing to the exchange and, importantly, risks degenerating into a competition of who comes up with the more vile adjective. If this were to happen, I doubt it would remain of interest. As you said yourself, this blog is quite distinguished in steering away from such behavior. At the same time, it’s a slippery slope. I find certain statements repulsive and state a much.

    B&D, the only issue I had, perhaps because of the ultra-sensitivity in the U.S., is with your use of th “n” word. I had some difficulty understanding one or 2 of your early postings but then things became much clearler, perhaps because I became better attuned to your style. At the same time, my comment about applying your talents to addressing public opinion in the U.S. is sincere. You probably know of the powerful influence of the official tag line about Israel in the U.S., a line that is taken for granted. The U.S. is a free country and persuasion works if valid and effectively expressed opinions and evidence are presented. I hope my earlier statements were clear, I was taking issue with AIG’s use of “animal” and your use of the “n” word, which itself is akin do dehumanization in the U.S. context.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 12, 2010, 10:45 pm
  5. Meant to write “I am not blog nanny.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 12, 2010, 10:45 pm
  6. CAMERA… Oh jesus.

    Bored & Anti-Israel,

    Don’t bother, the corrections speak for themself;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 12, 2010, 10:50 pm
  7. In other news, I’m reading that the Jordan Valley is now becoming an “issue” in the Israel-PA negotiations.

    Apparently, Netanyahu wants a permanent IDF presence in the Jordan valley to guard against attack by arab armies.

    I dunno about you guys, as this is somewhat new to me, but if this indeed true, then I read two things here:

    1) Netanyahu has no real interest in these negotiations succeeding. Much like Assad’s approach of “negotiations are the goal, peace isn’t”. What kind of sovereignty would this bestow on the future Palestinian state? None whatsoever. You can have your own state. But by “your own”, we really mean we’ll need to control your borders, just in case. Hm. Okay.

    2) I can understand Israel’s concern for security. But isn’t the whole point of peace with your neighbors NOT having to guard against them invading? If you call it “peace” but at the same time, put in things like “guarding against Arab armies”, well that’s not really any kind of peace. That’s sort of like saying “I want peace with Israel, but only if the Jews move to South America.” Uhm. Okay.

    3) (Ok, I said 2 things, but I just thought of another) If any future palestinian state is not really sovereign, and must allow an IDF presence, and possibly settlments, and so on, then, I’m starting to think those who above mentioned the de-facto “One state” are right. This so-called two states is a charade that’s gonna end up being “Israel + Israel Prime” (where Israel Prime is a Palestinian State who’s borders are controlled by the IDF. Which, in the long run, leads back to some kind of one-state paradigm.


    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 12:00 am
  8. The Iranian president came to Lebanon today.
    Any thoughts about that?

    Posted by i | October 13, 2010, 7:29 am
  9. BV,
    You are right and wrong about the Jordan Valley:-) You are right in saying that the current Israeli government is placing greater demand on Israeli presence in the valley but you are wrong in suggesting that this is a new position.
    Israel has always maintained that it needs a security belt os sorts around the Jordan Valley and that was an issue in the talks under Clinton. I believe that at the time the issue was tentatively resolved by agreeing to have a number of Israeli early warning stations in the valley instead of large contingents of Israeli troops.
    These talks , as many have been saying for years, will go no where unless the US imposes a solution on both parties. In this case the greater effort has got to be on Israel since there isn’t anything left for the Palestinians to give back besides the right of return, It is their only trump card for negotiations short of rejecting the two state solution and demanding that they be integrated in the state of Israel. That , in my opinion, is what they should do. Such a move would be tantamount to the conservative Israeli’s worst nightmare.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 13, 2010, 8:55 am
  10. BV,

    Given the situation in Lebanon how can you not see that Netanyahu’s demand is reasonable? Who will stop Iran from funding a militia and smuggling weapons to it unless Israel controls the border???? The UN? The Arab states? The Palestinians?

    Should we take your word that it won’t happen after you failed so miserably in Lebanon? What is the difference? Why will things be different this time?

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 9:54 am
  11. GK,

    I repeat, it is a pipe dream that the solution to the Palestinian problem is for them to demand integration into Israel. I explained countless times why this has no chance of working. It is amazing that you believe that Lebanon is so complex and difficult to understand and predict (which it is), but when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, things are so simple: You pull this lever and the result is inevitably what you thought it will be.

    I would suggest being a little more humble and that you understand a little more the complexities and intricacies of our issues.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 10:08 am
  12. AIG,
    At times you amaze me with the totally unsubstantiated remarks that you arrive at.
    1. What is it that will not work? Is it that integration will not change the landscape or is it that Israel will respond by creating a two class citizenship?
    2. Where did I say that integration will work? I clearly suggested using it as a tool.
    3. It is beyond amazing that commentators are not entitled, in your view, to an opinion while you will lecture by saying ” I explained countless times why this will not work” so why don’t you accept the words of the master. Oh humility please pay AIG a visit.
    Take care.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 13, 2010, 10:22 am
  13. BV,

    Any luck with the google search? Did the Lieberman lead pan out?

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 10:23 am
  14. GK,

    Just by asking what will not work you prove my point. Your reduce the result to two outcomes when in fact there are many more outcomes, most if not all detrimental to the Palestinians. Have you ever actually thought this process through? I think not. Let’s do an initial analysis.

    The Palestinians ask for integration with Israel. Who does? The PLO? Hamas? Abbas? The Palestinian diaspora? Who represents the Palestinians in the negotiations with Israel about integration? Is the integration request in the name of the diaspora also? If no, it is tantamount to giving up the right of return, if yes, it is easily dismissed by Israel as not sincere.
    What are the chances that many Palestinians will be against integration? After all, requesting to be integrated into Israel is the utmost act of normalization and submission to Israel. What are the chances that this will lead to civil war and to a wave of assassinations?

    All this, before I even begin to discuss what Israel can do and how we can take advantage of this. Use your imagination a little more. Nobody can predict what the end result will surely be, but just as Oslo turned out awful for the Palestinians, you can rest assured that it is very likely that this will turn out worse for the Palestinians.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 10:41 am
  15. AIG,
    I am not going to engage you in a fruitless and pointless discussion. Is there anything that you raised in the above that is not equally applicable to the current negotiations or any other ones. There is nothing to discuss. You have “explained countless times why it will not work” but I have rejected countless times your explanations:-) You may have the last word on this.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | October 13, 2010, 10:58 am
  16. GK,

    Ok, you are right. Here is the solution to the Lebanese problem. The Sunnis and Christians should unilaterally agree to one man one vote and then the international and internal pressure on HA will be so great they will disarm and become just another political party and Lebanon will return to being the Switzerland of the middle east.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 12:02 pm
  17. Adding this at the top: AIG, the opposition won the popular vote last time.

    May 3 2010

    A statement issued late Friday evening from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem said the resolution calling for a 2012 conference was “deeply flawed and hypocritical.”

    “It singles out Israel, the Middle East’s only true democracy and the only country threatened with annihilation,” the statement goes on to say. “Yet the terrorist regime in Iran, which is racing to develop nuclear weapons and which openly threatens to wipe Israel off the map, is not even mentioned in the resolution.”

    Not that hard to find. In July, in an interview on CBS he referred to the Iranian regime as calling “for the destruction of the Jewish state”. And of course many would agree (though Ahmadinejad is less of a fan of democracy than I am. )

    “Wipe Israel off the Map”: Livni and Olmert in 2006/7. Haaretz in Dec 2006: “Ahmadinejad at Holocaust conference: ‘Israel will ‘soon be wiped out’ “. That’s an old story.

    Ghassan Karam, AIG doesn’t want a binational state. He’s a moral supporter of ethnic separatism. He doesn’t worry that it would fail, he wants it to.

    QN sends us to the post at Human Province describing the Israel loyalty oath in Israel that Americans would never accept at home. The author is right to point it out, but he ignores the fact that that bifurcation is central to liberal democratic support for Israel. American Zionists overwhelmingly are democrats, and would never defend the equivalent institutional bigotry in the US. But they defend it in Israel because “Israel is different”. What’s happening now is the slow separation of the openly bigoted from the passively bigoted. AIG is not a liberal, nor would he pretend to be. As an American he’d worry about Mexicans. In Europe he’d back the right. As I’m sure he would in Lebanon.

    Rani Says: “This is (was?) a Lebanese Blog! you are occupying a Lebanese Blog!”
    Does that include the refugees? Or are they not Lebanese enough?

    Posted by bored and disgusted | October 13, 2010, 12:38 pm
  18. It’s amazing when you compare today’s Lebanon to that of 4k years ago. The similarities are incredible! I tend to believe that we will always invite/accept the interference of “big brothers” (Syria,Egypt,…) and will always seek to have our own small kingdoms (tyre, sidon, Byblos,..). The solution to all our problems is the “f” word.
    “federal system”
    This way all will live happily ever after… Or not?

    Posted by IHTDA | October 13, 2010, 12:58 pm
  19. The image that comes to mind watching Ahmedin on TV at the rally in Beirut is of Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining … holding that axe he just used to break down the door, sticking his head through and saying: “Wendy I’m hone!”

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 1:11 pm
  20. @AIG 210:

    How should I explain this better…

    I certainly understand Israel’s need for security assurances, considering the past 80 years. I even stated so.
    But something about negotiating Peace (capital P) with its neighbors, contingent on placing troops on their lands just doesn’t “jive”.
    I mean, how would you feel if Lebanon insisted on placing troops in the Galilee because of our historical fear (justified or not is irrelevant) for our Litani waters (again, let’s assume this was a valid fear to the Lebanese, regardless of whether you think it is).
    Wouldn’t that strike you as somehow….wrong?

    I don’t really have the answers here, mind you. I’m just trying to understand how anyone can think that this sort of “peace” will indeed lead to a 2 state solution.
    I’m starting to see that one-state thing becoming a de facto reality one way or another, no matter what the official line is.

    When I first read that theory here (HP and others), I sort of rolled my eyes. To me, the real 2 state solution is the obvious one. But I’m starting to doubt that it will ever have any real chance.

    A proper two-state solution means 2 SOVEREIGN states. It means the Palestinian state will have its own boundaries, its own military, its own decision making, its own airspace, etc. Just like Israel will have its own.
    If you wanna impose IDF outposts in the Jordan Valley, then maybe you should also accept outposts for Hizbollah and the Syrian Army in the Galilee (for their own early warnings)…How ridiculous does that sound?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 1:11 pm
  21. IHTDA

    The Christians will rip each others throats out to control their state.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 1:13 pm
  22. @AIG 213,

    I found a few things on the “Arabs” search, although most seemed out of context, to be honest.

    Having said that, we all have heard the “THEM ARABS” kind of wording from Israelis before. If you haven’t, then I’m not sure what bubble you’ve been living in.

    And I’ve already conceded that there’s also “THEM CHRISTIANS” and “THEM DRUZE” and “THEM MARONITES” and “THE SHIA” and of course “THE JEWS” and so on…
    This really isn’t new.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 1:14 pm
  23. PeterinDubai

    Aren’t they doing this already?:)

    I’m not pro federal system but I’m wondering why it’s a taboo to even contemplate it. Worst case scenario is that it might fail and we will kill each other.. Been there done that…

    Posted by IHTDA | October 13, 2010, 1:24 pm
  24. After Hassan Nasrallah’s speech today, I wonder if tomorrow will be as smooth sailing for Ahmedin.

    I don’t think the Israelis are going to allow this trip to go through smoothly.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 1:27 pm
  25. BV,

    If you want to explain better, explain to me what arrangement you would put in place so that the Hezbollah phenomena does not repeat in Palestine?

    I understand very well the lovey dovey stuff you wrote. You live in the US because you tried that stuff in Lebanon and it doesn’t work. Why would you want us to repeat your mistakes?

    Of course you have heard Israelis generalize about Arabs before. We have our share of racists. But you were claiming that our prominent leaders are doing so also. You are just plain wrong. There is nothing equivalent to Nasrallah on Israel’s side.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 1:35 pm
  26. Peter,

    Why is what Nasrallah said different than anything he said in the past? He wants to destroy Israel, we understand by now.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 1:43 pm
  27. Tic Tac …

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 2:04 pm
  28. It shows that the firing of Octavia Nasr from CNN has greatly reduced the quality of ME coverage.

    Its as if there is nothing of tremendous political significance going on in the world apart from watching the live rescue operation of the miners for 24 hours.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 2:10 pm
  29. AIG,

    I’ll grant you that current Israeli leaders do not outright say stuff the way Nassrallah would. I never claimed the contrary.
    But Israeli leaders in the past have done so.
    And you can’t expect me to believe that just because the current leaders don’t openly SAY SO, on record, some of them don’t do so in private.

    But I think we’ve gotten bogged down on a tangent. I’m not sure how we got into discussing the official versus unofficial statements of Israeli officials. That wasn’t the main thrust of this discussion.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 2:15 pm
  30. Personally and regrettably, I’m out of here!

    I’ve been to Teheran. I know what Iranians live under.

    I’ve also been to Syria. I also know how business gets done there.

    No thanks.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 3:37 pm
  31. AIG, was Kahane a prominent leader?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 13, 2010, 3:59 pm
  32. AIG will argue that

    1) He acknowledged there are some racists in Israel.

    2) Kahane’s party was outlawed.

    And that’d be a fair argument from him too.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 4:23 pm
  33. BV,



    Kahane was never allowed to run in any elections because the Israeli supreme court ruled that his charter was racist and anti-democratic. And he was never a prominent leader with even 1/100th the kind of support Nasrallah has.

    What else do you have?

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 4:31 pm
  34. AIG,

    Ever read the diaries of Moshe Sharett?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 4:44 pm
  35. It was just a question, the point being that regrettably there are folks who harbor such kind of reasoning, driven clearly by the Holocaust as the last straw in a series of dreadful events suffered by the Jewish people throughout history. I don’t know if there are accurate statistics that measure the percentage of folks who continue to harbor such feelings; these likely include a majority of the settlers.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 13, 2010, 4:46 pm
  36. I’d suggest Lieberman and Netanyahu to quickly put out a press release that Israel recognizes the Islamic Republic of Iran as legitimately representing the Shi’ites in the world.

    But then, these guys think they’re the only ones representing anything religiously legitimate in the region.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 4:47 pm
  37. The hypocrisy I find is that Iran wants to be an islamic republic while denying Israel the right to be a Jewish (or predominantly Jewish) state.
    I find both concepts anachronistic, believing that the only formula for long-lived statehood must include:
    – separation of church/mosque/temple and state
    – one man (or woman) one vote

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 13, 2010, 4:48 pm
  38. HP,

    How many times will you deny the fact that Jews are a nation, not solely a religion? You may recall I am an atheist Jew, but a Jew nonetheless.

    AS for your baseless accusation about the settlers, most of them are “life style” settlers and were lured by cheaper and better homes and not ideology. There is a small percentage of the settlers that is racist. I have never spoken to any settler that was of the opinion that we need to kill Arabs or eliminate any Arab states. Certainly, no settler leader has ever said such thing. You may choose to believe whatever you want about what they really believe, but unlike you, I am not in the thought police.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 4:57 pm
  39. Time for Israel to apologize to the Shi’ites for trampling all over them in South Lebanon to “protect” themselves from the evil Palestinians (who were sponsored by the Sunnis … that caused 9/11!)

    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 5:01 pm
  40. AIG

    An atheist Israeli I can live with.

    A person that calls himself an Atheist Jew is equivalent to a person calling himself an Atheist Christian.


    Posted by PeterinDubai | October 13, 2010, 5:06 pm
  41. Peter,

    Get used to it. Zionism is a predominantly SECULAR movement started by SECULAR Jews. All my grandparents were socialists or communists. Does the kibbutz, the purest form of communism in history, ring a bell? Herzl, the founder of Zionism was secular. In fact, the religious Jews joined the Zionist bandwagon quite late.

    The Jews are a nation or a tribe. Our religion is the custom of the tribe. Over the last 150 years, much because of the reluctance of Europe to assimilate its Jews, the Jews self determined themselves as a nation using 19th century European nationalism as the template. If you are interested, the Dreyfus Affair was what drove Herzl to determine that we need a state of our own because we are a separate nation and cannot thrive as part of the European nations. Boy was he right.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 5:21 pm
  42. PeterInDubai, you’re wrong.

    An atheist Jew is like an atheist Arab, not an atheist Christian.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 5:31 pm
  43. BV,

    Thanks again, your explanation is more succinct and to the point. With your permission, I will “borrow” it for use in the future.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 5:42 pm
  44. Thanks. You have my permission. Haha.

    Hey, at least we can agree on something, you and I.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 6:04 pm
  45. “A person that calls himself an Atheist Jew is equivalent to a person calling himself an Atheist Christian.”

    Another argument I’m tired of having to make:

    The Jews are a people. Whether they’re separable from Palestinians in any way but religion is another question. But not one worth asking.

    Shlomo Sand calls this paper no more than another ideological defense of Zionism, which is absurd. Do descendants of the Pilgrims have no right to “return” and kick the newbies out of England? And as I said the Palestinians aren’t immigrants.

    “…the Dreyfus Affair was what drove Herzl to determine that we need a state of our own because we are a separate nation and cannot thrive as part of the European nations. Boy was he right.”[!]

    Blaming the Palestinians for defending themselves. And you still can’t thrive without a few Trillion in US support.

    There are as many Jews in the US as in Israel.

    Posted by bored and disgusted | October 13, 2010, 6:07 pm
  46. AIG,

    Re: Kahana. That is actually not true – he not only WAS allowed to run in Elections, but became an active and extremely vociferous Member of Knesset in 1984. In fact, the Supreme Court UPHELD his rights to voice even Racial comments, from 1984 to 1988. Only then, in 1988, did the Supreme Court agree with the Knesset not to accept his list for the following Elections.

    Posted by Shai | October 13, 2010, 6:08 pm
  47. HP,

    “The hypocrisy I find is that Iran wants to be an islamic republic while denying Israel the right to be a Jewish ”

    Do you simply believe everything you read? Do you really think that most people opposed to Israel give a donkeys gonads whether Israel is Jewish or Buddihst?

    Its is denying Europeans the self-appointed right of colonialism. Its really that simple.

    Posted by usedtopost | October 13, 2010, 6:20 pm
  48. Shai,

    Could you say the Israel Supreme Court did its job, or would that be too pro-Zionist for you?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 13, 2010, 6:22 pm
  49. Akbar,

    As usual, you hope for simple answers, like “The Israeli Supreme Court does its job…” But reality is always more complex, especially in Israel. As I mentioned, between 1984 and 1988 the Israel Supreme Court not only “did its job”, it actually upheld Kahana’s rights to make Racial remarks in and during Knesset sessions. The Supreme Court did this a number of times, when the issue was brought before them.

    Only in 1988, after the Knesset rejected his list, and a certain rule was changed, did the Supreme Court finally rule against Kahana.

    So did the Surpreme Court “do its job”? Between 84-88, no, they didn’t! After 88, yes, they did.

    It’s so much easier to just read AIPAC stuff, isn’t it? 🙂

    Posted by Shai | October 13, 2010, 6:29 pm
  50. AIG, I’m trying to understand… only to find a dilemma between religious exclusivity and another form of exclusivity which I’m not sure how to characterize, racial? ethnic?

    Without finding some criterion for the exclusivity one cannot account for the rules in Israel relating to marriage of non-Jews with non-Jewish non-Israelis, which is intrinsically discriminatory, given that the same rules do not apply to Jewish Israelis. Furthermore, the only wedding allowed in Israel is a religious wedding (same, by the way, as in Lebanon), so I hope you will at least appreciate the fact that, despite your repeated reminders, the mind sometimes wanders off to the default way of classifying the people there. You raise valid points, though that I’ll try to remember.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 13, 2010, 6:29 pm
  51. Shai,

    You are right, I forgot his first term, but the point still stands. He was never a prominent leader and after one term was stopped from running again.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 6:31 pm
  52. UTP, I stand corrected since both you and AIG seem to agree on the point of religion vis a vis Israel. Still, without appearing to make excuses, the argument I give above in #251 is a reasonable thought about why one tends to link Israel with the Jewish religion.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 13, 2010, 6:34 pm
  53. HP, AIG,

    In a recent poll taken in Israel, only 40% of Israelis classified themselves as purely secular (do not believe in God). The rest were of different “levels” of religious Jews. The country is becoming more religious by the day, mainly because religious Jews have far more children than secular ones. Jerusalem, for instance, is FAR more religious than it has ever been. Secular schools close, and are quickly replaced by religious ones.

    Religious political parties enjoy far more strength in the past two decades than they ever have in the previous four.

    To claim Israel is not a religious state is silly. After the recent Government ruling that non-Jews would have to pledge allegiance to Israel as The Jewish State, numerous headlines in our top papers read “The Jewish Republic of Israel”. So what if most of my friends in Israel are secular? The government passes this law, and most find this, at best, a Religious Law or, at worst, a Racist Law!

    If once I used to laugh at those suggesting that Israel is like KSA or Iran, I’m starting to laugh just a little less nowadays.

    Posted by Shai | October 13, 2010, 6:44 pm
  54. HP,

    The exclusivity that you are finding “hard” to grasp is very very simple. It is the exclusiveness that makes Turks without visas illegal in Germany. They are excluded, because they are not Germans.

    Yes, only religious weddings are allowed IN Israel. BUT, any civil marriage outside Israel is recognized by the state. It is a stupid compromise between the secular and religious people. I wish this stupid law would change. Several of my friends flew to Cyprus to get married (it is a twenty minute flight and quite cheap). In fact there are package deals to be found that cater to people getting civil marriages in Cyprus. So really, the law has no teeth. I find more problematic the laws about burying people, but we can leave that to another day.

    Yes, the law about the spouses of non-Jews is discriminatory and hopefully in the future should be over turned. However, the law is needed because this loophole was abused.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 6:46 pm
  55. Shai,

    “Only” 40% of Israelis are secular? What is the number in Arab states, 1%? How many Americans are secular?

    Since Lieberman is very much against the religious establishment and in fact pushing for civil marriage, calling a law that he proposes “religious” is just nonsense. Lieberman is a secular Jew and the oath relates to nationality, not religion.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 6:51 pm
  56. AIG,

    There is the Jewish People, and the Nation of Israel. If you define the two as the same, then Israel is a Racist state. Doesn’t get any better, no matter how many times you turn it over.

    Posted by Shai | October 13, 2010, 6:55 pm
  57. I would say a lot more than 1% of Arabs are secular. Just a guesstimate on my part, based on empirical evidence. I’d be curious what the actual numbers are.

    Regardless, the problem here with this “Jewish” word is a problem of definition.
    How do YOU define “Jew”? A race? A religion? Both?
    (I think you’ve already answered this).
    And how does the law (the state) define “Jew”? That’s the more important and more problematic question. The laws of the state of Israel, and its constitution, aren’t as clearcut on the subject. Or are in some contradiction.
    Examples abound. Some were listed above, the marriage thing, the nationality loyalty thing, etc.

    A “German” in germany is clearly defined by law. A turk with German citizenship is also a GERMAN.
    An arab with Israeli citizenship is an ISRAELI.
    But is he a Jew? I think not.
    Therefore being a Jew is not defined as being a citizen of the state of Israel. Is it?
    It’s something more. It also involves a certain differentiator from the Arab Israeli.
    What is this differentiator? Religious belief? Not entirely (hence the secular Jew).
    Country of origin? No. Some are Russian, some are German, some are American, etc.
    What then? A race? How is this race defined? Some genetic marker?

    You see why this is not as easy to grasp as you make it out to be?

    You’re gonna say “A Jew is a Jew. I know one when I see one.” (or something along those lines). But that’s not really a definition.
    Is an Arab with a name like Muhamad Ali, who observes Jewish traditions a Jew? Pretty sure you’d say no.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 13, 2010, 7:13 pm
  58. As the comment section of this articles winds down I want to salute all the commentators for a lively exchange. I, for one, learned a lot. The addition of Shai was a crowning moment for me. Maybe we got off topic but as B&D remarked all the topics of this region are intertwined. Onwards to Ahmadinejad’s visit article…

    Posted by Honest Patriot | October 13, 2010, 7:33 pm
  59. Shai and BV,

    There are the Jewish people or nation. We existed before the state of Israel was founded; that is what causes the confusion in your minds. Israel is the state of the Jewish nation. Israel is not a nation. It is a state. Being the citizen of a state is a legal status. Being part of the Jewish nation is a matter of self determination mostly. If a person sincerely sees himself a Jew and is willing to tie his destiny to that of the Jewish people, for me he is a Jew. For example I view Father Marcel-Jacques Dubois as Jewish.

    Others may disagree.

    Israel was founded for all the Jewish people, a small percentage of which were in the geographic area of the state when it was founded. Therefore, citizenship could not be associated with geography. Therefore a law was required to define what is a Jew for citizenship purposes. But be careful not to be confused here, the law of Return does not define who is a Jew, it is simply a legal vehicle to define who is entitled to Israeli citizenship. The Law of Return clearly says:

    4B. For the purposes of this Law, “Jew” means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.”

    Notice “for the purpose of this Law”, it is NOT intended as the “real” definition and no one claims it is.

    Finally, being an Israeli is very different from being a Jew. Israel is a state with citizens from more than one nation. The majority of Israelis are from the Jewish nation, the minority from the Arab/Palestinian nation. Canada and Belgium are other examples of such states.

    Posted by AIG | October 13, 2010, 7:54 pm
  60. “A “German” in germany is clearly defined by law. A turk with German citizenship is also a GERMAN.”

    You don’t know many Germans do you? They changed the law 10 years ago. A friend from a Jewish family that been in Germany for 700 years before the war is still not accepted as being “German”.
    He German friends said he was not German but Jewish.
    AIG got his paranoia and his ideology from the same place.

    I don’t share his paranoia any more than I share his casual response to your ignorance. That ignorance serves his purpose.

    Israel is founded in 19th Germanic racial ideology. That’s not even in dispute among those who know their history.

    Posted by bored and disgusted | October 13, 2010, 10:39 pm


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