April 26, 2006

“You Just Can’t Believe Anyone Hates You That Much”

TEL AVIV - After living in an Arab country for nearly six months, arriving in Israel came like a shock.

It startled me from the air. Whoa, I thought, as I looked out the window of the plane over the suburbs of Tel Aviv. If the border were open I could drive down there in a short couple of hours from my Beirut apartment. But this place looked nothing like Lebanon. My Lebanese friend Hassan calls Israel Disneyland. I thought about that and laughed when I watched it roll by from above.

Trim houses sprawled in Western-style suburban rows like white versions of little green Monopoly board pieces. Red-tiled roofs somehow looked more Southern California than Mediterranean. Swimming pools sparkled in sunlight. I felt that I had been whisked to the other side of the planet in no time.

The airport shocked me as well, although it probably wouldn’t shock you. There were more straight lines and right angles than I was used to. There were more women, children, and families around than I had seen for some time. Obvious tourists from places like suburban Kansas City were everywhere.

Arab countries have a certain feel. They’re masculine, relaxed, worn around the edges, and slightly shady in a Sicilian mobster sort of way. Arabs are wonderfully and disarmingly charming. Israel felt brisk, modern, shiny, and confident. It looked rich, powerful, and explicitly Jewish. I knew I had been away from home a long time when being around Arabs and Muslims felt comfortably normal and Jews seemed exotic.

First impression are just that, though. They tend to be crazily out of whack and subject to almost instant revision. Israel, I would soon find out, is a lot more like the Arab and Muslim countries than it appears at first glance. It’s not at all a little fragment of the West that is somehow weirdly displaced and on the wrong continent. It’s Middle Eastern to the core, and it has more in common with Lebanon than anywhere else I have been. The politics and the history are different, of course. But once I got settled in Tel Aviv I didn’t feel like I had ventured far from Beirut at all.

Lisa Goldman kindly welcomed me to the country and met me for drinks in a dark, smoky, and slightly bohemian bar on my first night. We talked, as everyone does, about The Conflict.

Lisa.jpg
Because I’m an idiot who can’t remember to take enough pictures of people, I pulled this one of Lisa off her own Web site.

Lisa is a journalist who has been writing for the Guardian lately. She moved from Canada to Israel years ago when Ehud Barak was prime minister. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians looked imminent. Israel was on the threshold - finally - of becoming an accepted and normal country in the Middle East. It was the perfect time to relocate, a time of optimism and hope. A cruel three weeks later that dream was violently put to its death. The second intifada exploded. Israel was at war.

“It was so traumatizing,” she said. “And everybody blamed us. I don’t think I will ever get over it.”

Last year she wrote a six-part series on her blog called How Lisa Came to Israel. It’s riveting and terrifying to read. She must turn that material into a book. Do yourself a favor. Set aside some time and read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six. If you’re a literary agent, send her an email.

“I was near 11 or 12 suicide attacks during the intifada," she said. "But that’s nothing. I know people in Jerusalem who were near 40 or 50.”

She kept going to restaurants, cafes, and bars even while bombs exploded somewhere almost every day. She even chose to sit right next to the front windows, the least safe place in any establishment.

“The staff kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to sit there," she said. "I did.”

“I didn’t want to visit Israel then,” I said.

“Hardly anyone did,” she said. “The thing is, though, even when the intifada was at its peak you were far more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than by the bombers.”

She’s right about that. Most supposedly dangerous countries in the Middle East are considerably safer than they appear from far away. The region is not one never-ending explosion. Even so, suicide bomb operations are far more terrifying and traumatizing than car crashes. They're murderous. They’re malevolent. They’re on purpose.

“It’s especially disturbing when you know what those bombs do to the human body,” she said.

“Do I want to know?” I said. I was not sure I did.

She shrugged and raised her eyebrows.

“Okay,” I said. “Just tell me.”

“Arms and legs go flying in every direction,” she said. “Heads pop off like champagne corks. You just can’t believe anyone hates you that much."

*

Sometimes the Middle East feels like it’s drowning in bigotry, hate, and stupidity. But hate is not the only human emotion in that part of the world, even between Arabs and Jews.

Lisa is a liberal. Not the Bush-hating idiot variety, but the kind of brave person who continues to believe in the world no matter what kind of hell it throws at her. She spends a lot of time in the West Bank and Gaza even though the people who live in those places just replaced Yasser Arafat’s Fatah regime with Hamas.

“I have Palestinian friends who say things I don’t like at all,” she said. “They say they want to destroy Israel, that it has no right to exist.”

“How can you be friends with people like that?” I said.

“Because I know the difference between rhetoric and reality,” she said.

“Threats from the West Bank aren’t just rhetoric,” I said. “How many suicide bombings did you say you’ve seen?”

“These people will never hurt me,” she said. “They are my friends. They love me. And when I say love, I do not mean that lightly.”

I thought about that, and I thought about why someone might want to reach out and forge such seemingly-impossible friendships with people who declare themselves enemies. There’s a lot more behind it than a yearning for peace and the standard liberal can’t-we-all-just-get-along point of view. It strikes me, partly, as an emotional survival technique. I, for one, would not be able to tolerate living in Israel if I did not have Palestinian friends who could balance out the restless hate from some of the others. (I'd also like to have them as friends for the usual reasons, of course.)

“How can they be friends with you?” I said.

“That’s the real question, isn’t it?” she said.

I hadn’t been in Israel for even one day and I already knew I would leave with more questions than I had when I got there. I think I understand Lisa, though she might disagree. I don’t even think I understand her Palestinian friends. (I did not get a chance to meet them. I have work to do when I go back.)

“Hamas propaganda requires dehumanization,” she said. “When you meet someone face to face you become a real person. Then they can’t hurt you.”

But some of them can. The worst of them do. It takes a special kind of moral, emotional, and physical bravery to venture regularly into the West Bank and Gaza - as an Israeli civilian - and forge meaningful lasting friendships with people who say they want to destroy you. Lisa does it. I like to think I would, too, if I were Israeli. But I honestly don’t know if I could, not if I lived through the terror and rage of the intifada as she did. That’s one reason I wanted to meet her.

Know Hope.jpg

One of the most common spray-painted slogans in Tel Aviv says Know Hope. I don’t know who wrote it or why. Does it even matter? Israel is a stressful angst-inducing place. Not compared with Baghdad, for sure, but definitely compared with Egypt, Lebanon, and Northern Iraq. I felt better every time I saw it painted on walls. Know Hope. Those two simple words are so much more poignant in a place like Israel where the current (relative) lack of violence is almost certainly only a lull. Actual peace is well on the other side of the horizon.

Know Hope 2.jpg

Know Hope 3.jpg

Hope is precious and hard in Israel now. Hamas is taking over the reins of power in Palestine. The old Fatah regime was hideously corrupt and destructive. Some Palestinians, I am sure, voted for Hamas as a protest against Arafatism. Even so, terrorists officially rule the West Bank and Gaza with the consent of the governed.

And yet - and yet - the Israelis voted in a center-left government as a response. For a while there Israel wanted a man in power who was just a big fist. Until the second intifada broke out, Ariel Sharon - the Butcher of Beirut - was considered marginal and extreme by Israelis as well as by almost everyone else in the world. Yet they swung hard to the right and picked him to lead.

I wouldn’t say Israel has since swung hard to the left. But the Labor Party did receive one and a half times as many votes as Likud in the general election last month. Wielding a big fist no longer seems necessary whether it actually was in the first place or not. The intifada is more or less over. Brutal Israeli crackdowns in the territories are likewise more or less over. That may not be enough to feel hope, but it’s something.

Seeing Israel and Palestine for myself as they really are makes me slightly more hopeful than I was before I got there. The standard narrative of the conflict is a cartoon. Upon closer inspection, it’s a lot more complicated. And it’s a lot more interesting, too.

It may look like a never-ending and unresolvable death struggle with Arabs and Palestinians on one side, Israelis and Jews on the other. But people like Lisa and her Palestinian friends can’t be crudely reduced to that level. And we’re talking here about Palestinians who say they do want to destroy Israel, not just the liberals and the moderates who say they don't.

Then there are those - and they’re almost completely ignored by the media - who defy these categories completely.

The Druze serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. And the Druze are as Arab as anyone else in the region. The biggest problem the Israeli government has with Druze members of the IDF is not that they are not loyal. The biggest problem is that they are consistently the most roguish and brutal toward Palestinians. They speak Arabic as their first language. Palestinians say they are traitors.

Bedouin also serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. The skills they learn as desert wanderers make them the perfect trackers.

Don’t assume the only reason Bedouin work with the Israelis is because they are loyal to the state they happen to live in, as may (or may not) be the case with the Druze. The tight relationship between Israeli Jews and Bedouin Arabs crosses international borders.

Lisa told me the Bedouin in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula speak Hebrew.

“Why?” I said. “Did they learn it during the occupation?” Israel seized the Sinai from Egypt during the Six Day War in 1967 and gave it back when Anwar Sadat agreed to a peace treaty.

“No,” she said. “They wanted to learn Hebrew so they can talk to us when we go down and visit.”

“When you go down there and visit?” I did not know what she was talking about.

“Last year 200,000 Israelis visited the Bedouin during Passover," she said.

“Two hundred thousand,” I said. “On just one day?”

“You didn’t know about this?” she said.

“No,” I said. Before I went to the Middle East I had no idea Israeli Jews had any kind of genuinely friendly relations with Arabs in any country except right-wing Lebanese Maronites. And a significant number of Maronites say they aren't even Arabs at all.

“The Bedouin roll our joints for us,” she said. “They sell us hashish. Israeli women like to go topless.”

“You go topless in front of the Bedouin?” I said. “Isn’t that offensive?” Bedouin are arguably the most conservative people in the entire Middle East.

“It doesn’t bother them,” she said. “They understand that our cultures are different. They don’t impose their values on us. And I never once saw a Bedouin man with wandering eyes.”

It made sense once I thought about it. Bedouin may be Egyptian Arabs, but they are completely isolated from Hosni Mubarak’s deranged state-run media. They could not care less about the politics of the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict. No one ever told them they are supposed to hate Jews. When politics can be pitched over the side, Israeli Jews and at least some Arab Muslims have a natural affinity for one another and they get along great.

“They are our brothers,” she said.

Post-script: Please help support non-corporate writing. I’d like to do a lot more traveling and writing in the future, and your donations today make tomorrow's dispatches possible. Thanks so much for your help so far.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at April 26, 2006 06:12 PM
Comments

Great writing Michael, keep up the good work.
If not for the recent bombings, I would strongly suggest you cross over the border to visit some of the resorts in Sinai in Egypt. During holidays, its full of young Israelis, but throughout the year, many European backpackers are there taking it easy. It really is a laid back place.

Posted by: Jono at April 26, 2006 08:58 PM

The "Bush-hating liberal idiot" bit sticks out incongruously in the generally clear-eyed and even-handed course of your writing. I speak as one who finds the Bush administration increasingly contemptible, who grew up in the Middle East, and who recently hit your tip jar. For what it's worth.

Posted by: Idiot at April 26, 2006 09:09 PM

Much of what you're saying here corroborates what I've heard from friends who have visited Israel. Namely, that the country is culturally as "Eastern" as it is "Western", if not moreso. It's worth recalling that a majority of Israeli Jews partially or fully trace their ancestry to Jewish populations in Asia and Africa, and that many of these people bear a pretty strong physical resemblance to their Arab neighbors. When you think about it, a lot of the ugliest blood feuds in the world exist between people who can relate to each other pretty well. Greeks and Turks, Israelis and Palestinians, Indians and Pakistanis, Chinese and Japanese, Irish Catholics and Scots-Irish Protestants, etc.

Posted by: Eric at April 26, 2006 09:17 PM

“These people will never hurt me,” she said. “They are my friends.

I thought about that, and I thought about why someone might want to reach out and forge such seemingly-impossible friendships with people who declare themselves enemies.

IMO, she's nuts. Brave, but still nuts.

The people she knows may not try to kill her, but I'd bet there are plenty of Israelis they would be willing to kill, and plenty of people who don't know her who would be willing to kill her.

While the details of the conflict in Israel seem to be almost fractal in their complexity, the essential issue seems to be pretty simple: two groups of people think they have a deed to the same bit of land, signed by god.

The conflict will continue so long as both sides try to enforce the claim.

Posted by: rosignol at April 26, 2006 09:54 PM

Rosignol -

If the Israelis carried through on their g-d given claim they would have not have withdrawn from Gazz nor be weighing out a timetable to withdraw from most of the West Bank.
The problem is the Arab world conducts a Mental War (which is the real war anyway) which completely rejects the Jews right to live in Israel on any intellectual or emotional way. When you hear people who are apparently not nutjobs and friends with Lisa tell her this you then understand (in my opinion) that the idea of completely rejecting Israel in core belief is not an "extremist" opinion but the Zeitgeist mainstream of the Palestinian and Arab world.

Second -

The Bedouin in Egypt hate the Mubarrek regime. They feel abused and shit on by it and many believe that extremists among them had a part in these bombings. Though I personally believe it was top down an Al Queda engineered event.

The tragedy of the bombings in the Sinai are twofold and may dual purpose.

It is trying to destroy a moderate laid back area and radicalize and destroy it. This would hurt Egypt's (Infidel client regime) pokcets as well.

Second -

It would further isolate Israelis to the Arab world. Though I believe Oslo was a horrible mistake during that time (though and prior as well) Israelis regularly traveled to Arab Palestinian towns and interacted with them. Many were against the Intifadah at first.

Israelis travel to the Sinai and Big Pharaoh (I believe) noted as well how surprised he was when in the Sinai how fond the Bedouins and locals were of the Israelis.... The terrorist murderers would destroy this.

I see this conflict as a Mental War to dehumanize people.

You can argue the Arabs are dehumanized too, thoug cheering suicide bombers and death is pretty convincing - but I believe the main culprit in this is the Arab world and their media in dehumanizing the Jews and Israel. You lose sight of the fact that Israelis are probably cool and regular people. And that's the war's inent.

Any interaction Israelis have with Arabs seems to kill this, but you'd never know this watching the Cartoon War on TV in Europe, Wire Services, and mainly the Arab "News" media. The Arabs in my opinion are the masters of propoganda in this respect. Israel building a fence, (I am for) is saving lives, but basically they're creating Ben Gurion's worst nightmare, a closed off narrow ghetto for Jews to live in.

Make no mistake about it this war is not about land, the 48 War, Balfour Declaration etc... all that stuff is irrelevant.... it's about THE STATE OF MIND. WAR IS IN THE MIND.

The occupation sucks, but the war is about the Mental Propoganda Warfare to demonize and hate Israel and to not accept it ON ANY LEVEL.

Mike

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at April 26, 2006 10:54 PM

Mike, have you ever read Ali Salem's wonderful book "My Drive to Israel" [excerpted translation]?

He talks a lot about a mental state of war in that article.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at April 27, 2006 12:17 AM

Josh, that's a great link.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at April 27, 2006 02:34 AM

Great work, Michael

Have you seen the Euston Manifesto, promoted by Norm Geras (including many anti-war Left)? Marc Cooper signed it; Neo-neocon talked about it too (at #807 I'm a bit late).

I thought your quote fantastic: "Not the Bush-hating idiot variety, but the kind of brave person who continues to believe in the world no matter what kind of hell it throws at her"

Mike N. writes about how it really is, to a huge extent, a Mental War.

I suspect "idiot", who finds Bush contemptible, is just the kind of person who, as a Palestinian or 30s German, would find Jews contemptible -- with no hesitation to support extreme dehumanization. I'm glad he hit your tip-jar; I can only agree your writing is worth it.

Why does Bush's fight against the evil Saddam create strong negative feelings? It's far more strange than the obvious issue about who has the stronger "right" to Israel's land.

Yet, while the Two-state solution is "obvious" to us non-idiot outsiders, I wonder if most Israelis support it. I think so. I wonder if most Palestinians support it. I think not.

Meaning what, they haven't been beaten enough? The world hasn't been clear enough?

The actual borders are not as important as the principle. The Palestinians also don't have free speech, nor free religion. Until they accept such basic human rights, I will continue to find their leaders, and the supporters of such leaders, fairly contemptible.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at April 27, 2006 02:40 AM

...The Palestinians need to respect human rights, or I won’t be respecting them much.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at April 27, 2006 02:45 AM

"'I have Palestinian friends who say things I don’t like at all,' she said. 'They say they want to destroy Israel, that it has no right to exist.'"

Seems to me that in response, the obvious question (for a journalist) would have been, "Do you have any Palestinian friends who say (or imply, or hint, or whose body language might suggest) that Israel does have a right to exist and that two states---Israel and Palestine---is the way to achieve such co-existence?" (A two-part question, as we're not referring to that glorious one-state "solution".)

Was this question asked? (Or are we so able to distinguish rhetoric from reality that no questions are really necessary?....)

Anyway, a hearty welcome to Tel Aviv (etc.), an interesting place, even if not as swanky as, say, Beirut. But keep your eyes open (especially when crossing the street---but also when walking on the sidewalks, since a rather significant percentage of dog owners still don't seem to have quite gotten the message. Passive aggressive types, no doubt...). And try, do try, not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 27, 2006 03:07 AM

"The "Bush-hating liberal idiot" bit sticks out incongruously in the generally clear-eyed and even-handed course of your writing."

I think that was directed at neo-cons who believe that all liberals are Bush-hating idiots.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at April 27, 2006 03:59 AM

I cannot remember if this was commented upon before (and I apologize if it was), but I have met several Israelis in the last few weeks here in Turkey, and not one of them had experienced any feeling of anti-Israeli sentiment from Turks. Israelis come here because it is cheap for them, so there are a lot of them around, but I was still surprised that they are so well received in a Muslim country, even if it is Turkey.

Posted by: Kirsten at April 27, 2006 05:05 AM

If Michael ever comes to the East Coast I can introduce him to a number of libertarians, conservatives and moderates who also really dislike Bush. It is not an accident that Bush is the most unpopular American President since polling began. These people don't hate Bush because of his "fight against the evil Saddam," they hate him because he's doing his best to lose and make America weaker. It's been said that Bush is the Jimmy Carter of the GOP and that seems pretty fair to me. He's a guy in way over his head.

Posted by: vanya at April 27, 2006 08:18 AM

The "War Inside the Mind" does not restrict itself to geographical boundaries...and in this globalized world, there's no place to hide. I astonish my relatives in the USA when I tell them I am safer here than they are there. To elaborate: safer from losing both my life and my values.

Posted by: savtadotty at April 27, 2006 09:32 AM

Andrew Brehm: I think that was directed at neo-cons who believe that all liberals are Bush-hating idiots.

Yes.

Barry Meislin: Seems to me that in response, the obvious question (for a journalist) would have been, "Do you have any Palestinian friends who say (or imply, or hint, or whose body language might suggest) that Israel does have a right to exist

Of course she has friends like that, too. Sorry for not making that clear. It just didn't seem remarkable. Lots of Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist. They are very easy to find.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 27, 2006 09:35 AM

Re: MENTAL STATE OF WAR

Josh and others -

Not only did I read Ali Salem's article... I put an entire post MOnday called -

THE MENTAL STATE OF WAR - The Moor Next Door Blog

Not only is Ali Salem's link in there there are links to great entries by Nouri, Algerian, as well as Big Pharaoh's interview by Michael T and others.... Check it out.

Mike

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at April 27, 2006 10:35 AM

Only anecdotal, but I know scores of liberals and to a man they are Bush hating idiots. I say idiots because not one of them has ever demonstrated even a rudimentary grasp of economics, negative vs. positive rights, the respective enlightenment counter-enlightenment philisophical pedigrees of classical liberalism and modern Marxist-socialist "liberalism", etc.

In fact as was mentioned above, they view conservatives and Republicans with the same dehumanized scorn that the KKK views blacks and that the Nazis and Islamist view the Jews.

No doubt their are reams of non-idiot Bush hating liberals. I wish some would move to the Bay Area and dilute the concentration of moonbats here.

Posted by: Paul at April 27, 2006 10:44 AM

Michael,

I wonder if perhaps the Bedouin and the Israelis embrace each other, at least subconsiously, because they both have a history as wandering peoples? For centuries, both have wandered the desert in search of a home, their kind spread far and wide, and have had to survive on faith and protect what little they had.

There is a passage from the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Hebrews in the Bible that describes what I mean (Hebrews 11:13-16):

"(13) All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. (14) People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. (15)If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. (16) Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

Just a thought I wanted to share. If you have any follow-up thought on this, I'd be interested to hear it.

Posted by: CP at April 27, 2006 11:58 AM

"But the Labor Party did receive one and a half times as many votes as Likud in the general election last month."

I suspect that has more to do with the disintegration of Likud and a desire among Israelis to stay away from either extreme than any kind of Labor resurgence. How did Labor's vote total compare to the last election?

Posted by: Scott at April 27, 2006 12:07 PM

“Because I know the difference between rhetoric and reality,” she said.

That's a classic leftist Ashkenazi attitude in Israel. In the fifties, when hundreds of thousands of Sephardi Jews fled the Arab countries to come to Israel, the Ashkenazi (white/European) Jews in Israel, with classic European contempt mixed with paternalism, tried to reform the "Arab-like" Sephardi (i.e. make them more European, socialist, "enlightened"). The Sephardi response, for the most part, was "you fools know nothing about Arabsl. We have lived with arabs for thirty generations. We know them, and we know that when they say 'we are going to kill you' they should be taken seriously." The Ashkenazi Jews simply didn't believe this. It was a weird kind of racism; some might cal it the racism of low (or insincere) expectations. The Sephardi understood the fundamental culture and politics of the mideast. The Ashkenazi knew some kind of theosophist Marxism. The Sephardi brought Begin to power. Begin made the peace with Sadat. Just like conservatives brought Reagan to power and Reagan managed to defeat the Soviets. Sorry for rambling, but I think you (Michael) need to read Menachem Begin's "The Revolt"

The Druze serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. And the Druze are as Arab as anyone else in the region. The biggest problem the Israeli government has with Druze members of the IDF is not that they are not loyal. The biggest problem is that they are consistently the most roguish and brutal toward Palestinians. They speak Arabic as their first language. Palestinians say they are traitors.

See my earlier comments. The Druze have none of the "yofi nefesh" (Hebrew for 'beautiful soul') foolishness that so many left wing Israelis exhibit. Thank God for the Druze. They were instrumental (as scouts) in many battles in 67 and 73.

Posted by: Zach at April 27, 2006 12:19 PM

Anyone who hates will be hated in turn. Be wise and stop hating. Learn to be constructive in your disagreements, and civil. Your world will be a better place.

Posted by: Know Hope at April 27, 2006 12:21 PM

“Because I know the difference between rhetoric and reality,” she said.

That's a classic leftist Ashkenazi attitude in Israel. In the fifties, when hundreds of thousands of Sephardi Jews fled the Arab countries to come to Israel, the Ashkenazi (white/European) Jews in Israel, with classic European contempt mixed with paternalism, tried to reform the "Arab-like" Sephardi (i.e. make them more European, socialist, "enlightened"). The Sephardi response, for the most part, was "you fools know nothing about Arabsl. We have lived with arabs for thirty generations. We know them, and we know that when they say 'we are going to kill you' they should be taken seriously." The Ashkenazi Jews simply didn't believe this. It was a weird kind of racism; some might cal it the racism of low (or insincere) expectations. The Sephardi understood the fundamental culture and politics of the mideast. The Ashkenazi knew some kind of theosophist Marxism. The Sephardi brought Begin to power. Begin made the peace with Sadat. Just like conservatives brought Reagan to power and Reagan managed to defeat the Soviets. Sorry for rambling, but I think you (Michael) need to read Menachem Begin's "The Revolt"

The Druze serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. And the Druze are as Arab as anyone else in the region. The biggest problem the Israeli government has with Druze members of the IDF is not that they are not loyal. The biggest problem is that they are consistently the most roguish and brutal toward Palestinians. They speak Arabic as their first language. Palestinians say they are traitors.

See my earlier comments. The Druze have none of the "yofi nefesh" (Hebrew for 'beautiful soul') foolishness that so many left wing Israelis exhibit. Thank God for the Druze. They were instrumental (as scouts) in many battles in 67 and 73.

Posted by: Zach at April 27, 2006 12:23 PM

Andrew, I don't think many conservatives think that all liberals are of the Bush-hating idiot variety. The problem is that the Bush-hating idiot liberals, like the Jew-hating idiot Moslems, are far louder than the alternative voices. Under the circumstances, it's understandable that people have difficulty estimating the true proportions of either group.

Posted by: The Monster at April 27, 2006 12:31 PM

Thank God for people like Lisa Goldman, thank God for them!!!! It is people like her who have the soul to withstand insanity especially when the vast majority accept to become complacent and myopic and hence perpetuate the very horror they aspire to eliminate. I have never understood the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, perhaps I never will. I believe both sides have succumbed to defeatism, and rather than making the hard compromises that would guarantee mutual self realization and aspirations, they'd rather take the easy route of personifying each other's image of horror. The brutal, blood thirsty Arab.......the selfish, self interested jingoistic Jew.

I have little patience for arguments on either side. The Arabs tolerate and foster the very retrogressive and repressive societies that ensure their continued humiliation, the Israelis remain trapped in myopia and parochialism. My brother was killed on September 11th, and I remember praying by his lifeless body, staring at missing limb sockets. Yet my instinct has and never will be revenge and retribution, it is always easier to assume the victim status than compel yourself to undergo deep reflection.
The issue is never "why am I the victim of such senseless atrocities?", the issue is "what circumstances precipitated such horror, and how can I avoid or eliminate them".
The bottom line is Israeli security will only be guaranteed by Palestinian security....the irony of this seems lost on everyone. The fence will be built, Hamas will be isolated, a tenuous existence will continue unabated until this simple, unavoidable fact becomes a reality.

Posted by: sijui at April 27, 2006 12:42 PM

Her friends might not kill her, but they would easily kill someone else--another dehumanized Jew. Isn't that, in effect, "killing her"? And her friend's friends would make no distinction between her and any other Jew.

How old is this woman and how can she cling to her naivite after everything she sees? No one wants to believe this hatred exists even in the face of blood-stained evidence. It exists. And either the evil will win or it will be eradicated by force.

There are no other options.

Posted by: Melissa at April 27, 2006 12:47 PM

Her friends might not kill her, but they would easily kill someone else--another dehumanized Jew. Isn't that, in effect, "killing her"? And her friend's friends would make no distinction between her and any other Jew.

How old is this woman and how can she cling to her naivite after everything she sees? No one wants to believe this hatred exists even in the face of blood-stained evidence. It exists. And either the evil will win or it will be eradicated by force.

There are no other options.

Posted by: Melissa at April 27, 2006 12:48 PM

Perhaps I haven't absorbed the right aesthetics, but I cannot imagine ever being friends with someone who would want to murder, much less murder families. Perhaps Lisa is safe in the West Bank while I and my wife and children are not... that must give her quite the buzz. But to associate with people who are interested in murdering children is nothing more than an ego trip at the expense of her honor. Shame on her.

Posted by: Andrew at April 27, 2006 01:02 PM

Its been interesting to see, as the Israeli government has shifted towards a sort of "exit strategy" approach, the way in which the crucial aspect of the IP Conflict has become the struggle the Palestinians are having with themselves.

The post-1948 history has been largely unjust to the Palestinians. To be sure, there is blood on their hands and they have shot themselves in the foot time and again (Arafat's name comes to mind repeatedly), but one must still remember the way in which, and rate at which, "Israel" showed up... and also the way its borders expanded past the UN's designated allotment. But things are still what you make of them and the test now will be to see if some Palestinian leader can have the courage to say "Things are unjust but we have to get it together and cut our losses." Arafat never had the courage to do that the two times he had an opportunity. That was his real legacy.

Melissa: Your post is vile. It rests on the assumption that Palestinians are primitive zoo animals. You have dehumanized all of them just as you believe they have done to you. "eradicated by force"?! Just what are you proposing?? Be careful now...

Posted by: Chris at April 27, 2006 01:05 PM

It’s Middle Eastern to the core, and it has more in common with Lebanon than anywhere else I have been. The politics and the history are different, of course. But once I got settled in Tel Aviv I didn’t feel like I had ventured far from Beirut at all.

Too bad the regional international organization is called "The Arab League" instead of "The Middle East League."

Gives some perspective to the so-called "anti-Zionists" whining about "apartheid" all the time.

But next time you visit, you should go up to Nazareth and the Galillee - visit some Arab-Israeli towns. Great food, great scenery, great people.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at April 27, 2006 01:06 PM

Melissa: How old is this woman and how can she cling to her naivite after everything she sees?

Late thirties, a few years older than me.

No one wants to believe this hatred exists even in the face of blood-stained evidence.

It exists. She knows it exists. She has faced it more than I have and probably more than you have.

Even so, hate is not the only thing that exists.

Perhaps you should visit the West Bank yourself some day. I did.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 27, 2006 01:08 PM

I think this is might be a random Michael Totten sighting:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/38128614@N00/page47/

It's from onetheface's photos link.

Posted by: csva at April 27, 2006 01:10 PM

I posted some reactions to the post on my bloghere....

Posted by: Allison at April 27, 2006 01:18 PM

Micheal,

great writing. As for the "idiot" comment, maybe I know exactly what you're talking about. As a conservative, I am appalled at Bush's spending, immigration agenda, trade, you name it. He's no conservative, that's for sure. Though, I do generally support his foreign policy.

What I know you mean by idiot is that the blathering left-wing kos/moveon.org/micahel moore "war for oil", "lied", etc., type diatribe that is nothing more than kool-aid for the mindless. Reasonable people can and should disagree over the war, strategy, planning, etc., but you are right to call them idiots.

It's well established that Saddam had terrorist ties, including al Qaeda, had a weapons program, and was a menace to his neighbors and yes, us. Even General ZInni argued as much in 2000 before the Senate. Idiot surely refers to those who refuses to see the clear evidence and facts.

The idiots are those consumed by hate and blinded by ideology. And I couldn't agree more with that assessment. Liberals have more to fear of jihadists and Islamicists than even convservatives do. But as this is "Bush's war", they are opposed to it. That's being an idiot.

Posted by: Robert Mandel at April 27, 2006 01:21 PM

Bedouin may be Egyptian Arabs, but they are completely isolated from Hosni Mubarak’s deranged state-run media. They could not care less about the politics of the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict.

I don't think it's fair to generalize about Bedouin - or anyone else. There are some that love Jews/Israelis, some that are agnostic on the topic and some that hate Israel/Zionism and whatever else they want to hate.

There are Bedouin IDF trackers that kick ass and here are Bedouin extremists. See the recent events in the Sinai: Bedouin suicide bombers behind Dahab attacks; Two bombers kill themselves in Egypt's north Sinai:
Security forces have been seeking three Sinai Bedouin from the group, named as Nasr Khamis el-Malahi, Eid Salama el-Tarawi and Mohamed Abdullah Abu Jarir, it said.

"The sources said the bombers were probably from among those three and from the terrorist cell to which they belong -- all of them Sinai Bedouin on the run in the mountains," it added.

The Sinai group has never issued a statement to explain its objectives. The main clue from the Egyptian government has been that the late founder of the group was a Palestinian who had adopted the views of militant Islamists.
)

All the Bedouin people I've met have been awesome, both in Israel and the Sinai. But there are apparently more than a few violent nutjobs. I hope the reports aren't true, but if they've been brainwashed by a jihadist mindset, it's no surprise they would go after their own people who don't share their views.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at April 27, 2006 01:22 PM

The only comment I can have about this woman, and others in Israel like her is that she(they) remind me of when Raoul Wallenberg went to Budapest to rescue Hungarian Jews, and some of them questioned, in 1943, whether Hitler was "serious."
George Santayana, unfortunately, was right.

Posted by: richardeverett at April 27, 2006 01:23 PM

Comparing the vote totals for Likud and Labor does not accurately capture the national sentiment. There has been a monumental power shift to the two new parties, Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu, which between them absorbed many old Likud voters. Kadima is of course the "centrist" party set up by Sharon before his stroke; Yisrael Beiteinu is primarily aimed at Russian immigrants, and is led by Avigdor Lieberman (who is not exactly what you would call a peacenik).

A better indication is the utter collapse of the hard Left parties such as Meretz, especially when compared with the relative success of the "national religious" parties such as Shas and NRP.

The political scene has shifted; but that does not mean that Sharon's policies have been repudiated. Much the opposite, I think.

Posted by: Mastiff at April 27, 2006 01:34 PM

Smoking hash and lolling topless in the sun. I suddenly understand all the tourists going to Israel, now... And these days, the phrase "Bush-hating liberal idiot" is just a way of clarifying what kind of liberal you are. It's not a slight. (And Idiot, your "tip jar" posting was crass.)

Posted by: Jenn M at April 27, 2006 01:54 PM

Those Hebrew-speaking Bedouin also smuggle terrorists, whores, drugs and weapons.

The jihadis who have been blowing up Sinai resort towns have found shelter and allies among the Bedouin.

You're right, Mr. Totten, that the Middle East is complicated, but you still don't have the whole picture.

Posted by: FC at April 27, 2006 02:20 PM

“I have Palestinian friends who say things I don’t like at all,” she said. “They say they want to destroy Israel, that it has no right to exist.”

“How can you be friends with people like that?” I said.

“Because I know the difference between rhetoric and reality,” she said.

“Threats from the West Bank aren’t just rhetoric,” I said. “How many suicide bombings did you say you’ve seen?”

“These people will never hurt me,” she said. “They are my friends. They love me. And when I say love, I do not mean that lightly.”

That's nice, but the people acting in their name aren't going to give much of a damn.

As Goering said, "everyone knows one good Jew," didn't stop them from willingly killing the rest.

Posted by: Cutler at April 27, 2006 02:38 PM

"I think that was directed at neo-cons who believe that all liberals are Bush-hating idiots."

Which neo-cons are you talking about? I am unaware of any whatsoever who hold this view. Can you even name one individual?

Posted by: David Thomson at April 27, 2006 02:40 PM

What if you're not hated in turn, but rather hated for existing? Should you hate back then? What if you're not hated at all, but people just want to kill you in an impersonal way?

Posted by: Harkonnendog at April 27, 2006 02:44 PM

The desire to slaughter the innocent is an unforgivable malignancy. There is no "reasonable" response to it, other than to do whatever it takes to make it go away. It is sickening to read the pseudo-pious holier-than-thou nonsense from people who insist there is a measured, appropriate and peaceful response to those who wake up each morning desiring to kill your children. Love ya, Lisa Goldman, but mercy to the cruel inevitably leads to being cruel to the merciful; it's just sanctimonious crap.

Posted by: Dennis Castle at April 27, 2006 02:45 PM

Plenty of people in the U.S. hate Bush more than they hate bin Laden, Zawahiri, or Zarqawi, men whose forces go into villages and immediately murder children just to keep the population in line.

The message seems to be that when Arabs murder children it's acceptable because we don't hold them to the same standards of behavior as those of Americans.

I guess we expect more from Bush because we see him as a human being, while the Arabs aren't.

Posted by: Tom W. at April 27, 2006 03:03 PM

Sometimes I come across a point of view that is so foreign to me that I am shaken. How could Lisa be friends with people who want to kill Israelis simply for being Israeli, without regard to whether or not they have done anything wrong? How could she break bread with them and create a philosophy of life that basically denies what they say because she likes them and they're her friends?

Oh, now I remember. The young man who loved grizzlies so much. He was finally eaten by one, and his girlfriend too.

Lisa, you cannot make friends with a grizzy. Eventually, no matter how much you love them, they will eat you.

Posted by: Bonnie at April 27, 2006 03:05 PM

I admire people like Lisa, and yourself as well. I guess what she is saying is that to her Palestinian friends she is now a person who is Jewish and not a Jewish abstraction. Therein lies the hope of the world. Reluctantly, I believe that security is a necessary precondition for such relationships to flourish. Surely the security fence deserve some credit for her ability to have Palestinian friends. Were it not for the fence a Palestinian who does not know her could blow her and some other Jewish abstractions to pieces as she sat in her favorite cafe. As Chris said, the Palestinians have been victimized since 1948, but some of that harm is self-inflicted. It is time to move on.

Posted by: jim linnane at April 27, 2006 03:06 PM

richardeverett: they remind me of when Raoul Wallenberg went to Budapest to rescue Hungarian Jews, and some of them questioned, in 1943, whether Hitler was "serious."

You beat me to it.

“I have German friends who say things I don’t like at all,” she said. “They say they want to destroy Europe's Jews, that they have no right to exist.”
“How can you be friends with people like that?” I said.
“Because I know the difference between rhetoric and reality,” she said.
& etc.

Posted by: ctrl-H at April 27, 2006 03:15 PM

I know an Arab like that. Charming, sweet guy. Pleasure to communicate with.

Ask him where he was born, and he'll answer: Jerusalem, Palestine. Israel? What Israel.

Lisa is a sweet fool. The "good Palestinians" would be no different than the "good Germans".

Posted by: JB at April 27, 2006 03:37 PM

I'm half-Palestinian and support Israel's right to exist. Some people think like me, others think like Hamas, most are somewhere in between. Lisa Goldman has a point about rhetoric and reality - oftentimes, groupthink and propaganda are to blame for some truly vile viewpoints. But it is also important not to underestimate the malice of Islamist nihilists like Hamas.

Either way, I take offense being referred to as a "grizzly", Bonnie. There is a difference between refusing to capitulate to terrorism and treating a collective group of people as animals. A few posters have crossed that line, in my humble opinion.

Posted by: nadz at April 27, 2006 03:50 PM

I'm really glad I stumbled across your article. It didn't immediately change my perception of the conflict just yet, but I've found that the deepest stuff often doesn't at first. I will say that it's the most comforting thing I've read about the issue lately....I only hope the comfort isn't short-lived. Great stuff, man.

Shalom

Posted by: Cosmo Guzzardi at April 27, 2006 03:52 PM

The liberal/Bfush remark was simply silly. I find Bush a terrible president. He has emptied our coffers for his wealthy friends, gotten us to invade a nation under false premises and on and on. Ok. I vote Democratic. But then well over 50 percent of the nation now feels the same way. So why dump on one kind of liberal that differs from some other kind of liberal? Both liberals and conservatives are capable of having hopes etc--this is a hormaonal, genetic matter and not one of party affiliation.

As for the nice lady's views...a long long time ago I met a woman whose husband, an Israeli novelist and camp survivor, would meet regularly with Palestinians in efforts to make peace between the two peoples. That was way back and still nothing seems to have changed. Very sad. When will the Arabs realize that their best interests are in having a state of their own, recognizing the state of Israel, and forging economic friendships with and between peoples. The Arab League could change things by announcing loud and clear a change from a policy that has been devestating in the region. But they won't.

Posted by: fred lapides at April 27, 2006 03:56 PM

"I, for one, would not be able to tolerate living in Israel if I did not have Palestinian friends who could balance out the restless hate from some of the others"

Michael, leaving aside whether you're as accurate as you think you are in your analysis of the reasons for Lisa's outlook, I'm interested in how you say you would share what you attribute to her if you lived in Israel. For the case argued here is not just about forming friendships with Palestinians who balance out the haters. It includes making friendships with the haters. You were living in Iraq for a time; did you feel you needed to try form friendships with the Zarqawi-ist, Badr-ist and Baathist sympathizers who you knew saw you and your fellow Americans at best brutal oppressors and at worst as suitable subjects for gruesome execution?

Thanks for a very interesting post and perspective on your first impressions of Israel.

Posted by: Judy at April 27, 2006 04:00 PM

It was really interesting to hear about the Bedouins being so friendly to Israelis, and about Turkey, which admittedly is already a strongly secular state, being such a relaxed climate for Israelis personally (aside from the already significant co-operation between the Israeli and Turkish militaries).

BTW, for the "Idiot" fellow, he probably should have realised the rather large distinction between having a growing detestation for a secrecy-obsessed President who seems to think the Constitution is another word for toilet paper, and being the sort of raving liberal moonbat who viscerally hates Bush simply for not being a bleeding-heart liberal, which last is doubtless what Michael J. Totten meant.

Posted by: Brother Bark at April 27, 2006 04:34 PM

Michael, great article, thanks so much. I will go and read Lisa's six-part series with the attention it deserves.

Nadz, great to see you here! ... BTW, I have connections with some great Jewish dentists ... ;)

Posted by: Asher Abrams - Dreams Into Lightning at April 27, 2006 04:44 PM

Bonnie: How could Lisa be friends with people who want to kill Israelis simply for being Israeli, without regard to whether or not they have done anything wrong? How could she break bread with them and create a philosophy of life that basically denies what they say because she likes them and they're her friends?

In part because forging those kinds of friendships forces them to reconsider what they think they know about Jews.

It's a counter to dehumanization. Somebody has to do it.

Nadz: I take offense being referred to as a "grizzly", Bonnie.

Lots of work to be done all around.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 27, 2006 06:12 PM

"....and either the evil will win or it will be eradicated by force."

Chris: What on earth is wrong with this statement? You seem to be equating "evil" with "all Palestinians."

Posted by: melk at April 27, 2006 06:22 PM

Sijui: I have little patience for arguments on either side.

So sorry. Have we Israelis not bent sufficiently backwards to make peace with everyone, or sufficiently forewards?

Posted by: Eliyahu at April 27, 2006 07:21 PM

Arafat's legacy will slowly disappear.

Posted by: pdoles at April 27, 2006 07:26 PM

Melk: Here, in quotations, is Melissa's full remark. It speaks for itself. I'm not the one equating all Palestinians with evil... its her, and it is utterly apalling.

"Her friends might not kill her, but they would easily kill someone else--another dehumanized Jew. Isn't that, in effect, "killing her"? And her friend's friends would make no distinction between her and any other Jew.

How old is this woman and how can she cling to her naivite after everything she sees? No one wants to believe this hatred exists even in the face of blood-stained evidence. It exists. And either the evil will win or it will be eradicated by force.

There are no other options."

Posted by: Chris at April 27, 2006 07:35 PM

Why does it say "Know Hope" in English?

Posted by: dfenstrate at April 27, 2006 07:45 PM

Lisa's friendships with people who "love" her & attempts at supporting dialogue: Brava. The "invincible journalist" shroud she has cloaked herself within: Boo Hiss. She should perhaps consult with Bob Simon, Terry Waite or Nicholas Berg about similar loving friends in Beirut and Iraq. The seasoned and smart don't go in alone.
As for the Bedouin who roll joints and turn nary a roving eye towards topless Israeli sunbathers, shame on her for assuming that running around naked with conservatives and asking them to supply drugs on THEIR TURF is without repercussion. Does she think that bombings at Sinai Bedouin resorts occur unaided?

Posted by: Netta at April 27, 2006 07:51 PM

"Perhaps you should visit the West Bank yourself some day. I did."

Kind of meant to be a conversation-stopper, like the old chickenhawk business. Well, it's probably hard to resist.

The closer you get the less black and white it all seems, until all you can see are complicated shades of gray. Certainly, notoriously, that's usually the view of State Dept "pros."

Lisa Goldman knows the difference between "rhetoric and reality." Okay. She's there and I'm not. There's probably a good chance that "Israel is a one-bomb country" and "Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth" are just rhetoric.

Maybe we can all just get along.

"Know hope" cannot possibly have any relationship to "No hope."

It's much, much more complicated than that.

Posted by: Todd Grimson at April 27, 2006 08:27 PM

BTW, for the "Idiot" fellow, he probably should have realised the rather large distinction between having a growing detestation for a secrecy-obsessed President who seems to think the Constitution is another word for toilet paper, and being the sort of raving liberal moonbat who viscerally hates Bush simply for not being a bleeding-heart liberal, which last is doubtless what Michael J. Totten meant.

How can you tell which sort of hatred he meant? I have seen enough conservatives (including several posters upthread) who talk as though they despise all liberals and certainly all people who dislike Bush, that I assumed Mr. Totten meant people like you and me when he referred to "Bush-hating idiots." I wish he would clarify that point.

Better yet, maybe he could in the future not go out of his way to imply that the norm for liberals is to be a Bush-hating idiot, or that the norm for people who hate Bush is to be an idiot. Perhaps he could just say, for instance, "Lisa is a liberal, the sort of liberal I wish all liberals were." The fact that he thought it necessary to qualify "liberal" with "not a Bush-hating idiot" shows quite clearly what he thinks of when he hears the word "liberal."

Now that he has wiped away his stereotyped view of Israelis and Arabs with experience, maybe he could go meet some liberals.

Posted by: trilobite at April 27, 2006 08:38 PM

Trilobyte: Now that he has wiped away his stereotyped view of Israelis and Arabs with experience, maybe he could go meet some liberals.

Yo! Almost every single one of my friends and family members are liberals. Every girlfriend I have ever had in my life is a liberal. My wife is a liberal. I have truck loads of liberal opinions myself. (I'm an independent.) I have only voted for one Republican politician, ever, in my entire life. All the others were Greens and Democrats.

So relax, k?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 27, 2006 09:11 PM

Michael, thanks for your courage and your wonderful reporting. You provide us with viewpoints and insights that are sadly lacking in much daily news coverage.

Lisa Goldman is a real-world example of the "frog in the boiling beaker" experiment. If you place a frog in a beaker of boiling water, it will immediately jump out. However, if you place a frog in a beaker of lukewarm water and then slowly raise the temperature to boiling over several hours, the frog will become accustomed to ever-hotter temperatures and will slowly cook to death without any effective resistance.

How any self-respecting nation can become so accustomed to years of terrorist attacks on its civilian population that it refuses to wage total war on its enemies is beyond understanding. Until you listen to Lisa.

Its not because there have only been a few minor attacks:

“I was near 11 or 12 suicide attacks during the intifada," she said. "But that’s nothing. I know people in Jerusalem who were near 40 or 50.”

And it's not because they're non-lethal:

“Arms and legs go flying in every direction,” she said. “Heads pop off like champagne corks. You just can’t believe anyone hates you that much."

It's because of a denial of the reality of violent competition between nations and the depth of Palestinian hatred. After all, Lisa's Palestinian buddies don't really mean what they say:

“I have Palestinian friends who say things I don’t like at all,” she said. “They say they want to destroy Israel, that it has no right to exist.”

“How can you be friends with people like that?” I said.

“Because I know the difference between rhetoric and reality,” she said.

“Threats from the West Bank aren’t just rhetoric,” I said. “How many suicide bombings did you say you’ve seen?”

“These people will never hurt me,” she said. “They are my friends. They love me. And when I say love, I do not mean that lightly.”

Yep, they love her. And rhetoric never becomes reality. And Palestinians just like her friends never shoot Kassam rockets into Israeli villages, and they never strap on explosive vests to blow up Israelis at pizzerias and bus stops (or on the bus), and they don't really mean it when they chant "Death to Israel."

Even if they do mean it, they just need to experience some personal diplomacy:

“Hamas propaganda requires dehumanization,” she said. “When you meet someone face to face you become a real person. Then they can’t hurt you.”

Yep. Bullies never meet their victims. Neighbors never fight. Nations that are trading partners never go to war. Palestinians that work or shop in Israel never attack Israelis. The September 11th attacks never happened because the Al Qaeda operatives met too many Americans face to face during their months of preparation and decided they couldn't hurt us. The July 7th attacks in the United Kingdom never happened because the native-born Muslim militants remembered at the last minute that their fellow British citizens were real people.

Lisa's views probably represent a minority viewpoint within Israel. However, they may be shared by a majority of the elite decision-makers. There is a fundamental passivity in the Israeli response to the ruthless asymmetric warfare the Palestinians are waging. The response to the most brutal attacks on the Israeli civilian population is a campaign of targeted assassinations and temporary occupation of terrorist stronghold towns such as Jenin. Great care is taken to minimize casualties among the enemy civilians while the Palestinians deliberately maximize casualties among Israeli civilians. Decisive action is never taken to end the Palestinian threat despite overwhelming Israeli military superiority. It's almost as if Israel prefers to suffer death by a thousand cuts rather than destroy an enemy nation that violates every rule in the Western war-fighting code.

It only takes a few hours to slowly boil a frog. I wonder how many years it takes to slowly boil a nation?

Posted by: James Jones at April 27, 2006 09:17 PM

Melk: Here, in quotations, is Melissa's full remark. It speaks for itself. I'm not the one equating all Palestinians with evil... its her, and it is utterly apalling.

I don't understand Melk's objection. What Melissa is saying is that "her friends", i.e. Lisa's friends that hate Israel but like her, "might not kill her but would easily kill someone else". This is clear. Furthemore, "her friend's friends", i.e., Palestinians that hate Israel and don't know Lisa, "would make no distinction between her and any other Jew." Equally clear, and not lacking in evidence: Does anyone remember the terrorist murder of Dr. Shmuel Gillis in 2001, the Hadassah hemotologist who was a lifeline for leukemia and lymphoma patients from all over the West Bank, Jordan and Egypt? (Google "Who will care for Jamila now?") Of course, by now he is just another statistic, and some people have little patience for statistics.

Finally, Melissa writes "evil will win or it will be eradicated by force". She does not say that all Palestinians must be eradicated by force. She is simply taking the position that in a society that has demonstrated no will to educate its members towards cooperation and peace, the evil of terrorism will only cease when its perpetration is sufficiently punished.
Am I missing something?

Posted by: Eliyahu at April 27, 2006 09:19 PM

James Jones,

What Lisa does actually changes people's minds about Israelis. Don't believe me? Read this.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 27, 2006 09:27 PM

Scrolled through the comments.

Nadz, seriously, grizzly man was funny as hell. I am not suggesting that Palestinians eat people, but grizzly man as lunch is funny.

Posted by: Mike at April 27, 2006 10:17 PM

Agreed that this entry was enlightening and inspiring. I wish I'd skipped the comments, though. Lots of vitriol, and although I'm sure much of it is not without merit, it's ugly stuff nonetheless. I pray I'll always have the strength of character to stay in the "Faith in the World" liberal camp. I question how people can equate Nazi hatred with Palestinian hatred. In Nazi Germany, the Germans had absolute power. In Palestine, the Jews are the superior force. It's a very different situation. Sad to see the right-wing Israeli view is so entrenched in a culture of victimhood. And when liberals assume all Conservatives write us off as lunatic pansy Bush-hating military-hating terrorist-coddling homosexual Communists, it's because every single popular Conservative pundit on every media outlet imaginable repeats those accusations everyday. Want names? Hannidy, Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reilly... they make a living off of poisoning political dialogue in America. We really need a Rodney King moment here...

Know Peace

Posted by: mrfett at April 27, 2006 10:20 PM

mrfett,

The hatred is equal. The power is not. Thank the maker.

All the Palis lack to be as evil as the Austrian corporal is the means.

Double Plus Ungood.

Posted by: M. Simon at April 27, 2006 11:22 PM

So .. one of your comments suggests that conservatives don't believe in the world no matter what kind of hell it throws at it? Nice, really nice. I for one don't find your post that interesting. To me it shows just how closed minded you are that you are actually surprised by what you found in Israel. You write well, I just don't like your BIGOTRY. And lots of it throughout your whole post. This surprises you? Bewildered, are you? That someone would call you a bigot? Think about it. You must be quite young. 19? 20?

Posted by: Policyshift at April 28, 2006 12:07 AM

I think Lisa is lying - to herself, when she self-deceives that Muslim Bedouins don't care about topless Israeli girls in their midst. Do you know what havoc that would create in masculine Arab Bedouin society where women are compartmentalized 2nd class citizens?

Yes, I would like to see her do that alone in the center of a Bedouin village without the other 200,000 Israelis protecting her. She will then discover to her amazement what a strong reaction she will elicit from their community. She will receive a rude wake-up call.

This postmodern nonsense that "they respect our culture so we respect their culture" is not only offensive, but also unrealistic and contra-factual.

Lisa is NOT BEING HONEST to her readers with such cheap idealisms.

Posted by: Behnam at April 28, 2006 12:18 AM

The common mistake Lisa makes is that she is unaware that many Muslims, mainly due to their religion of Islam, have 2 faces. One is personal, friendly, hospitable, humane, egalitarian, kind, and sweet. This is their PERSONAL face, extended to their friends and relatives and acquaintances, to foreigners, and even complete strangers.

The second face is the COMMUNAL face - of bigotry, hatred, racism, thuggery, intolerance, and silencing of dissent, which they extend to their own dissidents, seculars and moderns, apostates, minorities, women, gays, and then to their perceived foreign enemies, infidels, and unbelievers.

Lisa is confusing the two faces, and unjustifiably extending the personal face to that of the Muslim community as a political group. This is only due to the postmodern ideological shackles and hoodwink that she suffers from.

Posted by: Behnam at April 28, 2006 12:42 AM

Policyshift: So .. one of your comments suggests that conservatives don't believe in the world no matter what kind of hell it throws at it? Nice, really nice. You write well, I just don't like your BIGOTRY.

I find it hilarious that I'm accused of being a bigoted conservative and a bigoted liberal in the same comment thread.

Anyway, I didn't say what you attributed to me.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 28, 2006 12:53 AM

Chris:

"...one must still remember the way in which, and rate at which, "Israel" showed up... and also the way its borders expanded past the UN's designated allotment."

Those borders expanded ONLY in wars started by the Arabs for the purpose of annihilating Israel in 1948 and 1967. Israel gave back 90% of the land it occupied in 1967 - the Sinai. This now seems to have been a foolish move since arms are routinely smuggled into Gaza across the Egyptian border.

mrfett:

"In Nazi Germany, the Germans had absolute power. In Palestine, the Jews are the superior force."

That might make sense if Israel and Palestine were on an island in the middle of the ocean (and you ignored little details like the Palestinians' wont to send retarded teenagers out as suicide bombers). However, Israel is surrounded by a number of nations sworn to its elimination. They greatly outnumber the Israelis and are in possession of almost limitless wealth in the form of oil.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 28, 2006 12:56 AM

Behnam: I think Lisa is lying - to herself, when she self-deceives that Muslim Bedouins don't care about topless Israeli girls in their midst.

She and 200,000 other Israelis (in just one day) apparently.

Have you ever spent time with the Israelis and the Bedouin together? I haven't. Do you know that what she says is wrong? Or are you just assuming it?

I don't know one way or the other. But if it was a big huge deal I have a feeling the Israelis kinda woulda figured it out by now. They don't go topless in Nablus.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 28, 2006 01:00 AM

Michael T,

Thanks for that great link to a post by LP!
I'm going to include it in my Mental State of War post or just create another one summing up his main points.

He clearly states the DIFFERENCE between the West and Israel to the Arab world... Despite terrorism and rejoicing at their misery and death Israelis remain comparably even-handed and not hateful. Compare that to this Israeli "Crimes" exhibit for kids in Lebanon commemorating the "Quana Massacre" 10 years ago in Lebanon... Note, how the AP wrote word for word Hezballah's inflated deceitful account of what really happened as well. Also, the the typical hate Israel teaching by Hezballah to kids there as well.
Of course, need not mention the commemoration of the Sbarros suicide bombing at a major Pelestinian University with model Jew bodyparts incoluded.

Mike

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at April 28, 2006 01:01 AM

There is always a huge problem in balancing Mercy with Justice. I remember a personality quiz question: Which is worse:
to be unjust
to be merciless

My own resolution is that society, thru laws and (occassionally violent) police & military, must strive towards Justice. As that society defines it.
Yet individuals should, in their own personal lives, strive towards Mercy. Since without forgiveness one often becomes bitter and no amount of vengence really balances out some prior murderous injustice.

"Know Hope" isn't so far from Pope John Paul II's "Be Not Afraid". Both great phrases, both requiring individual mercy.

Nadz, I'd like to challenge you a bit on a Free Speech issue -- are there any Palestinian Newspapers which publicly call for recognition of Israel and a negotiated two-state solution? I was under the impression that hate-filled Palestinians kill any moderates that go public with their moderate beliefs.

The lack of Palestinian Free Speech seems to me the biggest issue which can easily be changed, by Hamas/ PA, if the Palestinian people demand it. The lack of such a demand justifies, to me, my own lack of respect for their claims of injustice.

Similarly, while the 1948 creation of Israel may not have been a fully "just" act, the 1948-1967 denial of Palestinian statehood, by Egypt and Jordan who controlled Gaza and the West Bank at that time, was a greater injustice. And the deliberate keeping of "refugees" in camps (=grizzly cages?), by the Arabs and the UN, seems to have been Arab and UN dehumanization of the Palestinian people into a victimized object, used to complain about Israel.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at April 28, 2006 01:09 AM

Michael,

Thanks for the link. Lisa's blog did make a positive impression on a Lebanese blogger and some of his commenters. That's good.

However, it's in Lebanon; not Gaza or the West Bank. The blog host and his commenters appear to be well educated, based on their command of English. They also appear to be relatively open-minded in their attitudes toward Israel and Israelis.

It sure doesn't look like a site run by a militant Muslim or a Palestinian nationalist. When supporters of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the PLO start making comments like those on this Lebanese site, I'll begin to believe that efforts like Lisa's have real impact. Until then I fear that her efforts are the equivalent of a World War II American pacifist making contact with sympathizers of the German White Rose society. Interesting for insights into a small minority opinion within the enemy population, but not ultimately of much value because no large segment of the population is/was willing to actively oppose the ruling militants.

War is a group effort. The Palestinians could not continue their terror war against Israel for literally decades without broad support in their population base. Hamas and the PLO have also been very ruthless in suppressing dissent. Between the majority support for the terror war against Israel and the ruthlessness of their militant rulers, I just don't see much opportunity for a substantial Palestinian peace movement.

Posted by: James Jones at April 28, 2006 01:46 AM

James Jones: When supporters of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the PLO start making comments like those on this Lebanese site, I'll begin to believe that efforts like Lisa's have real impact.

I hear ya.

Someone has to do what she does, though. Her very existence is a rebuttal to some of the stupid propaganda leveled against Israel on a daily basis. (Later I'm going to quote some Palestinians who might likewise surprise some people.)

If Israel had no people like her, it would be a very different country - and worse for it. Even if she's naive and wrong.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 28, 2006 01:55 AM

How much longer are we going to have to put up with the liberal canard that Bush led us into a war on false pretenses against a country that had nothing to do with terrorism or that threatened us in any way? Recently translated papers seized from the Hussein government give the lie to that one. Saddam was in bed with the jehadis for years, and was in the process of planning operations against Europe and America. Does anyone think that if Bush hadn't moved against Iraq that we would have peace today? Come on! This war has been in the works for an awfully long time, longer than any of us has been alive. War is our present reality, and war is in our future. Incessant, intractible, all out and total WAR! If Hillary or Kerry or Murtha, or any other Democrat is elected in 2008 we will still have war. War! War! WARWARWARWARWAR! Get used to it, folks. There's no avoiding it. No exit strategy, and no strategic withdrawel. We had all kinds of reasons to get Saddam, and the world is a better place now that he's been toppled. That won't stop the war, but it leaves us in a better strategic position as the war shifts into a new phase. Bush understands this. I wish that more Americans did.

Posted by: Procrustis at April 28, 2006 01:57 AM

OK, I have to jump in here. I know Lisa. I have spent many hours with Lisa (I actually introduced Michael to Lisa so she can blame me for this pile-on) Lisa is many things, but naive, stupid, or foolish is not one of them.

Her views, agree or disagree with them, are all based on observations and reality.

Now, also to clarify, and please nobody interpret this as a criticism of Michael, but part of Michael's "citizen journalist" style is that he hangs out with people, gets his impressions, and then sits down and writes them. Unlike MSM reporters (which I have been for more than a decade,) he doesn't write down or tape record every quote he uses. I totally understand why he does this -- it's a completely different kind of conversation when someone knows they are being taped or the listener is scribbling in a notebook.

Although his conversations with Lisa over drinks contain quotation marks, they are not neccessarily word-for-word exchanges. In most cases, they capture the essence of what she thinks, so the details don't matter, but in one case I see it is causing a big problem.

Michael reported that Lisa said:

“I have Palestinian friends who say things I don’t like at all,” she said. “They say they want to destroy Israel, that it has no right to exist.”

Lisa and I spoke shortly after the piece was posted. She is certain that she told him that she had Palestinian friends who don't believe it has a right to exist, who would be happy if Israel never existed or ceased to exist, who wished it wasn't here. She never said to him that she has friends who "want to destroy Israel" -- i.e., would be willing to personally participate in violent acts.

That may be a fine distinction, but it's an important one. Just because a Palestinian says he fantasizes about Israelis willingly packing up shop and moving out does not mean they are bloodthirsty, any more than any other group that unhappily shares territory with another group (say, in Northern Ireland) says they would be much happier if the place was all theirs.

I'm not speaking for Lisa -- she is more than capable of commenting for herself -- but she's busy right now getting ready for a trip -- and perhaps she doesn't want to be viewed as questioning Michael's credibility.

Neither of us are. But on this point, I think she's getting a bum rap, because the quote wasn't word-for-word.

Posted by: Allison at April 28, 2006 02:28 AM

Someone has already addressed the "Israel just showed up comment." so I will address the Arabs were here first implication of the comment.

If you read the history of the region before the Jews started moving back to Israel (the late 1800s) you will find that the area was sparsley populated. It is my understanding that a large proportion of the Arabs moved there because the Jews had created opportunities for work and businesses. If you read the background of a number of the most viceral Palestinians you will find that their forefathers moved tgo the area from somewhere else such as Egypt.

Posted by: davod at April 28, 2006 02:57 AM

Allison,

I wrote down what Lisa said right after I got back to my hotel room. Looks like I botched that quote, though, if she says so. I did not meet her to interview her, but to socialize, so I didn't have my notebook on me when she said it.

Just to be clear to everyone here, when I meet people with the purpose of interviewing them, I do use a tape recorder and/or a notebook.

If anyone doubt me on this, just ask Lisa. She watched me interview people the usual way and even photographed me doing it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 28, 2006 03:11 AM

Her views, agree or disagree with them, are all based on observations and reality.

Of course they are, that's how it works for everyone. The question is 'to what extent can her views change based on her observations of reality'?

If nothing would change her mind, what she is working from is a belief, not reason.

What I would like to know is 1) if she arrived at her conclusion via reason, what were the reasons, and 2) if she arrived at her position via belief, what is the source of that belief?

It's quite possible that she has information I do not... but it's just as possible that she's like Timothy Treadwell.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Treadwell

Posted by: rosignol at April 28, 2006 03:28 AM

Timothy Treadwell i.e. the grizzly comment from an earlier post. "Reality" is subjective. Ms. Goldman's reality seems highly unique, however. Worth giving the T.T. theory some thought. Will any Israelis be profiled?

Posted by: Nett at April 28, 2006 04:16 AM

Timothy Treadwell i.e. the grizzly comment from an earlier post. "Reality" is subjective. Ms. Goldman's reality seems highly unique, however. Worth giving the T.T. theory some thought. Will any Israelis be profiled?

Posted by: Nett at April 28, 2006 04:18 AM

She is certain that she told him that she had Palestinian friends who don't believe it has a right to exist, who would be happy if Israel never existed or ceased to exist, who wished it wasn't here. She never said to him that she has friends who "want to destroy Israel" -- i.e., would be willing to personally participate in violent acts.

Allison caught you, MJT. The distinction is not a minor one, consider this switch: I suppose many Israelis would be happy if their Arab neighbors didn't exist because of the griefs they've caused, but only a tiny proportion of these would wish to actively exterminate them.

The distinction seems small when talking about Arabs because their terrorist-controlled mass media and social education is full of Israel-eradication stuff. So you may be doing individual Arabs as well as Lisa's judgment a disservice.

That said, I wonder what Lisa's connection with pot is?

Posted by: Solomon2 at April 28, 2006 04:53 AM

And the Druze are as Arab as anyone else in the region.

Not all Druze take kindly to being called Arabs - something to be aware of.

Posted by: Matt at April 28, 2006 12:04 PM

Solomon2,

I want to emphasize again that I wasn't out to "catch" Michael in any way, shape or form. I wouldn't have mentioned my conversation with Lisa if I didn't see that commenters were mischaracterizing her based on those particular words.

I'm sure that Michael wrote down his best recollection of the conversation immediately afterwards, but it's always difficult to remember exact words unless you're taping and note-taking.

Posted by: Allison at April 28, 2006 12:12 PM

Michael, this is the first time I have read your blog (Thanks Andrew Sullivan). I would like to applaud you to bringing attention to the Arab citizens in Israel, and there virtual invisibility in the west. I am currently a History Graduate student and I plan on writing my thesis on the ignored Arab citizens of Israel. By the way if you want to see more Israeli integrating with Bedouins, I suggest you take a trip to Be'er Sheva.

Posted by: adler at April 28, 2006 12:18 PM

Allison, Solomon, etc.,

I emailed Lisa to find out exactly what she thinks she said. Will post a correction in a new blog post. (This one is now too far down the page to be seen.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at April 28, 2006 12:24 PM

"If you read the history of the region before the Jews started moving back to Israel (the late 1800s) you will find that the area was sparsley populated."

Jews lived there continuously, just not in large numbers because we were repeatedly ethnically cleansed form the area. First by the babylonians, then by the Romans, then by Mohammed's Arabs, then by the Christians, then by the Turks (more Muslims).

But several notable occasions of Jews in what the Romans renamed Palestine: after the Roman destruction some Jews remained in the Gallilee area, where the first version of the Talmud was redacted (200-400 CE). Then there was the mystical community of Sfat in the 16th c. which generated many rituals which are still part of Jewish life.

More on Islam's first encounter with the Jews of Palestine. Gives you an idea why the area was sparsely populated (which it was).

Posted by: Yehudit at April 28, 2006 12:30 PM

It is very much worth remembering that applying blanket labels to large heterogeneous groups of people is rarely useful, and often deeply counter-productive. The terms "liberal" and "conservative", let alone loaded terms such as "neo-conservative", contribute far more often than not to fruitless argumentation about nothing more than implicitly different definitions about what it means to be "liberal" or "conservative" or "whatever". It's intellectual laziness.

Even so-called "libertarians" differ sharply on many issues, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Iraqi invasion.

It's far more useful to directly address the issues and their characteristics, and how and why specific people or very well-identified groups (*not* amorphous catch-all groups such as "liberals" or "conservatives") differ on them.

It is to be regretted that this post is probably too abstract to be of much or any interest to most readers, but I lack the desire or patience for a better explanation. If you're intelligent and thoughtful enough, you'll understand this post without much difficulty, and probably already know this stuff with which to begin.

Remember that words only, on the Internet, leave out a lot of implied context that people normally pick up from body language and tone of voice in personal contact. Generally, attack ideas, not people; be cautious about assuming malign intent; and look for positive solutions or thoughts, if at all possible, rather than focusing on negativity which likely will only lead to a vicious circle of still more negativity.

Posted by: Brother Bark at April 28, 2006 12:30 PM

"one must still remember the way in which, and rate at which, "Israel" showed up..."

See my post above.

"and also the way its borders expanded past the UN's designated allotment."

The UN "designated its allotment" for the same reasons the UN always kowtows to the Arab bloc: there are a lot of them and they have a lot of chutspah. The land allotted for the Jews was already bery small and the UN made it smaller. But the Jews didn't complain.

The passive voice is a wondrous thing. "The borders expanded" because Israel's Arab neighbors conspired to eliminate her and she fought a war in which she gained some land.

Posted by: Yehudit at April 28, 2006 12:36 PM

BTW, I have rather enjoyed reading the material left here by several people (you know who you are) who have knowledge of the issues and who obviously think before they post. They already know the value of learning to discern subtle shades of gray, and the real distinctions between individuals. :)

Posted by: Brother Bark at April 28, 2006 12:47 PM

Nett: "Reality" is subjective.

Sorry .... but go and speak to your closest quantum physicist for a reality check.

There has been a single objective reality, ever since man became cognizant enough to go and discover matters. Any Q.P. can tell you that this reality is extremely strange and totally counter-intuitive, where objects can be in two places at the same time, for example. Where there is an effect, but no cause. But nevertheless, there is a SINGLE reality.

Now, there are subjective interpretations of that single reality. A complex phenomena can be interpreted by two observers in divergent ways. So again, this comes back to what method is Lisa using to understand reality. The postmodern method whereby all cultures, values, and ethics are equivalent - where truth is in the subjective eye of the beholder, and where power is how truth is established and values are created, where reason has no place and power is the end goal, is a reactionary movement that dwells on differences, cultures, and conflict, instead of human consciousness and universality.

For an expose of the so-called "liberal postmodern" as an extension of the counter-enlightenment fascist movement of the 30's, please refer to:

http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/chapters/i7705.html

Reality can be interpreted subjectively and ideologically, and hence rationalizations of reality without empirical backup is worth little. But that does not negate the true and tested empirical evidence that there is only one reality, and reality evolves in a deterministic albeit stochastic manner. Again, consult your quantum physicist about reality and not your cafe-hopping neighborhood literary critic.

Posted by: Behnam at April 28, 2006 01:43 PM

I agree with Paul's comments on the "Bush hating idiot" language. I have searched high and low for a rational Bush hater. Someone who can honesty argue and debate, based upon facts, and not pure emotion and the repetition of long proved false memes. I have been engaged aggressively in this search for over two years. We run a monthly discussion group (mainly conservative men) and we consistently and constantly invite people with very liberal perspectives to join us. When they do...they invariably end up stating some version of the following statement at some point: "I don't have the facts to back it up, but that's just how I feel." It makes me want to puke. I'm tired of listening to their "feelings.

Posted by: On the Mark at April 28, 2006 02:12 PM

Brother Bark ~ is it difficult condescending to the unwashed masses? Is it possible to be more patronizing? Allow me to write this in crayon so you will grasp my meaning: you are an idiot.

Behnam ~ reality is that which agrees with the mind of God (just wanted to tighten up your definition for you).

Yehudit ~ the patience and restraint your people have demonstrated during my lifetime is beyond my comprehension. America couldn't come close. Not to sound hyperbolic, but if we suffer another terrorist attack, our response will be genocide (you heard it here first).

Posted by: Dennis Castle at April 28, 2006 02:43 PM

I tried posing earlier but couldn't reach the site. I hope this post doesn't come off the wrong way. I hate pissing matches.

With that said, I'm gonna bite because we have to be careful when we advocate hypocrisy. I believe that liberal Western democracies are BETTER than other kinds of governments, that our way of life is BETTER, because we have morally SUPERIOR VALUES. When the Zionist Fundamentalists post, they advocate destroying our souls to advance their cause. Gary Rosen wrote:

"That might make sense if Israel and Palestine were on an island in the middle of the ocean (and you ignored little details like the Palestinians' wont to send retarded teenagers out as suicide bombers). However, Israel is surrounded by a number of nations sworn to its elimination. They greatly outnumber the Israelis and are in possession of almost limitless wealth in the form of oil."

I did not ignore the fact that the Palestinian Fundamentalists send retarded teenagers to kill innocent men, women and children. I said Israel is militarily the superior force in the region. They've kicked the ass of every one of their neighbors. They are unconditionally supported by a major superpower. No one can legitimately make the "poor little jews about to be herded up and exterminated" claim. It is not an apt comparison by any reasonable measure. The claim is an attempt to poison dialogue by evoking images of genocide someone else committed and associating a completely different people/situation/culture with those images. It's disingenuous, cowardly, and wrong. Worse, some Zionist Fundamentalists that have posted here then go on to advocate unequivocal hatred and contempt for an entire group of people. Israel is worthy of America's support because it is a liberal democratic nation. We share fundamental beliefs that are the source of our power and moral authority. When American leaders disregard our core principles and begin torturing prisoners, we begin to slip toward becoming that which we hate. Many posters here have slipped far down that slope already. Westerners must remain vigilant. No Faustian bargain is going to bring us peace. What good is it to gain the world but forfeit your soul? I believe in right and wrong (meaning it's never right to do wrong). Anachronistic, perhaps, but a post-modern ideological shackle it certainly is not.

And Dennis, you're wrong. America is going to fire the Trinity currently in power and restore honor to her great name. We're not terrorists, it's not in our DNA. Our current venture off course is an anomaly, not a new direction.

Posted by: mrfett at April 28, 2006 07:08 PM

mrfett ~ thank you for sharing your views but I feel like you are beginning in the middle of a different conversation. Your acknowledgement of the Palestinians acceptance of terrorism is a non-sequitor because you didn't go anywhere with it, as is your blanket dismissal of "Zionist Fundamentalism" as though their desire to survive is somehow equivalent to the Palestinians desire to kill them. Certainly you believe that wholesome Americans would never want to defend their country, but your assumptions might not be entirely sound. Although Lisa Goldman is trying to prove that there "is reasoning with these people", Yehudit is quite a bit more convincing that, in fact, there isn't. I'll admit that I went and saw the movie "United 93" today, so I'm feeling a little punchy. Be that as it may, right now there is an Iranian leader giving the finger to the UN and he's saying scarier things than anyone has heard since the Cuban Missile crisis, and it is Israel he's talking about. Of course a couple years ago it was Pakistan wanting to trade a nuclear exchange with India. It makes me wonder how well the Muslims get along with Buddhists. Anyway, the "religion of peace" seems hell-bent to get into a fight with everybody and you, mrfett, think America will require a second invitation. The terrorists will strike again and Iran is the new Afghanistan. It won't be pretty.

Posted by: Dennis Castle at April 28, 2006 07:52 PM

Dennis Castle:

Brother Bark ~ is it difficult condescending to the unwashed masses? Is it possible to be more patronizing? Allow me to write this in crayon so you will grasp my meaning: you are an idiot.

"Generally, attack ideas, not people; be cautious about assuming malign intent; and look for positive solutions or thoughts, if at all possible, rather than focusing on negativity which likely will only lead to a vicious circle of still more negativity."

You've just violated every single guidleline in the above-quoted material. Better luck next time with your crayons.

Posted by: Brother Bark at April 28, 2006 08:14 PM

BTW, Mr. Totten, could you fix the typographical error in the word "guideline" above? Thank you.

Posted by: Brother Bark at April 28, 2006 08:18 PM

Dennis Castle: Behnam ~ reality is that which agrees with the mind of God (just wanted to tighten up your definition for you).

Your good intentions not withstanding, you managed to loosen up a beautiful definition for reality, and render it unrecognizable beyond redemption!

When recourse is made to a mythical supernatural man-made construct such as a God, then phrases such as "mind of God" and "agrees with the mind of God", etc. become meaningless.

I don't dabble in voodoo. Neither do I dabble in stuff that are not testable, verifiable, or falsifiable. As per the philosophers, what cannot be tested, is meaningless, even though the language is grammatically correct, the individual words are common, and even though it may sit well with our subjective emotions and innate sense of existence and self-consciousness.

There is no logical distinction between what you say and the statement "All bugs on the fictitious planet Tralfamadore have 7 legs." So I will agree with yours, whenever you agree with mine!

Boy, are we far off the topic!

Posted by: Behnam at April 28, 2006 09:09 PM

You should know about www.earthcapsule.com. It is the best new website for freedom and history.

Posted by: Reader at April 28, 2006 09:12 PM

Trilobite,

Unfortunately, actually finding an honest to goodness liberal these days is damn hard. Heck, a person might have better luck finding bigfoot.
Sure there's no end to people who call themselves Liberal. My guess is that it beats the hell out of being honest and stating they're fascists. Or something close.
Nasty buggers they are... and I imagine any sensible Liberal is doing much the same as any sensible conservative while these thugs are around. Sparing themselves the headache resulting from having to interact with these oxygen thieves, saving what opinions they have for exchanges with someone who can respond in something other than a shriek. Basically hoping these political mutants succumb to some degenerative disease associated with ones mind being forced to abandon its use of critical analysis as well as most higher cognitive functions. Divorced from reality disease.. Or something of that sort.

Cheers
Mike

Posted by: Mike at April 28, 2006 10:15 PM

Brother Bark ~ you write like you are oogling yourself in the mirror. If you have a point, just make it (people will think you respect them, I'm sure it will be a novel change).

Behnam ~ if there isn't anything outside the box to reveal "truth", then we cannot know anything as it is, only what it appears to be (and what it appears to be to me might be different than what it appears to be to you). Thus, in your groovy world, truth and reality are unknowable. Good luck with all that!

Now, you two can pretend that Hamas and the Iranian leader and the terrorists are just kidding, but I'll bet you are both Bush-hating liberals who think if we just stop being afraid of the people who say they want to kill us that everything will get better. You both have an awesome amount of faith and, to the uninitiated it comes across as virtuous, but your faith and virtues are disturbed.

Liberalism is a good thing, and I (and actually every genuine conservative) believe in it dearly; what we don't believe in are Liberals. I believe, with all my heart, that I should love my neighbor and my enemies, however I also know that I have a God-given responsibility to defend my family. And if I'm an elected leader, that I have that same responsibility toward those entrusted to my care. I have no difficulty separating my personal duty to recognize the nobility of Lisa's efforts and my corporate responsibility to take every appropriate measure to kill terrorists and defeat countries dedicated toward terrorism.

I can own that because I have a foundation that places virtues in their proper order. You cannot. You can't because you won't believe in the value of metaphysical reality (things live love, justice, compassion, etc). Lisa Goldman has pity and love, but if it isn't tempered with the humility that blends them properly then you end up with a pitiless love, or a loveless pity. Again, one can end up being merciful to the cruel with the final result being cruel to the merciful.

Posted by: Dennis Castle at April 28, 2006 10:42 PM

lol right wholesome Americans don't want to defend themselves. Keep deluding yourself that everyone who doesn't believe in torturing people thinks we should lay down and let them slit our throats. As with most Limbaugh-loving conservatives, you are unable to make the distinction between genocide and legitimate war, or between legal intelligence gathering and gestapo tactics. Sorry I bothered wasting my breath.

Posted by: mrfett at April 29, 2006 08:21 AM

I don't know which war you are fighting, mrfett, but the "hail and well-met" tactics you insist on using will guarantee an intifadah future for all of us. Like I wrote, I just saw "United 93" and I am certain that stern-looks alone wouldn't have made those guy's talk. It is people like you that will get my child killed by terrorists. Europe has it all figured out, they'll never defend themselves again unless we do it for them, are you impressed with their world? I'm not. America is nothing like them, and even if your team sweeps congress and the white house over the next couple years, even if you get your economy-killing Kyoto treaty and force America to submitt to the new European court, it will take just one (ONE) more terrorist attack and we'll all be John Wayne again. Except, of course, for you.

Posted by: Dennis Castle at April 29, 2006 08:40 AM

She reminds me of Tim Tredwell, the guy that lived with the Grizzlies in Alaska. sad ending.

Posted by: lyndon at April 29, 2006 10:09 AM

Michael:
A couple comments:
1. I want to make a point similar to one of your previous commenters. You said that the Labor party got one and a half times as many votes as Likud. That's only technically correct. Another conservative party took away about half of Likud's votes: Yisrael Beitenu. The leader of Yisrael Beitenu had opposed the Gaza withdrawal. So they are to the right of Likud. If you add the totals for Likud and Yisrael Beitenu, you get 23 Knesset seats, 4 more than Labor.

If you want to do a more thorough, breakdown the results from the parliamentary election are
Left 24 (Labor, Meretz)
Center 29 (Kadima)
Right 32 (Likud, Yisrael Beitenu, NRP/NU)

With the remainder going to special interest parties. It is true that Netanyahu did very badly in this election and so Likud lost votes. But Likud lost these votes to other conservative parties, not the left.

The Israeli electorate is still center/right even though Kadima is trying to form a center/left coalition.

2. Why do Western journalists always profile people like Lisa, rather than normal Israelis who are leading a typical life. Lisa is crazy. There were lots of people who got along great in Yugoslavia and started massacring once the area changed from Yugoslavia to Serbia (with some massacres also being perpetrated by Croats and Bosnias). The situation in Israel-Palestine is much worse than Yugoslavia under Tito. Lisa is a fool.

I also agree with other commenters that Lisa's behavior is unacceptable. She's a neocolonialist, imposing her cultural norms (drugs and nudity) on others who most likely only tolerate it due to their poverty and desire to make a living. I'm confident that her behavior is, in a small way, strengthening the radicals and further poisoning Arab views of Israel and the West.

Posted by: Another Jonathan at April 30, 2006 01:44 AM

Lisa Goldman receives special treatment from her Palestinian 'handlers' because she is a journalist, and has proven her usefulness to the Palestinians.

She regularly promotes the false notion that there are "moderate" Palestinians - yet she can't produce any Pali friends who are willing to accept Israel's right to exist.

Why should they, when useful idiots like Goldman facilitate their glorious victimology politics?

The more telling fact is that foreigners entering the West Bank without well-connected 'handlers' won't enjoy the 'friendship' that Goldman boasts of - while Arab Israelis can come and go freely without fear in Israel.

Posted by: Ben-David at April 30, 2006 02:46 AM

I have just returned from Haifa, Israel's third largest city. Here the municipality of Haifa works hard to create a peaceful co-existence with their non Jewish residents.

These include:

1. The Bahai group, a group whose faith promote peace and love and do not even seek citizenship

2. The Ahmoudi Muslims, whose interpretation of Jihad is "the struggled to capture the hearts and minds to convert others by peaceful means". They are unpopular with other Muslims in the region who believe Jihad to be a war to the death.

3. The Druz, an affluent lot who don't care which regime is in place, they will be loyal to whoever.

4. The Carmelite Chritians who continually welcome prilgrims to their Stella Maris church

Also there is a successful Arab - Jewish centre funded by the Haifa municipality that is run by both Arabs and Jews, who put on shows and activities for all. This is only possible because there are people who wish to get on with their lives.

I spoke to members of all these groups and all believe that their faith is the true one and do look to convert others but do so through debate and conversation.

The reason this does not work elsewhere in Israel is because the Arab Muslims simply cannot bear to think of Israel as a Jewish state. It is a fact and every Jewish Israelli should be aware of that.

I asked a Palestinian who has taken on Israelli citizenship and who goes to Israelli university, if there will ever be a time that he will consider himself Israelli, "no never, my priority is for the Palestinians and I will teach my children that".

Lisa should realise that her only friends in Israel are those that accept that they are Israelli, and not Arab Muslims Palestinians in Israel and those that agree that Israel is a legitimate Jewish state.

Posted by: Tsodeket at April 30, 2006 07:16 AM

Right, I finally had a chance to read the comments and I have a few things to say.

1. Michael did misquote me a wee bit, though the misquotes do not detract from the overall value of this piece. He will post the corrections in a couple of days.

2. Ben-David, you and I have had two email exchanges on the subject of what you term my "handlers" and I have made it very, very clear that I do not have handlers. I track my own stories through various sources - mostly Israeli journalists who have fluent Arabic and follow the Arab media. The foreign correpondents in Israel and the territories do have handlers, which is a big part of the reason that their reporting is so bad. The difference between Israeli and foreign reporters is that Israelis do not have handlers - they just know the territory a lot better, and work a lot harder than western journalists. Actually, Israeli newspapers do not give a big enough budget to pay for handlers. And if you want to check that fact, then I suggest that you call any of the Israeli journalists who report about the West Bank and Gaza.
I travel to and around the West Bank on my own,using public transport. My Palestinian friends are people I have met while we were covering the same stories - either in the West Bank or in Israel - or people I have met at workshops that were organized jointly by Israelis and Palestinians in Jordan. If they happen to accompany me when I'm in the West Bank, it's because we enjoy each other's company or they are doing me a favour by responding to my request for a ride to a certain location that is difficult to find. The idea of me paying them would be as ridiculous to us as the idea of you paying your next-door neighbour for picking up your kids from school because you were held up at work.

If it makes you feel better to believe that I am brainwashed or naive, then go ahead and nurture that belief. But you - and everyone else who is having trouble digesting the idea that I and a lot of other Israeli journalists work with Palestinian journalists and consider them our friends - are simply lying to yourselves. Sorry to be blunt, but that's the fact.

3. The West Bank is not the Wild West, for all that the MSM portrays it that way. The point of Michael's post is to show what really goes on around in this part of the world, and I think he's doing a great job.

Posted by: Lisa at April 30, 2006 09:01 AM

Lisa: useful idiot.

Her observed "reality" a function of her vision:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0465081428/sr=8-4/qid=1146413212/ref=pd_bbs_4/102-8257317-1753759?%5Fencoding=UTF8

Posted by: Anon at April 30, 2006 09:19 AM

mrfett wrote:

"I did not ignore the fact that the Palestinian Fundamentalists send retarded teenagers to kill innocent men, women and children."

Of course you did, but the above was your first lie of many. You demonize me as a "Zionist fundamentalist" because I pointed out some truths about the Mideast and talked about me "advocating destroying our souls".

I wrote the following:

"Israel is surrounded by a number of nations sworn to its elimination. They greatly outnumber the Israelis and are in possession of almost limitless wealth in the form of oil."

Do you have a single fact at your disposal contradicting any of this? If not, then STFU.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at April 30, 2006 11:59 PM

That's a classic leftist Ashkenazi attitude in Israel. In the fifties, when hundreds of thousands of Sephardi Jews fled the Arab countries to come to Israel, the Ashkenazi (white/European) Jews in Israel, with classic European contempt mixed with paternalism, tried to reform the "Arab-like" Sephardi (i.e. make them more European, socialist, "enlightened").

that's completely correct! and now i see all these anglo-saxons all of a sudden being mid-east-"insiders" -

i'm can only laugh....

Tse.

Posted by: tsedek at May 1, 2006 08:46 PM

Maybe it's because I've lived in Israel most of my life, I found this the least interesting of Michael's blog entries from around the Middle East.

Michael's revelations ("Israelis go to Sinai? Gosh!") are not revelatory to me, the larger point being that they are probably not revelatory to too many others either.

And in fact, in this case they are misleading, and make me question Michael's insight into previous places he's been.

Lisa's "some of my best friends are murderous Gazans" attitude is definitely not mainstream. Many sub-chattering classes folks actually think twice before even venturing into Jaffa, their own Arab-dominated suburb, for some Abulafia-baked bready treat (I say sub-chattering, because it's quite hip for their slightly better educated and affluent fellows to buy houses in Jaffa). And Jaffa, though a bit scummy, is Christian and totally safe.

Yes, Michael is correct at the beginning, Israel is more Middle Eastern than it initially appears from the airport, but it is less Middle Eastern than it appears to be after a few days. For instance, you don't really need a fixer to get things done (unless you want to visit military installations, etc). You just have to ask people and tell them you're a blogger from Oregon.

I dunno, maybe I like this blog cos Michael goes to exotic places, and if you're actually from the place he's reporting from, it's not very exotic at all. Nor insightful. Not this time anyway.

Much of Israel's current story isn't about the relationship the Palestinians anyway, but about what Israelis are getting up to in various other ways. The Aroma franchise, for instance.

Posted by: Adam Khan at May 2, 2006 08:14 AM

Adam, I hope you continue reading and posting alternative insights to Michael's -- I'm not so clear on what you think is misleading in his stuff; which is quite revelatory to this American (in Slovakia; nearby time zone).

I was certain Lisa was not "mainstream", but that's no different than most Americans being oblivious to the plight of illegal immigrants.

I suspect "thinking twice" about going to Jaffa might be like Michael thinking twice about visiting Oakland or Compton at night. While much of Israel's story isn't about the Palestinians, like much of Iraqi's isn't about the US occupation, a huge amount of the news is.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at May 2, 2006 02:53 PM

Once again, people are seeing what they want to see, instead of actually reading what was written. Michael didn't write anything about Lisa being friends with terrorists, murderers, etc. Lisa has friends who are Palestinian. Not all Palestinians are terrorists. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that most aren't. Lisa is far from naive, stupid, crazy, or any one of the less flattering adjectives attributed to her. She's a woman who wants and believes in the possibility of peace, and there's nothing wrong with that. If nobody tries to reach out and get to know "the other", we'll be mired in this mess forever. People like Lisa are showing us that it's possible to break down the barriers, and she should be admired for that.

If you haven't lived in Israel, if you don't know Lisa, you are hardly in a position to judge her or to belittle her actions.

Posted by: She at May 5, 2006 02:52 AM

"Bush Hating Idiot" has one key word,... HATING. Thats a very irrational emotion. I have a very good friend who wont go to the library because he is afraid the government will use the Patriot Act to find out what he is reading.

Hes a great guy, but he is one hell of a Bush Hating Idiot.

..................

You missed a big point in dealing with Israeli politics.

The swing to the right is losing ground because the right became split when Sharon pulled out of the Gaza Strip. You really should have addressed the fact that his administration made a drastic turn to the center. I think not mentioning this fact was a big omission. Otherwise, your writing is excellent.

Sharon did the right thing, but he could have gotten something in return...

Posted by: Freedom Now at May 5, 2006 07:15 PM

"You just can’t believe anyone hates you that much."

Really, after that admission, why would anyone listen to anything else Ms. Goldman has to say?

Posted by: taba at May 6, 2006 11:11 AM
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