Saturday, March 09, 2019

Paul Campos on dual loyalties, Israel and Omar

He sez:

....This whole sordid mess is a product of, among other things, the insidious idea that it’s undesirable for people to have “dual loyalties” in the context of their relationships to nation-states.  This idea is obviously absurd if stated as a straightforward proposition, which is why it almost never is.

People have multiple loyalties in every other aspect of their lives, so why wouldn’t or shouldn’t they in the context of their relationships with nations?  I’m not Jewish, but I think it’s completely ridiculous to criticize American Jews for feeling various levels of affection toward, passion for, and loyalty to, the state of Israel....

The accusation of dual loyalty, in other words, is based on a completely bogus theory of both human psychology and political morality.  And yes, I realize “dual loyalty” is a classic anti-Semitic trope, but that accusation only has bite because of a perverted concept of patriotism, which requires loyalty to the present government of the nation of which one is a citizen to always trump every other consideration.  In other words, “dual loyalty” is only bad per se if one accepts the essentially fascist concept of loyalty to a single nation state as the first duty of every citizen of the State.

Read the whole, etc. While I think he has good points, esp about fetishization of the state, the acknowledgment that we have biases doesn't remove the obligation to confront and control those biases, to the extent we can and acknowledging our limits. The issue runs both ways - anti-Semitism has woken from near death with the rise of conservative nationalism, while the left has an obvious point at how biased American foreign policy is toward Israeli right-wing government positions and against Palestinians.

My great-grandparents and their parents emigrated from Austria-Hungary to the US in 1910. My understanding is that German-Americans disproportionately opposed American entry into World War I. It's lost to time whether my relatives took part in those politics, but the German-American bias is worth acknowledging. It's not necessarily wrong - maybe we'd have fewer wars if people cared about the lives of family relatives in the opposing military trench. It does however complicate things.

I hope we can get a somewhat-more balanced perspective on Israel (given everything global, I favor a somewhat pro-Israel stance for the US) while confronting anti-Semitism and other biases wherever they arise.

45 comments:

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Matthew 6:24 would beg to differ: "No man can serve two masters: for either he
will hate the one, and love the other; or else
he will hold to the one, and despise the other..."

Fernando Leanme said...

It depends, if loyalty to nation state A harms nation state B's interests or welfare, then you do have a problem...and I am aware there are individuals who are perfectly capable of betraying the nation where they were born, or where they were accepted as inmigrants.

Also, it's more likely such betrayal will happen when the individuals are radicalized by extreme political and/or religious ideologies. I'm not going to start naming groups or individuals here, because I'm trying to highlight a core concept. A radical is more likely to cause trouble, and the more removed the radical is from the core cultural and religious values of a nation, the easier it is to attack it from the inside, or even betray it. This is basic, it's human nature, and that's the way it is, my friends.

Snape said...

I’ve got a problem with the whole conversation. People do terrible things in the name of loyalty. Think of Michael Cohen’s loyalty to Trump as a recent, minor example; or Nazi loyalty to their Fuhrer as a historical, more extreme example. Same goes for loyalty to a nation. It’s a messed up idea.
We should be loyal to our principals - freedom, honesty, compassion.......whatever. Not to a government or institution.

Clair and Phillip Scadden said...

I have a problem with idea that if you criticize an Israeli government position or politician in any way, then you are a closet anti-semite. Its a well-worn tactic to deflect criticism of sometimes outlandish positions.

Layzej said...

The title says "...and Omar", but I don't see her mentioned in this or the referenced article.

Regarding Ilhan Omar, she was pointing out the absurdity of America enforcing allegiance to a foreign country, not that there is anything wrong with some citizens having an allegiance to a foreign country.

It seems there are certain laws being introduced in the USA that make it illegal to protest Israel.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

The problem with Omar is her tendency to use antisemitic tropes like "It's all about the Benjamins" or "dual loyalty." If she's not an antisemite, she needs to stop talking like one.

Layzej said...

It's not OK to talk about getting money out of politics if Israel is involved?

jrkrideau said...

"It's all about the Benjamins"

I was interested to learn that Benjamin Franklin's picture appears on US $100 bills.

It seems to be that she was not being anti-Semitic but rather complaining that it was so cheap to buy a US legislator.

Gingerbaker said...

"It seems there are certain laws being introduced in the USA that make it illegal to protest Israel."

Nope. No laws being proposed make it illegal to protest Israel. This is BDS propaganda.

Gingerbaker said...

"I have a problem with idea that if you criticize an Israeli government position or politician in any way, then you are a closet anti-semite. Its a well-worn tactic to deflect criticism of sometimes outlandish positions."

Omar did not make a single specific criticism of any Israeli position or politician. Nobody would call such a criticism anti semitic.

What she said was that Israel was "hypnotizing the world". That is an anti semitic trope harkening back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

She said that AIPAC was influencing American politicians with their "Benjamins". AIPAC does not give a dime to American politicians and never has. Their total annual lobbying expenditures are miniscule at $3.5 million, not even in the top 30.

She made vague reference to the dual loyalty of American Jews vis a vis Israel. This is the same insinuation made by Hitler and the Nazis.

These statements by Omar have nothing to do with "criticize an Israeli government position or politician in any way".

That's the problem.

Gingerbaker said...

"The issue runs both ways - anti-Semitism has woken from near death with the rise of conservative nationalism, while the left has an obvious point at how biased American foreign policy is toward Israeli right-wing government positions and against Palestinians."

The American so-called "alt-left" is hugely anti semitic. They fully support the BDS movement, which is based on outrageous accusations toward Israel, and the anti semitic bigotry of holding only Israel accountable for sins seen much more egregiously and more often in many other countries.

You seem guilty of this yourself, as you characterize American foreign policy as "biased toward Israel" and "against Palestinians", and that the present government of Israel is "right-wing". I assure you that Netanyahu is actually centrist - there are many far to the right of his positions.

Such is the narrative of the American left. I am an American leftist. I am also an American Jew. And a hard-line atheist. About a year ago, I realized I had no effing idea what were the issues and truths of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And so I began a journey to discover the true history and issues of the conflict. And I can tell you that what I found was eye-opening, and does not even resemble the narrative of the BDS movement or the American left.

Layzej said...

No laws being proposed make it illegal to protest Israel. This is BDS propaganda.

I work for a U.S. company whose policy prohibits its employees from participating in boycotts that are not approved by the U.S. government, specifically relating to Israel.

I'm live in a free country where this is likely unenforceable, and I hadn't planned on boycotting anyway, but that's still rather shocking and irksome.

It seems U.S. politicians are not even free to discuss this policy.

Layzej said...

For clarification, the company policy exists to comply with U.S. laws.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

I do think of Netanyahu as right-wing. He recently said Israel was only for Jews, which is a hell of a thing to say in a country that is 20% ethnic Arab. He also seems to be okay with indefinite occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which is only possible if Israel subjugates a vast, hostile foreign population. I prefer a two-state solution.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

That "Please prove you're not a robot" thing is really getting obnoxious. I just had to click through about ten screens (I'm not exaggerating) to get a comment posted. Please look into this. Something is set wrong.

Gingerbaker said...

"I work for a U.S. company whose policy prohibits its employees from participating in boycotts that are not approved by the U.S. government, specifically relating to Israel. "

The U.S. government does not "approve/disapprove" boycotts.No law prohibits anyone or any company from boycotting whatever they want. What the new law DOES do, however, is to specify the BDS movement as discriminatory, and therefore to disqualify organizations that participate in it to receive government contracts. Exactly the same way that, say, religious organizations that discriminate against gay people are not allowed to receive government monies.

Gingerbaker said...

"I do think of Netanyahu as right-wing. He recently said Israel was only for Jews, which is a hell of a thing to say in a country that is 20% ethnic Arab. He also seems to be okay with indefinite occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which is only possible if Israel subjugates a vast, hostile foreign population. I prefer a two-state solution.".

I don't know the context of the quote, but let me put Netanyahu into perspective. There are a substantial minority of Israelis who want to immediately annex/reclaim the 1948 borders of Israel (which include Gaza, the entire West Bank, and much of the Golan Heights); outlaw Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, arrest and prosecute their leaders. Some want to expel Arabs who will not pledge allegiance to Israel.

Netanyahu is a centrist in one of the most complicated political/religious milieus in the world.

Gingerbaker said...

"It's not OK to talk about getting money out of politics if Israel is involved?"

No, what is not OK is to accuse Jews of buying politicians. What is not OK is to accuse AIPAC of bribing politicians, when it does not donate a single dime to politicians or PACS.

In a true discussion about money in politics, Israel is a non-topic. It should never come up, because the amounts of money it represents is tiny. That is does come up is a double-standard and that is anti-semitic.

Layzej said...

it does not donate a single dime to politicians or PACS.

Ok, but according to Wikipedia, while the group does not raise funds for political candidates itself, "its members raise money for candidates through political action committees AIPAC helped establish and by other means."

I'm not sure that's something we shouldn't be allowed to discuss.

Layzej said...

In a true discussion about money in politics, Israel is a non-topic. It should never come up, because the amounts of money it represents is tiny.

Apparently the NRA doesn't contribute any money to politicians. It's the NRA-ILA that does. The amount of money it contributes is tiny: "gun rights issues do not even show up on the OpenSecrets website lists for top lobbying firms, top lobbying sectors, top lobbying issues, or top lobbying industries for the years 1998-2017."

But somehow we are allowed to talk about it.

Gingerbaker said...

"Ok, but according to Wikipedia, while the group does not raise funds for political candidates itself, "its members raise money for candidates through political action committees AIPAC helped establish and by other means."

I'm not sure that's something we shouldn't be allowed to discuss."

Discuss it all you want, but what you would be talking about is the political contributions of individual American citizens. Do you really think it is appropriate to criticize American people, likely Jews, who wish to support politicians they feel would support Israel?

Gingerbaker said...

"In a true discussion about money in politics, Israel is a non-topic. It should never come up, because the amounts of money it represents is tiny.

Apparently the NRA doesn't contribute any money to politicians. It's the NRA-ILA that does. The amount of money it contributes is tiny: "gun rights issues do not even show up on the OpenSecrets website lists for top lobbying firms, top lobbying sectors, top lobbying issues, or top lobbying industries for the years 1998-2017."

But somehow we are allowed to talk about it."

Talk about whatever you want. But that is NOT what Omar said. She said that AIPAC is influencing politicians by giving them money. That is false.

Layzej said...

Discuss it all you want, but what you would be talking about is the political contributions of individual American citizens. Do you really think it is appropriate to criticize American people, likely Jews, who wish to support politicians they feel would support Israel?

I don't know. The situation is no different from the NRA who is supported by individual Americans. People talk about it. I think talk is healthy in a democracy.

Gingerbaker said...

"Apparently the NRA doesn't contribute any money to politicians. It's the NRA-ILA that does. "

That is disingenuous. AIPAC doesn't have a subsidiary making donations.

And this what the NRA gave in direct political donations so far since 2016:

Over one million dollars, almost exclusively to Republicans
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_congressional_candidates_who_received_campaign_money_from_the_National_Rifle_Association

More importantly, they spent $54,398,558 on "outside expenses" which translates into television ads for political candidates. AIPAC has zero outside expenses.

AIPAC spends its money talking to politicians about issues and setting up conferences where speakers talk about issues. So, your comparison of AIPAC to the NRA, likely the most despised lobbying group in America, is, shall we say, unfortunate.

Layzej said...

The NRA is one of the most revered lobbying groups in America. Its membership is made up of over 5,000,000 patriotic and freedom loving Americans. Nonetheless you are free to take issue with the organization and it's members without being accused of being unpatriotic or unamerican.

TransparencyCNP said...

Gingerbaker: You claim to be an atheist, but Israel classifies everyone according to a religious definition of "Jewish" as interpreted by rabbinical authorities. It seems that you subscribe to a non-theistic religion. Or can you tell us your non-religious definition of "Jewishness"?

Brian Schmidt said...

If people are continuing to have sign-in problems, please say so in the comments. Thanks.

Gingerbaker said...

" Or can you tell us your non-religious definition of "Jewishness"?"

Yes, the Jews are not just people who practice a religion. They (we) also consider themselves "a people", with a shared culture and history of persecution and pride of accomplishment and place, that traces back 4000 years in and around Judea and Jerusalem, and for 3000 years in diaspora around the world.

I was born in 1954, a mere ten years after I would have been put to death in many places in Europe not because of my religious practices, but because of the genetic heritage of my parents. Or simply because I was circumcised. Or simply because of my appearance.

And just so you know, the ONLY benefit that my "Jewishness" would give me in Israel is a guarantee of immigration. Israeli law specifically protects all religious denominations, specifically says all people are to be treated egalitarianly. In fact, Arab Israeli citizens get a benefit I would not (if I was still of age). They are not required to serve in the military, unless they choose to do so. And many have.

Does that answer your question?

Snape said...

The NRA helped elect a man who regularly attacks the free press, demands loyalty, befriends dictators, and has tried to push the limits of executive power at every turn (funding for the wall being the latest example).

Patriotic and freedom loving? No, a bunch of dipshits.

Gingerbaker said...

"The NRA is one of the most revered lobbying groups in America. Its membership is made up of over 5,000,000 patriotic and freedom loving Americans. Nonetheless you are free to take issue with the organization and it's members without being accused of being unpatriotic or unamerican"

What is your issue with AIPAC now that we have established that is does not bribe politicians, nor spend large amounts of money trying to influence elections.

You keep bring up phrases about lacking freedom to express yourself about AIPAC without being accused of being unpatriotic. Have I done that? Who has done that?

It is only when someone like Omar accuses AIPAC of falsehoods that I object. Or when someone singles out - using a double-standard against Israel - that I object to the inherent anti semitism of such a comment.

You, and anyone else, id free to comment on Israel and AIPAC and whatever else you want. But I am also free to point out falsehoods, and double-standards, and propaganda, and bullshit when I see it too.

The fact is that what I have seen, and been exposed to, is a huge tide of misinformed people making outrageously scandalous claims about Israel and American Jews. Most of the ones I have confronted on-line have no idea about the history of the region. Not a single one has done their due diligence to ascertain whether the outrageous and shocking claims they repeat have any semblance to the truth of the matter. And none of them as actually gone to Israel to compare reality with the vision in their head. )Neither have I). But you know what is interesting? Quite a few people have - and their testimony is compelling. YouTube is your friend.

And I can understand that. That is the way social media works. That is the way Google works. It is bloody HARD to know what a fact is these days. .

But it can be done. And what I have found - starting from a position of near-complete ignorance - , at least, over the past year, has been shocking. But I am biased. I am, like it or not, a Jew. Whether I practice the religion or not.

So, all I can say, is do your own journey. Take your time and your due diligence. Make your own conclusions.

But I will give you one hint. My reasoning, at least initially,adduced that a lot of claims about this whole mess revolve about land - territory, borders. So here is my hint: Why was Jordan formed, and why was it initially called "Trans-Jordan"?

TransparencyCNP said...

"consider themselves 'a people', with a shared culture and history of persecution and pride of accomplishment and place, that traces back"
As do other ethnic nationalisms I could name.

"the ONLY benefit that my "Jewishness" would give me in Israel is a guarantee of immigration"
You get to help yourself to free real estate, while the owners get gunned down at the border.

"Does that answer your question?"
No. If my mother's, mother's, ... mother was "Jewish" then I inherit this mystical, magical quality of "Jewishness". There is no logical, rational, scientific basis for this - it is a religious belief (like the Catholics' wine and wafers). It is fundamental to Zionism to precisely classify humanity into Jews and non-Jews according to religious rules.

As for your Bible stories, diaspora myths and assorted Hasbara, I will be happy to discuss them if Eli permits.

Layzej said...

What is your issue with AIPAC...

I have no issue.

You keep bring up phrases about lacking freedom to express yourself about AIPAC without being accused of being unpatriotic. Have I done that? Who has done that?

You used Omar's "Benjamins" comment regarding AIPAC as an example of antisemitism. It's analogous to an NRA supporter accusing any critic of being unpatriotic or anti-American. In the same paragraph you claimed that AIPAC doesn't give a dime to politicians, which is only technically true in the same way that the NRA doesn't give a dime to politicians.

But before we can debate the merits of your arguments we need to agree that doing so is not antisemitic, and clearly...

It is only when someone like Omar accuses AIPAC of falsehoods that I object. Or when someone singles out - using a double-standard against Israel - that I object to the inherent anti semitism of such a comment.

...we're not there yet.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

TCNP: diaspora myths

BPL: The Jewish diaspora is a myth??? Have you had any history courses at all?

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Took ten screens to get past the "Prove you're not a robot" again. This really is off-putting.

Snape said...

“membership in the group is also passed down along a matrilineal line, meaning Jewishness straddles the line between religion, ethnicity and culture.”

https://amp.livescience.com/22137-genetics-jewish-diaspora.html

Layzej said...

For the record, I have no issue with AIPAC. I have no issue with the NRA. I think it's important for people to organize to effect the change they want to see in the world.

I don't think it's helpful to demonize either group. The focus should be on policies - to the extent that these groups are advocating bad policy.

I think politicians should be especially careful how they communicate, and Omar has not been careful at all.

I also think the media (and even our gracious host) have (implicitly in the case of our host and likely with no ill intent) misrepresented her statements.

Gingerbaker - I appreciate that you've researched this issue carefully. I understand that this is a complex issue. I think there should be a conversation and your voice should be heard.

For me - I'm about done with this thread. I'll end my engagement here. I hope I have not offended.

TransparencyCNP said...

@ Barton
The myth is that the "Jewish People" were cruelly evicted en masse from their beloved homeland and therefore have a "birthright" to "return" and "redeem" their real estate.

The vast majority were voluntary economic migrants (who presumably sold their real estate when they left):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_diaspora#Roman_destruction_of_Judea

A large population remained and converted to Christianity, becoming the ancestors of today's Palestinians:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_Palestine_(region)

Snape said...

The study suggests to me that a person could accurately identify as both Jewish and an atheist, a notion that had me scratching my head when I first read it. My thinking was, “calling yourself a Jewish athiest is like calling yourself a Christian athiest”. False equivalence.

Gingerbaker said...

" In the same paragraph you claimed that AIPAC doesn't give a dime to politicians, which is only technically true in the same way that the NRA doesn't give a dime to politicians."

I believe I gave figures which proved that AIPAC and the NRA are very different indeed in their activities and influence and spending. And ethics.

Gingerbaker said...

"As for your Bible stories, diaspora myths and assorted Hasbara, I will be happy to discuss them if Eli permits."

I am not interested in discussing them with you. The term "Hasbara" is a loaded antisemitic gun, a hashtag used by zealots, much like the terms "Darwinist", "FemiNazi", "libtard". No thanks.

TransparencyCNP said...

@Gingerbaker
"The term 'Hasbara' is a loaded antisemitic gun"

See:
"Hasbara Fellowships Canada is a not-for-profit organization which equips pro-Israel university students with the skills, training and motivation to effectively advocate for Israel on campuses across Canada."
https://jewishtoronto.com/directory/hasbara-fellowships-canada

Gingerbaker said...

"@Gingerbaker
"The term 'Hasbara' is a loaded antisemitic gun"

See:
"Hasbara Fellowships Canada is a not-for-profit organization which equips pro-Israel university students with the skills, training and motivation to effectively advocate for Israel on campuses across Canada.""


"Hasbara is a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past. "

see:

https://972mag.com/hasbara-why-does-the-world-fail-to-understand-us/27551/

and:

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/grand-failure-israeli-hasbara-20148221228220202.html

where you will see it used typically as "Zionist hasbara" and then followed by charges of "genocide", "apartheid" "ethnic cleansing" etc. Charges attributed to Israelis, incredibly enough.

TransparencyCNP said...

@Gingerbaker: "No, what is not OK is to accuse Jews of buying politicians."

Is this OK?:
"Meet the Jewish Billionaires Shaping the 2016 Presidential Election"
https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/meet-the-jews-shaping-the-2016-election-1.5367173

"you will see it used typically as 'Zionist hasbara' "

For example:
"Zionists explain themselves. That is what is at the root of the Hebrew term hasbara.
Although the pro-Zionist information campaign really got started on a professional basis in 1946, efforts 30 and 40 years earlier to employ the medium of the press, at that time the sole mass-media instrument, were promoted"
https://unitedwithisrael.org/opinion-its-time-for-zionists-to-take-the-offensive/

Gingerbaker said...

There are 193 countries in the world. Only one of them, Israel, it is contended, does not have the right to exist. Hence, the use of the term "Zionist" as a modern pejorative, even though Zionism itself officially ended in 1948, the moment when Israel declared its independence and the Mandate for Palestine therefore also ended simultaneously.

Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria were formed under the exact same auspices and authority, but only Israel's right to existence is under question. Israel's right to exist was affirmed by the Arab leaders of the time, and by 52 countries of the League of Nations. All of whom were privy to the map of the borders of the nascent state as drawn by the British mandate and which remained static for more than twenty years. That map showed Israel from the Jordan to the sea. It included all of the so-called West Bank (ie, Judea and Samaria), Gaza, and most of the Golan Heights.

The Arab leaders who negotiated the formation of "the Arab State", which was realized as Trans-Jordan - and whose charter was as a homeland for Palestinian Arabs displaced by the British and French Mandates for Palestine - promised the Mandate Powers (and through them the League of Nations) that its formation would forever end Arab claims for territory in Palestine. Note the name - "Trans-Jordan". It means "on the other side of the Jordan River". See the relevance?

Yet here we are today, with the terms "Zionist", Zionism", and "Zionist Hasbara" , etc, are still in contemporary use. More than 70 years after Israel became a nation.

So, yeah, when I see the use of the word "hasbara" from non Israelis, I have come to expect bias. And I have not been disappointed.

TransparencyCNP said...

"Zionism itself officially ended in 1948"
"map showed Israel from the Jordan to the sea"
"forever end Arab claims for territory in Palestine"
???
Sources please. Have I overlooked these somewhere in Wikipedia's many articles on the region?