Rand Paul Tries To Explain Why He Signed The Cotton Letter To Iran, And Fails
Rand Paul now says he signed the Cotton Letter to strengthen the Administration's bargaining position.
Rand Paul was, of course, among the 47 Senators who signed the “Open Letter” to the leaders of Iran signed by nearly all of the Republican members of the United States Senate which purported to remind the Iranians about the potential role of Congress with regard to any deal that might be reached on Iran’s nuclear program from the ongoing talks in Geneva. Now, though, Senator Paul, apparently in response to criticism from both the left and some of his own supporters, has said he really only signed the letter to help President Obama:
During a town-hall meeting with employees of a cloud computing company, Kentucky senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul said he signed Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran’s leaders to help the Obama administration craft a better deal.
“We wrote laws putting sanctions on Iran,” Paul said. “My goal in supporting those was to get them to the negotiating table. I don’t want to push them away. I have not favored more sanctions during the negotiations-I want the negotiations to succeed.”
Dan Brian, a technical writer at Dyn, looked skeptically at Paul as the senator answered his question. “I want the president to negotiate from a position of strength,” said Paul. “I want him to be able to go to the Iranians and say, ‘Congress is going to have to vote on this, because Congress put these sanctions in place. To remove them, Congress will have to vote on it, so you will have to give up more.'”
When the town hall ended, Brian went back to work unsatisfied. “I found the answer to be kind of ridiculous,” he said. “The Senate, taking on foreign policy like that, seemed to be out of its jurisdiction. For him to say that it put the president in a position of strength-I thought that was wrong.”
It’s not surprising that Mr. Brian found Senator Paul’s explanation for signing on to the Cotton letter to be unpersuasive, because it really comes across as a ridiculous argument that some adviser came up with after the fact to justify something that Senator Paul, and no doubt many of his fellow Republican Senators, didn’t really put very much thought into. As I noted when I first wrote about the letter, it should have been obvious from the beginning that the letter would serve no purpose other than to undermine the negotiation position of the United States and the European nations in Geneva while simultaneously strengthening hardliners in Iran who have been arguing against a deal to begin with. It should have been obvious that the letter would be used by these hardliners to reinforce their argument that the United States cannot be trusted to live up to whatever deal might be agreed to, which would undermine the ability of any moderates in the Iranian government to push their argument for a deal forward. Finally, it should have been obvious from the beginning that rather than the mythical “better deal” that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu talked about in his speech to Congress earlier this month, the letter would be more likely to result in no deal at all, which would likely cause the Iranians to accelerate their nuclear program without any real international observation at all.
It won’t come as a surprise, then, that this seems to be exactly what has happened, and that the letter has in fact undermined the Administration, and the Europeans, in the negotiations in Geneva:
A key European diplomat said Thursday that the letter to Iran from Senate Republicans “was not helpful” to ongoing international nuclear talks with Iran, as other officials lowered expectations for reaching a framework deal this month.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was reacting to a letter signed by 47 Senate Republicans warning Tehran that any nuclear deal it strikes with President Barack Obama will be nonbinding and easily undone.
Steinmeier added that to call the missive unhelpful was “an understatement.”
Germany is among the six nations conducting talks with Iran in an effort to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. In addition to the United States, the others are France, Britain, Russia and China.
Steinmeier elaborated in German-language remarks to his country’s media Thursday morning.
“It’s not just a matter of U.S. politics. It has an impact on the talks in Geneva. Because now of course mistrust is growing on the Iranian side about whether our side is really serious about negotiations,” according to a translation from German network Deutsche Welle.
According to sources close to the negotiations, the letter may have given Iran more leverage in the nuclear talks.
“The game that was played in the past is that we are credible and the Iranians are not credible,” said one. “The letter is creating the advantage for the Iranians. It is hurting our position in the negotiations.”
This outcome could have been seen from the beginning, of course, and it leads to one to the rather obvious conclusion that the real purpose of the letter was in fact to undermine the negotiations and to make any deal in Geneva less likely.
Daniel Larison comments:
Even if one were inclined to believe Paul’s weak excuse for the terrible decision to sign the letter, the fact remains that the stunt had the opposite effect of the one that Paul claims to have wanted. The decision to sign the letter may be consistent with Paul’s support for Corker’s Iran legislation (though Corker himself didn’t feel compelled to sign on), but that just reminds us that Paul has made the wrong callon that as well. Finally, signing the letter aligned Paul with a senator who has bluntly stated that he desires the negotiations to be derailed. The most generous explanation is that Paul didn’t understand what Cotton was trying to do, and that is almost more damning than if he did understand.
So, either Senator Paul’s read of the situation was so wildly off base before he signed the letter than one has to question his judgment on a whole host of issue or, more likely, this is a position that Paul has come up with after the fact to justify something that he is being rightly criticized for doing. Either way, it doesn’t make him look very good.
His response is pretty close to babble… not impressed.
Rand Paul hasn’t distinguished himself from his Republican brethren in the Senate aside from the political stunt of a talking filibuster. (He voted for all the other ones, it’s not like his one time spent talking is interesting in that light.) He’s basically if Dennis Kucinich had a kid who went into politics.
I mean, he certainly talks sweetly, but his actions don’t fulfill the words.
If he really wanted to help, maybe he should have asked the president first, because he doesn’t seem to think the letter was such a good idea.
I’d like to be able to believe this response, but I’m afraid I have to call BS as well.
The only thing we need to ‘help’ the Lord Obama with is getting out the door and never coming back
I’m really not sure why anyone expected better of him.
When he’s not explaining that he would have opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he is better than most Republicans on race. And he does hold firm on the most important civil rights issue that Libertarians cling to — marijuana — as it protects his libertarian credibility.
But, there’s not much else there. He isn’t as principled as people think he is, aside from his overarching principle of Rand Paul.
Well, you would know .. your responses are nothing but babble as well. No thought, no content, nothing but ramblings.
@Xymbaline: So you agree Rand is lying?
Might “Xymbaline” be yet another pathetic online persona belonging to Jenos?
I wish I could generate some surprise. It’s not the pandering that bothers me – I’m too cynical to believe Paul is anything but an ambitious politician. The stupidity is the bigger concern.
The de-coupling of the United States and Israel has begun. Not a problem for the US, big problem for Israel. Big problem for Jews. Big opportunity for anti-Semites. And all of it completely predictable.
This, by the way, is the only thing the all-GOP Congress has achieved thus far: damaging Israel’s prospects.
The incompetence on display is astounding.
It is just a threat so far, isn’t that correct? And I would describe it as the de-coupling of President Obama and Israel. We knew from the beginning that the default position of the Obama Administration was anti-Israel, so this latest action is not any big surprise. Israel’s prospects were damaged the day the president took office.
Yet another indication that Rand Paul isn’t ready for prime time. Bad is his response was, at least he understands that signing the letter is something he has to explain. Tom Cotton and others are explict that they want to undermine the negotiations.
Rand Paul may be hypocritical and mealy mouthed about actually intending to help the negotiations, but at least he seems to understand that negotiations with Iran are better than war, so that’s half a point in his favor.
Apparently you know better than the 80 per cent of American Jews who voted for Obama twice. Maybe you can detail for us what these Jewish voters ( who universally support Israel) missed.
Pro tip : support for Israel is not the same as support for Netanyahu, Likud, and their apartheid style solution to the Palestinian problem.
Larrison has been indispensable on Iran. If you aren’t reading him now, it is way past time to start.
I really think it is a lot more than that. Netanyahu and the Republicans in congress have managed to make Israel a partisan issue, which will last a lot longer than Obama’s administration. In two years, Obama will be sitting on the Magnum PI estate, eating pineapple, driving KITT, being followed by Secret Service in the A-Team van and maybe learning to fly Airwolf, and all of this will be continuing to unfold.
Democrats and Republicans administrations alike had supported Israel, no matter the Israeli administration. There were “concerns” here and there, but nothing that had any practical effect. That is probably over.
Support is going to be conditional on Israeli policies and behavior now. Maybe things will return to normal after the Netanyahu administration, maybe.
Just because you say something doesn’t make it true. Obama’s policy with Israel was virtually indistinguishable from his predecessors going back to George HW Bush — a two state solution, while guaranteeing Israeli security, and expressing concern over new settlements. The only difference has been the choice of words with which concern over new settlements was expressed — are the settlements and “impediment to peace” or “illegitimate”.
@Xymbaline: Hi, James P! Be sure to say hello to Hoot Gibson for us!
@Another Mike: “And I would describe it as the de-coupling of President Obama and Israel. ”
Sure you would. If you wanted to be fair or accurate or even intelligent, you might have described it as the de-coupling of Obama and Netanyahu, or perhaps Obama and Likud.
But since Obama is a commie Muslim who isn’t really president and Netanyahu is the sum total of every possible point of view in Israel, it’s clearly the pretender versus the chosen people.
And if you can’t tell the difference between supporting Israel, supporting the right-wing government of Israel, and supporting Jews, odds are you’ve never met a Jewish person.
But thanks heaps for your support.
Boy, if you could be ever more wrong, I don’t know how. The decoupling is between Israel and a large percentage of the US population (and for the record it isn’t just the left getting tired of being yanked around by Israel) How large? I think in the upper 40 percentile (IIRC, I read that somewhere), but not sure. Obama is trying his best to set his personal feelings aside, unlike Netanyahu.
@Gustopher: I wonder what Israeli’s would do without Iron Dome? Die? Netanyahu could thank Obama for that…. But don’t hold your breath.
Why would you write something like that? You come across as some smart-mouthed young person.
Happy to be of help…
The argument is that 80% of American Jews cannot be wrong. There are a good number of conservative Jews who believe otherwise. Jews have traditionally been liberal and Democrat. It is a hard thing to break free from. Also, the interests of American Jews are separate from those of the State of Israel. Republicans have traditionally been very strong supporters of Israel, but have never been able to win much of the Jewish vote.
What exactly does the phrase “apartheid style solution” actually mean?
Support might be a strong term to use. Speaking as one of those American Jewish voters, we generally wish Israel well, but we universally support America – because we’re Americans, not Israelis. If it comes down to a choice between the interests of our country and those of a foreign country that we have (to varying degrees) an emotional attachment to, which is increasingly the case, we’re going to side with American interests. Every time …
You might see older Jews (like my Bubbie’s generation) somewhat influenced politically by considerations about Israel, but for my generation it’s decidedly far down the list of things that we consider when casting our votes. For my kids’ generation, I have serious doubts that it is considered at all.
It’s one of the reasons that screeds like the one delivered by Steve King are misguided. Evangelical Christians DO place religious considerations over all others, but outside of the Orthodox, we’re a pretty secular bunch of folks. He and people like him make the mistake of viewing us through the lens of themselves, and because of that think that they understand what makes us tick. They couldn’t be any farther from the mark.
Well, let’s compare:
South Africa under apartheid had black townships into which blacks were segregated from the bulk of South African society and denied the right to vote.
Israel has Palestinian townships into which Palestinians are segregated from the bulk of Israeli society and denied the right to vote.
Starting to understand why “apartheid” is a uniquely appropriate adjective to be using?
I’m also an American Jew and ditto what @HL92 said. We are Americans. We are not Israelis. Our connection to Israel is perhaps closer than the average gentile but we are still Americans.
Israel ceased to be a strategic asset when the wall came down . The Israeli-US relationship is now primarily sentimental and that sentiment rests largely on Israel remaining a partner for peace and an outpost of Western values. What Netanyahu has done is kill the illusion that Israel seeks a just peace. He tore the mask off a largely racist country that has no intention of reaching a deal with Palestinians.
There are approximately 6 million Israeli Jews. Between Israeli Arabs and Palestinians under occupation you have 6 million Arabs. Do the math. If Israel rejects a two state solution then there are only two options: ethnic cleansing or apartheid.
That is what Netanyahu and the GOP have brought about, and that is why Israel will hemorrhage support.
Obviously true, but there is the 20-year association with Reverend Wright and the close friendship with Professor Rashid Khalidi. Then there is also the appointment of Samantha Powers to the National Security Council.
There may have been some inertia which made it seem for a while that President Obama’s position was little different than other presidents’ positions, but it didn’t fool knowledgeable observers for long.
Agreed. My Bubbie is approaching 96 now, but her mind is as sharp as it ever was. She was a pretty fervent Zionist back in the day, but even she – when asked what she thought about Netanyahu – spit on the ground and hissed “yetzer hara”. Seriously, she HISSED when she said it, like she’d just run into Hitler walking down the street.
If he and Likud have lost people like her, they’re done. Just throw in the towel …
Do you know the names of the townships within Israel where Arab Israeli citizens are denied the right to vote?
Yea, we call them “Gaza” and “The West Bank”. Residents of both occupied territories are not allowed to vote in Israeli elections.
Good grief. You really are not up for a discussion of the Middle East. You don’t even know the basics man. Reverend Wright? Jesus.
Dude you’re a brainwashed cult member from the fever swamp. If you actually care about the issue step out if the Fox zone and read.
Even with a two state solution, I think it doesn’t work without a little ethnic cleansing. “Resettlement” we might call it.
There are too many Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas, and too many Israeli Arabs. Add in all the Palestinians currently outside of Israeli controlled areas who demand the right of return, and this just doesn’t separate nicely. Likud has been going out of their way to make it worse, pushing settlements into areas to try to make them majority jewish.
@Another Mike: You’re silly.
Agreed, and anybody with a brain knows that this has been a policy position for a long time now. It’s why none of us really buy that Likud, or indeed Kadima before it, has ever really been driven by anything other than an Eretz Yisrael mindset.
He said that in 1998. One can find a multitude of similar sentiments from Ben Gurion, Meir, Rabin, Begin, Shamir and Barak as well, going right down the line. I have no reason to believe that that group’s policy position has ever been anything less than Israel expropriating Gaza and the West Bank for Israelis, while expelling and/or subjugating the resident Arabs to whatever extent possible.
I also have no reason to believe that anything about that policy position has changed in the slightest under Netanyahu. I’m Jewish, but I’m not an Israeli, and I can’t support that.
Caroline B. Glick in her book, The Israeli Solution, has a differing opinion about this.
Israel’s position is precarious because it faces the armies of Hezbollah and Hamas, which are armed to the teeth with arms supplied by Iran. It may also face attack by Iranian forces from Syria. It may also face attack by rockets fired from Iran.
What precisely do you mean by ethnic cleansing in this case?
@Another Mike: “Why would you write something like that? You come across as some smart-mouthed young person.”
Always happy to be seen as young…
As for why I’d write such a terrible thing? Because as a Jew I am disgusted by Christian fundamentalists who have discovered a great love for Israel — only because they believe that loving, kindly Jesus will come back and kill every Jew living there so that the Southern bigots can be raptured into heaven. And I’m even more sickened by the way they attempt to bring about this genocidal fairy tale through actual, real life politics.
And I think that most of these people deep down think that Jews have tails. And I’m pretty sure their grandparents were fighting to make sure that none of those dirty Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied lands were allowed into this country. And that the current generation would make the same call.
I would not give this much weight. I think Freud explained this kind of attitude, former best friends falling out and becoming the worst of enemies.
Of course she does. She’s a committed Eretz Yisrael one-stater who carries water for Netanyahu like a champ. Citing her is little different than citing Netanyahu, given her role as a stenographer.
Of course you wouldn’t, because you’re not Jewish and you have no concept of just how bad / offensive Netanyahu’s ideas / conduct have to be to get someone like her to reject them.
There is a reason that Netanyahu & Co. have started appealing to / pandering to evangelical Christian groups, and by association the Republican Party, for support – Israel can’t exist without America underwriting its existence, but Israel has steadily lost support amongst US Jews for some time now – because what Israel has become is not something that we like. It’s not something that we’ll support.
That dynamic grows stronger as the age of the sampled population declines – in other words, the strongest support Netanyahu’s Israel could hope to obtain would be from old time Zionist US Jews like my bubbie. If he / his Israel have lost her support, they have gone seriously off of the reservation.
Yes, Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood. One of the reasons why it’s suicidally stupid of Netanyahu to subvert the relationship with the world’s sole superpower.
Now explain how establishing an apartheid state makes Israel safer. Spoiler alert: you can’t because it doesn’t. The threat from Iran just highlights the silliness of obsessing over a threat from granting Palestinians a homeland. Palestinians Arabs are overwhelmingly Sunni, not exactly natural allies of Iran. A Palestinian state’s natural ally would be Jordan not Iran. And Jordan has been a friend to the U.S. and by extension to Israel.
You can rest easy because I am a Catholic, and everything you describe seems downright strange to me.
Quote by John C. Wright:
“The word for when a person erects in his mind a false image of a group of people, and sees them only as that image, that false stereotype, and moreover it is a despicable stereotype, one that robs them not just of dignity, but of their very humanity… that word is bigot.”
Israel has become a partisan issue. There are many people who dislike Obama, some dislike him intensely, but enough people like him to elect him to two terms. Some people who voted for Obama are not pleased to see him dissed by the leader of a nation that they perceive as dependent on American goodwill. This split in American public opinion can not be good for Israel. Bibi has promoted his political career over the interests of his country.
BTW, political gain before national good is not rare on this earth.
By sharing that quote, you have given the perfect description of the Christian Fundamentalists who wr was talking about…thanks for the service…
I don´t think that there is a two state solution either. Maybe the West Bank could be merged with Jordan, but Gaza is not viable as a state. These two enclaves are not viable as a single state, not more than Pakistan and Bangladesh. Even Germany could not work out Königsberg and East Prussia as enclaves.
What’s sad about this entire fiasco is that our security — along with Israel’s and Iran’s — would be better served with an agreement that could get 50 votes in the Senate.
And the Republicans, Rand Paul included, have basically prevented this with grandstanding. They have deliberately hardened opposition on all sides, and have increased the likelihood of yet another war in the Middle East.
@Andre Kenji: There are some absolutely tiny states in Europe. I have concerns about a geographically unconnected state, but a tiny little West Bank and a tiny little Gaza could work.
Especially if the world’s sole Superpower has an interest in them working and props them up a bit.
@Gustopher: There are some tiny states in Europe. Every one of them is a tax haven(With the exception of Vatican) and they are highly dependent of their larger neighbors( The French President is also the co-prince of Andorra). Luxembourg is very popular route for truck drivers between France and Germany because they have lower gas prices, by the way. They aren´t located in the middle of a desert.
Gaza´s population is much higher than the combined population of these tiny states in Europe. The only solution for Gaza would be something similar to the Indian Reservations in the US: simply paying them a lot of money.
As for the list of particulars:
-Hizbullah is indeed probably man for man the best fighting force in the Arab world. However, it also has maybe 10,000 trained troops, many of who got killed in Syria, is engaged in a fight to death there, and has no air force or armored forces or any ability to beat any IDF unit of comparable size in offensive battle.
-Hamas is smaller, not nearly as well-armed as Hizbullah. In the last 2 clashes with the IDF, its ratio of loses was something like 1:20. It’s also facing a very hostile Egyptian regime.
– Syria is burning pile of rubble, and the idea that it will be secure or powerful enough to provide a base for an Iranian attack on Israel is ridicilious. Even if Assad secures his rule, and agrees to risk in a war with Israel, for an Iranian armies to use Syria to attack Israel would require an air train
that the Israeli air force would tear to pieces.
– The rocket threat is really the only danger Israel faces from anyone at the moment,, ilitarily speaking. It also happens to be a threat to which occupying Palestinian territories has no answer.
Your problem is that Caroline Glick is, to put it mildly, not exactly not the most knowledgeable observer of the Middle East. Her meal ticket are gullible Americans, and no Israeli expert would take advice from her. Those guys think that the existential problems Israel faces are:
1. The danger of Palestinians demanding Israeli citizenship, voting rights and so on instead of their own statehood, leading to international isolation.
2. Rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza triggering a cycle of violence that wrecks the economy and risks international isolation.
Iran and its nuclear bombs are not a real danger, and the rest of the stuff in your post is a joke.
Is that just a talking point or what? The fact is that since becoming president Obama has maintained, and augmented America’s support of Israel – over $3 billion and other strategic military resources have gone to Israel since Obama became president. This has continued our tradition of regular foreign aid support of Israel.
”The United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel. It makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place. That’s why the United States was the very first nation to recognize the State of Israel 65 years ago. That’s why the Star of David and the Stars and Stripes fly together today. And that is why I’m confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, it is forever— lanetzach” — [Obama, March, 20, 2013]
Note: The Clown Car just keeps on giving …
This “short sightedness” (to be kind) has stricken the chambers of the United States Congress in the past.
With lethal results.
Where are the media chimps like Chuck Todd to call this “Disqualifying”?
You’d think this was more important than, say, Alison Lundergan Grimes not wanting to affirm voting for Obama.
The same Samantha Powers whose husband, Cass Sunstein, is a Jewish-American?
The same Samantha Powers who wrote one of the best books on the Holocaust?
The way I see this is that American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats and their affiliation with the Democrat Party is greater than any affiliation with fellow Jews in Israel and in particular the Jewish State of Israel. If the Israeli Jews do not want to deal with their problems on the terms being pursued by the American Democratic president, then the hell with them. All the rest is rationalization. And you are probably correct that there is a familial animosity one Jew can feel for another Jew that I as a Gentile cannot feel or understand.
I wonder if the Cotton letter was more about denying Obama a chance to add “Solved Israel Problem” to his impressive list of accomplishments.
@Another Mike: Charon
My parents were jewish, and I still like to go to seders.
But I no longer care much what happens to Israel, not after BIbi’s recent behavior and the outcome of the recent election. It just isn’t anything I care much about any longer.
I also have a pretty intense dislike of both Christian Zionists and Republicans.
The tight alliance of Israel with the GOP and Likud/GOP mutual support have me severely antagonized. I do not like being patronized and condescended to by Steve King, either.
I am sorry to hear that.
Wow … Where to start?
American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal in and of itself. We aren’t overwhelmingly liberal because we’re Democrats. We’re Democrats because, all things considered, we’re overwhelmingly liberal.
Jewish memory is responsible for the Jewish vote. Jews know what it is to be outsiders, and we know what it means when the town you live in turns on you and would deprive your children of food or life because of your difference from the majority. We identify not with the overseers but with the slaves, not only because we were once slaves in Egypt, but also because we are, and will remain, a small, vulnerable minority.
We are not convinced that the poor deserve their fate. Our tradition teaches us to forgive debts in a scheduled manner and to leave enough at the margins of our fields so those without a harvest of their own can survive. Indeed, we’re taught pretty much from birth that we have an obligation – called tikkun olam – to make the world a better, fairer, more just place. Hell, man, charitable giving – tzedakah – is a commandment for us. Interestingly, the root of tzedakah is “tzedek” – justice. Acts of tzedakah make the world a more just place. Jewish political morals are about community, and protection of the vulnerable and the hardship of being a minority among a majority of others. Those are at the core of our identity as Jewish.
Consider various statistics: 49% of us self-identify as liberal. 54% of us responded that government should be bigger and offer more services. A whopping 82% of us responded that homosexuals should be accepted by society. 66% of us responded that a commitment to social equality was the most important factor to their identity as Jewish (the largest response by a wide majority).
72% of us responded that Muslims are discriminated against in America. 64% responded that African-Americans are as well. 65% of us responded that US support for Israel was either just right or too much, and we are 19 points more likely to say we support Obama’s handling of US policy towards Israel than the American population at large. Heck, only 40% of us even responded positively to the concept that “G-d gave Israel to the Jews.” 60% of us responded negatively.
Fairness and shared social responsibility – concern for the underdog, if you will – are hammered into us from birth because for much our history, we’ve been the underdog. If one had to define the characteristics of US Jews as a group, that definition would pretty much read “a casually religious to agnostic ethnic group defined by its self-awareness of, and by association with, being the minority and a deep sense of commitment to fairness and social equality”, so it is hard for Jews to vote for a political party that suggests that if you don’t have medical care its your own fault and if you don’t have retirement funds you have been guilty of sloth or stupidity and other sins that will do you in just as you deserve.
We vote Democratic 1) because we actually do believe in the premises of liberalism and 2) we’re essentially repelled by the viewpoints of much of what constitutes the Republican base. It’s a fundamental disconnect. Republicans think that they can sway Jewish voters by appeals to concern for Israel (the factor that, all things considered, we’re least likely to be influenced by) while advancing a set of social policies (the factor that, all things considered, we’re most likely to care about) that we find fundamentally morally repugnant.
Hope that helps you understand us better.
Count me as one of those who believes there will never be a “solved Israel” problem. I sometimes dream of living in a paralell universe where Balfour made a better declaration, Sykes and Picot drew better post WW1 maps, and a certain Austrian corporal died on the Western Front. But we don’t live in that universe.
I think the most we can hope is for some kind of “cold peace” in Palestine. I have more hope for a deal with Iran where we can postpone them going nuclear for at least a while. This is at least a possibility. Right now, there are some hopeful signs although even that is not a good bet.
Debates on this site are starting to get surreal.
“I do not like being patronized and condescended to by Steve King, either.”
Nor John McCain (directly at Obama, but indirectly at those of us who do not equate Likud with Israel) as well.
@Another Mike: “The way I see this is that American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats and their affiliation with the Democrat Party is greater than any affiliation with fellow Jews in Israel and in particular the Jewish State of Israel. ”
The way I see this is that American Catholics are overwhelmingly authoritarians, and their affiliation with the power centers of the church is far greater than any affiliation with the hundreds of thousands of children abused by priests, and in particulary anyone who has been violently raped by a priest.
Hey, that’s fun! I can make up any silly thought in the world and then attribute it to people I know nothing about, because I’m an expert on everything — I’m on the internet!
@HarvardLaw92: And just to add to your very eloquent explanation, the split among Jewry over Bibi-ism is between those who believe “never again” means “never again to us” and those who believe it’s “never again to anyone.”
Intellectually I understand both points of view… but I believe that only the latter can lead to peace, justice, and a healthy society.
Actually that forms the basis of a great question I’d like to see asked sometime on a survey.
– Do you believe “never again” means “never again to us” or “never again to anyone?”
I think the answers and the percentages would be very enlightening.
It took me a bit to recognize the deeper meaning behind my bubbie’s use of that specific term – yetzer hara – to describe Netanyahu in particular and Likudniks in general. She wasn’t saying “they are evil” so much as “they have given in to the potential for evil that lives within us all.” It’s a powerful lesson.
To be an Israeli is a vastly different thing from being a Jew. Christians don’t get that, and increasingly I find that the beliefs and attitudes which seem to be associated with being an Israeli are pretty irreconcilable with what constitutes, for me anyway, being a Jew. They have forgotten from whence we came and, in the position of having power, have become in many ways the oppressors instead of the oppressed.
In an odd way, Likud appealing to evangelicals makes sense. They have much more in common with evangelicals than they do with us.
Clearly written and interesting. The idea is that you are on the side of the righteous, and the others are not. Of course, those with different views also see themselves as on the side of the righteous.
I regularly read articles by Jewish authors whose views differ with yours, especially their views about Israel. In good part my views are shaped by these writers. I happen to believe they have better arguments than the voices I hear here. Basically I think they are more grounded in reality.
There is projection going on here by tribalistic people who do identity politics. White Christians vote for other white Christians, along with those like Willard Romney, Rick Santorum and Ben Carson who share their objectives, and they project these tendencies onto Jews who they expect to behave the same. So, some cognitive dissonance when it turns out Jews do not follow the lead of Bibi and his Likud – people who Jews do not identify with as much as the Christian Zionists think they ought.
Plus, perhaps, some disappointment at lack of Jewish enthusiasm for their preordained duties in the Eschatological area (i.e., support for Greater Israel and so forth.)
Yes, as I said up-thread, you’re a brainwashed member of the cult. Faced with facts, faced with logic, faced with the personal testimony of intelligent people with deep knowledge of the situation, you revert to your programming.
Your prime directive is hatred of Mr. Obama. No amount of information can cause you to see beyond that.
I suspect that the majority of those writers are either 1) Israelis and/or 2) Orthodox.
I also suspect that your views are shaped by your Catholicism, and you seek out Jewish writers whose views are in line with your own.
The idea is that righteousness is demonstrated in how we treat others – most especially the least among us. The powerless and the marginalized.
Jesus got that concept. Perhaps Christians should reconsider how well they follow the teachings of their messiah, because as far as I can see, they don’t get it. It’s ironic that we as Jews, who don’t even acknowledge his divinity, do.
Maybe it’s because Jesus was a Jew. Who can say …
In June 2010, Glick co-produced and appeared in We Con the World, a satirical video by Latma TV about the Gaza flotilla attempt to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The video clip quickly garnered over 3,000,000 hits from YouTube viewers before being abruptly removed by the online hosting site due to alleged copyright concerns, though some have speculated that its removal was prompted by considerations other than legitimate copyright concerns. The video drew both criticism and praise. Writing for the Guardian, Meron Rapoport said the video was “anti-Muslim,” while Eileen Read, in The Huffington Post described the mocking of the flotilla crew as “tasteless and blatantly racist.”
In case you are not sure what she is really about…
That applies to plenty of Christians. Especially Christians.
Do you really not realize that this is a tell that says “I’ve outsourced my thinking to Fox News”?
This is not surprising.
His explanation about why he had to invent his own ophthalmology board in order to become board certified makes no sense either.
His explanation about the CRA and why he doesn’t support it makes no sense either.
His position on the faux Ebola crisis, that had Republicans everywhere soiling their diapers, made no sense either.
Not much about this guy makes sense…except that he is the son of a Senator and is thus some how privileged.
For the record, there is no Democrat Party in America, so I’m guessing that you meant Democratic Party?
That was the “tell” that @AnotherMike was just another FoxBot. To reduce this entire historical moment to “Obama bad” goes to the cult mindset.
Ask AnotherMike to list five reasons why Obama is a bad president and back them up with facts and logic. I guarantee you he can’t do it. Three reasons even. Won’t be able to do it. Won’t be able to justify or rationalize his hatred of Obama.
People like this are no longer in touch with consensual reality, they are faith-based. It’s what @Loviator is calling The Clutch: the moment when faith meets reality and you get a blankness followed by withdrawal back into faith.
You can see it right here:
I “happen to believe.” No logic offered. No explanation offered. No argument advanced. Just a transparent lie about reading various Jewish voices, followed by a withdrawal into the ideological shell. Profound intellectual cowardice born of fear. He will cling to his hatred of Obama like Kate Winslet hanging on to her raft. Has to hang on or he fears he’ll down. In two years he’ll transfer his irrational hatred onto Hillary and go to his grave convinced he was right — no matter how much the facts show otherwise.
I’m fascinated by the phenomenon. It’s a form of self-mutilation, you know, sort of like a man with perfectly healthy legs insisting on using a wheelchair. They are given the world’s greatest computer, the human brain, and the first thing they do is delete half the apps, turn down the light and mute the sound.
@HarvardLaw92: I just want to say that this comment is one of the most concise, and most accurate descriptions of American Judaism that I have seen, at least for the lapsed Jews that I got to know and love going to college in NYC.
Not altogether off-topic:
I’m watching Elliot Abrams on Fareed Zakarias’ “GPS” pretty much blame Obama for the poor personal relationship with Netanyahu and by extension, Israel. He then goes on to make the point how Israel is under constant danger, being beset on all sides by enemies, especially Iran. My question is this:
When has Iran mobilized its armed forces against Israel, or any other nation, except Iraq in the 1980s? And even that was in self-defense. Don’t even try to bring up “proxy wars” and “exportation of terrorism” and all those other distractions. The simple fact is, Iran has posed no military danger to any nation in that region, nor has it mobilized its forces against any nation in that region.
Now, if we want to start talking about military forces threatening other nations, we need only look in our own mirror. The fear-mongering and war-mongering must stop.
Why can’t you guys ever come up with a critically thought-out comment? All you have is outrage, name-calling, and Fox News/Rush Limbaugh talking points. I would love to engage a legitimate criticism; don’t make the mistake thinking I’m Black, so I automatically support Obama. That would be as untrue as it is ludicrous. But come on, these five-year-old responses are tiresome.
Why must it be a transparent lie, Michael? You are flaunting your own ignorance. There are a number of conservative Jewish writers whose views fit right in with mine. Why would I lie about reading them any more than I would lie about reading any other conservative writer? Or you just trying to be deliberately insulting? Ok, if that’s you style, then by all means continue on, but talking rubbish only disrespects the blog.
Nah, anjin; because, at least Jenos would make an argument, as dumbassed as it woud be. This fool seems to be a 12-year-old with a five-year-old’s penchant for na-na-na-na-na-ism and name calling.
@Another Mike: Yеp. I profoundly disagree with Another Mike’s opinions views of the Middle East, but there is no shortage of right wing Jewish pundits he could be reading. In fact, I’d argue that right wing Jewish pundits are hugely over-represented in the overall pundit community, given that about 70% of American Jews are liberal or moderate, and more than half of the rest are strict orthodox and not that interested in politics.
@Another Mike: Heh.
Appropriate response would’ve been to link to the Jewish writers you read who say what you claim. They exist, I’ve seen them. You could’ve said Jennifer Rubin, for example, and been laughed out of the [digital?] room.
The problem with the conservative Jewish writer who lambasts Obama for being anti-Israel is that they are invariably neoconservative, and that branch of political thought was sunk by Iraq. You know, that war conservatives never talk about like it was a bad dream.
@dennis: Jenos is acerbic at best. You can draw the outline of an argument out of him with enough pressure to stay on task and limit the name-calling, but he’s not here to argue generally. I tend to ignore claims of sockpuppetry since that’s the go-to for every new even vaguely conservative or disagreeable person who shows up here. It also suggests this weblog thing can’t attract new viewers, and that’s patently false.
After reading through this whole thing, I can only conclude that if “gentilesplain” isn’t a word, it probably should be.
Oh, and that “putz” is a really great Yiddish word.
Damn. Schooled. When are they gonna give up, HL? LOL
. . . should usually be followed by, “. . . but, I could be wrong.”
Okay, so, would you be so kind as to tell us why YOU care so much about Israel? And please, be honest.
Because I can tell.
Here’s what happened: I poked you about your need to read beyond the the limits of the echo chamber. You found a link to a writer of the sort you’d find on Breitbart or similar. You read a quick Wiki entry and hopped back to say, “See?” But of course your choice of authority just confirmed your submersion in the cult. It’s as if I accused you of being a Scientologist and your defense was a quote from L. Ron Hubbard.
You don’t know anything about the middle east or Israel, and you don’t care. Your only interest in politics is derived from hatred. See, this issue means something to the Jews here, as evidenced by the care @HL92 has taken to educate you. But it doesn’t matter to you. Israel, the middle east, peace and war, they’re all just fodder for your hate.
You’ve closed your mind and thrown away the key.
You know, it just occurred to me: I wonder if there’s a link between conservatism and autism.
Lack of empathy, an inability to process large flows of data, an obsession with repetition and sameness (liturgy, Limbaugh,) an instinctive aversion to anything new or unusual, difficulty coping with transitions. Panic.
I think this would also be a basis for great survey.
1) What happened to the Republican mind?
2) What caused them to throw away the key?
For those who haven’t seen or read it, John Rogers wrote a blog post a few years ago titled I Miss Republicans where he lamented the loss of “Sober men in suits, pipes, who’d nod thoughtfully over their latest tract on market-driven fiscal conservatism while grinding out the numbers on rocket science”. I try to read it at least once a year so I can remember that we used to have two sane parties.
Read the whole post its a blast. And if you have time go through the comments, most are over 10 years old, but they’re still relevant. I Miss Republicans
Also, remember, John’s post was written several years prior to the election of President Obama and the craziness that ensued from that election, so you can imagine how much further we’ve moved away from the real Republicans.
And right on cue, Ted Cruz announces, running on the crazy air rifle guy platform.
Like I said upstream, what happened to the Republicans? Is it really just the camel nose under the tent scenario (the bible trumpeters taking over) or is it something else?
Reminds me a bit of schizophrenia – the tendency to hold beliefs that are not supported by facts, but by tortured pretzel logic that can shift on a dime. Rejection out of hand of any evidence that conflicts with said beliefs.
@michael reynolds: My nephew is very autistic, and he absolutely has a lot of empathy towards others. He doesn’t understand other people and it frustrates him because he cares about other people. Way off mark.
Now, libertarians… “If people just acted with rational self-interest and perfect knowledge everything would be fine! Why can’t they just do that?” … That sounds like autism.
But that’s the thing, you can’t tell. You are wrong on every single point. Where do you get this amazing capacity to know so much about people whom you actually know so little about? Is it some need to be deliberately offensive? So much for the pretty language above. You can’t just talk it, you have to live it.
You mean like using the expression “Democrat Party”?
I’m sorry, but the only reason that expression exists is to offend Democrats. So please, spare everyone the lecture.
People’s words reveal much more than they intend. It’s not complicated.
Ok, I didn’t know that. I don’t get it, and I do not know why that should be so. So unless you are pulling my leg, you trapped me in my own ignorance.
Apparently it is much more complicated than you think as you have gotten it all wrong so far. Work on it some more, not that I really care though.
I had a buddy once who tried to tell me he had a touch of Asperger’s. Only he didn’t.
He had, however, read Atlas Shrugged as an impressionable young man, decided empathy was pointless, and then he spent the next 10-15 years cultivating precisely none of it.
“Ok, I didn’t know that. I don’t get it, and I do not know why that should be so. So unless you are pulling my leg, you trapped me in my own ignorance.”
Since it is only something Republicans have been doing for about three quarters of a century as a means of delegitimizing Democrats, it is time you heard about it. For example:
“In 1996, the wording throughout the Republican party platform was changed from “Democratic Party” to “Democrat Party”: Republican leaders “explained they wanted to make the subtle point that the Democratic Party had become elitist”.”
@Moosebreath: The whole “Democrat Party” thing has always eluded me. Does any Democrat really find this offensive? I guess if I think about it at all it comes across as some 13 year old boys idea of an insult, but overall it just seems… odd. It does have the distinction of revealing that anyone that uses it is probably not worth listening to. And someone who doesn’t even know it is the giggling Republican “insult” of choice? Definitely too deep into the Fox-hole to credit.
No, they aren´t. Catholics does not have any particular affection for Israel. But Conservative Catholics in the US have more things in common with Evangelicals than with Catholics.
Hence my point – he’s a conservative Catholic, hence he seeks out neoconservative Jewish writers whose conservative policy preferences mirror his own. He’s looking for an echo chamber validation of conclusions determined by his own political leanings, as opposed to reading these writers in order to be informed enough to reach a conclusion.
@MarkedMan: I have always assumed “Democrat party” was deliberately in contrast to (little ‘d’) democratic party. In other words, they did not want to cede ‘democracy’ to the opposition.
I’ve always assumed that they use the “Democrat” Party appellation because the usual conservative frat boy commentariat suspects – Rush, Michael Savage, etc – could then repeatedly refer to the Democratic Party as the “DemocRAT” Party. Wow, isn’t that clever of them?
Also, as we know, a common tactic in politics is to define your opponent, in order to minimize, diminish or dismiss your opponent. Republicans have been getting away with this bulls*** for years, because liberals have been unwilling to fight back and call them on this bulls***. Well, f*** that bulls***. (Excuse the profanity…)
@James Pearce: Well, your buddy sounds like a grade A asshole.
I work in software, and there are a whole lot of the Asperger’s-Libertarians. They suffer from the delusions that just because they are good at one thing, they must be good at others, and that people act according to some idealized model acting out of greed and self-interest. And they are very confused when that bubble pops. Angry even.
But they really do care what other people think. They just don’t understand it, and when they try to consider what they would do in that other person’s situation, they get frustrated because the other person isn’t behaving right.
They have empathy. They’re just not good at it.
(And now I feel dirty because I have defended some libertarians)
In a post that has devolved, Google Doodle has reminded me of a true Jewish goddess.
My god, this woman was and still is brilliant. Her theorems and formulas were groundbreaking, I can remember in college just trying to understand her concepts and failing.
@michael reynolds: “Israel ceased to be a strategic asset when the wall came down .”
I’ve never seen evidence in favor of Israel *ever* being a strategic asset.
@al-Ameda: Sometimes I write “Democrat Party” because my native language is Portuguese. ;-P
@Loviatar: Yes yes yes. There was a wonderful appendix in my Classic Mechanics textbook which went into Noether’s theorem (the one used in CM) into a lot of detail and talked about Noether’s life in the footnotes.
Her lectures are available? Hot diggity damn! I got me some great reading tonight!
(The other female mathematician I’d like to track down is the 19th century one mentioned by Coxeter who trained herself to think in four dimensions.)
No, unfortunately her lectures are not available. However, if you speak German and can gain access to the University of Göttingen archives you can see her lecture hall and class notes from the 1930s. The NOETHER LECTURES are a series of lectures sponsored by the Association for Women in Mathematics “to honor women who have made fundamental and sustained contributions to the mathematical sciences.” Sorry for the confusion.
I came upon Noether’s theorem during an Advanced Calculus for Engineers class and it just blew me away. The theorem is so simple and elegant yet it has had such a wide ranging impact on both math and physics that I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t more widely known. Its beautiful. As I said earlier, she was and is brilliant, unfortunately she has not gotten close to the attention and credit she deserves within the educational and mathematical societies.
I’ve always believed we’ll never get really grow as a species if we insist on denying half of our species the opportunity to succeed. Though experiment; imagine if those racist frat boys from the University of Oklahoma were replaced by girls from lower income families. How much better will our country be for a few more well educated women versus some former frat asshole with a college degree.
@Loviatar: I’m wondering if we could convince the university to scan her notes and put them on line….
(German not a problem in my case.)
I think the reason Noether isn’t better known is because her area of mathematical physics falls between two stools: few people bother with upper-level classical mechanics unless they’re physics grad students and mathematicians seem to wander off into group theory or Banach spaces or the equivalent.
@HarvardLaw92: Awesomely put, Dude. Thanks. (And you saved me the effort of trying to say that much less well, even though I’m not Jewish.)