Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eden is a place we leave

It seems Israel is always in the news in some fashion, but these two items from earlier this week really got my attention:

1. Harvard divestiture: there are conflicting reports regarding whether or not Harvard has divested its endowment of all Israeli investment. They have sold all their directly held Israeli stocks, but their PR guy says they still hold Israeli stocks indirectly, via funds that hold Israeli stocks. Sounds like divestment to me, and if so it’s a real coup for the global boycott/divestment/sanctions movement. However I wonder if it’s a temporary gesture intended to test the waters for something more formal(Harvard did not actually announce they had divested, but journalists scoured their endowment’s quarterly statement and picked up on it.).

I also wonder if it’s just temporary because it may be meant as a signal from the Ivy community to Israel to not push so much on bombing Iran. I wondered the same thing about BHO saying he was supporting the Islamic center in Manhattan, if it was his way of indirectly telling Israel he’d rather just engage in bellicose rhetoric towards Iran but not actually attack, what with US personnel in Iraq and elsewhere in the region being rendered sitting ducks afterwards. It could also be that Obama would send such a signal because of being troubled by the needless deaths of Iranians, but I doubt this.

Links: Business Insider, Guardian UK, Boston Globe.

2.The flap about Eden Abergil's photos:

Abergil is an ex-IDF soldier who posed in photos with Palestinian prisoners in 2008, yucking it up for the camera with involuntary models who were blind folded and twist-tie handcuffed. She posted the photos on Facebook(!), without restricting their access just to FB friends, although she has since done so. I imagine if this story eventually becomes bigger news in the mainstrean US media that we'll hear pompous op-ed types wringing their hands about whether or not it was "appropriate" to out Abergil.* I note that the Guardian and the BBC both pixilate her face in the images they show, but the un-edited pics are freely available at lots of sites, such as Gawker.


"This shows the mentality of the occupier, to be proud of humiliating Palestinians," Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib told the Associated Press news agency. "The occupation is unjust, immoral and, as these pictures show, corrupting."

AP/Daily Mail:

"These are disgraceful photos," said Capt. Barak Raz, an Israeli military spokesman. "Aside from matters of information security, we are talking about a serious violation of our morals and our ethical code and should this soldier be serving in active duty today, I would imagine that no doubt she would be court-martialed immediately," he told Associated Press Television News.


"Israeli blogger Lisa Goldman contacted the former soldier via Facebook, who replied: "I don't speak to leftists."

*Arguably, the more readily people here decide to interpret this story as simply an issue of whether or not it was right to out Eden, the more likely that the corrupting "mentality of the occupier" applies to the proponent of such a view.

OK, so the title is not a JV original. It comes from an old "Ironside" episode.

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At August 17, 2010 10:26 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

People have been predicting an attack against Iran for years by either Israel, (which would draw the U.S. into the conflict) or the U.S. but obviously this hasn’t happened yet so your guess is as good as mine as to if this is going to happen in the near future though some think Israel will attack soon. The way it strikes me is that Iran was the main target all along but the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan did not pan out the way they thought it would as in being far more difficult than they ever imagined. There are other problems with a war with Iran that others have discussed to great extent. Again, you already know my opinion regarding American troops being sitting ducks and Iran’s ability to strike beyond its own borders is limited, and looking at a map what I see is American troops surrounding Iran on all sides and if you believe that this was preliminary for an invasion of Iran as I do then the location of the troops can be interpreted in another way altogether than the sitting duck theory popular though it may be.

It strikes me as being questionable that Obama ever supported the Mosque in question when you consider how quickly he backpedaled on that “support” which of course has been typical for Obama, that is to say contradiction has been the hallmark of this administration. Petraeus says he does not support a hasty pullout from Afghanistan and the very next day Robert Gates comes out with a statement contradicting Petraeus. This is just one of countless examples. So I lean more towards Obama is as usual trying to play both sides when he first backs and then doesn’t back the Mosque. Remember the midterm elections are what these guys and gals are thinking about, it’s gotta be what is foremost in their minds.

At August 18, 2010 10:30 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Rob, you might find this interesting-

"Ahmadinejad feels the heat at home"

Mahmud Ahmadinejad's peculiar leadership style has opened up a split among right-wing and conservative supporters of the Iranian president. A decisive move at home could end in him being impeached in parliament. A decisive move by Israel or the United States, such as an attack on Iran, could ease Ahmadinejad's problems. - Mahan Abedin

At August 18, 2010 10:41 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

I might add that I think Abedin is wrong to discuss a possible attack so cavalierly. There are some other problems with the article as well, because I think his view that Iran is "dedicated to the destruction of Israel" is just rhetoric, and if Abedin really believes that I question his broader judgment.

I think there is a consensus view among Middle-East watchers that Iran and other Islamic countries in the region are resigned to the ongoing presence of Israel but want to see Israel effectively contained and pushed back to the pre-67 borders.

I suspect the Lebanese have more to worry about viz Israel right now.

At August 18, 2010 3:09 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I would agree with you regarding some of Abedin’s remarks and most certainly the one you mentioned about Iran being dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That is just nonsense from what I have read. Juan Cole has debunked that very thoroughly showing how Ahmadinejad’s remarks were misinterpreted by the press and others who mistakenly said that Ahmadinejad was calling for the destruction of Israel. Still, it isn’t a bad article in some respects although parts of it are infuriating due to the passing along of “conventional wisdom” lies about Iran wanting to see the destruction of Israel. Much of this nonsense stems from Israel itself and their lobbies and supporters here in the states and their ability to publish propaganda in major news outlets. The article does show quite clearly the stupidity of most Americans who view the Mid East as monolithic in nature. Americans don’t understand the complexity of the Iranian government or the diversity within the population itself. Our simplistic views need to be revised which of course means that they won’t be.


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