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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Helen Thomas Affair


I've got to say something about the Helen Thomas affair. (See this article too.) I hope no one will need a further demonstration of the power of Israel's amen chorus in the United States. Her snarky extemporaneous remark was ill-advised, and she apologized. (It was also vague; she might have been referring to settlements in the West Bank rather than pre-1967 Israel.) But no one ever got fired or blacklisted for believing the Palestinians should "go back" to where they came from -- allegedly, Jordan, Egypt, etc. (They didn't really come from there. They were always in Palestine.) Indeed, lots of people believe -- with impunity -- that the Palestinian people are a fiction! ("There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist." --former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.)

Helen Thomas, unlike the sycophants who make up the White House press corps, at least had the courage to ask hard questions of power (also this one), such as, Why attack Iraq? Or, What motivates Muslim terrorists? Might it have something to do with America's brutality and callousness in the Middle East? As a woman of Christian Lebanese heritage, she has every justification for being critical of Israel. Silencing her is something many people have wanted to do for a long time.

I'll end this with a quotation from David Ben Gurion, a founder of Israel and the Jewish State's first prime minister. Don't bother to doubt its authenticity. It has been quoted many times, and I am not aware of anyone's even claiming it is not genuine. It comes from a respected Jewish source. There are many similar quotations from Israel's founders, going back to Herzl. They are not hard to find. Compare it to Meir's statement above.

Ben Gurion:
Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. [A patently false statement. --sr] We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out. [Emphasis added. Nahum Goldmann, The Jewish Paradox, p. 99]
Does this mean that anyone should "go back" to anywhere? No, it does not. Much time has passed. But it does give some perspective on who ultimately are the aggrieved parties. Before you can get perspective, however, you have to take your friggin' head out of the sand. You cannot do history a priori.

Here are a few links to articles I wrote nearly 20 years ago:

35 comments:

Kevin Carson said...

There's a pretty close parallel to official Afrikaner histories in which the Bantu are all descended from people who moved south after the whites already settled, because they were attracted by the new prosperity.

Sheldon Richman said...

Kevin, in the 1980s Joan Peters published "From Time Immemorial," which purported to show that the Zionists had moved to an empty territory and later attracted "the Palestinians" when the desert began to bloom. The book enthralled the American necons and their allies. "Finally!" they said. But the book was demolished -- to howls of laughter -- in England and Israel. From Wikipedia: "Reviewing the book for the November 28, 1985 issue of The New York Times, Israeli historian Yehoshua Porath described the book as a 'sheer forgery,' stating that '[i]n Israel, at least, the book was almost universally dismissed as sheer rubbish except maybe as a propaganda weapon.'"

It was the Bellesiles affair applied to the Middle East. Yet it is still cited today by Israel's defenders. Someone threw it at me on Facebook recently.

Tim said...

Peace will only be possible in the when the rights of both Arab and Jew are respected. Given the demographics of the region, Israel must impose some form a apartheid if it is to remain a Jewish state. Israeli intransigence has been encouraged by the United States whose government continues to be in the thral of the Israeli lobby.

lazlo said...

helen is right. except with her apology. none was needed. none should have been given.

lazlo said...

one decent apple on(formerly) a tree filled with rot.

Jessica said...

In reference to Joan Peter's book, it is worth noting that Elie Wiesel, Saul Bellow, and Barbara Tuchman wrote gushing blurbs that were printed on the back cover of the first edition. All remained respectable figures in American society. None lost jobs or even experienced any adverse publicity from the mainstream media. What Helen Thomas said--and I think it was callous in the extreme to tell Jews to go back to Germany or Poland--was not any more factually incorrect than what Peters and the writers of the blurbs stated.

Yet look at the difference in treatment.

Jessica Ramer

lazlo said...

"Peace will only be possible in the when the rights of both Arab and Jew are respected"

pure hogwash.

making equal a human and a monster?

when have jews respected any rights?

lazlo said...

jews in palestine came from poland, germany, america, russia, and many more countries.

helen said this. her statement was not callous.

as if she said "return to the ovens".

her statement was 100% accurate. joan peters and friends were out right liars.

Sheldon Richman said...

Lazlo, I know the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. I will not tolerate the latter here. I'm a Jew, and I respect your rights. There. You are refuted. No group of human beings can be described as "monsters." That's rank collectivism and idiotic bigotry. Yes, idiotic. I'll boot your ass out of here if you say such things about any group again.

Sheldon Richman said...

Many Jews lived peacefully in Palestine long before the statehood movement began. They had children, and those children eventually had children. They certainly have a right to stay where they are.

As for the rest of the population, decades ago the Palestinians waived their claim to return to land in pre-1967 Israel. We have to think about the (hopefully peaceful) future. A single free country would be best. If that's not possible, then a real two-state arrangement is next best. Decent people on all sides are sick of the killing and misery. Arab and Jewish "leaders" have cynically exploited "their" people for many years.

Sheldon Richman said...

Jessica, great point!

lazlo said...

i refer to the jew occupying land in palestine. each one is a monster. to equate a palestinian and an israeli is itself monstrous. even uri avnery. he does protest and speaks many fine words. he will not give up the home and land that is not his. his by force.

lazlo said...

the statehood movement began from the beginning. they were not peaceful. their intent was to take over and to take all.

the palestinians did not wave their claim. it was waved by force for them.

Sheldon Richman said...

Lazlo, Arafat had the overwhelming support of Palestinians when he changed the policy. It wasn't done by force. So a Jew who lived peacefully with Arabs in Palestine before 1948 or 1900 is a monster? And all the Jews working for an equitable and peaceful arrangement, with full rights for Palestinians? They are monsters? You speak like a fool.

lazlo said...

are you referring to oslo where he sold out. palestinians had some hope. but jews, sorry, israelis stabbed him, them in the back. then sharon had arafat poisoned.

jews went to palestine prior to 48 with the intent to take. as geo washington was a monster so were they.

one state, yes. palestine for the palestinians.

jews can have usa.

any jew working for an equitable and peaceful arrangement is still talking about keeping someone else's land and home.

peace is wanted so that they can keep what is stolen.

the 2-state solution which is what is considered fair by the great majority of jews and israeli supporters is a deception.

a state cannot be made from a concentration-extermination prison(gazp) somehow connected (by fairies) to a series of zoo cages. all maintained, guarded by jews.

lazlo said...

forgot.

take my land, everything, then give me "full"rights.

funny.

Anonymous said...

Laslo, I don't know where you live, but here in America we've got some 300 million people who may well keep what was once some Indian's home. I don't propose to emigrate to my ancestral lands in the vicinity of Hadrian's Wall, so I guess that makes me a monster.

What about all the Israeli Jews in the same predicament?

Sheldon: I'm skeptical, however, as to how many rank and file Palestinians have emotionally waived their right of return. In college I knew a Palestinian student who said the refugee camps were laid out according to the town in Palestine they live in before 1948, and according to the neighborhoods they lived in when some of the larger towns were involved. He knew old men who still carried their house key ("May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth," and all that).

I don't see any easy answer that can accommodate anyone on either side without seeming unfairness. But one step in the right direction would be to allow unrestricted immigration and acquisition of land by Palestinians inside the 1948 borders, and give them first rights of refusal to any vacant or state-owned land.

--Kevin Carson

Sheldon Richman said...

Kevin, I am highly sympathetic to what you suggest. I have heard the same stories about Palestinians who recall being driven from their homes. I am on their side. I don't claim to have a perfect answer or any real answer at all. I don't want to see a bloodbath for anyone.

lazlo said...

kevin,once all indian land. and it has been trashed.

i know any number of indians who would love to cut your throat even if you are an innocent.

you, a monster. too late for that, probably. depends on your morality. g. wash, who i mentioned, was.

all those calling themselves israeli are criminal monsters.

Kevin Carson said...

Come to think of it I knew the Palestinian guy more than a decade before the events you describe surrounding Oslo, so there may have been some shift in opinion.

Re the Ben Gurion quote in another post, wasn't he a secular Zionist from a Social Democratic background? I wonder if his comments about God weren't disingenuous.

I vaguely recall that early socialist Zionists did things like march to the Wailing Wall eating ham sandwitches just to offend the Jewish religious scholars previously living around the holy sites.

Kevin Carson said...

Sorry, Laslo. Perhaps I should ring a bell and shout "Unclean, unclean!" It's a wonder you don't fear trolling this comment thread will sully your moral purity.

lazlo said...

kevin, as you wish. i have no idea what you said.

any way my time is up.

thank you.

Sheldon Richman said...

Kevin, yes. Ben Gurion was most likely an atheist. One reason the Orthodox Jews once opposed Zionism was that according to their religious views, it was G-d (as they would write it) who would determine when the Jews returned to Israel, not a bunch of godless secular socialists like Ben Gurion.

I think you're right about lazlo being a troll. I have to get out of the habit of assuming good faith.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Davis writes:

We often hear the phrase "Israel's right to exist" and along with it, "Israel's right to self-defense." Notwithstanding the faux-legitimacy given these concepts by decades of repetition, there is a factual, truth-based, ethics-based point of view.

In 1917, the British Imperial elite and the World Zionist Organization colluded in a criminal conspiracy to steal Palestine from the 95% Arab population who had lived there for 70 generations, and to give it to the Jews/Zionists. This "plan" was a crime then, as it is a crime now. A crime is still a crime, despite control and censorship of the media. A crime is still a crime despite 90 years of impunity from prosecution or 90 years of propaganda. NO AMOUNT OF TIME CAN CHANGE A LIE INTO THE TRUTH; NO AMOUNT TIME CAN CONVERT A CRIME INTO A LEGAL ACT.

The Zionist entity called Israel is nothing less than a geopolitical crime-in-progress. This is reality.

So when next you hear about Israel's "right to exist", consider: no crime has a "right to exist", no criminal enterprise has a "right to exist". Correspondingly, no criminal has a "right to self-defense". No criminal has a right to commit violence in the furtherance of a crime. No criminal has the right to fight back against the lawful authority that arrives to halt the crime and arrest the criminals.

Israel, the Zionists, their enablers, and their supporters are criminals: thieves and murderers on a global scale. They have no "right to exist" (as criminals) and they have no "right to self-defense" as they commit their crimes.

But they do have rights. They have the right to surrender to a competent authority. The right to a fair trial. If found guilty, the right to a proportionate penalty. And once the offending parties have "done their time", the right to rejoin society and resume a peaceful cooperative existence.

Sheldon Richman said...

Jeff, it was later than that. See Arafat's biography.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm not "Anonymous". I'm Jeff Davis.

Sheldon, you said, "As for the rest of the population, decades ago the Palestinians waived their claim to return to land in pre-1967 Israel."

Just when and how did they do that? I missed it. Perhaps it got drowned out by "Run! Run for your lives!"

I'm a 61 year old non-religious American Jew, and grateful for it. It wasn't till after 9/11 that I bothered to look into the history of Israel. When I did, I was shocked. But I was (and am) a hard left progressive, so I was able to adjust with out breaking stride.

Here's everything you need to know about the origins of Israel but were afraid to ask:

The last three are long, scholarly, and frankly, a bit dry. However, the first, for obvious reasons, is quite entertaining.

"Concerning the Jews" by Mark Twain http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/mtwain/bl-mtwain-concerningjews.htm

The Hidden History of Zionism
http://www.marxists.de/middleast/schoenman/

Behind the Balfour Declaration
http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p389_John.html#ftn180

Benjamin Freedman
http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/israel/freedman.htm



What I didn't miss was Ben Gurion saying:


Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. [A patently false statement. --sr] We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations' time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it's simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out. [Emphasis added. Nahum Goldmann, The Jewish Paradox, p. 99]

Sheldon Richman said...

Jeff, I read Schoenman's book years ago and lost track of it. Thanks for the link.

Please send me email at sheldon@sheldonrichman.com

steven said...

Sheldon, did you read the comment to the second article you linked to, by Valis667? Pretty strong stuff, but I don't doubt that it's true.

Sheldon Richman said...

Steven, I don't know which article you mean. Please clarify.

Sheldon Richman said...

Okay, I see it now. It's actually the fourth link. Yes, hard-hitting and I wonder if badly exaggerated.

steven said...

The "Getting to the Bottom of Why They Want to Hurt Us" article. Click on(also this one) in your post.

Anonymous said...

Regarding "jews went to palestine prior to 48 with the intent to take" by Lazlo:

There have been Jews in Palestine, as Mr. Richman correctly pointed out, long before Zionism reared its monstrous head. Jews were among the people slaughtered mercilessly in Jerusalem as the Crusaders took the Holy City. I recall reading that Saladin, upon reconquering the city, invited Jewish families to live therein. Palestinian Jews have as much a right to live in Palestine as any Palestinian Arab, be he Muslim or Christian.

Now, I say all this as one who recognizes no such entity as "Israel". To me it is the criminal Zionist occupation of Palestine. As I see it, all Jews currently living in Palestine and who recognize that the Palestinian Arabs have been grievously wronged; who believe that the Palestinians have the right to return and live in their ancestral lands free from oppression or persecution of any kind; these are Jews I would be more than happy to see living and prospering in the Holy Land. All Zionists and pro-Zionists, Jew and non-Jew alike, I would rejoice if they went up in balls of flame, whether of God's or man's doing. My apologies, Mr. Richman, as I know you do not care for violence.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Richman:

Could you please substantiate your claim that Palestinians waived their right to return to pre-1967 Israel? I have been reading on the conflict for several years and have never seen this claim made before..

Sheldon Richman said...

On Nov. 15, 1988, Yasser Arafat issued a declaration of independence for Palestine in accord with UN resolutions regarding Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In subsequent speeches, Arafat made clear he was endorsing a two-state solution.

I don't want to push this point too hard, but only as indicative of Arafat's position in light of the fact that he and his secular Fatah were immensely popular among Palestinians -- so popular that Israel tried to fragment Palestinian allegiance by helping Hamas, a religious alternative, to grow. The point is that the leading Palestinian figure of his accepted a two-state solution, which means he was not seeking Israeli withdrawal from the pre-1967 territory. I believe position this was already implicit in Arafat's famous UN "gun and olive branch" speech in 1974.

Sheldon Richman said...

"What does it mean, a state? It's a solution for less than one quarter of the Palestinian people on an area that is less than 10% of historic Palestine." Palestinian leaders who are ready to accept this "are a bunch of traitors to their own cause". --Meron Benvenisti, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem