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« What Would Sharon Do? | Main | "This Besieged One -- How Shall I Defeat Him?" »

April 21, 2006


James Fletcher Baxter

The missing element in every human 'solution' is
an accurate definition of the creature.

The way we define 'human' determines our view
of self, others, relationships, institutions, life, and
future. Important? Only the Creator who made us
in His own image is qualified to define us accurately.
Choose wisely...there are results.

Many problems in human experience are the result of
false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of diversity. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes
his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall
that his other features are but vehicles of experi-
ence intent on the development of perceptive
awareness and the following acts of decision and
choice. Note that the products of man cannot define
him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-
making process and include the cognition of self,
the utility of experience, the development of value-
measuring systems and language, and the accultur-
ation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
creative process, is a choice-making process. His
articles, constructs, and commodities, however
marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idol-
atry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth's own
highest expression of the creative process.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and
significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean
fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the
forces of cause and effect to an elected level of qual-
ity and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a
natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and
bestows earth's title, The Choicemaker, on his
singular and plural brow.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the

Let us proclaim it. Behold!
The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV


S Silverstein

As an academic myself and an information scientist, below is my as-yet unanswered email to Prof. Judt. The elephant in the living room that has not been addressed in academic circles are the defects in the Walt-Mearshemier paper.

These deficits include, but are not limited to, failure of differentiation of fact from fiction, lack of context, distortions, errors in logical reasoning, and errors of omission that are so severe and pervasive as to invalidate the paper’s inferences and conclusions and expose the paper to be little more than rhetoric.

That is not an accepted way for scholars to start a discussion about anything, perhaps with the exception of discussion about their own biases and willingness to abandon accepted standards of scholarship in an attempt to “prove” their own a priori beliefs.

That is just the discussion Walt & Mearsheimer have earned and received.

If academia feels that severely flawed, polemical articles are an accepted form of discourse from leadership figures, let alone freshmen, then we in academia are in severe danger of becoming irrelevant. The tabloid press performs that function quite well already.

Judt is simply an apologist for academic fraud, and brings his own biases into his apologies.

Poor scholarship needs not to be taken seriously; it needs to be sent to the circular file.


To: tony.judt@nyu.edu
Date: 04/19/2006 02:46PM
Subject: Re: informational defects in "The Israel Lobby"

Dear Dr. Judt,

With regard to the Walt/Mearsheimer paper "The Israel Lobby" and your article in the NYT:

I would like to know if you feel defects in an academic research paper as severe as pointed out by Dershowitz - and summarized below [1] - can invalidate a paper's premises and conclusions.

As an information scientist at the first point in human history when precise access to a large fraction of the world's corpus of thought is available to many millions (i.e., via informational computing), I am quite interested in the views of social scientists on this issue.


S. Silverstein

[1] list of defects noted by Dershowitz. Page references are to the Dershowitz reply at http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/research/working_papers/dershowitzreply.pdf :

• The emphasis … put on “rapes by Jews” is therefore not only bizarre and unsettling, but also completely unwarranted (Dershowitz, p. 3 footnote)
• the paper is filled with errors and distortions that should be obvious to any critical reader (p. 5)
• There are at least three major types of errors: first, quotations are wrenched out of context …second, facts are misstated … third, embarrassingly poor logic is employed (p. 5-6)
• it is fair to ask why these distinguished professors would have chosen to publish a paper that does not meet their usual scholarly standards (p. 6)
• this study is so filled with distortions, so empty of originality or new evidence, so tendentious in its tone, so lacking in nuance and balance, so unscholarly in its approach, so riddled with obvious factual errors that could easily have been checked (but obviously were not), and so dependent on biased, extremist and anti-American sources, as to raise the question of motive (p. 6)
• This statement [on the American media] will sound especially bizarre to anyone who regularly reads the The New York Times
• Consider their word choice … Listen to the language … It sounds more like a hate speech web site than an academic essay (footnote, p. 13)
• This type of paranoid worldview … is not the sort of argument one would expect from prominent academics (p. 16)
• rely heavily on discredited allegations and out of context quotations found on extremist, disreputable sources, including well-known hate websites (p. 17)
• do not make up quotes, but they wrench them out of context. (p. 20)
• also recite historic facts out of context. They willfully omit the most important contextual history. (p. 22)
• Nearly every paragraph of the paper is riddled with similar errors, omits crucial details, and misleads the reader. (p. 25)
• This mendacious emphasis on Jewish “blood” is a favorite of neo-Nazi propaganda. (p. 26)
• Conveniently, Mearsheimer and Walt ignore the nuances and qualifications of the report. (p. 27)
• are using the same tactic: singling out Jews and Israel without any historical or contemporary comparative data. (p. 28)
• “reasoning” is simply illogical. The very first argument they offer exemplifies their illogical and conspiratorial approach. (p. 37)
• examples of the ad hominem fallacy, in which the authors rest the soundness of their arguments on the identity of the speaker, rather than on the truth of the ideas. (p. 38)
• The professors make the most basic of all logical fallacies – they confuse correlation with causation … This is not academic writing. There is no weighing of evidence. (p. 39)
• It is not only the words – false and unbalanced as they are – that invoke old stereotypes and canards. It is the “music” as well – the tone, pitch, and feel of the article – that has caused such outrage from academics and concerned citizens … (p. 43-44)


One thing that seems to be missing here is criticism of the Times itself for printing this dreck. The Times barely covered the firestorm associated with the Walt/Mearsheimer paper. After pretty much ignoring the story in its news pages, it gives prominent space to Tony Judt to comment on the paper. This is very revealing of the Times own editorial stance on Israel. In contrast, The Washington Post, hardly a friend of Israel, published an op-ed by Eliott Cohen, a respected professor at SAIS and an Orthodox Jew. Cohen exposed the Walt/Mearshemier paper for what it was: anti-semitic garbage.


First, let me say I agree with and support your position on the issue at hand, and in particular Mr. Judt's analysis of the issues and their putative solution.

I have just one comment on Gelernter's reference to America's Puritan strain.

He is undoubtedly correct that such a strain exists, and has existed, in the American experience. However, it is hardly exclusive, and does not necessarily predominate over other strains and influences that run through the American historical experience.

Let's remember the Puritan movement in England was not a Christian movement, it was a political movement. I recommend the good Hooker for commentary on this fact, and the internal logic and political techniques and practices of the Puritans.

Gelernter says:

"The “political” goal of Puritanism was to reach back to the pure Christianity of the New Testament -- and then even farther back. Puritans spoke of themselves as God’s new chosen people, living in God’s new promised land -- in short, as God’s new Israel. . . ."

The only problem being that the New Testament is not a political tract and provides no basis for revolution and the violent seizure of temporal power from the established order. The Puritan use of Christian symbols like "chosen people," "the elect," "the saints," and "the promised land" was good propaganda at the time, but not all Christians were persuaded by this transfiguration of religious metaphor into political slogan, and they resisted violently and ultimately discredited and discarded the new Puritan order.

The Puritans were all about political power, and, let me emphasize, exclusive political power. They were not interested in a coalition government. When people begin to talk of "chosen people," "the elect," and so forth, people in the vicinity should begin to get very nervous, particularly if they are members of a minority group (such as Jews in the West).

Gelernter then turns from the Puritan ideology to the now popular assertion that America is a proposition nation, a nation grounded in an ideology, an ideology that Gerlernter grounds in the Puritan experience and by extension in the "word of God." And, most alarmingly, this ideology is universal, applicable from France to Iraq (he omits the PRC). This doesn't sound anything like Puritanism (which was exceedingly provincial), but rather like Jacobinism and its universal pretensions. Jacobinism, we might recall, had little to do with the "word of God," but rather more to do with the glorification of human reason, the powers of man, and the annihilation of Western tradition.

When it comes to present day Israel, and its tribulations, this is reaching too deep into very muddy and ambivalent waters. One not reach so far to find good warrant for America's support and sympathy for Israel, both in sentiment and in realism.


To say that someone "lacks a certain critical perspective" is to accuse the person of having a bias. It's an accusation that is true of everyone, but so what? Personal background and experience inform personal bias, thus forming one's stand on any given issue. I think it's disingenous to introduce a counter-argument with an accusation of the opponent's bias, since the purpose of making a *counterpoint* is precisely to present one's own bias. I shall now discuss my own:

I am Roman Catholic. I criticize my church and its leaders when my bias leads me to the belief that criticism is appropriate and justified. This does not make me anti-Catholic, nor desirous of eliminating the Church from the globe.

I am of European descent. I criticize white people with whom I disagree. This does not make me anti-Caucasian, nor desirous of enslaving or eliminating whites.

I am American. I criticize my country and my government. This does not make me anti-American, nor a terrorist sympathizer. It makes me a good American.

Criticism and self-examination are vital to a thriving democracy; their lack are vital to despotism, tyrrany, fascism -- to any form of totalitarian government. Therefore, it is my duty to criticize my country and my government when my bias leads me to believe it is appropriate and justifiable to do so.

My great-uncle died at Normandy on June 22, 1944. His bias led him to believe that he was fighting to defend the freedom to fulfill our obligation to criticize our leaders. His parents disagreed.

My great-grandparents wished the U.S. had never got into the war in Europe. But then, they had just lost their son, so they were biased. They didn't know about the Holocaust when they got the news that Uncle Harold was killed in action. All they knew was that their 22 year old son died overseas, on foreign soil. They couldn't see how a war so far away was defending *our* freedom and democracy here at home. I don't know what they thought when they learned about the Holocaust; I know they believed it was horrendous, and yet, it didn't give them satisfaction to sacrifice their son, even if they felt the cause he died fighting for was justified. Their first thought was for their own. It was biased, but to be human is to have bias. And, being human, it's hard to grieve for everyone else's suffering when one is grieving one's own loss.

Uncle Harold didn't live to take part in the liberation of the camps, and I don't know if it would have made a difference if he wasn't at Normandy. What difference one soldier when so many died? What would difference if one less soldier had been on that battlefield? All I know is: "Drops of water form the mighty ocean." Drops of water also evaporate, and thence comes the rain, to water the earth and nourish life. And so I criticize America to honor my uncle's sacrifice.

But I also criticize other countries, such as England, France, Germany. I am not anti-any of those. I also praise them when I see fit. It doesn't make me pro-any of them. To me, Israel is just another country. Certainly not the *same* as any other country, but what country is? There is no country that I think should be eliminated. There is no country that I think is always in the right. It doesn't make me anti-anyplace.

Kennedy had his own bias when he admired the change wrought by the creation of Israel. The prosperity he noted is undeniable, and remarkable. He was also astute in assessing that the Middle East would have the same issues with or without Israel's creation. Yet, I feel a certain poignancy when I consider that the British colonial rulers had to renege on the promise of Palestinian self-rule in order to make Israel possible. Our inclination towards bias makes us want to see Good Guys and Bad Guys; Good and Evil. But it is not that simple. The situation in Israel - as situations are everywhere - is complicated.


[The situation in Israel - as situations are everywhere - is complicated]

Sorry, some things are simple. Blowing up civilians, elderly men, women and children is evil.

If a person has to 'think' about that, it's not because they're intellectually advanced; it's because they're simple of mind.

The "nothing is simple and everything needs to be analyzed till we suffer analysis paralysis" is a postmodern ideology that is almost custom designed to paralyze the ability to think.


["Yet, I feel a certain poignancy when I consider that the British colonial rulers had to renege on the promise of Palestinian self-rule in order to make Israel possible."]

Do you feel "a certain poignancy" when you consider that the British colonial rulers chose to renege on the promises they made to the Jewish people in the original mandate? Or does your "poignancy" work in only one direction?


The "Shining city upon a hill" line was repeated by President Reagan but was originally by the Puritan Governor John Wintrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.



does anyone have a link for the JFK speech? It's pretty great.


To Kimberly

"Yet, I feel a certain poignancy when I consider that the British colonial rulers had to renege on the promise of Palestinian self-rule in order to make Israel possible."

You may want to educate yourself some more about the relevant history as no such pledge was given and rather the British ended up reneging in the opposite direction, a perfidy that in the end complicated but did not succeed in preventing the establishment of Israel.


The primary reason the New York Times chose Judt, I suspect, is the underlying tone of "European" superiority and American inferiority.

norman ravitch

It's important to understand that Tony Judt and other critics of Zionism, including many Israelis, basically see it as a form of integral nationalism which was the forerunner of Fascism in Europe. They see the decline of European nationalism (perhaps not for good, however) and feel that Israel is hanging on to a failed ideology. Indeed Zionism was the last form of integral nationalism to be adopted by a European people, having learned much from living in places like Austria-Hungary, Germany, Poland, and France where it came first into its own. The Jews were the last to become integral nationalists. Judt is unwilling to give them a bit more time to give it up. They deserve, given their history, to hold on to it a bit longer than Frenchmen and Poles and Germans. It is as Judt holds reactionary and close to Fascism but that does not mean that the Israelis do not the right to decide on their own when to abandon or modify it. Judt deserves to be heard, not to be accused of anti-semitism, but one does not have to agree with him. As for the Israel Lobby in the USA -- we might all wish it could be as unimportant as the Finland Lobby -- but that will take time, as will the abandonment of Zionist integral nationalism.

David Metz

Good analysis. 'INtelectuals' like Judt are scary.

I am sure that as a Jew he gets looked at a little funny in the 'intelectual' circles in which he moves. On a personal level lifewould be easier for him if israel did not exist.

What is his alternative - not support Israel? What would happen them.


Why have we so many Jews who tell us "Israel has no right to exist," and so few French saying "France has no right to exist," few Palestinians saying "The Palestinian Authority has no right to exist," and few Muslims saying "Islam has no right to exist"?

F. Warhurst

It is difficult/impossible to find truthful accounts of all things Israel in American media; there is a de facto censure of such material. BBC does a better job but it too is hobbled.
I'd like to see (again since my only knowledge of 'sensitive' materials is the free press) a full accounting of President Kennedy's attempt to stop Israel from developing WMD - particularly nuclear weapons - which was killed when a bullet hit his head in Texas. Is it here with this topic that the continuous generation of conspiracy scenarios can be seen? This unspoken censorship allows the truth to be lost in the noise of searchers whose eyes are covered as they struggle to avoid the obvious.


"Tony Judt cannot understand why the U.S. would align its power and reputation with a democratic state under attack in the Middle East, since the state is “small” and “controversial” with the rest of the world."

Pray tell who has attacked Israel in the past 60 years?

Is it Palestine who, having been dispossessed in a terror campaign more savage than that waged by the Nazis, manage to extract one Israeli life with homemade rockets and their own bodies for every 76 of their own who are crushed by shells, tanks and bombs?

Is it Lebanon who recently lost 1500 civilians to an unprovoked Israeli holocaust?

Is it Iran who are being threatened daily by the combined might of the U.S. and Israel because of trumped up evidence of a nuclear ambition that even the IAEC denies exists?

Is "democratic" the correct description of Israel?

Theocratic State? Not quite.
Apartheid State? Close.
Fascist State? Beginning to look that way - targeted assassinations, constant invasions of neighbouring territory, imprisonment without trial, civilian terror, overt racism - that sort of defines facism doesn't it?

So let's try another rewrite:

“It will not be self-evident to future generations of Americans why the imperial might and international reputation of the United States are so closely aligned with one small Fascist state. It is already not at all self-evident to Europeans, Latin Americans, Africans, Asians or New Zealanders.”

Other menshoes

If only persons posting ardently in defence of Israel here and elsewhere could step outside of themselves and see themselves as the rest of the world does...

I must agree with Tony Judt that I get the sense that somehow the culture of Judaism seems to foster a sense of "I am special" that is not truly deserved. This was my observation of Jewish people *before* I was aware of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I don't say that Jews are the only people possessing this trait; however, like all things, stereotypes are rooted in some small truths.

If the world doesn't understand you, you finally have to sit down, take a deep breath, and ask yourself why. Ask God or whomever you are deeply devoted to why, and listen...listen intently, and be prepared to be uncomfortable. This goes for anyone and can be said for virtually any nation, America included. And Israel included.

I don't usually find that there is much listening going on among Israel's ardent defenders -- mostly heated defence.

To answer the question posed to yourself that the reasons for your collective difficulties are that world is just fu***d and stupid will just perpetuate your delusions.

Want to create peace? Perhaps not. But if you do, step in the other guy's shoes. Make a habit of it. It will open your eyes and soften your heart considerably.

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