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    give them enough rope..., 2005-11-28 13:40:44 | Main | schmuckery in iraq..., 2005-11-30 13:53:05

    "check his sources":

    [you'll note that this post is virtually unreadable for all the ongoing edits, so a cleaner version lives here]

    Alan Dershowitz and Noam Chomsky debated tonight on "Israel and Palestine After Disengagement: Where Do We Go From Here? Thanks to a reader I was able to catch it this evening.

    I'm aware that the Kennedy School Forum won't archive it for a couple weeks, so being as I dumped it to file I created a torrent of the debate [update: here's a better one] that folks are invited to download. My power supply was on the fritz so there are a few minutes missing between files, there are some skips where the feed is garbled, and I haven't tried the Azureus decentralized tracker url before and have no idea if it will work. Testing between clients I could download it from myself, but that's local network, so we'll see. If it doesn't work we can make it work, but I'd need a betatester for my pathetic attempts at tech savvy hip. The torrent appears to be working slick as snot, minus my meager 20kb upstream bandwidth.

    In Dershowitz's closing statement he asks "Please, the other area where Chomsky and I agree: check his sources. Take him at his word. Go back tonight and google and read the sources. ... Email us both as to what the sources show."

    A fair request. We might check Dershowitz's sources while we're at it, if we run across any in his speech (in his opening he quotes some insults hurled by Chomsky and Finkelstein, e.g., comparing Peres to Idi Amin et al, we take them as given, as the source present acknowledges and then reaffirms the insult).

    To save folks some time I'll expend some of my own, since we can "just google them". "History", Dershowitz informs us, "ought to be objectively verifiable and it doesn't become true because Professor Chomsky says it's true". Indeed:

    1. NC: "the question of where we're going now [is clearly stated] by the leading academic specialist on the occupation, Harvard's Sara Roy", from whom he quotes:
      under the terms of disengagement, Israel's occupation is assured. Gazans will be contained and sealed within the electrified borders of the Strip, while West Bankers, their lands dismembered by relentless Israeli settlement, will be penned into fragmented spaces, isolated behind and between walls and barriers.

    2. NC: "her judgement is confirmed by Israel's leading specialist on the West Bank, Meron Benvenisti", who writes "the separation wall snaking its way through the west bank..." a quote from "Founding a Binational State", published in Ha'aretz.

      For further comment from Benvinisti on comparisons between Israel and South Africa there's his explanation of why he rejects them:

      The careless and tendentious use of the Israel-South Africa comparison blurs the major differences between the two societies and political cultures that make the comparison irrelevant. For instance, the mutual economic dependence of blacks and whites in South Africa bears no relation to the Palestinians' one-sided dependence on Israel. This interdependence made it impossible to create a true territorial division in South Africa. In addition, the significant black majority in South Africa is not similar to the demographic near-parity that exists west of the Jordan. In South Africa, blacks and whites share the same faith; even if some racist statements were made in the name of religion, there were still common values that allowed for the post-apartheid appeasement process. In Israel, though, the Jewish-Muslim clashes are becoming stronger.


      Newly published research by Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodlay comparing South Africa and Israel points out that the personal connection between blacks and whites in South Africa was much more intimate than the connection between Israelis and Palestinians. Although this relationship was effectively that between a horse and his rider, these connections nonetheless softened people's stances, prevented demonization and allowed for a successful transition to a multiracial nation.

      The research also notes that the South African government supported the creation of the bantustan institutions, funded them and subsidized their economy - in contrast to Israel, which destroyed Palestinian Authority institutions, smashed the economy in the territories and put the financial burden on the international community.

    3. NC: An EU report stated that "US-backed Israeli policies will virtually end prospects for a viable Palestinian state". He's referring to Report on East Jerusalem- Jerusalem and Ramallah Heads of EU Mission, described briefly here.

    4. NC: HRW "recently concurred" with the above's conclusions.

    5. NC then quotes from Declaration of Judge Buergenthal, "the Fourth Geneva Convention, and international human rights law are applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and must there be faithfully complied with by Israel". Chomsky quotes this with "faithfully" replaced by "fully", which is an appallingly gross distortion of the original meaning, or something.

    6. NC: "two months later Israel's High Court rejected that judgement": i.e. the Israeli High Court of Justice's ruling (HCJ 2056/04, Beit Sourik Village Council v. The Government of Israel).

    7. NC:
      Two months later, Israel's High Court rejected that [Buergenthal's] judgment, ruling that the Separation Wall "must take into account the need to provide security for...Israelis living" in the West Bank, including their "property" rights. This is consistent with Chief Justice Barak's doctrine that Israeli law supercedes international law. Technically speaking he is correct, as long as the United States continues to provide the required economic, military, and diplomatic support as it has been doing for 30 years in violation of the international consensus.

      The source on rejection is Yoaz Yuval, "The route less traveled" Ha'aretz, July 7, 2005 - originally here, I have a cache of the story, which says, accordingly:

      The International Court of Justice in The Hague may perhaps determine what the international law is in areas seen as having an "aggressive perception," but from the perspective of Israeli law, united Jerusalem was annexed to Israel and Israeli law applies there, not the military administration in effect in the territories.

    8. NC then quotes from Israeli historian Benny Morris. Thanks to a reader who pointed out where we could read page 341 of Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001 online:
      Israelis like to believe, and tell the world, that they were running an "enlightened" or "benign" occupation, qualitatively different from other military occupations the world had seen. The truth was radically different. Like all occupations, Israel's was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation. True, the relative lack of resistance and civil disobedience over the years enabled Israelis to maintain a facade of normalacy and implement their rule with a relatively small force, consisting of a handful of IDF battalions, a few dozen police officers (rank-and-file policemen were recruited from among the Palestinians), and a hundred or so General Security Service (GSS) case officers and investigators.


      Military administration, uncurbed by the civil rights considerations that applied in Israel, possessed ample measures to suppress dissidence and protest. These included curfews; house arrest, with resulting loss of wages; judicial proceedings, ending in prison terms or fines - the work of the military courts in the territories, and the Supreme Court which backed them, will surely go down as a dark age in the annals of Israel's judicial system - or expulsions; administrative detentions, or imprisonment without trial, for renewable six-month terms; and commercial and school shutdowns, usually in response to shop-keepers' strikes or disturbances by students.

      And it goes on like that.

    9. NC quotes himself, "It's as if someone were to argue that Jews don't need a second homeland, since they already have one in New York". Google offers us this, apparently from the preface to Werner Cohn's "The Hidden Alliances of Noam Chomsky", itself contextless. The source to check would be Letters from Lexington.

    10. Right around this point in the Q&A, after some stuff about the media, Dershowtiz says what he really thinks:
      Professor Chomsky, by selectively quoting and by picking tidbits out of context - knowing that you're not going to check up on him - tells you essentially that what you believe in the American media - whether it be the Washington Post or the Boston Globe or the New York Times - is not true. In order to get the true meaning of the world you have to move to Planet Chomsky, where the news reflects his perspective on reality. I urge you to move to the real world, read the real news. Don't read the selective Israeli journalists he talks about. ... Dennis Ross was there.

    11. Chomsky responds to the use of Dennis Ross as a reliable source:

      Dershowitz (having held up his map for some time): "This is Dennis Ross' map"

      Chomsky: "Dennis Ross was the US negotiator, his word is meaningless"


      He offers to go into it further. If he had one would expect him to repeat the same criticisms of Ross' account as he did in an Al-Ahram Weekly article "Reshaping History" - from which Dershowitz draws the Hilter-Amin-Peres anology - for what it's worth:

      [Judith] Miller's NYT version of these events is based on a highly-praised book by Clinton's Middle East envoy and negotiator Dennis Ross. As any journalist must be aware, any such source is highly suspect, if only because of its origins. And even a casual reading would suffice to demonstrate that Ross's account is wholly unreliable. Its 800 pages consist mostly of adulation of Clinton (and his own efforts), based on almost nothing verifiable; rather, on "quotations" of what he claims to have said and heard from participants, identified by first names if they are "good guys". There is scarcely a word on what everyone knows to have been the core issue all along, back to 1971 in fact: the programmes of settlements and infrastructure development in the territories, relying on the economic, military, and diplomatic support of the US, Clinton quite clearly included. Ross handles his Taba problem simply: by terminating the book immediately before they began (which also allows him to omit Clinton's evaluation, just quoted, a few days later). Thus he is able to avoid the fact that his primarily conclusions were instantly refuted.


      Ross's view is so lacking in independent support and so radically selective that one has to take with a heavy grain of salt anything that he claims, from the specific details he meticulously records verbatim (maybe with a hidden tape recorder) to the very general conclusions presented as authoritative but without credible evidence. It is of some interest that this is reviewed as if it could be considered an authoritative account. In general, the book is next to worthless, except as giving the perceptions of one of the actors. It is hard to imagine that a journalist cannot be aware of that.

    12. NC: "My maps are from the leading Israeli scholars, from [Ron] Pundak, the director of the Shimon-Peres Center".

      Chomsky cites an article from an IISS journal in 2001, i.e. "From Olso to Taba: What Went Wrong" also available from the Peres Center for Peace website as a PDF. At the end of the PDF file one finds a "Projection of West Bank Permanent Status, Camp David, July 2000" that is quite different from Dershowitz's copy of Dennis Ross' map of which he says, "Here is what a Palestinian state would have looked like had Camp David and Taba been accepted. It would be a completely contiguous area". (Dershowitz s here appears to think that nothing signficant changed between Camp David and Taba.).

      The difference between the maps is the contiguity of the resulting Palestinian state. In Pundak's analysis:

      "For the average Palestinian during Barak's administration, the so-called 'fruits of peace' were hardly encouraging: [...long list...] the establishment of Bantustan-like areas, controlled according to the whim of Israeli military rule and on occasion dictated by its symbiotic relationship with the settlers' movement".

      Pundak concludes, regarding the peace process:

      The faulty implementation during Netanyahu's administration, and the problematic management of permanent status negotiations under Barak are the two main obstacles, which prevented the sides from reaching an agreement. Other obstacles included Palestinian insensitivity to the Israeli perception of the daily threat of terrorism to their personal security; Israeli insensitivity to the suffering of an entire people possessed with a collective pride and struggling to gain national liberation from continuing occupation; the destructive effect of anti-Israeli incitement and propaganda; and a fledgling Palestinian political system which acted negligently and employed a double language. These factors enabled the deterioration of the situation into violence.

      Nevertheless, the possibility of reaching an agreement remains.

    13. During the map debate there is a small altercation with a questioner who is said to be Tal Silberstein, "a former advisor to PM Ehud Barak." Chomsky has been citing Ron Pundak. Tal argues that Ron Pundak was 'nowhere close' to the Camp David process but only Olso, and thus isn't a reliable source on the former's proceedings. Chomsky retort's that Pundak was "in the background".

      According to Pundak's biography at the Peres Center "Dr. Pundak has continued to be involved in various policy planning frameworks of ongoing and future negotiations on bi and multilateral levels." Possibly relevant to his involvement through Camp David in 2001 would be:

      • 1996-present Co-Director of the Executive Committee of PIES (Palestinian-Israeli Environmental Secretariat) a joint Israeli-Palestinian umbrella organization for environmental activities.
      • 1996-present Member of the Israeli core team of the 'Lousiana Process' and the 'Copenhagen Group', a joint Israeli-Palestinian-Egyptian-Jordanian umbrella for the promotion of peace activities in the four partner countries.
      • 1996-2001 Led an Israeli team participating in an Israeli-Palestinian endeavor to identify and promote ways and means for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in health and medicine issues.
      • 1995-2001 Led the Israeli side of a joint Israeli-Palestinian Research Team regarding the future of Jerusalem.

    14. Chomsky claims that Dennis Ross' account stops before Taba. This appears to be nearly the case: on page 757, in the third to last paragraph of a late chapter in "The Missing Peace" he gives it a very brief mention:
      During the first week of the Bush presidency, the negotiators on both sides went to Taba, Egypt. The real purpose was not to reach agreement, but on the Israeli side to try to constrain what Sharon could do and on the Palestinian side to try to get the Bush administration to buy into the Clinton ideas.

      Niether was going to happen. Did we come close? Yes. Were the Palestinian negotiators ready to do the deal that was available? Yes. Did we ultimately fail because of the mistakes that Barak made and the mistakes that Clinton made? No, each, regardless of his tactical mistakes, was ready to confront history and mythology. Only one leader was unable or unwilling to confront history and mythology: Yasir Arafat.

    15. NC: "'marching on the road to catastrophe by rejecting minimal Palestinian rights' I'm quoting the four former heads of Israel's Shin Bet security service". He is referring to the comments of the men referred to in this NYT article, from a joint interview published in the Israeli journal Yediot Ahronot, in November 2003:
      Together they have a total of 20 years in the GSS. The four - Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Peri, Carmi Gillon and Ami Ayalon - under different governments and in different periods, headed the organization that knows better than any other organization the innards of both societies, the Israeli and the Palestinian.

      After reading their comments I daresay that Chomsky rather underplays the source.

    16. There seems to be, and the discussion revolves around, a great disconnect in this sequence of Camp David -> Taba -> "Road Map" -> Geneva. Dershowitz seems to endorse Tabba and then later attacks it for political irrealism (Sharon/Bush about to be elected, etc.). Cursory lookups on Taba gave me material endorsing Dershowitz's latter view from the Zionist Organization of American (via palestinefacts.org, thankyou) but not much else that agrees with it. Dershowitz hasn't cited anybody besides Ross so there's not exactly a lot to go on.

    17. NC cites, in discussing Taba during the Q&A, the European Union's account of the Taba talks, prepared by EU envoy Miguel Moratinos and published in Ha'aretz on February 14, 2002 for the first time, about which Akiva Eldar wrote:
      whose main points have been approved by the Taba negotiators as an accurate description of the discussions, casts additional doubts on the prevailing assumption that [former prime minister] Ehud Barak "exposed [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Yasser Arafat's true face." It is true that on most of the issues discussed during that wintry week of negotiations, sizable gaps remain. Yet almost every line is redolent of the effort to find a compromise that would be acceptable to both sides. It is hard to escape the thought that if the negotiations at Camp David six months earlier had been conducted with equal seriousness, the intifada might never have erupted. And perhaps, if Barak had not waited until the final weeks before the election, and had instead sent his senior representatives to that southern hotel earlier, the violence might never have broken out.

    need to run the airport, this can be cleaned up later...

    update (post-airport): back, added a torrent, yadda, including all the above bullet points, more as I have time.

:: posted by buermann @ 2005-11-29 18:58:27 CST | link

      Entertaining? My college prevents blocks access to port 8080, so I wasn't able to watch (which absolutely killed me; I was so looking forward to it!). Now I can't wait for Harvard to archive it so my friend can download it and send it to me.

    posted by sansfrontieres @ 2005-11-29 20:42:28 | link

      Sweet - thanks for the torrent. My school obviously also blocks torrents, too, so I'll have to wait for my friend off campus to log on and download it (and then upload it to his ftp I guess), but it won't be nearly as long of a wait.

      Are you planning on e-mailing Dershowitz with your findings, by the way? :)

    posted by sansfrontieres @ 2005-11-29 21:50:32 | link

      If you send me an email I can make it available to you via http, I find it strange that your school would block even streaming media.

      Don't forget to let me know what school it is so I make sure I don't go there. :)

      I'm still not sure if Dershowitz meant "go dig up some dirt on his sources" or "take his sources seriously". There's a point in the debate where they go back and forth a bit about Benny Morris' description of the Israeli occupation: Dershowitz takes umbrage because Morris is on his side of the debate, more or less, so Chomsky is misleading us, or some such, with this 'selective quote'. Which is exactly why Chomsky quotes him - can't just fling Morris off as some leftwing wacko conspiracy nut, such as D does in this civil informed debate, accusing Chomsky et al of concocting vast conspiracies when no mention of such and such events are made in the Western media.

    posted by buermann @ 2005-11-29 22:54:02 | link

      RE: Morris, have you seen the Dershowitz-Finkelstein debate on Democracy Now? Both use Morris as a source. It's odd, because while Morris does document Israel's crimes, he praises them in many ways. I mean, he's usually honest in his scholarship, just morally corrupt.

      I love Amazon's new feature that allows you to search inside books. So handy:http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0679744754/ref=sib_vae_...

      on the bottom of that same page: the "dark age of the annals" quote.

      On the quote from #9, I remember Chomsky saying something along those lines. Cohn, Dershowitz, etc. completely took it out of context though: Chomsky was reacting to a comment by someone (NYT? I forget) that suggested that the Palestinians didn't need control over their own homeland because they have Jordan, which is already run by Palestinians, has Palestinian control over resources, etc. He then said, can you imagine someone reasoning this way? New York already has a Jewish mayor, Jewish control over this and that, therefore it doesn't need Israel.

      On #10, it was published in Hebrew. Are you a ZNet sustainer? If so, for some of Chomsky's comments (no map), go to the forums and search for 'Pundak'. The relevant post is actually a response to some queries about a Robert Fisk-Benny Morris debate a couple of months ago.

      Funny thing about Chomsky is that he seems to read everything, including everything in Hebrew, and google doesn't have everything. I may e-mail him asking for some sources myself.

    posted by sansfrontieres @ 2005-11-30 09:32:46 | link

      I think this interview with Dr. Pundak does show he had some involvement with Camp David II, although, as Chomsky stated, in the background. While I don't always follow the same line of reasoning as Chomsky, I would say that he stays to fairly conventional sources and that it's generally people who disagree with his conclusions who try to work backwards and disprove his sources. I think that need to "get at" Chomsky was seen recently in the Guardian with the article by Emma Brockes, and its eventual retraction. Quite humourous and at the same time grim. Anyways, enough blathering, here is the link. As I am not a regular reader here, I probably won't be looking at any response, save your breath. Incidently this was found through googling with the terms Pundak and "Camp David", it was the 20th link. (research is hard!) http://www.justvision.org/interview/dr_ron_pundak.php

    posted by marcshmarc @ 2005-12-07 02:18:27 | link

      You. Kick. Ass.

    posted by Peter @ 2006-02-22 01:27:23 | link

      That's kind of you, thanks. Not much time for asskicking these days :(

    posted by buermann @ 2006-02-22 14:16:51 | link

      Superb. I thank you for your exhaustive homework. I had spent hours trying to find some quote from Pundak, and here you have it all. Again, thank you.

    posted by Charles @ 2010-01-20 22:50:30 | link

      I guess google isn't what it used to be.

    posted by buermann @ 2010-01-22 20:57:54 | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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