Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Natan Sharansky, from Refusenik to Likudnik to Publicist

 
BY NOAH S.        

Natan Sharansky, the famous Soviet dissident and Israeli political leader, spoke yesterday evening at the University of California, Berkeley. Freshly appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu to head the Jewish Agency for Israel, Sharansky is touring college campuses in an attempt to foster a more positive image of Israel among American youth. The audience in the large lecture hall, however—considering the stature of the guest and the amount of publicity for the event—was surprisingly sparse and composed largely (in this author’s estimation, at least) of non-students who were old enough to remember Sharansky when he was a hero for Americans and Jews during the Cold War. But then, this is Berkeley—a “haven” for “anti-Israel forces,” as the student organizers put it—the speaker was Sharansky—famous now more as George W. Bush's favorite author than anything else—and the event was part of the dubiously titled “Caravan for Democracy” series, which is funded by such local favorites as Media Watch International (a group aligned with Likud) and the Jewish National Fund (among other things, since 1901 a major land-owner in Palestine/Israel which still refuses to lease its land to Arabs). It is a shame, though, that more students were not in attendance, because they would have been challenged by a trenchant thinker with a compelling personal story to think through some of the basic justifications for the existence of a Jewish state.

The talk was brilliantly composed and delivered, though problematic upon close scrutiny. Sharansky structured his argument around “two ideas” which he claims share a “deep connection”: “the desire to be free” and “the desire to belong,” or between “democracy” and “identity.” (The connection between the two forms the basis of a course Sharansky is leading at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.) Those familiar with his books The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror (2004) and Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy (2008) will recognize the argument. It is directed mainly against those “intellectuals,” as he called them, who believe in “post-identity,” “post-nationalism,” “post-modernism,” and “multiculturalism” - in other words, the relativists who believe that “nothing is different, that everything is equal.” (Berkeley professors?)  In order to illustrate this caricatured line of thought, Sharansky quoted (God help usnone other than the hippie-icon John Lennon, who asked us in 1971 to “imagine” a world in which there are “no countries,” “no religion,” and “nothing to kill or die for.” (Actually, Sharansky only quoted “nothing to die for.”). The logic of Sharansky’s unnamed intellectuals, represented here by the post-Beatle, holds that “strong identities” like nationalism and religion are “the enemies of peace.” Strong identities in Europe supposedly led to two world wars; war is evil; therefore, identity is evil. For them, being a human rights activist and a nationalist is an internal contradiction. And by this logic, the nation-state of Israel, which claims to be a leader of the free world yet retains its identity as the homeland of only one people, is an anachronism in a post-identity Western world. Sharanksy has set out to prove these critics wrong.

Born Anatoly Borisovich Shcharansky in Donetsk, Ukraine (then the Soviet Union) in 1948, Sharansky never saw any contradiction between the desire to be free and the desire to belong because under the Soviet regime both were stifled if you were a Jew. He was neither allowed to voice a dissenting political opinion, nor to learn anything about his religious and cultural heritage. When he attempted to immigrate to Israel in 1973 and was refused passage—thus acquiring the title of refusenik—he became an outspoken dissident and spent years in Soviet prisons. He realized that he had found something—his Jewishness—which he was “willing to die for,” and it gave him the strength to withstand the KGB. In this brief biographical narrative, Sharansky did not take time to discuss why the struggle to express one’s political views and the struggle to express one’s cultural identity publicly—which in his case did coincide—should resonate with people growing up in a free world. A tighter case would have to be made; perhaps those who have read his latest book could chime in here. In any case, the argument offers some insight into the psychology of this Soviet dissident turned militant democrat.

In fact, most of the talk was about Sharansky’s own story, and the move from the personal to the contemporary political came only at the very end, in a rhetorical flourish when he accused European intellectuals of “having nothing to die for.” As a result, he claimed, when faced with a very small minority of possible fundamentalist terrorists whose identity is strong and who are willing to die for their cause, they feel bewildered and defenseless. In the wake of World War II, just as Europeans vowed never to fight again, Zionists vowed never to not fight again. Israel has paid the price in its international image for the post-war move toward pacifism and post-identity among "intellectuals," Sharansky claimed, because it became a nation-state precisely at the moment when the idea of the nation-state became unpopular. The Western nations said accusingly, “We have given up our nationalism, our colonialism - why not you?” Sharansky’s answer is that Israelis need to have a strong identity to fight and die (and kill) for if they are to defend against “all these totalitarian regimes” in its region. One senses that Sharansky’s experience in the Soviet prisons has left its indelible mark upon this man’s political philosophy. 

28 comments:

Nobody said...

I don't know about the philosophy, but I encountered references to some studies of diversity and its impact on society that claimed that there is an indirect connection, a reverse connection, between diversity and social capital. More homogeneous societies have more of it. I assume that nation states should make for stronger and more resilient societies

Amos said...

But there are also big advantages to diversity. I know it's easy to scoff in today's economic climate, but the U.S. has been the world's economic superpower since the end of WWII. It is also one of the world's most diverse societies. Diversity in itself is not really the factor contributing to economic growth. It's openness. More homogeneous societies tend to be less open to newcomers and to innovation. However, they also enjoy more stability and perhaps even more happiness and less social atomization. Think about the Scandinavian countries, or actually, any of the European welfare states. Also, Japan and South Korea.

Basically, diverse, open societies = entrepreneurial, dynamic, innovative economies. But that also comes at a price.

I don't know about "stronger" or more "resilient." I'd say the U.S. is pretty good in that dept, whereas a country like Canada, perhaps less so, I'm not sure.

BTW, Israel is somewhat in-between. There's a great deal of diversity and there have been many waves of immigration, but there is also a putative "homogeneity" in "ethnicity" (let's say, "peoplehood").

This is a very interesting topic about which I've been meaning to write a post actually, partly in response to this New York Times Magazine article about the Dutch health care system and welfare state.

Nobody said...

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. Life is about package deals. You can only make a broad choice, you can hardly pick up details to your liking.

One country often quoted as an example is Swiss, which is very multinational and yet it seems to be just as cohesive as any other European state. However, I would think it's more tricky than that. Swiss has also one of the most successful anti immigration parties in Europe. This multicultural paradise is by far not so welcoming to others.

As to the US, first of all I think it's impossible to implement anything like Dutch model in the US. In fact, this is not what Obama is trying to do since he is not intending to raise taxes on the middle class, which in Scandinavia provides for the bulk of taxation base. Quite the opposite, he is promising to lower taxes for the middle class and finance his projects by increasing taxation the the richest 2%. So he should be probably seen more like a populist, and maybe even a reckless one, than a socialist the European style. I remain unconvinced about how much social capital exists in the US to allow for something like Dutch model.

Another thing is that the US seems to be quite a religious country on one hand, and on the other a total melting pot. Second generation immigrants in the US tend to become regular Americans. Genetically, they are diverse, but I don't know how diverse the US is in the multicultural sense of the word when compared to other "diversities". I do have an impression that the US is lacking in some sort of social solidarity but it may be because it's simply too big. There are geographical limits on these things too. You can't stretch this identity thing to infinity.

Critiker said...

Hello this is Critiker speaking.

I really like your post Noah. It seems that Natan Sharansky is more effective as an inspirational speaker and thinker than he is as a politician. His party, Israel Ba'Aliya, didn't accomplish much for the Russian Jewish immigrants.

Amos, about your views regarding the advantages of diversity, I think that the amount economic resources plays a factor in diversity's success. A small country like Israel, with a constant need in military defense, may or may not have the required resources for diversity like America's to be truly successful.

Critiker

yaman said...

Well, I suppose I should first thank you for summarizing the content of the event. I don't think his caricatures or characterization is fair. I think you would be hard-pressed to find people who believe strong identity is inherently problematic. Nobody is challenging the right of Jews to be Jews. Whether it follows that one's Jewishness is incomplete without the existence of an exclusive or supremacist Jewish state is the questionable part. I am also not questioning the right to a collective Jewish identity or history. But it is strange, I think, that Sharansky should condemn people who believe a strong identity is problematic when a strong Palestinian identity, especially for the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in Israel, is considered to be threatening to the State of Israel. I think many of the positions he criticizes, insofar as he believes they belittle the importance to him of strong Jewish identity, can be applied to reigning Israeli views about Palestinian identity. But more importantly, people like Hannah Arendt criticized the nation-state system and the Minority Treaties after WWI precisely because the institutionalized minority populations as such, as people who did not belong, even if they were afforded some degree of tolerance. In that sense I think Sharansky is spot on, that Israel borrowed European logics of nationalism at the time they became unpopular (although perhaps still prevalent). When the State has an identity, it produces minorities as institutions (and it is better to understand minorities as institutions rather than in arbitrary numerical terms). The same can be said about Palestinians in Israel, Kurds in Syria, Turkey, etc... indeed, the most common criminal accusation brought against Kurdish activists in the latter two countries is that they threaten the identity of the state. I suppose that's not explicitly a crime yet in Israel (unless the loyalty oath laws are instituted) but there certainly have been times when it has been pretty damn close, at the very least, in effect (remember when the Palestinian flag was banned from the territories?).

Nobody said...

. A small country like Israel, with a constant need in military defense, may or may not have the required resources for diversity like America's to be truly successful.

I think if you compare post war economic miracles across the world to which Israel can be compared you will find no confirmation to diversity or resources playing any significant role whatsoever. The textbook post war economic miracles such as Japan, Germany or South Korea are examples of neither diversity nor abundance of resources. They are examples of the exactly opposite.

I don't think the concept of diversity as an ultimate social and economic boon has any factual basis under it whatsoever. The current situation of political and social sciences in the West can be roughly compared to the scientific socialism of Carl Marx. They are a utopia transformed into pseudo science. They should be seen as a sort of scientific liberalism. Because diversity, world without borders and nationalities and similar stuff are important elements in this universalstic liberalist view of the world, an attempt was made to present the positive effect of dioversity and multiculturalism as a proven scientific fact.

The reality does not square with this theory at all. Even in those cases where diversity may look as beneficial, it's very hard to factor in other factors to establish this with any degree of sureness. For example, in those cases where diversity is achieved through immigration, the newcomers can be expected to be more active and entrepreneurial people than the average population of their countries of origin. This may by far have more role to play than how diverse these people are and how different they are from the local population.

Ariel said...

Amos, I'm surprised to see you so blithely equate diversity with entrepreneurial initiative, innovation, etc. Diversity doesn't explain the English Industrial Revolution, or the Scottish Enlightenment for that matter.

People are very imprecise when they talk about diverse and homogeneous societies, and so their discussions are often just a bunch of abstractions. Is the US diverse and Japan homogeneous? In the US, pretty much all social institutions replicate themselves across the country. As one example, take college. Going to state school in Texas is going to be very similar to state school in Massachusetts, with the same keggers and classroom experiences. People have some local identity in the US, in some areas more than in others, but very little of it compares to, say, the deep felt differences between the Kansai and Kanto regions in Japan. There are still people in Japan who speak dialects that are not comprehensible to outsiders. Whereas in a place like Japan only a strong state could impose unity and invent a nation, in the US a weak federal system designed to do as little as possible does not in any way diminish the jingoistic patriotism to which most of the country is typically susceptible.

Ariel 1 said...

Risking to be oversimplistic I would say that:

Right of jewish people for self-determination and souverenity over a small patch of land seems to me as natural. Diversity - ya you cannot have one like in the U.S when everybody around in Jewish. But that's what jewish Israelis want - to live amond the Jews (themselves). Israelis that hate this move to Canada, US, etc.

Is it good or bad? I dont know but this is how Israelis wanted it and set it up and are happy with.

There is another thing though: some intellectuals are interested to fight Israel (intellectually, with ideas). In the current market of ideas fighting Israel as a national state looks like an easy thing. So they do it. Then Sheransky fights back.

If so, do these intellectuals have a chance in the case? Sadly, YES THEY DO! Because jews are today only 75% to 81% of Israelis (depends how to count). And then there is a situation with the West Bank. As long as demography is like this and worse post-modernists will be hitting us in the balls. And we will have less and less things to say

Nobody said...

@ariel 1

I don't think that it's a matter of the right to self determination and such stuff. I think it's about something much more down to earth. It's about what makes or breaks societies. Much of similar discussions go around immigration and global migration flows when you have whole cities transformed into conglomerates of ghettos.I would put it even more sharply: the question is if it's possible to undo a society with this post modernist stuff to the point that it completely loses the glue that keeps it together. In my view, it's not only possible, it's happening in many places.

In the context of the Middle East I would say that democracy is largely impossible in this region because of the problematic ethnic composition of many countries. The only state the Arabs have that resembles democracy, which is Lebanon, is constantly teetering on the brink of civil war. The very moment Saddam was gone, Iraq descended into sectarian chaos, which is by far not over yet. Europe simply has an advantage of centuries of civil wars and ethnic cleansing that created relatively homogeneous nation states. But even there such a country as Belgium has by now reached such a state of disintegration that many doubt it can survive as a single country for long. As to the Middle East, it's plain obvious to me that there are only two options here. Either the kings and dictators continue keeping this region in their iron fist, or it will collectively go to fight many dozens of its delayed civil wars and ethnic conflicts. It's this or that. Nobody should cherish any illusions about the future.

Amos said...

@Ariel:

Amos, I'm surprised to see you so blithely equate diversity with entrepreneurial initiative, innovation, etc. Diversity doesn't explain the English Industrial Revolution, or the Scottish Enlightenment for that matter..

You and Nobody both missed my point. I never said diversity was a precondition for anything. It is a symptom:

"Diversity in itself is not really the factor contributing to economic growth. It's openness."

I wanted to point to openness. Ariel, you know far more than I do about the Japanese case, but I have a pretty good idea of what it's like for "foreigners" in some of the classic European welfare states (Germany, the Scandinavian countries ..). In these societies it has historically been very difficult for outsiders to enter the establishment and to find employment anywhere other than in the bottom tier or in entrepreneurial initiatives. You might say, well good, there's entrepreneurship, but in these economies, the climate is much less favorable for entrepreneurs than in the U.S.

Nobody, I'm not sure if you're trying to equate my reasoning with the "utopianism" of the contemporary social sciences. In your response, I see that you took issue with what Critiker was saying, but Critiker was actually agreeing with you.

Regarding your point about immigration - the key is that some societies allow immigrants to develop their full economic potential. Others fail miserably at this - and here again I point to the homogeneous, post-war welfare states of Europe mentioned above. In these societies you will hardly ever see a successful immigrant. It might be changing slightly in the last 5 years, but until recently, "foreigners" either cleaned the toilets or owned restaurants and bodegas.

So, again, diversity isn't the point. It's openness. Some societies provide more opportunities for strangers than others. Notwithstanding Ariel's argument for American "homogeneity," I would argue that in America people are more open to "strangers." This has come at a social cost (see Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone) but it also seems to be an ingredient for economic growth.

Japan, South Korea, and Germany are textbook examples of the opposite approach or tendency, which has also worked very well. I would say that ethnic homogeneity there was a key ingredient. The post-war recoveries (or development) of these societies was based on individual sacrifice for the sake of the collective. People worked very hard and saved because they believed that their children (i.e., people ethnically like them - future generations) would be the ones enjoying the benefits.

So it seems to me that there are two distinct paths to go. As an immigrant/alien, I have to say that I am much indebted to two societies with great openness, which have allowed me unprecedented opportunities that I would not have enjoyed as an immigrant in other places.

Amos said...

Another thing. In the U.S., I remember a few years ago people were complaining about a principle of "diversity for diversity's sake" being embraced by elite institutions of higher learning. It is true that many of these universities prided themselves on their "demographic" statistics. But stripped of all the rhetoric, the universities' decision to attach importance to having a diverse student body was economically sound. Let me explain why.

If you have a country with a very diverse population, which you definitely do in the U.S., then you have to prepare students to capitalize on it. If you're an African-American banker, for example, and you don't "get" Fujanese Chinese immigrants in Lower Manhattan or Yerevan Armenians in Glendale, California, then you're either going to make bad loans to them or none at all. Either way, you're losing out big.

Nobody said...

@Amos

I was not equating your reasoning with "scientific liberalism". I quite agree with what you are saying about Japan/Germany and the US. I would take all the way to its conclusion and say that there is no universal success recipe in this sense. Some countries may be best served by constant migration inflows, in other cases nation state is the best possible, if not the only viable, option. And this is what I am saying to Israelis: There is no shame in having a nation state. Nation states have a lot to be said in their favor. If you can have a nation state, then go forward and have one. No need to ask for anybody's consent.

Amos said...

Yes, exactly right. And most Israelis are not ashamed. However, those who are tend to be people who command large audiences abroad. There is a weird distortion going on. Part of it has to do with the inordinate amount of attention Jewish intellectuals pay to themselves (also here in the U.S.) - i.e., to Jewish identity and the Jewish collective. I don't think there is a parallel to this complex in other groups. Because of this tendency, a lot of Jewish intellectuals start believing that the world's problems could be solved by removing reactionary or backward features of Jewish social organization.

Nobody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nobody said...

Regarding your point about immigration - the key is that some societies allow immigrants to develop their full economic potential. Others fail miserably at this - and here again I point to the homogeneous, post-war welfare states of Europe mentioned above. In these societies you will hardly ever see a successful immigrant. It might be changing slightly in the last 5 years, but until recently, "foreigners" either cleaned the toilets or owned restaurants and bodegas.

Regarding this point of yours I don't agree. I don't think that integration failure is necessarily a fault of host societies. I know that some groups such as Russian Jews and just Russians, Lebanese Christians, have no particular difficulty integrating themselves in Europe. They are not cleaning toilets or something.

If you are talking about Muslim immigration, then I attach a comment here I once posted on Nizo blog. The failure of European integration efforts have more complex reasons than just the lack of openness.

Nobody said...
The US went through two waves of Arab immigration. The first was almost entirely Christian and in fact I think 40% of American Arabs are Christians. The second came after the ww2 and was packed with middle class and wealthy people who were fleeing nationalizations of the Baath and Nasserists. Regular people who did not have money and education went to Europe which is a sea away.

In general the US is more selective in its choice of immigrants since it does not need new people while Europe is collapsing demographically and since decades is sustaining itself squarely by practicing demographic vampirism on a massive scale. (This does not mean that Europe is getting enough immigration to avert the incoming disaster. It does not get even nearly enough). This difference in selectiveness and a distance from the Middle East accounts for a very big difference in quality between the immigrations the two of them attract.

Amos said...

Hey Nobody,

Yah, it's an important point. I am of course aware of the distinction. Still, if you take, let's say some of the Turks who live in Germany. I think those same people, if they had started out in America, with the same skills and education even, would still have ended up in a much better socio-economic position than the ones in Germany.

U.S. immigration isn't really based on education. Of course, there are a lot of people who get in through the H1's, but family sponsorship is much more important. Then there are also the huge numbers of illegal immigrants, most of whom are not educated or wealthy by any means. They still do better than many of the immigrants in Germany or Denmark!

Another comparison would be Russian Jews (and non-Jews) who came to Germany vs. those who came to the U.S. Within a decade or two, the Russian Jews who came to the U.S. made it big (on average). In Germany, many are still living on social assistance or just struggling to get by. Their kids are doing a bit better, but it's nothing like the same generation of young people in the U.S.

There are lots of poor, uneducated people from Yemen, Pakistan, and other Muslim countries who came to Brooklyn. They're not exactly living it up, but I still think they're doing way better than Muslim immigrants in Europe.

Nobody said...

Americans are probably more open to immigrants. Many people say that. But I still think that the major part of the difference between integrations American style and European style is determined by the types of immigrants that are getting through. In this sense European immigration policies are based on nothing but scientific liberalism. For example it beats me why Spain, Italy and Portugal should have any other immigration than from South America. These are immigrants of a very similar cultural background, speaking the same or very similar languages. They would never try to bomb trains in Madrid or whatever.

As to Russian Jews in Germany, again the distance plays a big role here. To go to the US is a bit like a jump into the unknown. It's too far. Also Russian Jews know that Germany is a welfare state, while America is perceived as a land of opportunities. Occasionally within the same family people split and older generation goes to Germany to live on social payouts while the young people go to Israel or USA. This is how I actually know about this. Because I have a few friends who regularly go to Germany to visit their families. And they seem to be doing fine. They don't complain about discrimination or whatever. People are less open to immigrants. In terms of personal communication there are problems of loneliness and the stuff, but in terms of work or welfare they don't complain.

Amos said...

Nobody,

I also know a bunch of people with the situation you describe (split between Germany, Israel, N. America). In general, my sense is that the ones in Germany live well enough, either on social assistance or some job. But it's all kind of below their potential. One problem is that the German government settled them in small towns, often in economically depressed areas - at least that seemed to have been the policy at the beginning. The kids often end up going to Berlin or Frankfurt, and they do okay. Still, when I see the kids who grew up in say Toronto or New York or LA ... they are basically almost all superstars.

I think the immigration policies of those countries you mention are also mysterious. It's also partly based on some kind of colonial guilt, I imagine. The thing is that usually the reigning assumption seems to be that immigrants don't do anything productive...they're here for charity or because of war in their countries. My sense is that it's hard for a Spaniard or Italian to think of an immigrant to their country as someone who might be successful. Having said all this, I can't for the life of me figure out why the European countries don't adopt a Canadian-style immigration system. Sure, take a few asylum seekers as well, but come on...

Nobody said...

Amos said...
Nobody,

I also know a bunch of people with the situation you describe (split between Germany, Israel, N. America). In general, my sense is that the ones in Germany live well enough, either on social assistance or some job. But it's all kind of below their potential. One problem is that the German government settled them in small towns, often in economically depressed areas - at least that seemed to have been the policy at the beginning. The kids often end up going to Berlin or Frankfurt, and they do okay. Still, when I see the kids who grew up in say Toronto or New York or LA ... they are basically almost all superstars
.

The question is how much you can be a superstar in Europe in general. Say, today's article about France in the Economist claims that because of their sclerotic system unemployment persists at 8%, with unemployment among young people several times higher. Wage differentials are also significantly less than say in the US. Say, I know one guy who runs a TV program on German TV. A sister of my another friend is responsible for marketing vs Eastern Europe in a German company. Probably in the US they would be superstars, but in Germany they are just above average.

Anyway, my point is that I don't know actually about young Russian Jews cleaning toilets in Germany. Europe may be a less promising place for immigrants than the US, but it's still a long way to go to ending locked for several generations running in some banlieu. Europeans don't excel at integration, but still they could at least base their immigration policies on something that makes sense.

Amos said...

The question is how much you can be a superstar in Europe in general.Yah, that's a good point. I guess most people are happy with things being stable. That's probably more important to many than being a superstar. On the other hand, I've noticed that in some of these countries, there is this "anti-elitism" sentiment that actually thinks it's bad to be striving for "superstar." The author of that NYT article about the Dutch pointed this out. People there want to be "normal," in the sense of average. You see this in the education system too. They are very suspicious of things like gifted programs (at the kindergarten to high school level) or "elite universities."

Anyway, my point is that I don't know actually about young Russian Jews cleaning toilets in Germany.True. Actually, I know of some people with pretty good qualifications who are cleaning toilets in Israel...so I don't know.

Nobody said...

Actually, I know of some people with pretty good qualifications who are cleaning toilets in Israel...so I don't know.

I think it's over now. This is true that when "Russians" first came to Israel they were cleaning toilets and doing other shit. In fact, I spent a whole year living in tents and broken buses guarding "Mekorot" equipment in the West Bank. I spent a whole year in a company of Bedouins and their sheep. I've almost become a member of al-Atrash tribe. But I think it's absolutely over now.

Now if you talk to me about normalcy, stability and similar stuff, even though I am a free market, I am absolutely for this stuff. In fact, I was always arguing for trade unions managing the labor market in the same way the OPEC manages the energy market. Instead of bargaining about wages/prices, I would like Histadrut to control the supply of labor by manipulating the work week. Say instead of raising wages for a few dozens of thousands of Bezeq and Hevrat Hashmal workers, I would like to see the work week reduced to four days or a 6 hours work day. This would benefit just about everybody and spread benefits across the society by tightening the supply. It's a pity that I am not a politician or opinion maker. I could make life much easier for everybody

:D :D

Nobody said...

By the way, if you are struggling with the way the blogger treats html tags now, leave the last dot outside of the tag. This way the blogger won't mess new lines.

Nobody said...

From Nepal to Gaza

Nobody said...

Homo Pervatus

Nobody said...

Amalek and a hinge of history

Nobody said...

@Amos

Our friend has a new post. I thought you would like to check one of his links. I bet you will find it entertaining...

No wonder our search for consensus and internal stability is so elusive. At least, we're the only ones really trying, even if our model is far from perfect, or realistic. And so what if Nasrallah has missiles and Iran. Doesn't Lieberman have Tsahal, AIPAC, and a little more? I fail to see the core difference between those fine examples of Shiite tribalism and Jewish tribalism.

Source
.

Nobody said...

Source was actually this

Nobody said...

You know, during the last war Mustafa from Beirut Spring went back to "Israel wants to steal water from our Litani river" theory. One of his commenters, an American married to a Lebanese, who lived years in Beirut, said:

It is with great regret that I see that, given enough time back in the village, the most urbane, sophisticated, and educated Lebanese will begin spouting the same old conspiratorial claptrap that makes their discourse so ridiculous. I couldn't be more disappointed.

Believe me, it's not for nothing that I keep this entire comment saved in my email

:D :D