The inability to condemn "our side" when they step over the line

OK, as long as I understand your particular definition for condemnation, we are in agreement. Nobody condemned Netanyahu.

An alternative formulation is that major Jewish American organizations are strongly opposed to Netanyahu’s recent actions. Do you disagree?

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Yes, the Haaretz article above listed some of them and there were others.

I agree with this and applaud their actions.I think that once the two-state solution was effectively no longer an option, it opened the eyes of people who had formerly trusted that a fair resolution was still a possibility. Once that option was gone, the demographics then dictated and it would be impossible to consider any alternative.

It’s been a generational shift as Israel under Likud and right wing ultra-nationalism has moved away from the values of younger American Jews and that is what is allowing a freer flow of discussion where it was once taboo to criticize Israel at all lest you be called an anti-Semite.

It’s always going to be a hot-button issue especially when it takes no great leap of the imagination to connect Sheldon Adelson to the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital and set the stage for the next “cutting of the grass” and attendant deaths of Palestinians.

Either America has a role to play as an arbiter or it doesn’t. Right now, it appears that we don’t and that is thanks to Jared Kushner and this administration because we no longer have even the appearance of neutrality; we’re indistinguishable in policy in the region from Likud.

Perhaps railing against Israel is not the right path when we should be working on our own representatives to use whatever pressure it can bring to bear to pressure the Israeli government to come to its senses but that would mean sanctions and I doubt that there is a political will for that.

Should they return to a sane approach, we can revisit this but, for now, they are determined to throw all caution to the wind and create an underclass of stateless people confined to refugee camps rather than incorporate them into the single state. I understand the demographic argument but it was the Israeli government with the approval of its citizens which has compelled this Hobson’s choice.

It’s madness but that’s what has always defined the situation there and the politics here.


I hesitate to enter this thread, but I wish to put in a link to what I consider an excellent opinion piece by an emeritus professor of history from Israel that was in Foreign Policy. It has relevance to the fraught conversation of this thread. I put in a short paragraph in case it is behind a paywall, but I think if you sign up you can get a few free articles per month. The author’s view is rather polemical and I think and hope that Enlightenment values within Israel are more resilient than he fears.

Not only does Israel collaborate willingly with this Trojan horse, which aims at destroying the fabric of the liberal values of the West, but it also sees itself as an integral part of this anti-liberal bloc.

Indeed, this is the natural place of an Israel dominated by a nationalist, occupying, and colonialist right wing that does all it can to efface whatever remains of the liberal principles inscribed in its unwritten laws and legal system since its inception. If Netanyahu—who earlier this week enthusiastically encouraged the violent right-wing extremist party Otzma Yehudit to join hands with his frequent coalition partner Jewish Home—is successful in the elections to be held in April, these liberal democratic remnants will be wiped out.


I was very conflicted about Al Franken. I saw his photos of the grabbing a run-of-the-mill comic sight gag. I didn’t want him to be driven out over it. But I wasn’t comfortable with defending him either. At the time, here in the Hive, I lamented that there were only two results in these cases: survival with no formal punishment or off-with-their-head.

I suppose that the GOP response is a long term dead end. But the Democratic response has been some excessive blood letting in my opinion.

Perhaps the problems in VA will force the Democrats to either stand-up for moderation or surrender VA to gerrymandering for another decade? The Northam controversy might possibly be weighted against both Fairfax’s situation and surrender of the state to the GOP for another decade. If it is, I hope that the realization that purity-at-all-costs is not a good working standard will prevail.


This complaint reminds me of the years during which we would hear people (some of whom claimed to be liberals) complain that Muslims weren’t doing enough to condemn terrorism. Any example that you could provide of a Muslim group that condemned terrorism was met with the response that the condemnation was inadequate, or “what about everybody else?” Individual Muslims, with no access to a public platform and who were simply living normal lives, were effectively lumped into this supposed population of Muslims who were supposedly not doing enough to condemn terrorism. The larger purpose of many people making the demands seemed not to be to build bridges, but to continually insist that Muslim people and groups were not sufficiently condemnatory of terrorism and thus could be, themselves, condemned.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media pretty much ignores or buries stories of peaceful protest in the Muslim world, internal calls for reform, and the like, because most people aren’t interested in those stories. Who is most likely to high profile press coverage, and spots on the talking head news entertainment shows? A person who claims to be a former Muslim or, better, a former radicalized Muslim who now recognizes that the religion is inherently dangerous.

In the context of Netanyahu, going back to his first administration (and probably before that administration) you can find people in Israel who advocated very strongly against Israel forming an alliance with right-wing religious groups that they viewed as inherently anti-Semitic. For those who are disturbed by the “alliance”, this is not a new thing – it’s a very long story, involving Likud’s willingness to bring fringe right-wing parties into its governing coalitions, and its recognition that it could place significant pressure on Congress by energizing right-wing evangelicals to advocate for Israel. Decades into that process, in that or any similar context, it seems that you are more likely to get a reaction of “Oh, not this again”, than one of outrage. This may be new to a lot of people, but to those who follow the conflict the reaction to the latest developments most likely reflects issue fatigue.

Compare the early responses to and protests of Trump’s excesses to what we are presently seeing. Two years ago we saw marches and protests. Now, for similar and perhaps at times worse conduct, many who might have once been outraged react with, “There he goes again…” You can’t stay energized about everything, all of the time, and even if you detest the “new normal” you are only going to spend so much time speaking about and condemning things that you know that you cannot change in the short- to medium-term, even if you hope for long-term change.

There’s plenty of room to criticize Likud and Netanyahu from their willingness to partner with anti-peace, anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim factions in order to gain and hold power. But there’s another side to that coin – the fact that parties that are otherwise more left-wing allow that outcome if the only alternative is for them to form a coalition government that includes Arab parties. Under Ehud Barak, Labor party coalitions included Shas and the National Religious Party (a precursor party to Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home, mentioned in the TPM article).

Arab parties are not perfect, but as compared to the right-wing factions they could be anticipated to enter coalition governments on relatively modest terms, and very well could become more mainstream by virtue of finally being given a meaningful role in government. But the fear is that most Israelis would not perceive as legitimate a government that could not be formed without a Jewish majority.

There was a third option for Franken – he could have gone through an ethics hearing process which would have been a poor mechanism for determining the truth or falsity of the allegations, would have kept the story in the headlines for months, and would have reached an outcome that would likely have satisfied no one.

Whatever one may think of the allegations against him, Franken ultimately did the right thing for the party.

I don’t think that the “off with their heads” faction is representative of the party at large, and it’s pretty clear that a majority of Democrats are not willing to simply shrug off stories of sexual or race-based misconduct.

But those inclined to scream “Off with his/her head”, from the moment an accusation is made don’t seem particularly receptive to the idea that any amount of fact-finding is appropriate, there is presently no good fact-finding mechanism that could be employed in most of these cases, and it would be extremely difficult to fashion a fact-finding mechanism that most would view as fair, let alone one that could impose a meaningful consequence if serious misconduct were confirmed.


I wasn’t complaining, but observing (well relaying the observation in the article). True, I take the position (along with many American Jewish organizations noted in the article from Haaretz) that Jewish Power’s policy positions are racist and wrong. AJC started out not commenting on the issue and then ended up adopting non-specific, formulaic criticism.

If Jewish Power is wrong, why was it so hard for AJC to get part way to saying it?

Likewise with the GOP and Trump. The anti-Trump GOPers have been ejected from that body politic. Why must the GOP not criticize Trump or stop his wrongful actions even when reports are that in private many take that position? Inquiring minds and such.

There is some sort of process in normalization, but I think that there is another process besides normalization. In highly divisive, highly charged environments, we seem to get stuck “on side” even when we don’t want to be there. Why is it so hard to have constructive “intra-conflict” in the presence of “extra-conflict”? Hard, but not nearly impossible, as the Haaretz article shows.

Until and unless that happens, the energetic “off-with-their-heads” crowd seems to command the floor.

As I previously intimated, whatever your intention may be, this smacks of arbitrary litmus testing to me. At what point is a complaint, criticism or condemnation going to be deemed adequate? You prefer a stronger word than “reprehensible”, but to many others that likely comes across as a pretty strong sentiment.

Do you mean the Republican Party? Nobody has been ejected. When Trump is finally gone, albeit in a claim that few are likely to find credible, some will certainly tell us that they have quietly opposed him the entire time.

That’s just politics, isn’t it? With the Republicans having a history of stronger party unity and more unified messaging than the Democrats.

It’s also different to ask why a component part of a party or government does not criticize that body or organization as a whole, as opposed to why an outsider’s condemnation is softer or harder than it might otherwise have been.

There is an aspect of human nature that causes people to choose sides, then disregard and potentially marginalize or demonize those on the ‘other side’, and to look for confirming viewpoints while discounting opposing viewpoints. So in that sense, anybody is at risk of becoming “stuck”.

The answer is going to vary to some degree by conflict, organization and context. But in an organizational or political process, the answer would seem to lie in no small part on retention of power and position.

Let’s picture a situation in which you have two political parties that (by action or implication) are generally in agreement about maintaining a status quo that is overtly harmful to another group. Let’s use, for example, the near 60 year period it took to move from Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal is constitutional, even though in operation it is inherently unequal) to Brown v. Board. During that time there were voices on the political left who advocated reform, but for much of that period they were marginalized within their parties and in many parts of the country would have risked losing their seats if they took too strong a stance for reform. So politicians within those parties must at some point weigh whether they will do more for the cause by taking a stronger stance that may cost them their seats, or working more quietly and privately while maintaining their positions in government.

In another context, you may have two political parties that are in disagreement about the status quo. Let’s consider the period after Brown v. Board, leading up to (and following) passage of the Civil Rights Act. Republicans who strongly opposed the Civil Rights movement would have recognized that to stay within their party, they would either have to be somewhat quiet in their criticism or be marginalized. Democrats who opposed the Civil Rights movement recognized that if they did not hit the mute button on their beliefs their only real option was to cross the aisle and become independents or, ultimately, Republicans. Strong pro-civil rights opinions could be expressed by Democrats, but if a Republican wanted to maintain his role within that party for other policy reasons, that Republican would understand that their speaking out against the party on civil rights issues could undermine their ability to keep that role.

For outside organizations, let’s imagine a hypothetical situation in which the NRA had a sharp policy dispute with the Republican Party. They might choose to moderate their criticism of the Republican Party not because they don’t see the policy difference as serious, but because if they alienate the Republican Party and its supporters they risk losing both power and influence. Similarly, let’s say that the organization found an issue where it wanted to take a principled stand despite the fact that its base was not on board – it might instead take a softer public stance in order to avoid the potential loss of membership. (The ACLU took a massive financial hit after it worked to protect the First Amendment rights of the Nazis who had applied for a permit to march through Skokie, Illinios – and that, despite their membership being supportive of civil rights and many years of trying to educate the public about the need to separate speech rights from your feelings about the speaker.)

They command attention, certainly, but they do not have the power to dictate outcome. Problems perhaps arise when they take umbrage that others don’t share their mindset, such that they respond to any suggestion of fact-finding or due process as being a defense of the accused or denial of the accusation.