Palestine

The Ben Carson Show (Setting Star)

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson arrives to speak at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington, 3 December 2015. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP)

Start with the idea of a “Thing ‘Everybody’ Does”, but what it really refers to is a bit more particular and circumstantial, such as a thing every [fill in the blank] does; to further refine that we might invoke notions of sociopolitical empowerment in order to explain that the blank should be filled by some context of something every [not of the group] does when addressing the group.

For instance, the notion of something every white person does when talking to a black people; or something every man does when talking to women. It is a different actual something depending on the people, relationships, and circumstances, but the underlying device is the same.

To cross boundaries and show solidarity by insulting people in an inherently patronizing manner.

Donald Trump comes to mind, for instance.

Or the setting star of Dr. Ben Carson.

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition forum yesterday and raised a few eyebrows with his bizarre delivery, effectively reading a history of Israel for reasons no one could explain. He also kept pronouncing “Hamas” as “hummus,” making it seem as if Carson had very serious concerns about the influence of ground chickpeas in the Middle East.

But for my money, the really notable part about Carson’s strange appearance was his thoughts on, of all things, the $1 bill. ABC News reported:

Arrangement of stars on a United States one dollar bill often cited as evidence of a conspiracy theory regarding Freemasons.Addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition today, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson told a story about how the Star of David came to be on the U.S. dollar bill.

Only one problem: There’s no Star of David on the dollar bill.

Apparently, Carson believes that if you look at the back of a dollar bill―on the right, just above the eagle―you’ll see stars in a shape resembling the Star of David. The presidential hopeful told his audience yesterday about a wealthy Jewish merchant, Haym Salomon, who is believed to have helped finance George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War.

“Salomon gave all his funds to save the U.S. Army and, some say, no one knows for sure, that’s the reason there’s a Star of David on the back of the one dollar bill,” the retired neurosurgeon argued.

(Benen)

We might add that this bit about the Star of David on the dollar bill works its way into Masonic conspiracy theories, and pretty much rely on a presumed stereotype of evil, manipulative Jews.

You know, the whole “Freemasons run the country!” thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Ben Carson Show.

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Image note: Top ― Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson arrives to speak at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in Washington, 3 December 2015. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP) Right ― Arrangement of stars on a United States one dollar bill often cited as evidence of a conspiracy theory regarding Freemasons.

Benen, Steve. “Ben Carson adds the $1 bill to his list of off-the-wall theories”. msnbc. 4 December 2015.

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The Donald Trump Show (Typing in Stereo)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015.

“On Thursday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump delivered a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition in which he essentially praised members of the organization for being a bunch of Shylocks.”

Scott Eric Kaufman

Daring openings are what they are, and Scott Eric Kaufman of Salon delivers one that might well be, according to murmur and buzz, worth its punch.

Rosie Gray of BuzzFeed chose a more sober lede that pretty much makes the point:

Donald Trump repeatedly invoked stereotypes about Jews and money during a speech to a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting on Thursday.

Zack Beauchamp summarized for Vox―

The nicest thing that you can say about these comments is that they play on ancient stereotypes of Jews as money-grubbing merchants. The meanest thing you can say is that they’re outright anti-Semitic.

―and pointed to some social media reaction, including Chemi Shalev of Haaretz, who tweeted his critique: “The time that Trump spit on a Jewish audience and everyone pretended they were in a water park”.

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The Ben Carson Show (Phenomenon)

Source photos: Ben Carson announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, 5 May 2015 (Paul Sancya/AP). A biblical inscription is chiseled into the wall of Ben Carson's home, with 'proverbs' spelled incorrectly (Mark Makela/The Guardian, 2014).

Tom McCarthy tries to explain the Ben Carson phenomenon for The Guardian:

He is more than an American success story, brilliant brain surgeon and bestselling author of 10 Christian-themed books. He has also coined some of the most outlandish statements ever uttered on the national stage, a purveyor of bizarre conspiracy theories and a provocateur who compares abortion to slavery and same-sex marriage to pedophilia.

This week, Carson restated his belief that the pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain, and not by Egyptians to entomb their kings. He believes that Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Abbas attended school together in Moscow in 1968. He believes that Jews with firearms might have been able to stop the Holocaust, that he personally could stop a mass shooting, that the Earth was created in six days and that Osama bin Laden enjoyed Saudi protection after 9/11.

The Carson conundrum is not fully captured by a list of his eccentric beliefs, however. He also confounds the traditional demographics of US politics, in which national African American political figures are meant to be Democrats. Not only is Carson a Republican – he is a strong conservative on both social and economic issues, opposing abortion including in cases of rape and incest, and framing welfare programs as a scheme to breed dependence and win votes.

He has visited the riot zones of Ferguson and Baltimore but offered little compassion for black urban poor populations who feel oppressed by mostly white police forces.

Even Carson’s core appeal as a Christian evangelical is complicated by the fact that he is a lifelong adherent to a relatively small sect, the Seventh-Day Adventist church, whose celebration of the sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday and denial of the doctrine of hell have drawn accusations of heresy from other mainstream Christian groups.

That last probably plays more strongly with the British audience; in the United States, Christian is as Christian does; Dr. Carson’s penchant for false witness and exclusionary, judgmental scorn are his own ad hoc iteration of faith, shot through with neurotic self-contradiction as it struggles to justify his self-centered pretense of humility. If one seeks strangeness about the SDA experience in general, it is a different phenomenon.

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A Meandering Consideration of Absolutism

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, 3 March 2015.  (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

“Maybe it’s an unfortunate hallmark of contemporary conservative thought?”

Steve Benen

Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan offers an interesting consideration:

It’s looking more and more like Benjamin Netanyahu committed a strategic blunder in so ferociously opposing the Iran nuclear deal and in rallying his American allies to spend all their resources on a campaign to kill the deal in Congress.

SlateIf current trends hold, the Israeli prime minister and his stateside lobbyists—mainly AIPAC—are set to lose this fight. It’s politically risky for Israel’s head of state to go up against the president of his only big ally and benefactor; it’s catastrophic to do so and come away with nothing. Similarly, it’s a huge defeat for AIPAC, whose power derives from an image of invincibility. American politicians and donors might get the idea that the group isn’t so invincible after all, that they can defy its wishes, now and then, without great risk.

It would have been better for Netanyahu—and for Israel—had he maybe grumbled about the Iran deal but not opposed it outright, let alone so brazenly. He could have pried many more favors from Obama in exchange for his scowl-faced neutrality. Not that Obama, or any other American president, will cut Israel off; but relations will remain more strained, and requests for other favors (for more or bigger weapons, or for certain votes in international forums) will be scrutinized more warily, than they would have been.

There is, of course, much more to Kaplan’s consideration, including the implications of current Congressional momentum and the widening gap between the credibility of favoring and opposing arguments. Toward the latter, he notes, “Most criticisms of the deal actually have nothing to do with the deal”, and that’s about as least unfavorable as his critique of the criticism gets.

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The Rick Santorum Show (Papal Froth)

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in undated photo by Eric Gay/AP.

This is why we adore Rick Santorum:

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says he loves Pope Francis, but he wants the pontiff to stop talking about climate change.

Santorum, a devout Catholic, told Philadelphia radio host Dom Giordano on Monday that the pope should “leave science to the scientists.”

His comments come as the pope, who earned a master’s degree in chemistry before turning to the priesthood, becomes increasingly vocal about climate change. Pope Francis is preparing a groundbreaking encyclical to be released in the coming weeks that’s expected to make the case that taking action to fight climate change is a moral and religious imperative.

(Mazza)

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Your Lede of the Week

Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power.

“Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power said she received a rape threat as a result of her support for a Seanad motion recognising the state of Palestine last year.”

Órla Ryan

Our apologies. Normally we do a sick joke of some sort for the Lede of the Day. And while this certainly fits the bill for sickness, there really isn’t anything of a joke about it.

And let us also take a moment to dismiss the question of Palestine from this issue in any context that might be construed as what those wicked Israeli something or other whatnot but anyhow, you know? Because the truth of the matter is that human societies will invent any excuse to threaten a woman with rape. And while on this occasion we might find any excuse to wonder at the obvious question―“Really? No, I mean, really?”―there is also the obvious counterpoint: “Why not?”

For being a Muslim. For being a Jew. For being an atheist. For having an opinion. For dressing like that. Or for dressing like that. For being a bitch. For being a wife. Because she owes it. Because our team lost. Because our team won. Because her eyes said yes. Because her voice said no. Because she’s a woman. Because she’s alive.

Because Palestine is a state? Why not? It makes just about as much sense as any other reason we might think of.

Which, in turn, brings us back to the problem.

And who needs that part explained?

Anyone?

Oh, come on. It’s clear somebody, somewhere needs this explained to him, because otherwise this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

Easy enough?

Figure it out.

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Ryan, Órla. “Senator: I was called a Nazi and threatened with rape for supporting Palestine”. The Journal. 4 March 2015.

Full Color Horror

Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Palestine, taken 11 February 2015.  Credit: Mohammed Abed.

“Palestinians riding donkey-led carts cross through Gaza City’s Shuja’iyya neighborhood during a sandstorm. This neighborhood was among the hardest hit during Israel’s 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip last summer.”

Sami Kishawi

This is how Israel defends itself against the spectre of terrorism.

Any questions?

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Image note: Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Palestine, 11 February 2015. Credit: Mohammed Abed.

Kisawi, Sami. “Photo of the Week: Shuja’iyya still recovering from heavy Israeli assault”. Sixteen Minutes to Palestine. 19 February 2015.

The Buzzkill

‘Tis the season, but the season ain’t enough. A quick list of links to depress the hell out of you:

“I have a place I would like to take you where I hung your grandpa.”

Is this really how we do it in America?

• SOTU: Did you catch the part where President Obama made history? No, really, this is important, and comes on the heels of Eric Holder’s historic memorandum in December.

‘Oh, rascal children of Gaza’, by Sami Kishawi

• What does the phrase, “the eleven American nations”, mean?

• Something about “unequivocal support for law enforcement” goes here. And here. With an update here.

Yeah, sorry ’bout that. But do try to have a good day, anyway.

What It Comes To (Bibi-Boehner Mix)

Detail of cartoon by Cameron Cardow (Ottowa Citizen) via Cagle Post, 22 January 2015.

Sometimes we pass on a story not simply for basic matters of will―Do I really want to do this now?―but also because we doubt ourselves in the moment. Never mind. A paragraph from Jodi Rudoren of The New York Times:

The invitation to address a joint meeting of Congress to make the case for new sanctions on Iran came from the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a Republican. Mr. Boehner did not consult either the Obama administration or his Democratic counterparts, something several veteran diplomats described as unprecedented. The White House responded with its own snub, announcing that President Obama, who has promised to veto any new sanctions, would not meet with Mr. Netanyahu while he was in town.

And that, in truth, is where we dropped the story last week, mostly not bothering with it because while this is a fascinating chapter in the continuing Republican denigration of the American political system, it really did seem the sort of obscure thing that would have our neighbors wondering where we got this stuff and why we bother with such minutiae.

To borrow from a great American statesmanα: Oops.

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Palestine

Israel strike kills four children on a Gaza beach

This is how it goes:

Hamada Baker, 13, rests on the terrace of a hotel, after he was hit in the chest by shrapnel from an Israeli missile fired at a port in Gaza. (Islam Abdel Karim for The Washington Post)I had just returned to the hotel to type up some notes and file inserts on the day’s news when there was a large explosion on the quay at the port, a little after 4 o’ clock in the afternoon.

We could smell the charge. I wondered: Did Hamas just fire a rocket? But it was the sound of an incoming round. We saw a small fisherman’s shack on the quay, churning with gray smoke.

Then we saw a gang of kids running from the shack, down the breakwater and onto the sand, hurtling toward al-Deira. A couple of waiters, the cook and a few journalists started waving at them. Run here! Then a second strike landed right behind them.

The staff were yelling, “They’re hurt!”

WaPo: 'Our reporter witnessed the Israeli strike that killed 4 children on a Gaza beach"A half-dozen kids made it to the hotel. A young man also reached safety and fainted. He was bleeding from the abdomen. He was scooped up and carried to a taxi by a big, friendly bear of a bellman, room cleaner and night watchman named Mahmoud Abu Zbaidah.

Two young terrified kids were bleeding and injured, and they were quickly bandaged on the floor of the terrace, where guests usually eat skewers of grilled chicken, suck on water pipes and watch the sun go down. The kids suffered from shrapnel wounds, one to the head, one to the chest. They were treated by translators, hotel staff and journalists, who ran up to their rooms to grab medical kits.

On the quay, ambulances took away four more. They either died on the pier or at the hospital, I am not sure. The Gaza Health Ministry tweeted their names a few minutes later: Mohammed Baker, 9; Ahed Baker, 10; Zakaria Baker, 10; and Mohammed Baker, 11.

(Booth)

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