Blogs: Paul Pillar

The Safe Haven Notion

Iranians and Their iPhones, and the Futility of Sanctions

Netanyahu's Priorities and U.S. Responses

Paul Pillar

An additional possible explanation for Netanyahu’s non-response flows from the nature of the background condition: an occupation based on ethnic and religious distinctions between a dominant population that is in control and a subjected population that is the one under occupation.  It would not be surprising for members of a political movement centered on such a system to lose sensitivity over time to the dangers of other forms of prejudice and discrimination based on ethnicity or religious identity, including ones with a violent element.  In any case, this is not the first time Netanyahu has appeared to disregard legitimate fears, concerns, and interests of parts of world Jewry, on whose behalf he often claims to speak and act.

Any accounting of Netanyahu’s current priorities must take note of the domestic political fix he is in with multiple charges of corruption against him and his family.  There are reasons to believe he will not be leaving office any time soon.  Whether he does or not, the patterns described above are unlikely to change.  As long as he stays, Netanyahu is dependent on maintaining a coalition in which parts of it are even more extreme than he is on issues involving the occupation.

Meanwhile, Americans ought to be most concerned about compromises with American values, not just Israeli ones.  There is much to be concerned about in how the effort to maintain lockstep U.S. support and cover for Israeli policies has involved that sort of compromise.  This involves not just the Trump administration but the U.S. Congress.  A recent case in point is the reprehensible bill, introduced by Senator Ben Cardin and promoted by the lobby that works on the Israeli government’s behalf, that would subject to criminal penalties any form of support for peaceful economic boycotts authorized by the United Nations or the European Union and aimed at the illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories.

In the wake of the Charlottesville episode, old debates have been rekindled about limits to free speech and how much freedom should be given to hate speech.  There are reasonable and differing positions that can be, and have been, taken on this question in Western countries.  But we ought to be able to agree that it is unacceptable to outlaw speech that has nothing to do with hate speech but instead is only a form of criticism of policies that have themselves been determined by the international community, including the United States, to be illegal.  As we know from the history of the original Nazis whom the extremists at Charlottesville admire, loss of freedom of speech is a signpost on the road to power of movements that are truly hateful and extreme. 

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Detente in the Persian Gulf is in Everyone's Interests

Paul Pillar

An additional possible explanation for Netanyahu’s non-response flows from the nature of the background condition: an occupation based on ethnic and religious distinctions between a dominant population that is in control and a subjected population that is the one under occupation.  It would not be surprising for members of a political movement centered on such a system to lose sensitivity over time to the dangers of other forms of prejudice and discrimination based on ethnicity or religious identity, including ones with a violent element.  In any case, this is not the first time Netanyahu has appeared to disregard legitimate fears, concerns, and interests of parts of world Jewry, on whose behalf he often claims to speak and act.

Any accounting of Netanyahu’s current priorities must take note of the domestic political fix he is in with multiple charges of corruption against him and his family.  There are reasons to believe he will not be leaving office any time soon.  Whether he does or not, the patterns described above are unlikely to change.  As long as he stays, Netanyahu is dependent on maintaining a coalition in which parts of it are even more extreme than he is on issues involving the occupation.

Meanwhile, Americans ought to be most concerned about compromises with American values, not just Israeli ones.  There is much to be concerned about in how the effort to maintain lockstep U.S. support and cover for Israeli policies has involved that sort of compromise.  This involves not just the Trump administration but the U.S. Congress.  A recent case in point is the reprehensible bill, introduced by Senator Ben Cardin and promoted by the lobby that works on the Israeli government’s behalf, that would subject to criminal penalties any form of support for peaceful economic boycotts authorized by the United Nations or the European Union and aimed at the illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories.

In the wake of the Charlottesville episode, old debates have been rekindled about limits to free speech and how much freedom should be given to hate speech.  There are reasonable and differing positions that can be, and have been, taken on this question in Western countries.  But we ought to be able to agree that it is unacceptable to outlaw speech that has nothing to do with hate speech but instead is only a form of criticism of policies that have themselves been determined by the international community, including the United States, to be illegal.  As we know from the history of the original Nazis whom the extremists at Charlottesville admire, loss of freedom of speech is a signpost on the road to power of movements that are truly hateful and extreme. 

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Why the Adults are Not Reining in Trump

Paul Pillar

An additional possible explanation for Netanyahu’s non-response flows from the nature of the background condition: an occupation based on ethnic and religious distinctions between a dominant population that is in control and a subjected population that is the one under occupation.  It would not be surprising for members of a political movement centered on such a system to lose sensitivity over time to the dangers of other forms of prejudice and discrimination based on ethnicity or religious identity, including ones with a violent element.  In any case, this is not the first time Netanyahu has appeared to disregard legitimate fears, concerns, and interests of parts of world Jewry, on whose behalf he often claims to speak and act.

Any accounting of Netanyahu’s current priorities must take note of the domestic political fix he is in with multiple charges of corruption against him and his family.  There are reasons to believe he will not be leaving office any time soon.  Whether he does or not, the patterns described above are unlikely to change.  As long as he stays, Netanyahu is dependent on maintaining a coalition in which parts of it are even more extreme than he is on issues involving the occupation.

Meanwhile, Americans ought to be most concerned about compromises with American values, not just Israeli ones.  There is much to be concerned about in how the effort to maintain lockstep U.S. support and cover for Israeli policies has involved that sort of compromise.  This involves not just the Trump administration but the U.S. Congress.  A recent case in point is the reprehensible bill, introduced by Senator Ben Cardin and promoted by the lobby that works on the Israeli government’s behalf, that would subject to criminal penalties any form of support for peaceful economic boycotts authorized by the United Nations or the European Union and aimed at the illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories.

In the wake of the Charlottesville episode, old debates have been rekindled about limits to free speech and how much freedom should be given to hate speech.  There are reasonable and differing positions that can be, and have been, taken on this question in Western countries.  But we ought to be able to agree that it is unacceptable to outlaw speech that has nothing to do with hate speech but instead is only a form of criticism of policies that have themselves been determined by the international community, including the United States, to be illegal.  As we know from the history of the original Nazis whom the extremists at Charlottesville admire, loss of freedom of speech is a signpost on the road to power of movements that are truly hateful and extreme. 

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