What the world can do to help Palestine?

I believe the world should attempt to surge the capacity and competence of Palestinians in collaboration with Palestinians. Foreign aid should be conditional on difficult Palestinian reforms to establish a globalized neo-liberal economic system based on meritocratic hierarchies of competence and capability. As this happens, the Palestinians will have the leverage and influence to negotiate a deal with Israel on their own terms and many of Palestine’s other problems will take care of themselves. This FT article covers some of challenges in surging Palestinian capacity.

When Faris Zaher, a Palestinian Jerusalemite, graduated in Hong Kong with a masters degree and returned home at the peak of the financial crisis, he drifted for a bit, working in consulting and property, and starting a website for classified ads.

Then he hit on his big idea: a start-up travel portal catering to the $50bn market for hotel bookings in the Middle East. There was no regional competitor back then and with the web opening up the prospect of borderless business, the West Bank city of Ramallah was as good a place as any to set up.

Less than five years later, Yamsafer is one of the region’s largest hotel booking sites, according to its founder. It recently closed a $3.5m funding round in one of the biggest venture capital deals the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories have seen.

Yamsafer employs 70 people in Ramallah, a place where too many young university graduates are chasing too few jobs. “The people we hire are more hungry than people you would have hired in Dubai, Jordan or elsewhere,” Zahar, who is 29, told me recently.

The problem is, Yamsafer is the exception. When I went to Ramallah recently to interview businesspeople about young entrepreneurs — and expressly asked them to exclude the West Bank’s older billionaire tycoons — its name kept coming up.

There were a few others, including WebTeb, a health and medical information website; Batuta, a travel portal. But Palestinian high tech has no equivalent of blockbuster Israeli start-ups such as MobilEye, the disruptive “assisted driving” company, or Waze, the Google-owned navigation app.

What the Palestinians do have are a lot of business accelerators and incubators, some funded by aid money, others by the private sector. Bank of Palestine and Zahi Khouri, the Palestinian-American businessman who runs the local Coca-Cola franchise, are backing Ibtikar (“Innovation”) a fund raising $12m to invest in everything related to the internet, software or apps.

In the Gaza Strip, there is an accelerator with the wonderful name of Gaza Sky Geeks.

Foreign donors, led by the American USAID, see the online world as a boundless new domain that will allow enterprising Palestinians to metaphorically vault over the checkpoints, planning hurdles and other economic roadblocks and gainfully employ the region’s legions of university graduates. If Israel can conquer the world with its high-tech companies, the thinking goes, there is no reason to prevent the Palestinians from following suit.

Much of the Arab world’s current innovation in technology is indeed coming from the Levant. Jordan has a strong start-up scene that marries the kingdom’s cheap programming skills to the marketing expertise and rich consumer markets of the Gulf. “This area is providing a lot of the talent in technology,” Habib Hazzan, Ibtikar’s general manager, says. “We can see the innovative hunger; people have a drive to create new things and change.”

There is certainly enough goodwill from donors: not one but two economic plans for the Palestinians have been drafted, one of them using the conservative (and safe) assumption that the political status quo will not change. But stripping away the hype, Palestinian businesspeople and foreign advisers privately say the conditions for a serious start-up hub in the Occupied Territories are just not there.

In fact, the backing for incubators and accelerators, they tell me — though none will say this on the record — is producing an artificial bubble of demand. The problem is that there are simply not enough entrepreneurs giving their all, or burning the midnight oil. “Nobody is working as hard as if the company were their lifeline,” one seasoned observer of the Ramallah business scene told me.

Too few of the companies are able to execute on their business plans, much less scale up to the point of attracting private financing.

Is culture to blame? I doubt it. Consider Jordan and its scrappy tech companies: more than half of the kingdom’s population, after all, are Palestinians. In the West Bank, business people say, one of the main problems lies in education: the computer science and programming courses that do exist at schools and universities, emphasise rote learning over entrepreneurship and critical thinking. Institutions have been less enterprising than their world-class Israeli counterparts in forging foreign research architects. Then there is also the West Bank’s weak legal framework. Companies take a long time to get registered and parts of the corporate code date back to the days of British-ruled Mandate Palestine. Zaher says that Yamsafer registered in Delaware rather than Ramallah because local law does not define employee stock options or offer preferred shareholder rights. Investor protection guarantees, he says, are “flawed”.

But a bigger, perhaps decisive problem, is what economists call a “crowding out” effect, when government spending is so high that it stifles private initiative and investment.

The Palestinian Authority, the perennial interim government that has tens of thousands on its payroll, is by far the largest employer. With safe government jobs on offer, and no chance of peace with Israel anytime soon, why would anyone trade a paycheck for the risk and hard graft of a new venture?

I witnessed a similar phenomenon when I reported for the FT in South Africa a decade ago: there, the start-up scene was stunted because the post-apartheid transition pulled the most talented black businesspeople into government departments or listed companies seeking to fill racial quotas.

If the Palestinians and foreign donors want to create their own Start-Up Nation, they need to dispense with magical thinking around incubators and focus their minds instead on creating the political and regulatory conditions that will let smart businesspeople help themselves.

What are everyone’s thoughts on how to surge Palestinian capacity? Notice how many of Palestine’s challenges come from the brutal English policy of imposing modernism, marxism, structuralism, freudianism, post modernism, subaltern studies, and fabian socialism on Palestine. This imperialist, hegemonic, orientalist, exploitative English policy colonized the minds of Palestinians with inferiority complex and a lack of self confidence.

Israelis need to do right by Palestinians; and treat Palestinians with loving respectful kindness. Yet could it be that England has done far more harm to Palestine than Israel?

PS. I love Jews and Israelis!

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240 thoughts on “What the world can do to help Palestine?”

  1. Let Palestinians – both Fatah and Hamas- sincerely recognize Israel and it’s Jewishness , Israel will be quite happy and there are very good chances of peace between Israel and Palestinians. That is what Israel wants. In other words sincere appreciation and acceptance of the present day reality. That will defuse lot of bad blood and pave the way for a better Middle East

    1. This implies that Palestinians are blindly hateful of jewishness, and that doesn’t align with my experience. Theres quite a bit of shoulder rubbing between the communities in Israel, and I would give a bit of credit that theres some nuance in their anti-zionism that is not fueled by islamic demagoguery, not to mention the large christian subset that has even led the movement at times. Palestinians are quite a bit more liberal than I’d been led to believe by most media sources. That said, I’m not sure that in the best scenario it would translate to the same income levels of israeli jews, but nor would it for most of the worlds peoples and I’m not sure it has much bearing on one’s claim to statehood.

      1. I did not say/imply Palestinians are blindly hateful of jewishness; I said Hamas/Fatah has to accept Israel as a Jewish state and they are ready to recognize it sincerely . Hamas so far wants to destroy Israel and throw it’s people into the sea. Abbas reluctantly goes into negotiations – to get some foreign aid . Palestinian people are bankrolled by international aid to the extant no one has been No wonder they can have huge families of 9 or 10 children

        1. Palestinians have to recognize Israel as a “Jewish State”. NO. This is a Zionist talking point and I am disgusted to see it on BP. These kind of words make my blood boil. The Palestinians have recognized Israel. That is why they are only asking for the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. They are well within their rights to ask for their entire homeland back and for the Zionists to go back to Europe which is where they came from.

          The West Bank, E. Jerusalem and Gaza are Occupied Territory and have never belonged to Israel under International Law.

          As for Israel as “Jewish State”. Israel can define itself however it likes and that is not the Palestinians’ problem. But please remember that approximately 20% of Israel’s population are Palestinian Citizens of Israel (non-Jews) who did not leave (or were not kicked out successfully) during the Nakba. In a “Jewish State” they would forever be second-class citizens.

          Should India declare itself a “Hindu State”? This kind of thinking is just so disgusting, I don’t even know what to say.

          1. leopard,

            States should belong to all their citizens. That is my philosophical position. I have a problem with Jewish states, Hindu states, Muslim states whatever. I happen to come from a country which calls itself the “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan. I have seen how that country treats non-Muslim minorities.

            Israel has 20% citizens who are of Palestinian origin (In Israel they are called “Israeli Arabs” although they prefer to be called “Palestinian Citizens of Israel”). If Israel is a “Jewish State”, these people are relegated to permanent second class status. I don’t think that is defensible. You are free to disagree.

          2. “Palestinians have to recognize Israel as a “Jewish State”. NO. ”
            Then there is no peace in Israel’s neighborhood, and Arabs there will only be only on a downward spiral.
            If Israel is a Jewish state or India (in the off chance ) declaring itself a Hindu state makes your blood boil, how much should your blood have boiled at more than 50 countries in the world declaring themselves Islamic states . Your blood temperature should now be 10000 degrees.
            This is very Islamist thinking. Countries with large Muslim pops can declare themselves as Islamic states , but countries with large Hindu, Jewish or Christian pops can’t declare themselves as whatever they want to.

          3. Mr. Vijayraghavan,
            If you read my comments above, you would realize that I have stated a philosophical objection to any states declaring themselves religiously-based. My own country, the “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan has non-Muslim citizens and we all know that they are treated as second-class citizens. I am an equal opportunity critic. I am a citizen of the United States, a country which thankfully does not call itself “The Christian United States of America”. States should belong to all their citizens.
            Israel can declare itself whatever it likes when it moves back within its own borders. Even then, 20% of the population in “Israel Proper” is non-Jewish. This should not be a condition to vacate the Occupied Territory, which has never belonged to Israel under any applicable International Law. Don’t take my “Islamist” word for it. Read the relevant law for yourself. Do your research. Israel needs to get out of the West Bank and remove all Jewish settlers to Israel Proper. East Jerusalem (Al Quds) must become the capital of a Palestinian Arab State. If you don’t like that, there’s always the One State Solution. But given the demographic reality, if this state were a democracy it would be a Palestinian Arab State. Hence why Israel wants to have its cake and eat it too. There is “democracy” within Israel but also an Occupation of Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza.

            No decent person should be defending the Zionists. Especially as Palestinians are being shot on sight while you and I comment on the internet. The fact that you are still defending Israel says a lot about you and very little about me. I am not an “Islamist”. I am a fiercely secular person and I demand an apology for that smear.

            Israel was formed on top of Palestine. It was not a negotiated Partition as happened in the Indian Subcontinent.

      2. Kabir
        If the Islamist label does not fit you , then I apologize.

        I refer to ‘Islamist’ any PoV , which says wherever Muslims go Sharia is preferable/demanded, somehow Muslims in any country be given special privileges not available to others and which is (I mean equivalent) not granted to non-Muslims in Muslim majority country . If that does apply to you, no problem, I withdraw it.

        About Palestinians shot on sight, the Pakistani Army has done it. It sent an army under Zia Ul Huq to protect King of Jordan and they killed about 7000 Palestinians for the sake of foreign exchange. That was in 1968. After all whatever Israel is doing is for it’s very existence.

        1. I would also like to say taking a positive approach to Israel’s history or Israeli point of view and rejecting the leftist/Islamist narrative of Arab-Israeli conflict is a fair assessment, nothing indecent about. That is a calumny. That kind of moralistic judgement on complex international happenings is also to be withdrawn.

          Arab states actively co-operate with Israel whenever it suits them. Right now Egypt and Israel co-operate on rooting our Islamic State menace in Sinai and Saudis are cooperating with Israel is opposing Iranian hegemony in west asia. Jordan has co-operated with Israel for many years. would you all SA, Egypt and Jordan indecent ?

          1. If the Aryans originate from India; does that give the far flung Aryan nations a right to dispossess the Dravidians of the South and replace them?

            Just out of curiosity

          2. Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel in which Jordan renounced any claims to the West Bank and Jerusalem. The King of Jordan still has influence on things like the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

            Egypt cooperates in the blockade of Gaza, which is shameful. Don’t get me started on Saudi Arabia.

            Sorry, those who are anti-Palestinian (Muslim and Christian) are on the wrong side of History. It’s like supporting Apartheid in South Africa. Let’s leave it there. I’ve said all that needs to be said on the topic.

          3. Zack Zavid says:
            May 20, 2018 at 11:47 am
            If the Aryans originate from India; does that give the far flung Aryan nations a right to dispossess the Dravidians of the South and replace them?

            Zack, I cannot make any sense of what you are trying to imagine.

            Since Aryan is an English word which has some connotations – along with Aryan Nations, a US phenomenon – let us leave it out. If you ask Aryan Nations aka White Supremacists , their ‘South’ has no one speaking any languages of the Dravidian family. The ‘south’ of Aryan Nations has also English speakers and Latinos only

            If you mean Arya in India , they originate in India – not if they originate – since the sacred books of aryas contain no reference to any place outside India. There is no internal reference or even archaeological or historical reference to any dispossession of any particular language speakers. Arya lands are those where Arya vac is heard i.e. vedic ceremonies. They are there all over India.

            Rate of change in languages and language families in India is no different than in any other part of the world

          4. Zack Zavid says:
            May 20, 2018 at 11:47 am
            If the Aryans originate from India; does that give the far flung Aryan nations a right to dispossess the Dravidians of the South and replace them?

            Zack, I cannot make any sense of what you are trying to imagine.

            Since Aryan is an English word which has some connotations – along with Aryan Nations, a US phenomenon – let us leave it out. If you ask Aryan Nations aka White Supremacists , their ‘South’ has no one speaking any languages of the Dravidian family. The ‘south’ of Aryan Nations has also English speakers and Latinos only

            If you mean Arya in India , they originate in India – not if they originate – since the sacred books of aryas contain no reference to any place outside India. There is no internal reference or even archaeological or historical reference to any dispossession of any particular language speakers. Arya lands are those where Arya vac is heard i.e. vedic ceremonies. They are there all over India.

            About dispossession of language speakers , there is no historical record remotely approaching Arab or Spanish or English displacement of many languages when they conquered large portions of the world. Not even one hundredth of the violence of these historical changes can be seen in India. Persian of the Islamic Iran is far removed from the Persian of Sassanids , which was due to Arab conquest of Persia. Apart from language , Zorastrians became Untermensch and they had to convert or emigrate

        2. Thank you for the apology.

          Black September is a shameful incident and the fact that General Zia was involved is a blot on Pakistan. If you knew anything about me, you would know that General Zia is not one of my favorite people (That’s putting it very mildly).

          Shooting unarmed Palestinians who are technically still in Gaza is not for Israel’s “existence”. The fact that you think it is is very troubling. I would suggest you need to do some reading. It’s not my job to bring you up to speed on the Occupation of Palestine.

  2. With all due respect, the problem in Palestine is not the lack of “neoliberalism”. The problem is that Israel is stealing Palestinian land and murdering Palestinian people. Gaza is a prison camp. The West Bank is a bunch of Bantustans dotted with Jewish settlements.

    All this “neoliberalism” must wait for the Occupation to end. Get the Zionists out of Palestine and then we can address all these other issues. Right now, as you write this, Palestinians are being shot on sight by Israel, although they are technically on their own side of the prison that is Gaza.

    Anyone who can support Israel is either a Zionist or a person who lacks all human decency.

    1. Having children is an act of resistance to Zionism. I don’t think you get that. It’s saying “No matter what you do to us, the Palestinian people will continue to exist on our land”.

      1. At the largesse of the rest of the world and UN Commission of Palestinian Refugees which is funded mostly by non-Muslim countries.?
        The best help the world can is to completely forget them as an act of benign ignorance. Let Arabs take care them .

        1. I’m sorry, you are so clearly on the side of the world’s only remaining settler-colonial state? This is so disgusting. I am never going to engage you again.

          1. You can give Israel any epithet which pleases you. The fact is it is a sovereign , independent state which is a UN member and recognized by major countries , including Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan and they have a right to defend their border by any means and protect themselves from aggression from outside. It is just common sense , no big deal.

          2. I am on the side of UN tackling problems and spending money where it is needed and stop prolonging ‘Palestinian refugee’ problem since it has gone off it’s Sell-by-date many years ago.

          3. They have a right to defend their “border”. OK. But where is their border? Hello, the West Bank is not part of Israel. No one in the world legally recognizes it as such. (even if you do). Gaza is a prison and the Gazans protesting today are on their own side of the “border”.

            If you aren’t even aware of the basic facts of the situation, why are you spouting off in defense of Zionism?

          4. VC, what Palestinians are entitled to aside, is Israel entitled to any lasting peace? If I allow myself to be dispassionate about the conflict, which includes the alienation of Pals in their own region, can one not also be indifferent to the perilous existence of Israel? Just as it is suggested the world should leave the palestinian problem for Arabs to deal with, I’d say I hope that my government leaves Israel to clean up its own mess.
            The entire Zionist enterprise was a daring gamble, and even for realists who are willing to allow for “might makes right” logic, in this case where europeans jews occupied a country they had imagined connections to, one must also concede space for a legitimate resistance, even a very radical one.

      2. What did you say, woman? You do not want to bear children anymore? Will deal with you in a minute…

        (Turning to her lord and keeper)

        Brother Ahmad! Wallahi brother, did you not administer a corrective beating as we had discussed? Astaghfirullah! your third wife is getting kuffar ideas of having control of her pregnancy???

        How irresponsible is that? Fate of Palestine depends on her womb. Was she not taught the “resistance and Islam over individual choice” rule…

        Anyway, the diagnosis is clear. Your woman is LPC (Lack of Palestinian Culture) positive. But the good news is this is only stage one. No, no .. no nail-pulling required at this stage, brother Ahmad. She will keep all her digits intact to pleasure you…

        (chastened and sobbing Ahmad)

        Thank you, Sheikh Bandbajawi! We would be lost without NHS (National Hamas Service)… jazakallah khair.

        Rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, brother Ahmad. Remember, Al-Quran says: go forth and multiply Malthus jayay tail lenay.

        Not sure what secret code language the last 4 words of this prophecy are in. Scholars of all 4 maddhabs are at it in Al-Azhar..

          1. You aren’t a janitor and you aren’t funny. You are, in fact, quite ridiculous.

          2. Janitor quran says: Smite those who ridicule your faith, for there’s nothing less ridiculous, ye faithful, than the illiterate Prophet who hears angels in a cave and rises to the heavens on a winged horse!

          3. Janitor bible says: love thy ridiculous neighbour for you may look as ridiculous to him.

  3. Why should world help Palestinians? Tell me 2 good reasons why the world should it be giving more preference to wars in Africa or malnutrition or issues of slavery still going on . Why should the fate 700000 Palestinians who left he state of Israel in 1948 and their progeny should be bothered about when far more populations movements under far worse circumstances need not be bothered. Take India-Pakistan people movement itself during 1947-48. Sikhs are not demanding the Right of Return to where they born or from where they were driven out. So also Muslim refugees from India . Can Sri Lankan Tamil refugees – about 500000 – who had to leave SL due to ethnic conflicts , can they demand a Right of Return to Srilanka and their own possessions. In the aftermath of the second world war , there were probably 100 million people who were uprooted and leave the country of birth. The have been settled and the world is not helping them. In fact the Jewish movement post 1945 to creation of the state of Israel, I see it as part of post WW2 relocation of people. 700000 Arabs who left Israel in 1948 could easily have been absorbed the huge arc of Arab countries or even in other Muslim countries , if Umma has any meaning. No, they are left to rot so that a permanent sense of victim hood can be created.

    1. They didn’t “leave” Israel. They were ethnically cleansed from Palestine!

      Jesus Christ! It is 2018. Why am I still having to explain the Nakba and the Naksa to people?

      You Hindutva people are just anti-Muslim and on the side of the Zionists because they are anti-Muslim. Birds of a feather flock together.

      1. We can debate whether Arabs left or expelled or ethnically cleansed , the overall evidence is not clear cut . The fact is it was a war zone


        There are few good history series on those events

        The question is why should that debate /memory be given more importance than what has happened in the subcontinent, where far more people were killed and ethnically cleansed and what lessons can we learn . I could not care less what happens between Arabs and Israelis – that gives me a neutral PoV.

        To start labeling a complex piece of history – that too far away from the subcontinent – as Hindutva view is to refuse to learn anything new.

        1. I have extensively researched Palestine. It’s kind of condescending of you to think that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

          For example I have written this: https://kabiraltaf.wordpress.com/2018/05/12/goliath-life-and-loathing-in-greater-israel/

          And this: https://kabiraltaf.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/citizen-strangers-palestinians-and-the-birth-of-israels-liberal-settler-state/

          There was a Nakba. 700,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed. This is not a debate. The Israeli Historian Illan Pappe has written a book called “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” which you can read if you want to have an informed opinion.

          The main difference between Palestine and British India is that in British India the representatives of the Muslims (League) of the Hindus (Congress) and the colonial power agreed on Partition. Yes, it was badly handled but everyone agreed Muslim areas were going to Pakistan. Kashmir is a mess but that’s because it wasn’t part of British India. If it had been, the Valley would be Pakistani today.

          In Palestine, the Palestinian Arabs refused the Partition Plan. The Zionists said “So what” and took over anyway (and took over more than what the UN had promised them). You look at maps of Mandatory Palestine, of Israel in 1948, of Israel in 1967 and today and you see that Palestine has basically disappeared. You don’t have to like Muslims to recognize the great injustice being done to the Palestinian people. You just have to be a decent human being.

          You keep calling the Palestinians “Arabs” like they are some generic “Arabs”. They are Palestinians. Palestine belongs to them. My God, this level of Zionist bullshit is still being sold in 2018!

          And the fact that you go to YouTube for history lessons is just pathetic. Read an actual scholarly book for Christ’s sake.

      2. Looks like a long and painstakingly written comment of mind might have gone to the spam folder. I will be grateful if it can be retrieved from there.

          1. Thank you very much Zack.

            I think both you and Kabir are very nice people. But we clearly differ on many beliefs. The difference is mostly in how we interpret the world, its dynamics, the directions and accelerations of its constituents, not in the abstract ethical axioms I think.

            I am aware that I am a very limited human being, I have frequently been biased and wrong in the past (often my past views seem comical to me myself), and it is very possible that I am wrong now also. But each time I tend to go by what seems, according to my limited perspective, reasonable to me, even if that means writing outlandish-seeming stuff, at least until someone does the difficult task of actually explaining to me why I am wrong (which doesn’t happen very often, alas).

            I appreciate your tolerance of my expression.

    2. (Sorry, long comment follows).

      Tell me 2 good reasons why the world should it be giving more preference to wars in Africa or

      Let me explain why this is the wrong question to ask. It is insightful to study the outlook of our non-Islamist moderate Muslim friend Kabir here. He disapproves of both Muslim ill-treatment of non-Muslims (see his comments on Pakistan) as well as non-Muslim ill-treatment of Muslims (see his comments on India or Israel). The difference between these disapprovals was alluded to by you in one of your comments above:

      (i) In the former case, he clinically registers his disagreement; while
      (ii) In the latter case, his blood boils (also you are a Hindutvavadi Zionist and he is not an Islamist).

      My claim is that this is the natural attitude, and not the liberal one or the “genuinely equal opportunity” one that tries to calibrate the extent of angst in proportion to the extent of injustice. At this point I feel compelled to state: I am not trolling, I am dead-serious, and I will take some amount of time out to explain.

      Why do I say so? It is a given that we all prioritize our own lives more than others’. Issues that affect us personally are given far more weightage by all of us. This is true of you, this is true of me, this is true of Kabir.

      In practice, the world is mostly not run by impartial agencies or forces of justice, but by interest groups. Any justice is actually a happy coincidence that occurs when extant interest groups get to be aligned, as a primary, secondary or tertiary effect of economic development, in particular ways (as happens to a greater extent in western countries than in our countries).

      VC and most other people from a Hindu background, and almost all liberals, model their theories with an implicit bias in favor of the former assumption about world being run by forces of justice (which is entering their calculations without them realizing). This is why they are routinely biased in favor of theories that appear theoretically coherent on paper, and ask questions like “why should anyone…” above, as if considerations of “should” is what actually motivates people (everyone is trying to protect themselves). To be fair, this assumption is actually a decent map of reality in many western contexts due to what I mentioned in the above paragraph. In contrast, Kabir’s calculations are implicitly informed by the well-being of his primary interest group, namely Muslims. This is what works well in practice in most contexts.

      VC, just ask yourself why so many Hindus are more concerned about Palestinians than about Hindus in Pakistan or Bangladesh? The reason is that Muslim realpolitik gets their concerns a far wider hearing than the causes of other interest groups, namely, they get a vastly unparalleled cognitive capture.

      Since these claims might appear outlandish, let me try to illustrate the above points by means of some relatively recent (2-3 years) incidents in India.

      First consider the Kamlesh Tiwari incident. Kamlesh Tiwari was arrested for derogatory comments on the Prophet, and even after he was arrested, lakhs of Muslims came to the streets and protested – they were not protesting the arrest of course, but were demanding death penalty for him (one of the banners in the link above says: “Gustakh-e-Rasool ki ek hi saza sir tan se juda”). And they got away with this explicit call for violence.

      Now you might claim that this yet doesn’t show discrimination in favor of Muslims, so let me give the next example. A facebook post by a minor debasing Islam led to the Basirhat riots, and the Muslim riots led to the death of a Hindu individual, Kartik Ghosh. As before, the police arrested him (allegedly tried to book him as an adult but I won’t press this point as you won’t believe anything opindia says), and the rioting mob demanded as usual that the accused be handed over to them; being punished by Indian law enforcement is not enough.

      And none less than a BJP MP, Babul Supriyo, supported punishing the minor for that post. All those liberals who quote Voltaire, well, hardly even quoted Voltaire. Contrast with the minor-at-the-time-of-crime Muhammad Afroz of the brutal Nirbhaya rape notoriety, who was readily tried as a minor (now he is apparently out of prison and is working under a different identity [link]). How many Hindus rioted for his head?

      Indian media largely kept away from covering the Basirhat riots initially, and and started covering it the moment realized that they could rather focus on how Hindutva folks were communalizing the issue (so most of the time it would be Hindus who are blamed), never mind that it was a Hindu who lost his life.

      This is why Hinduism is on a steady route towards extinction in India: instead of the healthy moderate Muslim Kabir-like attitude of understanding how things work on the ground and actually lobbying for your interest group realizing that all successful groups work that way at least unless you are in a super-developed country, they want to show off their virtues and appear neutral, conforming to liberal principles. That doesn’t translate to neutrality on the ground, in fact it is against neutrality on the ground.

      It should be obvious to any child that in India, active lobbying of interest groups plays a big role in getting your way, and not quoting liberal principles. The latter is, in a suitable analogue of Darwinian terms, suicide. That is what happens when you ignore survival instinct in favor of your narcissistic respect-craving.

      1. I think you misunderstand my position so let me clear it up. Thanks for your patience.

        1) I don’t like religious states–any religious state (including the so-called “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan). I was raised in the US and I am an American. I believe that your religion should be kept in your house and outside you should act like a good citizen of whatever country you happen to live in. I respect everyone’s right to whatever they want to believe and I resent when their beliefs are shoved down my throat.

        2) At the same time, I recognize that religiously-based states exist. This is reality and yes, the Pakistani people have a right to define themselves however they wish, though this definition is not fair to non-Muslim Pakistanis. Civic nationalism would be better in my opinion.

        3) The Israeli people can define themselves as they please. The main difference though is that there is an actually legally recognized Occupation of Palestine going on. I don’t care what Israel does inside the 1967 lines (though they treat Palestinian Citizens of Israel in a shameful manner). But outside the 1967 lines is Occupied Territory. I don’t care about the Palestinians only because they are Muslim. There are many many Palestinian Christians (Jesus of Nazareth was the first one) and they are just as big on getting Israel off their land as the Muslims are. It’s a nationalist conflict between Palestinians and Zionists which is too often looked at as a religious conflict between Muslims and Jews.

        4) One can argue that there is an Occupation in Kashmir ( I would argue that). However, the UN calls Kashmir a Disputed Territory and not an Occupied Territory. Kashmiris vote in India. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza don’t vote in Israel. India has also not moved a whole lot of Hindus from other parts of India to go and live in Kashmir at state expense. Israel has moved Jews to live in the West Bank and they are heavily subsidized by the State. Kashmir is also a conflict between two sovereign nation states. The Palestinians are stateless.

        I would appreciate my religious views not being misrepresented in the future. I think any decent person should be on the Palestinian side, no matter what their religion. It is interesting that India is largely abandoning its previous principled position because Modi and Bibi are best friends and both hate Islam.

          1. Read the comment. But the short version is I am not a “moderate Muslim” (which is a stupid and meaningless term). I am a fiercely secular human being raised in the United States of America. I hate Hindutva, Islamism and Zionism. All are horrible ideologies. Majoritarianism is bad.

            I happen to be Muslim because I was born in a Muslim family. That’s pretty much it. “Cultural Muslim” is a thing.

          2. No no, that is not the comment at all. I explicitly refer to you as a moderate Muslim (as opposed to your claim that I say that you aren’t one); I not only call you so, but I also mean it, imply it, suggest it. I don’t say or sneakily suggest that you believe in any majoritarianism.

            If the word “moderate Muslim” is meaningless, you can replace it by an appropriate analogue; there is nothing negative about the sense in which I use it, whatsoever. And no disrespect.

          1. “Moderate Muslim” is ridiculous. It’s meant to imply that “Muslims” without the adjective in front of it are extremists. We don’t talk about “Moderate Christians” or “Moderate Jews”. Think about why that is. We don’t talk about “Moderate Hindus” as if “Hindu” by itself means Hindutva. We are very careful to say normal human beings who happen to be Hindu vs. Hindutvadis.

            I would prefer that people please stop focusing on my religion and engage with the actual ideas. Thanks.

          2. That’s another good point – what are your thoughts on the word Islamist?

            My Egyptian-American friend once told me that there isn’t a word for Judaist or Christianist; the terminology simply doesn’t exist for that sort of thinking.

          3. Zack,

            I think “Islamist” used in the narrow sense as in someone who believes in Political Islam is fine. Then it has equivalents. “Judaist” is not a word, but Zionist is. Hindutvadi would be the Hindu equivalent of Islamist. The Christian equivalent would be Evangelical.

            When you use “Islamist” to talk about people before the 20th century is where we run into problems. It is in this sense that the word is often misused on BP to talk about certain Mughal Emperors….

          4. “Moderate Muslim” … It’s meant to imply that “Muslims” without the adjective in front of it are extremists.

            I think this is false. I certainly did not imply it that way (though, given that you accused VC of hating Muslims and claimed that he was a bird of the Zionist feather and did not apologize in spite of VC apologizing to you, I don’t expect you to trust me.)

            Here is my theory about the word: The word quite possibly comes liberal tendency to claim that Islamist terrorism is usually the consequence of harming Muslims one way or the other, and the solution lies in more dialogue with the Muslims. If you want a republican to have a dialogue with Muslims, this word is a tool of persuasion to help the republican subconsciously sweep aside deep seated misgivings from a fraught cultural context, egging him on to try the experiment for once.

            The word “moderate Hindu” then never gets used because no one wants dialogue with Hindus to hear them out.

            The use of the phrase “moderate Muslim” doesn’t mean that the remaining Muslims are extremists, any more than saying “I May Be Poor, But My Heart is Rich” means that poor people generally have a poor heart. Certain turns of the phrase don’t evolve in a way the most catchy reverse-engineering suggests.

          5. froginthewell,
            It’s not about you. I find the term “Moderate Muslim” very annoying. Forget about Hindus for a second. In the US, most people are (nominally) Christian. If asked to describe their religion, they would say they were Christian, not “Moderate Christian”. If we want to take about “extreme” Christians, we say “Evangelical”.

            There is this assumption that someone who says he is simply a “Muslim” takes every word of the Quran literally. So to describe actual people whom White people may actually be friends with, we talk about “Moderate Muslims” or “non-practicing Muslims”. As if it is the practice of Islam–not particular fundamentalist interpretations of it– that is the problem.

            Anyway, I don’t want to discuss Islam any more. We get quite enough of that in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

            As for VC, since he is still finding some way to defend Israel shooting unarmed protestors on sight, I don’t really see the need to apologize for anything. The Palestinian cause is a red line for me (and it’s not because of their religion). It’s simply not done to support an Occupying Power against a stateless population.

          6. “As for VC, since he is still finding some way to defend Israel shooting unarmed protestors on sight,”

            Kabir , I am taking a longer term view of the Arab-Palestinian issue and not just what happened in the last few days. From the beginning Arabs have refused any compromise on Israel and wanted to annihilate Israel. In 1948, the UN asked for a 2 state solution which Pals /Arabs refused. During 1968 War, when the Arabs were making warlike noises against srae, Israel asked Jordon to keep out of the conflict with the promise that Jordan will be left alone. Jordon joined the Arab-Israeli war and lost East Jerusalem. If East Jerusalem had been under an arab government , that may have mitigated some feelings of dispossession. After they lost 1973 war Egypt and Jordan decided to make peace with Israel. Jordan gave up authority over West Bank . From the 1990 , after the fall of USSR which was the ultimate guarantor of leftist thinking, most nations including India decided for full diplomatic relations with Israel, it was not BJP government which did it. If you have full relations with any country , you make use fully of the relationship for whatever it is worth ; that is what Modi is doing – Modi is not ashamed of approaching any country which India has recognized – that is fair and normal . There is no “Hindutva thinking” or anti-Muslim sentiment in it. Whether India-Israel rapprochement will ultimately benefit India , that history will decide. As in any business or politics , there are always risk and ultimate success cannot be guaranteed. There is nothing anti-Muslim in it. Wherever it has suited them , all Muslim countries have co-operated with Israel. In the UN, Musharraf was asking Israel not to attack Pakistan (i.e. nuclear facilities) – strange you are asking favours from a country which in your books does not exist.

            As to how far Israel caused the needless death of Palestinians , I don’t know. Hamas has a history attacking Israel with rockets, digging tunnels into Israel for attacks, kdnap people , etc. They have also been inciting and leading ordinary people to ‘March into Israel’ knowing fully well such a move will only cause untold casualties for Pals from Israeli military .

            Israel is a very small country with a population less than Karachi or Lahore. Pre-1968, their shortest width was 15 miles – so you can understand their vigilance and strategic thinking in not giving any quarter to those who wish for their destruction . That is why they are proactive in their defense.

            Jews have not escaped from Nazi gas chambers to be made mince meat by Arabs or anybody.

            Middle-east is a rough neighborhood, where you are killed or kill.

          7. VC,
            Perhaps you should realize that History starts before 1948. European Jews had no business on Arab land in the first place. Even if they wanted to live there, they could have lived as guests like normal people. (There were Jews living in Palestine always but they lived with the local population. They did not attempt to displace the local population). But no, they wanted to take the whole place over. Would you meekly accept people like that in your home? Palestinians were not the ones who caused the Holocaust. There should be a “Jewish State” in part of Germany. Not on Arab Palestinian land.

            I can see there is no changing your mind. You will defend the Zionists and I will defend the Palestinian people. History will show who was on the right side. Let’s quit while we are ahead.

          8. “You will defend the Zionists ”


            I am not defending Zionists , they don’t need me at all for their defense and I don’t defend anything other what I see as an unfair attack on India.. Zionism predates state of Israel . I am only finding the rationale for a UN Member , Israels’ actions and they have been consistently rational so far. I do resent so much of world’s attention gobbled by Israel which it does not deserve . If Israel had not come into being, I would have not bothered about it.

      2. thanks for taking the time to articulate these ideas. this may not speak directly to them, but i feel it deserves emphasis that correlating subcontinental muslim group behavior (with which many here have more experience) to other regions can be misleading. I’m quite certain that palestinian muslims feel greater commonality with all levantine and possibly also chaldean/assyrian/coptic christians than they do to muslims from south asia and beyond.
        The type of uncompromising in-group loyalty that indian muslims have is not unique if we see them as a caste. In fact, in highly colloquial contexts in south india i’ve seen that “muslim” is often perceived as just another caste with its own peculiarities. That is changing of course with the salience of distinct religious costume. Needless to say, most hindus reserve this uncompromising loyalty to their jati (extended clan) but not to hindus at large.

        1. Anecdotally close to where I live there is a large university that has many foreign Muslim students. What’s interesting is how all the Muslim students (from turkey, Arabistan etc) coalesce into one group with a common Muslimesque identity, interested in football speaking English as a second language and common passion (white/light women).

          I haven’t seen many Asian Muslims in that group but this is simply observational since a few of these kids work for me.

          Finally what is interesting is post 9-11 is how British Muslim identity is rapidly supplanting British Asian one. It’s a bit sad but very observable; in a white Britain we were all Asian, in a diverse Britain there are now two very discrete blocks ..

          1. I would tend to agree with Zack. There is a distinct “Muslim” identity. In my University in the US, we had a Muslim Students Association, a Pakistani Students Association, an Indian Students Association and a South Asian Students Association.

            The MSA did Eid and Ramzan and Namaz and things like that. I stayed far away from them. The PSA did Eid and Ramzan and other “Pakistani” things. ISA was also quite parochial and since I’m not an “Indian” they didn’t want me. The South Asian Students were the coolest of the lot, doing Bhangra and Garba. Those were my peeps. Personally, I identify with my culture (shalwar kameez, Hindustani Music, Urdu) much more than with my religion. But I am aware that I am not the typical Pakistani.

          2. Your culture is rooted in a distinctly Indo-Islamic ..

            The approach to Pakistani identity is a bit like the King Solomon story and the baby; can you really severe Indic and Islamic when it comes to Pk

          3. It is better that British Muslims are identified as such . so far things Rushdie witch hunt or Grooming Gangs of White girls, it was mostly Pakistanis – but the media had to refer them as ‘Asians’ which is a meaningless word since there is so much divergence. This was fueling British backlash against all immigrants which was unfair

          4. Zack, the culture is rooted in an Islamicate civilization. That is true. As for what that has to do with following the religious rituals: IMHO, not much.

  4. Palestinians suffered a great injustice. There have been many injustices in the world. Most injustices remain un-redressed. There are few people in the world whose blood boils at the extinction of Tibetan statehood, culture. They know China is a monolith, near-superpower who is unswayed by wailing and gnashing of people around the world. Meanwhile China treats it Muslim minorities most atrociously. One can argue that it treats them worse than Israel does to West Bank Palestinians. However, blood of Muslims in China’s house slave Pakistan seem to remain very cool with all these news about Muslim minorities in China.

    1. Exactly. Blood boils are selective , directed by power holders in each country. Yemen is relentlessly bombarded by other Arab countries with even more disastrous consequences than Gaza , yet it is out of the radar . You don’t want to displease Saudi Arabia .

      1. I am sorry for uncalled for sniping at Pakistan in my original remark. That was not appropriate in this context. However, the point remains.

        I too feel indignant at Israelis. They flout common understood norms of democratic society with little regard but at the same time want to claim their place in the ranks of civilized democracies.
        However, Palestinians and Muslims should know what is realistically possible. Israel will never agree to a two state solution with full sovereignty because they feel (quite rightly) that their small country will then face great security peril. They will also not agree to one state with equal votes because that will mean Palestinians taking control of the state. Israel will keep on maintaining the status quo indefinitely. Most of the world (West, Russia, China) will support them in that.

        I do not know what Palestinian leaders tell their people about realistic prospects. I do not think they really tell them about the state of the world.

        1. The Status Quo is not sustainable.Either a state of Palestine exists in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem or Palestinians will start demanding civil rights in “Israel”, effectively ending Israel and turning it back into Palestine as it was always meant to be. Separation is best for Israelis as well.

          Increasingly, US Jews are getting frustrated with Israeli actions. Progressive except for Palestine is not going to be a thing much longer.

    2. Shafiq, I am surprised to see the number of smart classical liberals (now you) who say the loss of “Tibetan culture” matters.

      For the record, I personally think Tibetan Buddhism is a very, very intelligent religion (far more intelligent and insightful than all atheist philosophy put together in my view), but it also seems to have been extraordinarily oppressive. For instance, I have read that the Tibetan population had been declining due to excessive emphasis on monasticism, and that some huge percentage of Yak butter produced by Tibet was simply used to light lamps in temples.

      I should confess that I haven’t really fact-checked these claims as the issue is not of that serious a concern to me. But if this is true, it would appear that PRC has done a huge favor to the Tibetans.

      What are the perceptions on the Uyghur and Hui problems in the “Muslim world”? Is the former treated as an ethnic or religious issue?

      1. froginthewell, Tibetan Buddhism is a part of Sanathana Dharma and has had representation in Hindu bodies for thousands of years. This is something I have studied deeply. At least three of the four great masters who founded the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism are dual hatted. Meaning Hindus revere them as great Shaivite Siddha Naths. There is a reason Hindus demanded that India support the Dalai Lama. Nehru was pressured by Indian public opinion to support Tibetan Buddhists more than he was comfortable with.

        There is a connection between Shaivite Siddha Naths, Tibetan Buddhists and some Sufi masters. This has frequently been used to justify the genocide of millions (maybe tens of millions) of Sufis by Islamists.

        Have you ever wondered by the RSS use to sponsor Sufi conferences in 1947? The RSS remembers and honors their old connection.


        Uyghur and Hui are frequently brought up by Islamists (AQ, Pakistani Taliban, Daesh)

        1. China does not allow the Uyghur to practice their religion, forbidding them from fasting during Ramazan, growing beards, using “Muslim” names etc. Of course, Pakistan isn’t going to complain, being China’s “higher than the mountains and deeper than the oceans” friend. We and the Chinese both despise India and that brings us together. Never said we aren’t hypocrites.

          Now that we depend more and more on CPEC, we will never question anything our master does. Sad but true.

        2. Whoa, that connection between Nath Sampradaya and Tibetan Buddhism is really really awesome. I had no clue! I always considered Tibetan Buddhism to be of predominantly Bengali origins. Thanks a lot for this.

          Do you have a good essay to read up on this (I do see lots of connections as I follow up, but these are sporadic, and one consolidated scholarly reference would be good)? I am also not able to find a reference for your assertion on “At least three of the four great masters who founded the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism…”

          1. froginthewell,

            I might write such an article on Sufi/Shaivite/Tibetan Buddhist connections. However, I hesitate to make mistakes and be corrected by Shaivite and Tibetan Buddhist scholars and spiritually evolved persons. You might have to wait for this.

            There is the added problem that Islamists can read an open blog and I don’t want to put Sufis under any more assassination risk than they are already in. [I think this is slowly improving.]

            There are six major Shaivite Nath lineages. Nath Sampradaya is one of them. Some masters are common among many or all six Shaivite orders.

            Among the dual hatted Siddha masters are:
            -Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava)
            -Marpa Lotsawa

            From a certain point of view all four schools of Tibeten Buddhism are founded by dual hatted Siddha masters. But I would rather verify this with Tibetan Rimpoches before asserting this to be true. So for now I would only claim that three of them are.

            Please see:

            Strange that it took me so long to collect information that today any ten year old girl can easily learn on her own from the internet.

          2. So for now I would only claim that three of them are.

            Sorry, which three? I am not able to see the Nath connections from your rigpa links (which are very interesting, by the way).

            I liked many of the names in the first list for their sense of humor, especially “7 ཀངྐཱ་རི་པ། Kaṅkāripa Kangkaripa The Lovelorn Widower” and “10 ཙཽ་རངྒི་པ། Cauraṅgipa Chauranggipa The Dismembered Stepson” LOL.

            Edit: And more:

            35 ཀུ་ཙི་པ། Kucipa Kuchipa The Goitre-Necked Yogin

            61 བྷི་ཀྵ་ན་པ། Bhikṣanapa Bhikshanapa Siddha Two-Teeth

            77 དཱ་རི་ཀ་པ། Dārikapa Darikapa Slave-King of the Temple Whore

            80 ཀོ་ཀི་ལི་པ། Kokilipa Kokilipa The Complacent Esthete (we have a lot of them today!)
            84 བྱཱ་ལི་པ། Vyālipa Vyalipa The Courtesan’s Alchemist

            A lot of things about India I don’t seem to find in Sanskrit literature, a whole treasure trove of those things, can be found in Buddhist literature referring to India, often from other countries.

  5. China is not a near superpower. China “IS” a superpower. China has a larger economy than America. China will soon have more billionaires than the US.

    Perhaps in the future an article can be written about how awfully terrible Arabs and muslims mistreat and abuse Palestinians. Jordanians treat Palestinians best; but even that is subpar. By contrast America, Canada and Chile treat Palestinians well (about 500 K Chilean Palestinians).

    Chile (the Asian Tiger of Latin America) has greater similarity with Israel than almost any other country in the world; albeit Chile has lower marginal tax rates, is more free market, more pro business, more pro globalization. OECD member Chile is the only sizable developed country in Latin America (unless someone considers Panama to be sizable).

    My hope is that Chile’s, Canada’s and America’s example inspires Israel to treat the 22% of her citizens that happen to be non Jewish Arabs better. And inspires Israelis to treat Gazans and West Bank Palestinians better.

    Kabir, half of all Israeli citizens are Arabs. Remember the Jewish Arabs. In 1947 the largest Jewish city in the world was Baghdad, followed by New York. The Arabs need to apologize for committing hate crimes and crimes against humanity against their own people; their beloved Arab Jews.

    One of the most fascinating comments is:
    “Zack Zavid says:
    May 20, 2018 at 11:47 am Edit
    If the Aryans originate from India; does that give the far flung Aryan nations a right to dispossess the Dravidians of the South and replace them?

    Just out of curiosity”

    Arya is as Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita by Karma (action), not by Janma (birth). Many nominal Hindus do not represent Arya Bharatiya culture. And many foreigners do.

    Examples of foreigners that represent Arya culture are:
    Russell Brand

    Farhan Qureshi

    South Indians embody Arya culture better than any other Indians; albeit South Indians have challenges too.

    Arya culture has a high concentration of seekers after the truth. And a few superhumans–those who have achieved some hint of self actualization/self realization/freedom/salvation/liberation/enlightenment/Nirvana. Masters similar to Enoch, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, Mohammed pbuh, Fatima, Ali, other eleven Imams, Sufi Pirs, Báb, Bahá’u’lláh, Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad.

    1. Most people talk only about Arab exodus from Israel. Around the same time 700,000 Arab Jews from Maghreb to Iraq were expelled or fled . Jews had to face anti-semetic riots in many Arab cities
      in a sense it was a population transfer of Arabs and Jews much like Greek and Turkish population exchange in 1921 from present day Turkey and Greece after the chaos of the 1st world War.
      Hundreds of millions people have been made homeless and driven from their lands in 2 world wars , yet all those displaced people have been resettled and forgotten.

    2. Arabs don’t need to apologize for anything. When Israel was created, the Mizrahi Jews moved there. All the problems begin with the existence of Israel. There is no excuse for them to be there in the heart of the Arab Middle East. I am disgusted by people like you who try to equivocate on this issue.

      Israel systematically alienated Mizrahi Jews from their own language and culture. Data shows Mizrahis are more racist about Palestinians than Ashkenazi Jews. Cognitive dissonance and internalized racism live.

      Never defend Israel to me while they kill the Palestinian people every day. That is beyond disgusting.

      1. “Never defend Israel to me while they kill the Palestinian people every day. That is beyond disgusting.”

        Which commentator is endorsing Israeli misdeeds against Palestinians? Which commentators are endorsing settlements?

        I don’t like calling Jews racist, Arab Jews most of all. Fidel Castro called Jews the most oppressed people in the history of the world. And Fidel might be right:

        “He began this discussion by describing his own, first encounters with anti-Semitism, as a small boy. “I remember when I was a boy – a long time ago – when I was five or six years old and I lived in the countryside,” he said, “and I remember Good Friday. What was the atmosphere a child breathed? `Be quiet, God is dead.’ God died every year between Thursday and Saturday of Holy Week, and it made a profound impression on everyone. What happened? They would say, `The Jews killed God.’ They blamed the Jews for killing God! Do you realize this?”

        He went on, “Well, I didn’t know what a Jew was. I knew of a bird that was a called a ‘Jew,’ and so for me the Jews were those birds. These birds had big noses. I don’t even know why they were called that. That’s what I remember. This is how ignorant the entire population was.”

        He said the Iranian government should understand the consequences of theological anti-Semitism. “This went on for maybe two thousand years,” he said. “I don’t think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims. They have been slandered much more than the Muslims because they are blamed and slandered for everything. No one blames the Muslims for anything.” The Iranian government should understand that the Jews “were expelled from their land, persecuted and mistreated all over the world, as the ones who killed God. In my judgment here’s what happened to them: Reverse selection. What’s reverse selection? Over 2,000 years they were subjected to terrible persecution and then to the pogroms. One might have assumed that they would have disappeared; I think their culture and religion kept them together as a nation.” He continued: “The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust.” I asked him if he would tell Ahmadinejad what he was telling me. “I am saying this so you can communicate it,” he answered.”

        1. I don’t care what happened before the Nakba. I don’t care about what happened to Arab Jews (mostly as a result of the creation of a “Jewish homeland”). There is absolutely no excuse for the continued Occupation of Palestine and no excuse for unarmed demonstrators who are still in Gaza to be shot on sight by snipers in Israel. If you read this entire thread Mr. VC justifies Israel’s actions over the last few weeks as “protecting their border”. First, there cannot be a “border” between Occupied Territory and the State Occupying that territory. Second, nothing will ever justify shooting unarmed protestors. This is sick.

          Do some research. Mizrahis hate Palestinians more than Ashkenazis do. OMG, people it’s 2018. Please wake up to reality!

          1. Kabir :Mr. VC justifies Israel’s actions over the last few weeks as “protecting their border”.First, there cannot be a “border” between Occupied Territory and the State Occupying that territory


            Israel is not occupying Gaza now; under Oslo accords Gaza was returned to Palestinians. All Israeli settlements in Gaza were removed in 2005 to the utter consternation of the Jewish settlers and handed to Palestinians. So, the latest Hamas move is to overrun 1967 borders by sending hordes of people to jump over it.

            Mahatma Gandhi has no takers there ; so don’t expect non violence from either side.

          2. V.C.Vijayaraghavan, many Palestinians (and Hamas) believe that Palestinians have the right to move to Israel, become Israeli citizens, go to Israeli schools/universities, get Israeli jobs, own Israeli businesses. By which I mean Israel proper, not Gaza, West Bank, East Jerusalem.

            The Gazans are trying to cross the border to become Israelis. Israelis do not agree that Gazans have the right to become Israeli citizens. Hence the IDF has been ordered to prevent Gazans from crossing into Israel proper.

            This is a clever tactic by Hamas, since most Palestinians (West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Gulf) want to become Israeli citizens.

            The equivalent is Mexicans demanding US citizenship and crossing the border in mass. Or Bangladeshis demanding Indian citizenship and crossing the border in mass. The Bangladeshis actually do this.

            This issue of “right of return” to Israel proper is independent of any peace treaty between Palestine and Israel based on 1967 borders and wouldn’t be resolved by a peace treaty between both sovereign nations. Palestinians and Israelis have almost completely agreed on the borders between their nations on several ocassions. What held up the peace agreeemnent was Palestinian insistence on right of return to Israel proper versus Gaza/West Bank/East Jerusalem. The Arab League and OIS refused to give the Palestinian Authority cover to renounce right of return. Any peace treaty on those terms would start a major Palestinian civil war as well as a war between Palestine and the Arab world/global Islamists. The Palestinian Authority and Palestinian National Security Forces (NSF) felt they couldn’t militarily win such a war.

            Can we do a poll on Brown Pundit?
            Who thinks that all Palestinians have a right to move to Israel propper and become Israeli citizens?
            Who does not?

            My solution is the two trillion dollar solution. The world bribes Palestine with two trillion dollars. The Palestinians take a blood oath agreeing to fight to defend Israel from her enemies or die trying. Peace treaty is signed between Israel and Palestine. And the IDF and NSF fight shoulder to shoulder in a major war with the Islamists. Perhaps tens of thousands of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians might be killed by Islamists in this war. The war might last generations.

            I don’t see how the Palestinian war can end without ending the Islamic civil war. Otherwise this might be a war without end.

            Any peace treaty between Palestine and Israel would in the short run lead to a war between Palestine and Islamists; and in the short run lead to the deaths of vast numbers of Palestinians. “Peace” will be very expensive, and perhaps lead to a much larger forever war.

            Even the most hawkish Israelis only ask for complete Palestinian effort against Islamists, since Israelis know that the Palestinians aren’t militarily strong enough to prevent Islamists from attacking Israel. For that matter the Palestinians don’t even have a monopoly on force inside Palestine. Many powerful Islamist groups operate in the West Bank and Gaza; and both Hamas’ army and the Palestinian Authorities NSF are afraid to militarily fight them. And for cause.

          3. AnAn “This is a clever tactic by Hamas”

            Is this a clever tactic knowing fully well it is not going to succeed and will result in huge Palestinian casualties ?
            Stampedes , apart from Israeli actions , can kill lot of people. It happens all the time in Pilgrimage places , in India or even in Mecca itself. Mecca stampede of 2015 is estimated to have killed 2000 people. When a concentrated mass suddenly begins to rush helter skelter , hundreds of people can be killed, even able bodied ones.

          4. Mr. VC,
            Actually under International Law, Israel is still the Occupying Power in Gaza. Israel controls the airspace, the land borders (there is one land border that Egypt controls), imports/exports, entry/exit etc. By definition, this makes Israel responsible for the Strip. If you think that Gaza is not Occupied perhaps you should alert the United Nations that they don’t understand International Law! (Isn’t it easier to believe that you don’t understand the situation and the UN knows what its talking about? Yeah thought so).

            The fact that you don’t know this extremely elementary fact means that you have either swallowed the Zionist propaganda hook line and sinker or you are just phenomenally ignorant. It would take too much mental effort to figure out which is which. Namaste.

        2. Kabir:The fact that you don’t know this extremely elementary fact means that you have either swallowed the Zionist propaganda hook line and sinker or you are just phenomenally ignorant

          Kabir, I can follow your example and quote some Israeli writer (in fact lots of) to say Israel has given up Gaza to Pals. But I won’t do it.

          As long as Palestinians , or an influential section of them, think that Israel has no right to exist or in any case it can’t be a Jewish state, Israel is going to dig itself . With every year of no genuine peace, Palestinians will suffer more than anyone else. that is why other Arabs like Jordan or Egypt came out of the confrontation.

          Ideally Gaza can be part of Egypt, but Egypt does not want it as Gaza has become a poisoned chalice – Egypt has enough problems on it’s hand with Islamic State and Ikhwan. Last thing it wants is Hamas.

          Meanwhile be a guest of BP and rant against Occupation and Occupying powers – as long as it does not refer to Chinese or Saudis or Iran . Israel is a ready made punch bag for soft headed people and tear jerkers all over the world.

      2. Kabir, First of all, I know (almost) nothing on the Israel-Palestine issue, but would like to synthesize some understanding from your discussion with VC in this thread. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

        Question 1: Do you agree with VC’s claim that “Around the same time 700,000 Arab Jews from Maghreb to Iraq were expelled or fled.” (possibly with 700,000 replaced by a smaller but still significant number, say several tens of thousands?)

        If your answer to this question is “No”, I have no further question, though would appreciate a link that clarifies this point (you don’t need to give one if you don’t wish to, of course). On the other hand, if your answer is “Yes”, then the next question:

        Question 2: Consider your comment “All the problems begin with the existence of Israel.” Does this mean that, given this question is being asked only under the assumption of your answer “Yes” to Question 1, you consider the expulsion[Edit: I mean expulsion or being compelled to flee – I don’t know, so you can correct me] of Jews from Maghreb to Iraq to be a justifiable response to the violence involved in the creation of Israel? (I presume that the word “Arab” here is used in a very generalized and loose sense to include Maghreb to Iraq).

        If your answer to Question 1 is “Yes” and that to Question 2 is “No” (otherwise I have no further question), then I have a third question:

        Question 3: Would you still think “Arabs don’t need to apologize for anything.”?

        Thank you.

        1. Yes, “Arab Jews” were expelled from Arab countries (including North Africa). This was a reaction to the creation of a “Jewish State” in what was always historically Arab land. ( A lot of North African Jews also moved to France, their former colonizer). The thinking was that since the Jews have now taken over all of Palestine, let them get out of our countries. This is like Partition. Since a Muslim country existed next to India, the Muslims were supposed to go there. Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan. There is nothing that weird about this. Greece and Turkey had an official population exchange at the end of their war. All Christians (even those who spoke only Turkish) were sent to Greece and all Muslims were sent to Turkey. There are probably lots of people in India who think each and every Muslim currently in India should have been sent to Pakistan in 1947. Certainly, lots of Pakistanis think we would have been better off if every Hindu and Sikh got out of Pakistan.

          Is it justifiable? Ethnic cleansing is not good, ever. However, the whole issue arose because the Zionists took over land that was not theirs and was never theirs. They are not the natives of the land. The natives of the land are the Palestinian people. It’s not like Pakistan, where some British Indians moved from one part of British India to another (and most people who are in current day Pakistan didn’t move but have always been on this side of Wagah). The Zionists are Europeans. One look at their faces and you see that. What the hell are Europeans doing in the Arab Middle East? Yes the Holocaust happened. But why are Palestinians being punished for what the Germans did? Arab land has been stolen, Arabs have been dispossessed, Arabs are being killed. Any residual sympathy from the Holocaust has long since faded away (at least for me). The Israelis have turned into the oppressor and the Palestinians are the oppressed. Defending the “Jewish State” of Israel today makes someone no better than someone who defended the Apartheid Regime in South Africa.

          So no, Arabs have nothing to apologize for. It is the Zionists who need to get back to their side of the Green Line and move all their (500,000) Jewish settlers out of Occupied Palestine. They need to start acting like a civilized country. East Jerusalem must be given back to the Palestinians. No compromises.

          1. Kabir, Thanks for your response. Regardless of anything else, it is quite informative.

            I still have some questions/objections, but may be they can wait for another thread.

          2. “Palestine is a serious issue and clearly you have zero qualifications to comment on it. I am so done with you. I can’t even.”

            Your moral posturings don’t amount to any qualification. Palestine is to be sorted politically between Palestinians and Israel , so basically you have no locus standi in that as you are neither an Israeli or a Palestinian ; all your moral hot air don’t mean anything.

          3. The end of apartheid only came about because of international pressure. It’s only when an issue is internationalised is there any pressure on the stronger party to act fairly..

          4. I am a Muslim. Al Quds Al Sharif is a Holy City for me. Al Aqsa Mosque is Holy for me. There is a reason that Palestine is an Umma-wide issue.

            More than that, I am a human being. I see a Stateless population being persecuted by one of the most modern armies in the world. To me, that seems to be a problem.

            Plus, I have done the research and read the books, as is evidenced by my writings. So yeah, I know more than you on this particular issue. Anyone who relies on Wikipedia for knowledge about a major international flashpoint has serious problems.

          5. Kabir: More than that, I am a human being. I see a Stateless population being persecuted by one of the most modern armies in the world. To me, that seems to be a problem.

            Kabir, I am wholly with you on this and this is a meeting point. Issue of Stateless people must be solved.

            It is fairly simple from my view point. Give Palestinians citizenship in all Arab and may be Umma countries and be done with it. After all western Europe is prepared to give asylum and citizenship to millions of Arabs who differ from them in language, religion, culture and climate. Why not Arab countries, with whom they have the same language, culture, food habits and the same climate.

            In spite of Jinna’s promise on minorities in newly created Pakistan who made up perhaps 24-30% , many of them left and India had no reservations in extending hospitality and citizenship for refugees from Pakistan instead of using refugees as excuses for more confrontation. That is what Arab countries can do.

            What India can do, Arab countries can do.

          6. VC,
            You are still missing the point. Palestinians are not Jordanian, or Egyptian or Lebanese. They are Palestinian. They want and deserve their own country. The compromise is that that own country will be on 10% of their homeland (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem). Israel is not going anywhere. I am not advocating throwing people into the sea (or whatever it is that you think Hamas says). The whole point of the Two State Solution (which Israel has basically killed) was “two states for two peoples”. That’s why the whole world was behind it.

            Lumping Palestinians together with the surrounding nations as generic “Arabs” is frankly really offensive. It’s like calling Nepalese and Sri Lankans “Indians”. They aren’t going to like you much if you do that. Pakistanis certainly don’t like being called “Indians”.

            Pakistan and India signed a treaty regarding migrants in 1951. The Liaqat-Nehru pact, I believe it is called. But they were both sovereign countries. Palestine and Israel can work out a lot of things but Israel first has to be willing to let Palestine exist.

          7. “Kabir:You are still missing the point”

            Kabir, that is fine if not I am getting the point.

            There are nations and nation states ; the former does not necessarily lead to the latter , in any case in the way the nationalists want.

            I can give an example of Srilankan Tamils. They – or a militant section of SL Tamils -thought that they constitute a separate nation and they deserve a separate nation state . The militant groups went on a All-or-Nothing war to get separate SL tamil national state called Eelam. They ended up with nothing – literally nothing and many of them were killed . They did not realize nobody , including India , wanted a political division of Srilanka. Tamil militant groups had even more loyalty and sacrifice for their cause than Palestinians , all that came to nothing.

            History is not always a straight path from idea to reality.

            Land of Heart’s Desire ‘door ast’

        2. froginthewell,

          No serious older Palestinian person to my knowledge in private denies that 700,000 or more Arab Jews were deported from Arab countries (some will say they can’t say that in public for fear of retaliation and violence from Islamists, non Palestinian Arabs, their caucasion “allies”).

          In fact there are some pro Palestinian blogs that have three “No”s:
          1) No denial of the Holocaust
          2) No denial of Nakba
          3) No denial of the non Palestinian Arab deportation of Jews
          They don’t want to have anything to do with apologists for these crimes. And they say Palestinians are responsible for none of them.

          I have been banned by caucasion co-hosts from several pro Palestinian blogs precisely because I was having such good dialogue with their Palestinian regulars. I would ignore tens of thousands of viciously slanderous attacks from caucasion commentators and focus on interacting with Palestinians and Arabs–with whom I got along surprisingly well.

          The main thing the caucasions attacked me for was:
          -creating a Fitna between Palestinians and their caucasion allies (you can’t make this stuff up)
          -creating a Fitna between Palestinians and Arabs (somehow Palestinians didn’t agree with them on this)
          -I was supporting some dark agenda that they couldn’t figure out that wasn’t CIA (maybe some thought I was a Putin operative, Amal, Khamenei operative, Druze, Kurd, Chinese bourgeoisie)
          -supporting the bourgeoisie capitalist Palestinian class exploiting the Palestinian proletariat (they were too stupid to notice that almost all their Palestinian and Arab allies happened to be from the bourgeoisie educated elite class and that this antagonized their Palestinian and Arab allies)

          They couldn’t attack me for being anti Palestinian (I mean they tried to but the Palestinians and Arabs spoke up for me.) When I got banned, large numbers of Palestinians and Arabs disagreed with the decision in the comment section.

          A common comment from Palestinians was some permutation of they wanted to “live life”. They wanted careers, happy marriages, happy children, the ability to travel, go to the beach, hike, dance, enjoy music, have boyfriends and girlfriends. They weren’t interested in fighting a forever war against Israelis for non Palestinians or be drawn into the power games of others. I get the sense that Palestinians who live in Gaza are very afraid of Islamist violence and can’t share what they really think, which is nuanced and sophisticated (and not favorable to Israel). Palestinians get this. Arabs get this. Muslims get this. Caucasion activists are either the most stupid people in the world or are purposely deceitful.

          1. Thanks. What percentage of the Palestinians, if any, do you think will be genuinely happy with a two-state solution? And how influential are they as far as persuading the remaining fellows is concerned?

          2. “Thanks. What percentage of the Palestinians, if any, do you think will be genuinely happy with a two-state solution? And how influential are they as far as persuading the remaining fellows is concerned?”
            froginthewell, I could have better answered this question in the past. Public opinion continues to rapidly fluctuate.

            My guess is that slightly over half favor a one state solution and less than half favor a two state solution. A one state solution would mean that West Bank and Gazan Palestinians received Israeli citizenship and voted in Israeli elections. However most Palestinians know this is impractical and would accept a two state solution. [Psst. Psst. Secretly most Palestinians would love to get Israeli citizenship and move to Israel. But don’t tell anyone.]

            Remember that Palestinians who don’t live in Israel (and live in the muslim world) have no freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling. So we don’t know what they really think. Most Palestinians are terrified of Islamist terrorism and live under a pall of fear.

            I have come to the conclusion that without the global muslim Ummah (community) getting freedom of art, thought, intuition, feeling, dialogue with extremists is impossible. And without dialogue ending the Islamic civil war is impossible. And without ending the Islamic civil war:
            -mass terrorism against muslim and nonmuslim alike will continue.
            -friendship between muslims and nonmuslims is impractical.
            -peace in Palestine is very difficult.
            -Pakistani civil war can’t end
            -Pakistani conflict with Afghanistan/India/Iran/Europe/America can’t end
            -Chechnya can’t be resolved
            -Kashmir can’t be resolved
            -Wars in Philippines/Thailand/Yemen/Syria/Libya/Nigeria/Niger/Algeria/Tunisia/ Egypt/Somalia/Chad/Tanzania/Uganda/Kenya are extremely difficult to contain

            All these conflicts are related and connected. This is why muslims and nonmuslims need to ally to promote freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling for muslims around the world. Not in one day. But over the long term.

          3. Of course Palestinians want to “live life”. They are human beings after all. But its a little difficult to live life when your country is Occupied.

            Same thing applies to the people of Indian-Occupied Kashmir.

          4. Stop worrying about the “Pakistani Civil War”. It is not your problem. It is our problem and we will deal with it.

            Worry about your own Hindu Rashtra. Plenty of issues there for you to spend your life waffling about. As hoipolloi said on another thread “A word to the wise” is enough. The persecution of Indian Muslims in Bharat Mata is disgusting. The Occupation of Kashmir is disgusting. Your Prime Minister, Lord Voldemort, is a disgusting excuse for a human being (if he can even be called a human being). The people who voted BJP are disgusting. Fix all these issues and then come and talk to Pakistanis.

          5. I do think the only solution to


            Is a much stronger OIC. I can’t understand why the OIC could not be like the EU; a common trade area etc.

            Maybe they should resurrect a Caliph of sorts while they’re at it.

          1. Yes,this happened. But it was a result (not a cause) of the creation of a “Jewish homeland” in a place that was majority Palestinian Arab.

            Two wrongs don’t make a right in any case.

          2. Also, Wikipedia is not a good scholarly source. I fail undergrads for going to Wiki. Just a tip.

          3. Kabir
            Don’t underestimate Wikipedia.


            “A study in the journal Nature said that in 2005, Wikipedia’s scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopædia Britannica and had a similar rate of “serious errors”.[4] Encyclopædia Britannica disputed the Nature study,[5] and Nature replied with a formal response and point-by-point rebuttal of Britannica’s main objections.[6] Between 2008 and 2012, Wikipedia articles on medical and scientific fields such as pathology,[7] toxicology,[8] oncology,[9] pharmaceuticals,[10][11] and psychiatry[12] were compared to professional and peer-reviewed sources and it was found that Wikipedia’s depth and coverage were of a high standard. ”

            I am not saying Wikipedia defines all possible knowledge. For a beginner/or even a serious reader , Wikipedia is a great resource. It presents both sides of an argument and gives lot of references which someone more interested can follow.

            All your book references so far are given only to buttress your viewpoint ; especially if it comes from an Israeli, your side is presumed to have a greater weight. I can always give tons of books which give a different picture and claim I am a serious reader.

          4. Anyone can edit Wiki. That’s why universities (good universities) fail people for going to Wiki. For the sake of whatever god you believe in, go to a library. Stop doing your stupid IT job and get a real education.

            Palestine is a serious issue and clearly you have zero qualifications to comment on it. I am so done with you. I can’t even.

  6. “Never defend Israel to me while they kill the Palestinian people every day. That is beyond disgusting.”

    More Palestinians have been killed by the Fitna (Palestinian civil war) since 2006 than have been killed by Israel since 2006.

    Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed by Al Qaeda, Daesh and their allies. More than Israelis have killed since 1983.

    Assad has murdered far more Palestinians than the Israelis ever have.

    Are you at least as angry about the Palestinian Fitna, Al Qaeda/Daesh, and Assad as you are angry at Israel?

    Kabir, Palestinians in many cases do not appreciate non Palestinians (both of us for example) being more pro Palestinians than Palestinians.

    “All the problems begin with the existence of Israel.”
    How many Palestinians do you know who agree with you about this? I have never encountered a Palestinian who wasn’t deeply upset about a whole skew of things other than Israel.

    “There is no excuse for them to be there in the heart of the Arab Middle East.”
    Some Palestinians agree with you on this. But by this token, many countries all over the world do not have the right to exist. They exist anyway. Please try to be consistent. The middle east belongs to lots of non Arabs too. It isn’t so bad now, but back in 2003-2008, many Iraqis (not just Shiites but even many Sunni Arab patriotic Iraqis) were incredibly furious at Arabs (they meant non Iraqi) and insisted that they didn’t want to be considered Arab since they didn’t want to be associated with non Iraqi Arabs. Many Lebanese reject the “Arab” label. And what about the Persians, Turkmen, Turks, Kurds, Mandeans, Druze, Alawites (who by many accounts predate Islam)? Israelis are a part of the complex tapestry of the middle east like so many other minorities. The middle east belongs to them too.

    You are not the only person on this blog that has encountered over a hundred Palestinians.


    “Arabs don’t need to apologize for anything.”

    Non Palestinian Arabs need to apologize for:
    1) their crimes against the Iraqi people;
    2) their crimes against the Kurdish people;
    3) their crimes against the Turkish and Turkmen people;
    4) their crimes against Palestinians (Jordan is the only Arab country to my knowledge that hasn’t engaged in crimes against humanity and hate crimes against Palestinians; the only Arab country that treats Palestinians well. But even Jordan has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.);
    5) their crimes against Persians
    6) their forcible deportation and mass killings of Arab Jews starting in 1948

    Most Palestinians acknowledge the above but insist that they are not responsible for the crimes of non Palestinian Arabs–which is true.

    A lot of Palestinians in particular acknowledge the terrible crimes committed by non Palestinian Arabs against Arab Jews and are very saddened by it. If Palestinians are saddened by it; can’t all of us soften our own hearts enough to be saddened by it too?

    When this issue comes up, Palestinians start getting yelled and cursed at by non Palestinian Arabs nominal “allies” and caucasion nominal “allies”. Palestinians believe they desperately need the help of their nominal “allies” to get leverage with Israel; and have to put up with their nonsense. Palestinians are also concerned about some of their vitriolically antisemetic caucasion allies, but don’t feel strong enough to reject their help.

    Kabir, if you really want to help Palestinians, then help them. Bring up the things that Palestinians are too afraid to bring up–for fear of retaliation.

    1. The Palestinians are right and the Zionists are wrong. This is my opinion. You will never change it. I think we should stop discussing this issue now.

      There is never ever an excuse for one’s homeland being taken over by a European Settler-colonial State. This is completely immoral. God is not a real estate agent. I don’t care what the Torah says. The Middle East does not belong to people whose ancestry can be traced to Germany and Poland. No way in hell.

      All we are now asking for is for the Zionists to get out of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. This is not too much. They get to keep the rest of the land they stole from Arabs. If they kill the Two State Solution (presuming they haven’t killed it already) than the only alternative is a one-state in which Palestinians have the right to vote. That one-state will no longer be “Jewish” and will probably democratically get renamed Palestine (goodbye Israel!).

      Our priors are too different on this issue. So let’s move on. I will always love the Palestinian people and hate the Zionists. Nothing anyone can say will change my mind. Certainly not while the Zionists shoot Palestinian children daily.

      1. We share a common love of Palestinians. Who on this blog do you think does not love Palestinians?

        I get that you don’t think think Israel should have been formed in 1948. You probably favored a one state solution back then. I favored a one state solution to historic British India (SAARC + Burma), so I understand your position and even empathize with it. I would have accepted a united blended Palestine + Israel dominion under the crown in return for a united British India with dominion status under the crown. Would you have accepted the same?

        You might be right. But we are where we are. And yes the Torah should not define politics today.

        “All we are now asking for is for the Zionists to get out of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.”
        Who is “we”?

        My view is that the Palestinians should warmly, lovingly and respectfully invite the settlers to stay on as patriotic citizens of a free Palestine. Millions should be joint citizens of Israel and Palestine and vote in elections in both countries. I also think Palestinians should receive market compensation for all property confiscated from Palestinians using eminent domain type laws for below market prices. Palestinians should receive property domiciled in Israel too and be able to freely own assets and conduct business in Israel proper. [Kabir I think you know how popular this position is among Palestinians]

        “Our priors are too different on this issue”
        Do you think I am supporting the oppression of the Palestinian proletariat by the Palestinian capitalist bourgeoisie?
        I also favor large English foreign aid to Palestine for English crimes against Palestine–which I noticed is deeply popular among Palestinians and not popular among caucasians. Is this another of the “priors” that differentiate us?

        ” I will always love the Palestinian people” complete agreement. I think everyone in this blog agrees with you on this.

        Kabir wrote:
        “Nothing anyone can say will change my mind.”
        Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! :LOL: :LOL: :LOL: :LOL: Can’t believe you actually wrote this 🙂
        Omar, Zachary, Razib, slapstik, Vikram, sbarrkum, Satya, froginthewell, VC, Shafiq, I am not making this up!
        Don’t mean to make fun of you or offend you Kabir. If you want me to edit and remove this from your original comment (and delete my comment in response) I will. I make tons of very embarrassing typos.

        1. No, I did not favor a one state solution. I want no Europeans on Arab land. The Germans should have paid for the Holocaust. Why are Muslims being punished? Why is Al Quds Al Sharif filled with European Jews? This is not on. I am not talking about native Palestinian Jews. They are natives of the soil. The European (and now American) Jews are a totally different story.

          You people need to read. Until you read, I am wasting my time.

          1) The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Illan Pappe
          2) Citizen Strangers by Shira Robinson
          3) Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal.

          If you notice, all these people are Jews. Illan Pappe is Israeli. Yet they recognize that Israel as a country is based on the Nakba (the catastrophe) and the Naksa (the setback). If you actually have Palestinian friends, I’m surprised you don’t know this already.

          I will be the first to admit I am not objective on this issue. I haven’t been objective since the 2009 Gaza “War”. The 2014 Gaza “War” (“Mowing the Lawn” as the Zionists call it) only made me hate the Zionists more. Their daily actions continue to cement disgust in my mind.

          Because these things must be clarified (apparently): I have Jewish friends. American Jews are not the problem. Israelis are the problem. A lot of young Millennial American Jews are deeply deeply disgusted with the Israeli State. “Not in my Name” is one of their movements. I would never be so stupid as to blame a young American Jewish guy my age for the actions of the Israeli government. Israelis are the problem because they vote for Bibi Netanyahu. That’s on them.

          The settlers could stay on as Palestinian residents subject to Palestinian laws. It would be up to the Palestinian people to accept this arrangement. There can be no more settler-only roads.

          I think its pathetic that you called out your Hindutvadi and anti-Islamic friends to laugh at me. But if you want to play childish games, so be it. The level of anti-Islamic animus on this blog is sick and Zack needs to do something about it. Zachary is not a Hindutvadi. Neither is Razib. Omar also is not. But the rest of your peeps really do not like Muslims and they have made that very clear.

          1. The two state solution won’t happen anymore; a binational Israel/Palestine state is the only answer. A bit like South Africa; Afrikaaners aren’t doing so badly there are 20years post abolition of Apartheid..

          2. Zack,
            I’m fine with the one state solution. It makes me very happy because it means the end of Israel and the end of the Jewish State. Demographics mean that a democratic secular state from the River to the Sea will be an Arab State and it will be called Palestine. Bye bye Zionism.

            It is for this exact reason that the whole world has been trying to convince Israel to go back to the 1967 Lines. “Two states for two peoples”–Israel existing next door to Palestine. But since Israel has decided to kill that in favor of apartheid, they deserve to not have a Jewish State. If you add the population of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinian Citizens of Israel, there are probably more Palestinians than Jews (or there soon will be).

            In any case Apartheid is not on any longer.

          3. The more I read the Palestine the more I see how Partition was/is a necessity.

            Any nation state needs a unified High Culture; if that frays it’s only a matter of time when the nation splits.

            It explains why similar peoples like the Yugoslavs or pre-1947 Indians could not stay together..

            The problem in so many national narratives is that the heroes and villains are exactly opposite for most neighbouring peoples (historically until 1492 most wars were land-based and involved neighbouring countries invading one another).

            Taking a step back the Phoenician sea-based empire really couldn’t match the Roman land-based one. I should read up more on sea-based and land-based.

        2. Hello AnAn, How is your belief in the power of dialogue coming along? 😀 😀

  7. I have a lot of respect for Illan Pappe and have extensively referenced him. I have also been attacked as anti-semetic several times for quoting Illan Pappe.

    Many Israeli citizens also favor peace much the way American Jews do and Palestinians do. Without the help of the Israeli peace movement, peace is impossible. I like the Israeli Green party although they have lost a lot of popular support inside Israel.

    “There can be no more settler-only roads.” These should be converted into toll roads with the revenue accruing to the Palestinian Authority. You better believe the Palestinian Authority would celebrate if this happened.

    You can’t help Palestinians unless you carefully study all aspects of Palestine and Israel. Without understanding there can be no adjustment or help.

    I don’t mean to laugh at you.

    “The level of anti-Islamic animus on this blog is sick”
    Who do you think is anti muslim on this blog? Is supporting muslim athiests or supporting Sufis or supporting muslim minorities (twelvers, sixers, fivers, Ahmedis) anti muslim? You are among friends and family. You have no enemies here.

    I have no idea what a “Hindutvadi” is.

    1. “You can’t help Palestinians unless you carefully study all aspects of Palestine and Israel. Without understanding there can be no adjustment or help.”

      I have written articles about Palestine and worked for a Palestinian-rights organization. I regularly follow +972 (a blog by anti-Zionist Jews and Palestinians). I grew up in a place in the US where there were lots of rich Jews. Their narrative was force fed to us. During the Second Intifada all Palestinians were seen as suicide bombers (To be clear, I don’t approve of the use of violence even in a resistance movement). Obviously, at home I learned that Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, that it was Muslim majority for a long time. So the narrative got corrected. But Israel’s actions since 2009 have shown most reasonable human beings that it is the Zionists who are the problem and not the Palestinians.

      Israelis vote for Likud and for parties to Netanyahu’s right (if you can believe that there are parties to Netanyahu’s right). Avidgor Lieberman (who is I think the Defense Minister) thinks Palestinian Citizens of Israel should be expelled to Jordan. People who vote for these parties (Likud and Jewish Home) are like Indians who vote for Lord Voldemort or Americans who vote for Mr. Trump. They are part of the problem.

      The only religion which consistently gets attacked on BP is Islam. You in particular have an unhealthy obsession with non-mainstream Muslims. Seriously, choose something else to focus on. You are not capable of fixing the “Muslim civil war” and it is so patronizing that you think you know better than actual Muslims. I wonder how much attention you pay to your day job (serious question)?

      “I have no idea what a Hindutvadi is”–That’s because you are one. You people are sad. I think I have to stop reading this blog unless something radically changes. Please for god’s sake, study the Social Sciences. Desis are so bloody irritating at times.

      1. While I don’t think I am anti-Muslim, given the strange nature of my views I can understand if you call me anti-Muslim. But calling AnAn anti-Muslim is really really beyond the pale.

        The evidentiary standards you rely on to let yourself call others anti-Muslim and those you rely on to accuse others of smearing you as an Islamist – these don’t seem very compatible with each other.

        1. AnAn has a history of supporting “atheist Muslims” (you’re either a Muslim or an atheist which is it?) and all sorts of other kinds of “Muslims”. Just not the normal ones who believe in Quran and Hadiths. Those ones he’s not super fond of.

          There is a history on this blog of a disproportionate amount of “criticism” of Islam by those who lack advanced degrees in Islamic Studies, Middle Eastern Studies or anything remotely relevant. Perhaps you all should examine your own obsessions. If Islam interests you so much, get an M.A. so that you are actually qualified to have a discussion. Or read a book.

          I don’t see even slightly the same amount of critique of Hindus that there is of Muslims (or of Pakistan) on BP. A few months ago, Zack asked the non-Pakistani commenters to back off. It didn’t quite go as planned.

          To be clear, I have no issues with regular Hindus. Please worship your many gods and goddesses. More power to you. I quite like some of your goddesses. But when you start voting BJP, then I have serious issues with you….

          1. (1) You just wrote: “you’re either a Muslim or an atheist which is it?”

            (2) Earlier in this same page you wrote: “I happen to be Muslim because I was born in a Muslim family. That’s pretty much it. “Cultural Muslim” is a thing.”

            How do you reconcile (1) with (2)?

          2. I’m not an atheist. I believe in Allah and in the Prophet of God (peace be upon him). I believe that there is only one True God. Atheists by definition believe there is no Allah. The minimum definition of Muslim is that you can sincerely say “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet”. If you can’t say that, you aren’t a Muslim.

            “Cultural Muslim” means I don’t necessarily believe in prayer, fasting, etc. But that is really none of your concern.

          3. No, that definition does not make the the Ahmedis Muslims. The mainstream understanding of Islam (both Sunni and Shia) is that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final prophet of God and that after him, prophethood has ceased to exist. The Quran is God’s last revealed text. Any religion coming after Islam is a false religion. That said, I do not think the National Assembly of Pakistan can usurp Allah’s authority and decide who is a Muslim or not. Allah will deal with Ahmedis in the afterlife.

            froginthewell, whether I pray or fast is between me and Allah. I don’t have to justify myself to any human being. That you think being a “Cultural Muslim” is a contradiction shows how little you understand about Islam.

          4. Who knows what Allah will do? That’s why He is Allah and we are mere mortals.

          5. I never said anything about the notion of “cultural Muslim” being internally inconsistent, nor was my comment making any assumption about what Islam has to be. Nor did I ask you to justify your practices.

            There exist comprehension problems here, and my trying to elaborate will send you off into more tangents, so it is better to leave it at that.

        2. Yeah, you’re much less smart than you think you are. God you Hinduvadis are stupid.

          I’m not the one with the comprehension problems.

          I am so done with you people. If you are going to take over this blog that is going to be a problem.

        3. When you say “That contradicts (2)” you imply that I am internally inconsistent, which I then tried to explain. Clearly you didn’t get it.

          This reflects your own lack of knowledge about Islam. Perhaps you need to acquire an actual Liberal Arts Education and then come back and talk to me? Otherwise, you are woefully underqualified. I am wasting my time with Hindutvadis and perhaps this blog has been overrun by Muslim-haters.

  8. froginthewell,

    Many of the Mahasiddhas have multiple names which I am not bothering to now mention. The founders of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism are:
    – Padmasambhava Guru Rinpoche
    – Khön Könchok Gyalpo
    – Milarepa
    – Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa
    The first three are either Siddhas themselves or their guru, guru’s guru, guru’s guru’s guru is a Siddha. In some cases all of the above (Guru Rimpoche Padmasambhava and Milarepa).

    Khön Könchok Gyalpo’s Guru is Drokmi Lotsawa. His Guru is Siddha Gayadhara. Siddha Gayadhara’s Guru is Maha Siddha Virupa. Whose Guru is the celestial disembodied female Buddha Nairatmya (consort of Hevajra) [who Shaivites and Shaktas and Hindu Tantrics respect.]

    I am not sure about Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa. I have heard and read both ways about him. Some Tibetan monks have told me he is also connected to the Maha Siddhas. I need to do more research.

    I consider Milarepa to be a Siddha, but this might not be accepted by all the Shaivites. But they accept Milarepa’s guru Marpa Chökyi Lodrö and Marpa Chökyi Lodrö’s guru Naropa, and Naropa’s Guru Tilopa, and Tilopa’s Guru Vajradhara.

    The above is seriously oversimplified. Some of these great masters learned from multiple teachers and are connected to the great maha Siddhas through multiple ways. You can google search them and find out more about all of them.

    I hesitate to post an article about this without verifying it through Tibetan monks and scholars. And Nath Siddhas too.

    1. Thank you.

      Could you please give a reference for “But they accept Milarepa’s guru Marpa Chökyi Lodrö and Marpa Chökyi Lodrö’s guru Naropa, and Naropa’s Guru Tilopa, and Tilopa’s Guru Vajradhara.”?

      Are you using “Siddha” as a technical term associated to Naths here? Milarepa did not even go to India as far as I know.

      BTW I was under the impression that Tilopa’s guru was one of those mystical female beings – perhaps a dakini though as opposed to a Yidam like Nairatmya.

      1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasiddha

        “But they accept Milarepa’s guru Marpa Chökyi Lodrö and Marpa Chökyi Lodrö’s guru Naropa, and Naropa’s Guru Tilopa, and Tilopa’s Guru Vajradhara.”

        This too is controversial. Accepted by some. Rejected by others.

        Some might say that only the 84 MahaSiddhas are accepted. Other Siddhas are added in other lists:

        There is an added complication. Hindu masters recognize masters in other religions too (the way most Hindus accept Jesus). So it is possible that Hindus recognize said Buddhist master to be a realized soul even though he is from a different parampara guru shishya lineage.

        You can look carefully at someone else in a meditative state and figure out things about them. You can do this with the pictures of people no longer alive, the sound of their names, or by contemplating their stories. This is how we ascertain things by ourselves. I think this is part of how evolved souls say what they say about others.

        Technically the masters in all six Shaivite traditions are called Siddhas. Some call them “Nath” in addition. I am not positive all do.

        I don’t agree with every aspect of the summary of the six Shaivite schools in the introduction to this PDF; but it has a lot of information about the six great Siddha Shaivite traditions:

        You mentioned that Tibet had a degree of corruption before 1949. This is so. But I don’t know the full nature of it and don’t want to inaccurately impugn others. What is true is that there have always been a few great living masters (monks) among the Tibetans; and some that might be less than perfect.

        Through meditation people’s physical health, mental health and intelligence can increase considerably. Giving people abilities some find mysterious. These are not always used for the serving humanity as they should be used. This problem affects mediators from around the world. Tibetans are no exception. C level executives and Executive Vice Presidents of the world’s largest companies are no exception.

        1. Thanks. Your links clearly tell me there is a connection worth pursuing.

          In your pdf, I am not able to see the introduction though 🙁

          1. Preface pages 25-27. It is short.

            Great Tibetan masters and Hindu masters have always been linked at the hip. Even before the birth of Buddha and before the birth of the Bon religion (which I also consider to be part of Sanathana Dharma). Notice the similarities between Badrinath, Kedaranath, the other Naths and places Tibetan Buddhism prevails.

          2. Thanks. I didn’t realize the preface would be that deep into the book. I knew about the book of course, but never tried to find out what was inside it. I have a lot to read, clearly.

          3. froginthewell, my favorite translation of Tirumantiram is:
            Have a physical copy of it.

            Note this is from the 18 Siddha tradition and is translated from Tamil.

            There are also other amazing books from the Kashmiri Shaivite tradition (I have many) and from the Nath Sampradaya (I have seen many). Books from these traditions are easier to understand for non Tamilians since the originals for them are in Sanskrit. I am more familiar with these two traditions than I am with the 18 Siddha tradition.

            I try to correlate what I read with physics, genetics, neuroscience, medicine, psychology and other modern sciences. Much of what they (and the Vedas, Vedangas, Agamas, 18 Maha Puranas, Itihasas, Tibetan Buddhist texts, Teravada texts, Jain Sutras, Guru Granth Sahib, Sufi mystical texts) discuss has to do with science and day to day life. Some has to do with what cannot be proven with science yet. Some great masters say it is best to study these ancient systems as an atheist. This way we discover everything for ourselves without tainted second hand knowledge and mental projection. I think an open mind, subtle deep intelligence, physical health and mental health are enough. We only need to accept what we can prove through science and our own experience and don’t need to believe anything else.

            As someone is on a spiritual (or religious) path, their deep intelligence and clarity of thought improves. If you notice, the more temporally secularly successful someone is in their worldly life, the more likely they are to have a meditative mind.

            An example on this blog of such a meditative mind would be Slapstik (I would rather write this if he were not reading.) Notice his deep understanding of the human experience and the way the brain/mind works.

          4. (if Violet or Slapstik has thoughts on the latter part of following those would be appreciated as well; I am going off on a tangent).

            Tamil being a language with I have a tiny bit of familiarity with, I would prefer a translation along with the text – but then the problem is, it will take far too long to read, not the least because my Tamil is very limited. But often even that doesn’t suffice for me, I might need a commentary.

            At least this was the case with the Gita – it used to look stupid to me (or even more horrifyingly a random sequence of unconnected verses that made one wonder how a human being could be so incoherent and how others could assume it had sense). It started making some sense to me only after I started looking at some traditional commentaries.

            You want smart people knowledgeable in Bayesian learning or cognitive neuroscience to be interested in our scriptures; but here is the fundamental problem: Our scriptures are not written in a way that invites smart people to read them. One needs either some spiritual intuition or put in tremendous upfront investment to even have reason to believe that they might contain anything valuable. In my case, my incentive for the upfront investment came from my Hindutva beliefs: I was invested in finding justifications for the Gita, which bothered me in multiple ways (and I wasn’t blessed with the shamelessness or dishonesty that would have helped circumvent these worries).

            I have never understood why all our scriptures are uniformly written this way. A lot of Buddhist scriptures of all hues – Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana… are written in a way that appeals relatively more to smart people. This holds true not merely at the level of rigor, but also at the level of literary and architectural (e.g., why does none of our temples look like the Taj Mahal?) and other aesthetics: Hinduism seems almost designed to create an aesthetic and intellectual entry barrier for rational people. For instance, consider the names of those 84 Siddhas from which I quoted names like “Siddha two teeth” above.

            Earlier I linked to Scott Alexander’s review of a Buddhist book, which you liked very much. Scott Alexander is about as smart as it gets, and so is the review. I never get to see similarly smart articles on Hindu texts, and I am tempted to believe that the problem lies in the way Hindu texts are the reason (although intriguingly, Edward Frenkel, who is likely far smarter than even Scott Alexander, claims to find the Gita insightful; but I haven’t been able to read any details on those views of his).

        2. I erased part of what I wrote: names like “Siddha two teeth” are examples of how Buddhist literature can be inviting in a way Hindu literature isn’t. Or consider the story of Mila Repa which, even ignoring all spirituality, has so much aesthetic/literary value.

          1. froginthewell, then you should definitely read Tirumantiram. The book I have is much better and has Tamil and Tamil’s english translation adjacent to each other for each verse. For detailed oriented people such as us; this is ideal. Only research the Tamil for words and concepts that are of interest. Read the rest in english.

            I would love to touch base online. I would be curious if you have family and friends associated with Siddha Siddhanta (18 Siddha tradition). I love me some Sadashiva Brahmendra too. I have an english translation of his commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Tamils have produced many of the greatest masters who have walked the earth. These are among the greatest of the great. The very heart of Arya Hindustani Bharatiya Sanathana Dharma.

          2. Thanks, may be I will try Tirumantiram when I get some days with enough free time. Between Tirumantiram and Sadashiva Brahmendral’s Yogasutra commentary, which would you recommend?

            No unfortunately I don’t have any relatives into any of these things. Some of my relatives hear lectures by random swamis, but no one particularly pursuing a traditional method seriously.

  9. I don’t have much time to contribute, but do occasionally visit and read anything interesting. I must say topics like the one you have chosen generate more heat than light. Not sure how much genuine debate (i.e. where each party is willing to consider the possibility that she/he may be mistaken) such topics – which polarize opinion on a set of pre-conceived political talking points – engender.

    Anyway, here’s something of a disambiguation on the recent violence in Gaza that you may be interested in. If not, you can always delete this comment 🙂


    (PS: I’ll be in Boston and SF next month. Are any of you around?)

    1. Slapstik, your article is very nice and unusually informed.

      This thread got a little emotional, which as you say is not helpful. The article was about the Palestinian venture capital, technology and business sector.

      1. It is because many people tend to respond to perceived biases than the topic-at-hand. Cognitive bias is actually not an error in human thinking but a deep feature of learning, indeed of epistemology itself (cf. Popper’s “all observation is theory-laden”). In other words, learning (of any kind) is impossible without our Bayesian priors. What information to absorb (or throw away) depending on how it updates our priors is more of a creative art than science. For a student of science like me, it took years and years of training and scathing peer review (even mockery by older academics!) to hone the “baloney detector” and even then it can be pretty shitty at times…

        So, it is not surprising that many people will simply respond to reject your piece (which I read in the FT too BTW) on Palestinian business simply because of your self-avowed love for Israel. The latter piece of information – bit of a political taint – automatically puts you in a category from which nothing useful can be learnt on the topic. Further debate (often acrimonious and petty) only reinforces the original notion, stands stiffen and none’s the wiser. Something froginthewell also sagely suggested. (Thanks froginthewell for the blog link – I hadn’t seen it before but agree with it)

        But what’s special about that piece of information that, once’s divulged, leads to such polarizing (and predictable) dynamics? I think it is a fascinating question in cognition research, and I know far too little to comment intelligently on this topic. Suffice to say we all use certain thumb-rules or dicta in our lives which we outsource thinking to. Most religions are formed around these. And so are many skills we learn growing up, like cycling or driving a car. It seems that certain political notions also tend to acquire the characteristics of these thumb-rules and arguing through (or around) them is almost always pointless. Anyway, I have hit my 3-para comment limit so I will stop.

        1. Again, the quality of your thinking is stunning.

          In general I reject groupings and labels. I am on both sides. Palestinians have told me I need to choose. I refuse. Then they ask me about Tibet and China. I again say I am on both their sides. Palestinians say I need to choose there too. Again I refuse.

          I am not just on two sides. I am on a vast number of sides all at once and all equally authentically.

          I think we all share a common soul, common heart, common values and common long term interests. We benefit from each other’s success. We suffer from each other’s troubles. We are one and autonomous simultaneously and without contradiction.

          I think many find this sentiment difficult to understand.

          1. You are either with the oppressed or with the oppressor. Remaining “neutral” means you are by definition with the oppressor. You can decide who the oppressed and the oppressor are.

            I know that the oppressor is the European Settler-Colonial entity known as “Israel” and the oppressed are the stateless Palestinian Arabs whose homeland has been stolen from them. History will prove me right.

        2. Nice comment, beautifully articulated.

          Cognitive bias is actually not an error in human thinking but a deep feature of
          learning, indeed of epistemology itself

          Thanks, I am going to use this line often (for purposes you may consider nefarious :snicker).

          Some of these are ideas I was familiar with – absorbed over a somewhat longer-than-should-have-been-necessary period through reading Taleb etc., in sporadic bits, though I wouldn’t have been able to express it the way you have. Is there such a thing as learning this sort of stuff systematically, say a specific work of Popper or so (my question may be too vague)? And is that sort of reading actually helpful in “thumb-rule-set optimization” or is that a skill to be picked up by painful practice as you seem to suggest?

          1. Thanks mate.

            I think my own knowledge of Popper was triggered by a philosophy course I took (in the humanities department!) during my IIT days. What I read sort of remained dormant until I read The Fabric of Reality by the Israeli-British physicist David Deutsch during my PhD days, lent to me by a physics postdoc friend from UCL. I have to say it rocked my world, turned by understanding of the physical world topsy-turvy and most importantly reintroduced me to Popper (and Turing) in a radically new light.

            It affected me so much that I tried to (unsuccessfully) change my research topic to cognitive neuroscience after PhD. Had a lot of discussions with Turkheimer’s group over at Imperial. They used to run a complex systems theory seminar at Imperial, which I joined and learnt much there. But academic research funding is such a bitch! There used to be a great reading list of (downloadable) papers on Imperial’s complexity group pages – not sure if it had moved – googling may work. But I’d highly recommend that.

            Anyway, I keep some track of literature (primarily via twitter and arxiv) and my daily work is in Machine Learning (though applied to finance). So there’s some overlap. Reading literature definitely does help, but painful practice has no replacement.

          2. Very nice. Most people do research on completely uninspiring stuff. Also depressing how much work one has to do!!

            Would you recommend reading Fabric of Reality as a good intro?

            Also, once you know enough about, say Complex Systems Theory or Machine Learning to get into research in the subject, does keeping in touch with literature give you enough occasions for self-updations at a visceral philosophical level?

        3. Welcome back SS. Vidhi’s PhD is in Bayesian Learning; I think her latest paper (which is submitting on Friday) is in Gaussian processes.

          But I agree with Kabir; the humanities are a very different skill set to the sciences in general.

          I see a problem in this thread where Kabir is providing facts versus a lot of opinions.

          1. I never left 🙂

            I am a great admirer of uxorious men and try my best to be one myself. Your admiration for your wife’s work shows through and it is a great(!) quality, which sadly many South Asian men do not exhibit. [ML is a great (and hot) field and more academic research on it is always welcome. It wasn’t so, not in mainstream physics at any rate, when I was doing my PhD a decade ago but things have changed a lot since.]

            I do not want to make this thread philosophical, but I wouldn’t characterize humanities as a different skill set from science. There are similar skills at work – same hard work, honest reporting of views, creativity, literature review of existing work, meta-problem of finding interesting problems to work on, logical thinking etc. A good historian or a linguist displays all the characteristics of a trained physics experimentalist.

            But I could be flat wrong. My own views on humanities are primarily from discussions with my wife, who majored in medieval French and Spanish literature from Cambridge [I even went to lectures on Lorca when courting her ;)]. Maybe there’re some specialized skills that professors of humanities possess which scientists lack. It is possible I do not know enough to deduce those skills…

          2. Shout out to fellow Bayesian researcher!

            Are facts really useful when the dispute is about ideology? One can throw facts at each other but reach completely different conclusions based on what they intend to prove.

          3. The Humanities teach you to write well (which sadly you people don’t do). Also, they teach you that there isn’t one right answer. Unfortunately, you Science types don’t seem to get that either.

            Science types are fine but you certainly aren’t going to make peace in the Middle East or write the great American novel. Stick to your own turf and leave the complex thinking to us. Thanks.

          4. Kabir says
            The Humanities teach you to write well (which sadly you people don’t do). Also, they teach you that there isn’t one right answer. Unfortunately, you Science types don’t seem to get that either.

            First of all science is a belief, with one exception, it is open to be proved wrong or corrected. I say science is belief because on cannot test all and verify.
            In science there is no absolute truth, it is approximately correct under certain prescribed condition.

            So things we take as true
            a) Straight lines. There are no straight lines and by extension parallel lines.
            b) 1+1=2 is a concept. There is nothing where one object is absolutely identical to the other.
            c) Newtons laws are approximately correct for conditions humans deal with on a day to day basis.

            My knowledge of Science stops at Relativity Theory, learnt 35 years ago as an undergrad in a Sri Lankan uni. String theory, I havent the faintest clue.

        4. Slapstik, A somewhat sociologically different aspect of the question perhaps: I have never understood why these cognitive skills or epistemic virtues or whatever are never part of a school curriculum; I am naively tempted to consider them as much more important than most of what school teaches children, perhaps more as a “personalized lab course” than as a theory course.

          Is it simply the lethargy of educationists or because these ideas are difficult to inculcate except with painful practice? In fact I can think of many concepts I found easy to absorb only because my political biases incentivized me to absorb them, those might have been wasted on me otherwise.

          1. Teaching these cognitive skills is akin to teaching moral science at school. These are not easy to grasp even as willing adults ( I mean there are many people who abandon PhD).

            There is a trend towards teaching “project- oriented” curriculum. But it takes a lot more effort by teachers, parents and students to do it. In the end, I am still agnostic about its usefulness.

            It is hard to be a true Bayesian in practice. Children learn it better if the behaviour is modeled by adults rather than being told. And some adults don’t even consider updating their priors their entire lives.

            The most hilariously universal updating happens with going from childless to being a parent.

          2. I think they are hugely important and to an extent all kids are taught some “baloney detecting” skills in an informal manner in schools or at home. Though Indian homes teach a lot of “baloney accepting” skills too (another story!).

            I think the major impediment to the teaching of such meta-rules sociologically has been due to a lack of clear understanding and wider acceptance of what constitutes learning in the first place. Our primary school teachers have been left with a hugely important (and yet grossly underpaid) job of imparting extremely important skills to kids, which many educationists, pedagogical experts and neuroscientists actually understand very little of. We know some rudimentary principles: learning comes from letting kids make mistakes, encouraging them to ask questions, being patient with them etc but we lack a fully formed theory of why this should be just so. The principles of learning have not yet been neatly abstracted away in an algebra (like Newtonian physics or Paninian grammar)…

            In fact, when we have that theory, it would be applicable to not just human kids but artificial ones too.

          3. @Violet

            The most hilariously universal updating happens with going from childless to being a parent.

            Haha :D. Truer words weren’t spoken.

          4. @Slapstik,

            Funny, I thought “baloney detection” is more conducive with Indian teaching. I mean school learning is so clearly different from reality that very few would accept anything as “truth”.

            Children had healthy skepticism about everything even if they are forced to go along with it because “I said so” was never really an answer.

          5. @Violet, @Slapstik, Thanks very much for those inputs. There seem to be tests that can detect confirmation bias etc. Perhaps one can design series of exercises to at least keep working “baloney detection muscles”?

            After all, gymming is not Newtonian physics or Paninian grammar either.

            Regarding the remark on primary teachers: I assume primary teachers in India at least aren’t particularly trained on how they should impart these skills. Perhaps Finnish primary teachers do better?

            [Question on the other comment because it is too late to edit that now: would you recommend to read an intro book to Complex Systems Theory?]

          6. +1008 to several of Slapstik’s and Violet’s comments.

            Slapstik, some theories on teaching do exist in eastern philosophy. If you notice most of the Upanishads and Aranyakas (parts of the Vedas) are question and answer. Most of Sanathana Dharma is questioning, and open free flowing discussion between extraordinary minds. These answers are always partial, sometimes even wrong. As the student pushes deeper, new layers of reality and deeper answers are given; which are themselves incomplete. And so the truth is approached but never attained through words. The process pushes us deeper into subtler and subtler thought; until . . . we unlock parts of our unconscious brain that are generally not consciously used by humans. And this is the very, very start of the beginning.

  10. Perhaps Kabir is feeling bullied. Kabir, you are free to bring your Palestinian friends to comment here.

    Many Palestinians do talk the way Kabir talks. Including many Palestinian diaspora college students and twenty somethings who live in North America, Europe and Arab League countries. Not as sure about Chile.

    There is a great diversity and pluralism in Palestinian voices. Often the young diaspora Palestinians get into fights with the respected Palestinian elders connected to Gaza and the West Bank. Often the diaspora Palestinians accuse Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Barghouti of being Jewish poodles (and European/Russian/North American/Chinese/Saudi/Turkish/Egyptian/Jordanian collaborators). And my do the Palestinian elders angrily react. And Hamas/Fatah/Mustafa Barghouti allied leaders react.

    I don’t know how representative they are of Palestinian opinion. But some (I think a minority) say that the Jews should leave Israel proper. I ask where should they go. They say, “not my problem”. I say they can’t go to Europe, the Europeans hate Jews and might organize another Holocaust against them. They again say, “not by problem”. I think they believe that all the Jews in Israel can move to America, Canada, Latin America, India, China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand etc.

    A lot of young diaspora Palestinians speak this way. Perhaps one reason is that they live cushy lives in Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America or Europe. And they aren’t really going back except to visit or buy businesses etc.

    By contrast Palestinians who live in the West Bank, Gaza and the Arab world urgently want the right to become Israelis and move to Israel.

    Some of non diaspora young Palestinians also say extreme stuff about the Jews leaving Israel proper. But when you ask them what they want; they say, “study in Israel” or “get job in Israel” or “start business in Israel”. Or sell their goods in Israel. Or be able to freely open financial accounts and buy land/businesses in Israel if they happen to have money. Still when pushed, their views seem less extreme in reality. They just say maximal demands at first unless they are asked pointed questions.

    By contrast the Palestinian elders seem a lot more practical and eager to make a deal with Israelis (of course some younger Palestinians who live in the occupied territories area also like that).

    As Finkelstein–who I respect greatly–says; the Palestinians need to be free to make compromises for an imperfect unfair deal that benefits Israel. It is unfair to expect Palestinians to fight for many more generations until the Israelis give them everything Palestinians deserve. There are too many young Palestinians who deserve a life and deserve an end to the conflict, even if the end of the conflict is unfair and imperfect. Finkelstein doesn’t want to conflict to last forever. Finkelstein would rather it end soon and that all the Palestinian activists move on to achieving other important things.

    I completely agree. I would rather we all focused on economically empowering Palestinians and surging Palestinian governance capacity.


    My hope is that Hamas and Fatah complete their national unity government and the Palestinian Authority takes over all border checkpoints, airports and seaports in Gaza. Then planning can begin to economically connect Gaza with the rest of the world. And Palestine can finally have another election after over a dozen years.

    The UN, the Quartet, Arab League, OIC, international community only recognize the Palestinian Authority and do not recognize Hamas. For this reason the Palestinian Authority needs to control all travel and trading points in Gaza. Inshallah this happens soon.

    1. Palestinians do not want the right to become “Israelis”. No one wants to join the oppressor. Which Palestinians have you been speaking to? They want Palestine back.

      The one-state solution means the fake country that calls itself “Israel” will be replaced by a Palestinian Arab State called Palestine. That’s why the Zionists won’t have it and are trying to perpetuate Apartheid forever.

      But since they have killed the Two State Solution by being greedy and stealing land, they have destroyed their only chance to be “Jewish and democratic”. You can’t be democratic while ruling over an Occupied people. I guess you can be “Jewish”, though that is really not my concern.

      “Economic Empowerment” happens after the Occupation ends. First order priority is getting the Zionists out of the entire West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. They can stay in “Israel Proper”. It’s not the fault of young people that their entire country was built on land theft and ethnic cleansing.

  11. Kabir, I am struck by the number of young Palestinian Americans (not so much older) who appear to believe that the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, Palestinian National Security Forces (NSF) are illegitimate and loyal to Israel. Many young Palestinian Americans support violent attacks against the NSF and cheer them on. Some young Palestinian Americans also support violent attacks against Hamas’ army for similar reasons. Hamas is also regarded as an Israeli collaborator.

    Why is this? What if anything can be done about it? Can anything good come from this?

    Is it possible that some of the hatred of the PA, NSF, Fatah, Hamas and Mustafa Barghouti is related to their position on LBGTQ, abortion and social conservatism? Are some young Palestinian Americans just impractical?

    1. The Palestinian Authority is a collaborator class. Just as NC and PDP are a collaborator class in Occupied Kashmir. All Occupations have their collaborator classes. I’m surprised you don’t understand such simple things.

      1. If not for the PA’s “Security cooperation” with Israel, the Occupation would have become unsustainable long ago.

  12. It is because many people tend to respond to perceived biases than the topic-at-hand. Cognitive bias “is actually not an error in human thinking but a deep feature of learning, indeed of epistemology itself (cf. Popper’s “all observation is theory-laden”). In other words, learning (of any kind) is impossible without our Bayesian priors. What information to absorb (or throw away) depending on how it updates our priors is more of a creative art than science. For a student of science like me, it took years and years of training and scathing peer review (even mockery by older academics!) to hone the “baloney detector” and even then it can be pretty shitty at times…

    . . .

    But what’s special about that piece of information that, once’s divulged, leads to such polarizing (and predictable) dynamics? I think it is a fascinating question in cognition research, and I know far too little to comment intelligently on this topic. Suffice to say we all use certain thumb-rules or dicta in our lives which we outsource thinking to. Most religions are formed around these. And so are many skills we learn growing up, like cycling or driving a car. It seems that certain political notions also tend to acquire the characteristics of these thumb-rules and arguing through (or around) them is almost always pointless. Anyway, I have hit my 3-para comment limit so I will”

    Slapstik, please write articles about this. I also want to write articles about neuroscience. I hesitate given how little I know relative to actual neuroscientists. This ties extremely closely into eastern philosophy (including Taoism). I wish I had met you when I was four years old. I wouldn’t have left you alone. Barraging you with deeper and deeper questions most of the day, every day. This is extremely useful for understanding other people and working with other people.

    I organize my thinking into assumption module blocks which are correlated with other assumption module blocks. Each module block in turn is dependent on still other module blocks, which in turn are dependent in still other sub-module blocks, and so forth in infinite regress. My thought process is aimed at general equilibrium based on my assumption module blocks, imperfect though my assumptions are. For this reason a change in one assumption quickly flows through everything else. And I am painfully aware of all the assumptions I make which I do not fully understand.

    Knowledge lies partly in deep dives into narrow fields. Partly in the correlations between narrow fields. And partly in the interdisciplinary function itself which organizes the various narrow fields of knowledge and the correlations between them into symphonies of wisdom. The modern world is strongest in deep dives into narrow fields. Weak in the correlations between narrow fields. And awful in the interdisciplinary function.

    Again, please post at Brown Pundits again. Zachary Latif and Omar are having Slapstik withdrawal. We miss you. 🙁

  13. Slapstik:
    “In fact, when we have that theory, it would be applicable to not just human kids but artificial ones too.”
    Exactly, which is why AI is so interesting and why so many AI programmers are interested in ancient systems of thought.

  14. “Yes I’ve organised the Indian Female Scientist Society of Cam for Vidhi..”
    Awesome Zachary! Your devotion to Vidhi is a very good thing and an inspiration that the rest of us can learn from.

      1. Zachary, many Sanathana Dharmis worship their wife as God. Even do Pujas to their wives. If someone can’t humble themselves before their wife; how can they humble themselves before Allah?

        Kabir, Saraswati is real from a certain point of view. See a brain scan of yourself while feeling or contemplating Saraswati.

        1. Yeah no. There is only Allah. Everything else is a false idol. That is Islamic belief.

          1. Also, women are supposed to worship the husband, not the other way around. In Pakistan, the husband is the “majazi Khuda” (the earthly God).

  15. Kabir, I think we have different priors and different assumptions. The most important having to do with:
    -post modernism
    -the PA
    -the NSF
    -Mustafa Barghouti
    -Hamas (Palestinian branch of the Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood)
    -the Islamist groups that are competing/fighting with Hamas/PA/NSF
    -I believe that the Israelis and Palestinians share a common heart, common soul, common values, common long term interests. You think otherwise.
    -I think the hero is the Palestinian entrepreneur, business person, product developer, process innovator, ideation leader, woke educator, woke social worker, war hero (lion who serves in the NSF). You might not completely agree.

    We agree on being pro Palestinian. Have you heard the phrase:
    “Stability isn’t everything, but without stability everything is nothing”
    The NSF need to establish a monopoly on force inside Palestine. Hamas’ army needs to be dissolved with honor and thanks from a grateful nation, with soldiers serving in it joining the NSF. Those who attack the NSF need to be militarily handled. Islamist militias need to be dismantled. Organized crime needs to be ended. Ordinary crimes needs to drop sharply. Then Palestine can rise in strength and glory, Inshallah. May Palestine move from perfection to perfection.

    Any caucasion activists who have a problem with the NSF can go to Palestine and fight the NSF. The NSF knows what to do with them.

    Caucasion activists need to understand that imperfect though the NSF is; they are Palestine’s army. Palestinians love and respect them; much the way Pakistanis love the Pakistani Army, Afghans love the Afghan Army, Indians love the Indian Army, Americans love the American army, Iraqis love the Iraqi Army, Jordanians love the Jordanian Army, Turks love the Turkish army, Israelis love the IDF. They protect Palestinians. They are the grandsons, sons, nephews, brothers, husbands, fathers and uncles of the Palestinian people.

    As the NSF and Palestinian institutions grow in merit, capacity and competence they increase Palestinian leverage and influence on Israel and help Palestine negotiate the best possible deal.

    1. We do have different priors. I said that umpteen comments ago. This conversation (actually any conversation between people like you and people like me) is totally pointless.

      “Product development” and all that jazz must wait until the Zionists are removed from Arab land. We have first order existential issues here. Palestinian babies are being killed by the Zionists. Ahed Tamimi is in jail for slapping an Israeli soldier (the same Occupation soldiers who put her cousin in a coma). Excuse me for not giving a damn about the Israeli “common heart or soul”. They have no heart or soul when it comes to how they treat Palestinians.

  16. @froginthewell,

    If you are seriously interested in application of overcoming bias rather than just reading about it, I suggest keeping a journal. (assuming you lean towards introversion)

    Dr. Jordan Peterson suggests this for future planning too. Just like keeping track of reps and sets helps with lifting, you will notice the trend in your thoughts too.

    You seem to be aware of overcoming bias and perhaps “less wrong” rationality. They discuss a lot about cognitive hygiene.

    May I also suggest chaos theory by Gleick to get started? Depending on your background, course work in nonlinear optimization and nonlinear dynamics helps to get the fundamentals right for understanding complex systems theory imo.

    1. Thanks. Now the problem is of plenty as far as options are concerned! I will take a look at reviews of Gleick and depending on that decide to read it.

      Less Wrong sequences are too long :'( Part of my problem is that I can read very little, because I need my time with anything to absorb (always amazed at people like Razib and Scott Alexander, or even far lesser mortals than these who complete reading a novel in a day or two). It is easy to forget things, and usually the way I remember things is when they stick with me and irritate me, impeding my progress, which also means several months for a book. As for keeping journal, I guess I will need better meta-practices before that can be helpful (somewhat like a routine habit of making predictions to test one’s beliefs).

      Thanks again.

  17. Matthew 5:43-48
    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    I am not quoting from Toaism, Sanathana Dharma, Zorastrianism, Judaism; since you might not revere them as much as I do. Rather I am quoting the greatest Palestinian ever born. The one who Muhammed pbuh described as the greatest prophet of all, son of who Muhammed pbuh described as the greatest woman ever born. The one and only Messiah according to Muhammed pbuh.

    I would quote from the holy Quron, but I can’t think of a verse like this. Need to research.

    Palestinians of the book (Jews and Christians and muslims are of the book) are one family. They cannot be enemies. If Yeshua ben Yoseph (Isha) says this about enemies, how much more true is it between brothers?

    Yes the brother has made mistakes. True. This hurts so much because they are our brother, we feel betrayed, and “BECAUSE” we love them so much. We fear the consequences of the sin for our brother. We fear for our brother’s soul.

    Shouldn’t our prayer be:
    “Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.”?

    How can hurt be healed any way other than through love. Love is all there is.

    1. “Love is all there is.” How vaguely 1960s Hippie sounding. “Love is all you need”. I think that was the Beatles.

      Come back to me when “Love” removes every single Zionist from every inch of Palestinian land. Until then these vague wishy washy words are meaningless.

      1. Also, quoting the Bible doesn’t impress me. This is a political problem not a religious one. There is a European Settler-Colonial State in the heart of the Arab Middle East. This is not on.

  18. @Violet

    Funny, I thought “baloney detection” is more conducive with Indian teaching. I mean school learning is so clearly different from reality that very few would accept anything as “truth”.

    You really think so? I think Indian culture generally promotes a lot of conformism, idol-worship, respect authority and follow-the-leader memes.

    Part of “baloney detection” (whether in real life or in code) is to test biases out-of-sample. The attitude of doing that as frequently and zealously as possible just is not inculcated in Indian schools. Indians (esp its middle class) are far too risk averse for that sort of thing lest bachchey bigaR jayengey. Or maybe I went to a lot shittier school that yours, in which case I envy you…

    Questioning what your teacher drones on about is part of it. But it is also dependent on teachers to create space for genuine non-conformist thought. Eg how many schools discuss “why was nehru a terrible leader?” or “why shouldn’t India split into smaller independent constituents?” etc

    1. “I think Indian culture generally promotes a lot of conformism, idol-worship, respect authority and follow-the-leader memes.”

      This is not traditional Brahmin Dharma from ancient times, except for “respect authority”. Rather this is the culture of Shudras.

      As someone increases their intelligence, mental health, they are able transcend Shudra culture.

      “test biases out-of-sample” . . . isn’t this the path of Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, Brahmins; the path of service (Karma), Jnaana, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Laya Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Tantra (including Buddhist Tantra)?

      “Questioning what your teacher drones on about is part of it.” Don’t teachers ask for good questions and good students?

      “dependent on teachers to create space for genuine non-conformist thought” Isn’t this what all good teachers are suppose to accomplish from ancient times to the present?

      “how many schools discuss “why was nehru a terrible leader?” or “why shouldn’t India split into smaller independent constituents?” etc” These questions were debated at great length in my extended family and friends. These topics are not discussed in higher secondary? That is a problem. These topics should be discussed before Freshman year college.

    2. @Slapstik,

      (Sorry for long comment)
      I think you went to better school and have higher expectations.?

      All things learned in school are to spit out during exam and forget and to jump through hoops for economic stability. Expectations from school were very little in India. This leaves any education in your own hands.

      There are plenty of superstitions that can be readily tested and lose faith in adults. (e.g. lunar eclipse). If you are aware of rules being broken without consequences and low trust society, alertness for bullshit detection is high.

      I mean, there is no middle class auntie who trusts her husband’s reasons for expenses, maid’s story for absence or fruit vendors promise about freshness of their wares. Despite what they say about “good housewife”, I haven’t seen anyone believe that crap.?

      I think people have unnecessarily high expectations of schools. I researched curriculum from at least three countries (parent thing wanting to homeschool ). All of them brain-wash children with patriotism or any fashionable education theory. Good luck debating why their country shouldn’t exist as-is or their leaders are great at school level. ( different at University level)

      But IRL I heard adults grumble about Nehru and admire Patel. May be it is the South thing re Potti Sriramulu and Nizam. Some of the many things bungled by Nehru.

      1. @Violet

        there is no middle class auntie who trusts her husband’s reasons for expenses, maid’s story for absence or fruit vendors promise about freshness of their wares. Despite what they say about “good housewife”, I haven’t seen anyone believe that crap

        Sure, and I would add a whole load of saas-bahu intrigue, managing a complex network of relations and domestic power broking to that list. But that still is not much of non-conformist or creative thinking.

        To give an extreme example, ants make fantastic ant-hill structures (either subterranean or overground) with very few simple and replicable rules. So an individual ant does not really do much thinking, but acts more like a dependable cog-in-the-wheel. Until a human comes along, studies the simple set of interactions between ants, models the system behaviour and looks at ensembles to understand emergent patterns.

        Obv an Indian is not an ant. Far from it. But the economic necessities and constraints in a poor (and stratified) country means than an individual level an Indian isn’t doing much innovation. Simply role-playing based on handed down thumb-rules. So the bargaining with the fruit vendor has a simple replicable pattern to it, so does the prosaic back-and-forth with the house-maid. They are all largely bottom-up organized and changed very little in from since, say, the Moghal period or even earlier.


        It is possible I may be expecting too much of schools. However, I do not think education can be left to parents in general. I think it is a service that has to be primarily organized by the state (ideally delegated to local govt), with private sector chipping in.

        I think there is such a thing as good teachers and teaching skill/expertise. It is a transferable skill. Education or pedagogical theories may come in and out of fashion (and they probably will for the foreseeable future because of our general lack of understanding), but we do know some of the necessary conditions of what good teaching should entail. Call me a bloody socialist, but it takes nothing less than the resources of the state to deploy those skills and inspect and regulate them.

        (apologies for the long comment.)

  19. @froginthewell

    I would suggest “Deep Learning” by Goodfellow, Bengio and Courville (assumes some basics of linear algebra and information theory), but you can also look at some of their publicly available lectures here:


    I would also suggest following Colah’s blog (the guy’s at Google Brain, fantastic chap!):


    And some of Henrik Jensen’s papers at Imperial:



    PS: FoR by David Deutsch is bloody awesome for a full-on discussion on Popper’s and Turing’s ideas. So thoroughly recommended. I once started a review on this blog of the book, but it is so awesome (and deep) that I couldn’t move beyond a couple of chapters. I may cover it sometime.

    1. Thanks a lot for these links. I will start looking at perhaps the books (both deep learning and Deutsch) or the slides (I hope the information theory can be picked up on the fly from other sources if necessary), or, in case I feel lazy, search for video lectures on youtube.

      Thanks again, much appreciated. I will look forward to the review you would post here; perhaps you can do the review in parts?

    1. From the above mentioned article (since clearly most people are incapable of reading):

      “The Israeli government’s references to “infiltrators” who threaten to swarm into Israel have little basis in the reality of Gaza as an occupied territory, and obscure Israel’s history of harsh reprisals against it. Absent from the official discourse is the fact that, under international law, Israel has a responsibility to protect those civilians living under its occupation. Absent, also, is the acknowledgement that Gaza is not a state bordering Israel. It is an anomalous space in which a non-Jewish population is penned for reasons of demographic engineering—namely, to safeguard the Israeli state’s ethno-nationalist aims. Recent data (from COGAT) suggest that more non-Jews than Jews now live in the land of historic Palestine between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

      The Great March of Return is thus not just a story of Gaza. Israel’s fear of “infiltration” is not limited to a few Palestinians breaking through the fence. It is a deeper and more existential fear that dates back to 1948—a fear that demands for Palestinian rights, which Israel has long worked to marginalize, might infiltrate the consciousness of a restive population. It is a fear that defiance might seep back into everyday Palestinian life and undermine an occupation that has been designed to ensure permanent subservience. This goal was embedded in the architecture of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the main product of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the entity ruling over the West Bank, which is committed to expansive security coordination with Israel. Palestinians have grown increasingly disillusioned with the PA, viewing it as little more than a subcontractor to the occupation that puts Israeli security interests before Palestinian rights. Although originally planned as a temporary measure lasting five years, the PA has become a permanent institutional fixture of the occupation, subsuming the PLO and forfeiting Palestinian liberation in return for limited powers of local government.”

  20. froginthewell:

    Buddha is from our tradition too. We celebrate Buddha and worship Buddha. My hope is to write about the connections between science and religion soon.

    For now, see read this beautiful quote from Swami Vivekananda about religion:
    Mind is an instrument in the hand of Atman, just as body is an instrument in the hand of mind. Matter is motion outside, mind is motion inside. All change begins and ends in time. If the Atman is unchangeable, It must be perfect; if perfect, It must be infinite; and if It be infinite, It must be only One; there cannot be two infinites. So the Atman, the Self, can be only One. Though It seems to be various, It is really only One. If a man were to go toward the sun, at every step he would see a different sun, and yet it would be the same sun after all.

    Asti, “isness”, is the basis of all unity; and just as soon as the basis is found, perfection ensues. If all colour could be resolved into one colour, painting would cease. The perfect oneness is rest; we refer all manifestations to one Being. Taoists, Confucianists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Mohammedans, Christians, and Zoroastrians, all preached the golden rule and in almost the same words; but only the Hindus have given the rationale, because they saw the reason: Man must love others because those others are himself. There is but One.

    Of all the great religious teachers the world has known, only Lao-tze, Buddha, and Jesus transcended the golden rule and said, “Do good to your enemies”, “Love them that hate you.”

    Principles exist; we do not create them, we only discover them. . . . Religion consists solely in realisation. Doctrines are methods, not religion. All the different religions are but applications of the one religion adapted to suit the requirements of different nations. Theories only lead to fighting; thus the name of God that ought to bring peace has been the cause of half the bloodshed of the world. Go to the direct source. Ask God what He is. Unless He answers, He is not; but every religion teaches that He does answer.

    Have something to say for yourself, else how can you have any idea of what others have said? Do not cling to old superstitions; be ever ready for new truths. “Fools are they who would drink brackish water from a well that their forefathers have digged and would not drink pure water from a well that others have digged.” Until we realise God for ourselves, we can know nothing about Him. Each man is perfect by his nature; prophets have manifested this perfection, but it is potential in us. How can we understand that Moses saw God unless we too see Him? If God ever came to anyone, He will come to me. I will go to God direct; let Him talk to me. I cannot take belief as a basis; that is atheism and blasphemy. If God spake to a man in the deserts of Arabia two thousand years ago, He can also speak to me today, else how can I know that He has not died? Come to God any way you can; only come. But in coming do not push anyone down.

    The knowing ones must have pity on the ignorant. One who knows is willing to give up his body even for an ant, because he knows that the body is nothing.

    1. I certainly consider Buddha to be from our tradition, but just as there are differences in how followers of Shankaracharya write vs how the followers of Ramanujacharya write, there are differences between how Buddhists wrote traditionally and how the followers of the so called “Astika darshanas” write. The former, I was claiming, is more conducive to appeal to intellectuals. The moment Scott Alexander writes about the Gita the way he writes about MCTB, I will change this view 🙂

      Though I do concede that part of the appeal of Buddhism to smart people comes from the way early Enlightenment Europeans portrayed it; however, this accounts only for part. Perhaps some more can be explained by the fact that most Buddhist texts available today were written in Sri Lanka or south east Asia or East Asia or Tibet, and not in India. Somehow articulation has always been a problem with Indians, with rare exceptions like Osho, and it is this that will be one of the factors that will contribute to eventually annihilating Hinduism.

      Excellent quote of Swami Vivekananda, especially starting from “Of all the great religious teachers the world has known, only Lao-tze, Buddha, and Jesus transcended the golden rule and said, “Do good to your enemies”, “Love them that hate you.””

      I also like “I cannot take belief as a basis; that is atheism and blasphemy.”

      1. froginthewell, in time I will give you examples of Western scientists that respect other parts of Sanathana Dharma too.

        Indophilia has long been a thing for many Westerners and not only for philosophers such as Voltaire and Emerson.

        1. Maurice Frydman is the closest name I can think of (apart from being a very unique and great spiritual personality, also a very important figure for the history of the Indian nation state, perhaps the one who set in motion the process by which the princely states joined the Indian union!! – though I am not happy about that as you can guess) – [link 1, link 2]. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find any books written by him: if he wrote books, not many seem to have survived. I am guessing he would have been a good writer because he seems to have played a role in the production of Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I am That, and that book reads far better, more structured and sober, than either the youtube videos or the other Nisargadatta Maharaj books.

        2. Looks like BP likes me too much these days, for another comment of mine seems to have gone into spam. This time I have it saved with me, and am repeating:

          Maurice Frydman is the closest name I can think of (apart from being a very unique and great spiritual personality, also a very important figure for the history of the Indian nation state, perhaps the one who set in motion the process by which the princely states joined the Indian union!! – though I am not happy about that as you can guess). Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find any books written by him: if he wrote books, not many seem to have survived. I am guessing he would have been a good writer because he seems to have played a role in the production of Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I am That, and that book reads far better, more structured and sober, than either the youtube videos or the other Nisargadatta Maharaj books.

          Here is the Wikipedia on him:


          Here is some blog article, which seems inspiring in any case:


          1. @Zack: Thanks very much. Now the same comment has appeared has essentially appeared thrice (whether to delete the duplications or not is of course up to you): the reason I wrote again and again was that I didn’t want to trouble you to go into the spam folder. Thanks.

          2. I enable ur comments from the mobile but I guess I have to go in the desktop and see why you are going to spam. I’ll keep the comments maybe there was something more essentially in the iteration..

          3. My guess is that the second of the two links, i.e., from “life after joining Isha Yoga”, might have had some issues with the spam detector. That website seems to be full of all kinds of flashy seeming links. Thanks.

        3. My response to this comment seems to have gone into spam; I reposted with the links changed to a different format and yet again that seems to have gone into spam. So I am posting without the links hoping this time it won’t go to spam:

          Maurice Frydman is the closest name I can think of (apart from being a very unique and great spiritual personality, also a very important figure for the history of the Indian nation state, perhaps the one who set in motion the process by which the princely states joined the Indian union!! – though I am not happy about that as you can guess). Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find any books written by him: if he wrote books, not many seem to have survived. I am guessing he would have been a good writer because he seems to have played a role in the production of Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I am That, and that book reads far better, more structured and sober, than either the youtube videos or the other Nisargadatta Maharaj books.

          One of the links was the wikipedia article on him, the other from a blog on life after joining Isha Yoga.

  21. For the record Slapstik, froginthewell, Razib, Omar, Violet, Vikram, leopard, VC, girmit, Shafiq, sbarrkum all write extremely well. In addition to being very intelligent and thoughtful.

    Zachary can write very good serious prose too. He generally prefers not to though; and produces pithy art, poetry, humor and fun! Which I enjoy immensely.

    1. None of you are trained in the Liberal Arts and that is your fundamental problem. Some of you barely write grammatical English.

      Vikram thinks he can go on about Pakistan and Islam based on some article he read once. I know his background (It’s publicly available on LinkedIn). It’s in “Computational Science” (whatever the hell that is). He should stick to that and leave Pakistan and Islam and other such things to human beings who have actually studied Anthropology and Literature. How one can comment on Islam without research or a degree in Islamic Studies boggles my mind.

      The Humanities are not meant for your average Indian. It’s sad but true. You people need to read the Western Canon and until you have done so you are all wastes of my time. I am sure your IT jobs are all very nice and you all know “Machine Learning”, but you know nothing about what it is to be a civilized human being. Only Literature, Anthropology, Sociology, etc teach you that. Jesus, some of you don’t even know the basics of International Law! Gaza is Occupied. Get with the program!

      There is a difference between Education (from the Latin “educare”) and training. You guys are trained not educated. That is why I am so done with this blog. The Hindutva brigade is welcome to take it over and drag it down with them. Keep being nasty about Muslims and Palestinians. No self-respecting Muslim is going to give you the time of day very soon.

      1. Even if you are right about every single criticism you have made above, the manner in which you have made it is quite condescending. Par for the course for the average joe, but frankly rather surprising to see it come from a person teaching at a uni.

        Maybe you should write in detail about the origin of the Palestine conflict as you see it for the benefit of us who perhaps don’t know it as well as you do. Don’t let your distaste for the “hindutva-types” get the better of the teacher in you.

        1. I have written plenty about Zionism and the Palestine conflict. Not my fault if you are incapable of reading. The links have been provided several times. But it seems to go straight over people’s heads and here we are again. You guys go straight into the arms of the Zionists, no matter how much evidence is given to you of Israel being a settler colonial State that is killing Palestinian Children as we speak. But that’s fine. I know when I am dealing with people who can’t be helped. Israel hates Muslims. You hate Muslims. Ergo we “love Israel”. It’s actually quite disgusting. Also, I’d be careful who I accuse of condescension. Your entire writing style on this blog in the past has been full of condescension.

          But for Slapstik’s sake, here is where the links can be found (Don’t say I didn’t try):


  22. Even if you are right about every single criticism you have made above, the manner in which you have made them is quite condescending. It is frankly surprising to see it come from a person teaching at a uni.

    Maybe you should write in detail about the origin of the Palestine conflict as you see it for the benefit of us who perhaps don’t know it as well as you do. Don’t let your distaste for the “hindutva-types” get the better of the teacher in you.

  23. “How one can comment on Islam without research or a degree in Islamic Studies boggles my mind.” – This is one of the favorite last defense of the Islamists. They know they cannot defend Islam, Hadith, Quran adequately from the modern onslaught of rationality, history and humanism. So they play this last card to try to stop people talking.

    “How one can comment on Islam without research or a degree in Islamic Studies boggles my mind. ” – Just imagine what a highest level of stupidity this is.
    People don’t stop commenting on history with degree in history. … on politics with political science…. on Hinduism without degree in Hinduism …. on and on.
    I wonder what sort of degree this specimen of a person has and what kind of comments he does.

    1. You can comment all you like. But unless you have the proper credentials, no one needs to take your comments particularly seriously.

      This thread is full of frankly idiotic opinions. Palestinians have been called generic “Arabs”. I have been told Gaza is not Occupied (as if the person who said this knows more than the UN). I have been told Israel is defending its “border”. This coming from people who don’t even know the terms Nakba and Naksa.

      I’m sorry but if you are going to say stupid things, I’m going to call you out on your stupidity. If you are a self-hating Muslim, I’m sorry for you, but it’s not my problem.

  24. Kabir, you attract more people with honey than with sticks. A lot more people would be drawn to your arguments if you made them more sweetly, lovingly, respectfully. On old eastern saying:
    Speak the truth
    Speak sweetly
    Do not speak the truth in a way that is not sweet

    A lot more people would read and dialogue with you if wrote with what Glenn Loury calls “Christian charity”.

    “Not my fault if you are incapable of reading.”
    They might have read and understood.
    “But it seems to go straight over people’s heads and here we are again.”
    More accurately they got it and want to ask clarifying detailed specific questions but are afraid that you might respond unpredictably and emotionally.

    “You guys go straight into the arms of the Zionists”
    Who is going into the arms of the Zionists? Please name one commentator at Brown Pundits. I love China and Chinese people. That doesn’t mean I support every aspect of China’s Tibet policy.

    ” I know when I am dealing with people who can’t be helped.” Please. This is not Qur’anic:
    I have made him (Adam) complete and breathed into him of My spirit…” [Qur’an, 15:29]
    “Allah created Adam in His/his image (`ala suratihi)” was narrated from Abu Hurayrah in both Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
    Human beings can transform and improve themselves. Human beings can be saved. And you can help with this if you wish Kabir.

    ” Israel hates Muslims. You hate Muslims. Ergo we “love Israel”.” Please name one commentator at Brown Pundits who hates muslims. The love of Israel is completely unrelated to any negative feeling towards muslims.

    Over 70% of all Israelis are Jews. It is hard for me to believe that such a large number of good, loving, honorable Jewish people can hate muslims. Some do. This is true. But not all.

    “Also, I’d be careful who I accuse of condescension. Your entire writing style on this blog in the past has been full of condescension.” I have never seen Slapstik ever use condescension in any context. Slapstik is always respectful.

    “If you are a self-hating Muslim, I’m sorry for you, but it’s not my problem.” In what possible alternative universe is Shafiq a self hating Muslim? Why do you write “it’s not by problem”? Aren’t the challenges of humanity your challenges? Do you not hurt when others suffer or when others do not reach their full potential?

  25. I do not and have never put up with stupidity. I don’t care if people don’t think I’m “sweet”. I will not turn my intellect off and be accepting of stupidity. No matter how many “eastern” sayings you throw at me.

    Do not quote the Quran at me. It’s extremely patronizing.

    Israelis vote for Likud. There is no hope for people who vote for Bibi Netanyahu or for those who would defend them. Not while the Natives of the Land are dying. I’m sorry, but NO. Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people not the Zionists. It’s sad you don’t get this. Or perhaps you don’t want to get this? Your Zionist friends do not belong in the Arab Middle East. They have stolen part of Palestine and in reality they will get to keep that part. But they damn well will leave the rest of it.

    There is a huge undercurrent of Islamophobia on Brown Pundits. It shows up all the time. There is no need for me to start taking names.

    “The challenges of humanity” are not my problem. I have no time for self-hating Muslims, Hindutvadis or Zionists. “Saving” people is also not my responsibility. People who don’t read,don’t do their research, don’t have liberal arts educations, and yet come here to say stupid things about how Gaza is not Occupied really are beyond help. If you think you know better than the United Nations what International Law is you are either an idiot or frankly delusional. In either case, it’s not my job to fix someone like that.

  26. AnAn, You are asking Kabir “Please name one commentator at Brown Pundits who hates muslims”.

    I quote from a comment of Kabir above, which might throw some light on his thought process on the issue:

    AnAn has a history of supporting “atheist Muslims” (you’re either a Muslim or an atheist which is it?) and all sorts of other kinds of “Muslims”. Just not the normal ones who believe in Quran and Hadiths.

    (I am of course not saying I agree with the last sentence: this whole article you wrote was about supporting normal Palestinian Muslims who believe in Quran and Hadiths).

    1. froginthewell, I am trying very hard to understand Kabir, not offend him, and make common cause with him on shared values and interests. It might be harder to collaborate with Kabir on things we agree about than on things we don’t agree about.

      I am by global standards very pro Palestinians and I am trying to present them in the best possible light to non Palestinians; and it is hard. Usually I am the most pro Palestinian person in a group discussion. Sometimes it feels like Kabir is trying to undermine presenting Palestinians positively.

      You see the way Kabir impugned Abu Mazen and the Palestinian people’s beloved National Security Forces (NSF) as Israeli Jewish collaborators; which is interpreted as code for supporting violent Islamist attacks against them. Abu Mazen won 63% of the Palestinian vote in 2005. Mustafa Barghouti, who I admire, came in second with only 19% of the vote. Both Kabir and I (and I suspect many Brown Pundit commentators) have our disagreements with Abu Mazen; but it is borderline anti Palestinian to subtly justify violent attacks against Abu Mazen, the PA, the NSF, Mustafa Barghouti and Hamas by Islamists. What is worse is that Kabir probably doesn’t understand what he is doing. Palestinians who actually live in the West Bank and Gaza are sick of foreigners and ex-patriot young naive people of Palestinian heritage calling for violent attacks against their government institutions, security forces and leaders.

      In fact there are entire articles I have not written because I don’t know what Kabir’s reaction will be and I don’t want to offend him unnecessarily. I suspect the same is true for multiple Brown Pundit contributors.

      Is it simply impossible to write about Palestine in any part of the world under any circumstances? Is this one of the world’s two nondiscussible issues? [The other being interpreting the Koran in a way consistent with love and light or to discuss if the Quran in heaven and the Quran on earth might be expressed with any pluralism and multiplicity.]

      1. Abu Mazen (or Mahmud Abbas) is responsible for sustaining the Occupation. He often threatens to return the keys to Israel but he never actually does it. The PA actually helps Israel with “security operations”. He should return the keys to Israel and let them be responsible for their own Occupation. Then the world would actually see what they are doing. Abbas provides them with a convenient fig leaf “Oh the Palestinians run themselves”. Yeah, they actually don’t. Maybe he enjoys being “President” of the Palestinian Authority (which is not a country but a Bantustan) too much to return the keys. I don’t know. This is not only my opinion. Many knowledgeable people who live in the region have advocated this (see +972 blog).

        You are not “pro-Palestinian” if you have the slightest bit of sympathy for their oppressor. Do you agree that each and every Zionist must vacate the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem? This is what the Palestinians want: for the Zionists to return to “Israel Proper” and allow a Palestinian State in what is left of Palestine (and under International Law has never belonged to Israel). If you think Zionists can keep living on Palestinian land, you are part of the problem and I am done wasting my time. Note I said Zionists and not Jews. Zionism is a racist and colonialist ideology. Judaism is a religion. I have no problem with Jews as such. Jews can continue to live in Palestine but not as settlers. But this is ultimately up to the Palestinian people and right now I think most of them are upset enough with Zionists to say that all Jews should be sent back to Israel Proper.

        I have never advocated violent attacks against anyone and I don’t think you can point to a single instance of that. That is a smear.

        As a non-Muslim who lacks a higher degree in Islamic Studies, it would probably be better for you to cease trying to interpret the Word of God in a way “consistent with love and light” (whatever that means). Leave our divine scripture to us. We know much more what Allah wants than Hindus do. If you don’t understand the fundamentals of Islam such as that Rasul-Allah (pbuh) is the Final Prophet of God and Prophethood as an institution is now dead (contrary to Ahmedi thought) or that anyone who claims to have come up with a “religion” after Islam is practicing a false religion , the idea that you can interpret the word of Allah is extremely pretentious and offensive. You need to learn how actual mainstream Muslims interpret Quran before you decide to interpret it to us.

        I don’t go around trying to interpret your Gita. I just leave it alone and leave it to believing Hindus to sort out what it means.

        1. The divinity of Quran is part of AnAn’s belief system, and she/he has as much right to interpret the Quran for herself/himself as you do for yourself. This is unlike your belief concerning the Gita, which you just don’t care for, so the situation is highly asymmetric. Somewhat like how I never bother you with the Quran, but often get into discussion with Christians on the teachings of Christ (and usually Christians welcome it, they don’t find it offensive that I think of it without being a Christian myself).

          AnAn was, in good faith, trying to find common ground with you (that said, I agree that trying to find such a common ground with you may be misguided).

          Your comment “…the idea that you can interpret the word of Allah is extremely pretentious and offensive.” is quite intolerant, and this sort of thinking is at the root of much anti-Ahmedi violence. The civilized thing is to let AnAn interpret it whichever way she/he wants (as long as she/he is not spreading hatred, which isn’t the case at all) but perhaps make it clear that you don’t want to be subject to having to listen to her/his views on the matter.

          1. The civilized thing is for non-Muslims (who do not have academic qualifications in Islam or a reading knowledge of Quranic Arabic) to not try to tell Muslims what our own religion says. The “love and light” people are doing their own thing and they are entitled to it. But that is not mainstream Islam. Mainstream Islam is the four Sunni fiqahs and the Fiqah Jafaria of Shias. Everything else is a fringe movement. Allah will deal with those people in the afterlife. I am sure He knows what He is doing.

            Zack (as the moderator of this forum) very politely asked the non-Muslims and the non-Pakistanis to please back off and stop pontificating about things that they don’t know about. I don’t know how else this message is supposed to be conveyed. In general, people need to refrain from comment on things that they have no clue about. Please read a book or attain some kind of an academic qualification.

            If Anan had a Masters or a Ph.D in Islamic Studies, his views would be much more credible. At this point (as a self-confessed “neoliberal economist”) I think he has zero idea what he is talking about.

            If my religion is attacked, I am going to respond and defend what proper Islam is as opposed to whatever you think it is. Honestly, I wish you guys would find some new topics.

          2. Quoting Quran to you very respectfully is not anywhere near as uncivilized as your saying “…the idea that you can interpret the word of Allah is extremely pretentious and offensive”, or saying “Allah will deal with those people in the afterlife” (using ominous language about persecuted people like Ahmadis), or mischaracterizing AnAn as “attacking” your religion when she/he is being as respectful as it gets.

          3. There is nothing “ominous” about saying Allah will deal with people in the afterlife. Islamic belief is that Allah will deal with all people who claim to be Muslim in the afterlife. Allah will deal with me in the afterlife. I am in fact being progressive by stating that who is or is not Muslim is not the business of an earthly government.

            Now that you have started calling me “uncivilized”, I think you and I have nothing further to say to each other. With great respect, buzz off.

          4. You didn’t say “It is for Allah to deal with all people including them”, you said “Everything else is a fringe movement. Allah will deal with those people in the afterlife.”, very clearly making the statement specifically for the so called “fringe movement”.

            Far before I called a particular action of yours uncivilized, you attacked me and not any particular statement of mine, as hating Muslims, providing not one single line of evidence.

            I have been far more respectful and accommodating to you than you have been to me. Not just me, everyone else in this forum.

          5. Dear god! You are a self-proclaimed Hindutvadi. Of course you people hate Muslims. People like you voted Lord Voldemort into power (He who is responsible for the largest pogrom against Muslims in recent years). You are responsible for the lynchings that have been going on over the past 4 years in Bharat Mata. I am a good liberal who has always voted for the Democratic Party in the US. I have never wanted anyone lynched and never voted for someone like that, either in Pakistan or in the US.

            Where the hell do you get off calling me “uncivilized”?

          6. There are lots of Hindutvavadis who don’t hate Muslims at all. I explicitly said that this is the case with me. It is up to you to not believe it, but your calling me a Muslim-hater is much ruder than my calling specific comment(s) of yours uncivilized.

            For the record, I haven’t ever voted for BJP.

          7. Oh dear, you implied that I persecute Ahmadis.

            Do remember you are speaking to someone with a degree in English Literature. My skills in Close Reading are far sharper than yours.

            I am done here.

        2. For the record, I haven’t ever persecuted an Ahmadi.

          What is this stupid game you are insisting we play?

          1. You brought up voting BJP, telling me “You are responsible for the lynchings that have been going on over the past 4 years in Bharat Mata”, and said that you have always voted for the democratic party.

            On the other hand, I didn’t accuse you of persecuting Ahmadis, only pointed out that I find your language while talking about such groups offensive.

        3. You find my language offensive? Like I give a toss! Who the hell do you even think you are?

  27. Everyone is more than welcome to read and interpret the Gita any way they want. The Gita belongs to all of humanity. In much the way the holy Quran belongs to all of humanity. All of us–muslim and nonmuslim alike–are free to read, recite, listen to and interpret the holy Quran any way we wish. This is what freedom of art, speech, thought, intuition and feeling means. Freedom is Arya culture. Freedom is Bharatiya culture. Freedom is Sanathana Dharma.

    And Kabir, you don’t have to read what the rest of us say to each other on Islam or anything else. That too is freedom.

    In India at least (and in America/Canada), many mosques and muslim spiritual centers warmly welcome nonmuslims. And in some cases nonmuslims represent a majority of visitors. Nonmuslims are free to engage in dialogue regarding the holy Quran and muslim theology. Not just Sufis and Shia; but even non Sufi Sunnis to some degree do this. This is why India (along with Canada and America) remains the best place in the world to live for muslims who value freedom.

    Kabir, maybe the +972 blog is a better place to have a discussion about Palestine since more people who know about Palestine read it. I wonder if they will ban me. My guess is that they are run by post modernists who are institutionally opposed to freedom of speech.

    I don’t think you are advocating violent attacks against the NSF, PA, Abu Mazen, Hamas, or Palestinian political leaders. I think you are foolishly being manipulated and used by those who do. I don’t think you understand the implications of what you are writing.

    I don’t agree with the concept of oppressor and oppressed. This is a deeply incomplete post modernist construct that doesn’t explain the real world.

    Jesus said to love our enemy. This is the teaching of religions around the world. A test for you. Can you name a single religion that doesn’t’ believe in loving our enemy? Loving thy enemy is the Palestinian way. Just as it is the Israeli way.

    You are oversimplifying Palestine. Palestinians need food, water, clothes and shelter today. Not 100 years from now after they get a perfect peace agreement with Israel. Why should Palestinians starve and dehydrate for foreigners?

    Abu Mazen should:
    -complete implementation of a national unity government with Hamas
    -have new synchronized national elections for President and Parliament
    -begin negotiations with Israel to achieve the following:
    —open Gaza port
    —open Gaza international airport
    —build rail-lines and highways connecting Gaza port and Gaza international airport with the Israeli railway network and highway network; and well as the Egyptian railway network and highway network
    —allow all Palestinian goods and services to be freely sold in Israel without any tariffs or barriers
    —allow the free transportation of goods and people between Gaza and the West Bank
    —sharply increase the number of Israeli visas for Palestinians (day commute work visas, longer term work visas, student visas, business visas, religious visas, tourist visas {tourist visas being the least important of the lot})
    —fully connect the Palestinian electricity, fixed line and wireless networks, water and sewage systems with Israel’s
    —allow all Palestinians to freely own land, financial assets and businesses in Israel
    —allow all Palestinians to freely run businesses inside Israel

    This is the immediate stuff. In the long term Palestine needs to negotiate a long term peace treaty with Israel that involves many, many other things–including an Israeli taxpayer funded Marshall plan for Palestine. And a final solution to all private property claims in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel proper. As part of this deal Palestinian private citizens will end up owning a lot of businesses, land and property domiciled in Israel. The PA should demand the lion share of fresh water sale royalties and much else in addition.

    But negotiating a final solution with Israel will take many years. Palestine and Israel should negotiate many short term agreements first before a final peace settlement is completed.


    BTW, serious question. Have you met any Palestinians who don’t want Israel to give large numbers of day work permits, work visas, student visas to Palestinians? This is one of the primary demands of Palestinians across the political spectrum. This is what the 2018 Gaza horror is about. Israel is refusing this Palestinian (Hamas, Fatah, PA, Barghouti) demand. As a result Gazans are walking over the border into Israel in large numbers to demand their right to:
    1) work in Israel
    2) study in Israel
    3) get a pathway to Israeli citizenship
    Palestinians believe that these are Palestinian rights that Israel cannot deny under divine laws of justice or under international law.

    The IDF is trying to stop tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians from crossing the border into Israel. At times this has degenerated into armed gunfights between Palestinians trying to get to Israel and the IDF.

    I am curious. Can we do a poll? What do Brown Pundit readers think:
    1) should Israel give Palestinians day work permits, longer term work permits, student visas?
    2) does Israel have the right to use force to prevent Palestinians from entering Israel to get jobs or go to Israeli schools?

    1. I understand the implications of everything I write. I am not stupid, even if you think I am. It is extremely condescending of you to think I am being “manipulated”.

      The Quran-e-Pak does not belong to “all humanity”. It belongs to the Ummat-e-Muhammadi. You have no right to tell Muslims what our religion says. It’s extremely obnoxious.

      Palestinians need “Israel” to get out of Palestine. That is the first order of business. And no Palestinians do not want to become “Israelis.” You live in some fantasy world. Palestinians want “Israel” to cease existing (at least in the form it exists today as a Jewish Apartheid State). The “Great March of Return” is about the right to leave the prison and return to their ancestral homes. Read Mariam Barghouti’s article.

      Please spare me the “freedom is Arya” line.

      I think you should just not engage with me and I should not engage with you. This is not going anywhere. If you and your Hindu friends want me to leave this blog, you’re doing a fine job of it, except that I am stubborn and I will keep responding to clarify what Islam is as opposed to whatever half-assed views you’ve acquired from somewhere. For the love of god, stick to economics (presumably you’re good at that, though I have serious doubts).

      1. Israelis are really “loving their enemy” by shooting them on sight. Jesus! The level of stupidity on BP is amazing….

  28. Kabir, thanks for respecting the Ja’fari. Many muslims don’t. This is a big deal. As you know the Ja’fari reject the six Hadiths outright albeit they put some of the same sayings (and their oral chain) in their own texts.

    Sufism is not a fringe movement. Although Sufis nominally and officially do not contradict the six Hadiths; rather justifying their own theology with linguistic gymnastics.

    This is one of your better comments Kabir. 🙂

    Just a note. It is possible that some of the commentators on this blog have read the Koran and Hadiths–at least in translation. Yes, their interpretations might be wrong. I am sure many of my interpretations are dead wrong.

    A question to everyone at Brown Pundits. Has the holy Quran or Islam been disrespected in any way on this thread by anyone?

    1. Reading in translation is not good enough. Are you an expert in Quranic Arabic? I am not. I leave it to the Ulema to tell me what Islam is.
      Why would I not respect the Fiqah Jafaria? I am not some kind of Sunni extremist. Shias are Muslim and no Muslim country has declared otherwise. Shias do not deny the finality of Rasul Allah (pbuh) or that Islam is the true religion (It is Allah’s update on Christianity and Judaism. The final operating system if you will). Many Shias and Sunnis still intermarry in Pakistan. I don’t need to get into detail about my family background but you make too many assumptions.

      Sufism is very much a fringe movement, whether you want to admit it or not. People who don’t follow Quran and Hadiths are not actually following proper Islam but something of their own (again they are fully entitled and only Allah will judge on the Day of Judgement).

      Discussions of Islam should be taken up with Islamic Scholars. I am not an Islamic Scholar.

    2. He seems to find it disrespectful on your part to talk to him about Quran while being neither a “mainstream Muslim” nor having degree in Islamic studies(!!) He wants you to stop any sort of religious discussion with him. I actually sort of agree on that with him, he should be left alone without being bothered with topics he doesn’t like, though I find some of the statements he makes in those comments objectionable.

      How representative is his attitude among “mainstream Muslims” that you know? Are there many “mainstream Muslims” who appreciate your discussing Quran with them? If so, how happy will such people be to see Kabir purporting to make claims on their behalf (that it is offensive for you to talk to Quran to them)?

      1. Yes, thank Bhagwan! Finally someone sees the light. Please stop trying to explain Islam to Muslims.
        Would you like it if (without a degree in Hindu Studies) I tell you that your lived experience and textual reading of the Bhagavad Gita is wrong and then proceed to laboriously explain how you should read the Laws of Manu in a progressive light? Probably not. I don’t know Sanskrit. I have no idea what the Vedas say. So I would never presume to explain your religion to you. Believing Hindus should define Hinduism (or Sanathana Dharma whatever you want to call it). Similarly, believing and Orthodox Muslims should define what Islam is.

        1. I wouldn’t find someone doing that intrinsically disrespectful. My point is limited: “If Kabir doesn’t want to be bothered on that particular topic, then don’t bother him on that particular topic”.

          1. Fine. You may not find it offensive. More power to you. Probably lots of Hindus would be super pissed off if a Muslim started trying to explain the Laws of Manu to them. Similarly, lots of Muslims hate it when non-Muslims try to tell us what the Quran-e-Pak says.

      2. “How representative is his attitude among “mainstream Muslims” that you know? Are there many “mainstream Muslims” who appreciate your discussing Quran with them?”

        I have found that Sufi and Shia muslims, their spiritual aspirants and their scholars are very open to dialogue.

        I don’t know enough about non Sufi Sunnis to know how most of them feel about discussing the Quran and Islam. I have found some non Sufi Sunnis who were eager for dialogue but I don’t know how representative they are of all non Sufi Sunnis.

        As you know froginthewell, there is a lot of interfaith dialogue. What do you think about the value of interfaith dialogue? If Kabir’s argument is taken to its logical conclusion how can there be interfaith dialogue? Or is interfaith dialogue with muslims inappropriate?

        As best I can tell muslims who engage in dialogue might not have any issue with Kabir’s views. They would carefully listen to Kabir and reflect deeply on his words. Isn’t that that the point of dialogue?

        I agree with you that discussing Islamic theology with Kabir might be less than completely productive. My comments regarding the Quran and Islamic theology are not aimed at Kabir but at the wider readership.

        This said, I am very happy that Kabir has unambiguously respected the legitimacy of Jafaria. This demonstrates that he is a liberal muslim. I very much agree with Kabir regarding Jafaria! 🙂 🙂 🙂

        1. Not a “liberal Muslim”(another totally meaningless term). Just a normal Muslim who believes in letting Allah decide who is or is not Muslim.

  29. Again, kudos for respecting the Jafaria. Many of the leading Sunni scholars in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and around the world do not. I could expound on this a lot more but don’t want to sound sectarian; I have been accused of the “sectarian” charge before.

    “Are you an expert in Quranic Arabic?” Most definitely not. And I am painfully aware of this whenever I read a Quranic verse. My preference is to analyze word by word on important points. Hence I try to share my interpretations with the greatest humility 🙂 And I love being corrected by people far greater than myself.

    “People who don’t follow Quran and Hadiths are not actually following proper Islam but something of their own”
    The Jafaria overtly denies and rejects the six Hadiths and doesn’t follow them. Think you inadvertently made a typo 😉
    Jafaria also interprets the Koran very differently from how the four/five mainstream schools of Sunni Jurisprudence do.

    ” (again they are fully entitled and only Allah will judge on the Day of Judgement).” Kudos to you again Kabir! We agree completely.

    “Sufism is very much a fringe movement” It is not. There are very conservatively over a hundred million Sufis in the world:


    1. Shia are Muslim. They have a different interpretation. But they agree on what is important. There will never be a Prophet after Rasul Allah (pbuh) and anyone who claims to be one is an imposter. Shia are just very into the family of the Prophet while Sunnis are into the Four Righteous Caliphs. I don’t want get into a Shia-Sunni debate. There are Shia in my extended family.

      Sufis are fringe. 100 million out of more than 1 billion Muslims is fringe. Most of the world’s Muslims follow the four Sunni Fiqahs.

      Anyway, I am not going to have my religion explained to me by a non-Muslim without academic credentials. Thanks.

  30. @Slapstik,

    This thread has gone bonkers. 🙂
    Just want to note that not Just Indians but all human behaviours can be modelled with good predictive capacity (I mean big data and ML and all that). However that doesn’t take away from low-trust and inherent skepticism of average Indian.

    But their problem is more lack of curiosity than lack of skepticism imo.

    1. @Violet

      On the “bonkers” bit you have my complete agreement 🙂

      On the predictive capacity of ML, I have to say I have strong reservations re predictability. In general, the more knowledge-generating a system is (a small subset of non-linear feedback processes), the less predictable it gets *in principle*. Even when we completely simulate such a system to extremely high fidelity, it is well-nigh impossible. Eg. the natural “experiment” of monozygotic (identical) twins, who share near-identical genetic information and very similar cultural training, yet it is impossible to predict average behaviour of one over any testing period by analysing that of another. This is because each individual *creates* knowledge.

      Totalitarian systems (of political or religious kind) which control education and drill conformism into kids from an early age make individual/group behaviour more amenable to some version of Seldonian psychohistory.

      The process of knowledge creation – and its innately non-conformist nature – is closely linked with human cognition and very little understood. It is really a very hard problem with implications for AI/big data. Far harder than most AI/big-data enthusiasts realize or care to admit. Anyway, I am going to quote Deutsch on the issue:

      On the low trust bit of Indians, I vaguely see where you are coming from. Maybe I haven’t thought about it as much as you have. But instinctively to me, the over-reliance on thumb rules in Indian life generally makes for low rates of creative knowledge generation (and high levels of conformism).

  31. https://twitter.com/lisang/status/999677593363337217
    Lisa Goldman wrote a fine article about Gaza. Author Ian Lustick, was forbidden from teaching at a synagogue in suburban Philadelphia. Horrible.

    Kabir, it turns out we have a common acquaintance in +972. The blog is quite good. Not remotely as crazy as other “Palestinian” blogs I have been at. Most of the articles are reasonable.

    1. I love +972. They are fiercely pro-Palestinian and fiercely anti-Zionist. Even the Israeli commentators understand that their country was built on the crime of the Nakba.

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