PASSIONATE INTENSITIES: Some say it's an occupation!


Some say it's a blockade: We don't think that the people we'll name are actually "the worst."

In our view, their behavior has been astoundingly dumb and extremely unhelpful. But according to experts, this is the way we humans are inclined to behave at times of passionate intensity—at deeply challenging times like these.

Once again, here's the way Yeats famously limned it in the aftermath of the first world war:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

The worst are full of passionate intensity? In our view, so were Batya Ungar-Sargon and Alan Dershowitz as they made remarkable statements on a pair of Fox "cable news" shows.

Yesterday, we focused on the very first thing the Harvard professor said. 

To his credit, he didn't say that Barack Obama needs a yard sign which says, "Kill the Jews." That was the Newsweek editor's astonishing statement or suggestion when she appeared on Fox & Friends. 

As for Dershowitz, when he appeared on Mornings with Maria, he started his lecture as shown:

BARTIROMO: (11/10/23): I want to get you to tell me more about what exactly Obama said that was—he did have moral equivalency between, you know, the terrorists of Hamas and Israel!

DERSHOWITZ: Well first, he said that the occupation is unbearable. He just lied through his teeth.

There is no occupation of Gaza. In 2005, and if life is unbearable in Gaza, it's because Hamas has been in control—the kleptocracy. People have stolen billions of dollars that were intended for humanitarian aid for their own bank accts in Qatar.

As far as the occupation of the West Bank, he's been to Ramallah. He knows Ramallah—there's no occupation. It's a beautiful city, as nice as Jerusalem, except a lot safer, because there's no terrorism.

And to compare those disputed claims with the rapes, beheadings, burnings, kidnappings, it's just obscene and despicable. And what it does is it lends support to those students, basically, who are saying, "Well, what Hamas really did was not so bad. It was in response to the occupation."

The professor disputed Obama's use of one key word. That key word was "occupation." 

There is no occupation, the irate professor said. Indeed, Obama had been "lying through his teeth" when he used that key word.

The professor went to say that Obama had finally revealed his "deep hatred of Israel." There was no mention of a sign, but his presentation had been "obscene and despicable."

As he started, the professor focused on that one key word. And in fact, as part of a multi-faceted statement, Barack Obama had said such things as these:

[W]hat Hamas did was horrific, and there’s no justification for it. 

And what is also true is that the occupation, and what’s happening to Palestinians, is unbearable.

"The occupation is unbearable," Obama had plainly said! As the professor spouted and fumed, the passion took over from there.

By the time the professor was through, Obama had actually said or suggested that the mass slaughter performed by Hamas was actually "not so bad!" Mainly, though, the professor was appalled by Obama's use of that one key word:

There is no occupation, he said. The fact that Oabam had used that word showed that he was "lying through his teeth."

What's in a word? the sages have long asked. In this instance, let' walk through a partial answer to that age-old question.

Did Gaza lay under an "occupation" as of October 7? For the record, some have said the answer is yes. Others have chosen to opt for a different key term.

In the aftermath of October 7, some news orgs offered background information about the situation. Under the headline shown below, CNBC offered this thumbnail account on October 17:

What is the Gaza Strip? What you need to know about the territory at the heart of the Israel-Hamas war


Following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent Arab-Israeli war, Israel seized land from the Palestinian Arab-allocated state and ended up with 77% of the total territory. More than half of the Palestinian Arab population was expelled or fled as refugees to Gaza, the West Bank and neighboring countries.

Gaza was under the control of Egypt from 1948 until 1967. Israel subsequently gained control of and occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank following its victory in the 1967 Six-Day War against Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The United Nations classifies Israel as an occupier state over the Palestinian territories.

Say what? The United Nations classified the existing state of play as an "occupation?" 

Just because the U.N. says it, that doesn't mean that it's right! At any rate, CNBC might have been wrong about that matter—but the more blue-friendly NBC News had already offered this:

Gaza Strip explained: Who controls it and what to know


In 2005, under international and domestic pressure, Israel withdrew around 9,000 Israeli settlers and its military forces from Gaza, leaving the enclave to be governed by the Palestinian Authority, which also controlled parts of the occupied West Bank.

Today, with over 2 million Palestinians living within roughly 140 square miles, it is “one of the world’s most densely populated territories,” according to Gisha, an Israeli nongovernmental organization. Half of Palestinians living in Gaza are under age 19, but they have few to no prospects for socioeconomic growth and limited access to the outside world.

Hamas, which has clashed repeatedly with the Palestinian leaders in the West Bank who negotiated the Oslo Peace Accords, is a militant Palestinian nationalist movement currently led by Ismail Haniyeh. It took control of Gaza after it won elections there in 2006. Since then, no elections have been held.

Despite pleas from the United Nations and human rights groups, Israel has maintained a land, air and sea blockade on Gaza since 2007 that has had a devastating effect on Palestinian civilians. Israel says the blockade, which gives it control of Gaza's borders and is also enforced by Egypt, is necessary to protect Israeli citizens from Hamas.

The International Committee of the Red Cross considers the blockade illegal and says it violates the Geneva Convention, a charge Israeli officials deny. The U.N., various human rights groups and legal scholars, citing the blockade, consider Gaza to still be under military occupation by Israel. 

According to that report, it isn't just the United Nations. It's also "various human rights groups and legal scholars" who still considered Gaza to be under occupation.

For the record, yes! The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of those groups. That doesn't mean that its view is correct. But Obama has a fair amount of company in the use of that one key word.

Meanwhile, notice this! In that report by NBC News, a new term has appeared. 

That new term is "blockade." According to some observers, Gaza hadn't been suffering from an "occupation." It had been suffering from a "blockade."

According to NBC News, Israel has (rightly or wrongly) "maintained a land, air and sea blockade on Gaza since 2007." 

Also according to NBC News, that blockade "has had a devastating effect on Palestinian civilians." For its part, Israel says the blockade "is necessary to protect Israeli citizens from Hamas."

Who is "right" in all of this? Different people will answer that question in a wide array of ways. But suppose Obama had made the statement shown below. Would that statement have been acceptable to the furious professor?

[W]hat Hamas did was horrific, and there’s no justification for it. 

And what is also true is that the blockade, and what’s happening to Palestinians, is unbearable.

Would Obama have been "lying through his teeth" if he'd simply gone with "blockade?" Would he still have been revealing his long-hidden "deep hatred of Israel?"

We don't know what the professor would have said if Obama had chosen that alternate word. But had the existing state of affairs really been "unbearable" for Palestinians in Gaza? 

For the professor, "unbearable" seemed to be another forbidden term. But for the record, that CNBC report had included this call of the roll:

Between 2008 and 2023 before the current conflict, Israeli airstrikes had killed 6,407 Palestinians in the occupied territories, 5,360 of whom were in Gaza, according to the U.N. Over the same period, 308 Israelis were killed.

That doesn't mean that the airstrikes in question were "wrong." That said, this is the kind of information which has rarely been cited as cable news stars have shouted and yelled in the course of saying that they can't imagine why These College Kids Today may adopt a view concerning this matter which differs from their own infallible view.

Let's return to that NBC News report. "Half of Palestinians living in Gaza are under age 19," the report said, "but they have few to no prospects for socioeconomic growth and limited access to the outside world."

Could a person have that sort of thing in mind when he calls the situation "unbearable?" Could that person have made a fairer presentation by choosing a softer term?

Obama needs a sign, the lady said to the cable news friends. Barack Obama needs a yard sign which says, "Kill the Jews."

According to experts, that is the astonishing way we human beings may behave when the intensity of our passion grips us on "cable news" programs.

To his credit, the Harvard professor didn't say that—but was what he said much wiser, much more helpful? We can't really say that it was. 

In our view, it's unfortunate when college students exercise what may be limited judgment. In our view, when their famous professors spout and fume, the center may struggle to hold. 

The situation in Gaza has gone on for many years. It's very, very, very hard to untangle the right and the wrong of various actions which have been taken down through the many long years by the various parties.

Moral and mental breakdowns on cable don't help us move toward better understanding. Instead, they may show what Yeats was talking about. They may also show that the kind of spinouts he was citing aren't restricted to "the worst."

For ourselves, we'd like to see peace and prosperity come to the people of Israel and to the people of Palestine. We'd like to see their winning example spread elsewhere in the world.

Tomorrow, we'll riddle this a bit further. For this morning, though, we leave you with a question:

Who do you prefer, the lady or the tiger? Which key word would make everything right—occupation or blockade?

Tomorrow: Nicholas Kristof

This afternoon: A New York Times formulation concerning these key words


  1. Somerby details the actions taken by Israel against Gaza, but he does not describe the actions taken by Eqypt, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians (especially Hamas) against Israel. For example, Somerby quotes sources which state that there was a war in 1967 but does not mention the blockade against Israel enacted by Egypt when it closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and maritime activity. And while Somerby is correct that Israel has enacted a blockade against Gaza, Egypt too has closed its border to Gaza and enacted its own blockade of the Palestinian people there. In the aftermath of the 6-day war (won by Israel), Egypt closed the Suez Canal until 1975, causing a worldwide energy crisis and oil shortages, attempting to pressure supporters of Israel to withdraw their support.

    It isn't as if Gaza's residents were sitting passively and doing nothing during the time period Somerby focuses upon. The fact that Somerby is uninterested in the provocations borne by Israel shows bias in favor of Palestine and against Israel.

    Somerby has focused solely on whether the word "occupation" is appropriate or not. That is a small part of what is happening between Israel and Gaza. It is only relevant to the attack on Obama, and Obama is not central to anything happening in the Middle East today, because he is no longer president and has not chosen to be a statesman either (as Carter did after leaving office). Obama is another private citizen these days, and why does it matter what he said or what is said about him, to the point of writing a week's worth of essays about him?

    1. Are you sure Israel won the war? Is this what victory looks like?

    2. Are you suggesting that the Arabs have continued their terrorist attacks on Israel in order to convince themselves that they didn't lose a series of wars that they lost? All the more reason why Palestine is in the wrong and Israel must continue to protect itself. Poor losers can never make themselves seem like winners by refusing to acknowledge their defeat. And yes, of course Israel won.

    3. I think you are on the right track, but what Bob misses is that the mean spirit right is finding great importance in an opportunity to stick it to a hero from the Democratic Party. They already destroyed the legacy of Bill Clinton but have had a harder time denigrating Obama: Dersh is not the only one spouting this garbage. And since this supposed liberal has been sucking up to Trump, a racist weirdo Obama hater, he has a lot of bad conscience to project.

    4. Israel is an ethnostate, it’s creation encouraged by antisemites as a way to purge countries of their Jewish population, and as such should not exist; however, any area has a right to defend itself when attacked.

      But of course a key word in this conflict is asymmetry, as even Somerby notes the Palestinians are massively oppressed by Israel - its not merely border control, Israel controls the few hours a day Gaza can have basic needs like electricity and water, and for every Israeli killed, they retaliate by killing tens or hundreds of Palestinians.

      Americans no longer support Israel because of the immoral asymmetry they impose upon the Palestinians, and much of Israeli citizens agree.

      Peace was progressing in the 90s until Israel was taken over by right wing religious fanatics, this conflict is not really about Jews/Israel versus Palestinians, it’s about the right trying to dominate others.

    5. Ethnostate is the wrong word. Israel has a religious foundation as an explicit homeland for Jews, but that is not ethnic, especially given that both sephardic Jews and Arabs, especially Palestinians have the same semitic ethnicity. It makes more sense to call Israel a nation with a national religion but protection for religious minorities in its constitution.

      Many countries have state religions. Most of the Arab nations have Islam as a state religion. There are many Catholic countries, Great Britain has the Church of England as its Protestant state religion. Denmark, Iceland and Finland have a Lutheran state religion. Etc. This is not unusual for nations. Israel is the ONLY country to have Judaism as a state religion. But it is NOT the only country to have established a state religion. There are no Hindu states but there are quite a few Buddhist state religions.

      Israel controls Palestinian territories now because those territories were lost in previous wars arising from attacks on Israel by Arab nations seeking to destroy it. The measures it has imposed on Palestinians arise from the need for security, not from hatried or persecution of Palestinians. Note that Palestinians turned down a previous two-state peace solution during negotiations following one of their previous unsuccessful attacks on Israel.

      One could say that Palestine itself has been taken over by religious extremists, Arab ones. This latest attack can be seen as an attempt to disrupt the negotiations between Saudi Arabia (a sunni Islamic nation) and Israel to normalize their relations. Iran does not want to see that happen because it would strengthen the Saudis who are enemies of the Shia Muslims in Iran. Iran is a theocracy -- that means it not only has a state religion but its laws are based on that religion and it is governed by religious leaders, not a secular government.

    6. If there is asymmetry, it is because Israel is more powerful than Palestinians or their Arab helper nations. There is also an asymmetry of hate -- the Palestinians hate the Israelis more than vice versa. The Israelis are upset by the atrocities committed by Palestinian terrorists but do not hate Palestinians as a people. Of course, there are no doubt individual exceptions among both sides.

    7. Nice try.
      I'm an American, and I read the mainstream media.
      You can't fool me. There's no such thing as "asymmetry". The radical Right, who tried to overthrow an election because black people's votes were counted, are exactly as radical as the Left, who want Universal Healthcare for all Americans.

  2. "Who do you prefer, the lady or the tiger?"

    "'The Lady, or the Tiger?' by Frank R. Stanton is a short story first published in 1882. In the story, a young man is forced to choose between two doors: one containing a beautiful woman he will marry and the other containing a tiger who will kill him." (Wikipedia)

    This is a nonsensical question. The lady or the tiger refers to what is hidden behind a door, with the chooser entirely ignorant of what is where, with no clues about how to guess. It is a matter of luck whether the lady or the tiger is selected, not knowledge or preference for one over the other.

    This does not apply to Israel/Gaza except in the sense that the problem is difficult to solve -- but not for the reasons present in the lady/tiger dilemma. The intractable hatred of Palestinians for Jews and the entirely missing trust that Palestinians would stop attacking Jews if restraint were released have created a stalemate. The conditions resulting from this are worse for Palestinians than for Jews (except those who have been killed or are hostages), so the world seems to want to condemn Israel, but what can Israel do about the situation that will not place more Israelis in jeopardy? Somerby does not say. He instead refers to a stupid short story that is in no way an analogy to Isarel's quandary. Meanwhile, no one seems to care that Qatar aided Hamas in its attack, that hostages are still imprisoned in Gaza, that Palestinians are still attacking Israeli's aided by Hezbollah, and that Israel is being maligned worldwide by pro-Palestinian lobbyists and propagandists and the many thousands of misled college students on campuses and city streets outside Israel.

    And how quickly the dead Israels killed by Hamas on 10/7 are forgotten as the Palestinians point to the death totals and think that a death-to-death comparison makes them the winner of the victim contest, when they are the ones who launched a sneak attack and brought this situation onto everyone, for what purpose? None that can be identified. Meanwhile Somerby thinks the most important issue to discuss is Obama's reputation.

    1. Thank you for clearing that lady and the Tiger business, I remember the story from junior high enough to grown when Bob made hash of it. I do think the political dumping on Obama has its relevance, though Bob had beaten it to death at this point. I wish others had spoken up.


  3. "For ourselves, we'd like to see peace and prosperity come to the people of Israel and to the people of Palestine. "

    That's unlikely, Bob. Robbers and the robbed are unlikely to "see peace and prosperity" together. Something's gotta give.

    "In 1948, the year of the Nakba, over 450 Palestinian villages and towns were wiped from the map by Zionist militias and 800,000 Palestinians were forced into exile as a result. Indeed massacres such as the one in Deir Yassin and Tantura remain etched in Palestinian collective memories.

    Today, some of the Israeli regime’s most important landmarks sit where Palestinian localities once stood, from Tel Aviv University to Ben Gurion airport. Many of the Israeli activists who came to demonstrate in Huwara, came from their homes, hipster bars and artisanal bakeries in Tel Aviv that sit on top of destroyed Palestinian villages. Far from Schama’s description of a noble document, the Israeli Declaration of Independence institutionalised Zionist settler colonialism and the destruction of Palestine."

    1. 11:10 one can sympathize with your passion, but your claims are ahistorical.

    2. I assume "ahistorical" means nothing more than "I don't agree with your history". I have been getting my info from Wikipedia. Where does your claim that I am being ahistorical come from?

    3. The co-founder of Wikipedia says it's been a tool of US intelligence services since at least 2008.

    4. Corby has advised me to avoid Wikipedia.

    5. Yes, keep your paws off my beloved wikipedia. I am Corby.

    6. I trust Wikipedia more than pro-Palestinian propaganda.

    7. So, you're hating Arabs (who are, incidentally, Semites), Corby?

      Fine with me, there is no law against it.

    8. You are talking to yourself.

  4. "Which key word would make everything right—occupation or blockade?"

    How about the words terrorism and massacre?

    The choice of two words that have both been applied against Israel is biased. Does Somerby think the Israelis are doing things to the Palestinians for fun or out of unprovoked malice? Does it not matter to Somerby what Hamas did on 10/7? Apparently not.

  5. I like Bob's reference to "The Lady or the Tiger," but not in the way he meant it. The struggle between the lady and tiger is completely one-sided. The lady will never precipitate an attack on the Tiger. The tiger will take any opportunity to attack the lady. That's a good parallel. Israel has no desire to attack the Palestinians. The Palestinians will attack Israel whenever they can. Going forward, there seems to be no action that will stop the Palestinians from attacking Israel whenever they can

    BTW Bob keeps harping on the word "occupation." He ought to pay more attention to Obama's word :"unbearable." The word "Occupation" is debatable. The word "Unbearable" is an antisemitic lie. If any organization makes Palestinian life unbearable, it's Hamas.

    Hamas is the organization that takes so much Palestinian money away. Hamas builds military installations in places like Palestinian hospital, where civilians will be hurt. Hamas makes attacks on Israel knowing that Palestinian civilian will be hurt when Israel counter-attacks.

    Blaming things on the Jews when the Jews are not the ones at fault is an age-old form of anti-semitism.

    1. “ Blaming things on the Jews when the Jews are not the ones at fault is an age-old form of anti-semitism.” and this where you go off the rails. Obama isn’t blaming anything on the “Jews.” He, and other decent people, may from time to time criticize Israel and its political policies. But you are the one equating that with “blaming the Jews.”

    2. mh -- do you not agree that Obama was blaming the Jewish homeland for an "unbearable occupation"?

    3. Israel is also a political entity, and it should be possible to criticize its actions without being accused of antisemitism.

    4. It's useless. Leave him alone.

    5. mh - If the criticism were fair, I would agree with you. But, the criticism is wildly unfair, so the question arises of why Israel is being held to a much different standard than any other country.

    6. BTW I suspect that many people unfairly blaming Israel are not antiseminitc. Rather they are not particularly knowledgeable of the background They're being being misled by opinion leaders who ARE antisemitic. Perhaps @2:02 may fall in this category.

    7. I fall in the category of observers of David in Cal's behavior vis-a-vis Israel. In my opinion, nothing useful is to be expected from David in Cal, on this subject.

      Does it make me antisemitic? If it does, so be it.

    8. Agree with 2:02, there’s no persuading of the right wingers that comment here, we are all free to do as we please, but the discourse is better served by ignoring these sad folks.

      I learn a lot from the non fanboy commenters, but it’s harder when the discourse is muddied by these right wing fanboys, which is exactly their intent.

      Don’t be a sucker.

  6. Erecting a Jewish state in the Levant was a mistake.

    1. @2:11 - You may want to read "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" It is a 2007 novel by American author Michael Chabon.[1] The novel is a detective story set in an alternative history version of the present day, based on the premise that during World War II, a temporary settlement for Jewish refugees was established in Sitka, Alaska, in 1941, and that the fledgling State of Israel was destroyed in 1948. The novel is set in Sitka, which it depicts as a large, Yiddish-speaking metropolis.

    2. Too bad Zionists pretty much eradicated Yiddish. A "ghetto jargon", as they called it. Beautiful dialect it was. A spectrum of dialects, really.

    3. Prior to and at the end of WWII, the US did not wish to accept Jewish immigrants. See:

      Why we Watched: Europe, America and the Holocaust, by Hamerow (2008)

      The establishment of the nation of Israel was not a disaster for those Jews who settled there. Settling in the US was not an option. The use of Hebrew instead of Yiddish provided a common language for all Jews, since religious observance occurs in Hebrew and most Jews know it, whereas Yiddish is mainly spoken in Eastern Europe and would not be accessible to sephardic Jews or Jews from Western European countries. The idea that a bunch of Jews held a meeting and formed Israel neglects the participation of the League of Nations and later The United Nations, who were also seeking a solution to the settlement of Jewish refugees after the Holocaust (which no one ever seems to mention when talking about Palestine).

      "The League of Nations (LON) formally adopted a British mandate for Palestine in July 1922, which incorporated the principles of the Balfour Declaration in the mandate. Arab nationalists opposed the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine."

      "On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 (also known as the Partition Resolution) that would divide Great Britain's former Palestinian mandate into Jewish and Arab states in May 1948."

      "The Israeli Declaration of Independence, formally the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and soon to be first Prime Minister of Israel."

      David's sci-fi (alternative history) book seems to suggest that someone just had a wild hare and thought, let's send the Jews to Palestine, the Arabs won't mind. That is far from what happened, and no, there was not some global cabal of Jews who all voted to infringe on Arabs. Jews starting living in the Palestinian Mandate around the same time as Jewish immigrants (well before WWII) and they share entitlement to the land, both in terms of settlement and in terms of heritage, since Jews were in the area in Biblical times, just as Palestinians were. A people exiled but without a homeland, as both Jews and Palestinians have been, have an equal claim to land they have worked upon. An invasion of Jews to Sitka, which has been held by indigenous people and Russians but never Jews, is a ridiculous comparison to the Palestine Mandate.

      Yiddish still exists as a language. Reports of its death are premature.

      "Yiddish is a language once spoken by Jews in an area spreading from Alsace to the Urals, influenced by and influencing local languages and cultures. It neared extinction in the 20th century when it lost the majority of its speakers, mostly – but not only – through the Holocaust."

      "Yiddish is now spoken by Hasidim and a few rapidly shrinking groups of culturally oriented Jews."

    4. Funny how @2:40 claims the Zionists eliminated Yiddish when Wikipedia says the Holocaust eliminated Yiddish by eliminating 6 million Yiddish speaking Jews. This is what propaganda looks like.

    5. Wikipedia lies. There were millions of Yiddish speakers, in the Soviet Union. In fact, Yiddish is still an official language in the Jewish autonomous region in Russia.
      Of course most of the Yiddish speakers emigrated from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. And now, because of the Zionists, the language is gone, pretty much.

    6. Are you unaware that Russia killed a lot of Jews during WWII? Mostly by shooting them execution style, not by sending them to camps. How could Yiddish disappear because of the Zionists, if the language was being preserved in Russia? The language went wherever the Jews emigrated, there are quite a few in Los Angeles and there are Hasidic communities on the East Coast in the US. The Zionists didn't refuse entry to those Jews, nor did they kill them (as occurred during the Holocaust), so how are they responsible?

      I suspect you are trying to imply that making Hebrew the national language instead of Yiddish has caused Yiddish to be less spoken. That makes this just another swipe at Israel for being a Jewish state instead of a secular state (as if that would have decreased Arab animosity).

      How many people speak Yiddish today:

      "Their numbers are estimated to be between 500,000 and one million—mainly in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Israel. There are also many more native Yiddish-speakers who, however, do not necessarily use the language in everyday life."

      YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

    7. "Are you unaware that Russia killed a lot of Jews during WWII?"

      Jeez, Corby. Get rest.

    8. Corby is still in Iceland.

  7. The professor just wants a positive climax to the issue at hand.

    Maybe my inner 12yo is showing, but this tickles me, and seems able to slip past the censors.

  8. There is no reason why these sorts of messages should be appearing here.

  9. Yeats poem The Second Coming says the centre cannot hold as referring to chaos in the world, but it has another meaning in military terms, when an advancing enemy breaks through the center of a defensive line, allowing them to flank and isolate soldiers and advance to gain territory.

    Whatever Yeats meant, his misuse of a military term causes some confusion when the centre holding comes up in other contexts. And it clearly means nothing in this situation between Gaza and Israel, because there is no line and there is also no chaos. Israel is defeating Gaza, which never had a chance against it. Thousands of people are dying needlessly, but it cannot be said there is chaos or anything falling apart. There is just death. Israel has full control of the situation and is doing what it must in order to regain hostages and destroy Hamas for their sneak attack.

    Why then does Somerby quote this particular poem? Is he sympathizing with Hamas/Gaza and their lack of success? Does he even know what their goals were? If they were aiming to make Israel look bad ahead of talks with the Saudis, they have succeeded in that. If they were aiming to hinder Biden in his 2024 election by making him appear to condone Israel's brutality, they have perhaps succeeded in that, at least to the point of weakening support among progressives and younger voters. But this is way too far before the election for the timing to have been right, and it may be that Biden will recover fine, interfering with hopes of Russia and the right wing it supports in the US. Perhaps the goal is to remove Netanyahu. That has not yet been accomplished but may happen, but at what cost?

    I have no respect for a people who uses the tactics of Hamas, whatever their goals. But what is Somerby thinking? His poem has no obvious relevance here and his idea that everything is chaos because a small group of people in the Middle East are suffering more than usual, makes no sense at all. Without any coherence to his arguments, Somerby appears to be just spreading nihilism and panic on the left, and no one gains from that effort except Trump and fascists on the right.

    1. It’s not misuse, it’s metaphor. Poets do it all the time.

    2. A metaphor needs to have points of congruence of meaning between the metaphor itself and the thing it is being used to compare with. Somerby frequently neglects that, grabbing a so-called metaphor simply because he likes a phrase. I suspect he either likes "things fall apart" or "the center cannot hold" in the sense that things cannot go on like this much longer, not with any relation to a line holding against an assault. This is an incoherent way of thinking that leads to confusion when people actually devote any time to thinking about it.

    3. OK, it’s a bad metaphor and Yeats was a mediocre poet.

    4. No, Somerby is using a metaphor that has no relevance to the situation he compares it to.

    5. You think that metaphor makes sense in the poem?

    6. no, I dislike the poem

    7. “..,the center cannot hold" in the sense that things cannot go on like this much longer, not with any relation to a line holding against an assault.”

      Anonymouse 4:04pm, Bob was referencing an assault upon the clarity of our thinking and upon our sense of proportion and propriety aka the extreme stridency shown by people who either champion or criticize that country’s government and an assault on analytical public discourse in general.

      Bob specifically used the lines in the context of discussing the overly zealous and politically strident comments he heard a Newsweek editor guest on Fox and from the heart-over-head denunciations he has from the Morning Joe centrists-to-leftists and some blowhards in academia.

    8. “ …that country…” being Israel

    9. "his misuse of a military term"

      You start your comment by stating there are 2 definitions of the” center cannot hold”. Then you say, “Whatever Yeats meant”, a sensible admission that you don’t really know how he was using the phrase.

      Then you say the phrase is Yeats’ misuse of a military term, even though you’ve just admitted you don’t what he meant when he used it.


  10. Because it's proof Bob doesn't read your comments thus remind you that you are largely irrelevant?

    Sorry that was mean. Let me add, have a nice day.

  11. Yeah don't panic the left. They're unhinged enough in normal mode.

  12. Most of the time, whether Somerby reads the comments or not, he filters this stuff out. It has only started in the last several days (after years without such spam), so that implies Somerby has something going on that prevents him from doing his job, or he doesn't care.

  13. It’s not his job. This blog is a hobby.

  14. The homeland of the Jews is the USA. I hope Israelis figure that out.

  15. That’s no excuse for doing a bad job.

  16. His name is on the blog.