Update: Gag Lifted in Druze Spying Case

Richard Silverstein sent this update last night to Antiwar.com regarding Sunday’s article Shin Bet Arrests Israeli Druze at Syrian Border, Slaps Gag on Media Reporting:

Yesterday, the Shin Bet lifted the gag order prohibiting reporting on the case of the 38 year-old Druze doctor, Eyad Jamil al-Jawhari. He’d been arrested on June 28th as he attempted to enter the occupied Golan heights at the Kuneitra border crossing. His entire family had been waiting for him, as he hadn’t visited them in the past three years (he’d spent a total of ten years in Syria pursuing medical studies and a career in family medicine).
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Five Broken Cameras

From Washington Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace:

Five Broken Cameras Documentary Shows Israeli Incursions into West Bank Never Before Captured on Camera

Busboys & Poets and Jewish Voice for Peace to sponsor special Peace Cafe discussion following July 15 showing at E Street Cinema

No matter what you think you know about the conditions under which Palestinians must live in the West Bank, or about the resilience of the non-violent resistance movement there, your eyes will be opened by “Five Broken Cameras.” The award-winning documentary is coming to DC, and to facilitate the provocative discussion that follows any viewing of the film, Busboys & Poets and the DC Metro chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace will host a Peace Cafe immediately following the July 15 4:45 p.m. show at the Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. Tickets are now on sale online. Buy early because we expect the show to sell out!
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Our Language Cops Are
a Bunch of Barney Fifes

Andrew Sullivan:

I’ve touched slightly on the term ‘Israel-Firster’ – a shorthand that has an ugly neo-Nazi provenance, which is why I don’t use it…

As Justin Raimondo pointed out Monday, that etymology is false: the term was first used no later than 1953 by Alfred M. Lilienthal, a Jewish American. Not that that fact will change anything. I expect no correction from Sullivan, and I couldn’t care less about his source, Spencer Ackerman, whose views on intellectual honesty you can read for yourself.

But let’s assume that, for once, they weren’t bullshitting and the term was coined by an asshole. And? Does a sorry origin taint a word or phrase for all eternity, even if the term — as Sullivan effectively admits in the aforementioned post — is accurate and useful in certain cases?

Just for kicks, I searched Sullivan’s blog and Tablet magazine, where Ackerman acted out his latest “plate-glass window” fantasy, for “highbrow,” “middlebrow,” and “lowbrow.” It won’t surprise you to learn that the searches turned up plenty of hits. It may surprise you to learn where those words come from:

Highbrow/lowbrow

“Highbrow,” first used in the 1880s to describe intellectual or aesthetic superiority, and “lowbrow,” first used shortly after 1900 to mean someone or something neither “highly intellectual” or “aesthetically refined,” were derived from the phrenological terms “highbrowed” and “lowbrowed,” which were prominently featured in the nineteenth-century practice of determining racial types and intelligence by measuring cranial shapes and capacities. A familiar illustration of the period depicted the distinctions between the lowbrowed ape and the increasingly higher brows of the “Human Idiot,” the “Bushman,” the “Uncultivated,” the “Improved,” the “Civilized,” the “Enlightened,” and, finally, the “Caucasian,” with the highest brow of all.

– Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (1988)

The original Attackerman

Ugly, huh? You can find similar histories for several other commonly used terms (though “rule of thumb,” contrary to a popular myth, isn’t one of them). Will Sullivan and Tablet‘s writers ban the -brows? I doubt it, and really, why should they? If they found those adjectives useful before and had no intention of endorsing phrenology or “scientific racism,” then there’s no reason for us to presume evil motives now.

None of which is to say that some words aren’t overused or shouldn’t be used more carefully. But if “Israel-firster” is one of those terms, then “anti-Semite” is a thousand times more so. You have your work cut out for you, deputies.

F***ing Chronology, How Does It Work?

As often happens, one brilliant post at The American Spectator‘s blog (via Larison) led me to another. Behold:

When I arrived late at the town hall event in Meredith, he [Ron Paul] was prefacing an answer to a question about Israel by expressing admiration for Zionist principles of independence and self-reliance, going on to say, of course, that Israel shouldn’t get any US aid. (Paul, or someone on his staff, has clearly read this Jeffrey Goldberg post.)

Ah, so Paul cynically stole a talking point from Jeffrey Goldberg — who had, um, explained Paul’s position on Israel by quoting the congressman. It doesn’t get much sneakier than that.

Newt Gingrich and Dave Weigel Will Bomb Knowledge Back to the Stone Age

SEE UPDATE BELOW.

Dave Weigel is a history buff:

[Newt Gingrich’s] last full-on grapple with Romney came when the former governor attacked him, in a sort of more-in-sorrow-than-anger way, for saying that the Palestinians were an “invented people.” That, said Romney, was complicating things for Israelis.

“The Israelis are getting rocketed every day,” snorted Gingrich. “We’re not making life more difficult. The Obama administration is making life more difficult.” Plus, he was right on the facts. “Palestinian did not become a common term until after 1977.” That’s the sort of knowledge-bomb that Republicans dream of dropping on Obama—they feel like this is right, but here’s a candidate who can say so.

I suppose we could argue over the definition of “common term.” I did a very fast, very lazy search for “Palestinian” on EBSCOhost. Five seconds’ work turned up references to Palestinians — in the Oxford English Dictionary sense of “an Arab born or living in the area of the former mandated territory of Palestine; a descendant of such an Arab” — going back to 1922.

Winning the future by annihilating the past.
That earliest reference was in The Nation, which used the term fairly often in the Twenties. But maybe The Nation lacks the common touch. What about Time magazine? Is that common enough for Newt and Dave? The magazine recommended by four out of five dentists began using “Palestinian” in the relevant sense in 1951. For a while, Time used it only before “Arab,” if that makes any difference, but as early as November 1957 the Arab part seemed to be understood:

At one time Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser commended himself to the world as a strongman of reason, more concerned to put his impoverished country on its feet than to stir trouble in the Middle East. But Nasser has increasingly resorted to the incendiary propaganda of the totalitarian dictator, has persistently used his radio Voice of the Arabs to incite the Palestinian refugees in Jordan, who brood in bitter idleness over their lost lands across the border in Israel.

By November 1960, Time considered “Palestinian” a noun:

Last week Pakistan’s Moslem President Mohammed Ayub Khan arrived in Cairo and throwing away a diplomatically phrased set speech, delivered the sharpest criticisms of Moslems by a Moslem heard in many a year.

Ayub spoke plainly on his view of the long-festering problem of refugees along the Israeli border, where more than a million Palestinians—those who fled or were ejected by Israel, and the children born to them since—still inhabit squalid detention camps in Jordan, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

In fairness, I have yet to discover the first use of “Palestinian” in Highlights or the works of Michael Bay, so you can keep believing Newt Gingrich if you like.

Weigel link via Daniel Larison.

UPDATE: Dave Weigel, to his credit, has revised the article in question.