How to put the Ethiopian-Israeli birth control controversy to rest. week Haaretz corrected its reporting of a story I covered in these pages: Ethiopian-Israeli women have been saying for years that they’ve been injected with Depo-Provera (long-acting birth control) by state-mandated health providers without their informed consent. That story—recently investigated by Israeli television and carried by many other sources in addition to Haaretz—led to global controversy, including scattered and unfounded accusations of sterilization and/or genocide.

Under a headline that read “Israel admits Ethiopian women were given birth control shots,” Haaretz wrote on January 27 that:

A government official has for the first time acknowledged the practice of injecting women of Ethiopian origin with the long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera. Health Ministry Director General Prof. Roni Gamzu has instructed the four health maintenance organizations to stop the practice as a matter of course.

The next day, I wrote, “On Sunday it was reported that Israel has finally admitted to systematically depressing the fertility of the Ethiopian immigrant community…”

Haaretz followed up on February 28, reporting that the Health Ministry was launching an investigation into the practice, and last Wednesday appended a correction to that piece:

The original version [of this story] failed to state that [Gamzu’s] instruction was issued “without taking a stand or determining facts about allegations that had been made.

The upshot of this is that Haaretz made a mistake in its January report, one which I then replicated: The state didn’t “admit,” nor did a government official “acknowledge,” any responsibility for the allegations being made by the immigrants.

It is of course important to correct the impression that Israel acknowledged playing a role in this story, and as such, whether these events were systematic or haphazard is as yet unclear. If investigation reveals that there was no systematic effort, I will happily say so. If I’d known that the government had not acknowledged playing a role, I would’ve written my own post a little differently: “The government has acknowledged no fault, but activists and immigrants report that…,” for example.

The more important news here, though, is the actual reason for Haaretz’s follow-up—the Health Ministry investigation:

The [investigation] will check the reports that the women were given Depo-Provera shots to prevent pregnancy—often against their will and without being informed of potential side effects—in what was an allegedly deliberate effort to reduce births in the Ethiopian immigrant community.

The committee is being set up at the instruction of [Deputy Health Minister] Litzman, who had earlier denied that the phenomenon existed, after it was revealed by an Educational Television documentary by journalist Gal Gabai in early December.

Some followers of news out of Israel have seen last Wednesday’s correction as a vindication, suggesting that the entire story can now be seen as little more than an anti-Israel smear advanced by bad actors, and that potentially irreversible damage has been done to Israel because Haaretz wrote that a government office admitted to something to which it did not, in fact, admit—as if an official admission of culpability is the only valid source for the information at hand.

What these people are failing to note is that the source of the controversy is not one mistaken mischaracterization by one news source—the source of the controversy is the women themselves. As I wrote in January, many, many Ethiopian-Israeli women report being threatened or lied to about the Depo-Provera injections: “We didn’t want it,” one woman is quoted as saying in the February 28 article. “We refused and objected. We said we didn’t want to.” (More such comments can be seen herehereand here).

Thus, while accuracy is always important in reporting and Haaretz was right to issue the correction, what we really have here is a classic case of vulnerable citizens complaining of governmental abuse, their government denying that abuse, and a group of observers privileging the government’s version of events over that of the people complaining. It is precisely these kinds of stories that we pay journalists to cover; that’s why we call journalism the fourth estate.

We are right, of course, to take issue with those who characterized this story as one of forced sterilization or genocide. Controlling a woman’s fertility with long-term contraceptive drugs without informed consent is a terrible thing, but it’s a long way from forced sterilization.

But unless and until it’s established that the immigrants in question are lying, I will listen to the many women who say they were frightened or misled into accepting the administration of Depo-Provera. It’s my opinion that the stories of real women’s lives damaged by the acts of a few people in positions of power are more important than one newspaper’s (corrected) mistake.

If Israel wants to see this controversy put to rest, it will investigate these deeply troubling allegations thoroughly, and address any issues raised with transparency.

Facts: More horrifying than Gideon Levy.

Please note: In a sadly ironic twist, I made a mistake in writing this. In the original, I flipped the numbers on Israeli Jewish willingness to live with Arabs in their building. I very deeply and very genuinely regret the error. The following reflects the correct (moderately less shocking) number.|On the morning of October 23, the world of people who care and/or write about Israel-Palestine exploded with controversy: “Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel” trumpeted a headline in Haaretz, atop an article by renown—or reviled, depending on the reader—Israeli journalist Gideon Levy.

Immediately—instantaneously, breathlessly—everyone with a pre-positioned position weighed in, their old, or new, positions positively bristling with exclamation points. Those who have applied “apartheid” to Israel for years crowed; those for whom the mere use of the word represents delegitimization roared. It was “Told you so!” versus “Lies!” all day.

A few brave souls—such as Noam Shelef, in these pages—attempted nuance, butas I know (with recently renewed clarity), nuance isn’t a thing we’re particularly good at in the community of people who care and/or write about Israel-Palestine. Words, once used, may mean one thing and one thing only, and any attempt to suggest otherwise is to invite accusations of toadyism, inanity, and treason. Any effort to clarify matters after the fact—as Levy and Haaretz undertook to do, issuing a clarification and changing the article’s headline online to the more accurate “Survey: Most Israeli Jews wouldn’t give Palestinians vote if West Bank was annexed”—is generally seen as nothing but greater evidence of the same.

In the course of the yelling the first thing to get lost is any useful access to the truth.

But here’s the truth (and if you don’t like any of the words that have been used thus far to describe this truth, you may feel free, as we say in Hebrew, to call the truth “Abraham”): a significant proportion of Israeli Jewish society, from a third to more than half, support ideas that range from stripping Palestinian Israelis of the right to vote in national elections (33 percent), to the physical “transfer” of Palestinian citizens of Israel to the Palestinian Authority (47 percent), to preferential treatment of Israeli Jews over their Arab compatriots in governmental hiring (59 percent). Along the way, we find such things as: 42 percent of Israeli Jews would not want to live in the same apartment building as Palestinian Israelis, and 42 percent would not want their children to sit in the same class as Palestinian Israeli children.

I honestly don’t care what label you give that, nor how it might be defined in Political Science 101. I call it inexcusable. I call it immoral. I call it contrary to both Israel’s founding documents and the Jewish values we Jews say we’re teaching our children. I call it disgusting.

I also call it nothing new.

In 2010, we learned that nearly half of Israeli Jewish high school students didn’t believe that Palestinian citizens of Israel should have the same political rights as Jews. More than half felt that Palestinian Israelis shouldn’t have the right to be elected to parliament.

In April of this year, we saw the bigotry and xenophobia given even sharper expression when a video emerged of Israeli teenagers celebrating the traffic deaths of a group of West Bank Palestinian children: “They can be the future of terrorist attacks,” said one young man. When told that the dead were only 4- or 5-years-old, he replied: “Little kids, so what?”

And for months now, we’ve all been witness to acts of violence against Palestinians both in Israel and on the West Bank, ranging from hate speech daubed on monastery walls to vicious and brutal attacks on passers by in the heart of the nation’s capital.

As to the use of the term “apartheid,” much ado has been made of the fact that in Levy’s original reporting, he and Haaretz didn’t make crystal clear the fact that 69 percent of Israeli Jews would deny voting rights to West Bank Palestinians only if the West Bank is officially annexed to Israel-proper, a thing that 48 percent of Israeli Jews say they oppose. The fact that the State of Israel actually already controls the West Bank (annexation or no) and the people who live there already have no right to vote on the matter? That didn’t come up in the survey.

As Levy wrote in his clarification, “Isn’t that enough to scare anyone who fears for the future of this country?”

Or, to ask a different question: what if the foregoing had read, “Q: Should American Jews be allowed to vote in national elections? A: Thirty-three percent of American gentiles say no.”

Levy is a shining example of a messenger who gets shot through the left temple repeatedly for having the temerity to share unpleasant facts. But the disdain with which he is held, and all the fulminating on earth, do nothing to address the facts themselves.

And the facts themselves are chilling.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast.

Greta Berlin – clarifying the clarification. (Sigh).

To clarify my position on Greta Berlin & developments that indicate that the “private FB group” wasn’t benign: 

In my second post on the matter, I wrote that she’d made clear that her “intent in sharing that deeply disturbing video was not to support its content” and that for me that was “enough” – because “I now understand that my reading of her earlier comments was absolutely inaccurate.” I never suggested there’d been an apology, nor that she’d proven the existence of a “private group” – indeed, I said proof was needed. As a writer, though, I know that if she’d made her statement 24 hrs earlier, I would’ve written my piece very differently. I stand by that. There is already too much guessing at hints and shadows in my line of work, and I try very hard to write about what is verifiable. Bottom line, she disavowed the very thing that was the thesis of my entire post. That changes, at the very least, my post.

(I do wish I hadn’t used the word “absolutely,” though. So it goes).

UPDATE: Please note this follow up from Larry Derfner at +972, in which he says: “I saw part of the Facebook discussion that [Ali] Abunimah [to whom I linked above] evidently referred to, and from what I saw, his description was right – but it’s not the group Berlin says she meant. She said the smaller group has been together for nearly a year,” which is referred to later in a Free Gaza statement as “a small and secret Facebook group, 37 members strong, consisting of a very diverse set of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and opinions.”

What a day! On anti-Semitism & clarity.

So this morning, I posted a piece at Open Zion/The Daily Beast (which I was up writing well past midnight) that opens with the words “Pro-tip: If your goal is to help the Palestinian people, anti-Semitism is a really poor tool.” (The whole thing, which is entitled “Anti-Semitism — Bad for Palestinians, Too” and is full of very angry adjectives, can be read here).

From there I went on to (in the words of my boss, Peter Beinart) eviscerate a woman named Greta Berlin, co-founder of The Free Gaza Movement, who had tweeted a link to a vile, anti-Semitic video with the words “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews.” Her only excuse and/or apology was to say that she had meant to post the video to a private Facebook discussion and – oops! – it had been tweeted, too. So sorry for the mix up.

In the meantime, as you might imagine, there has been a whirlwind of response, much of it very, very angry. Free Gaza issued a statement which may or may or may not have been written by Berlin herself (as she is one of their spokespeople) but which refers to her in the third person. The organizational statement/apology notes that “[the tweet] came from Greta’s private Facebook page and was shared with a group of people  who were discussing propaganda and racism, and this link was an example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites.” The only words actually put in Berlin’s mouth read:

Greta has added, “I apologize that I did not watch the video before hitting SHARE on Facebook. I was in a rush to get to a book event and simply reposted. The fault is completely mine. Free Gaza had nothing to do with the post at all. “

Soon after my post went up, however, I learned that Larry Derfner, a writer I greatly admire, had accused those expressing dismay over Berlin’s actions of having slandered her (not including me, as my post had not yet appeared), so I looked into what he said, and was in the process (literally) of writing a clarification in which I said, essentially “Look, Derfner says XYZ, but here’s why I don’t buy it” — when Berlin herself issued a statement saying

I am not a Holocaust denier. And I am not a supporter of the video that I posted, nor would I ever have been. It was, in fact, an example of propaganda that is EXACTLY what I and others are horrified over.

And when I say “literally,” I mean “literally”: I was about to send the second piece (on which I’d worked for more than an hour) to Open Zion when, given the speed of events, I thought I’d better look at the Free Gaza Twitter feed again — and lo, there the statement was.

So, more emails to all & sundry, followed by me (over the course of another hour or so) writing an entirely new clarification, which you will find below. Of course, thereupon followed many more communications regarding ALL the turns of events, and in rapid succession, people having all kinds of responses to things I had either said or not (actually) said and me having to respond to same.

And at two different points during the day, I hosted large school groups in our backyard sukkah. And I never got any lunch.

So. Anyway. I’m tired now. I cannot tell you how glad I am that it’s almost Shabbat and I can turn all this off.

And here’s my clarification, in full:

Greta Berlin Clarifies

I wrote this morning about a controversial tweet sent by the co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, Greta Berlin. I learned later that a writer who I’ve long respected, Larry Derfner, has written in defense of Berlin, calling attacks on her “slander,” and when Derfner writes something, I listen. The heart of his defense was that:

All these stories referred to Berlin’s apology on the Free Gaza Movement website—but only to one part of it: the part where she explains that she didn’t mean for the tweet to go out on the Free Gaza Movement’s Tweeter [sic] account, but only to a group of people on her personal Facebook page. Reporting this and only this as her “apology” naturally made Berlin look even more evil.

…Berlin’s full explanation… is that her tweet was not a statement of her views, but a headline for the video she was sending to a discussion group on “propaganda and racism” as an “example of the terrible propaganda that could be spewed on websites.”

Initially, I didn’t agree with Derfner. I had seen the statement to which he refers, and it was actually written in the third person as an organizational statement, and the one comment with Berlin’s own name behind it repeated the tone she had taken on Twitter in which she repeatedly apologized for a technical snafu, but not the content of the tweet, or even the impression it might have made.

In the last few hours, however, Berlin issued the following statement:

I am not a Holocaust denier. And I am not a supporter of the video that I posted, nor would I ever have been. It was, in fact, an example of propaganda that is EXACTLY what I and others are horrified over. The video (although I didn’t watch it then) seemed like the kind propaganda that our group was discussing. And I passed it on because of the title.

Ironically I am caught in the same propaganda hysteria that I was trying to fight. It was my mistake that I didn’t post to the small private group on Facebook and the video ended up on my wall. Greta

I know that for some, this will not be enough, because it came after a series of non-apology apologies, or because Berlin has failed in the past to create much daylight between herself and old-school anti-Semitism. I believe that if she and Free Gaza want to genuinely put this story behind them, they will need to produce some proof of the private group discussion to which they refer, beyond a statement made well after the fact with nothing to corroborate it.

For me, however, as one of the writers who has positively slammed her in the past few days, Berlin’s fresh statement is enough: She has said unequivocally that her intent in sharing that deeply disturbing video was not to support its content.

It would be nice if she might indicate that she understands why people were horrified, and sought both clarification and apology. I would also disagree with her suggestion we who took issue with her unexplained sharing of a video claiming that Zionists ran the concentration camps rise to the same level of “propaganda hysteria” as the video itself—but I’m sure that’s not the only thing on which she and I would disagree.

I was careful in writing my piece to speak up for those who are falsely accused of being anti-Semitic simply because they support Palestinian rights—I am among those people, as are many beloved friends. The point of my post was that in spite of what I see as a troubling over-use of the anti-Semitism accusation, real, honest-to-god Jew hatred does still exist, and pro-Palestinian activists who employ it not only hurt the Jews against which it is directed, but also the cause they claim to defend: Palestinian rights, and a just resolution of the conflict.

I am sorry that in writing about a real problem, I used Greta Berlin as the example around which my thesis was built. With her new statement, I now understand that my reading of her earlier comments was absolutely inaccurate.

Crossposted from Open Zion/The Daily Beast


Truth be told, the thing that annoys me most in this whole story is that the main point of my original post (that real anti-Semitism exists, and that when it’s employed by pro-Palestinian activists, it hurts not only Jews, but the Palestinian cause) was and remains valid and very important. But now that’s going to be lost in the back and forth.

So it goes.

I imagine I might have another chance to talk about anti-Semitism in the future.

Correction, correction, correction!!

The bafflingly awesome TFIOS duct-tape wallet mentioned and photographed in Friday’s bar mitzvah report was not, it turns out, made by the boy’s delightful friend, but was rather selected by her and purchased on etsy. As an ex-boyfriend’s mother once said to me: “It’s a skill knowing where to shop, too” — and, I would argue, knowing how to select just the right gift for a friend.

If you, too, would like a TFIOS wallet made of duct-tape, here’s where you should go: The Fault in Our Stars inspired duct tape wallet.

I’m telling you, it’s awesome. I am very sorely tempted to steal it, but I think the boy might notice.

Clarification: New information in the Shaima Alawadi case.

When I first wrote about the bloody murder of Shaima Alawadi in her California home, I hedged my bets a little, and then called it a hate crime:

…leaving room for the possibility of new information, [I’m] not the El Cajon police, and I can go ahead and make the leap of judgment. Shaima Alawadi was almost certainly killed for the color of her skin, the accent in her voice, and most importantly, the scarf on her head. The way in which she worshiped her Maker. And it just makes me ill.

Apparently, however, new information has in fact emerged, and it does point in a different direction:

Search warrant records obtained Wednesday in the beating death of an Iraqi-American woman show a family in turmoil and cast doubt on the likelihood that her slaying was a hate crime.

Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, was apparently planning to divorce her husband and move to Texas when she was killed, a family member told investigators, according to the court documents.

The records obtained at El Cajon Superior Court also reveal Alawadi’s 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, who called 911 to report the attack, was distraught over her pending arranged marriage to a cousin.
A search of Fatima’s cellphone records shows that while she was being interviewed by investigators hours after the attack, someone sent the teen a text message that read, “The detective will find out tell them (can’t) talk,” the affidavit states.

Alawadi’s death is no less horrible, no matter why she was killed or by whom, and Islamophobia no less prevalent in this country — but the simple truth is that I jumped the gun, in the absence of information. I regret that very much.

To explain my thinking (not explain away the error of judgment): Initially I hesitated to call it a hate crime, because the presence of a single note, reportedly reading “Go back to your own country. You’re a terrorist,” is not actually enough to go on. I wondered if the note might have been placed there in order to throw off law enforcement.

Then I learned that the Alawadi family had just recently moved to their current residence from Michigan, and read that an earlier note with the same message had recently been found outside the house. Given the family’s apparent relative lack of ties to the area, and the apparent fact of an earlier note, I felt pretty confident, and ran with the hate crime assumption.

But you know, when we assume, we really do make an ass out of you and me. We still don’t have all the information, but we didn’t have all the information when I first wrote about the case, either. The old-school reporter in me was warning against drawing too many conclusions, and I ignored her warnings.

I apologize.

When I learn the results of the investigation, I’ll post them here. And going forward, I’ll look not just once, but twice or three times before I leap. And perhaps I won’t leap even then.

Huge correction re: Ehud Olmert & the Arab Peace Initiative.

For years now, I’ve written some version of the following words:

“All 22 members of the Arab League, including the Palestinian Authority, offered a comprehensive peace in exchange for a two state solution not once, but twice: in 2002 and 2007. Both times, Israel entirely ignored the offer.”

I wrote these words in good faith, but it turns out I was wrong. Wrong matters.

Late Monday night, while he was speaking to the annual J Street conference, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said this: “Those who say that Israel did not address itself to the Arab Peace Initiative do not speak the truth. Israel was prepared to negotiate within the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative.”

I took note but was busy transcribing the speech for a client, so couldn’t do anything at the moment. By the time Olmert was done, JTA’s Washington bureau chief Ron Kampeas had tweeted:

I tweeted back a question asking for clarification, and he very kindly obliged — and lo, it turns out that at the Annapolis Peace Conference in November 2007, then-Prime Minister Olmert said in his address:

I am familiar with the Arab peace initiative, which was born in Riyadh, affirmed in Beirut [in 2002] and recently reaffirmed by you in Riyadh. I value this initiative, acknowledge its importance and highly appreciate its contribution. I have no doubt that it will be referred to in the course of the negotiations between us and the Palestinian leadership.

So first of all: I was wrong.

This is information that I didn’t have, and I’ve been functioning under, and spreading, a misconception for years.

I can even tell you why I was wrong: I had so little faith that anything would come out of Annapolis (and, in the end, nothing did) that I paid no attention to the proceedings. I have only rarely in my life been paid to pay attention to these things, and when I’m not being paid, my despair will sometimes overcome my curiosity and thoroughness — and that, as we can see, is not helpful. Because aside from anything else, it leads to enormous error.

I apologize for that error.

I didn’t address this yesterday, because I was hoping to find the time to do a little research. The question for me now becomes about the significance of Olmert’s remarks: Israeli officials are forever saying the right thing, and then doing something else all together. Witness my most recent post about the settlements; witness Netanyahu’s verbal insistence that he’s all about a two-state solution, vs his constant and consistent efforts to undermine any progress toward such an agreement. It’s also meaningful that the Israeli public as a whole remains unaware that the Arab Peace Initiative even exists — I believe that if the government had any genuine interest in pursuing the API (or any peace initiative), it would have worked its way into (or, indeed, been purposely introduced to) public discourse. It never has.

But I haven’t found the time I need to really dig into these questions, and at a certain point, knowing that you’re wrong but leaving that fact unremarked (other than a few tweets) is just not ok. So, inspired by my Twitter pal @dotanh, who has issued his own, Hebrew-language correction, I decided to write the above. I’m hoping to write something more in-depth soon, but for the time-being, I will leave it at:

I was really, really wrong. And I am deeply sorry for (and more than a little horrified by) the error.

Memo to God: Houston we have a problem.

Like a great many people who live in the real world, I spent all of last week dealing — by which I mean: professionally, quasi-professionally (aka: this blog, Twitter, other blogs), mentally, and emotionally — with an enormous slew of horrible things. Horrible, horrifying, horrific things. Things that, one way or another, always happen to humanity, to the world — there are always horrible things happening — but last week, they seemed to cluster together, like metal filings on a magnet, one big spiky bunch of Awful.

I’ve decided, for my own sake and possibly for yours, that I won’t write about those things this week.

At the end of each day’s post, I’ll provide good, useful links to whatever Horrible needs our attention that day, and I’ll continue to tweet about whatever (and that totally counts — it’s called micro-blogging for a reason, people!), but here, in this space, my own writing will go to other things.


And so, to begin:

Memo to God – Engineering failures.

Dear God,

I know that you’re the Divine and all. And just between us two, I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re neither perfect, nor omniscient, nor omnipotent. Which is ok by me, because I figure: You’re still miles ahead of humanity — miles, did I say miles? Leagues away! Lightyears! You’re tons more powerful and -scient than we are, and I lean on you not infrequently for guidance and strength, not to mention the gift of joy when I’ve forgotten it. It’s a good one, that one, the gift of joy. Thank You, especially, for that.

But. Having said all that. With all due respect. If I may. A word.

Have You looked at us?

I mean, really looked at us?

We are made in Your image — this I believe, this serves as the basis for the radical equality that informs all my earthly ideology — but I somehow cannot quite believe that You actually look like… this.

Take — just for one example — the appendix. What’s up with that? You went ahead and put a time bomb inside all of us, but gave none of us a little note, not so much as a tweet, to indicate whose timebombs are actually ticking? And honestly, if we’ve evolved past needing it — couldn’t You have engineered it to wither and disappear from the human mechanism?

That’s my issue, you see. The engineering of it all. Frankly, it’s a bit of a mess.

The appendix is an obvious one, but hey, what’s with all the hair shooting out of men’s faces? Scratching their loved ones and, in modern society, requiring a daily scrape with a deadly object? No really. It helps no one, and literally hurts many.

And since I’ve broached the topic of secondary sexual characteristics, I’d like to tackle a primary one, too: Menstruation? Really?

Women having to bleed every.single.month — frightening generations of men, turning camping in bear-infested woods into an occasional nightmare (so I hear. I never camp. But I hear things), and creating deeply mortifying moments for middle school girls everywhere — seriously? There was no better plan? Was this Plan B? Did Plan A blow up in the lab or something?

I could argue with the fact that we fall apart (I find myself particularly annoyed with the Degenerating Human Eyeball lately) but the truth is, on a very real level (a level at which I sigh a lot), I’m ok with that. I mean: This body is a mechanism. It gets old. It wears down. I understand. The machines You engineered last longer, and often with more elegance, than the ones we engineer, but ultimately, the gears grind and the wheels slow and: Scrap heap. I understand that.

But honestly. The “elegance” thing is not nearly as elegant as it might be. Exhibit A: Farts. Exhibit B: Burps. Exhibit C: Humans emerge from the womb not in the least bit in control of their elimination processes. I mean to say: That baby pooped in my eye*! Was that really necessary?

So, in summary, let’s call this Disgruntled Creation Memo #1, and Your take-away should be: Things need to be neatened up a bit. Loose ends need tying, rough edges smoothing. That which stinks, hurts, or embarrasses — improved.

When I see that all that has been attended to, we’ll move on to Disgruntled Creation Memo #2 – Terra Firma: Must It Really Be So Not-Firma?

Thanks. For everything – I mean it. יהיו לרצון אמרי פי והגיון לבי לפניך יהוה צורי וגאלי  May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before you, my Rock and my Redeemer — and please don’t forget: Abraham and Moses argued with You and You were totally cool with it.


*No, really. Baby #2. Pooped in my eye. How is this not a bug?


Your day in Horrible:

  1. Saudi Arabia sends troops into Bahrain, one repressive Sunni monarchy that suppresses its Shi’ite citizens rushing to the aid of another – New York Times: Saudi Arabia Action in Bahrain Strains US Ties: “All this is about social control in Saudi Arabia,” said Christopher Boucek, who studies the Middle East at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “People have been forecasting the fall of Saudi for a long time, and they’ve always been proved wrong. It’s a pretty resilient place.”
  2. Following this weekend’s murder of three children in an Israeli settlement, Gidon Levy in HaAretz “The IDF has no mercy for for the children in Gaza nursery schools”: “About a third of those killed in Gaza have been children – 311, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 270 according to the B’Tselem human rights group – out of the 1,000 total killed as of Wednesday. Around 1,550 of the 4,500 wounded have also been children according to figures from the UN, which says the number of children killed has tripled since the ground operation began.” As MJ Rosenberg points out – for all that we’ve all rushed (absolutely correctly) to condemn this weekend’s killing, neither the US government nor a single American Jewish organization has yet to condemn these killings.
  3. Wis. GOPer Scott Fitzgerald – Dems In Contempt, Not Allowed To Vote In Committees” – Talking Points Memo. (Me – “Awesome.” – Update: By which I mean: “The complete opposite of awesome.” )

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.

Mistakes were made.

Well! Turns out this blog is a year old! I’m a bit stunned really, as blogging was once a thing I was fairly certain I would never do. Well, you know the old adage: Never say fairly certain never.

I’ve been pleased to discover that I’m mostly capable of sticking to a schedule of daily posting, and I’ve been very pleased to watch my readership grow as the year has gone by (there was even a thrilling spike during the flotilla fracas, which was really cool, in a weird, surrealistic way). And I have really enjoyed the writing. It’s a good thing, writing.

What I’ve been less than pleased about has been the things I got really wrong. The mistakes. The misreadings. The “I know this is going to happen nao” followed by a not so much. If you rifle through my archives, you’ll discover that I generally endeavor to correct mistakes or offer updates as I go along, but that’s harder to do when the mistake was such a big error in judgment that you can only see it in retrospect…. So, in honor of my first anniversary, I address errors of this nature, and present to you the first installment of:

Mistakes Were Made


  1. Well, first of all, I have clearly not figured out how to lift pictures off the internet in a way that is always legal, or ethical, or actually functional. Because pictures occasionally just disappear. Terribly sorry about that! Nothing like saying “Just look at this, will you?” and — naught. (For instance, here – the sign in question is that bright red British one, circa WWII, that reads “Keep Calm and Carry On.” But it’s just plain — poof! — disappeared).
  2. I do not Tweet.” Not technically a mistake, as I didn’t at the time, but at the time, I also knew I never would. BWA-haha-haha-haha!
  3. I really, really want a netbook and can’t afford one – wahhhh!” Literally the first time I actually used a netbook — literally within seconds — I realized how miserable I would have been with one. Tiny keyboard! Tiny, tiny keyboard! Big, mannish hands — and a tiny, tiny keyboard! Phew. Bullet – dodged.
  4. Iran’s history is about to change because of this one really significant death! Keep you eyes and ears peeled!” As happens with me on occasion, the post-election uprising in Iran moved me so deeply that I forgot to separate my hopes from the facts. My hopes were informed by the facts, but not by all of them (such as, for instance, the profound power of the Revolutionary Guard). Yeah, so, though I told my children (tearily) to pay attention to the pictures of hundreds of thousands — millions? — of people in the streets, that they were seeing history and would remember these days — I was wrong. Sadly, unfortunately, tragically, wrong.
  5. OMeffingG, Israel is going to launch another war in Gaza!!” It certainly seemed that way for a few days, and I take some comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one who thought so, but yeah. I was a little too certain of my reasoning — a little too certain, really, of my fatalism. Given a choice between assuming the worst of the Israeli government, and thinking “hey, maybe it’s not quite as bad as I feared!” I tend to err on the side of the former (which is probably not much wiser than erring on the side of the latter).
  6. I have the feeling that the arrival of the Rachel Corrie, and the Israeli reaction to it, and the world’s reaction to Israel’s reaction to it, is going to prove very significant.” Yeah, not so much. See above comment re: Iran and my occasional confusion of “hope” with “fact.”
  7. I am forever linking in my Israel/Palestine posts to background material (“Israel/Palestine: The basics” , “Israel/Palestine peace advocacy – places to start” and “Israel/Palestine – a reading list” ) — and somehow fucking it up. I occasionally sweep through and correct the broken links, but then a week later I discover another one. Or two. Very, very annoying. Again: Terribly sorry!

Ah, being wrong. What fun! One is, it turns out, very small indeed.

The view of Earth from Mars, photographed by Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, March 8, 2004. Photo courtesy of NASA Flickr.


Update: Intrepid commenter dmf links below to an interview with Kathryn Schultz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error — fascinating, fascinating stuff! Well worth the listen, and I am off to order the book. Money quote, from a discussion of science and how science moves forward: “Being wrong is actually an engine of the advancement of knowledge.”

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