The news of an Israeli Mezze Station in the Harvard Business School cafeteria stuck in the craw of a Lebanese Harvard grad. She posted a protest on her Facebook page claiming that the featured foods couldn’t possibly be Israeli because they are also eaten elsewhere. Couscous is a North African staple, hummus is of Egyptian origin, and so on.
So what’s the point?
If she saw a Tunisian Food Station with couscous and harissa hot sauce, would she fire off an angry missive complaining that this dish is also served in Libya? If the dining hall responded by serving up the same food at a Libyan Station, would she turn around and protest that Harvard had grievously offended Tunisia?
Of course not. There would be no logic to such complaints, just as there is no logic to her protest about the Israeli Mezze Station.
What she really can’t stomach is the mention of a country she has been trained to hate: Israel. That’s okay. She is free to spend the rest of her life wallowing in hatred. It will only give...More >>
The truth about Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is bound to disappoint anyone on either end of the political spectrum who might have hoped to exploit his actions for propaganda purposes: he really was just a lone nut.
First, debunking his claim to be at the center of a vast anti-Islamic terrorist network, the police concluded that he acted alone. And now, as reported here on November 29th, the court-appointed psychiatrists have found that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
Believing oneself to be endowed with a grandiose mission is typical of such patients. Sometimes they imagine that their incomprehensible scribbles conceal an earth-shaking formula to rival the discoveries of Einstein. Sometimes they think they have been chosen to save the world from Martian invaders or a next-door neighbor possessed by Satan.
But sometimes their belief system is cobbled together from less obviously fantastical elements. Breivik drew on polemical writings from the political fringes that many people might deem “crazy,” but not in a clinical sense. What was truly delusional about Breivik was the exalted world-historical role he assigned himself.
By telling the police he was a Knight Templar and the “Commander” of a...More >>
After repeated delays, a UN report on the Mavi Marmara incident from the 2010 Gaza Flotilla has been made public by the New York Times. The report finds that the flotilla acted recklessly in trying to breach a legal blockade, but fails to remark upon what was surely one of the most bizarre scapegoatings of a country in recent history.
Scapegoating is a universal feature of social life. According to Stanford theorist René Girard, the lynching of scapegoats provides an outlet for the tensions and hostilities that divide any community. When everyone bands together unanimously to vent their violence on arbitrary victims, peace and unity are restored.
Israel has been blamed for everything from global warming to American deaths in Afghanistan. To gauge Israel’s true scapegoat potential, one would want to test the world’s reaction to an out-and-out lynching. That’s where the 2010 Gaza Flotilla including the Mavi Marmara came in. The events played out like a virtual experiment in scapegoating.
Passengers on the Mavi Marmara fell into two groups. There were volunteers from 34 different countries. Then there were the religious extremists from Turkey’s IHH who were eager to “mix it up” with the Israelis and manifested a desire for...More >>