2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Assessing Spielberg's withdrawal from the Beijing Olympics

Buddies, once upon a time.

Steven Spielberg's announcement of his withdrawal from the Beijing Olympics has had time to settle in — and to garner a response from China's foreign ministry, which on Friday expressed "regret" over the director's decision.

In the meantime, there have been a number of interesting reactions in English-language blogs and the mainstream western press, which Imagethief has pulled together alongside his own analysis. Bob Chen at Global Voices rounds up some of the reactions by Chinese internet users, concluding:

Where is the truth? What is the reality? Which version are you going to believe in? Most Chinese do as this comment reads:

We are Chinese. We should have our own position, our own sense of “yes” and “no”, our standard to judge. The age of following the western world, as I believe, will go further away from China.

Below are translations of three additional blog posts, from Rose Luqiu, Han Song, and Wang Xiaoyu.

From Phoenix TV journalist Rose Luqiu, a call for a measured, informed reaction and mutual understanding:

Thoughts on Spielberg

by Rose Luqiu

At an event at the end of 2006, I had to opportunity to exchange a few words with Steven Spielberg, flanked by bodyguards. The question we asked was how he felt about the Beijing Olympics. When he saw that we were Chinese, he immediately became excited and said that he was looking forward to coming to China.

To this day I still believe that Spielberg has a yearning toward China, perhaps because of the appeal of culture, or perhaps because of business elements — after all, aside from his identity as a director, he is also a businessman. It's just that in an increasingly politically correct America, none of this is as important as his reputation.

The American actress Mia Farrow has tirelessly criticized Spielberg over the past year, calling his assistance in the Beijing Olympics as tantamount to indulging the Sudan government's ethnic cleansing policies, and she compared him to the German director Leni Riefenstahl. This German actress, director, and producer, who passed away in 2003, came under controversy following the Second World War because of her two most famous works: the Nazi propaganda film The Triumph of Will and the Berlin Olympics documentary Olympia. Whatever else they are, those two films' aesthetic and technical achievements had an enormous influence on later films. Such a comparison and accusation would be unacceptable to Spielberg, who is Jewish. And the respect that Spielberg commands is as much from works of tragic humanitarianism, like Schindler's List, as it is from the commercial movies he has shot. He himself established a foundation to educate young people in the memory of the Holocaust.

Turning to Mia Farrow, a UN Goodwill Ambassador who has focused her attention on humanitarian aid work and most recently the Darfur issue: she has sent up a website which displays photos and writings about her visits with refugees in Sudan, Darfur, and Chad. In her latest essay, she criticizes US President Bush for planning to attend the Beijing Olympics.

Hollywood has always been a bastion of the American left — "left" implying anti-establishment. In the 1950s, under McCarthyism, Hollywood was a disaster zone. Our old friend Charlie Chaplin was one of those persecuted at the time, and to this day Hollywood continues to produce works with anti-establishment themes, from George Clooney's Syriana, which exposed the countless mistakes the Bush administration made in its Middle East policies, to the recent Lions for Lambs, which also reflects on the government's military policies and has Tom Cruise as producer and lead actor. And it is because of these values that the actions of people like Mia Farrow and Spielberg should come as no surprise.

Except for the fact that this approach — laying the responsibility for improving the situation in Darfur onto the Chinese government — is unfair and unrealistic. The source of Darfur's problems lies in the 1960s. At that time, because of the arid climate, Arab nomads moved into central and southern Darfur in large numbers in search of water and grasslands, leading to conflicts with the local black farmers. The anti-government armed forces in Darfur claimed that they were protecting the locals from slaughter at the hands of Arab militias. Under such circumstances, improving the people's livelihood is the key to resolving the local conflict, and this is one of the problems facing the international community: which is better, aid or sanctions?

More than a year ago, individuals and civic organizations in the US launched protests against US companies that had investments in Sudan, and as a result, the majority of US-financed companies left. Stock god Warren Buffett came under fire because of his holdings in PetroChina, and his response at the time was that there are many ways to assist a country, investment being one of them. Last year, however, he substantially reduced his holdings. It is unknown whether this was because he could longer endure criticisms of being politically incorrect; he denied that it had anything to do with Darfur.

The voices that use the Olympics to demand that China take on more responsibility for Darfur have not slackened and will not let up in the future — they've now reached a climax because of Spielberg's name-recognition. Next, there will be even more voices with even higher demands. Looking at things this way, as a difference in mentalities, if we behave ideally then there is no need for an overly drastic reaction, no reason to put this on the level of an insult to the feelings of the Chinese people. Ultimately, people understand a given issue in different ways, and thus they have different ideas of how to resolve it. Ignorance and prejudice may lead to misunderstandings.

We ask them to understand us, so we ought to try understanding where they are coming from. We should carry doing what it is we have correct, and if there are things that could be improved, then we should do our best to improve them.

As for "Team Darfur," even though many well-known athletes have signed on, many athletes have openly declared that they will not do so at the Beijing Olympics. During the US-Soviet Cold War, athletes were sacrificed to politics. Politicians today understand that standing up today to boycott the Olympics is not the smartest approach. So what we hear now are only the voices of individuals and non-governmental organizations. At any rate, everyone is aware that a single Olympics cannot solve all of the world's problems.

From Xinhua journalist and science fiction writer Han Song, a condemnation of knee-jerk nationalism:

Spielberg Sparks a Patriotic Movement in China

by Han Song

To us, the Spielberg affair is science fiction news. Why science fiction? We are science fiction writers, and we don't do politics or sports. Even though Darfur, or whatever, is involved, doesn't it still seem like SF news? Think about it for a bit. Have you seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind? ET? A.I.? War of the Worlds? Spielberg once said that science fiction needs feelings. It's a sure bet that the members of the Olympic Committee have neither seen nor heard of this idea; otherwise, they may have acted differently with Mr. S, and things would be different now.

Last night, talking to a friend about Spielberg, I felt that it's a shame how things turned out. When Mr. S first accepted the job to do the Olympics, it must have been on friendly terms. But presented with such a great opportunity, how was it that were we unable to bring him over to our "united front"? Winning over Spielberg, I think, should have been easier than doing the same with someone like Bush or Merkel. But unfortunately, our United Front departments do not value science fiction (this includes SARFT). We believe that science fiction is something you give to kids, and for this reason the United Front departments most likely treated Spielberg like a kid from the very first. I have previously brought up the idea that Beijing is very SFnal, that the Beijing Olympics ought to be the SF Olympics, but no one listened. If they had, the Spielberg affair wouldn't have ended up like this. China's SF community feels disgraced and has started the self-examination process.

But the country's citizens feel no shame, and they will not engage in self-examination; rather, this affair will launch a patriotic movement to condemn Spielberg while proudly claiming that the Beijing Olympics will go on just the same with or without him. They'll even complain about the foreign ministry's few words on the subject — they're only increasing his visibility! Why should our grand nation of China care one whit for the comings and goings of a lowly artist? Scram, spiel-bork. Put this squeal-bark on the blacklist! (See, even before the Olympics we've accomplished the goal of unifying the populace!) The Times of London noticed that only one newspaper, the Global Times, reported Spielberg's withdrawal. The Global Times article quoted comments from anonymous netizens: "Who do you think you are?" "The Earth will continue to rotate even without you." "You're really just taking advantage of this for self-promotion." (This is the standard behavior of the Global Times.)

So what sort of man in Spielberg, really? An Oscar-winner, an internationally-famous director, a public-opinion leader (early on we warned that working with opinion leaders in the west would play an important role in Olympic planning), and to a certain degree his influence exceeds even that of the US president. If you enter the English words "Spielberg Olympics China" into Google, you come up with 158,000 results. The top headline in the mainstream media across the world concerns the news of the withdrawal of this "lowly artist"; without Spielberg, the Earth would rotate somewhat differently (this would be obvious to aliens, although the Chinese United Front departments would be utterly in the dark). Maybe this is the difference between China and the rest of the world. I'll venture to guess that this is one of the reasons that Spielberg got away (in passing, let me mention that from the first, the members of the Olympics Committee had no idea he was thinking, just as they have no idea of what other foreigners are thinking. However, they do not deign to listen and find out). But all of them have now shut their mouths on this topic and simply go about their business, like this heroic scrap of doggerel: A single drop means nothing to the vast and boundless sea, / A bull can shed its coat without a care. / That fool director exits from the Bird's Nest jubilee: / What a pity Mr. Spielberg won't be there. (I slay me.)

And columnist Wang Xiaoyu takes aim at Zhang Yimou and the establishment:

At Least Spielberg's no Zhang Yimou

Wang Xiaoyu

I've always enjoyed watching Foreign Ministry press conferences, because they often reveal a few secrets that everyone in the world already knows. For example, on Valentine's Day, China expressed its regret over Steven Spielberg's withdrawal from his position as artistic consultant for the Bejing Olympics, and from the reporters' questions, we learned that this was because of the Sudan issue. On the Darfur question, China has always exhibited the standard behavior of a red country, and it has come under vicious attack from not only Spielberg but from a handful of Nobel Peace Price laureates as well. Zhang Yimou, the director of the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, has frequently been called "China's Spielberg," but this designation is evidently a false analogy on the part of some of our countrymen. Spielberg's most recent actions demonstrate that he is no comrade of Zhang's. Nobel laureate Imre Kertész called Spielberg's Schindler's List a popular fairy tale and said that the appearance in color of a triumphant crowd of people at the conclusion of that black-and-white film implied that humanism had emerged unscathed from Auschwitz, and that such an assumption simplifies the multi-faceted nature of the Holocaust. But compared with the red tail of Not One Less, or the "whole nation a sea of red" of Hero, Schindler's List is merely an amateur.

In my opinion, it is more appropriate to call Zhang Yimou "China's Riefenstahl," after the director whose contributions to the 1936 Berlin Olympics are unforgettable. Some in the Chinese media hope that the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be like the 1988 Seoul Games and push forward democratic transitions, but I feel that they would be as the 1980 Moscow Games: let the reactionary, corrupt, and decadent capitalist countries voluntarily withdraw—the Soviet revisionists, too. Then we'd certainly have absolute superiority, and we'd rank first in the gold, silver, and bronze medal counts. Previously, Mia Farrow (Hollywood actress and Woody Allen's ex-wife), a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund (Kuroyanagi Tetsuko, author of Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window, previously held this position), warned Spielberg that he could become the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Olympics. Perhaps those words got to him, but the resolute Zhang Yimou will not be moved. With Hero as his entry-card, he finally proved that he has a red heart inclined toward the sun. The organization placed him in an important position, and no matter what happens, he will not betray the trust of the organization in that key capacity. Of course, we cannot rule out that several years from now he may change his form again and shoot another movie like To Live. Riefenstahl lived to be 101; Zhang Yimou is like the minister of culture in The Lives of Others, always smartly dressed no matter the occasion. When To Live becomes the official mainstream, Zhang could shoot To Live or To Die several times over with no effort at all. The people have poor memories, so they would praise it again and again. Zhang collected capital through Hero, and the price he paid for this — criticism from the intellectual set — was negligible. We all thought Zhang was an idiot, but as a matter of fact he saw things clearly long ago. Wang Shuo once seriously suggested that Zhang Yimou should become vice minister at SARFT once he finishes with the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. That's no joke: it's a wise use of the man's talent.

I am not entirely certain who is among that handful of Nobel laureates; reportedly the list includes Desmond Tutu and Elie Wiesel. Tutu's No Future Without Forgiveness (translation: Shanghai Literature and Arts Press, 2002), and Wiesel's A Jew Today (translation: Writer's Publishing House, 1998), are works that deserve to be targeted for criticism. I advise the central authorities to launch a campaign to criticise Spielberg, Tutu, and Wiesel, like the one against Antonioni. To facilitate this, I recommend that they quickly organize crack troops to translate Tutu's and Wiesel's works so that the people can have their eyes opened. A PhD student at Renmin University who is relatively familiar with international affairs told Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao that he has frequently heard the name Darfur in the news, but he is not at all clear what the situation there has to do with China, or why people want to boycott the Beijing Olympics over this: "It's truly mystifying." This PhD student is full proof that our higher education system is completely successful. Congratulations.

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There are currently 35 Comments for Assessing Spielberg's withdrawal from the Beijing Olympics.

Comments on Assessing Spielberg's withdrawal from the Beijing Olympics

i demand apologism.

and so i ask again: where's Maya?

nice "spiel-bork" and "squeal-bark" - you've outdone yourself mr martinsen.

that wang xiaoyu is on fire. wow.

It has always seemed suspicious when someone tries to argue an issue with a ridiculously long explanation as these folks do. Why not say it straight and get to the point? Well, because there is none.
Darfur is only one of a slew of issues. If the average local wants the ability to seek an end to their pain and suffering, or just have the ability to openly complain about it freely then the Olympics should by all means be politicized...it will only help. Excessive pride for pride's sake is just going to make one look silly once the true comes out. Whether its Ms. Farrow or Mr. Spielberg or some other outsider I don't think any "change" will come internally...so why not let us foreigners bitch and moan about it?

I was initially sceptical about the rationale behind Spielberg's resignation and about whether it could have any useful effect; but over these past few days I've come to think that it has perhaps done something very useful after all, although probably in a much more indirect way than he had intended - it has got a huge amount of attention inside China (though maybe more via the Internet than the mainstream media). Many Chinese are realising for the first time that there is a problem here - both in the behaviour of the Sudanese government, and in the Chinese government's intimate involvement with that government - and it is a hot issue elsewhere in the world, and something that will impact on the Beijing Olympics.

The response of many Chinese at the moment might be hidebound by the reflexive defences of "What has Darfur got to do with China?" and "Foreigners have no right to criticise us!" and "No country has a perfect record on human rights" (how I wish the Chinese government would stop using that one!), but at least the issue is being more noticed and more talked about within China.

Alas, I fear that greater discussion of the issue (and perhaps even criticism of the current Chinese policy) amongst the "chattering classes" on the Internet and in other media is likely to have absolutely ZERO effect on Hu and the Zhongnanhai boys.

Second two, interesting...first one *YAWN*...

Onto the crucifixion of Spielberg in China by all those "netizens" (allowed and encouraged by the PSB nannnies UNTIL the conversation starts straying to the details of why he pulled out) and the mass boycotting of illegally copied editions of "ET", "Schindler's List", "Munich", etc. etc. etc.

I find all this Spielberg talk pretty hypocritical on his part. While he boycotts Beijing's Olympics, he continues to proliferate Zionism in his films (such as Munich). In Munich, for example, with continuous flashbacks of the 1972 Olympics in Munich, we’re never allowed to forget that despite Israel’s military power, years of brutal occupation of the Palestinian territories and the killing of thousands of Palestinian innocents, Israel is still the “real” victim.

As China begins its new era, their idea of "minding their own business" in international relations doesn't fly anymore. The world expects great powers to intervene, to engage in empire. So begins the guilt trip, starting off with Sudan and Darfur. When peace activists protest China's relationship with Sudan, I wonder if their efforts would be more productive if they had concentrated their activism on something they can actually change, like policy in their home country.

But in my view, Spielberg's departure from the Beijing Olympics marks the beginning of Jewish and Israeli forces in attempting to influence Chinese foreign policy. In the US, Jewish money influences democratic politics rather easily. Any US politician against Israel would naturally lose their job (see: Mearsheimer and Walt - the Isreal Lobby). China is not a democracy, but they still love money. Israel will find a way.

Let's boycott the Oscars!

- Gender apartheid, stoning of homosexuals, religious repression etc. in USA's bosom buddy Saudia Arabia
- Iraq (death toll estimated by some to be more than 600,000, compared to the high end estimate for Darfur of 400,000)
- Failure to make reparations for chaos caused and despots supported in Latin America during cold war
- Failure to make reparations for the bombs dropped on Laos during the Vietnam war (more than all bombs dropped on Europe during WWII, many of which did not explode and continue killing people to this day)
- Guantanamo etc. etc. etc.

Mia Farrow is out of her mind.

After so many years of inaction and indifference by the West, we suddenly want to blame Darfur on China? There are plenty of blame to go around, starting with our support of the SPLA and John Garang 10 years ago:


At any rate the original Darfur mess we started has since been replaced with inter-tribal conflict and herdsmen fighting for territory. Neither Khartoum nor Beijing has much influence over that.

China is simply a scapegoat.

"Winning over Spielberg, I think, should have been easier than doing the same with someone like Bush or Murdoch."

Han Song's original text means 'someone like Bush or Merkel'. 默克尔 is Angela Merkel, German chancellor. The chinese translation of "Murdoch" is 默多克.

ah chen jingxi, yes, blame the jews.

you simple, bigoted idiot.

chen jingxi:
I find that your comment is quite antisemitic or at the very least you are a Jewish-phobe. Although I am not a "Chosen One", I am Catholic and follow the King of the Jews Mr. JC.
The fact of the matter is that western people with a strong connection to religion have to answer to their conscience and thus a higher authority than any being on Earth. Perhaps, if your land would embrace religion and not fear it then and only then would many of these problems be alleviated...either that or it would get much worse. All that is certain is that it would change the status quo which is stagnant...and stagnation is boring.

""Winning over Spielberg, I think, should have been easier than doing the same with someone like Bush or Murdoch."

Han Song's original text means 'someone like Bush or Merkel'. 默克尔 is Angela Merkel, German chancellor. The chinese translation of "Murdoch" is 默多克."---ZHAO YU

What does my boss Mr. Murdoch have to do with anything? Now you have crossed the line. I love comrade Rupert

Spielberg is only doing what he needs to do to maintain his intergerty and consience hmmm something that not many of these chinese United Front Workers would know would know about.

[comment edited for relevance. -JM]

zhao yu: Thanks for the correction.

Charles Liu, you're welcome to add to the conversation, but please don't use our comments section merely to spam our site with comments identical to those you've posted elsewhere (particularly when we've already linked to the threads in the post itself, in this case, the Imagethief discussion). Thanks.

Go ahead and boycott the Oscars. You are fully entitled too, just as Farrow and others are entitled to boycott the Olympics. And good luck to you.

(and by the way, what is your point?)

Not suprised that such a thing like Spielberg pulling out of the Olympics has happened. Just always thought it would be about something that has happened within China itself.

All the cristicism about this one aspect of China's foreign policy makes it seem like everything is great within China.

Dear Jingxi

As your comment expressed widely held misconceptions about the Arab-Israeli conflict, please allow me to offer a few corrections:

1. Israel developed its military in response to more than half a century of openly genocidal campaigns, all initiated by the Arabs. These began with coordinated pogroms against Jewish population centers under the British Mandate, and include the genocidal wars in 1948 (Arab aggression which resulted in displacement of the Arab population) and 1967 (Arab aggression which resulted in loss of territory by Egypt, Jordan & Syria). If the Arabs didn't keep trying to exterminate the Jews, there would be no 'Palestinian refugees' (a completely ridiculous term, as will be explained briefly below).

2. There is no such thing as 'Palestinian territories'. They do not exist, and they never did, other than as part of the intentionally temporary British Mandate. 'Palestine' is a term like 'Eastern Mediterranean', 'Middle East' or 'Levant'. It refers to a region. There has never been a Palestinian people or nation, just as there has never been a Levantine people or nation. The term Palestine was first used by the Romans when they decided to ethnically cleanse Judaea of its Jews. The term Palestinian was coined in the late 19th Century as a reference to Jews, in connection the early Zionist movement. At the time, Arabs argued that there was no such people. Palestinian nationalism started as a movement in the 1950's, specifically as a response to the creation of the state of Israel, and is now used in reference to Arabs, most of whom are descendants of persons who immigrated to the region from Egypt and Syria in the 20th Century, to take advantage of the economic development initiated by the Zionists. Yes, there were some already in the region, mostly working on land held by absentee landlords. Note that when the Jews resettled what was then the Ottoman Empire and later the British Mandate, they bought the land from its owners. They did not displace the resident population - which was also quite small at the time.

3. There has never been any 'killing of thousands of Palestinian innocents' by Israel. This claim is completely preposterous. If you bother to check Arab sources (e.g. official PA publications), you will see that the overwhelming majority of Arab fatalities due to Israeli fire have been active, armed combatants. Particularly during the initial years of the 'second intifadah', most of these deaths occurred in Israeli territory, in attacks against Israeli civilian targets. A cursory examination of the historical record will show you that Arab attacks target Jewish civilians, whereas the IDF goes to enormous lengths to avoid unarmed civilian casualties - particularly since Arab combatants purposefully hide behind civilians. Don't take my word for any of this - go ahead, look for yourself. The documentation is overwhelming. Don't just look at the numbers from Amnesty International, for whom everyone is a civilian unless he's on the official PA payroll (which is mostly bogus) - look at what the people were doing when they died, i.e. the circumstances of each death. Again, you don't need to check IDF records - the official PA media openly glorifies what each combatant did that led to his death.

4. The ridiculous screed by Mearsheimer and Walt has been authoritatively debunked so many times it's amazing to me that you're not embarrassed to mention it. Just google it - the criticisms are comprehensive and devastating. Simply, it's garbage. According to its authors' amorphous conception of 'The Israel Lobby', I am a member, simply for taking the time here to correct your misconceptions and address your obvious ignorance.

In fact, Israel has a stronger legal and historical claim to sovereignty over the 'Occupied Territories' (itself a misnomer - legally, the territories are contested, not 'occupied') than the Arabs do. The only reason the Israelis are willing to allow the creation of yet another Arab state is that they can't stomach exterminating or expelling their neighbors - a problem the Arabs clearly don't have. They've been trying to do exactly that to the Jews for the last 60 years.

That's why Arab terrorists assassinated Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in Germany, just 3 decades after the Germans failed to complete their own attempt at genocide.

The Jews didn't steal any Arab land. They moved back to what had been their own, under an international mandate. Moreover, most Israelis come from the Middle East, not Europe. They left their previous homes because they were driven out, and their property was seized (e.g. under Nasser in Egypt). These communities were centuries to millennia old. In contrast, look at Gaza, the most densely populated territory on Earth. After the Israeli withdrawal, less than 3% of the land was recognized by the PA as being privately held. Apparently, this 'Palestinian' land doesn't actually belong to the 'Palestinians' living there.

Whatever land the Arabs lost to Israel resulted from their own attempts to destroy it. Too bad. The Jews didn't force them out, as the Jordanians did to the Jews when they ethnically cleansed Hebron & East Jerusalem during their illegal annexation of the West Bank in the mid-20th Century.

Yes, Jingxi, Israel was and is still the real victim. There have been literally tens of thousands of terror attacks just since the Oslo Accords. The overwhelming majority were stopped by Israeli security forces. Did you think Israel polices the West Bank for fun? Do you know how much money it takes? When the Israelis say their primary consideration is security, this assertion is supported by an endless mountain of evidence.

The same cannot be said for any of yours.

Apologies to everyone else for going so far OT, but it is my opinion that such malicious nonsense should not be allowed to stand unanswered.

So much for lunch.


Bringing things back on topic, the issue of Spielberg being Jewish was mentioned by some Chinese commentators, too. The current most popular thread at 1510 started off with a post wondering if Spielberg could live with himself after going against China - because after all, China welcomed Jewish refugees in the Second World War. The author of that post makes some of the same points that chen jingxi mentions up-thread, but they're not universally accepted by the commenters there.

Joel, my comment is on-topic; it is not spam.

Your comment may be on-topic, Charles Liu (which is why we published it), but since it's just a cut-and-paste of a comment you've posted in a number of other blogs, I'm going to have to call it spam.

answering du yisa:

I really do not like your professed "expert-like" tone in your answer to Chen Jingxi. No one sees all the truth. The lens through which you see things are seriously tainted just as Chen's was. Facts are organized. Even if you know Arab language, which I do not know, the way you organize facts leads to your own conclusion. I just want to say: no more bullying! Even in verbal forms!

You are as ignorant and biased as anyone. And your tunnel vision is even narrower than a people who are usually not meddlesome. What is worse, your tendency to interfere in others' affairs is truly jarring.

You have preset a theme, and then organize facts from the media to support it. It is truly misleading and dangerous. You googled for information. But have you truly and responsibly made any researches on the issues discussed here? If you have, just list your publications to prove you have the right to voice your opinion like an expert here. If not, just do not pretened to be an expert when you are just googling information to support your bias.


Before responding to your comment point by point, I would like to observe that you failed to challenge any claim made in my previous comment, and also failed to present any counter-claims. Nevertheless, you managed to be incoherent:

"I really do not like your professed "expert-like" tone in your answer to Chen Jingxi."

Noted. In my case, I do not like deadly ignorance justified with nothing but self-satisfied, fundamentally dishonest intellectual relativism. Actually, 'do not like' is something of an understatement. I detest it and find it revolting. The remainder of this comment will hopefully help clarify these statements.

"No one sees all the truth."

Yes. So what?

"The lens through which you see things are seriously tainted just as Chen's was."

I beg to differ. A meaningful distinction can in fact be made between ignorance and knowledge. Not all explanations are created equal. That is both how and why science works. I can hold up my mobile phone and show you a little person talking. An explanation of this phenomenon that involves an LCD screen, circuitry and data transmission is not "seriously tainted just as" one that suggests there is a little homunculus living in my phone. So what? So, you have just made a claim about me subject to critical analysis. Let's see how well you defend it:

"Facts are organized."

This is thinking.

"Even if you know Arab language, which I do not know, the way you organize facts leads to your own conclusion."

As you have phrased it, this is self-evident, so I will interpret it in context to mean that I have organized facts specifically to fit a certain conclusion. This is your second claim about me. Note that it remains unsubstantiated, just like the previous one.

Allow me to differ: While it is certainly true that I did organize facts, I did not do so in order to fit a particular conclusion. That's your imagination. I happen to accept the empirically demonstrated premise that not all possible organizations of facts are equal, as stated above. Again, that's both how and why science works.

While it is true that not every possible fact or interpretation was included in my previous comment, not all facts and interpretations are equally relevant. To continue with my mobile phone as an example, if I want to understand how it works, determining what color best matches my jacket and how I feel about it is not as edifying as a familiarity with radio transmission and PCB design.

"I just want to say: no more bullying! Even in verbal forms!"

This is your third claim about me for which you fail to provide any evidence. My comment presented well-known and extensively documented evidence which clearly contradicts what Jingxi wrote. If you can demonstrate how I engaged in bullying, I will consider your comment seriously. Otherwise, I must consider it specious.

"You are as ignorant and biased as anyone. And your tunnel vision is even narrower than a people who are usually not meddlesome. What is worse, your tendency to interfere in others' affairs is truly jarring."

More of the same. The first sentence makes two claims, neither of which you have substantiated. The following sentences are interesting. After mentioning that you "don't like" my "tone", you go on to accuse me of "bullying", having "tunnel vision", being "meddlesome" and having a "tendency to interfere in others' affairs".

Please demonstrate what any of this has to do with any of the claims in my previous comment, as I must confess I can't find any connection.

"You have preset a theme, and then organize facts from the media to support it. It is truly misleading and dangerous."

Pearl, all communication consists of the organization of facts. Again, as stated above, not all forms of organization are equal. If I want to know whether a claim has any merit, I need to look at evidence. For example, Israel has been repeatedly accused of trying to perpetrate genocide against the 'Palestinian people', whereas in fact the population in the West Bank and Gaza has one of the highest birth rates in the world, and many of these children have been delivered in Israeli hospitals. If you look at the evidence, you will find almost all such claims made against Israel to be completely baseless. What is even more interesting is that the Arabs openly state their intent to destroy Israel and the Jews with even greater frequency - although in this case they don't refer to their goal as genocide, but rather, the defense of 'Palestinian rights'. I'll leave it to you to consider what that indicates about Palestinian nationalism.

If something about the evidence I presented or the claims I made doesn't look right to you - either in what it says or what it doesn't - please demonstrate what the problem is with it. Otherwise, it follows logically that the problem must be somewhere else. If you aren't in a position to question any of the claims I made, but are nevertheless dissatisfied with them or the conclusion they lead to, why don't you put in the effort to do a little research yourself? This will improve your ability to determine whether my comment was in fact "misleading and dangerous".

Finally, I am not "just googling information" to support my "bias". The point of mentioning google and PA publications (some of which are in English) is to point out that the information I presented is not obscure, and readily available to anyone with an interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Again, you have failed to provide any evidence whatsoever to demonstrate that my previous post was "misleading and dangerous" in any way. The only inference I am able to make from your many accusations is that it made you uncomfortable. Well, that's not entirely true. That's the only polite inference.

In closing, allow me to observe that your comment is typically Chinese. I leave the tone of this observation to your interpretation.

Another lunch spent on this... well, it's one way to lose that weight from Spring Festival.


Du Yisa, and others,

Thanks very much for your replies. Du Yisa, I do not know if anything I say can change your point of view, but clearly, you are a Zionist. I write a short little post like that, and then you come by and write a big long post... is this a sign of your insecurity?

China and Israel right now have a budding relationship. China has no reason to help Palestinians one way or another, except in developing a working relationship with the status quo. The relationship between the Jewish elite in the US, for example political elites, will be interesting to watch. Barak Obama, when he was in the Illinois State Senate publicly sympathized for the Palestinian people, but now running for president he has reversed his position and is now into AIPAC love(American Israel Public Affairs Committee). The interesting thing to watch is to see how Israel will use its strong bond with the US to influence policy with China.

As you noted to Pearl that she is typically chinese, I find your generalization offensive. Let me ask you what is Chinese, to be prudent? to take consideration in your decisions? What does it mean to be Israeli? why invade a country over 2 soldiers, only to fail and along the way kill many lebanese, and NOT TO MENTION SEVERAL CHINESE SOLDIERS. Why do Chinese have to die for Israel to get their troops back?

Yisa, you are currently using a Chinese name as a pseudonym. The way you speak about Chinese people, I am surprised that you are okay to select such a name. You are not embarrassed?


Just to respond to a few of your points - but I won't elaborate as it probably won't influence your considerations in any way:

1. and 2.
The argument that Palestine doesn't or has never existed, or that the land was originally Jewish is perplexing to me. Its like to say, oh because, China used to be ruled by a monarchical Mongolian rulers, pitiful little Mongolia should be allowed to take back Beijing, and we'll cram all the Han chinese into szechuan because it was ours to begin with. Or going with your judgement, we should return the land to the native americans in the US.

Palestine is a region, though since the British took it over and then gave it to another group of people, the Arabs that live in the ghettos of Gaza and the West Bank now form a common bond under occupation. As such today, their common experience create their identity as a Palestinian people that cannot be forgotten.

You say Israel developed a military response to counter waves of suicide bombers and other Arab acts of aggression. Let me ask what you would do if another imperial country took land from you and gave it to another group. And they took away all capabilities, all education, water, food. What would you do? The question becomes, I guess, how many Arabs have to die for each Jew in the Israel Palestine conflict?

3. and 4.
Last year, I was a UN observer to UNRWA in the West Bank. On the second week I was there, I was at a market where my translator and myself began to get harassed by a Israeli Defense Force soldier. He asked me what Chinese people want with the Palestinians and why I am helping them. The conversation became confrontational and he ended up taking my translator away, even though he was working for the UN. I guess technically he is an independent contractor, which is why they could take him away. We didn't see him for another month, when he came back his legs were broken. I feel guilty because it is my fault.

I am personally offended when you mention Palestinian babies born in Israeli hospitals as I have personally witnessed in the Spring of 2006 a woman and her baby die during child birth because an Israeli soldier would not accept that she left her credentials at home in a rush to get to a hospital in labor, and would not let her pass the check point. I was able to go in and out as a foreigner, so I crossed,a few hours later, I returned and she had just given birth and died from blood loss.

Israel's human rights record is horrible. In Norman Finkelstein's book Beyond Chutzpah by the U of California Press, he uses mainstream sources like Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem to describe the numerous human rights abuses that occur daily. If you don't trust Finkelstein, take it from the UN:


I don't see what is so devastating to Zionists about The Israel Lobby book. Its nothing new, but it was the first time big name scholars decided to write about it. That it receives such attacks from the most obvious of charlatans (such as Alan Dershowitz) only gives it more credibility.

You speak so highly of fact, but perhaps you should do more research and then we can have a discussion about truth.


du yisa:
What is with the dissertation?
Say what you want to say and move on to something else productive besides refuting others.
Brevity only helps an argument. Incorporate it pengyou.

Since I'm not an expert on recent middle east politics or whatever, but it seems to me both sides have claims, and both sides have some so called supporting references.

But what does it all mean? Politics like these are no where near rigorous enough for me.

If we were arguing about science, using some axiomatic method for example, and you make a claim A, based on some other claim B. In order for me to see your point, I have to agree with you on B. If I don't agree with you on B, then you come up with a C, and see if I agree with you on that, and repeat ad infinitum, until we both agree on something. There is no "self evident" truth here. Only crap that we agree upon to be consistent, for whatever particular argument we are having.

Since both of you can't seem to agree(as in almost everything relating to politics) on anything, I have to say it's all bullsh*t.


I'm kidding.

Answering Du Yisa:

Dear Du Yisa, I admit that I was uncomfortable even insulted when I read your post refuting Chen Jingxi. I was impulsive. I am sorry for that.

Everything has a reason. If you listed facts you googled or gleaned through whatever channels, I would have read them carefully and thankfully because it would widen my horizon of knowledge. But instead I was insulted. Why? There must be a reason. It originated mostly from your introductory sentence:

“As your comment expressed widely held misconceptions about the Arab-Israeli conflict, please allow me to offer a few corrections:”

You used the words such as MISCONCEPTIONS and CORRECTIONS. May I ask by what standards are the views expressed here evaluated as misconceptions? Are they standards of Zionists? Or those of other political interest groups or nations? You must have a political position of yours. But you did not mention it in any way.

When you say CORRECTIONS, you assume the superior position of a teacher or an expert. How did you prove that you are an expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict? Did you substantiate your subtext?

"Yes, Jingxi, Israel was and is still the real victim."

In this sentence, you just impose your view on JIngxi by using Yes and your absolute claim before and after his name. It is really like a teacher or a parent scolding a little kid about some "self-evident" "truth".

However, what you did is to assume to know the “truth” universal to all mankind, including Zionists, Palestinians, Chinese, and all the rest of the human being, when you only know your own truth confined to your Zionist world.

What is most offensive is that, when you upheld your own truth, you were trying to be the teacher to the Chinese readers here, or at least Jingxi, and me who read your post, who have their own truth which is different from yours.

I am absolutely not an intellectual relativist. But truths, at least political truths are sometimes culture-bound.

Your sense of intellectual superiority is not suitable for a forum where everyone is equal and every one gives his/her own point for discussion.

"Another lunch spent on this..." Yes, really like you!

When I use the word "misleading and dangerous", I mean politics have consequences. If you are too self-righteous, you may commit disasters. Although Hitler was mankind's worst criminal, he claimed himself a Christian. It is just a shallow analogy.


Since my previous comment has not been posted, in spite of my sending it multiple times, I will follow the advice of Fritz and keep this one short.

Just because I don't believe Arab propaganda doesn't automatically make me a Zionist. I have no association with that movement. I consider myself anti-imperialist and anti-racist, and this is the basis for my political positions.

Second, facts, by definition, are not culture-bound. That would be interpretation.

Jingxi made specific claims (e.g. about civilian deaths) which happen to be false. This is a question of evidence, not interpretation. Similarly, there is no dispute that the wars I mentioned in my first comment were Arab attempts at genocide. The Arabs openly said so at the time, and Jingxi is still trying to rationalize this fact now. That is the result of culture and ideology. Personally, I consider it unjustifiable.

For what it is worth, Pearl and Jingxi, the problem I perceive with you is that you fail to extend the same intellectual and moral standard to both the Arab and Israeli positions. I'm not saying the Israelis are right, or good, or even that they deserve to have a country, or be in the region. However, if you conclude they don't, according to the same standard, the Arabs don't either. Similarly, if you determine that the Arabs are Palestinian, by the same standards it follows that the Israelis are also - unless you apply the racist standard that Jews can't be Palestinians.

I hope that clarifies my position.

Jingxi, I would be interested to hear more about the incident you mentioned with the pregnant woman. Could you please provide a few more details? Did you and/or your colleagues accompany her to the checkpoint? I would be very interested to know more about it.

I disagree with most of what both of you wrote, but since my previous more detailed comment simply didn't get posted, I'll leave this one as it is.



I think it's remarkable how the Farrow mother/son combination has managed to play both ends of the United Nations on the genocide issue.

On the one hand, they've time and time again expressed their over-flowing self-righteous outrage at the inaction in Darfur. They call for sanctions on all those they believe stand in violation of relevant United Nations resolutions.

On the other hand, they defend Israel from United Nations criticism at every turn. The fact that Israel stands in violation of numerous resolutions remains irrelevant; the fact that Israel stands accused of genocide remains irrelevant. A recent United Nations Human Rights Commission decision to condemn Israel for military action in Gaza leads to a call for the Commission's replacement.


Perhaps, in the spirit of Farrow and Spielberg's campaign, China should simply ban all Jews from China until Israel begins to negotiate with the democratically elected government of Hamas.

Well reasoned, CCT. But unfortunately, Farrow & Son are not in the "reason" business.

Fritz, while I heartily agree that human beings have spiritual needs, I don't think MORE religion is the answer. The finest achievement of Europe of the 20th century may be their collective decision to stop a solid millennia of religious and ideological war... Accusing Chen of being an anti-Semite and then wrapping yourself in a cloak of religiosity makes you look extremely self-satisfied. Why would you assume that you know ANYTHING about him, or what he believes in terms of faith, based on his comments about Spielberg? Address what you consider to be antisemitic on its merits, sir.

Read my WHOLE comment before you attack me for speaking out of turn.
I said, "Perhaps, if your land would embrace religion and not fear it then and only then would many of these problems be alleviated...either that or it would get much worse. All that is certain is that it would change the status quo which is stagnant...and stagnation is boring"
First I said PERHAPS (meaning "MAYBE").
I said "problems be alleviated...either that or it would make them worse" (just like when Homer Simpson said, "Beer and women...the cause and solution to all man's problems"). See the parallel argument? It's balanced.
I concluded with the fact that the change in accepting religion would bring a fresh new perspective to the land of which we speak.
Ada you say, "I don't think MORE religion is the answer". That would assume there is already religion when there in fact is not. There is no freedom to chose how to worship there so it thus doesn't exist so how could one have more of nothing?
In conclusion that gentleman/lady's comments were antisemitic. And to be exact my initial argument against him was this, "I find that your comment is quite antisemitic or at the very least you are a Jewish-phobe." Tell me why his comments are not these.

I think that he should stick to directing movies and not be part of this political games. My question is why in the hell did he agree to be part of the Olympics in the first place? He always knew about "human rights violation" by China and it is not something new for him. Why later he changes his side and uses Darfur as an issue?

as for the human rights in China,i just came across one joke as follows,

To quote my 14 year old son, holding a blank piece of paper:

"Here is China's Bill of Rights."

but i believe it brought me more thoughts than laugh.


You called Chen Jingxi an anti-Semite, an extremely loaded and heavy term -- and then did not support why you found him to be so. This is a cross-cultural forum, why labor so to ascribe nefarious motivations when we can kill bad ideas outright with reasoning, facts and a little empathy?

His comments were not religious, they were political. I smell a rat in there somewhere, but my assessment of your comments remain. You seem to prefer righteousness to reason. Does that come with religion too?



The Jew issue seems to be a death trap, whomever dares to touch it, you're dead! Um, interesting
Fritz said it, let the Jews answer to their own conscience, surely they can.
Arabs, well, they tic-tac for the tinest of tiny things, what do they expect?
It takes two to tango, old stuff, but always true.

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