I could love Israel

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 33 Comments

Benny Morris kicked off the Gaza war in the New York Times by speaking of the insecurity underlying the assault: Israel's awareness that it is losing legitimacy in the eyes of the world. So Israel went out and killed hundreds of children and mothers and policemen and surely some terrorists too and destroyed every important building in Gaza City. And lo and behold: Israel has lost even more legitimacy.

Even good friends of Israel must acknowledge that its image is in a free-fall. Newsweek's Rod Nordland says that Main Street America's opinion of Israel is suddenly as potentially threatening as the Arab street; Israel has "fewer friends than ever," even in the U.S. The Telegraph says that the BBC is coming under angry public pressure to screen a charity appeal for Gaza. The friend who sent it says, "Very few people under 50 in Europe care at all for Israel."  Then there's this news that almost everyone in Parliament hates Israel too:

A prominent Jewish MP has voiced alarm about the…
"frenzy of hostility to Israel" amongst her colleagues.

I think we must accept the truth of this: Right now, just about everyone hates Israel.

And I would just like to say for myself, that I think a great many of us could love Israel. If Israel changed. This is the Obama lesson. If Israel accepted at last the teaching of the outside world, and deferred to world opinion. If it ended the occupation and sought justice for the refugees of the Nakba. If it stopped dragging its feet and thumbing its nose at every human rights and international law opinion of the last 40 years. If it accepted the plain teaching of Iraq: that suicide terrorism arises from political grievances, and in Palestine these grievances go back 60 years without acknowledgment or reparation. It could do all these things. It could stop listening to Alan Dershowitz and Elizabeth Wurtzel's lullabye, that It's just antisemites, and recognize that its policies are anti-Arab at a time when racial prejudice is utterly disfiguring. It could take the lesson of its noblest citizen, Uri Avnery, who sacrificed high office long ago: it is on the wrong side of history.

Really, it doesn't take all that much to begin to rectify things– in world opinion, or the Palestinian condition. But it has to try in good faith at last, to treat its Arab neighbors and citizens with dignity.

And the key to all this is here, in the United States. For that is the Rube Goldberg device of this insecure, brutal, infantilized Israeli conduct. American Jews have ennabled this disgusting behavior. American Jews must reckon at last with the effect of the blank check they have written to that society: People hate Israel. There are ways to wake American Jews up. Shock and awe. People who know should speak out–Spielberg, Adam Sandler. Uri Avnery should be published by the Times. When American Jews change, the American government will change, and Israel will change.  And I promise, as a person of generous spirit, that I would celebrate Israel. I would love that society for changing.      (Phil Weiss)

33 Responses

  1. samuel burke
    January 25, 2009, 11:13 am

    our cowardly press still can not speak freely…they are slaves to the truth of the state and no better than the pravdaists.

    the pravda newsmen feared for their physical lives while americas pravdaist fear ostracization and job loss.

    in a free america our newsmen and policitians fear the oppressive zionist overlords.

    link to youtube.com

  2. MM
    January 25, 2009, 11:17 am


  3. Rowan Berkeley
    January 25, 2009, 11:26 am

    just glancing at electronic intifada i see this:

    … feces cleaned up from where the occupying soldiers had strewn it, all over the house …

    this is a very frequent report. IOF soldiers appear to make it a practice to shit all over any building they happen to occupy, presumably emulating one another in full view. This is the sort of coarse game that soldiers play all over the world, but the IOF seem to do it as a matter of policy, don't they?

  4. chris berel
    January 25, 2009, 11:32 am

    It still appears that more Israelis stood up and challanged Israel over Sabra, then Muslims all over the world have stood up and challanged Israel over Gaza.

    The general feeling in Israel is a vague satisfation subdued by the realization that nothing will ever change as long as Palestinians teach hatred in their homes, streets, schools, and mosques.

  5. Richard Witty
    January 25, 2009, 11:39 am

    But it has to try in good faith at last, to treat its Arab neighbors and citizens with dignity.


  6. Rowan Berkeley
    January 25, 2009, 12:11 pm

    nothing will ever change as long as Palestinians teach hatred in their homes, streets, schools, and mosques

    This of course is your own, brainwashed way of teaching hatred for whichever non-jews you may happen to be interested in annihilating at any given moment, but, like the tedious Witty, you are wasting your time here.

  7. LD
    January 25, 2009, 12:12 pm

    why would Palestinians need to be TAUGHT hate? All they have to learn about hate is to simply live one day under Israeli occupation/tyranny/repression.

    You idiot Zionists will defeat yourself through the ignorance of the facts.

  8. Kathy Podgers
    January 25, 2009, 12:17 pm

    It does not take long to go from hating what Israel does, to hating Israel. And, acording to reports, some have moved on to the next steo, hating Zionists. For many, distinguishing between Israel's actions and Israel, and distinguishing between Zionists and Jews is too hard for them to grasp. Thta is why, in my opinion, Israel's actions in Gaza now is so dangerous, not only to the Palestinians and Israeli's, but to all Americans, as we supply the bombs, and to all Jews, because they share the same religious values as does Israel.

    To recognize how this works, one need not go any further that @Chris Berel's comment, above. He wrote…"nothing will ever change as long as Palestinians teach hatred in their homes, streets, schools, and mosques."

    Aside from the gross generalization, stereotyping, which is the foundation of all racism and discrimination, I would still have to ask, are Israeli's also taught to hate?

    Perhaps we need a better understanding of just what is hatred, how is is visited into our hearts and minds, and how we can recover from its blinding power.

    take care, Kathy

  9. DD
    January 25, 2009, 12:22 pm


    I am an American, secular Jew, and former Israel apologist. Always rooted for the good guys like Averny and Nussbieh, but have become increasingly disillusioned and disgusted with the Israeli policies and their supporters here in the USA. I have always been an advocate for Palestinians rights to their own genuniely viable and real homeland, but now struggle to determine if a 1 or 2-state solution is more realistic. I'm honestly not sure and I am currently seeking greater understanding of this question.

    Over the last two years I have been speaking to more and more Jewish and non-Jewish friends about Israel and challenging them on their assumptions and positions. I've been struck by how little people really know. Folks know sound bytes and bumper stickers, but lack any real knowledge of the history of the conflict. They know what they want to know. What is convenient to know. To be fair, this also includes Muslims I've spoken to who don't know a thing about historical European anti-semitism or the Holocaust, and reactionary anti-Israelites who only know what they've read on Counterpunch.

    I find the single most important thing I say to my friends is to first ask them if they consider Palestinians to be just as human as Jews. Every single Jewish person I've asked this to has responded affirmatively, perhaps much to the dismay of some of your readers who seem to subscribe that most Jews are supremacists deep down. With that as a starting point I've reviewed the history of the region. I've often been challenged with the usual questions about the origins and timeline for Palestinian Nationalism, and the possibility of making peace with the Palestinians. Interestingly enough, it has been Christian Zionists who are the most difficult to influence in these conversations, as their Zionism stems from their belief that Jews really are the only rightful landlords of the Holy Land — a view I don't subscribe to. Most of the Jews I've spoken to recognize that the Palestinians were irreparably harmed in 1948, and all agree that the settlements were wrong and should be returned. Most of the Jews I've spoken to are sympathetic to a more generous peace offering to the Palestinians, and have major concerns about the character of Israeli society today. Most strongly dislike the notion of a theocratic state, and did not see Israel one, despite it's privileging of Judaism. More than one friend had the urge to create a seperate identity for us less tribal and less religious jews, in order to separate us from the black hats and black kippahs that we feel so distant from and different from. However, I know that it is these more conservative and orthodox Jews that I need to have more conversations with in order to try to move Israel closer to a solution. Given that, I am strongly encouraging all of my Jewish friends to be having these conversations, in a respectful and loving manner, but with no bullshit. I obviously encourage non-Jews to have these conversations as well, but I believe that Jews have the opportunity to influence Israelis in a way that non-Jews don't have, solely as a function of our family relations to Israelis, and concern for our relatives. I also believe that in order for American Jews to save their spiritual souls it is impreative that these conversations take place post haste.

    Jews voted for Obama in greater numbers than any group other than African-Americans. We need to pressure Obama to be even-handed with respect to Israel and Palestinians and we need to humanize Palestinians to our fellow Jews further (those that need it, not all). Most Jews that I spoke to didn't have any relationships with Palestinians. Having actual relationships with Palestinians goes a long way towards shattering the fear of the Other. I recommend that Muslims and Palestinians who don't know any Jews meet some with similar political positions as them so they are better able to humanize Jews, which there can often be an absence of.

    Philip – I think we really need a leader within American Jewry to position a way out of this dilemma. I think there would be a greater level of Jewish participation in protests against the Israelis if there was a clear affirmative path for American Jews to endorse. Simply asking Jews to disown and castigate Israel is only appealing to a small number of Jews. Having them line up behind a proposal like the Geneva Initiative will go a long way towards getting them off their couches and ready to rumble with their Likudnik family and friend.

    Who is this Moses that will help to lead us out of the desert? Burg? Levy? Rosenberg?

    The bush is burning. Time to part the red seas. Time to start talking and challenging one another.

    Philip – thanks for your efforts.

  10. Rowan Berkeley
    January 25, 2009, 12:33 pm

    The explanation for this particular meme is a rational (though perverse) one, and we do not need to purify our hearts and minds any more than we normally do, to grasp it. Here it is.

    As you will recall, the first generations of the mass european jewish immigration to the USA, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, were (unless they were full-time professional religious functionaries, and sometimes even then) pretty largely marxist, and for a good few decades many of them hoped for a marxist revolution in the USA. However, as they began to acquire increasing status within the actually existing, capitalist USA, it became necessary for them to alter their ideology, in such a way that, while continuing to appear 'progressive' and even glamorous, it would no longer present a serious political threat. They therefore developed a pseudo-radical vocabulary based on vulgar freudianism. Their current ideological idee fixe, which is that 'anti-Semitism' is a mass-psychological 'disease' and should be eradicated as such, is a product of this crappy pseudo-thinking.

    Perhaps the extreme vulgarisation of Freud we find in Wilhelm Reich (who was Jewish, but is seldom credited as such) helped with this: he produced a lot of hysterical phraseology, such as "emotional plague", to describe what he regarded as the collective sexual repression that leads to fascism. Marcuse was in fact wiser, when he warned of 'repressive desublimation', which is exactly what all this bogus psychology aims at – lots of fucking in the streets, and complete political apathy.

  11. anonymous
    January 25, 2009, 12:44 pm

    Rowan, Could you post a link to your blog?

  12. Anonymous
    January 25, 2009, 12:59 pm

    Click on Rowan and he will take you, anonymous, to Niqnaq, his blog:

  13. anonymous
    January 25, 2009, 1:06 pm

    I think he has another blog. Rowan, do you?

  14. Rowan Berkeley
    January 25, 2009, 1:42 pm

    I had a blog before Niqnaq, called Naqniq, but it got closed down by order of the evil kommissar of democratic-party-aligned zionist spooks, John Loftus, after I called him a Nazi, in relation to his claim that Saddam, like Dr No in the Bond film, was stashing his nuclear fuel underwater – under the river-bed of the Euphrates, in fact. I could find this amazingly preposterous story, it's still up there on FrontPageMag, but the point is, don't mess with guys like that, they follow the trackbacks very closely, and they have nasty bites.

  15. Rowan Berkeley
    January 25, 2009, 1:45 pm

    As I'm sure you all know, 'naqniq' means 'sausage meat' in hebrew.

  16. Colin Murray
    January 25, 2009, 1:46 pm

    "Given that, I am strongly encouraging all of my Jewish friends to be having these conversations, in a respectful and loving manner, but with no bullshit."

    Bravo, DD, for this and the rest.

  17. Richard Witty
    January 25, 2009, 2:25 pm

    Here Avnery is quoted as hero, but Nassibeh is quoted as traitor to Palestine.

    From the Weiss/Horowitz statements.

    There are other options than single state or two-state, and even that description is more simplistic than the reality.

    The options presented include:

    1. Palestinian dominated single-state (Either Sharia or nationalist)
    2. Zionist dominated single-state
    3. Two-state
    4. Cosmopolitan single state
    5. Three state (Palestinian, Zionist, and Cosmopolitan)

    That's just the political side.

    NO political form will be peaceful absent social acceptance, full acceptance of peaceable minorities.

    As far as considering what goal is best, I ask what form results in the optimal and most secure level of consent of the governed.

    If the majority in a single-state truly favor a nationalist association (Zionist or Palestinian), then in a nearly equal population, a LARGE minority will feel that it is oppressed (governed by an "other").

    If the jurisdiction can divide into clear pluralities then those would be the optimal self-governance.

    If the overwhelming majority prefer a cosmopolitan approach, then either nationalist approach is an oppression.

    Any plebiscite, formal or informal, should include three options (Israel, Palestine, Cosmopolitan).

    Currently, in Palestine there are ONLY nationalist political parties. There are NO cosmopolitan ones, NONE that suggest unification of Palestinians with Israelis.

    In Israel, there are prominent parties that are multi-cultural and primarily cosmopolitan, thankfully.

  18. Richard Witty
    January 25, 2009, 2:31 pm

    To Phil,
    Its time to LOVE ISRAEL in action. It does not mean sign on to the politics of any administration, but it is an INVESTMENT in reform.

    Although George Bush represented the near the worst of American political "leadership", you did not renounce your residence and citizenship.

    Those of us that regard Israel as important in our families' and worlds' lives will not conditionally love Israel. We will continue to love Israel.

    As Avraham Burg similarly concludes that to love Israel is not "loyalty" but intimacy. And, in one's intimate relations, one actively CARES MORE, including truth-telling but also encouragement, kindness, sensitivity.

  19. Rowan Berkeley
    January 25, 2009, 2:32 pm

    primarily cosmopolitan? I think he means primarily jewish, don't y'all agree?

  20. anonymous
    January 25, 2009, 3:04 pm

    I do agree. Outwardly the Israelis (and their US soldiers) will pretend to consider all such options but their all-consuming commitment to Greater Israel will never waver. I think Witty knows this and is profoundly grateful for it.
    "I love peace negotiations, I hope hey go on forever," Ariel Sharon.

    Rowan, Didn't you suggest that Phil include your blog on his blog list? If so, why is there nothing on it?

  21. Anonymous
    January 25, 2009, 3:12 pm

    Because the only thing that was said here on Mondoweiss as many times as Phil's "this is the Elian Gonzalez moment for the Israel lobby!" is Rowan's "I'm taking this site off my bookmarks!"

  22. Rowan Berkeley
    January 25, 2009, 4:30 pm

    what on earth are you talking about?

  23. Richard Witty
    January 25, 2009, 4:56 pm

    I have NO commitment to a political "greater Israel".

    I object to it publicly and consistently.

    Its not necessary to lie about my views. I thought that one of the criticisms of the "Israel Lobby" was the manner in which they are accused of discrediting dissenters.

    Phil writes at length about the efforts of "censorship" and intentional and functional blacklisting.

    Its hypocritical to employ a method that you claim to contest.

  24. Richard Witty
    January 25, 2009, 5:03 pm

    Loving Israel.

    There is a transition in a personal relationship where one realizes that they are intimate with the other, that regardless of what the other does, they are permanently connected.

    In a marriage for example, there is a point in which one accepts that "till death does us part" is an observation rather than a hope.

    One's relationship with one's parents, brothers and sisters is most often that, even where they argue or worse.

    I personally believe that there are no coincidences in the world, and that I am intimate (in a way) and co-creating with everyone that I've had the good fortune to meet and exchange any personal contact.

    Its how I feel about Phil, and how I feel about Israel and Israelis, and now that I've met quite a few moderate Palestinians, how I feel about Palestinians.

    I cannot forget smiles and respect anywhere it occurs, anytime in my life.

    Better that those drops become threads and fabric.

  25. S. F.
    January 25, 2009, 5:06 pm

    Could we please leave behind terms like "the Arab street"? How is that phrase not racist? I'm sure no one in his/her right mind would ever say "Jew street." So, please, enough already.

  26. Richard Witty
    January 25, 2009, 6:22 pm

    Its a common term used by Palestinian solidarity.

    You want to shut them up?

  27. S. F.
    January 25, 2009, 6:38 pm

    Richard Witty, you are clueless.

  28. anonymous
    January 25, 2009, 6:55 pm

    Rowan, this is the link under your posts
    link to profile.typepad.com

    But I found this
    link to niqnaq.wordpress.com

  29. Rowan Berkeley
    January 26, 2009, 7:42 am

    sorry, I didn't realise that. I have added a link to Niqnaq to my Typepad profile.

  30. citizen
    January 26, 2009, 11:48 am

    It is true that Richard Witty has stated numerous times on this blog that he is not for Israel lebensraum, as it were. I give him that.

    I also think his statement of how he views his relationship with Phil and Phil's family is honest, not manipulative. It even, for the first time ever for Richard, approaches eloquence. It's equally clear he doesn't get Phil at all. But that's not unusual–

  31. Yehuda
    January 26, 2009, 7:37 pm

    Make no mistake: if it were any other country to be attacked, no one would deny that country the right to defend itself. But since that country is Israel it’s an entirely different matter. Pakistan was a country carved out of British India, and invented for Muslims; Greece was a country carved out of the Ottoman Empire invented for ethnic Greeks; Belgium was a country carved out of the Netherlands and invented for French speaking Catholics. The idea that Pakistan, or Greece, or Belgium, have no right to exist, and that Indian, or Turkish, or Dutch terrorists have the right to claim their land, is beyond outrageous and you will find no one supporting it in the West. But the suggestion that Israel — a country carved out of a British protectorate inside what used to be the Ottoman Empire and created for Jews — is not fully legitimate and was illegally imposed upon Arabs, that idea enjoys wide sympathy in the West

  32. BA
    January 27, 2009, 11:39 am

    SO much for Phil Weiss — from CNN:

    Sixty percent of Americans in the nationwide survey said they were sympathetic toward the Israelis, compared with 17 percent who supported the Palestinians, CNN reported today on its Web site. A recent European poll showed that 23 percent of French people said the Palestinian Hamas group was primarily responsible for the war while 18 percent mainly blamed Israel.

  33. James
    January 28, 2009, 7:41 pm

    I found this on another blog, very funny.

    The Little Dickie Silverstein Marching Song

    I am a little kapo,
    It makes my mommy mad,
    Cause when I am a kapo,
    Those Zionists get sad!

    I celebrate the jihad,
    and terror all the while,
    I fill my blog and web page,
    With loud salutes of Sieg Heil!

    I want to see them Zraelis,
    All dumped out in the sea,
    My swastika a waving,
    Cause everything’s bout me.

Leave a Reply