US Non-Profit bankrolled West Bank colony that is hotbed for accused terrorists

Israel/Palestine
on 63 Comments

Yaakov "Jack" Teitel, a resident of the Jewish settlement outpost Shvut Rachel, was arrested by Israel’s Shabak for his alleged murder of two Palestinians and planned terrorist attacks on a left-wing academic and homosexuals. Teitel, an immigrant from Florida who was granted Israeli citizenship through the country’s "right of return" policy for Jews, is the second accused terrorist to emerge from Shvut Rachel. The first, Asher Weisgan, murdered five Palestinian co-workers in 2005 in an effort to derail the Gaza disengagement.

So what’s the matter with Shvut Rachel? Was Teitel a lone wolf, as many, including Amos Harel, have argued? Or was the settlement an ideological seedbed for acts of terror against Palestinians and their allies?

Until Shabak’s investigation has concluded, there will be no way to know if Teitel had operational assistance, though the fact that it took Israeli security forces over 12 years after Teitel’s first killing spree to arrest him, and the ease with which he transported a fearsome cache of explosives and weaponry into his settlement, raise serious questions. What is clear, however, is that Shvut Rachel was founded on an ideology consistent with the radical beliefs Teitel apparently attempted to translate into violent action.

Ronit Shuker and her late husband Yosef founded the settlement in the hills east of Shiloh with explicitly political motives; they claimed to have been incited to action by the Palestinian murder of Jewish Shiloh resident Rachel Druck. For the Shukers, Shvut Rachel’s expansion became a means to send a message to the surrounding Palestinian population.

When I interviewed Ronit Shuker in May 2009, she spoke the same eliminationist language that might have resonated with Teitel. "The government doesn’t know how to deal with [the Palestinians]," Shuker told me. "If I was Prime Minister, I would send all of them to Iran, to Sudan, to Egypt, to Jordan. I would wish them all the best, but not in the land of Israel."

Shvut Rachel founder and Moskowitz grantee Ronit Shuker appears at 2:23 to call for forcibly transferring Palestinians out of the "Land of Israel"

I interviewed Shuker immediately after she was honored at the 2009 Moskowitz Awards For Zionism ceremony in Jerusalem with $50,000 and the "Lion of Zion" prize. The gala, which brought together hundreds of radical settlers with sympathetic Israeli political bigwigs, from MK Benny Begin to National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau, was made possible by the financial generosity of the 501(c)(3) non profit of Irving Moskowitz. So who is Moskowitz?

A close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Moskowitz has funneled millions in profits from his California-based Hawaiian Gardens casino, where he has been sued for exploiting undocumented workers, into settlement construction projects in the West Bank, including Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. He has also funded several neoconservative think tanks including a research center named after Netanyahu’s brother, Yonatan, who was killed while leading the Entebbe rescue raid in 1976. Moskowitz and Netanyahu have remained close since he established the center.

In 1996, Moskowitz convinced Netanyahu, in his first round as prime minister, to open a tunnel adjacent to the Temple Mount, a controversial act that led to several days of rioting and 70 deaths. Four years later, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the tunnel set off the so-called Al-Aqsa uprising, the opening salvo of the Second Intifada. Now, Moskowitz’s imprint on the West Bank’s landscape is most clearly reflected from the settlement he bankrolls called Kiryat Arba, a center of Orthodox Jewish radicalism that was once home to the terrorist Baruch Goldstein, to Shvut Rachel, the colony that spawned the terrorists Weisgan and Teitel.

The Moskowitz Foundation makes no mention on its website of its support for radical Jewish settlements. The extent of Moskowitz’s support for settlements is difficult to track because he does not disclose his grant recipients. I was only able to connect Moskowitz to Shvut Rachel through my interview with Shuker. Despite his preference for operating under cover of darkness, Moskowitz has been exposed once again by his connection, however peripheral, to acts of Jewish terrorism against Palestinians. Yet he has never been held accountable. Why has Moskowitz been allowed to funnel money through a tax-exempt non-profit into radical settlements that pose a clear and present danger not only to Palestinian civilians, but to US security interests as well? If the White House is serious about restricting settlement growth and imposing a two-state solution, it should arrange a visit by the IRS to the Moskowitz Foundation.

About Max Blumenthal

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author.

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63 Responses

  1. potsherd
    November 3, 2009, 10:24 am

    If he were an Arab, he’d be in prison for “materially supporting terrorism.” The victims of Teitel should sue Moskowitz in the US courts, which have upheld substantial penalties to Jewish victims of terrorism.

  2. Richard Witty
    November 3, 2009, 10:28 am

    Settlers far in the West Bank are ideological. Not all are hateful ideological in the Kahanist tradition (“the land is only ours. YOU, leave”), but all have a deep either religious or other sentimental motivation to settle the land.

    Those that are not nationalist ideological would likely remain in a safe post-treaty Palestine (if it were safe), as Palestinian citizens.

    But, there is always an environment of neo-orthodox Kahanist rabbis (thereby given the mantle of authority, and renunciation of skepticism) preaching to “act”. I’m told that they rarely, or even never, give direct orders, but like Hamas martyrs are applauded, marauding zealots are similarly, and the meaning of the word “act” is inferred if not perfectly clear.

    Most of the rabbis limit their advocacy to the settlement effort itself, and even spend the majority of their time in similar Torah study and practice to what happens in Brooklyn or Jerusalem or Paris.

    My expectation is that the individual perpetrators are themselves criminal, maybe mentally ill, exagerating the already abusive commentary to a higher level.

    I haven’t met such zealots, though I know enough that have had much contact, to feel confident of the ambiguous urging of the “poetic” rabbis. I see the zealousness as similar to the zealousness of Hamas, and similar to zealousness that I have seen closely in the radical left.

    It is what convinces me that skepticism motivated by UNIVERSAL compassion, even during active struggle, is the appropriate remedy in all contexts.

    • Chaos4700
      November 3, 2009, 10:35 am

      Gee, that’s nice, Witty. So, what do you think about the fact that a US non-profit gave material support to a Jewish terrorist? What do you propose we do, given the framework of laws and the precedents set with the treatment of “ties” which are even more tenuous, like what was done to those in the Holy Land Foundation?

      For that matter, with that precedent in mind, doesn’t that mean that all Zionist non-profits are giving material aid to terrorists and are, therefore, subject to the same justice that was meted out on the Holy Land Foundation?

      • Richard Witty
        November 3, 2009, 10:44 am

        I think that the non-profit was giving money to support the settlements, and are at best only very remotely complicit in the crimes of terror.

        I believe that the rabbis and criminals themselves are the accountable ones, and should be confronted in their own language.

        Torah does not condone assaults on civilians, the oppossite in fact.

        The most that Torah condones is settlement (and that must be fully legal, not opportunistically so), and self-defense. So, that combination is too easily rationalized by those with bias and/or desparate psychological perspectives.

      • Richard Witty
        November 3, 2009, 10:45 am

        In others words, speaking only in political terms won’t accomplish any change.

        You’d have to either learn, or empower and trust, those that do speak the language to make their arguments convincingly.

      • Chaos4700
        November 3, 2009, 10:47 am

        So what is your opinion on what was done to the Holy Land Foundation? Do you think that was an injustice? Or do different laws apply to Palestinian non-profits than to Israeli ones?

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 11:48 am

        “I believe that the rabbis and criminals themselves are the accountable ones, and should be confronted in their own language.”

        You mean blood, violence and dispossession? Seems to be the only language they understand. Or you figure you can change their mind with some New Age Judaism and kreplach?

        See what happens to ziocaine users? Sure. you can tell yourself you’ve got it under control, you can quit any time, you’re just a social user, all that. But look at the toll it takes over time. American-Jewish parents, is this what you want for your children? To end up like Witty?

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 11:53 am

        “You’d have to either learn, or empower and trust, those that do speak the language to make their arguments convincingly”

        Witty is insane, he is arguing for a Jewish exemption from laws against murder!
        So Witty is arguing that murder and terror should be met with understanding and arguments made “convincingly”
        I’ll make sure and remember that when neo-Nazis (or any others, for that matter) kill Jews in America.

    • Donald
      November 3, 2009, 1:10 pm

      “I see the zealousness as similar to the zealousness of Hamas, and similar to zealousness that I have seen closely in the radical left.”

      Here’s the great peacemaker at work. He considers people here to be radical left and he’s equating the harsh rhetoric he hears from people like those here with Hamas and settler militants who murder civilians.

      Okay, fine with me, Witty–I don’t object to comparisons of that sort on principle. I think couch potatoes in the US can support violence with their words and votes and taxes (willingly in some cases) and charitable contributions. But don’t act like you’re setting some kind of gentle rhetorical standard here–you never have. What you’re doing here is exactly what you claim is so horrific when those horrid far lefties do it–you’re lumping your political opponents into a category of fanatical murderers. You call this demonizing when it’s done to people you like. You just do it in your New Agey language.

  3. Richard Witty
    November 3, 2009, 11:02 am

    Max had the opportunity to clarify what his views were. Instead he choose to denigrate the individual that he was interviewing. Its unnecessary, and offers no path for the nationalist to grab a hold onto an alternative value approach, in their mix.

    I think that illustrates the failure of the political approach.

    Even in his questions, he wasn’t able to probe more deeply into the religious questions of “who has title to this land?” or the dual nature of the Israeli basic law, which would then pose the question of “are you loyal to Israel and Israeli law?”

    • Chaos4700
      November 3, 2009, 11:04 am

      You’re not answering my question.

      The founders of a Palestinian non-profit were put in a US prison under sixty-year sentences for “aiding terrorists” when all they were doing was providing relief to Palestinians in Gaza. This non-profit has done something even more direct in support of terrorists.

      Do the same rules that have been applied to Palestinian non-profits in the US apply to Israeli ones, or don’t they?

      • potsherd
        November 3, 2009, 11:20 am

        Under current US law, any organization can be retroactively designated as supporting terrorism. This has caused Arab citizens to be fearful about making any charitable donations. Why should Jews be allowed to donate with impunity to Kahanist organizations? For that matter, as the state of Israel provides material support to Kahanist settlements, they are state supporters of terrorism, and any donations to Israel should be prosecuted under the same terms that donations to Palestinians are now.

      • Citizen
        November 3, 2009, 11:53 am

        No, he’s not, Chaos. It is very annoying and frustrating to see this USA double standard going on–it really couldn’t be much more blatent. As Phil concludes (and Witty ignores): “If the White House is serious about restricting settlement growth and imposing a two-state solution, it should arrange a visit by the IRS to the Moskowitz Foundation.”

    • Mooser
      November 3, 2009, 12:12 pm

      “Even in his questions, he wasn’t able to probe more deeply into the religious questions of “who has title to this land?”

      But Witty, if it’s a religious question, why don’t we just ask God? I’m sure everyone concerned will agree to abide by His Answer.
      And I’m sure if we took up a collection for the postage everyone would… oh, never mind, I’m sure you’ve got His number on your speed dial!

      Remember what Mark Elf (Levi 9909) said about comment standards at JSF? No liars, bigots or time-wasters. Or are we gonna go through the same stupid arguments over and over until Witty finds a job? And frankly, if any potential employers see his comments here, he hasn’t got a chance. They are too afraid he’ll steal the pay-roll and send it off to Israel, and then demand his trial for embezzlement be based on “religious” arguments “in his language”!
      And we have to go through this every day? Screw that.

      And the funniest part is, Witty seems to think those people in Israel have a completely different religion than him. Odd, isn’t it?

      But that’s another effect of ziocaine, it makes its victimes incapable of any basic honesty. Wrings my withers to see it, it really does.

  4. Mooser
    November 3, 2009, 11:18 am

    Thanks to the settlements, the number of Jews in American prisons for felonies is especially low. See, there’s always a silver linink! I ask you, what other modern religion makes such compassionate arrangements for their psychopaths?

  5. Mooser
    November 3, 2009, 11:22 am

    “In others words, speaking only in political terms won’t accomplish any change”

    Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that, Richard! Running a casino and sending the proceeds to a criminal settlement doesn’t really need a political explanation, when essentialist ones about Jewish morality vis-a-vis Gentiles, or anyone else for that matter, will do very nicely.
    I’ve certainly noticed they don’t seem to bother you!

    • Call Me Ishmael
      November 3, 2009, 11:51 am

      “Jewish morality vis-a-vis Gentiles, or anyone else for that matter ….”

      Interesting comment, Mooser. Could you clarify a bit the meaning of the phrase above?

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 11:58 am

        Yes, I most assuredly can. And all day long if I wanted to, or thought it would do any good.

      • Citizen
        November 3, 2009, 12:05 pm

        Mmmmm, well, give it a go–here’s some context–lots of pristine morality to go around:
        link to menassat.com

      • Call Me Ishmael
        November 3, 2009, 4:03 pm

        Did you go trick-or-treating on Halloween, Mooser? It must have given the kiddies a thrill to see you in your “costume”.

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 5:26 pm

        No, Hannukah is my big holiday, my magnificent palmate antlers,( at their fullest growth in December) makes a wonderful menorah.

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 5:33 pm

        “Jewish morality vis-a-vis Gentiles, or anyone else for that matter ….”
        Interesting comment, Mooser. Could you clarify a bit the meaning of the phrase above?

        It’s the same old thing I always say, Ishmael, the same thing we all say: Zionists and their US supporters do bad things, and will end up causing much more harm, to everybody, than they ever alleviate.

  6. America First
    November 3, 2009, 12:35 pm

    Speaking of terrorism:

    Former Israeli double agent shot dead near Putin’s office
    Shabtai Kalmanovich, a former Israeli double agent who penetrated Golda Meir’s government on behalf of the KGB, has been shot dead in Moscow.

    link to telegraph.co.uk

  7. wondering jew
    November 3, 2009, 12:38 pm

    Is this true? “Four years later, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the tunnel set off the so-called Al-Aqsa uprising, the opening salvo of the Second Intifada.” It’s news to me. According to all reports to which I have heard it was Sharon’s provocative visit to the Temple Mount, not the tunnel, which set off the second intifada. Did Blumenthal include this to add blame on Moskowitz or does he have some facts or sources to back this up? Mister Blumenthal, either provide a source or a retraction.

    • Chaos4700
      November 3, 2009, 12:45 pm

      You do know that there’s an underground portion of the al-Aqsa mosque, right? I believe so, anyway. I seem to recall seeing part of it on Bill Maher’s flimsy platform for hate that he called a “documentary,” Religiosity. How come Zionists assume that ignorance is somehow a valid debate point?

      As a sidebar, that film was so awful, in my opinion, I actually decided to renounce my atheism. I’m only partly joking here.

      Also? Funny that you neatly sidestep the whole point — Jewish non-profits in the United States being used to support Jewish terrorists in Israel.

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 12:50 pm

        “How come Zionists assume that ignorance is somehow a valid debate point?”

        Wish I had said that! So true.

    • potsherd
      November 3, 2009, 4:41 pm

      I would say that Max simply mis-typed.

  8. Citizen
    November 3, 2009, 12:38 pm

    OK, let’s move on to Maus III?
    link to artandculture.com

  9. Citizen
    November 3, 2009, 12:55 pm

    And let’s get back to the ultimate POV:
    link to failedmessiah.typepad.com

    • Mooser
      November 3, 2009, 1:33 pm

      I enjoyed the articles immensely, Citizen! Now I can answer my fundamentalist neighbors with a sneer: “You guys ain’t got nothin on us! You want obscurantism? These guys can’t even read English and they are banning books! Top that!”

      And ” the very unions which have destroyed manufacturing in the country”, that’s rich, coming from Jews, that’s rich. And the appeal to “the masses”!
      And their estimate of their own political power, too. Just goes to show that Jews are full participants in every aspect of American religious life! No matter how idiotic, we’ve got it down cold.

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 1:36 pm

        Hey, wait a minute! Doesn’t Tom Friedman have a patent on that the-cabdriver-I-get-my-profound-knowledge-from thing? I don’t often take cabs, maybe I should.
        Such wisdom you get!

    • Call Me Ishmael
      November 3, 2009, 4:53 pm

      I read it (at least the English words) and, universalist that I am, I got creeped out.

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 5:56 pm

        Frickin very creepy, Ishmael, it’s very creepy indeed. And the guy who writes the blog is, all of his own, a real case. But of course he has had an experience unique in all of mankind’s annals, a one in a million shot! He joined an obscurantist, authouritarian religious cult, who promised him answers to all of his questions and happiness, and it turned out to be a lot of contradictions and self-dealing, not to mention wierd sexual stuff. I mean, who’d of thunk it? How on earth did that happen? But of course, he’s one of those guys who just might die of fright if he was himself for a minute or two. I wonder if he ever stopped to try and find out if those haredi people were actually happy or not. I can’t blame him, it’s easy to assume that if you can grow a beard as long as you want, and wear the same black clothes every day, life will be peaches and cream.
        But I guess maybe that’s the anti-Semitism in American life I always hear about from those people. You see, the Americans (those Cossacks!), damn them flat out refuse to persecute us in any meaningful way! Clever, no? See you just don’t get that good ol time Orthodox cohesion and mysticism and religious discipline without a little help. And a lot of fear and terror helps too. I mean, how are Rabbis (Mein Gott or even parents!) going to tell you who to marry, what to eat, what not to read or believe, where to work, or whatever if you can just move away, because these anti-Semitic Americans will not provide us with a decent Ghetto and a spirited pogrom once in a while. I’ve heard that American Gentiles hate Jews so much they let us marry their daughters, just to weaken the Jewish community! Have you ever heard of such a combination of male chauvanism and religious prejudice? Animals, I tell you!

        Anyway “Failed Messiah” is my new favorite website! I love it.

  10. Citizen
    November 3, 2009, 12:55 pm

    And let’s get back to the ultimate POV:
    link to failedmessiah.typepad.com

  11. Call Me Ishmael
    November 3, 2009, 1:30 pm

    Thanks to Max Blumenthal for another excellent expose. Here we get a glimpse of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, and what the future holds for Palestinians at the mercy of Israeli savages.

    The “two-state solution” is dead. What will the “One State” look like for Palestinians? First, Gaza will not be part of it. Gaza will remain the world’s largest and most inhumane open-air prison, where people are treated worse than unwanted domestic animals.

    The Palestinians of the West Bank will see their lands slowly taken over and absorbed into Israel, including the entire Jordan Valley within Palestine. A (temporarily) growing Palestinian population will be crowded into ever-shrinking bantustans, like cattle in a California feeding lot. Food and medicines will be trucked in from international donors, but heartlessly limited by the Israelis using the familiar Gaza model. Bantustan Palestinians will be allowed to “govern” their communities, similar to the manner of self-rule allowed the residents of the Warsaw Ghetto. They will never become citizens of Israel and will never play any role in Israeli government or society. Bantustan Palestinians will not be simply the lowest caste in a highly discriminatory social system; they will have no legal standing at all in that system. They will be entirely at the mercy of marauding Israeli terrorists, crazed Zealots in the service of an archaic cult and a monstrously perverted nationalism. They will in the end be snuffed out in a carefully planned and executed genocide.

    How does all this, how will all this, happen in the modern world? What allows this human tragedy, this insult to the very ideas of morality and decency, to continue unabated, in plain view of all who do not divert their eyes? What brings such damning shame on us all, other than our own indifference and stupidity?

    The cause of our shame and impotence is a force majeure, the strongest social force in the world, now and for years to come. We call it Zionism, and its headquarters are here in the USA. It is embodied in the Israel Lobby and affiliated organizations, and it ruthlessly controls the government of the world’s only superpower. With a peculiar tribal triumphalism, it succors the last vicious – and ultimately most successful – colonial enterprise of the Western world.

    Against the power of such organized malice, what chance for survival do the Palestinians have?

    • potsherd
      November 3, 2009, 4:43 pm

      Ishmael – damn little chance. Damning shame is the word for it.

    • Mooser
      November 3, 2009, 6:24 pm

      “With a peculiar tribal triumphalism, it succors the last vicious – and ultimately most successful – colonial enterprise of the Western world.”

      Oh, Ishmael, they all, those colonial enterprises, they all went great guns for a while. In terms of sustainibility, Israel is a goner. I do not not think much time will elapse before that “most sucessful” label is gone. We’ll see if it’ll go with a bang or a whimper, but it’ll go.

    • Danaa
      November 4, 2009, 2:44 am

      To add to your despondency CMI, here is an update from Bernard Avishai reporting on economic “progress” in Palestine. He sure was quite gang-ho about it a while back. Guess the israelis did not quite see fit to co-operate with the rosy expectations for the Fayyadi economic rejuvenation:

      link to bernardavishai.blogspot.com

      The most disturbing part that kind of confirms your sad prognosis is in the end. A quote:

      “Considering the Jewish people’s past, it would be rude to call East Jerusalem a kind of ghetto. So let’s just call it a walled-in, patrolled, increasingly impoverished enclave for people with diminishing political rights and unlimited encouragement to leave.’

      And this from a guy who’s usually quite hopeful – even against hope (after all, he made aliyah to israel from Canada….)

  12. Mooser
    November 3, 2009, 2:06 pm

    “How does all this, how will all this, happen in the modern world?”

    Well, I do have maybe an idea. Israel is just about the last Crusader State or Colonial-settler state left. And now that the Zionists have done us Jews the wonderful favor of making colonial type repression, and it’s attendant violence and atrocities, and a remittance-state based on it, the core of Jewishness and Jewish theology (thanks, guys, cause that’s just what we need) and Jewish identity, making criticism or (God forbid) actions against it “antisemitic”, a huge excuse has been created for Israel.
    As if the Palestinians would have welcomed Christians doing the same thing, to bring theHoly Land under the Christian rubric!
    If there were, (God forbid) more places like Israel, as there once were, it would be less easy to excuse Israel as a Jewish thing, and that it was pretty much a colonial apartheid, not to mention expansionist by conquest and legally intransigent, would be more obvious.
    Just a guess. Remember, Israel puts (as other colonial nations did) a whole lot of good old fasshioned money and modern publicity methods to work, too.

    • Call Me Ishmael
      November 3, 2009, 4:26 pm

      Mooser, if you are suggesting that Israelis are allowed to get away with murder partly because they are Jews and if anyone is entitled to do it Jews are, then I guess you are on to something there.

      But I don’t buy the argument that Israel is merely another 19th century colonial project or medieval crusade. That’s just too passe (pronounced pass-SAY).

      • Call Me Ishmael
        November 3, 2009, 4:38 pm

        Make that “mass murder”.

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 6:06 pm

        because they are Jews and if anyone is entitled to do it Jews are,

        No, of course not, I am by no means suggesting that at all. And I never would.
        And what do you mean by “merely another 19th century colonial project”? Those were some pretty awful projects. Whole areas of the world were left much worse off, and the repercussions are with us until today.

        If you want to believe that Israel, besides being a colonial project, is the center of the Jewish plot for world domination, it wouldn’t surpise me at all. Sometimes I wonder myself.

      • Call Me Ishmael
        November 4, 2009, 1:46 am

        “If you want to believe that Israel, besides being a colonial project, is the center of the Jewish plot for world domination …”

        I didn’t say that. I don’t think one needs to think in terms of a plot, in the sense of conspiracy. That could hardly have been the intention of most Zionists in the beginning.

        Ants in a colony and bees in a hive don’t actually plot the destiny of their collective enterprise. Like them, Zionists are just doing what comes naturally for Zionists.

  13. Mooser
    November 3, 2009, 3:02 pm

    Citizen, I owe you, big time, for directing me to “Failed Messiah”! That place is hilarious, hysterical. (From the first time I met one of those guys, a guy who “got in touch with his Jewish heritage” in college, and went on to do the whole chabad (?) thing, I got a really icky feeling. I was right.)

    And I gotta admit, at “Failed Messiah” the guy who runs it is even funnier than the folks he writes about. The technical term for him is “terminal schmendrick, with acute schlamazel tendencies” After a long, torturous explanation of his religious proclivities and his resultant excommunication (How screwy do you have to be to let someone “excommunicate” you from Judaism?) replete with all those goddam Hebrew (I assume) buzzwords they use, he floored me, just had me howling, ROFL, with this little addendum:

    “UPDATE: January 2007 – I no longer have an interest in being a rabbi. My religious beliefs have changed much since I started this blog. For more details, please read this.”

    And of course “this” is linked to still another spiel.

    And I haven’t even mentioned the comments yet! Thanks, Citizen, that site is a gem.

    • DavidF
      November 4, 2009, 2:46 am

      Ha Ha! I’m glad you found FM, Mooser. I’m would have mentioned it to you if I didn’t think you probably already knew about it.

      Very weird stuff goes on in the Chabad and haredi worlds…

      • Mooser
        November 4, 2009, 11:17 am

        See, the hysterical thing is: I grew up in pretty close contact with those people, plenty of drop-dead Orthodox relatives and close connections to the Hasidics.
        An American Jew in college who was raised pretty secular, trying to make himself over into haredi? That is as ridiculous as say, some Afro-Americans deciding that since slavery led to, in some cases tremendous nobility and spiritual transcendence, so they are gonna open up a plantation and pay white people to come and be their slave-masters so they can experience the spiritual uplift.

        The whole ultra-religious insular, ghettoized, mystical Jewish experience is not something we did out of aesthetic longing, because it’s just so beautiful. It was the result of terrible oppression, fear of legalised anti-Semitism and discrimination, and a method of survival and trying to live fuller lives under those conditions.
        You can’t re-create it, in fact, it is an insult to those who lived it to try.

        But the funniest part is this: If you start translating all the Hebrew buzz-words, and look at what the commenter’s say, the process of seducing a college guy into the chabad (cha-bad, I’m nation-wide) is the same process, and uses all the same techniques, as the Christian cults or any other for that matter.

        And then, what-do-you-know, his Messiah failed him!! Who’d a thunk it!

        “UPDATE: January 2007 – I no longer have an interest in being a rabbi. My religious beliefs have changed much since I started this blog. For more details, please read this.”

        Excuse me, I’m hysterical again! For more details, please read this and this, and this, and this.

        Ah well, there’s no cure for being a schmendrick. If I know anything, I should know that
        And I’m pretty sure I can do something with “chabad” and that Micheal Jackson tune “I’m Bad” I can just see them, like the male chorus from “Fiddler”, dancing and singing that.

        Anyway, it’s nice to know that whatever apogee of pseudo-religious nuttiness combined with moral turpitude and self dealing my Gentile neighbors can reach, we Jews can give ‘em a three-hypocrite handicap, and still come out ahead.
        And not one of the Pentecostal or Evangelicals has a 150 atom bombs, nor will they be known through the ages as “The Conquerors of the Palestinians” Go Jews!

  14. Les
    November 3, 2009, 3:36 pm

    Remember the words (however quickly erased from Huffington Post) of the IDF soldier as Operation Cast Lead was about to begin. “The purification of Gaza is about to begin.” Is is possible to believe that he did not get an okay to perform ritual cleansing of Palestinians from his rabbi?

    • Shmuel
      November 3, 2009, 4:24 pm

      I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to Les, but “purification” (tihur in Hebrew) is army talk for clearing out enemy combatants. No religious connotations whatsover.

      • Call Me Ishmael
        November 3, 2009, 4:34 pm

        Enemy combatants? Come on, that’s not what happened.

      • Shmuel
        November 3, 2009, 4:42 pm

        No need to convince me CMI. I was just trying to explain a word used by an IDF soldier, and given connotations I don’t believe were there. “Cast Lead” was a massacere and civilians were certainly targeted – whether or not individual soldiers believed the propaganda they were fed.

      • Mooser
        November 3, 2009, 6:19 pm

        “whether or not individual soldiers believed the propaganda they were fed”

        Gosh, which is worse, if they did believe or if they didn’t, and went ahead with the massacre anyway? Ah, what a lovely country that Israel is! ‘Jeez, lady, I don’t wanna kill you, but if I don’t the other guys in my squad will think I’m not religious!’

        Great place.

      • Citizen
        November 4, 2009, 9:36 am

        RE: “whether or not individual soldiers believed the propaganda they were fed” –Well, at least they had the excuse they were drafted, no? I watched a two hour special on HBO; the guy who plays the lead in the Sorpanos series interviwed US Army and Marine soldiers who had been maimed in Iraq–in addition to the 4 thousand plus dead, there’s about 40 thousand waltzing around minus limbs and PTSD in their heads. Each interviewee told how it happened to him or her, and each family was shown, etc; and then the interview began. What those former soldiers went though and how it has and will impact what’s left of their lives… horrifying in the true sense of the word. Each was asked why they joined the military service, and how do they feel about that choice now. Always it was either because of naive t patriotism or lack of job opportunities or college, or a combo thereof. Did you ever see those Georg Grosz paintings of WW1 German veterans? Grosz was an Epressionist satirical painter during the Weimar Period in Germany. The TV two hours was a moving picture show like that, sequentially starring that segment of the USA paying the big bills for our elected governmental actions. It was really hard to watch. Grammar school kids coping with their returned helpless parental monster were especially made poignant by their school drawings and paintings of family life.

      • Shmuel
        November 4, 2009, 10:04 am

        Thanks, Citizen. It’s too easy to simply demonise or forget about the enlisted men.

        In my experience, combat soldiers believe the propaganda at some level or other. They have to. First piece of propaganda: You are joining the Israel DEFENCE Forces. Got that straight soldier? Good. Second: When you are shooting at kids in Gaza, you are defending the good people of Sderot, and your kid sister in Haifa. Third: If you kill those kids, it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of the animals who hide behind them. There is no reason for you to feel guilty. Fourth: That kid may be carrying a bomb and if you hesitate, you could be responsible for the deaths of your buddies. Fifth: Follow orders. Your commanders and their commanders all the way up have the same concerns that you do. They know what they’re doing. Trust them. Etc.

        The vast majority of Israeli civilians buy it, and they’re not the ones who actually have to do the killing. The conditioning begins before Israeli kids are out of diapers. What would you do if you were an 18-year-old Israeli conscript? The awareness, sophistication and strength of character that allow a handful to refuse are extremely rare commodities.

        So what’s going on with the Palestinian enlisted men? I recommend Hany Abu- Assad’s Paradise Now. Great movie. Important insights.

      • Mooser
        November 4, 2009, 11:21 am

        “Always it was either because of naive t patriotism or lack of job opportunities or college, or a combo thereof.”

        Gosh, that really surprises me, Citizen. I would have thought they would look at the camera and say “I wanted to kick their ass and take their gas, like Gulf War I all over again, and when I got out of the service, make gobs of money as a contracter ripping off the Pentagon”
        What the hell do you expect them to say?

      • Danaa
        November 4, 2009, 1:40 pm

        Shmuel, Citizen – great comments on the grunts, how they come to be where they are (by choice, in America, by draft, bolstered by brain washing in Israel), and the price they pay (must be especially difficult for those who enlist by choice – they must somehow do their own brain washing for the rest of their lives).

        I agree with Shmuel that the degree and the depth of brain washing Israelis undergo, effectively from infancy cannot be easily grasped by those who did not experience it. To find parallels in the US one has to go to one of the Mormon or haredi cults, places where kids grow up in isolation from intrusions by outside opinions. But it’s even worse in Israel, since the world IS allowed to intrude and they do [some] critical thinking in school and still, the brain washing must be effective enough to insulate them as they grow into recruitable men and women, capable of seeing – and even causing – the suffering of a child without wincing. I find myself thinking about Sparta and what it must have been like to grow up there into a warrior-machine. The nearest parallel I find is growing up to a samurai family in middle age japan. Which really was a warrior cult bolstered by fine arts, a religion based on ancestor worship and other seemingly scholarly and high minded accompanyments – all meant to foster a communal sense of exceptionalism, from which there can be no escape for the mere individual. I am actually thinking of working this into a larger essay (Japanese samurai age is a hobby of mine) to address warrior classes.

        Anyways, Israelis living in a cult-like society is quite different from Mooser’s ziocain-induced high that diaspora zionists have become addicted to. More on that some other time, but suffice it to say that I share shmuel’s awe at the few israelis who were able to break out of the trance. I wonder whether there are some common elements that allow admirable individuals such as neve gordon, levy, hass, the shministim, break the silence members and others to shake loose the propaganda they grew up with and sober up. If anyone knows of a book or thesis written about this, I’d be interested.

      • Danaa
        November 4, 2009, 1:52 pm

        PS I am of course interested in the breaking-out-of-a-cult phenomenon for personal reasons. In fact, I never quite fully figured out what allowed me personally to simply wake up one day – and start smelling the flowers, so-to-speak. I know it wasn’t any single incident and didn’t happen in an instant. But it still registered as a waking up process. As hard as I find it to believe now, the fact is, I could have been one of those gaza killer soldiers. Though now that I think of it, having always had difficulty following orders of any kind (what we call, having “authority issues”) chances are that were I to find myself in the situation, I’d have probably woken up sooner, even then. I just wonder whether I’d find a similar rebellious streak among the Israeli resistors of conscience as one of the common elements.

      • Shmuel
        November 4, 2009, 2:05 pm

        Interesting theory, Danaa. I was never rebellious in the classic sense – against authority (parents, teachers, the “establishment”) – but always despised the herd mentality. For the most part, I listened to my teachers, but refused to comply with the demands of my peers. That must be what started me down the treacherous path of thinking for myself.

      • Danaa
        November 4, 2009, 4:18 pm

        Shmuel – funny you should say that – about the peers. Because that was my main rebellion as well, even as a pre-teen. In Israel, back in the days, with most people being refugees from somewhere, it was simply pointless to rebel against one’s parents . I really don’t think we held them up as authorities – more as people we kind of felt sorry for and really could barely comprehend the tragedy that’s befallen them (how could we? they were from “there’ and most hardly even spoke any hebrew. Kind of an interesting cultural alienation). As for teachers, unfortunately I can, at most remember a couple whose classes I could sit through without turning it into a circus (that was my specialty). Though that was just the luck of the draw. In another school it could well be different since no two were alike. Sort of a work in progress. But yes, the peer group – that was something else. I do remember thinking how strange it was that we could all be such conformists while holding up non-conformism and individuality as the ultimate virtue. Pulling away from the group-think of one’s own friends may be the hardest thing of all, and in an Israeli context, I think that the kind of pulling away/questioning you mention could well be one of those key tell-tale signs that something is happening under the surface.

  15. Mooser
    November 3, 2009, 6:16 pm

    “UPDATE: January 2007 – I no longer have an interest in being a rabbi. My religious beliefs have changed much since I started this blog. For more details, please read this.”

    Every time I see that, I ROTFL!! Oh well, I once though I could accomplish a lot by growing a long, bushy beard, too.

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