Rededicating the Temple: A Hanukah Homily

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 159 Comments

The Jewish festival of Hanukah is celebrated this year on December 11-19th. The Hebrew word refers to the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after driving out the Seleucid Greek occupiers in 165 BCE. It’s one of the most joyful holidays in the Jewish calendar, in which we celebrate our commitment to the values of freedom and human rights that have given us strength and resilience as a people. Today, the Jewish people face a challenge equal to or greater than the crisis we faced in the Palestine of 2,000 years ago. The circumstances, however, are reversed: today, it is the Jewish people who are the occupiers. And the threat to our survival, now that we are the ones in power, concerns the fate of those same enduring and sustaining values.

As a Jew born in 1948, I was taught that a miracle – born of heroism and bravery – had blessed my generation and redeemed my people from the suffering of millennia. Over the years, living for a time in Israel and visiting frequently, I became increasingly concerned about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and about its illegal settlement activity. Still, I held to the Zionist narrative: Israel’s militarism and expansionism were the price of security. Then I went to the West Bank, Israeli occupied Palestine. I saw the separation wall and knew it was not for defense. I saw the damage inflicted by the checkpoints on Palestinian life and on the souls and psyches of my Jewish cousins in uniform. I saw the Jewish-only settlements and the restricted roads and I witnessed the vicious acts of ideological Jewish settlers. I learned that the events of 1948, what I had been taught to call the War of Liberation, was for Palestinians the Nakba, Arabic for the Catastrophe: the expulsion of three quarters of a million people from their villages, cities and farms.

When I returned home and began to speak about justice for Palestine as the only path to peace, I found that Christians understood my message very well. But they felt constrained from speaking out for two reasons: 1) their sense that the Jewish people were owed a state because of their history of suffering and 2) their feeling of responsibility for that suffering. In fact, I discovered that for Christians, a new theology had grown up after WW II in an effort to reconcile with the Jews and to atone for the evil of anti-Semitism. This theology exalted the Jews as God’s elect and lauded our quest for safety and self determination. The Jews were no longer condemned to wander the earth. In fact, we were reinstated as God’s elect — the original covenant between God and Abraham was in force. Christianity’s correction of the anti-Judaism is in itself laudable – but there is a problem with this new theology: it includes a real estate deal. Christians were now being asked to support the superior right of the Jewish people to the territory of historic Palestine.

Examples abound of this tendency among contemporary Christian theologians. James Carroll writes in Constantine’s Sword: “The God of Jesus Christ, and therefore of the Church, is the God of Israel. The Jews remain the chosen people of God. And with this comes the Land.” In a May 2009 article, John Pawlikowski, a progressive Catholic theologian, wrote that the Vatican’s 1993 recognition of the State of Israel was pivotal in correcting Christianity’s historic anti-Judaism. With that act, he wrote, “the coffin on displacement/perpetual wandering theology had been finally sealed.” I find this an astonishing argument: recognizing the Jewish state corrects Christian theology! Just as astonishing, Palikowski takes exception to a fundamental feature of Christianity: its lifting of the land out of the original tribal context of the Abrahamic covenant. In the original Christian revisioning, Jerusalem became a symbol of a new world order in which God’s love was available to all of humankind. But Pawlikowski was now maintaining that Christianity’s spiritualization of the land repudiated God’s covenant with the Jews and deprived us of our birthright! We have to be very concerned about this — generations of mainstream pastors and theologians have been educated in versions of this revised theology. The Christian impulse for reconciliation has morphed into theological support for an anachronistic, ethnic-nationalist ideology that has hijacked Judaism, continues to fuel global conflict, and has produced one of the most egregious, systematic and longstanding violations of human rights in the world today.

Christians today talk about the need to honor the deep Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel. But as a Jew I must consider the distinction between loving a land and claiming it as my birthright. When you claim a superior right to a territory shared by others, whether that claim is made on religious or political grounds, you head straight for disaster, which is exactly what the Jewish people are confronting in the State of Israel today: not only political, but cultural, psychological, and spiritual. As Jews we need to take a hard look at our willingness to invoke the land clause of the covenant. The theology of the land, like that of election or any other aspect of scripture, must be open to conversation with history. As theologian Harvey Cox said in the recent World Council of Churches conference in Bern, Switzerland:

What does the Bible mean by ‘promised land’? How has the term been hijacked and used for various political reasons, when maybe that is not the significance of the texts at all? Ancient Israel is often confused with modern Israel. They are not the same. The Jewish people and the modern State of Israel, though they overlap in certain ways, are not the same, and therefore we have to be thoughtful and self-critical about how that theme is dealt with.

Happily, Harvey Cox’s statement in Bern is only one example of how some scholars are beginning to understand the parallels between our own time and the situation of the Palestinians (i.e. the Jews) of Jesus’ time. They see the gospels as the record of a movement of social transformation and of nonviolent resistance to tyranny. Jesus was confronting the evil of the Roman Empire. Through his actions and his sayings, he was telling his people what was required to bring about the Kingdom of God. I find myself saying to Christians who seek a devotional pilgrimage to the Holy Land: Yes! Go! Walk where Jesus walked! For you will not only walk where he walked but you will see what he saw. You will see land taken through illegal laws and the tread of soldier’s boots. You will see the attempt to destroy community and family through the taking of farms and the destruction of village life. But you will also see nonviolent resistance: in demonstrations against the separation wall, in families of Palestinians and Jews who have lost children to the conflict coming together and refusing to be enemies, and in farmers who refuse to abandon their land, even as the walls go up, the restrictions on movement tighten, and the everyday harassment and violence against them intensifies.

I know that for Christians in the U.S. today, calling Israel to account puts half a century of interfaith reconciliation at risk. Institutional, personal and family relationships are on the line. But the church must fulfill its historic calling to stand for justice for all the peoples of the earth. And we Jews must reclaim our prophetic tradition. In our Hanukah liturgy, we thank God for “standing by your people in their time of trouble…achieving great victories and deliverance.” Indeed, we are in need of deliverance — but today, as the anniversary of the bombardment of Gaza approaches, it is from our reliance on violence and military force as a solution to our suffering that we need to be rescued. Christianity has struggled to overcome the creedal rigidity and triumphalism that has plagued it since the time of Constantine. It is to our own work of reformation that we Jews must dedicate ourselves in this Hanukah season.

Mark Braverman is Executive Director of Friends of Tent of Nations North America. He serves on the advisory board of Friends of Sabeel North America and on the Board of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions-USA. He is the author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land. Information and additional writing at www.markbraverman.org.

About Mark Braverman

Mark Braverman serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Sabeel North America and is National Program Director for Kairos USA. He is the author of A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing, and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine, Jericho Books, 2013.

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159 Responses

  1. bob
    December 11, 2009, 9:51 am

    I read that Hanukkah was a civil war. Was that wrong?

    They chose to portray the Jews as a historically small, proud, self-isolating people (think today’s Vietnamese, Thais, Koreans), ready to martyr themselves in the battle against tyranny, a people capable of sustained spiritual resistance to foreign domination. The rabbis recast the Hanukkah story to match that self-image. They emphasized God’s intervention on behalf of the Jews who’d been forced by the Greek Syrian King, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, publicly to violate Jewish law in 168 B.C.E. The Jews revolted, led by Mattathias, an elder in the Hasmonean family of priests, and his sons, the eldest of whom was Judah the Maccabee. With God’s help, they succeeded in capturing the defiled Temple and rededicating it four years later.

    Read in its historical context, however, the Hanukkah story is really about a revolt against the Hellenized Jews who had fallen madly in love with the sophisticated, globalizing superculture of their day. The Apocrypha’s texts make it clear that the battle against Hellenization was in fact a kulturkampf among the Jews themselves. Here is how the first Book of the Maccabees describes Jerusalem on the eve of civil war and revolt in the time of Antiochus (translation by Nicholas de Lange):
    ….

  2. Citizen
    December 11, 2009, 10:00 am

    Here’s how Israel (thanks to the enabling USA government) is now as I type rededicating the Temple:
    link to peacenow.org.il

    • potsherd
      December 11, 2009, 10:11 am

      Actually, the fanatics may be trying to build the Third Temple sooner rather than later. It seems there was a saying of the Gaon of Vilna, that the Temple would be rebuilt after the Hurva Synagogue was restored, and the restoration is almost complete. The only holdup seems to be a dispute (what? no! a dispute among jews?) as to whether the Haredim will take the place over or not. link to haaretz.com

      I consider this a troublesome development. Under Netanyahu, the fanatics are feeling empowered.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 10:24 am

        If Israel demolishes the Dome of the Rock, you can pretty much be guaranteed there will be World War 3 and it will be Israel and the United States against the entire rest of the world.

      • UNIX
        December 11, 2009, 10:45 am

        Interesting comments, I’ve been looking into this. Is it true that this is the holyest place to both Jews and Muslims but both Jews and Muslims are not even allowed to pray on the Temple Mount?

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 11:14 am

        I can’t really speak to the Jewish perspective on the temple — from what I’ve observed, different branches of the Jewish faith believe different things. What remains of the temple — destroyed by the Roman Empire — is primarily the Western Wall. Zionists exploit religious beliefs as political capital, and hence you have Israelis claiming Jerusalem as the exclusive property of the Jews (out to the Jordan River, according to some. If you want more food for thought, look up “Greater Israel” / Eretz Yisrael). But then, what Zionists define as “the Holiest” changes from minute to minute, as far as political expediency is concerned. In the next breath, they’ll talk about Hebron being the holiest place, as the location of the tomb of the patriarchs.

        So in short, you will get vastly different answers, depending upon which Jew you ask, and even when you ask it (in the case of Zionists)

        The Dome of the Rock, otherwise known as the al-Aqsa Mosque, is the third holiest site in Islam, as the place where the Prophet Mohammed is believed to have ascended to Heaven.

        As far as who is allowed to pray where, the Zionist conquest of Palestine rather turned everything on its ear in that regard. I’m not sure whether there were any rules about the mosque proper, but under both Ottoman and British rule Jews were allowed to practice their religion freely at sites they considered holy.

        After the Nakba, things got a bit more complicated. Jerusalem after the British withdrew and let Zionists militants run amok. If you would believe the Zionist account of events, over 500 Palestinian villages and three quarters of a million Palestinians “just left,” with no coersion from Zionists whatsoever, whereas Jordan is supposedly responsible for “cleansing” East Jerusalem of Jews. (Supposedly, the other Arab governments ordered the entire non-Jewish population to abandon the country in which they lived and were born; which in of course IN NO WAY resembles the actual pressure Zionists constantly apply to any Jew living outside of Israel) I’ll let you puzzle out the contradiction for yourself.

        In any event, East Jerusalem and the site of the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock were held by Jordanian authorities until 1967, in which Israel — in “self defense,” they claim — simultaneously invaded Sinai, Gaza, Golan, Shebaa Farms and the West Bank.

        After occupied East Jerusalem, they put severe restrictions on how many Muslims may attend the Dome of the Rock, particularly Muslims from outside the “security” wall (of course, Palestinian Christians face the same restrictions on entering Jerusalem, but the Zionist Lobby doesn’t want Americans to notice that).

        Israel’s attitude was perhaps exemplified most significantly when Ariel Sharon, while campaigning for Prime Minister, took over a thousand Israeli Police into the Mosque, held a press conference and announced that the Mosque would remain under perpetual Israeli control. And of course, as a reaction to this blatant display of religious intolerance and defiance of international law and UN rulings… the Israeli populace made him Prime Minister.

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 11:17 am

        When I visited Israel, I was allowed to meditate in the dome of the rock. I asked permission personally, noting that I was Jewish.

      • UNIX
        December 11, 2009, 11:23 am

        It seems that both have been banned from praying at various times.

        link to israeltoday.co.il

        link to israelnationalnews.com

      • wondering jew
        December 11, 2009, 11:09 am

        Potsherd- Interesting that included in your article is the aside that the Hurva synagogue was originally built and then destroyed by Muslims when a loan was not repaid. This puts the lie to the assertion that Jews were treated fairly in Palestine prior to the advent of Zionism. I’ve read that Jews, particularly Ashkenazic Jews, were considered permanently financially indebted to the Muslim population in Jerusalem and when Ashkenazic Jews from elsewhere visited they had to dress up like Sephardic Jews to avoid “trouble”.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 11:18 am

        So let me get this straight — you’re citing that a group of Jews borrowed money to build a synagogue, then broke their promise to repay their debts — and basically decided they would just claim it as their “Jewish right” and damn the laws — as your example of how Zionist Jews function in Israel/Palestine?

        And where did you read that last bit? Give us sources.

      • potsherd
        December 11, 2009, 12:40 pm

        They were allowed to build the synagogue. There was no prohibition against it. How is this not fair treatment?

        Did you know that Muslims are not allowed to build mosques in Israel today?

      • yonira
        December 11, 2009, 4:31 pm

        95% of house demolitions in the West Bank are because of this exact same reason. Thank you Chaos, for that oh so fitting comparison. I still don’t condone any house demolitions but you really put the Israelis position into perspective.

      • potsherd
        December 11, 2009, 4:53 pm

        No, yonira, the house demolitions in the WB have nothing to do with debts. It’s all about building permits. Israel insists it has the right to govern all construction in Palestine, which means refusing to issue any permits to build. When the Palestinians build anyway, the Israelis call this “illegal construction” and tear it down.

        Palestinians aren’t much into mortgages and loans. They put all their assets into constructing homes, only to see them destroyed over and over.

        In contrast, the builders of the synagogue were given a permit to build it but failed to pay what they owed. The difference is – the Ottomans were dealing fairly with the Jews while the Israelis are not dealing fairly with the Palestinians.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 4:54 pm

        Really? And just who are did these Palestinians take loans out from? Got anything except for errant nonsense to spout?

  3. potsherd
    December 11, 2009, 10:04 am

    I think this theme was repeated during the Judean wars. The Zealot terrorists (now canonized on Masada) were notorious for killing Judeans who didn’t support their cause.

    A strong case can be made that Judaism is a religion of diaspora, that it has thrived in exile and fallen into corruption and fanaticism in the land called holy. Certainly this is the case in the present instance.

    • Chaos4700
      December 11, 2009, 10:22 am

      Well. history repeats itself for the ignorant, as they say. When I say that Zionists are the greatest threat to Jews worldwide… I don’t merely mean in the verbal sense.

  4. HomoSapiens
    December 11, 2009, 10:30 am

    Mr. Braverman has the wrong take … utterly. The “constraint against speaking out” of which he speaks has nothing to do with “Christians” qua “Christians” (nor “Jews” qua “Jews”, nor “Jews” qua “Holocaust survivors”). Anybody who reads this site and/or Richard Silverstein KNOWS that most Americans are too cowardly to openly condemn Zionist oppression… even where it puts our national interest at risk …. and this means Americans of every stripe and color who detest violence and oppression on a genocidal scale by a powerful nation. By and large Americans, most all of them, are scared….. and (rightly or wrongly) they usually internalize that fear simplistically as a fear of “Jewish” retribution, or as a fear of being the object of the conditioned view of non-Jews that anyone who vehemently condemns the truths of Jewish brand of brutal nationalism is “anti-Semitic” and therefore must be treated as a Typhoid Mary. Maybe this site’s author is right that in-roads are being made against the Zionist fear program. Progress isn’t helped by mis-characterizing the issue as a “Christian” awareness issue. It’s an American cowardice issue at all levels.

    • Citizen
      December 11, 2009, 11:29 am

      What’s behind the cowardice, other than the MSM informs conscientious citizens with hasbara? Look at what has happened to those congress people and governmental
      appointees who have spoke out directly against the Zionist narrative? Most Americans do not have the economic luxury to speak out at all on this issue.

    • potsherd
      December 11, 2009, 12:45 pm

      While you are quite right that this goes beyond Christians, it’s certainly legitimate to discuss the particular Christian take on it.

  5. Rehmat
    December 11, 2009, 10:52 am

    Such Christian guilty conscience is mostly the result of Zionist-sponsored Scofield Bible and the heavy dozes of Zionist-controlled mainstream media in the West. There many notales who said that the moral solution to Christian guilty conscience is to compensate the Jewish victims a place in Europe as their homeland – and not by diplacing Palestinian population, a Muslim majority, to compensate for the crime of western Christians. Mahtama Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Krishna Menon, Bishop Tutu, Gilad atzmon and Dr, Ahmadjinejad – all believe in that.

    It was in Europe that Jews were expelled from their motherlands. No Muslim country has ever expelled Jews until 1948. Israel’s No.1 enemy, Islamic Iran, still has the largest Jewish community (30,000) in the Middle East after Israel.

    Ankara: Jewish settlers’ land claims were forged
    link to rehmat1.wordpress.com

    • Citizen
      December 11, 2009, 11:40 am

      There’s no doubt in my mind for one that the combo of the Scofield bible’s BS annotations and the one-sided MSM’s hasbara are two key culprits to present day’s
      horrible status quo. And, yes, Rehmat, American Christians generally never even think about the fact that so many Christian institutions have opted to erase any Christian complicity with Hitler by giving the Jews a land of their own; simultaneously ignoring that the land was already largely inhabited by non-Jews.

      In a way it reminds me of the Reconstruction Era after the USA civil war, which unintentionally brought the birth of the KKK.

  6. Richard Witty
    December 11, 2009, 11:07 am

    I agree with Braverman’s observations and most of his description of remedy, wake up.

    I pose it in different language and setting. I believe that Zionism is a good, a second step on a three step process from suppression to affirmation to maturity.

    I think that Braverman applauds that element of Zionism, and does not define himself as an “anti-Zionist” in the sense of desiring that Israel and Jews be dhimmi or persecuted in the future.

    I hope that he respects the significance of Zionism, as a landed home not only a social home. Zionism as an idea with a body, rather than idea without a body.

    But, he is absolutely right in naming maturity as requiring co-acceptance, acceptance of oneself, acceptance of other.

    • Chaos4700
      December 11, 2009, 11:21 am

      Witty? This is good, to you? Because you’re going to be full of… well, something nasty, if you’re going to try to persuade people that that isn’t Zionism.

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 11:32 am

        Who knows what you are referring to exactly, Chaos.

        You do understand the difference between “IS” and “application”?

        I forgot whom quoted, but the term socialism is named commonly as “IS” suppression, because the only application of socialism that people refer to is the Leninist->Stalinist approach. But, Swedish socialism is not described as suppressive, and Krushchev and Gorbachev socialism was very different than Stalin.

        Similarly for anarchism. Not all anarchism is the nihilistic bomb-throwing say that assassinated McKinley. The best of anarchism is the “mutual aid” and “organic social organization” described by Kropotkin.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 11:38 am

        Ah, the Donald Rumsfeld “unknown unknowns” defense. When in doubt, feign ignorance! Keep telling us you’re a liberal, Witty.

        Keep prevaricating and spouting disjointed pseudo-academic mumbo jumbo. All we can see is the net effect is that you’re running interference for Zionist land thieves. Your “humanism” doesn’t save Palestinians from being left homeless, does it?

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 11:44 am

        Maybe you can clarify what in the referred Weiss post you are talking about.

        Again, please address my point about the difference between “Zionism IS racism”, and the “current policy applies racism”.

        One requires revolution, the other requires reform.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 11:47 am

        Wow, that’s eerie. You quite literally fail to see Palestinians. They are literally invisible to you, aren’t they?

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 11:51 am

        Clearly they are NOT invisible to me.

        I’ve also spent time on the West Bank, more than Phil from what he has reported. In people’s homes, mutually respectful in most cases.

        You don’t want to clarify your views? “Zionism IS racism” or “current policy applies racism”?

      • Citizen
        December 11, 2009, 11:52 am

        Witty, who cares what is said upon paper? Nobody, until somebody yells that what is said there is unjust; this is especially so when that paper is used to justify what is clearly unjust. What is a contract that states mutual agreement
        between the signing parties when the subject of the contract is directly related
        to a third party not mentioned in the contract?

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 11:53 am

        You go on and on and on about rockets hitting places like Sderot and NOT ONE WORD do you have for what is happening to Palestinians on the West Bank, except to say “Well, I was there.”

        So now Zionism isn’t the current policy? Then what is it, Witty?

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 11:58 am

        Better that they speak persuasively, so that rational people can concluded differently than currently. Your word “yell” is a part of the difficulty, a part of the impotence of the movement you claim to support.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 12:00 pm

        See, and that’s where the idiocy of your argument breaks down. You cannot answer my question. You cannot make a meaningful distinction between “Zionism” and “current policy” as it pertains to Israel.

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 12:00 pm

        You don’t get the distinction between inevitable identity, and chosen policy.

        An inevitable identity is the rationale for racialist solutions, isolation, murder.

        A chosen policy leaves the possibility of reform.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 12:02 pm

        Witty? Is “Jewish” a race or a religion?

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 12:02 pm

        Neither solely. Its an identification.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 12:04 pm

        So basically, “Jewish” in your terms is merely a way for you to define other people as not Jewish, and therefore not afforded the rights you accord Jews? Like, say, Palestinians who are descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity or Islam?

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 12:04 pm

        Its like a lake that gets water from many sources: underground springs, rainfall, river.

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 12:05 pm

        Like Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid, Jewish is a collective self-identification, requiring personal assertion and community acceptance.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 12:11 pm

        Bullshit. For you, it’s just a way for you to draw a circle around people who you consider reinrassig. That’s why you believe Jews from anywhere in the world have every right to go to Israel, no matter what their real history is, whereas Palestinians who are descended from indigineous inhabitants that your friends and family expelled at gunpoint are afforded no such right of return, when for them it actually is a return.

      • Citizen
        December 11, 2009, 4:13 pm

        Witty is our blog’s resident racist. Watch carefully how he does it. He’s actually much more a simpleton than David Duke; that’s because David Duke does not have the Shoah to support him.

      • Julian
        December 11, 2009, 4:23 pm

        The Arabs are not indigenous to Israel. They are indigenous to Arabia. They are merely another group of invaders.

      • potsherd
        December 11, 2009, 4:43 pm

        But the Palestinians are not Arabs. The Jews in Israel call them Arabs and they speak Arabic, but they are in fact the descendents of the Judeans not expelled by the Romans. In short, by blood, at least as Jewish as the Zionist invaders.

        Palestinian-haters like Julian are just anti-Semites who don’t recognize their targets.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 4:51 pm

        Bingo, Potsherd. And in any event, he’s going to pretend that a bunch of German, Polish and Russian immigrants have more of a claim on that land? Seriously? White supremacy is white supremacy, whether it has a pro-Zionist or anti-Jewish flavor.

      • Citizen
        December 11, 2009, 7:59 pm

        Right, Julian, the human race originated in Africa; every group has been
        trespassers; and Goering was perceptive. The world community has learned nothing worthy since Goering committed suicide during the Nuremberg Trials.

      • yonira
        December 12, 2009, 8:57 am

        ha ha, prove it.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 10:08 am

        You’re new to this whole “rational argument” thing, I take it, yonira? That was like the insult swordfighting equivalent of “How appropriate! You fight like a cow!”

      • potsherd
        December 12, 2009, 10:57 am

        yonira, the DNA evidence proves it. And the historical evidence, that has always shown there were Judeans living in the province after the expulsion of the terrorists from Jerusalem. Where do you suppose they went?

        Another consideration is the fact that a large proportion of the Palestinian population (until Israeli occupation drove them off) were Christians. Arabians were not in general Christians (although there were a large number of Jews among them). It is clear that much of the population converted to Christianity under Byzantine rule – Palestinian Christians generally belong to the Eastern rite – not during the briefer Crusader occupation. After the Arab conquest, the process of conversion turned many to Islam, and they all became Arabic speakers. There is also evidence that some Palestinians retained some Jewish practices, much like the Marranos did in Spain, without fully realizing why.

        But they were always the same people, which it was inconvenient for the Zionists to recognize, as they might have felt compelled to acknowledge their right to be there.

      • Mooser
        December 12, 2009, 11:37 am

        “Neither solely. Its an identification.”

        You just screwed yourself, Witty. Okay Witty, if it’s an identification, who gets to make it?
        So anotherwords, the answer, to you, to the question, “Who is Jewish” is the question “What have you done for Israel lately?”

        And BTW, Witty, when you so imperiously say waht is Jewish, who are your authourities. Are we talking to the head Rabbi, who talks to God Hisself, and we don’t know it?

        If there is one thing I learned early about my religion, it’s this: When you meet a man who tells you what is Jewish, run like hell. He’ll have his hand on your wallet or your dick, next.

      • Mooser
        December 12, 2009, 11:53 am

        BTW, Witty is completely wrong about “Jewish” being “an identification”

        “Jewish” is the identification criminally forced on a group of various (though somewhat similar) monotheist communities throughout the world by anti semites. It was never the identification we chose for ourselves.
        “Jewish” is an identification which was pressed on you, or legislated on you.
        It is, in fact, a criminal identification, used to excuse the crimes of anti-semites.
        No wonder the Zionists cling to it so fiercely.

    • Citizen
      December 11, 2009, 11:46 am

      But, Witty, do you recognize that the chosen and enabled body already belonged to somebody else? Don’t tell me about somebody else’s body was always chosen through world history to be host. A ringworm is a ringworm.

      Humanitarian progression does not affirm Goering at Nuremberg. What Israel has been doing affirms Goering’s POV. And by enabling Israel, the USA also affirms Goering. Time to let go of that sort of sausage-making.

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 11:56 am

        Homelessness for the Jewish people is in the past, Citizen.

        Accept that.

        Assimilated or dead, is no longer the only possible identities for a Jew on the planet currently.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 11:59 am

        Just so we’re clear — you want us to accept that homelessness for Jewish people is in the past because you believe you are entitled to kick Palestinians out of their homes, bulldoze them flat and put up nice clean Jews-only gated communities with grassy yards and swimming pools?

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 12:01 pm

        No, my proposal is for enough. Not less than enough, not more than enough.

        LIVE and LET LIVE.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 12:02 pm

        Your support of military actions against Gaza contradicts your holy words.

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 12:06 pm

        Does it?

        Do you accept unilateral shelling of your home?

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 12:08 pm

        Do you accept the unilateral shelling of hospitals, mosques, factories, apartment buildings, refugee camps and UN installations?

      • Citizen
        December 11, 2009, 3:30 pm

        So, Witty, you channel Hitler before he invaded Russia. Nice.

      • Citizen
        December 11, 2009, 3:34 pm

        Do you, Witty, accept collective punishment of the Palestinian people? And, further do you accept Israeli -enforced ghettos?

      • Shafiq
        December 11, 2009, 5:58 pm

        You need to get the idea that certain races belong on certain lands, out of your head. God didn’t create India for the Indians and he certainly did not create Israel for the Jews.

        Have you so little faith in mankind that you think an Israel-free world is a recipe for another Holocaust? Or is it a deliberately cynical attempt to justify the existence of Israel by exploiting Jewish history?

      • yonira
        December 12, 2009, 9:00 am

        You need to accept that the Jews are in Israel and control it.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 10:10 am

        “You need to accept that the Nazis are in Poland and control it.”

        Did we?

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 10:11 am

        Also yonira? Stop dragging the entirety of Judaism into your sick supremacist wet dream of Israel.

    • Julian
      December 11, 2009, 4:20 pm

      He’s just another “progressive” trying to peddle his awful book and make a buck.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 4:52 pm

        Yeah really, “progressives” and their fixation on reading stuff. Literacy will be the downfall of Western civilization, huh Julian?

      • potsherd
        December 12, 2009, 10:29 am

        I thought Julian was big on making a buck – or a sheckel – when Israelis were doing it.

  7. Richard Witty
    December 11, 2009, 12:08 pm

    To model the behavior of answering direct questions, Chaos.

    Do you regard “Zionism IS racism”, or “many current applied policies are racist”, as the most accurate description of Israeli character?

    • Chaos4700
      December 11, 2009, 12:13 pm

      You are losing the argument and so therefore you are fleeing.

      Do you deny that what Israel is today is the product of Zionism? Seriously? Either way you answer, you characterize Zionism as a failure from the humanist perspective — either it was never applied, and therefore it fails to yield fruit, or it was applied and this is the fruit of Zionism.

      • James North
        December 11, 2009, 12:27 pm

        Richard: You are still hiding. I asked you — twice — to respond to Phil’s modest proposal about ending U.S. tax breaks for West Bank settlers. link to mondoweiss.net
        So far, nothing. Yet you have time for long back-and-forths with Chaos.
        You say you want dialogue. Phil (and others) have a nonviolent proposal on the table. What do you think?

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 12:34 pm

        Good luck. I’m guessing he’s turned tail at this point. Sorry.

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 12:48 pm

        “Hiding”?

        When there is clear documentation that a charity’s use of funds is for illegal purposes, I would bring it to the attention of the IRS.

        Two requirements to do that:
        1. Accurate research into the activities of the charitable organizations, BEYOND politically oriented angry accusation.
        2. Accurate research into what is legal vs illegal for a 501(c)3 to do.

        As a CPA, I have had one experience where the IRS questioned a 501(c)3’s actions (relative to more direct political participation, again motivated by political anger at the organization – from the right in this case). The IRS did conduct an adminstrative review to determine if the organization had completely and accurately described its activities on its 990 form, both narrative and questionnaire parts. The significance of that is that willful falsification is a basis of termination of 501(c)3 status, and potential criminal fraud. There are cases where 501(c)3 cases are terminated retroactively, even if it is the IRS’ fault for not reviewing submitted tax forms, in which case donors’ contributions are then subject to reclassification and even tax penalties if aggregious and intentional.

        In MOST cases, where the IRS detects a moderate and disclosed violation, even grey, they will simply state that that activity is not a qualified activity, and cannot be under the envelope of the 501(c)3. Failure to correct that would then be cause for termination of status.

        Do I favor doing it on the basis of the documentation so far presented here on the Hebron Fund, I would say no, as the evidence that I’ve read (which is not all that Phil or references have presented) does not support willful disregard for law or false reporting.

        Maybe I’m wrong. What do you know that I don’t?

        The status of the territories is ambiguous (before Bush it was less so). That money goes to settlements in the West Bank, as the basis of termination of 501(c)3 status is not compelling. There are MANY valid 501(c)3 organizations that raise money for development of specific locales. I have two good friends that do development work in Haiti even for specific groups in Haiti, under valid 501(c)3 status.

        There is a down side to the Pandora’s box, which is that it will increase the animosity around charities, and draw attention to some genuinely charitable work that is being done in Palestine, some that I have even worked on (fundarising for a solar installation destined for a clinic outside of Ramallah in 1998).

        Specifics are needed. And, to conduct such a campaign will cause careless and therefore dismissable accusations by the dissenting community. Better that the National Lawyers Guild conduct the research and make the case privately and quietly and conscientiously, then publish the results of their efforts.

        I generally DISLIKE politicizing charitable work, doing charity as more political than charity (under the ambiguous “educational purpose” clause of the 501(c)3 statute, and in the form of making charities so exposed to political dissent that they must protect themselves against lawsuit and political mobs in order to do their charitable work.

        Hiding?

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 12:51 pm

        Yes. Behind false platitudes.

        Or else you’d have something even handed to say about this:
        link to democracynow.org

        Or this:
        link to mondoweiss.net

        But you don’t. Because, consistently, verifibly, demonstrably, you only speak out in defense of other Zionist Jews.

      • James North
        December 11, 2009, 1:10 pm

        Richard: Thank you for responding. I will have more to say on this later, but at least one point stands out:
        There are MANY valid 501(c)3 organizations that raise money for development of specific locales. I have two good friends that do development work in Haiti even for specific groups in Haiti, under valid 501(c)3 status.

      • James North
        December 11, 2009, 1:14 pm

        Richard: Sorry about my incomplete first post. What I meant to say was: do you really see no difference between “development of a specific locale” in a place like Haiti, and the hundreds of thousands of settlers in the West Bank, who are illegal under international law?

      • James North
        December 11, 2009, 1:16 pm

        One more question. Do you truly see funding West Bank settlements as “charitable work?”

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 2:03 pm

        The Haiti work is actually a good example of some of the dangers with politicizing charitable work. That is that in that environment, the powers that be whether Duvalier or others historically, assumed that all charitable work occurred under a party’s umbrella, got some high proportion of the funds, and took credit for any successes.

        Do “I” see West Bank settlements as charitable work. I actually don’t know enough about the specific charities to judge. If they are using the majority of funds that they collect for religious libraries, or yeshiva chairs, or synagogues, then probably that IS a charitable purpose.

        If however, they are building a synagogue for the purpose of expropriating land, that is a different question. (That is a common marking strategy, that denotes Jewish residence, that orthodox are loath to retract or condemn.)

        I do know of settlements that are conducting research into sustainable agricultural practices that have been beneficiaries of donations that I’ve made to umbrella environmental organizations.

        I’m not clear where you draw the line. I think it takes identifying actual actions funded, which I haven’t heard clearly yet.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 2:09 pm

        Wow! Now you’re even putting the pronoun “I” in quotations? Speaks a lot to your “honesty,” “integrity” and “intelligence,” Witty.

        So essentially, you lie. You do support the construction of settlement buildings. As long as you can come up with some flimsy “ends justify the means” arguments. Your perspective is no more noble than Mein Kampf ultimately.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 2:14 pm

        Let’s see some more Wittypocrisy in action, hmm?

        link to zoa.org

        Discuss, Witty.

      • James North
        December 11, 2009, 3:31 pm

        Richard: Another question. You say, “The status of the territories is ambiguous (before Bush it was less so). ”
        Do you deny that the settlements are illegal under international law? Are you suggesting here that George W. Bush can just say something and override international law?

      • Citizen
        December 11, 2009, 3:42 pm

        Does not fly, Dick Witty. Various Jewish charities have stated they perform their “humanitarian” do-goods in Israel, and they named the locals for this
        charity service–the problem is that they said the location was in Israel, when in fact the location is in the OT.

      • Richard Witty
        December 11, 2009, 7:04 pm

        The status of the green line results from the 1949 armistice agreement. It determined that the green line would serve as temporary frontier, pending subsequent reconciliation of borders. The Arab world never recognized any Israel, and events in 1949 and 1950 put off the definition of boundaries. From 1949-1967, the borders were functional borders, with Jordan declaring sovereignty over the West Bank, by war.

        In late 1967, resolution 242 declared in somewhat ambiguous terms the reiteration about no territory to be legally acquired by war, and affirmation for definition of boundaries. Jordan continued to claim the West Bank. Egypt continued to claim Sinai AND Gaza, Syria the Golan. All states opposed ANY reconciliation with Israel, any acknowledgement of its existence. In 1973, the Yom Kippur war was fought to either take back the territories lost in 67 and/or remove Israel from the map, unsuccessfully.

        Since then, Israel has negotiated with Egypt to return the Sinai and Gaza, based on full diplomatic recognition prior and associated. Later Jordan renounced claims to the West Bank.

        That is where the key ambiguity about the West Bank currently originates. Although it was stated as expecting Israel to facilitate a Palestinian state, the majority of land in the West Bank was held as state land, which in the transfer many in Israel rationally and opportunistically regarded as transferred to their state land.

        Some acknowledged the obligation to occupy temporarily as an “occupying power” per the Geneva convention. Others rationalized that that clause no longer applied, with the renunciation of sovereignty by Jordan.

        Relative to US law, George Bush stated that he accepted the annexation of land by Israel for some of the settlement blocs. So, as far as the status of charitable contributions, that combination of long facts on the ground, ambiguous status as to former Jordanian state land (also questionable), and the Bush commitments, render the likelihood of illegality relative to international law as a basis of opposing charitable status, not particularly likely.

        As far as illegality of settlements under international law. For residence, I don’t believe that they are illegal if compensated for through some valid chain of perfected title. For annexation into sovereign Israel, I think of them as illegal. I don’t know if they ARE illegal in fact.

        Israel contests Palestinians’ uninhibited right to build on occupied land as well, as the legal order that underlies assertion of title has broken down.

        The tension that currently exists from that legal ambiguity can really only be rectified by clarification of the status of the state. (Before I get ranted at for using the term “tension” rather than “illegal”, that is the state of contested land title, rather than consented. “Illegal” is not really a functional term in that case.)

        I do believe that the Israeli expropriation of Palestinian titled land is a crime, illegal, even though legalistic means are used to accomplish it that give settlers the rationalization that they bought or leased land from reliable source (the state, or Jewish Agency).

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 8:07 pm

        How come it’s never ambiguous for you when Jews do something, and it’s always ambiguous when Palestinains do something?

        Too bad for you, pretty much the WHOLE FREAKIN’ UNITED NATIONS disagrees with your Zionist interpretation of the “ambiguity” of international law.

      • Donald
        December 11, 2009, 10:52 pm

        Actually, for once I think Witty is answering questions in a straightforward way. One doesn’t have to agree with the answers, but this is a lot better than usual.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 10:59 pm

        Great, so instead of smarmy propaganda he’s telling outright lies. I’m supposed to feel better about that? That’s an improvement?

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 3:46 am

        The difference is the tone of the questions. James didn’t ask as an interrogator.

      • wondering jew
        December 12, 2009, 9:43 am

        Presidents of the United States cannot override international law; I accept that premise.

        Yet, even before Bush II’s letter to Sharon saying that the final borders to be drawn between Israel and the future Palestine will have to take the large settlement blocs into consideration there were two other negotiations which asserted the necessity of taking the settlement blocs into consideration. The Clinton parameters redrew the borders to include certain settlement blocs and the “Geneva Accords” (which in essence were an attempt to take the Clinton parameters and see where a negotiation based upon them might lead) also redrew the borders to include certain settlement blocs. The signing of the “Geneva Accords” was attended by Jimmy Carter and Zbig Brzezinski among others.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 10:01 am

        Well, then, it’s too bad Israel has totally broken those Accords and rendered them effectively null. Maybe if Israel could abide by even a single one of its treaty agreements in its entirety, you would even have a shred of justification that these new agreements somehow supersede international law. You don’t.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 10:16 am

        And one notes that Witty COMPLETELY fled from the fact that those 501(c) laws that he cites, are being used (by him) to justify the funding of settlement construction in one breath and used (by his Zionist affiliates here) as a political tool to disenfranchise actual charities that are sending relief supplies to people who actually need it in Gaza… who are being targeted ostensibly because they are Muslims who are trying to help deprived Palestinians.

        Two important principles demonstrated yet again A) Wittypocrisy (pretty much self evident at this point) and B) the suffereing of Palestinians is completely invisible and irrelevant to Witty.

      • Citizen
        December 12, 2009, 10:27 am

        The former involved Shrub officials deny Shrub accepted any of the settlements. As for the rest of what you say, you are looking at trees; you need to look at the forest–the stolen forest.

      • Donald
        December 12, 2009, 10:54 am

        You generally speak to Phil as an “interrogator” and you regularly denounce everyone to your left as an advocate of violence, a broad and inaccurate charge , without bothering to refute specific arguments. And you’re generally evasive when you defend indefensible positions, because you have no choice (well, except maybe the choice of falsely accusing your opponent of support for violence). In this case the question deals with something in your own profession, so you have more to say (valid or not).

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 11:14 am

        And don’t forget — Mr. “denouncing violence” supports military action on the Gazans by the IDF.

    • Mooser
      December 12, 2009, 11:40 am

      My God, don’t they live in a fantasy land. When you can raise the birthrate of Jews to the replacement level, and stop the Gentile’s daughters from stealing us from our “identification”, you might have something. Until then, all you’ve got is a colonial project which was lucky enough to tap into certain non-Jewish needs.
      It’ll fail, and fail horribly, and you will blame everyone but yourself, Witty.

      You will probably say it was anti-semitism what done it.

    • robin
      December 13, 2009, 4:12 pm

      Guys, this is not a hard question, and it’s important for us to be clear about this. Zionism (taken as the “Jewish State” principle) is racist in itself, and it has been (necessarily) racist in practice.

      Witty is right that there is a difference between inherent and applied qualities. He is absolutely wrong that the idea of a “Jewish State” is somehow not racist. It is no less so than a “White”, “Aryan” or other ethnicity-defined state.

  8. Mooser
    December 11, 2009, 1:04 pm

    Well, what do you know! Zionism also serves Christians? Who’d a thunk it?

    • Citizen
      December 11, 2009, 3:48 pm

      Now, how inane can you be; Mooser has just woke up from his sleep—to give us his
      stupid currency.

      • Mooser
        December 12, 2009, 11:45 am

        I haven’t been asleep, mores the pity, I’ve been practicing. It’s Christmas, dummy! And I’ve got a Hammond full of spanking new capacitors, and about 200 watts (RMS) of audio power and rotating horns. So you just go and roast your chest and nuts by an open fire, and I’ll supply my swinging version of “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen”

        And try not to feel to sorry for yourself cause you are white, Citizen, remember, your children only have half that measure of affliction, which is, I admit, a point in your favor.

  9. radii
    December 11, 2009, 5:45 pm

    re; Braverman – good sentiments, good words, perfect timing as the holiday season is upon us

    … however, as a New Canaanite, I and my tribe claim the land stolen from us after our people were murdered in a genocide by the jews – god gave it to US first – that rock is ours

  10. VR
    December 11, 2009, 8:45 pm

    Aww, Witty does not know what the Hebron Fund is doing in Hebron? Poor guy, so confused (actually full of it), here is a video for you from the Hebron Fund, listen to it all the way through (about 3 Min.) and you will here the proclamation that “this is our land, and we have EVERY right to be here.” It starts with the “historical” narrative, and deduces from this – “ITS OURS.”

    ZOINIST PROCLAMATION THAT THE LAND OF HEBRON BELONGS TO THEM

    What does that mean – “belongs to them?” It means that they are going to squat in occupied territory and dispossess the owners, which one can amply see is the process taking place in contravention to all law, both international and common. They are colonial bastards that will dispossess and kill, have done so and continue to do so, no question whatsoever.

    Second, note Witty’s mode of argument, it is invalid and as old as the hills. He is the “expert/agnostic,” that is he is the “expert” in the defense of everything that Zionists do, and when something is undeniably legally question he is the poor sobbing “agnostic,” – “oh, I do not know, I cannot tell, it is so complicated.” As bogus as a wooden nickle.

    Third, it does not matter if the funds are used for “charitable purposes” like wheelchairs, or for weapons and bulldozers to kill Palestinians and tear down their homes – BOTH are invalid in the context. The “charity” is meant to normalize the illegal, to give the impression that it is natural and supportable to have illegal and quite criminal, plus murderous colonials on land that does not belong to them. It does not matter if the money is for prosthetic devices, if they are used to help people traipse around like bullies in an area that does not belong to them and walk up to spit on a Palestinian. I hope I made this clear, and if not I can elaborate.

    TREAT A SOLDIER

    Here is a photo (above) you can buy in their gift shop, you can help to treat the soldiers that help to maintain the illegal occupation. Such nice guys eh? Both Witty and the colonial settlers are full of shit.

  11. VR
    December 11, 2009, 9:06 pm

    Here is a kid’s book, it is also on the Hebron Fund site –

    MOVING IN

    “Operation Moving Van,” tells the “thrilling” story of land theft, in their own words –

    “This book, written from a child’s perspective, relates in a fascinating manner the story of how in 1979 ten women moved into Beit Hadassah in Hebron. The story offers yet another source of information about the renewal of Jewish life in Hebron.

    The book was written by Etia Zar (daughter of Rabbi Moshe Levinger), who was four years old when the women moved into Beit Hadassah.
    The story is in Hebrew, and is graced by breathtaking illustrations.”

    Its not theft, it is not colonial activity (the story goes), it is like moving into a new neighborhood…

    Look for yourself at the Hebron Fund site –

    THE HEBRON FUND

    • Richard Witty
      December 11, 2009, 9:15 pm

      I don’t see illegality in the film or your statements.

      How does this indicate that the Hebron Fund is engaging in illegal US activity?

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 9:35 pm

        Like I keep saying. Palestinians are invisible to Witty. Their rights and their suffering simply doesn’t matter to him. It’s almost pathological.

      • VR
        December 11, 2009, 9:46 pm

        The US has embraced all laws, treaties, and conventions in regard to occupation. As a signer of these laws they become part of the legal corpus of the US, and the Hebron Fund is not merely flouting these laws, but walking with hand out to support such illegal activity WHICH THE US RECOGNIZES AS A HIGH CONTRACTING PARTY. So, in essence Witty, neither your shitty little ruse of agnosticism or expertise means anything to me, I will walk right over it with a knowledge which is grouded in reality. So, just like I did in the previous argument (exposing your ridiculous position), I do so now with full knowledge of what those legal commitments mean – “the law of the land.” Kiss it Witty you buffoon.

      • Donald
        December 11, 2009, 10:54 pm

        I just defended Witty, but I might have spoken too soon.

      • Chaos4700
        December 11, 2009, 11:01 pm

        Don’t worry. Making people regret proximity to himself and his rhetoric is arguably at the very core of his purview.

  12. VR
    December 11, 2009, 9:56 pm

    In fact, the US support for what Israel has been doing since 67′ makes it legally culpable. The only question that remain is enforcement, and the only rule that would support such outrageous behavior displayed by Israel is that “might makes right.” Than again, if the laws which were employed at Nuremberg to the Nazis with such vigor, were applied likewise to the US, every president since WW2 forward would be hung. However, that does not make the inactivity and pro-activity of the US in behalf of Israel right according to its own law(s) or legal, it just makes enforcing any rule of law in the world hard if not impossible. Ignorance, or failure to enforce the law due to ignorance, is no excuse.

  13. VR
    December 11, 2009, 10:39 pm

    The very presentation of the Hebron Fund is so contrary to the facts of their activity, that any person who listens to the spiel is mislead – they practice both private and public fraud. One has only to look at what their supporters say on their behalf, which makes US citizens part of the process – as an example, this statement made by the International Young Israel Movement, which resides in NY:

    “In essence, the Hebron Fund dinner is a celebration of the human spirit,” Mostofsky wrote. “The New York Mets organization is not facilitating a political event; rather it is enabling a salute to a group of men, women, and children whose determination and inner strength have allowed them to remain in their communities, despite desperate attempts by Israel’s adversaries to drive them from their homes.”

    A completely false public statement, in fact, absolute 360 role reversal! See –

    Young Israel Movement Applauds NY Mets Decision To Honor Commitment To Hebron

    There are many other examples at the attempt to defraud the public in the US as to the purpose, intention, and activities of the Hebron Fund not only in the breaking of international law, but US law as well.

    • Chaos4700
      December 11, 2009, 10:50 pm

      You do realize the Witty doesn’t care, right? Then again, what you’re saying and the information you’re providing is pretty important, so don’t interpret that as discouragement.

      Seriously though. Witty applies one set of rules to Jews, and really, another set of rules targeted at Palestinians, and then a third set of rules for everyone else in the equation. He is apartheid, much as he likes to pretend to decry that (by really only decrying the use of the word in any way that reveals Zionism for what it is).

      • VR
        December 11, 2009, 11:01 pm

        Well of course I know this Chaos4700, I am posting this because there are more than just you, Witty, and me reading the contents. I just want people to get a better handle on what is happening, but thanks for the word.

  14. Chaos4700
    December 11, 2009, 10:54 pm

    Something to maybe consider sharing with family, over the holidays:

    link to multiplicity.it

    Hover over “solid sea,” then click on “03 the road map.”

    (You are, of course, encouraged to check out the other very insightful art projects showcased on the site.)

  15. VR
    December 11, 2009, 10:58 pm

    The Hebron Group is an organized Confidence Racket, or Con Game.

    “An intentional misrepresentation of past or present facts in order to gain a person’s trust so that she/he will transfer money or property to the individual making the misrepresentation.”

    It is like Bernie Madoff on steroids, who gained the confidence of investors to bilk them, which by the way is still in the news –

    MADOFF FALLOUT STILL OCCURRING

  16. The Hasbara Buster
    December 11, 2009, 11:17 pm

    @Richard Witty

    You say:

    As far as illegality of settlements under international law. For residence, I don’t believe that they are illegal if compensated for through some valid chain of perfected title. For annexation into sovereign Israel, I think of them as illegal. I don’t know if they ARE illegal in fact.

    Many people seem to believe that legality is something that is decided by article writers or by pundits on their blogs. Not so. Legality under international law is decided by the United Nations and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the bodies that most countries, including Israel, accept as the authority in matters of international disputes.

    The settlements are illegal because:

    1) The United Nations’ Security Council has declared them illegal;
    2) The International Court of Justice has declared them illegal;
    3) The legal counsel of Israel’s Foreign Ministry at the time of the Six-Day War, responding to a query from the Prime Minister’s office, stated that civilian settlements in the newly-conquered territories would contravene international law;
    4) An overwhelming majority of legal scholars agree with the UNSC and the ICJ that they’re illegal.

    See the full details, with links to the relevant sources, here

    • Richard Witty
      December 12, 2009, 3:54 am

      Can you clarify where the security council permanently and unconditionally declared that all settlements are illegal.

      The ICJ is the equivalent of a Grand Jury, recommending that cases be brought to actual deliberation, not a conclusive deliberative body itself. When a case is referred by the ICJ, it is an indictment, NOT a conviction.

      Similarly, agreement by scholars is not a conviction, but an opinion.

      Of the four bases of illegality, the only one that you sited as authoritative is the Security Council ratifying a General Assembly case, which you didn’t present on your site.

      You presented an example, where a General Assembly resolution was vetoed, not passed. That is like Congress passing a law that the President vetoes. Its not yet law, but proposed law.

      What is, is different than what should be. But, it doesn’t serve your argument to declare that what is, isn’t.

      Maybe I missed something in your blog post.

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 4:03 am

        I did just read resolution 446, and it does indicate that the security council regarded the settlements as a state expropriation enterprise as illegal.

        Again though. My response to this reality is to work towards clarification of borders as the defining nut that hasn’t occurred yet.

        There becomes then no cover for ambiguity, no possible convincing facts on the ground, no basis of questioning existing Geneva or other international law as inconsistent or impractical.

      • Shafiq
        December 12, 2009, 5:20 am

        There is no ambiguity, everyone knows where the Green Line is, everyone knows the legality of such issues. You’re just attempting to create ambiguity where there is none and give Israel another bargaining point.

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 7:29 am

        If there wasn’t ambiguity from multiple causes, it would be dealt with by now.

        The “location” of the green line isn’t the ambiguity. The significance of the green line is.

        With ambiguity, some seek clarity, some seek advantage.

        I always thought that it would constitute really excellent civil disobedience to paint the green line, or to appeal to orthodox Jews, to run a green thread at the green line. (A thread defines a neighborhood as formal household.)

      • The Hasbara Buster
        December 12, 2009, 9:39 am

        Richard, I believe you’re trying to muddy the water, which by the way is the standard Zionist response when confronted with solid evidence.

        UNSC Resolution No. 446 called on Israel not only to stop settling the West Bank, but also to undo its former colonization activities.

        You now say that it’s not clear what the Green Line means. Even accepting this for the sake of argument, it doesn’t mean there are no occupied territories. Sheikh Jarrah may be an arguable case, but the Jordan Valley is clearly occupied.

        Also, and speaking of ambiguity, it’s clear that while the Arabs have unambiguously stated their maximalist territorial ambitions (both the Saudi initiative and a Hamas declaration were based on the 1967 borders), the Israelis have failed to do so.

        If Israel said “we want half the West Bank,” that would be outrageous… but at least the country would commit itself not to settle the other half. Israel hasn’t done that; it has deliberately failed to set a limit to its ambitions. Currently, Israel is building a new settlement in Maskiot, far removed from the Green Line, to accommodate settlers evacuated from Gaza.

        That is the reason negotiations can’t even start. Essentially, Israel is saying to the Palestinians: “you’d better negotiate, because if not we’ll grab more of your land.” No one will negotiate under such pressure.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 9:58 am

        Anyone else wonder if Witty was, ahem, dismissed from his former postings because of his tendency to introduce “ambiguity” for his own profit motives?

      • Citizen
        December 12, 2009, 10:37 am

        He has admitted in a prior post on this blog quite a while ago that he sometimes went over the professional ethical line during the course of his work.

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 10:53 am

        The dilemma with facts on the ground is that they are facts.

        There is no wishing when a fact lasts even 20 years.

        For example, the only UN certified borders of Israel were made in 1948, which included provision for a Jerusalem to be an international city. The fact on the ground, as the result of war, was that East Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan, and that Jews were prohibited from it.

        It was reluctantly accepted as a fact on the ground.

        The facts shouldn’t be used for opportunism, as is clear that the combination of settlement and state defense and sponsorship, creates.

        I agree with you that Israel has failed and has violated in continuing its settlement enterprise.

        To note that there is ambiguity is NOT equivalent to agreeing that it should occur.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 11:07 am

        The dilemma with facts on the ground is that they are facts.

        Wow, Neville Chamberlain would have just loved to have someone like you on his staff.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 11:09 am

        Oh — Wittypocrisy alert!

        The fact on the ground, as the result of war, was that East Jerusalem was occupied by Jordan, and that Jews were prohibited from it.

        And what about the rest of Jerusalem, Witty?

  17. Uri
    December 12, 2009, 10:06 am

    I’ve posted this at Realistic Dove. It seems relevant here:

    Even if the settlements are not illegal, they are not eligible for 501(c)(3) status because they are racially restricted. This has been disqualifying since the early 60s. See Rev. Rul. 67-325, 1967-2 C.B. 113. Available here:

    link to irs.ustreas.gov

    Moreover, the Internal Revenue Manual, which is the operating manual used by IRS agents, says: “Organizations that foster prejudice or discrimination will be disqualified from recognition of exemption under IRC 501(c)(3).”

    • Chaos4700
      December 12, 2009, 10:18 am

      Good work, man. Thanks for bring up that salient point.

      • Mooser
        December 12, 2009, 11:48 am

        Chaos, you’ve got Witty down to a “T”! You know his every little shitty rhetorical trick, and call him on it.
        And a lot of good it will do you.
        I sometimes wonder if not getting rid of Witty is Phil’s idea of “debate”.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 11:52 am

        I’m actually pretty sure it is. My reasons for dogging Witty are not merely emotional.

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 12:00 pm

        At least you acknowledge that your harrassment is intentional.

        You would lose your 501(c)3 status on that basis.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 12:07 pm

        Well, unlike Zionist terrorism, charities, I don’t claim 501(c)3 charity, do I? And really, financial legerdemain is really your professional expertise.

  18. Uri
    December 12, 2009, 10:12 am

    More generally, the grounds for not recognizing an organization as tax exempt are that it is not organized and operated for charitable purposes. There are many ways besides unlawful conduct and racial discrimination in which an organization can fail to meet this requirement. Another one that is relevant to the settlements is activity contrary to public policy. The settlements are illegal, but they are also contrary to American foreign policy, as every president since Johnson has recognized.

    • Citizen
      December 12, 2009, 10:42 am

      An Arab-American organizations has filed an administrative lawsuit against both the
      IRS and Treasury based on what you say; I haven’t seen any coverage of this in the MSM.

    • VR
      December 12, 2009, 10:48 am

      Absolutely Uri, that is the reason why Witty ass tried to totally bypass the conclusive arguments I gave – note, whenever he cannot answer anything it is “water off a ducks back” time, ignore and move on. However, there are also the Conventions and law in regard to occupation which has been fully adopted by the US, that makes the conclusion unavoidable of the colonial settlement illegal – doubly so because Israel has signed them also! But to repeat myself from above at December 11, 2009 at 9:46 pm:

      The US has embraced all laws, treaties, and conventions in regard to occupation. As a signer of these laws they become part of the legal corpus of the US, and the Hebron Fund is not merely flouting these laws, but walking with hand out to support such illegal activity WHICH THE US RECOGNIZES AS A HIGH CONTRACTING PARTY. So, in essence Witty, neither your shitty little ruse of agnosticism or expertise means anything to me, I will walk right over it with a knowledge which is grounded in reality. So, just like I did in the previous argument (exposing your ridiculous position), I do so now with full knowledge of what those legal commitments mean – “the law of the land.” Kiss it Witty you buffoon.

  19. Richard Witty
    December 12, 2009, 11:16 am

    Uri,
    That ruling applied to intentionally discrimminative services. There are other examples of acceptance of 501(c)3 status for charities providing free services to specific communities defined ethnically. For example, free scholarship programs limited to African-Americans.

    So long as the Hebron Fund pays for services positively (ie construction of synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, religious libraries), rather than based on exclusion (a white-only pool), then they will not conflict with IRS guidelines.

    The anger at me for presenting information that conflicts with your zeal, is uncalled for.

    Again, there are dangers to society associated with politicizing charitable work, in both meanings of the term.

    MANY charities face the scrutiny of requirement to separate active political advocacy from charitable work. That is especially difficult with 501(c)3 organizations that have some element of political character to their charitable work.

    For example, one implication of accusations that groups like Amnesty International adopt a partisan approach, is that their 501(c)3 status gets opened up for scrutiny.

    Thankfully, the IRS regards politically motivated complaint judiciously, and directs its criticism to the organization clarifying its activities rather than shutting it down.

    With the Hebron Fund, likely even if it lost its 501(c)3 status it would survive, even thrive, as the highly motivated would donate more in blowback.

    • Chaos4700
      December 12, 2009, 11:20 am

      How about Jewish only swimming pools? I hear there’s some really nice swimming pools in those gated communities on the West bank…

      Still dodging this point, I see.

      link to zoa.org

      Can you reconcile that with your interpretation of 501(c)3 regulations, Witty?

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 11:26 am

        Are you asking me if George Galloway funds terrorists? I don’t know.

        Are you asking me if that if Viva Palestina funds terrorist activity and that a parent organization funnels funding to Viva Palestina through a 501(c)3, whether than 501(c)3 should be investigated, I would think in the affirmative.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 11:29 am

        So.

        One set of rules for Jews, and another set of rules for Palestinians and everyone else.

        I was waiting for you finally openly demonstrate that.

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 11:29 am

        I also assume then that you propose that on the racial discrimmination test that Viva Palestina funding should also be denied 501(c)3 treatment.

        How about we support actual charity, rather than skirt the politicization of charity?

        So, if Jewish World Service for example were to support an aid effort for the benefit of Palestinians, that it not be boycotted or harrassed, just thanked?

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 11:31 am

        So you’re totally fine with Jewish charities building synagogues for Russian immigrants so that they can go to prayer after torching a Palestinian olive orchard, but attempts to funnel medicine, school supplies, toys and the like to Gazans under seige that needs to be stopped, huh?

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 11:38 am

        I am also totally fine with Palestinians building mosques in communities where they reside, and collect libraries, and provide social services.

        I NEVER support harrassment of either Jews, Muslims or Christians on religious or ethnic grounds.

        To infer that is malevolent misrepresentation of my views.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 11:43 am

        No it’s not. You supported the military attack on Gaza. You insist that Jews — from everyone in the world — have a right to come to Israel and take land that was previously in the hands of Christians and Muslims. You call that “self-determination” but Witty, self-determination doesn’t arise from segregation. Just ask the African Americans.

        Ask Benjamin Franklin and other wises men like him. It arises from the transcendence of ethnic and religious divisions, not in reinforcing them.

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 11:49 am

        So, work for reform.

      • Richard Witty
        December 12, 2009, 11:50 am

        I supported the attack against Hamas shelling Israeli civilians, definitely.

        I did not support the extent of the attack.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 12:04 pm

        Well, I could support reform candidates like Cynthia McKinney… or anti-war candidates like Cindy Sheehan and Ned Lamont… or incumbent politicians like Brian Baird but for some strange and purely coincidental reason, they are all getting shut out of the process. Fancy that.

        I did not support the extent of the attack.

        Out of curiosity, at what point did the attack cross the line, for you? The fourth hospital shelled out? The sixth mosque destroyed? The third UN school? After 200 children? At what point was your personal threshold crossed by the IDF?

  20. Richard Witty
    December 12, 2009, 11:22 am

    I am pleased to hear your assumptions that only 67 boundaries are “occupied”, and that you then imply that you support the existence of a secure and democratic Israel, and have renounced advocacy for a single-state.

    • Chaos4700
      December 12, 2009, 11:28 am

      And it sounds like you’ve renounced your definition of Israeli as “Jewish” AND democratic. Can all of those nice families you Zionists ran out of their villages in a hail of gunfire and davidka shells be allowed to return home, now? I’m sure they really don’t care if you want to call it “Israel” or not, just so long as they get back what was stolen from them.

  21. Chaos4700
    December 12, 2009, 11:35 am

    And there you have it, folks. Witty, unmasked.

  22. VR
    December 12, 2009, 11:38 am

    “So long as the Hebron Fund pays for services positively (ie construction of synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, religious libraries), rather than based on exclusion (a white-only pool), then they will not conflict with IRS guidelines.”

    In Hebron Witty, what are you completely daft? No, just consummately dishonest, totally ignoring the status of the territory as defined “occupied,” and both the US and Israel supposedly bound by law of signed conventions (Geneva) – to “build” is trumped by numerous legal restrictions – not matters of personal discretion. Even if the contracting parties decided to ignore their responsibilities there are numerous provisos provided for the victims (no statehood required) to appeal legally, which have officially – repeatedly invoked by official representative bodies by the Palestinians. The ONLY reason for continued violations is merely the “might makes right” position, it is complete lawlessness by both Israel and the US.

    Witty, you have been roasted and served, eaten alive. You have no leg to stand on, if I were speaking literally this would be your position (see link below), you get an “F” in class and have no reasons for continuing to attend –

    IT’S JUST A FLESH WOUND

  23. Richard Witty
    December 12, 2009, 11:47 am

    Take your arguments to court, or to the IRS if that is important to you.

    More importantly, support charities that accomplish good.

    • Chaos4700
      December 12, 2009, 11:51 am

      We’ll keep trying, Witty. Even if people like you try to get people like us kicked out of college, or fined, or arrested, etc. because they aren’t Zionist Jewish charities.

    • VR
      December 12, 2009, 5:30 pm

      “Take your arguments to court…” Interesting response Witty, which is just a way of saying you agree with “might makes right.” In a sort of comic way there are other things that can be done –

      A REMEDY

  24. Uri
    December 12, 2009, 11:51 am

    I think scholarship programs that aim to remedy past discrimination are a specific exception to the general rule, because the Department of Education has declared them to be consistent with public policy. I don’t think it has anything to do with intentions or with whether the discrimination is positive or exclusive. The Hebron Fund might get away with providing strictly religious facilities for the settlers, since they are Jewish and the Palestinians aren’t, and there’s no prohibition against religious discrimination. But it’s more than reasonable to suspect that they’re involved in a lot more than that.

    If you’re suggesting that I’m angry at you, you are mistaken.

    I don’t know that it’s tough to separate charity work from political. Political restrictions, to my understanding, restrict (1) lobbying and (2) political propaganda so imbalanced that it can’t be considered educational, in the case of organizations whose exempt status depends on them being educational. There’s no prohibition, AFAIK, on doing other charitable work that has political implications. The challenges to the settlements are not based on the fact that they’re political, but on the fact that they’re illegal, racist and against US policy. I don’t think organizations like Amnesty have to worry about losing exempt status until they’re involved in some disqualifying activity.

    As for the possibility of “blowback” in the form of increased donations from Klan supporters – sure, it could happen. But that would be their money, not mine, and so would impoverish the Klan, not me. And the settlements would lose the imprimatur of the IRS. So it seems worth it to me.

    • Richard Witty
      December 12, 2009, 6:02 pm

      I though you were more sober than to resort to “klan” or “nazi” parallels.

      There is a grey line on “educational” status of 501(c)3. MANY that are pursuing functional political “education”, DON’t conform to the original standard of “educational”. The original legislation was NOT for the purpose of indirect advocacy, but for literal educational purposes.

      The IRS cannot be the arbiter of what charity is in conformance with public policy or inconsistent with it. That would give the IRS the kind of power that would and has led to its gruesome partisan political abuse.

      Its ONLY the nature of the action that is scrutinized by the IRS, not whether good or bad.

      • Uri
        December 12, 2009, 6:17 pm

        there’s a world of difference between the klan and the nazis. i don’t like the nazi analogy but think klan or neo-nazi comparisons are appropriate.

        the IRS, like it or not, has to make judgments about whether organizations are organized and operated for exempt purposes, using the guidelines established by congress, the courts, and the agency rule-making system. in making that judgment, it is required to consider whether the organization’s activities are against public policy, and must consider some specific guidelines regarding racial discrimination.

        as for education, i don’t know what the original intent of the legislation was. i think you may be right that the original intent was more strictly in line with the popular understanding of the term “education” which excludes propaganda, but the courts had a problem with the government drawing the line between education and advocacy on free speech grounds. that’s why the standard now is the manner of argumentation and whether there’s a full and fair exposition, not on whether it’s pure education or advocacy.

      • Richard Witty
        December 13, 2009, 7:41 am

        You might think they are appropriate rhetoric, but they entirely DISTORT otherwise cool-headed discussion. You become a name-caller rather than a person presented an intellectual argument.

        Be passionate. Channel that passiont through intellectual rigor, determination and endurance, if you wish to be effective at argument.

        My points are that questioning 501(c)3 practice is more likely to result in your frustration than your success, and with likely blowback in many ways. Every activism has similar consequences. It is the reason that conscientiousness is important in dissent to a greater extent than proving to yourself that you are on the right side.

        Thats if you wish to respectfully convince skeptics. You can’t really resort to browbeating those that aren’t convinced (and you are frustrated by), and then call yourself “democratic”.

      • Richard Witty
        December 13, 2009, 7:56 am

        Maybe if we were speaking face to face, I would be able to distinguish whether you are calling me on of the “klan”, what you really mean by that in context.

        Here, the majority of posts are of accusations of my “racism”.

        On the inquiry into racism that I suggested that Phil undertake sincerely and thoroughly.

        I had a thought to ask someone as distrusted as the ADL to prepare a set of criteria, a questionnaire, of what they considered actually or potentially anti-semitic, and to have Phil (and I) both complete the questions sincerely and sensitively, and later reveal the gist of answers, and comment on the questions.

        But neither adopt nor dismiss the concerns.

        I (and hopefully Phil) would be willing to do so similarly from similar questions raised by any serious Muslim anti-discrimmination organization.

        In that way we can identify both direct and functional anti-semitism and/or racism, and comment on the assumptions that underlie the selection and tone of questions.

        A clarification of differences, AND an inquiry into consideration.

        Hopefully substantively courageous, and NOT opportunistically or hatefully responded to here. A real effort at goodness.

      • Uri
        December 13, 2009, 8:09 am

        are you a settler supporter? if not, then i’m not browbeating you and there’s no need to take umbrage. i’m not trying to convince any settlers that that 501c)(3) project is worthwhile – i’m trying to persuade those who are against the settlements. what’s the problem with being a little polemical?

        i wouldn’t be frustrated if the settlement support organizations lost 501(c)(3) status and then got more non-exempt donations. that’s what i was trying to get across earlier.

      • Richard Witty
        December 13, 2009, 8:12 am

        So ignore my comments on rhetoric used.

        If you are attempting to appeal to reason (with those in the room and those that only observe the events in the room), then using “klan” or “racist” will confuse otherwise thoughtful people.

      • Chaos4700
        December 13, 2009, 9:07 am

        This is what Witty does. When he can’t win an argument, he flees to take shelter in overblown semantic arguments.

        Any day now, I’m going to force him into a corner so that he’s forced to put “Holocaust” in his trademark air quotes.

      • Chaos4700
        December 12, 2009, 6:19 pm

        One application of the laws for Jews, another application of the same rules for Muslims. No wonder Witty puts “justice” in quotes nowadays.

        It’s a bit late to complain about how the glass slipper fits, Cinderella.

  25. VR
    December 12, 2009, 12:06 pm

    Whether it is Witty, Dershowitz of Pipes (the latter two having the sense not to argue in this fashion when challenged, where Witty’s mentors fear to tread he barges in like a mindless oaf), you are all unfunny worthless clowns. If there were and equl platform nationally (like here on this site) you would be laughed at to scorn (don’t get me wrong, I actually like Woody’s comedy, but posted for a specific point that some have no business in their “chosen profession” or elected interest) –

    “NOT FUNNY”

  26. MHughes976
    December 12, 2009, 6:41 pm

    I read this with interest because I call myself a Christian and think that our shame over the WW2 years had very considerable theological consequences, including a very much increased emphasis on Jesus as a committed Jew rather than as a reformer and critic of the Jewish world. These two aspects aren’t mutually exclusive but where you place the emphasis matters quite a lot.
    We Christians should not forget that we began as Jews for Jesus, but we should also remember that we seem to have put aside the idea of ‘restoring the kingdom to Israel’ (see beginning of Book of Acts, even though the historicity of that Book has been much debated) until there had been some kind of radical religious transformation within the Jewish world or the whole world – after that transformation the Kingdom would of course look very different from what it had been in pre-Jesus days. (I even wonder if some of the remnants of the more liberal Jewish party defeated by the Maccabees in 165 were re-grouping in the Jesus movement; I know that’s not a widely entertained idea.)
    We then tended to reinterpret what we call the Old Testament away from its original sense towards symbols and allegories. To some extent Judaism did the same and seemed very unlikely to give rise to Zionism. Ben-Gurion, not a conventionally religious person, presided over a seminar that re-sacralised the story of violent colonisation found in the Book of Joshua and both Jews and Christian s have to a remarkable extent gone along with this. We shouldn’t have. It’ s a mistake we need to confront.
    Muslims, I think, are not forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount – that’s what happens in the Dome. Jews are forbidden by their long-accepted religious law to set foot where the Holy of Holies once stood and for that reason are supposed to keep away, at least until the Holy of Holies is re-identified. I understand that there is a group breeding a pure red heifer, which would be necessary for Temple worship to re-start. Then would come the appointment of a High Priest and then logically of a King. We’re surely entering the realms of sheer, crazy, unthinkable fantasy.

  27. Citizen
    December 13, 2009, 12:40 pm

    RE: “… a very much increased emphasis on Jesus as a committed Jew rather than as a reformer and critic of the Jewish world. These two aspects aren’t mutually exclusive but where you place the emphasis matters quite a lot.”

    This strikes me as as, yes, and often overlooked problem; and not just a Christian problem since the story of Jesus takes place at a certain time and place in this world and
    even fairy tales have much to offer us all.

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