Rabkin: We cannot have a rational approach to the peace process till we decouple the fate of Israel from the Jewish future

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 139 Comments

Yakov Rabkin, a professor of history at the University of Montreal, lately presented a paper on the challenges to Israel’s legitimacy at the National Press Club in Tokyo. Rabkin is the author of A Threat from Within: A History of the Jewish Opposition to Zionism. Rabkin (whose website is here) granted us permission to publish his article.

ISRAEL: CHALLENGES TO LEGITIMACY AND PROSPECTS FOR PEACE

Israel has been singularly successful in ensuring her military, economic and political dominance in the region. In recent years, there have been fewer terrorist attacks on Israelis, Palestinians are badly divided, Israel enjoys solid support from major countries, and her scientists are among the Nobel Prize laureates. Israel is about to be admitted to the OECD, the select club of wealthy nations, and her cooperation with NATO augurs well for Israel’s eventual integration into this military alliance. Yet, in spite of these remarkable achievements Israel remains insecure: she fears delegitimation. 

A few months ago, a veteran Israeli journalist observed that Israel’s legitimacy “has been worn away, and the idea of a Jewish state is now open to attack. The Jewish people’s right to sovereignty and self-defence is now controversial. Paradoxically, as Israel gets stronger, its legitimacy is melting away. A national movement that began as “legitimacy without an entity” is becoming “an entity without legitimacy” before our very eyes.” Earlier this year, Israel’s Reut Institute, a nationalist think tank, issued a similar warning: “Israel is facing a dramatic assault on the very legitimacy of its existence as a Jewish and democratic state. The groups promoting this delegitimacy aim to isolate Israel and ultimately turn it into a pariah state.”

INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGES

What are the main elements of this seemingly paradoxical delegitimation? Reut lists five: legal, economic, academic, cultural, and military. Firstly, legal challenges have been brought against Israelis on foreign trips, including military officers and ministers. They may be subject to prosecution as war criminals in countries like Belgium, Spain and Britain. Zionist fund-raising agencies, such as the Jewish National Fund, which owns most lands in Israel and leases it exclusively to Jews, are threatened with removal of its tax-exempt status in several countries. Law suits have been filed, including one in Quebec, against companies accused of “aiding, abetting, assisting and conspiring with Israel, the Occupying Power in the West Bank”, in colonization of the territories conquered in 1967. Secondly, on the economic arena, Israel has faced boycott of its exports, particularly those produced in Zionists settlements in the territories. These actions are yet to have a significant economic effect, but they are spreading. Trade unions such as CUSATO (the Congress of South African Trade Unions) and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are at the forefront of these actions.

This can be seen as an example of the shift – from left to right – in international support for Israel in the course of her short history. The first country to grant Israel de-jure recognition in 1948 was the USSR, which promptly supplied the new state, via Czechoslovakia, with badly needed arms. Socialist parties around the world, impressed by her collective agricultural settlements (kibbutz) and socio-economic equality, used to offer Israel solid political support. Conversely, Israel’s supporters today tend to come from wealthier and more conservative circles while trade unions and students organizations are at the forefront of the delegitimation campaign. It is also among conservative Christians that one finds Christian Zionists, who are four to five times more numerous than the entire Jewish population of the planet. Unlike the profoundly divided Jews, Christian Zionists offer Israel religiously unanimous and unconditional support. Zionist churches have become a major source in providing political, moral and financial succour to Israel, and in particular to Zionist settlers in the West Bank.

Thirdly, academic boycott of Israel has been on the table for several years, and it is supported by a number of British and American Jews as well as Israeli academics. Israeli universities are portrayed as major contributors to Israel’s military power used against the Palestinians.

Fourthly, cultural events, such as the recent Toronto film festival, which the Israeli government has tried to use in its effort to “re-brand” Israel as a modern sophisticated country, have been disrupted by withdrawal of prominent participants protesting Israel’s action in the territories occupied in June 1967. Here again, prominent Jews such as the Canadian author Naomi Klein led the campaign.

Finally, Israel’s preeminent position as the world’s largest exporter of arms and security equipment (in proportion to its population and GNP) has attracted its share of hostile attention. There is a consistent effort to expose deals with Israel, which tends to lead to their cancellation or at least deters their renewal. 

Comparisons of Zionism with apartheid and of Israel with racist South Africa constitute, perhaps, the most potent strategy in the delegitimation campaign. One may recall the decision to consider Zionism a form of racism that was passed by the UN General Assembly in 1985 and revoked several years later. Students on dozens of campuses around the world organize the Israel Apartheid Week, activities which feature prominent speakers and otherwise distribute information damaging Israel’s reputation.

It is noteworthy that Jews play a growing role in this and other activities that present Israel in unfavourable light. Their participation has at least two consequences: it undermines Israel’s claim to speak and act on behalf of world Jewry and it casts doubts on accusations made by Israel and her advocates around the world that all opposition to Zionism is antisemitic. We shall later return to the issue of Israel as “the state of the Jewish people”.

Comparisons with apartheid gain particular credibility when made by personalities such as South Africa’s Nobel peace prize laureate bishop Desmond Tutu: 

I have been to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. … This humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.

Israeli supporters prefer to ban, rather than argue about, comparisons of Israel with apartheid South Africa. To do so, they conflate opposition to Zionism with antisemitism, and try to discredit those who make such comparisons as inveterate antisemites. 

Advocates of Israel accurately argue that she is not the worst violator of human rights. But they are less convincing when they explain the focus on that one country is a sure sign of antisemitism or Jewish self-hate. Rather, many Jews respond to the traditional urge to assume moral responsibility. They aim at preventing what Jewish tradition calls “profanation of the Divine name”, in other words, criminal and deplorable acts to be committed by Jews. “My anguish and anger in the Middle East focuses on Israel precisely because I am a Jew. It is the same Jew in me that is more outraged by a Bernie Madoff [a financier who stole over $60 billion from his clients] than I would have been had this criminal been named Kelly or Rodriquez.”

Without assuming any moral superiority, Jews were disproportionately active in the struggle against apartheid and Vietnam War, and nowadays they speak and act against injustice in Israel/Palestine well beyond their relative numbers. According to Richard Falk, a Princeton don and currently UN Rapporteur for Palestine, “a Jew must honour conscience and truthfulness above tribal identities should these conflict”. 

Quite a few Jews, in Israel and elsewhere, feel torn between these two allegiances and must eventually come to terms with the contradictions between the Jewish moral tradition they profess to uphold and the Zionist ideology that has in fact taken hold of them. According to Marc Ellis, American Jewish theologian, ““Jews are being split less in terms of their experience of Israel and America than in relation to conscience and what Jews are willing to do and what they will refuse in terms of Jewish history and memory. Instead of splitting apart around issues of geography and culture, a civil war of conscience has begun.”

This specific moral compunction felt by Jews, precisely because Israel claims to act in their name, is compounded among many Christians with a pronounced interest in the Holy Land whose image they find tarnished by violence, particularly when perpetrated by tanks and gunships bearing the Star of David that used to be associated with Judaism and its commandments. In neither case antisemitism seems to be the motive force behind opposition to Zionism. 

Just how seriously Israeli elites take the attempts to portray their country as the last bulwark of European colonialism can be seen in a speech of Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC, a major constituent of the Israel lobby in the United States, earlier this year:

But Israel should be judged by the same standards applied to all nations, and allegations against Israel must be grounded in fact. One allegation that is not is the attempt to describe the Jews as foreign colonialists in their own homeland, one of the great lies of modern times.

In my office, I have a signet ring that was loaned to me by Israel’s Department of Antiquities. The ring was found next to the Western wall, but it dates back some 2,800 years ago, two hundred years after King David turned Jerusalem into our capital city. The ring is a seal of a Jewish official, and inscribed on it in Hebrew is his name: Netanyahu. Netanyahu Ben-Yoash. That’s my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back 1,000 years earlier to Benjamin, the son of Jacob, One of Benjamin’s brothers was named Shimon, which also happens to be the first name of my good friend, Shimon Peres, the President of Israel. Nearly 4,000 years ago, Benjamin, Shimon and their ten brothers roamed the hills of Judea.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied. The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied. The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital. 

In essence, the Prime minister affirms the historical, linguistic and religious continuity of the state of Israel, an heir to the Kingdom of David and other protagonists of the Bible. He appears alarmed by recent scholarship, produced by Jews and Israelis, that challenges his view in all the three aspects of continuity. 

JEWISH CHALLENGES

In terms of ethnic connection, Zionists postulate that Jews from countries as different as Poland, Yemen or Morocco belong to the same people. Many, including Israel’s Prime minister, believe them to be descendents of the Biblical Hebrews. In his recent book Professor Shlomo Sand of Tel-Aviv University challenges these beliefs, arguing that the Jewish people, as an ethnic concept, has no historic legitimacy and was simply “invented” for the needs of Zionism in the late 19th century. Any nationalism needs a nation to begin with. Interestingly, even Sand’s scholarly critics agree that the claim to ethnic continuity of the Jews through millennia is simply not serious.

Moreover, Sand shows affinity between Zionist and antisemitic ideas. Zionism affirms the ethnic definition of the Jew modelled on Eastern European prototypes. Thus Zionists accept the antisemites’ view of the Jews as a distinct and therefore alien people or race. This is why most Jews rejected Zionism from the very beginning. They saw that Zionists played into the hands of their worst enemies, the antisemites: the latter wanted to be rid of Jews while the former wanted to gather them to Israel. The founder of Zionism Theodore Herzl considered antisemites “friends and allies” of his movement. This makes it hard to argue that Israel was meant to be a bulwark against antisemitism, and, sadly, only in Israel a Jew is likely to be killed simply because of being Jewish. No wonder that, in spite of consistent efforts by Zionist organizations, most Jews have chosen to live outside Israel, including those Jews, who change their country of residence. This weakens the claim to be “the state of the Jewish people” that is the ideological foundation of the current state of Israel. / In fact, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians threatens not only Israelis but also Jews the world over. Israel’s Roth Institute found that Israel’s attack on Gaza was practically the only factor driving the dramatic spike in anti-Semitic incidents that occurred in the world in 2009. These findings conflict with Israel’s claim to be the ultimate protector of Jews all over the world, a crucial argument in favour of Zionism.

From the language perspective, Gil’ad Zuckermann, an Israeli linguist teaching in Australia, tries to shake another pillar of Zionism – the rebirth of the Hebrew language. He finds that the language created by Zionists is not Semitic but Indo-European. This should not be surprising since the pioneers of the new vernacular were mostly Eastern European immigrants, whose native tongues were Russian, Polish and Yiddish. It is these pioneers (whom Shlomo Sand considers “the Yiddish people”) that created “the Israeli language” as Zuckerman prefers to call it. He argues that the use of Hebrew roots and words is overshadowed by massive structural and syntactic influence of the European languages and by a consistent effort at secularization of the religious idiom. The modern Hebrew language appears as “invented” as the transnational “Jewish people” investigated by Shlomo Sand, and this casts doubt on the linguistic continuity of Zionism invoked by the Israeli Premier.

Finally, there remains the claim to spiritual legitimacy of Zionism as an heir to Judaism and Jewish tradition. Religious concepts such as the Holy Land, the Promised Land and the Chosen People have become the essential part of the Zionist vocabulary. However, the founders of the Zionist state were profoundly secular, and so is the majority of Israeli Jews. According to a sarcastic remark of the Israeli scholar Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, “ our claim to this land could be put in a nutshell: God does not exist, and he gave us this land. ”

In fact, Zionism has provoked most durable opposition precisely from the traditional Jewish circles, whose commitment to Judaism is beyond doubt. This Jewish opposition reflects the fact that Zionism has been a break with the past, one of the last revolutionary movements seeking to transform man and society. 

Thus on three fundamental accounts – religious, ethnic and linguistic – the historical legitimacy of Zionism is seriously contested. The Israeli historian Boaz Evron reminds us that:

The State of Israel, and all the states of the world, appear and disappear. The State of Israel, clearly, will disappear in one hundred, three-hundred, five-hundred years. But I suppose that the Jewish people will exist as long as the Jewish religion exists, perhaps for thousands more years. The existence of this state is of no importance for that of the Jewish people…. Jews throughout the world can live quite well without it. 

Decoupling the fate of the state of Israel from the future of the Jews opens possibilities for a more rational political approach to the conflict in Israel/Palestine. 

PROSPECTS FOR PEACE 

These two challenges to the Zionist character of Israel – international and Jewish – must be seen in the context of current efforts to bring peace to the embattled Western Asia. President Obama tends to rely on legal principles in his search for a negotiated settlement. When Israeli politicians accuse Obama’s two close advisors of being self-hating Jews, they weaken the emotional view of Israel as the “the state of the Jewish people”. 55 percent of American Jews approve of the way the Obama administration is handling U.S.-Israel relations, (compared to less than 10 percent of Israeli Jews), this emphasizes the serious split that Israel and Zionism have fomented among Jews. This split makes it possible to treat and discuss Israel as any other state, on its merits, rather than with emotional references to Jewish history.

The founding fathers of Zionism dreamt of building “a normal country”. They built Israel into a mighty regional power armed with nuclear and other sophisticated weapons. The current Prime minister also argues that Israel “should be judged by the same standards applied to all nations.” Indeed, Israel should be judged according to accepted international standards as a major military power, rather than as a collective victim of past persecutions of Jews in Europe. / Israel was founded as a revolutionary break with the past, and there is no historical, religious or moral reason to accept her claim to exceptionalism. Recent statements by U.S. military and diplomatic experts show that this normalization has begun. General David Petraeus in testimony before Congress argued that the continuing conflict in Israel/Palestine harms U.S. security interests. No less importantly, the percentage of Americans who consider Israel is an U.S. ally has fallen from 70% in August 2009 to 58% in March 2010. 

An eventual return to normalcy and rationality in analyses of Israel/Palestine may help in the search for peace. Afrikaner nationalists also used to consider themselves “the chosen people” and related to their colonization of South Africa’s interior as a religious obligation. They too feared the prospect of “being thrown into the sea” should their dominant position vanish. Yet, a peaceful transition took place, and one of its architects sees in it a hope for the Holy Land. Bishop Tutu remarks that: It is not with rancour that we criticize the Israeli government, but with hope, a hope that a better future can be made for both Israelis and Palestinians, a future in which both the violence of the occupier and the resulting violent resistance of the occupied come to an end, and where one people need not rule over another, engendering suffering, humiliation, and retaliation. True peace must be anchored in justice and an unwavering commitment to universal rights for all humans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin or any other identity attribute. “ 

Significantly, the main Jewish newspaper in South Africa recently published an editorial, which concluded with a question: “Will the Israeli-Palestinian bloodletting go on, tragically, until there is “no choice” but a settlement as happened in South Africa? Given the strength of both sides, that will be long time coming. In the meantime, how many lives will be lost and how much destruction caused?”

Leo Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina with these words: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. His observation applies to states no less than to families. No two states’ predicament and history are the same. Yet some parallels are not only unavoidable but can also be instructive and even hopeful. Comparisons of Zionist practices with apartheid in South Africa are not only attempts to delegitimize Zionism, but may also be seen as road signs towards a more inclusive and therefore less violent political framework. In other words, the ongoing delegitimation of Zionist Israel may stimulate a non-violent emergence of a pluralist and democratic Israel, living in peace with her citizens and neighbours. The impasse of the U.S. sponsored road map towards the two-state solution makes such evolution more probable.

Richard Falk seems to recognize peace-enhancing aspects of the attempts to delegitimize the Zionist character of Israel. To face this challenge to its legitimacy, writes Falk, “it would seem to require an Israeli willingness to abandon the core Zionist project to establish a Jewish state, and that does not appear likely from the vantage point of the present. But always the goals of a legitimacy war appear to be beyond reach until mysteriously attained by the abrupt and totally unexpected surrender by the losing side. Until it collapses the losing side pretends to be unmovable and invincible, a claim that is usually reinforced by police and military dominance. This is what happened in the Soviet Union and South Africa, earlier to French colonial rule in Indochina and Algeria, and to the United States in Vietnam.”

During his exile, less than a decade before the end of the USSR, the Soviet dissident and father of the H-bomb Andrei Sakharov remarked: “I do not have any hope for democratic change in the near future. But the mole of history digs invisibly, and we know that historical changes occur suddenly”.

About Yakov Rabkin

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139 Responses

  1. Richard Witty
    April 16, 2010, 10:42 am

    Starts off descriptive and rational and morphs into polemic.

    It would be a more useful article if it stayed descriptive and rational.

    If his summarizing Shlomo Sand is representative, I regard the statement that “Jews as a people was a construct for Zionist propaganda purposes” as racist, horrid, innaccurate.

    The concept of Jews as a people is shared across cultures, or else the majority of North African, Arabian, and other Jews would not have migrated to Israel. (Of course, unless they were persecuted for being Jews, which the opportunist ideologs here regard as false.)

    Israel is legitimate with wrongs that require reform.

    • Mooser
      April 16, 2010, 10:53 am

      “If his summarizing Shlomo Sand is representative, I regard the statement that “Jews as a people was a construct for Zionist propaganda purposes” as racist, horrid, innaccurate.”

      I’m sure as soon as he reads this he will reverse his position, if anyone can figure out exactly who it’s directed to.

      • zamaaz
        April 18, 2010, 7:35 am

        Zionist propaganda or not, the ancient texts are much, much, older that anyone inside and outside this page here.

      • Shingo
        April 18, 2010, 7:37 am

        “‘Zionist propaganda or not, the ancient texts are much, much, older that anyone inside and outside this page here.”‘

        And they are all fiction, so it makes no difference how old they are.

      • zamaaz
        April 18, 2010, 7:47 am

        This is the must beautiful juncture of this debate… you claim the ancient scriptures all fiction, how about the writings of Mohammad that were founded from the ancient writings? Do you accept that they the Muslims have no whatsoever basis of their claims too? If no, you cannot deny our argument and basis. If yes, then while we debate as we insist these are true, and this debate remains in progress the Jews must continue all their activities pertaining their nation particularly to rebuilt Jerusalem because that is under their sovereign right as an independent state recognized under international law.

      • zamaaz
        April 18, 2010, 7:38 am

        If anyone has basis older that the ancient scriptural texts detailing the heritage and historical rights of Jews all over Israel, and the rights of other people for such claim, show your basis, and we will listen reasonably!

    • Mooser
      April 16, 2010, 11:30 am

      “ideologs”

      For those who don’t know, that’s a large piece of wood with a very straight, uniform grain, often used in the manufacture of truncheons.

    • Mooser
      April 16, 2010, 11:34 am

      “Starts off descriptive and rational and morphs into polemic.”

      Dick Witty takes his rhetorical style from that preacher of the old adage; first he tells us what he is going to say, than he goes ahead and says it.

      No, “adage” is not a measure of billboard coverage. Besides, they don’t make billboards out of “ideologs” anymore, they’re mostly metal.

    • MRW
      April 16, 2010, 12:08 pm

      Witty, you ought to research Rabkin’s other writings before castigating him as “racist, horrid, inaccurate.” (And why would you quote something that is not there.) I would suggest this one immediately: “Gap among Jews widens on question of Zionism, by Yakov M. Rabkin” link to one-state.net Throughout his work, Rabkin emphasizes the great Jewish moral tradition.

      I gave you a link to a fabulous review of his book on many occasions over the past year. Obviously, you never bothered to read it. Had you, you would know the extent of Rabkin’s scholarship, and the depth/breadth of his Jewish and rabbinical studies.

      The wonder of reading Rabkin’s work is that he is always thoughtful, and so well ressearched.

      • Richard Witty
        April 16, 2010, 12:19 pm

        Perhaps you didn’t get that my comments was more about Sand than Rabkin.

        The continuity of the Jewish people, in diverse exile, was real even when separated.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 12:40 pm

        Yeah, but you’ve had it out for Sand, whose book you never even bothered to read by your own admission, since he published it.

        And I would note that it is Israeli archeologists from the university in Tel Aviv, working with Israeli biblical scholars, who have been trying to tell Israelis and the Christians since 1999 that the biblical account of lands won and lost is a fairy tale. Haaretz Magazine printed a major piece on this in Sept or Oct 1999.

        The Israeli archeologists and biblical scholars are the ones who pointed out that Canaan was Egyptian until 1200 BC, long after the supposed Exodus; that the Exodus was a couple of families who left and rendered it into myth; that the Jews were not Israelities, but Hyksos.

        My regular computer is down, or I would give you a link to the article in which the archeologists say the biggest problem they’ve had is in convincing Jews and Christians that their biblical history was a great story, but it was all made up.

      • Richard Witty
        April 16, 2010, 2:24 pm

        Thats quite a projection Mrw.

        Noone can know historically one way or the other about events 3200 years ago is the fact.

        The culture need not rest on originating historical fact (it might, and it might not) to still be a continuous and viable culture, a people.

        I doubt for example that really any founding myths are actually facts. Do you know of any?

        You can’t know yes, or no.

        On Torah, at least since its been compiled and codified, (400+ BC) it has been maintained consistently. The test is the comparison between Torah’s from communities separated over 2000 years, and they are nearly identical. Maybe three words spelled differently out of 10 thousand.

        Thats not proof that all are that comparable, but it is proof of continuity, unifying continuity.

        Sand’s reported assertions (by Phil and above) that Jews are not a racial people is also false. There certainly was intermarriage, otherwise Jews would all have exactly the same pigmentation as well as other features. But, there is enough evidence of continuity to support self-definition as a racial people, in addition to a political (same laws) and social (same language even if secondary, not colloqueial, same metaphors.)

        The most that archeologists can conclude from not finding evidence is “we haven’t found any evidence”. They cannot possibly conclude that the story was false.

        One can say that Palestinians were not a people until recently, that they didn’t identify yet as Palestinian but as Arab or Islamic. Even Rashid Khalidi’s book on Palestinian identify concludes that mature Palestinian identity is recent, and largely (not entirely by any stretch) formed relative to Israel. Common enemy is often a motivating factor for identification.

      • Chaos4700
        April 16, 2010, 2:31 pm

        Nothing screams racist louder than the “land without a people” myth.

        And then of course, in the next breath Witty will insist the “Jewish nation” has been such for thousands of years.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 5:21 pm

        Witty. “Noone can know historically one way or the other about events 3200 years ago is the fact.”

        Really? Tell that to the Egyptologists. Tell that to the world’s association of archeologists.

        What a profoundly stupid statement, Richard. Archeologists can tell whether a people occupied a certain place by digging there. Everyone leaves detritus, even in the DNA of dirt.

        And since you haven’t bothered to read any of this evidence, your opinions and meanderings on the subject are meaningless.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 5:23 pm

        Further, the Israelis were working off Egyptian documents and other ancient texts that they deciphered.

      • Shingo
        April 16, 2010, 6:32 pm

        ”But, there is enough evidence of continuity to support self-definition as a racial people, in addition to a political (same laws) and social (same language even if secondary, not colloqueial, same metaphors.)”‘

        What evidence might that be Witty? I know you won’t cite any evidence, but I am cusious nevertheless.

        “The most that archeologists can conclude from not finding evidence is “we haven’t found any evidence”.”

        You mean that a negative cannot be proved Witty?

        You sound like Donald Rumsfeld , who when confronted with the fact we had found no WMD, argued that absence of evidecme is not evidence fo absence.

        “One can say that Palestinians were not a people until recently”

        Fasel, they were always a people. Their sense of nationalism is new, not their identity. Even Ben Gurion recognized that.

        You”re such a biggot.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 6:42 pm

        If anyone is interested in the archaeologist’s article, google “Deconstructing the Walls of Jericho” by Ze’ev Herzog.

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 7:07 am

        What is amazing more is that the unity of Books of Prophets (Daniel, Jeremiah, Moses, Ezra, etc. written in different ages using the fate of empires (Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greeks, and Romans empires like simple test tubes and specimen in history only to prove the presence of one Almighty God. More so the accuracy of the Biblical text about David and Solomon is being proven by Archeological findings in Jerusalem! How can we say these are simple myths? Perhaps these critics are just waiting for the remake of Sodom and Gomorrah to prove they were true!

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 7:11 am

        But Sodom and Gomorrah or the mysterious death of Assyrians led by the Rabshakeh are ‘coins’ compared to the deaths of the Egyptians first born during the Exodus… What a ‘racist’ selective cutting of lives! Awesome!

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 7:13 am

        Perhaps you will appreciate its wonder when this happens in your own family too!

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 12:21 pm

        zamaaz, you are one nutty and stupid guy.

      • Shingo
        April 18, 2010, 7:39 am

        Nothing you mentioned proves the presence of God.

        “‘More so the accuracy of the Biblical text about David and Solomon is being proven by Archeological findings in Jerusalem!”‘

        False. They found a wall and have not been able to link it in any way to David or Solomon. So until they do, they are myths.

        “‘Perhaps these critics are just waiting for the remake of Sodom and Gomorrah to prove they were true! “‘

        And perhaps it’s time you updated your mecdication?

      • Shingo
        April 18, 2010, 7:41 am

        But Sodom and Gomorrah or the mysterious death of Assyrians led by the Rabshakeh are ‘coins’ compared to the deaths of the Egyptians first born during the Exodus…”

        False. There was no Exodus, hence no evidence of an Exodus.

        Try reading history books as oposed to fairy tales if you want to be taken seriously.

    • MRW
      April 16, 2010, 12:22 pm

      “The concept of Jews as a people is shared across cultures, or else the majority of North African, Arabian, and other Jews would not have migrated to Israel.”

      Horsepucky. Maybe to your Ashkenazi-addicted mind. But the great Sephardic tradition that reached its zenith in Spain, before Queen Isabella went all nuts on the Muslims (1480s), then the Jews (1492), and thought a religiously-cleansed Spain would convince the Pope to move to Spain, never had the Ashkenazi persecution complex. And why would it? Cultured, educated Sephardic Jews, who have been in the New World for over 400 years, helped create this country, write its constitution, fought proudly in the American Revolution, created the cotton business, brought the slave industry from Amsterdam, co-founded the NY Stock Exchange, created great universities (Columbia) and museums. They’ve been around for so long that no one ever bothers to mention the Jewish character of their involvement.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 12:47 pm

        And just to gild this lily: this country was discovered by a Jew: Juan Ponce de Leon. The de Leons were Spanish (Jewish) nobility from Northwest Spain.

      • eee
        April 16, 2010, 12:54 pm

        MRW,

        The Jews have a right to self determine themselves in any way they want.
        They don’t need any historical rational for it even though there is plenty.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 1:09 pm

        eee, I am more concerned about historical accuracy than Christian, Jewish, or Muslim myth-making. The Abrahamic religions have created so much bloodshed throughout history, they deserve to be found out, and their shibboleths destroyed. They are all anachronisms in their present form.

      • eee
        April 16, 2010, 1:19 pm

        Except that you forget that I am an atheist Jew. The Jews are a nation, not a religion. I agree there is nothing historical or factual in the teachings of the Abrahamic religions.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 1:57 pm

        eee, Jews have had a nation in their name for 60 years. So the ‘Jews are a nation’ claim is what? Proves what? How does the fact that you, specifically, are an atheist Jew figure into the creation of Israel?

        The religion, the traditions, the myth-making, and the raison d’etre for Israel is much longer than that.

      • Mooser
        April 16, 2010, 5:55 pm

        “The Jews have a right to self determine themselves in any way they want.”

        You go ahead and self determine yourself anyway you want. My parents caught me at it and gave me hell for it, and I haven’t done it since! Besides, it’s not a choice, some people say you are born that way.

      • Shingo
        April 16, 2010, 6:35 pm

        “‘The Jews have a right to self determine themselves in any way they want.
        They don’t need any historical rational for it even though there is plenty. “‘

        So why did you use a historical rational in the first place?

      • Shingo
        April 16, 2010, 6:38 pm

        “‘The Jews are a nation, not a religion.”‘

        There is no nation called Jews.

        “‘Jews have had a nation in their name for 60 years.”‘

        No, Ziomists have. Non Zionists reject this belief. Zionism itself is an aetheist ideology.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 6:43 pm

        I stand corrected, Shingo. ;-)

      • Taxi
        April 16, 2010, 8:55 pm

        The word ‘jew’ comes from the root ‘judaism’.

        Judaism is a religion. Not a race, not a people, a nation, a country, a continent, a river, a mountain, or even a tribe.

        Judaism is a religion. Jews are followers of this religion. Simply.

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 6:12 am

        The Jews themselves were wrong to think Judaism is a religion… In total context, according to Jesus of Nazareth in the Bible Judaism is not a religion nor a tradition, it is the Love towards God of Israel; and He made such correction when he visited the Temple of Jerusalem about 30 years after he was born in Bethlehem, in the same week He was crucified by the institutional Jews themselves!

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 6:30 am

        The first and the earliest time the word ‘Jews’ came out of a mouth was during the seige of Jerusalem by the Rabshakeh during the reign of Sennacherib king of Assyria (about 701 BC) in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah 2Kings 18:26
        This was thousands of years earlier than the creation of states of Jordan, Bharain, or Kuwait…

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 6:49 am

        [He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. (Psalms 2:4-6)]

        These are the words of God of Zion…God of David, the builder of the Great City of Jerusalem.

      • Citizen
        April 17, 2010, 11:11 am

        Eee, please give us some other examples of “a nation” so that we know more clearly what your working definition is of the word
        “nation.” What is “a nation” other than not being “a religion” and not to be associated with religious characteristic? Is “America” aka the USA, “a nation?” Do all Americans belong to the same nation? Everyone here knows that many people from different ethnic/cultural/racial backgrounds comprise the population of the USA. Do those differences mean many different “nations” reside on USA soil? If not, why not? Thanks.

      • eee
        April 17, 2010, 11:36 am

        Citizen,

        The Jews are a nation because we self determined ourselves as such. We have our own language, modern Hebrew that is an everyday language. There is a geographical area we all relate to. We have our own customs (what you call religion). We have solidarity and feel responsible for each other. Pretty much just as the Japanese are a nation, the Jews are a nation.

        The word Jew comes from the Hebrew word yehodi which means someone from the tribe of Yehuda or Judas. It is clearly a tribal name and not a religious name. And indeed the Jews are mostly from the tribe of Yehuda (and Benjamin and remnants of Shimon ). The other tribes were “lost” following the Assyrian conquest of them.

      • Chaos4700
        April 17, 2010, 11:53 am

        Compare and contrast, everyone, eee’s tribal, atavastic interpretation of a “nation,” with your own definition of a nation.

        Better yet, compare and contrast that with mainstream interpretations of religion. Islam was in many respects a direct reaction to tribalism and an attempt to move beyond it; Christianity is supposed to be that too (many forms of it succeed where others have failed).

        I’m admittedly not as well versed, but I’m expecting that eee’s “nationalized mythology” version of Judaism is making most modern Jews cringe. Does anyone really want to go back to the days that eee harkens to? We’ve seen what happens when countries build their national identities on ethnically/racially “purified” models.

        I don’t think I have to spell it out much more than that, do I?

      • Citizen
        April 17, 2010, 12:35 pm

        RE: “Pretty much just as the Japanese are a nation, the Jews are a nation.”
        You mean like this?
        link to japan-101.com

        RE: “We have our own customs (what you call religion).”
        I don’t call religion (a set of) customs.

        Self identification, common everyday language; a geographical area all relate to; own customs; solidarity; mutal responsibility towards each other; tribal… you mean like David Duke and his
        followers? Do you have your own web site too?

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 12:37 pm

        Yup, that sounds like a winning formula to me Chaos! Let’s pit our little scattered, dis-organised, 15million strong and shrinking religion against the rest of the world and hope nobody notices?

        How the hell does this process take place in the Jewish mind? Look, they spend your whole youth telling you how much the world has kicked us around, climaxing with the Holacaust, and that’s supposed to transmogrify into a feeling that the Jews are all-powerful? It’s wierd!

      • Cliff
        April 17, 2010, 12:43 pm

        Good, so you admit you invented yourself. So there is no such thing as a ‘Jewish people’ beyond the nationalistic, which is predicated on myth/invention anyway.

        You stole land, that was not yours. You have oppressed the indigenous population, and continue to murder and steal from them.

        That they may hate you, and kill your innocents because you’ve dispossessed them and oppressed them, surprises you and you can only chalk it up to some monolithic definition of ‘Jew-hatred’.

        Your entire ideology, ‘nation’, is bullshit. You’re a European colonist – Manifest Destiny and Zionism are the same thing. You’re blinded by your own arrogance. That’s why you’re shooting yourself in the foot as we speak by stealing more land, and making the One State solution a reality.

        Fucking leech.

      • eee
        April 17, 2010, 1:39 pm

        Bunch of hypocrites.
        What makes the Palestinians a nation?

      • MRW
        April 17, 2010, 4:31 pm

        Zamaaz, it’s all made up. Search for Jericho on this thread and follow the instructions. There was no letter “J” in ancient Hebrew. The word Jew did not come into being until the Middle Ages, around the time of the first western printing press (they had a lot of power with that machine to create or rewrite anything they wanted; now in the 21st C, with the internet and insta-translation software, they are all going to be found out).

      • Shingo
        April 18, 2010, 7:42 am

        “‘The Jews have a right to self determine themselves in any way they want.”

        That’s assuming they all want that and agree on it is necessary. An ever increasing number do not.

      • Richard Witty
        April 16, 2010, 2:27 pm

        Hard to know what you were saying in that post.

        In 1949-55 or so, there was massive migration from Arab, North African, Asian lands to Israel. If they didn’t feel some kinship they wouldn’t have migrated, even if the sum total of it was Biblical references.

        Its been stated here too often that those Arab, North African and Asian Jews were not persecuted in their homelands, that they were recruited and chose to migrate to Israel. Its one or the other.

        Either they were persecuted and came to Israel for haven, or they weren’t and came by choice.

        Which interpretation do you understand?

      • Chaos4700
        April 16, 2010, 2:34 pm

        If they didn’t feel some kinship they wouldn’t have migrated, even if the sum total of it was Biblical references.

        So it had nothing to do with promises of cheap land gifted to them after it was taken from Palestinians, huh? Or stipends from the Israeli government? To say nothing of Zionist terrorism done in the name of the “Jewish state.”

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 6:59 am

        The same Jewish lobby led by Daniel that made Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar great and mighty kingdom…Imagine the most cruel king of Iraq (a convert to Judaism in his final years) trusted the Jews to hold his cup more than ever the Iraqis themselves!
        The same Jewish lobby led by Nehemiah and Ezra that made Iran (Persia) Darius to Artaxerxes great and mighty kingdom…until the Jews returned to Israel (before the Persian dynasty collapsed). Imagine the most powerful ruler of Iran trusted the Jews to hold his cup more than ever the Iranians themselves!
        These are showing how powerful the Jewish lobby for many centuries hence!
        Compared to them we are just ordinary fools!

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 10:39 am

        I’ve gotten fruitcakes at Christmas less nutty than you. And I suspect they were smarter, too.
        Less unintentionally hilarious than you, I’ll give you that.

    • radii
      April 16, 2010, 2:08 pm

      I think Einstein put it best, being jewish is about shared histories and cultural preferences – it is not a state, religion, ethnicity nor race and he dismissed outright any notion of being a “chosen” people

      I would proffer the notion that israel is the wrong that requires reform

    • zamaaz
      April 17, 2010, 5:54 am

      [ It is also among conservative Christians that one finds Christian Zionists, who are four to five times more numerous than the entire Jewish population of the planet. Unlike the profoundly divided Jews, Christian Zionists offer Israel religiously unanimous and unconditional support. Zionist churches have become a major source in providing political, moral and financial succour to Israel, and in particular to Zionist settlers in the West Bank.]

      [Thirdly, academic boycott of Israel has been on the table for several years, and it is supported by a number of British and American Jews as well as Israeli academics. ]

      [In his recent book Professor Shlomo Sand of Tel-Aviv University challenges these beliefs, arguing that the Jewish people, as an ethnic concept, has no historic legitimacy and was simply “invented” for the needs of Zionism in the late 19th century. Any nationalism needs a nation to begin with. Interestingly, even Sand’s scholarly critics agree that the claim to ethnic continuity of the Jews through millennia is simply not serious.]

      Have we not noticed the shameful irony? The academic (intellectual) Jews are abandoning Jewish Israel, while it is the conservative Christians are the most rabid among the zionists? It is because these liberal Jews were simply Jews because theyre born Jews; and not even being Jews that believe in God of the Bible?
      The conservative Christians were reading the Bible since the start of their consciousness and totally adhered to the words of God particularly about the eternal promise to rebuil Israel! I tell you that. If their could be global mobilization to defend Israel, their will be more hundreds of times Christian recruits than the Jews themselves!
      Take example of the case of Goldstone and the trend to sifle his reports. In the view of a Christian , the more you hide Goldstone the more you are made questionable…let Goldstone speak against Israel, for we will see who is mightier; Goldstone pride of being champion of ‘righteousness’ (or self righteousness) or the One who wills to rebuild Israel…
      Take the case of ASA Adjudication on Israeli Government Tourist Office. The British is intervening in Israel territorial situation and effectively depriving the Jews their heritage!

      This is how christians could look into the picture of the British attitude:

      During the time of Assyrian invasion under Sennacherib king of Assyria, there was this Rabshakeh (cupbearer) that was unknowingly ‘trapped’ by the Jews negotiators to speak against God. This poor fool was so proud and arrogant never had he realized what his doing and speaking. Finally one day this guy just woke up shocked to see in the early morning, all his army, thousands of them (of course except handful of them as witness), cold dead!

      [And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life. (Jeremiah 44:29-30)]

      In the above story, Divine wrath against Zedekiah king of Judah was fair and just because Jeremiah has been warning him for more than 23 years, but this poor Egyptian Pharaohhophra king of Egypt his mighty kingdom was wiped out of his hand by Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon in about early 6th Century BC , without even knowing the real reason behind! Egypt was destroyed simply because the Pharaoh allowed refuge to a small group of Jews God was terribly angry at! Jeremiah has warned yet the Jews refused to listen…

      [Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together. (Isaiah 31:3)]

      England? What is the pride of england, its might? Shall she help the Palestinians and the rest of people of the land against the rebuilding of Israel? Will England conspire to deprive Israel of his inheritance? Have they not seen in centuries, though Israel is a speck among nations, his future dictated the fate of empires? Then let England by her arrogance fall to the hands of Nebuchadnezzer also; and let her Queen becomes Ayatollah! The Winsminster becomes a Mosque. Her princes become Imams, and her cries become shrill of mourning! Yet Israel shall stand!

      [He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. (Psalms 2:4-6)]

      Goldstien maybe never conscious he made himself instrumental in this Celestial conflict between good and evil, Israel against its enemies, man of this world against God: (Jeremiah 44:29)

      [Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.(Romans 8:7)]
      [But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
      Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
      These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
      Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.(Jude 1:10-13)]

      I know nobody in this page might give value to my responses…Anyway, it is not my business, nor has power to convience anyone, neither my business to put my neck like these Brits under the blades of the enemies of God. All I do is to give some knowledge on these matters so that judgment maybe full; because knowledge shall be the basis of judgment in the ripe of time. In ancient history, it is just as shown in the Biblical rules of engagement, to warn first the enemy city of their situation that they will have peaceful option, before destroying them bitterly after they refused. (see Deuteronomy 20:10-11)
      I am not a Jew nor an anti-Israel like the anti-semitic Brits liberals and progressives. As it was assured in the Bible, our fate is sealed. All these things shall be fulfilled…
      Is Goldstein not a Jew? Let Goldstein speak! Let Goldstein fulfill his own curse! Israel is always under the threat of failure by some Jews themselves. This is not strange…
      Things are just becoming more exciting to those who love to read the Bible…I just wanted to share the final laughter in due time….

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 6:04 am

        [ Have we not noticed the shameful irony? The academic (intellectual) Jews are abandoning Jewish Israel, while it is the conservative Christians are the most rabid among the zionists? It is because these liberal Jews were simply Jews because theyre born Jews; and not even being Jews that believe in God of the Bible?]

        These are the kind of Jews that reminds me of Zedekiah king of Judah in early 6th Century BC. Its no wonder there was a diaspora and the Holocaust, until now they never learned from their centuries of sorrow…

      • Shingo
        April 18, 2010, 7:44 am

        “‘Have we not noticed the shameful irony? The academic (intellectual) Jews are abandoning Jewish Israel, while it is the conservative Christians are the most rabid among the zionists? ”

        It’s not ironic at all. Conservative Christians tend to value anti intellectualism and tend to be more tribal and poorly educated.

    • zamaaz
      April 17, 2010, 7:22 am

      Looking zionism as a ‘propaganda’ then the Bible is the best propaganda medium beyond compare…what amazed me is how could the originator or the author of the Bible conceived such idea that will be crucial to the conflict in this region, more than 3000 years after? Is he a super genius whose foresight can cross over ages? Has he a foreseeing eye with accuracy of more than 3000 years? This is why I believe in the presence of Almighty God, God of Israel, God of Zion! More these grandeus fools who claim Zion is a myth!

      • Shingo
        April 18, 2010, 7:45 am

        “‘Looking zionism as a ‘propaganda’ then the Bible is the best propaganda medium beyond compare…”

        The Bible, like all Israli propaganda, is based on fabrications and myths.

    • zamaaz
      April 17, 2010, 7:44 am

      With the spike of bombings by the Islamist against muslims themselves, America does not need Israel as an ally.

      [No less importantly, the percentage of Americans who consider Israel is an U.S. ally has fallen from 70% in August 2009 to 58% in March 2010. ]

      Another 9/11 and they will remember Israel…

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 12:40 pm

        Another 9/11 and they will remember Israel…”
        So what are you waiting for, zamaaz, get out there and do the Lord’s work! There are any number of flying schools in your area…

        Nutty as a fruitcake.

      • MRW
        April 17, 2010, 10:01 pm

        zamaaz, you’re a Christian fundie who’s bought all the bible rewrites that occurred in the dispensationalist world after 1948; in particular the Scofield zaniness.

        William Albright set out in 1920 to prove via archaeology that the Bible was an historical document; he wanted to disprove the 19th C German group that claimed the bible was a bunch of theological and etiological legends. Newsflash He couldn’t. In fact, his work, taken over by the Israeli govt and universities, proved that the stories of the Bible were just that: stories.

        But Mooser’s shorter version will do.

      • Shingo
        April 18, 2010, 7:46 am

        It’s wore than that MRW. He’s a Christian fundie who’s bought all the bible rewrites and remains ignorant of the Bible.

    • Cliff
      April 17, 2010, 12:39 pm

      is shared across cultures

      Irrelevant, baboon – I’m sure you think you’re a fire-truck. I’m sure many of your Liberal Fire-truck friends, also agree. However, you are in fact, not a fire-truck.

    • zamaaz
      April 18, 2010, 7:26 am

      Yes! Rabkin is correct! But how can he decouple when the FATE OF ISRAEL is total DESTRUCTION OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE forevermore, when the Jews now, show any iota of reluctance to pursue and protect their national interest? Which unfortunately no country can ever give assurance for permanently secured future? Even US itself now under Obama is showing politically reluctance and diplomatically wobbling?

      • zamaaz
        April 18, 2010, 7:31 am

        [Rabkin: We cannot have a rational approach to the peace process till we decouple the fate of Israel from the Jewish future]

        So far the situation for decades remains Israel can rely or trust no one but himself and to the Divine promise of providence and protection.

        BY THE WAY ANY REACTIONS BY NELSON MANDELA ABOUT APARTHEID IN ISRAEL? I AM WAITING…

      • Shingo
        April 18, 2010, 7:47 am

        “‘BY THE WAY ANY REACTIONS BY NELSON MANDELA ABOUT APARTHEID IN ISRAEL? I AM WAITING…”‘

        You missed the bus in that case. He claled it aparheid a long time ago and condemned it.

  2. Mooser
    April 16, 2010, 10:50 am

    We’ll do fine without Israel. Hell, we’ll do better. Imagine the huge amounts of money freed for better peurposes, and the load lifted from American taxpayers and military.

    And I don’t know, but maybe, just maybe it might be better if Gentiles didn’t perceive Judaism as a conquering, colonising, and illegal settlement cult based on Jewish supremeacy. Sorta keeps people from seeing Jews as regular guys. I mean, look, if we drop white phosophurus on people, why on earth wouldn’t they believe Matzohs are made with Gentile blood?

    And Look, Witty, I realise you are indeed a superior being, but I really don’t think it’s because you’re Jewish. You are just an all-round wonderful guy, and I’m as corny as Kansas in August.

    • Richard Witty
      April 16, 2010, 12:25 pm

      I agree that it would be better if Israel did not seek to expand, expropriate, etc.

      Its why I advocate for “enough” Israel rather than greater Israel. And, Israel has more than enough land already. (It can net give away some.)

      But, it is still a jewel, a necessity for Jewish culture.

      The only other option to acceptance of Israel, is non-acceptance. That either means harm to Jewish individuals, forced dispossession, war, etc. OR it means loss of self-governance.

      I spent three months working in New Hampshire recently, that has as its slogan “Live free or die”. Harsh, harsh language. Across the Connecticut River in Vermont, their slogan is “Live free and prosper”.

      I like Vermont’s better, but I get the zeal that gave rise to “Live free or die”. My Zionism is “live free and prosper”. Right-wing Zionism is “live free or die”, meaning fight to the death.

      I believe that they would, and seek other alternatives.

      It would be wonderful if you could restrain yourself from the ugliest comments, Mooser. The world would be that much more rich.

      • Sumud
        April 16, 2010, 2:57 pm

        “you could restrain yourself from the ugliest comments”

        Meanwhile in the name of “peace”, you argue for the permanent severing of a people from their homeland.

      • Chaos4700
        April 16, 2010, 3:03 pm

        So how much ethnic cleansing can be done in the name of the “Jewish state” before it constitutes “too much?” Can you give us at least a ball park figure, Witty? It would be vaguely reassuring.

      • zamaaz
        April 17, 2010, 7:32 am

        Ethnic cleansing is a phenomena described in the Bible more than 4000 years relative to day. Only the Egyptians were dead! The selective death of Egyptian first born during the days of Moses… A very ‘racist process’. It is one excellent example beyond compare! That is how Divine justice is being carried out to those who question God. History have never accused the slave Jews to have done that because they too were cuddling in shock and fear when that incident was happening (perhaps until a modern Satanic mind does that!) Image the possible retribution of the Egyptians! That could be total annihilation of all the Jews in Egypt; and we Bible believers do not question that.

      • Mooser
        April 16, 2010, 6:00 pm

        “It would be wonderful if you could restrain yourself from the ugliest comments, Mooser. The world would be that much more rich.”

        But Richard, you’re comments are of such a repellent nature they make me nearly physically ill. If I take you seriously, I’ll get sick, so I laugh at you. And it’s not as if you haven’t given us more than enough material to peg you as one of the world’s premier phonies and a bunch of hot air that blows nobody no good.

        What you should be doing is thanking the other posters for their restraint. But don’t appeal to me, I can’t stand you, or your elk.

      • MRW
        April 16, 2010, 6:46 pm

        I like that, Mooser. Witty with antlers.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 12:55 pm

        “The world would be that much more rich.”

        ‘C’mon Mooser, be a good Jew and I’ll show you how you can reap the benefits.’ Yeah, yeah, heard it all before, you can stick that avuncular crap where the sun don’t shine.
        Of course, next comes: ‘Jew? You’re no Jew! Not a real Jew, like me, and I speak on behalf of the Jews’

        Perfect example: eee, the “atheist Jew” who presumes to judge my Jewishness, than excuses his barbarity with his atheism.

        Look, I’ll confess, like Phil, I used to believe in a Jewish advantage in intelligence. Between Greenwald’s and Mondoweiss, that innoncent illusion has been shattered. Anyway, you can always tell a smart Zionist, they have enough brains to keep their mouths shut, and that’s the only thing which is worrisome.

      • Shingo
        April 16, 2010, 6:40 pm

        “But, it is still a jewel, a necessity for Jewish culture.”‘

        Since when does a Jewel massacre civilians?

      • potsherd
        April 17, 2010, 9:43 am

        So “Jewish culture” requires a place where Jews can spit on Christians with impunity? What a precious jewel!

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 10:40 am

        And he won’t even go live there! What facetious facets our little six-pointed diamond has.

      • ahmed
        April 17, 2010, 11:59 am

        Mooser, you’re the only gem here.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 12:42 pm

        Me? Strictly paste! You wouldn’t even get through a dime-store window, and a pawnbroker would laugh.

      • robin
        April 17, 2010, 8:54 pm

        The only other option to acceptance of Israel, is non-acceptance. That either means harm to Jewish individuals, forced dispossession, war, etc. OR it means loss of self-governance. OR it means the expansion of self-governance to all the relevant persons. Your position is that Palestinians are not relevant to the governance of most of their homeland – a position of self-evident racism.

        The choice of Jewish OR Palestinian rule is a false one, as false as White OR Black rule in the United States.

  3. Taxi
    April 16, 2010, 10:55 am

    Thank you for your sober voice, Yakov. I hope your article finds its way into many, many Jewish homes, minds and hearts.

    Regarding the atheism of zionism’s founders, you include this:
    “According to a sarcastic remark of the Israeli scholar Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, “ our claim to this land could be put in a nutshell: God does not exist, and he gave us this land.”

    It’s vital the that younger generations of Jews are taught to distinguish between zionism and Judaism, so as to stop the corruption of their ancient spiritual heritage and give it rigour and longevity past the 21st century.

  4. Mooser
    April 16, 2010, 11:27 am

    “and give it rigour and longevity past the 21st century.”

    And I was hoping for just a few minutes! If spiritual rigor and longevity last past four centuries, see your physician, but for God’s sake, put something over that Torah! You’ll scare the nurse!

    • Taxi
      April 16, 2010, 12:16 pm

      Mooser,

      Note that I refered to Judaism as an “ancient spiritual heritage”, not an ancient religion.

      • Mooser
        April 16, 2010, 6:03 pm

        “Note that I refered to Judaism as an “ancient spiritual heritage”, not an ancient religion.”

        We have sown the wind and will inherit the blowhard.

      • Mooser
        April 16, 2010, 6:10 pm

        Really, tho, doesn’t that 2800 year spiritual inheritance come to a head on the day a Jewish baker accidently slipped a tray of doughnuts into boiling water (“I thought they were kreplach“) and then picked them out and decided to bake them, (cause you can’t put wet stuff in a deep-fryer) with an astounding result?
        Only from the Almighty, praised be He, could such a delectable comestable be engendered!

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 10:42 am

        “We have sown the wind, and will inherit the windbag.”

        (There, finally got it right) Oh, go ahead and use it, no attribution needed.

  5. Keith
    April 16, 2010, 3:04 pm

    NETANYAHU’S RING. In some ways this says it all. Here is Bibi making a big deal about a ring with the name “Netanyahu,” and his name being Netanyahu. And getting away with it! How many news agencies pointed out that his name is Netanyahu because his father changed the family name from Mileikowsky to Netanyahu when they immigrated from Poland? Instant 2800 year tradition! What bullshit! What chutzpah!

    • Taxi
      April 16, 2010, 8:57 pm

      Good one Keith!

    • potsherd
      April 17, 2010, 9:40 am

      Now what does BYahoo say about the Palestinians with names from the Jewish Bible?

      • Keith
        April 17, 2010, 11:16 am

        POTSHERD- That they should emigrate to Poland and change their name to Mileikowsky? But seriously, since it is a crime in Israel to impersonate a Jew, these kids could be in trouble. Stinking law-breakers!

  6. wondering jew
    April 16, 2010, 9:22 pm

    I have not read Rabkin’s book and maybe there his philosophy is more coherent, but in this essay he is all over the place, compiling arguments like a grocery list, rather than forming an argument that builds with each paragraph in a specific direction.

    And the quality of his arguments vary from the relevant to the absurd. For example he states,
    “The founder of Zionism Theodore Herzl considered antisemites “friends and allies” of his movement. This makes it hard to argue that Israel was meant to be a bulwark against antisemitism.”

    Herzl had sought as a young man to join a German nationalist organization and found that his Jewishness precluded his joining such a group. He covered the Dreyfus trial and was amazed that in France of all places there were crowds yelling for “Death to the Jews”. Herzl sensed the catastrophe coming towards the Jews in Europe and that was the reason why he sought to establish a state for the Jews that would solve their powerlessness. He saw the antisemites as an ally because he felt that they would help him find a homeland outside of Europe. Obviously there were other paths to attacking antisemitism, like taking it on head first. That was not Herzl’s choice. He did not believe that the coming catastrophe could be avoided by such a head first option. History proved him right in that regard. Herzl’s mistake was in his lack of success, not in his philosophy per se.

    But Rabkin’s lack of coherence is most blatant in that he includes both Shlomo Sands – who denies the existence of a Jewish nation, other than an invention and then the Orthodox view:

    “In his recent book Professor Shlomo Sand of Tel-Aviv University challenges these beliefs, arguing that the Jewish people, as an ethnic concept, has no historic legitimacy and was simply “invented” for the needs of Zionism in the late 19th century.”

    “In fact, Zionism has provoked most durable opposition precisely from the traditional Jewish circles, whose commitment to Judaism is beyond doubt.”

    These two arguments have something in common: their opposition to the Zionist movement. But whereas Shlomo Sand asserts the nonexistence of the Jewish nation, the Orthodox accept the existence of a Jewish nation, which they call “am” and instead oppose the divorcing of the concept of Jewish peoplehood from the Jewish religion.

    (The hardcore opponents of Neturei Karta, which Rabkin doesn’t mention here, felt that the Jews must wait for the Messiah and must not act within history in any provocative way whatsoever. This meant not only opposing the Zionist movement, which obviously entailed an attempt to enter or disturb history, but also opposing the boycott of the Nazis, because Neturei Karta felt/feels that such an act was too provocative and one should react to someone like Hitler with passivism and accept such things as God’s doing.)

    The idea that decoupling the fate of Israel from that of the Jewish people seems to be a recurring theme from those who wish for Israel to disappear. (Tony Judt is the other relevant example of this line of thought. He espouses the view that if only Diaspora Jews would devote themselves to some other cause and thus abandon the Israel lobby, then Israel would peacefully turn into a binational state.)

    The fact is that the number of Jews who live in Israel is not a majority of the world Jewish population, but somewhere between 37 and 40%, certainly a large enough number that for diaspora jews to abandon it to its fate is a ridiculous expectation in the short term. For Orthodox Jews, other than those who feel that the Zionists deserve whatever punishment God has in store for them, the connection to the largest Orthodox Jewish community in the world is natural and the connection to Jerusalem is natural.

    If someone seeks justice and wishes the Jews to return to a path of justice, this is a valid argument for Israel to change its policies (or even for Israel to disappear into a binational unit). But even this is not a decoupling of fates, but rather a reinterpretation of the direction of the common fate.

    • Les
      April 16, 2010, 9:28 pm

      Shlomo Sand says there is an Israeli nation and and Israeli people. Why do you find that objectionable?

    • Taxi
      April 16, 2010, 10:18 pm

      Shlomo looked everywhere for the ‘jewish nation’, but couldn’t find it.

      But perhaps a better academic investigator can.

      We’re waiting….

      • wondering jew
        April 16, 2010, 11:49 pm

        I objected to Rabkin’s logical construction of including two contradictory opinions in support of his proposal.

        As far as Shlomo Sand’s assertions, Hillel Halkin is more of a scholar than I although less of a scholar than others who have trashed Sand, but I believe that this article in TNR is a good a place as any to begin a discussion of Sand that does not accept Sand as the last word.

        link to tnr.com

      • Taxi
        April 17, 2010, 9:43 am

        I read the article you linked to the New Republic.

        It was full of the opinions of the writer and yes he hates Shlomo.

        But he provides no structured historic proof to any of the points Shlomo raises.

        He just simply hates Shlomo for his audacity to investigate thoroughly all the stories Shlomo was raised on.

      • MRW
        April 17, 2010, 2:35 pm

        WJ, Halkin is a journalist, not a scholar. Sand is not only a scholar, but an historian, which brings different pressures to bear in research, and the assertions and statements in his book are backed up by decades upon decades of work by archaeologists and biblical scholars. Israeli archaeologists and biblical scholars, no less.

        As I mention elsewhere on this thread, google “Deconstructing the Walls of Jericho,” for an article by Ze’ev Herzog.

      • Shmuel
        April 17, 2010, 2:53 pm

        That was my impression too, Taxi. Tom Segev wrote a far less scathing and opinionated but still negative review of the book – and I take that a lot more seriously. Nevertheless, I decided to read Sand (which is what I’ve been doing for most of the day) and judge for myself. I have also been wondering about the book’s practical relevance (does the argument “there is no ___ people” really matter?), but on MRW’s suggestion, I’m putting that judgement on hold as well.

      • wondering jew
        April 17, 2010, 5:04 pm

        I objected to Rabkin’s logical construction: including two contradictory opinions, one of which was Shlomo Sand’s.

        If Hillel Halkin is not scholarly enough for you, maybe try Simon Schama: link to ft.com

      • wondering jew
        April 17, 2010, 5:24 pm

        More critiques of Shlomo Sand.
        This is one from Ami Isseroff and includes an article by Nadav Shragai with extensive references to the genetic issue.
        link to news.zionism-israel.com

      • wondering jew
        April 17, 2010, 5:27 pm

        the link doesn’t seem to work. another try. link to news.zionism-israel.com

      • MRW
        April 17, 2010, 9:09 pm

        From the NYT Letters to the Editor:

        To the Editor:

        Simon Schama appears oblivious to the dangers posed by the ”popular history” to which he so enthusiastically subscribes. Instead of fostering critical thinking, Mr. Schama and other practitioners of the genre tend to present a dumbed-down, grossly oversimplified, mythologizing view of the history of nations, and an equally reverent, hagiographical approach toward the role of ”great persons.” This is history as national myth.

        JOHN S. KOPPEL

        Bethesda, Md

        This is the same guy who thought we should understand why Israel bombed Lebanon in 2006 and agree with it. He’s an art historian and one-time New Yorker art critic, and the other two you mention are reporters, one for the settlers. Nadav Shragai cites the 2000 study, which was later dismissed for poor scholarship. He claims that archaeologists disproved Sand. Well…not Ze’ev Herzog, the Director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. Herzog wrote in 1999 exactly what Sand published in 2007.

      • wondering jew
        April 18, 2010, 2:17 am

        Anita Shapira wrote a scathing review of Shlomo Sand’s book in The Journal of Israeli History. volume 28 No. 1 March 2009 (Google Anita Shapira and Shlomo Sand if you wish to read the review in its entirety.)

        Because calling Ashkenazi Jews Khazars is not infrequent occurrence in the comments section, I will quote from Anita Shapira’s review:

        “The most esteemed scholar of the Khazar monarchy, by Sand’s own acknowledgment, is D. M. Dunlop, a British nonJew in command of the languages needed to study the Khazars, on whom information is found in Arabic, Hebrew, Byzantine and Chinese literature. This information is fragmentary and at times contradictory. Dunlop at the end of his book relates to the theory that the Jews of Eastern Europe are the descendants of the Khazars: he states that “This can be dealt with very shortly, because there is little evidence which directly bears upon it and it unavoidably retains the character of a mere assumption.”

      • Shmuel
        April 18, 2010, 3:08 am

        Schama and especially Shapira are no less influenced by their political/ideological views than Sand. The criticism of “assumption” seems to be a recurring theme however (in Segev’s review as well). From what I’ve read so far, Sand is really good at asking questions and showing how much of “standard” historical scholarship on this subject is also based on assumptions. I haven’t read enough of his answers yet to judge whether his assumptions are any better or worse than the ones he criticises.

      • MRW
        April 18, 2010, 5:22 am
      • thankgodimatheist
        April 18, 2010, 5:49 am

        Thanks MRW
        Interesting article..

      • Les
        April 18, 2010, 8:38 am

        What the Times includes as appropriate letters to the editor is a reminder that the Times remains a key member of the Israel Lobby. The US media’s drumbeat coverage of Israel as victim is vastly more valuable than all the money AIPAC could ever hope to raise.

  7. RoHa
    April 17, 2010, 12:08 am

    It seems to me that, for all the posturing, neither Witty nor WJ really care about Jews. Or any other persons.

    What they care about is an abstraction, namely “The Jewish People”. For reasons which I find totally unfathomable, they think that it is important that there should be people who maintain the various myths, customs, etc. of the Jews.

    • Richard Witty
      April 17, 2010, 2:42 am

      Thats libelous.

      I care about individual people AND I care about our people AND I care about other people.

      Lets here some appreciation of the other, otherwise it sounds like you are speaking of yourself ROHA.

      • Chaos4700
        April 17, 2010, 3:05 am

        Liar. You consistently avoid any topic on Mondoweiss that documents Israeli persecution of Palestinians, and when anyone brings it up around you, you deny it ever happens.

      • RoHa
        April 17, 2010, 5:13 am

        “Lets here some appreciation of the other,”

        What do you mean by that?

        ” otherwise it sounds like you are speaking of yourself ROHA. ”

        Me? I care nothing for the “Jewish people”.

        I think the world would be a better place if all the Jews were to say “Sod this for a game of soldiers; I’m giving up this Jew business.”

        And then to do so.

      • Shmuel
        April 17, 2010, 1:30 pm

        RoHa: I think the world would be a better place if all the Jews were to say “Sod this for a game of soldiers; I’m giving up this Jew business.”

        Unless you’re just trying to get Witty’s goat, that’s a rather sweeping dismissal of an incredibly diverse and ancient human culture. You’ll forgive me if I happen to find universal value in that part of my composite identity, although I am also royally pissed off (to put it mildly) with many of my “brethren” and with one of the turns that organised Judaism has taken since the mid-20th century.

        Then again, if it`s a really really good game of soldiers …

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 12:59 pm

        I have reported to comment of ROHA

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2010, 10:44 am

        “Thats libelous”

        So nue, so sue!

      • Les
        April 18, 2010, 8:40 am

        This compares with the willingness of Zionists to make the state of Israel a higher priority than saving individual Jews from the Nazis. Worshiping a synthetic creation rather than caring for fellow human beings should remind everyone of the worship of the god Baal. In life we are forced to choose one or the other. Witty has chosen the state of Israel, white phosphorous and all.

      • Richard Witty
        April 18, 2010, 8:54 am

        I’ve chosen the self-governance of the Jewish people over the suppression of the Jewish people.

        I’ve chosen self-defense of that over willingness to have Israeli citizens murdered by terror, pretending to be resistance.

        I’ve also consistently (for far longer than Phil has been interested in this issue) advocated for Palestinian self-determination, a two-state solution, and for equal rights for Palestinians within Israel, and for the right of Palestinians displaced from 1948 and 67, to present their claims to a color-blind court.

        Those ARE the demands of the cultural BDS movements (with the exception of the ambiguity over what is meant by “right of return”).

        Misrepresentation of my views is either a fraud, a negligence or an ignorance on your part, Les.

      • Les
        April 18, 2010, 9:06 am

        How is the use of white phosphorous against Gazans self-defense? How was the attack on armed Jewish terrorists in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland self-defense by Germany? You put the state of Israel above any and all people.

      • Citizen
        April 18, 2010, 10:46 am

        Witty code: “I’ve chosen the self-governance of the Jewish people over the suppression of the Jewish people.”

        Translation: Too bad the natives were already on the land for centuries. We all have our priorities.

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 1:00 pm

        There is no comparison between gaza and warsaw

      • Donald
        April 18, 2010, 1:12 pm

        Actually, though I’m critical of people who seem to equate the level of the two atrocities, what Les said was perfectly reasonable.
        There is a comparison between the self-justifications that war criminals use when they slaughter innocent people, even if one slaughter is on a far greater scale.

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 1:15 pm

        Donald,

        You have a lot of potential but you really need to do some soul searching.

        When you realize that a lot of the things said on this website are anti-semitic, immoral, and just plain wrong, and have the courage to say it, you will be proud of the person you are, fighting for the rights of BOTH, Jews and Arabs.

        Anyone who says Jews can be expelled and Arabs can’t, anyone who said the Jerusalem quartet should be heckled because they are Jews, Anyone who says Jews are really Khazars, you should FIGHT this too because it is MORALLY WRONG!

      • Les
        April 18, 2010, 1:19 pm

        They don’t compare insofar as some Jews were able to flee the Ghetto, not so the case with Gazans who could not thanks especially to the US paid Egyptians guarding the west wall of the Gaza concentration camp. They do compare in the gross disparity of the weapons used by both sides. Also, both victims were called terrorists by their attackers in spite of the pitiful quality of their weapons.

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 1:21 pm

        There is NO comparison of any sort, people that do seek to trivialize Jewish suffering. This website forum is so SICK some times. This sort of comparison is anti-semitic and ONLY seeks to shame Jews because of their past.

        Gaza is Jewish land, first off, is teeming with Arab terrorists, and should be blockaded until HAMAS is dismantled and Shalit is freed.

      • Donald
        April 18, 2010, 1:27 pm

        I don’t listen to lectures from bigoted operating systems, nor do I seek their approval.

      • Les
        April 18, 2010, 1:30 pm

        Jews who knowingly trivialize the suffering they cause the Palestinians, trivialize all suffering, past and present.

      • Donald
        April 18, 2010, 1:33 pm

        They don’t compare in terms of the number of dead, where the numbers in the Warsaw Ghetto were hundreds of times greater.

        What the Israelis have done to the Gazans is sadistic, cruel, hypocritical, collective punishment, mass murder, and a crime against humanity. Isn’t that enough to condemn it?

        But whatever. I know what happens now. Someone comes along and says I’m a closet Zionist.

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 1:34 pm

        Les,

        I’m so sorry that you have to flip everything back around on Jews rather than acknowledge that you are doing something immoral.

      • Richard Witty
        April 18, 2010, 1:34 pm

        Gaza is not “Jewish land”.

        Gaza is Gaza.

        Sovereignty is by consent of the governed and refers to the people not to the land.

        Title is by consent of the citizens, by a “reasonable man” test to determine if the basis of title is perfected (consented) or imperfected (contested), adjudicated by a color blind court.

        Where Jews have title that passes that “reasonable man” test, then that is land that is currently owned by Jews, not more than that.

        The “land is Jewish” is false. People are Jewish or not. Land is just land.

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 1:36 pm

        Donald,

        I’m so sorry that you have resorted to dehumanization, I am not an operating system, I am a human being with blood as red as yours. You have potential but don’t be afraid of being called a Jew or Zionist, stand up for what you believe even if that means condemning wrong on both sides

      • Donald
        April 18, 2010, 1:36 pm

        One reason I don’t want the support of bigoted operating systems is that they do in fact sound like they wouldn’t mind going quite a bit further in committing atrocities against the Gazans.

        But that’s it for me in this thread.

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 1:37 pm

        In this case Gaza is Jewish because it is part of Israel which is majority Jewish.

        Also in this case East LA is Mexican because it is majority Mexican.

        Sounds like an unreasonable man test

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 1:40 pm

        Again Donald we see dehumanization, only when you can call people humans will you ever be able to claim yourself moral.

      • Richard Witty
        April 18, 2010, 1:40 pm

        Gaza is not part of Israel.

        As many have stated, if the areas that you claim are Jewish are construed as part of Israel, then Jews will be a minority in Israel, not a majority, and then be in the position of a minority ruling over a majority.

        Its not necessary and its not desirable. Let some room for reasoning into your process, please.

      • UNIX
        April 18, 2010, 1:41 pm

        That is incorrect, even with Gaza Jews are the majority from the Jordan to the Med. Gaza definitely is Jewish land and is part of historic Judea. Arabs have little to no claim to Gaza.

        Jews were ethnically cleansed from Gaza and this should not be criteria for assessing ownership.

  8. Rowan
    April 17, 2010, 9:30 am

    I was surprised to find that the author was a professor of history when I scrolled back to the top to check, after reading the article. His own implicit definition is what I would expect from a rabbi, namely: a Jew is a descendent of persons who followed the religion of Judaism, but does not have the option of relinquishing this religious heritage, only of varying it trivially (e.g. by putting more or less emphasis on social justice and less or more on national rights, which is to say, spinning it slightly to the left or slightly to the right).

  9. MHughes976
    April 17, 2010, 2:39 pm

    Racial distinctions are not verifiable scientifically except for matters that are morally trivial, such as certain aspects of appearance (even those not so easy to define) and the likely location of some remote ancestors. There is no scientific test for, and therefore no objective truth about, who is Jewish and who is not. We are dealing with cultural and imaginative constructs that themselves change over time.

  10. MHughes976
    April 18, 2010, 9:12 am

    As to the historical matters mentioned, I’d recommend (forgive repetition) the Oxford History of the Biblical World (ed.Coogan, 1998), written on the whole by fairly conservative scholars. The basis of Sand’s later arguments, which may not be the last word but are quite reasonable, emerges clearly enough. On the text of the Hebrew Bible it is clear that there were many versions, somewhat divergent in somewhat significant matters, and that we need to consult the Greek as well as the Hebrew texts – even the Samaritan text deserves a little attention. It’s still a great work of literature and it’s still true that great efforts were made to stabilise the text for religious reasons, particularly after the text had fallen into contention between Jews and Christians. I think that ‘The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls’ (Vanderkam and Flint, with Tov, 2002) is good on this and a credit to mainstream theology.

  11. MRW
    April 18, 2010, 11:01 am

    “Israeli supporters prefer to ban, rather than argue about, comparisons of Israel with apartheid South Africa.”

    Michael Ben-Yair, Attorney General of Israel, 1993-1996 (in Ha’aretz):

    “The Intifada is the Palestinian’s people’s war of national liberation. We [Israel] enthusiastically chose to become a colonialist society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the Occupied Territories, engaging in theft and funding justification for all these activities.. we [Israel] established an apartheid regime.”

    (In response to concerns raised by another cabinet member about Sharon’s ["the butcher of Beirut"] invasion and brutality in the West Bank.)

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