Jewish Values vs. Israeli Policies: Why five young Jews disrupted PM Netanyahu in New Orleans

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The five young Jewish activists after disrupting Netanyahu.

Being young and Jewish and realizing what Israel’s occupation is really like, contrary to what we may have been taught in our religious schools or high school trips to the holy land, can be a lonely journey. It can be compared to a “coming out” experience, where sharing your perceptions with friends and family, let alone a room full of over 4,000 Jews, can be a daunting task.  While more American Jews—and particularly young American Jews—are growing disillusioned with Israeli policies implemented in the name of all Jews with the support of old-guard groups such as AIPAC, it is still often a scary thing to publicly criticize Israel within the broader community.

In New Orleans during the Jewish Federation’s General Assembly (GA), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) created a safe space for young Jews, like myself, whose stomachs are still churning from the bombings in Gaza nearly two years ago, and whose eyes can no longer be averted from the daily reality of oppression for Palestinians. We came together to organize effectively and from the heart.  And if we have faith in our generation’s capacity to transform politics and create peace, then we can believe in JVP’s mission as possible in the face of all odds.

Picture 5Image from Israeli television news of Emily Ratner being removed from the GA.

On Monday morning, the GA plenary began with Oscar the Grouch — seriously, the Sesame Street puppet opened the plenary with a satire about how gross it was that Israelis were so friendly, always sharing, caring and helping each other out. Next, New Orleans Mayor Landrieu stressed a belief in tikkun olam, the Jewish principle of “repairing the world”, and almost in the same breath, an unending support for Israel. Contradiction? We think so.  Our well-orchestrated protest began with the bold voice of local New Orleans resident Emily Ratner, who stood up after applause for Netanyahu and proclaimed, “The Loyalty Oath delegitimizes Israel!” as she unfurled a banner with the same message.  (The protest was captured on video by AP here) As Emily was removed from the room she continued shouting, and Netanyahu commented from the podium, “If they came to delegitimize Israel, they came to the wrong address.” We believe we were knocking on exactly the right door, with a message to the Jews in attendance: Israel’s occupation and oppressive policies delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world.

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Eitan Isaacson protesting Netanyahu (Photo: Matthew Hinton, The Times-Picayune)

The second protester was Israeli resident Eitan Isaacson who unfurled a banner stating, “Silencing Dissent Delegitimizes Israel.”  He was forcefully removed from the building while chanting in English and Hebrew. Isaacson stated that the purpose of the action was as follows: “We’re here to call out the elephant in the room. Israel continues to expropriate Palestinian land for Jewish-only communities, passes increasingly racist laws in the Knesset, the foreign minister wants to strip Palestinian citizens of their citizenship — these are the reasons Israel is becoming a pariah in the world.”

After Netanyahu continued to decry delegitimization, Matthew Taylor of Berkeley, CA, arose, unfurled a banner reading “Occupation Delegitimizes Israel” and spoke the slogan loudly.  Taylor was pushed to the ground, his button-down shirt ripped open, and his shoe flung from his foot (he lost the shoe during the protest). (Photo: attached) Meanwhile, an enraged rabbi grabbed Taylor’s banner and proceeded to rip it to pieces with his teeth and fists.

Several minutes later, Israeli activist Matan Cohen stood up on his chair to unfurl yet another banner while shouting, “The siege on Gaza delegitimizes Israel!” Matan is the founder of Anarchists Against the Wall in Israel and has been a prominent organizer at Hampshire College.  Cohen explained his reasoning for demonstrating: “Right now, the choice for those of us who care about the future of Israel and Palestine is between the status quo–which includes continued settlement expansion, the siege of Gaza, and the racist Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman–or Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. Given that choice, Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions will win every time.”

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A photo of Abileah’s arm after the protest.

And finally, after Netanyahu summarized the two “greatest threats” to Israel – a nuclear Iran and “delegitimizers”– I stood up and unfurled a pink banner that read, “The settlements betray Jewish values” and in Hebrew: “Justice, justice you shall pursue,” a verse from Deuteronomy.  The crowd had grown increasingly hostile with each disruption, and I was instantly attacked from all sides.  A man in the row in front of me pulled the El Al seat cover off his chair and tried to gag me with it.  Another man came up from the side and grabbed me by the throat.  I fell into a pile of chairs until two female sheriffs buoyed me up and hustled me out of the room. The police later confided that they were trying to protect me from the angry mob and get me out of there in one piece.

The JTA reported: “Jeff Shapiro from San Antonio grabbed her from behind and put her in a choke hold, dragging her backwards towards the floor.  When asked later if he had ever put a woman in a chokehold, he replied, ‘Not really. No. I really did not know what was going to happen, I wanted to keep her in check. I was trying to help.’” Jeff Shapiro, according to an Internet search is the president of the synagogue brotherhood and a 7th grade teacher at Temple Beth-El, and is the chair of the Federation’s San Antonio Association for Jewish Education.

Some in the audience chanted “Am Yisrael Chai” and later “Bibi! Bibi!” to try to drown out our voices.  Others tackled us or shouted obscenities.  But not all were outraged by our actions and words.  We heard later about the many Jewish students who were brought to tears seeing the visual display of an internal conflict of values they themselves felt.

As Rob Eshman’s blog in the Jewish Journal summarized:

“What were they against?” one Israeli journalist in the audience asked rhetorically. “The loyalty oath? The occupation? Gaza? Most Jews would agree with them.”

Why did we feel the need to take such a bold, direct action that some might view as rude or inappropriate?  We would have been content to stand silently holding up our banners, revealing the truth in a more subtle, somber way, but the instant violence projected at us meant that our banners were ripped from our hands within seconds of unfurling them.  Giving voice to the cause of justice seemed the moral thing to do.  We also would have been happy to participate in dialogue, had the GA created a comprehensive program that encouraged a multiplicity of views and opinions.  Rather, the GA was a propaganda grounds for furthering a narrative about the state of Israel that simply does not stand up to the facts as we have witnessed them.  When the traditional routes of civic engagement fail us, we turn to nonviolent direct action, and the time-honored tactics that secured women the right to vote, an eight-hour day for workers, and civil rights protections for people of color.

By staging this loud disruption of Netanyahu’s speech, we inserted an alternative narrative into the GA and into the media in Israel and the US. The Israeli occupation and the oppression of Palestinians in Israel cannot be ignored.  We made visible the unsettling disconnect between Jewish values of social justice and current Israeli policies. Instead of the single-sided story Netanyahu and his supporters hoped to present, we were able to create a dynamic conversation that reverberated through the papers, radio stations (including the Israeli Army Radio), blogs, twitter, and among the delegates.  Our disruption has been picked up by AP, the New York Times, Haaretz, The Jersualem Post, NPR, Democracy Now!, The Jewish Forward, Ynet News, and many more outlets.  We heard from many students who said the protest sparked discussions about Israel’s policies and emotional exchanges.  A group of rabbinic students met to discuss the occupation. With our actions, we opened up the possibility for people to have genuine dialogue about these issues, and we are part of a seismic generational shift in the Jewish community that Peter Beinart outlined in his groundbreaking piece in the New York Review of Books entitled “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment.” (Incidentally, Beinart tweeted after our action, “Expect more of this.”) We are not willing to leave our Jewish and democratic values at the door, which means we must stand up and criticize Israeli policies.

The shift is also evident in blogger comments about the actions we took at the GA, which include remarks such as: “I think the use of force in this instance against people peaceably holding banners is more than a bit ridiculous.”  Rabbi Moshe Waldoks commented, “These protests would not have been necessary if the American Jewish leadership at the GA had created an open opportunity to ask the questions that need to be asked about the loyalty oath…”

A new website launched November 8, www.YoungJewishProud.org, presents our group’s Young Jewish Declaration, a compelling vision of collective identity, purpose and values written as an invitation and call to action for peers who care about Israel and Palestine. It is also a strong challenge to elders.  The declaration includes these words: “We are your children, your nieces and nephews, your grandchildren… We refuse to knowingly oppress others, and we refuse to oppress each other. We won’t be won over by free vacations and scholarship money. We won’t buy the logic that slaughter means safety. We will not quietly witness the violation of human rights in Palestine.” 

The actions are in part a protest of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Jewish Public Affairs Council (JCPA) newly announced $6 million dollar program to target campus, church, peace and human rights groups that are working to end Israel’s human rights violations through nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions pressure campaigns. The Federations and JCPA are calling this initiative the “Israel Action Network.”  Critics say it is a “Shoot the Messenger” approach.

We also announced the creation of a spoof Birthright Trip called Taglit-Lekulanu, Birthright for All, open to Palestinian and Jewish-Americans, which was followed up with a spoof denial. The goal of the spoof was to highlight the one-sided narrative that Birthright presents, the ways it renders Palestinians invisible. The rebuttal laid bare the problematic assumptions underlying Birthright trips, such as the emphasis on marrying Jews and procreating.  The spoof was picked up Tuesday, November 9 by Haaretz in a piece that sheds a glaring light on the Birthright agenda.

Perhaps the most inspiring voice of the day came from the youngest member of the JVP delegation, 17-year-old Hanna King, a freshman at Swarthmore College, who was quoted in the Jewish Daily Forward as saying, “I think I’m very much succeeding in practicing tikkun olam and derech eretz by standing up for the rights for all people.  It such hypocrisy for these Jewish leaders that I grew up learning to say that, you know, that the Holocaust was a tragedy but what we’re doing to [the Palestinians] is fine.”  In an article in Haaretz, King continued to say, “We believe that the actions that Israel is taking, like settlements, like the occupation, like the loyalty oath, are contrary to the Jewish values that we learnt in Jewish day school.  This is not Tikkun Olam. Oppressing people in refugee camps is not Tikkun Olam. And it is a hypocrisy that I cannot abide.  We must be tough on all countries that abuse human rights but I care about Israel because for me it’s personal. “

Rae Abileah is a 28-year-old Jewish-American of Israeli descent and is a national organizer with CODEPINK Women for Peace and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.  She lives in San Francisco, CA and can be reached at 
[email protected]

Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

{ 58 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Oscar says:

    Great effort, Rae, what an amazing and courageous group of people you represent. The message was more than a ripple, it was an earth-shattering reminder that Jewish values are at stake. The cowardly Jeff Shapira (who put a choke-hold on a female member of the group) should be prosecuted by the New Orleans police department for assault and battery.

    PS — Can someone confirm that the Matthew Taylor of YoungProudJewish.org is the same Matthew Taylor that blogs here on Mondoweiss?
    link to mondoweiss.net

    • Yup, it’s the same Matthew.

    • bangpound says:

      If it’s the same Jeff Shapiro, google “jeff shapiro san antonio” reveals that he teaches 7th graders at Temple Beth-El and is the chair of the Federation’s San Antonio Association for Jewish Education.

    • Kathleen says:

      Matthew looked as if he took a thumping. Hope they take these thugs into the court room. Clearly they were non violent protesters. Heard Emily keep saying something like “I am non violent”

      The police did not look abusive, but the participants who jumped Rae and Matthews bones sure looked violent.

      Rae could you compare the way Code Pink protesters are politely escorted out of hearings in D.C. compared to the treatment in New Orleans. Can you imagine people in the hearings that are disrupted by Code Pink jumping up and putting a neck hold on one of the protesters? Or knocking one of the protesters to the ground?

      • annie says:

        notice how the press and blogs jumped on that guard of rand paul’s when he tackled the protesters vs a choke hold on rae? hmm.

  2. Sadly,
    Their good and measured message was upended by their chosen method of delivering it.

    What do you think was heard? The content?

    • MarkF says:

      The delivery might have been a little rough, but it made Israeli news. I think that’s HUGE. Most Israelis still believe that our community supports them and their policies unconditionally. I would think this is at the very least a wake up call.

      So to answer, I think the Israelis heard that we are not the same group of lockstep lackies we’ve been for a long time, and that this cannot be dismissed as a buch of anti semites raging against the Jews and we do NOT agree and support the current policies.

    • I knew you were going to say that (not a critique, Richard).
      You are privileging form over content, thinking that people won’t be receptive to certain ideas or movements if their appearance is disagreeable.
      One thing this event/skirmish/assault achieved was to make you post a comment.
      Another was to create something that would not have happened otherwise, and, regardless of how some at the event thought it distasteful, will have sparked some thought in peoples’ heads : “Why would they do this? Maybe there’s something to what they are saying, let’s examine it further…”
      I have a lot of respect for the CODEPINK people, for example, as they are often thought of romantic, naive crusaders and party crashers – but in reality, much of the rest of the world is often secretly waiting for these types of movements to do the work for them, and reap the benefits afterwards (as “responsible” people do – a pretty irresponsible position if you ask me – I’m not disqualifying myself from this, by the way)

      • Bart says:

        Wow lareineblanche, wow.

        So you think when folks like these Five or the CODEPINKers act like “utter nutters” in public it causes the rest to wonder “Why would they do this?” and “examine the situation further”? Come on, you dont really believe that, surely.

        Consider 9/11. What did MOST americans do in response? “Examine further”? Or gear up for war/revenge?

        CODEPINK is a far outside the norm fringe group. It will never be anything else. In fact most Americans are waiting on the TEA PARTY to do the work for them, and the TP is well on its way.

      • Kathleen says:

        The occupation is “distasteful” and criminal. Not some protesters

    • Colin Murray says:

      Who else has any illusions that their content would have been heard by so many any other way? “Their chosen method of delivering it …” has made it an international news story.

      I’m sure not all the attendees are pro-ethnic cleansing/pro-colonization extremists, but many are and the best that can be done with them is to make them understand that they are opposed and will continue to be opposed by good people.

      Extremists must understand that they will pay a price for their choice of misbehavior, even if only in embarrassment and social ostracization. Oscar in a preceding post identifies an excellent place to start.

      The cowardly Jeff Shapiro (who put a choke-hold on a female member of the group) should be prosecuted by the New Orleans police department for assault and battery.

      Anyone want to bet on how long a non-Zionist teacher at any school in the US public or private would be employed after grabbing an unarmed and peaceful Zionist woman “from behind and putting her in a choke hold, [and] dragging her backwards towards the floor?” We are about to see America’s dual-tier Zionist/non-Zionist system of justice in (in)action, i.e. we will no be seeing Shapiro in the dock for assault and battery even though his violent crime was recorded on video and witnessed by a dozen people.

      • marc b. says:

        Who else has any illusions that their content would have been heard by so many any other way?

        or heard at all? it’s not as if they turned down an offer to speak on ‘macneil/lehrer’ if favor of this avenue of broadcasting their opinions. the point is that the dominant perspective in the media smothers dissent, so people have to get creative.

    • What was heard Witty was the crazy violent Zionists’ reaction to the message. The audience was not the Jewish organization, but rather the good ‘ole US of A. Word is spreading/ice is melting/tide turning/wind shifting – whatever you want to call it.

      The reaction was the most telling. Shapiro should be ashamed of himself and owes that woman an apology – were he a real man he would have defended her from the other crazies. At least that’s how I was raised.

      From being bewildered and confused on 9/11, I (and others) now stand more and more firmly and with more confidence with each passing day. Each action of Israel and its so-called supporters that confirms my suspicion that ‘there’s something rotten in Denmark’ and only serves to strengthen my resolve to see justice done and all humans involved treated with dignity and respect. Even staunch pro-Israeli Holocaust-guilt ridden good Christian folk are seeing the light. One can speak about IP and ‘the linkage’ and still be considered mainstream. We’ve come much further than I ever thought we would in the past nine years.

      It’s hard work isn’t it Witty? Defending the indefensible? What happened to you? You are stuck in some intellectual loop – have you tried therapy?

      End Rant.

      • Mooser says:

        “What was heard Witty was the crazy violent Zionists’ reaction to the message.”

        And that’s what scares Witty. And of course he would reply that is the protestor’s obligation as Jews to do nothing that might make those Zionists look like the people they are.

        Which fits in with his constant contention that any progress or help for the Palestinians will result in firther atrocities by the Israelis, and therefore nobody should help the Palestinians if they really care about them.

        Zionism is more important than Jews, more important than Judaism, and more important than justice, morality or ethics. Hmm, there’s a name for that type political; thinking, but I can’t quite come up with it. It’s right on the tip of my tongue Fust-clessism? Fastimesism? Let me think about it….

        • LeaNder says:

          It’s right on the tip of my tongue Fust-clessism? Fastimesism? Let me think about it….

          please do, I hope I won’t miss it! Always interested in the latest Mooserian ephipany.

          With very, very few exceptions what strikes me most is what feels like a very rigid thought system. Something that seems to be the causa movens, the moving force behind his misunderstandings, prejudices and complaints, and generalizations e.g. his editorial complaints. Fastimesism? Wish I would understand what your are trying to express here.

          Fust-clessism? Leaders and Sheep?

          But before I encountered the word icons above, the rigid thought system was immediately followed by messianic imagery. You know the enlightened (polite) leader of the sheep. He not only constantly calls for leaders – if only the Palestinians had one, but I guess here in the comment sections he tries to reach that role model himself. He is constantly trying to guide the sheep.

          To use a slightly mythical metaphor: trying to imprint Moses like footsteps to follow in the quicksands of the comment section of Mondoweiss.

      • Bumblebye says:

        “wind shifting”
        The fresh breeze of youth vs the gaseous old fa*ts!

    • Kathleen says:

      “What do you think was heard? The content?

      Their message was strong, clear, truthful.
      “Israel’s actions deligtimize Israel”
      “The Settlements Delegitimize Israel
      The Occupation Delegitimizes Israel
      The Siege of Gaza Delegitimizes Israel
      The Loyalty Oath Delegitimizes Israel
      Silencing Dissent Delegitimizes Israel”

    • Avi says:

      Richard Witty November 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      Sadly,
      Their good and measured message was upended by their chosen method of delivering it.

      What do you think was heard? The content?

      The Iraqi journalist, Mr. Al-Zaidi, who threw a shoe at Bush, the war criminal, was hailed throughout the world for his brave and symbolic act. His actions were later imitated by Americans who lost their homes at the hands of corrupt CEOs.

      The contents of the shoe were not important, but the symbolic message was a resounding, “No”.

      The problem is that you read the Torah and assume it’s all literal in meaning. That’s why you cling onto such antiquated ideas that have no bearing on the 21st century.

  3. yourstruly says:

    Sunset On The Zionist Entity

    and the coming dawn?

    Palestine reborn

  4. kapok says:

    Very encouraging. When I first began to notice discrepancies between Zionist theory and practice, in the ‘Net’s early days, it was indeed a lonely planet.

  5. syvanen says:

    I remember the attitude of the white street in the US before and during MLKs march from Selma to Birmingham. This was in the north, well outside the south. MLK made people mad. It was only a few radicals here and there that embraced what he was doing. He was criticized for breaking the law, for being disruptive, for not sitting down and talking nicey, nicey with the white power structure, and so on. Something changed after the images of the Bull Conner and the police dogs went national.

    It is so ironic that RW keeps on bragging about his years as a radical in the early sixties without realizing for an instant that he would, today, be allied with those southern and northern “liberals” who decried MLK’s disruptiveness.

  6. Citizen says:

    The internet is too big, too wide for the old farts to handle; they can’t get anything they want there just by tossing bags of money at it, as they can in Washingon DC. Here’s a savvy panel that lays out the situation–at least check out the second video, Part II: link to thejerusalemfund.org
    PS: Richard Witty, our resident American born and bred “liberal zionist,” should pay special attention to what the the former AIPAC officer on the panel says.

  7. MRW says:

    The chutzpah of the tone-deaf and ignorant:

    Israeli Envoy Demands US Jews Defend Israel
    Insists American Jews Must Condemn Goldstone Report

    Speaking today at the Jewish Federations General Assembly, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren chided America’s Jewish population, insisting they were obligated to publicly defend Israel’s military offensives and attack opposition to them.

    I think it is fair for Israel to expect the American Jewish community to uphold our right to self-defense,” Insisted Oren, adding that “Israel expects American Jews to fight the Goldstone report,”“I think it is fair for Israel to expect the American Jewish community to uphold our right to self-defense,” Insisted Oren, adding that “Israel expects American Jews to fight the Goldstone report,” a UN report which chided Israel for war crimes committed during the 2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip.

    Israel’s increasingly far-right government has alienated a large portion of the world with its policies, and Israeli media outlets have regularly expressed concern about the growing disconnect between the overseas Jewish population and the Israeli government officials who see themselves as their representatives on the world stage.

    Oren appeared to acknowledge the disconnect, while insisting that US Jews should feel obliged to “respect the will of the people who bear the greatest consequences of their government’s [Emphasis mine. This is the US Jews' Government?] decisions – even if you disagree with us.”

    The comments point to a reality however in which Israel’s policies are not palatable to many, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing accusations from a Jewish conference that his government “delegitimizes Israel.” Ambassador Oren appears to have no response except an appeal to knee-jerk loyalty to Israeli policy, an appeal which appears to be ringing more hollow by the day.

  8. MRW says:

    Congratulations to the Bibi-5!

  9. BDS now says:

    Bravo! It took real courage to stand up for justice in that crowd.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Congratulations Rae. Hope all of you are fine.

    I keep reminding folks who have joined this growing movement the last five years to watch out for their egos. Can be dangerous. Important to acknowledge all of the people who have been working so hard on this issue for decades. So important to keep that fact in your view.

    While it is exciting to see young Jewish individuals getting deeply involved over the last five years or so. And congratulating, encouraging their ongoing efforts. The danger can be that some newly involved folks will often try to pretend that public actions began and end with them. I have seen this happen in numerous movements over the years. Arrogance and egos can get carried away. Instead of staying focused on the message, the facts, and honoring all of the Palestinian Gandhi’s that are in prison, Edward Said, Arch Bishop Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Vanessa Redgrave, Norman Finkelstein Art and Peggy Gish and all of those who have been trying to knock down the wall of silence on these critical issues for decades.

    So important to remind yourselves and others that you are following a long line of activist who have been focusing on this critical issue for decades. You guys are taking it up a notch. An important notch

  11. James North says:

    I salute the young demonstrators for their tremendous courage, both moral and physical. I also salute them for making a persuasive argument for disruption. As they say above,
    “When the traditional routes of civic engagement fail us, we turn to nonviolent direct action, and the time-honored tactics that secured women the right to vote, an eight-hour day for workers, and civil rights protections for people of color.”

  12. Kathleen says:

    Rae “The crowd had grown increasingly hostile with each disruption, and I was instantly attacked from all sides. A man in the row in front of me pulled the El Al seat cover off his chair and tried to gag me with it. Another man came up from the side and grabbed me by the throat. I fell into a pile of chairs until two female sheriffs buoyed me up and hustled me out of the room. The police later confided that they were trying to protect me from the angry mob and get me out of there in one piece.”

    Hope you are all right. Looked violent. Thought you were a Code Pinker. Same style of protest…very effective. Just wished you folks had had some type of microphones. So incredible, so effective, so brave, so honest.

    You folks nailed it “Israel has deligitimized Israel”

  13. Shingo says:

    “What were they against?” one Israeli journalist in the audience asked rhetorically. “The loyalty oath? The occupation? Gaza? Most Jews would agree with them.”

    Mot Jews but not liberal Zionists,

  14. Kathleen says:

    Go Hanna “Perhaps the most inspiring voice of the day came from the youngest member of the JVP delegation, 17-year-old Hanna King, a freshman at Swarthmore College, who was quoted in the Jewish Daily Forward as saying, “I think I’m very much succeeding in practicing tikkun olam and derech eretz by standing up for the rights for all people. It such hypocrisy for these Jewish leaders that I grew up learning to say that, you know, that the Holocaust was a tragedy but what we’re doing to [the Palestinians] is fine.” In an article in Haaretz, King continued to say, “We believe that the actions that Israel is taking, like settlements, like the occupation, like the loyalty oath, are contrary to the Jewish values that we learnt in Jewish day school. This is not Tikkun Olam. Oppressing people in refugee camps is not Tikkun Olam. And it is a hypocrisy that I cannot abide. We must be tough on all countries that abuse human rights but I care about Israel because for me it’s personal. “

  15. Shingo says:

    “Incidentally, Beinart tweeted after our action, “Expect more of this.””

    This is frightens the Liberal Zionists more than anything else.

  16. Well done, now just watch the Zionist hate machine crank up the hasbara. Newspapers and TV stations will be informed of the dubious credentials of the young protestors – personal attacks, smears, rumours will suddenly appear as that good old Zionist tactic is wheeled out – delegitimisation of those who protest. Come to think of it, how Freudian is it to project on to others what you detest in yourself? The netanyahoo Klan is destroying everything Israel was supposed to represent, and blaming everybody else for it. Look in the mirror.

  17. Kathleen says:

    Rae, Emily, Eitan, Matthew, Matan. Check out this gathering in Florida.

    Crazy ass and radical Islamaphobe Pam Geller receiving an award for her hate mongering
    Annie Taylor Award for Courage 2010 Goes to…… Pamela Geller

    The Annie Taylor Award for Courage from the David Horowitz Freedom Center is awarded annually to people who have demonstrated unusual courage in adverse conditions and great danger.

    I am deeply honored and humbled to be one of this year’s recipients of the award. My hero, Oriana Fallaci, is a previous recipient of this honor. I attended that historic evening on November 30, 2005. She was honored for “the heroism and the values” that rendered her “a symbol of the fight against Islamic fascism and a knight of the freedom of humankind.”

    I join a small but illustrious group of Annie Taylor Award winners that includes legend Rush Limbaugh, author Ann Coulter, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, civil rights leader Ward Connerly, human rights activist Armando Vallederes, Georgia Democrat Senator Zell Miller, film director Cyrus Nowrasteh, Swift Boat veteran John O’Neill, Iranian dissident Amir Abbas Fakhravar, activist Phyllis Schlafly, et al….

    I am overwhelmed.

    It is an important gathering. Should you wish to join us, go here.

    The David Horowitz Freedom Center will be holding its Restoration Weekend November 18 – 21, 2010 at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. Prominent authorities and political figures will enlighten audiences at this important annual event.

    The Center will be celebrating the sixteenth anniversary of this event. The Weekend activities begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday the 18th and conclude at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday the 21st.

    We are excited to announce that among the confirmed speakers are:

    Newt Gingrich, David Horowitz, Liz Cheney, Ann Coulter, Andrew Klavan, Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney, Monica Crowley, John Yoo, Marc Thiessen, Michael Barone, Ralph Peters, Caroline Glick, Pastor John Hagee, Rob Pollock, Fred Barnes, Senator Jeff Sessions, Congressmen Ed Royce and Steven King, Emmett Tyrrell, Bill Gertz, Doug Schoen, Ron Radosh, Steven Moore, Arizona State Senators Russell Pearce and Thayer Verschoor, Mark Krikorian, S.E. Cupp, Lee Smith, General Paul Vallely, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Fred Barnes and Pat Caddell.
    link to atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com

  18. yourstruly says:

    Zionists objecting to the nonviolent tactuc that our young Jewish heroes used to disrupt Bibi’s speech? Wonder how they feel now about the Irgun’s blowing up the King David Hotel 64 years agol, a terrorist act, if ever there was one, which killed 91 people? Oh, that was OK because it happened in a Jewish war of independence, a type of war in which the end always justified the means? But young Jews disrupting a speech by the Israeli PM, that’s beyond the pale?

  19. Kathleen says:

    What are we going to call these five brave people? The Netanyahu 5 or 5YJP (YoungjewsProud) 5YJP.

    We need to keep repeating their clear, crisp, accurate message.
    Their message was strong, clear, truthful. “Israel’s actions delegitimize Israel”
    “The Settlements Delegitimize Israel
    The Occupation Delegitimizes Israel
    The Siege of Gaza Delegitimizes Israel
    The Loyalty Oath Delegitimizes Israel
    Silencing Dissent Delegitimizes Israel”

  20. Kathleen says:

    But
    Israel Plans for More Settlements

    While Benjamin Netanyahu was touring the United States, the Israeli government unveiled plans to build more settlements in defiance of the international community. The latest plans call for more than 1,000 homes in East Jerusalem and 800 homes in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
    Netanyahu and Gates Weigh in on Iran

    Benjamin Netanyahu has also used his U.S. trip to push the Obama administration to consider carrying out a military strike against Iran.

    Benjamin Netanyahu: “The only time that Iran suspended its nuclear program was for a brief period during 2003, when the regime believed it faced a credible threat of military action against it. And the simple paradox is this: if the international community, led by the United States, hopes to stop Iran’s nuclear program without resorting to military action, it will have to convince Iran that it is prepared to take such action. ”

    Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has rejected Israel’s claim that military force is the only way to deter Iran.

    Robert Gates: “That said, we are convinced that non-military actions, including most significantly the most recent UN Security Council resolution and the individual countries’ approval of even more rigorous sanctions, including, I might say, Australia, is bringing pressure to bear on the Iranian government that is getting their attention. We know that they are concerned about the impact of the sanctions. The sanctions are biting more deeply than they anticipated. And we are working very hard at this.”

  21. The operative question is how to achieve the change that these protesters advocate. Their rhetoric indicates a belief in the legitimacy of Israel, if only Israel would stop certain policies. Getting into the news is a first step. But only a small first step. The current situation does not offer many alternatives to those who wish to achieve the desired change.

    • Shingo says:

      “The operative question is how to achieve the change that these protesters advocate. ”

      The answer would be to avoid what has failed before. Israel has demonstrated that they do not respond to gentle coercion. logic or reason, so more forceful leans are required.

      I do like how you refer to the “current situation” in a vain attempt to absolve Israel of culpability.

  22. Sin Nombre says:

    It seems to me that while one can admire the … chutzpah of these young people, that doesn’t mean that everything they said is beyond critical examination. And for me again one thing that the author of this comment herself essentially said (via the message on her banner) struck me as particularly interesting:

    That is, her banner saying ““The settlements betray Jewish values” can strike one as just a bit self-congratulatory if not in fact insulting to non-jews. And in fact this is the kind of thing that I as a non-jew seem to see all the time: What appears to be the belief amongst some (shared by some non-jews too it seems to be sure) that there’s a rock somewhere on which God has inscribed and instructed the world that firstly there even *is* such a thing as “Jewish values,” and that secondly as such a discrete thing they are just naturally somehow superior to other peoples’.

    After all and in the first instance, one would rightly be accused of anti-semitism to say that “jewish values” include chicanery based on the actions of this or that individual jewish person. And yet … generalizing the *opposite* way—that all jews have some incredibly high-minded values—well that’s okay it seems. Proudly waved indeed.

    Now I understand that the young woman with that banner writing this comment may well not really believe this—she may have just used that message to “get to” that particular audience she unfurled her banner in front of. And thus this post of mine doesn’t really intend to indict her. But, nevertheless, from the incredibly frequency with which I’ve seen that banner’s sentiment elsewhere and in other very different contexts I think many people *do* believe this and again I think it can rise to the level of being insulting and ought to be called out.

    Moreover, not only is there that question of whether one can legitimately talk about there being such a thing as “jewish values,” even if one accepts that there are it strikes me as being an additional act of chutzpah to just automatically assert that they are in any way superior to others. For instance I would tend to bet that, say, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is far more deeply and lengthily steeped in jewish learning than the young lady who waved this banner. And yet he of course is the guy who not only just got done saying that all goyim exist solely to serve jews, but who just months ago called for the actual genocide of the Palestinians. And Professor Israel Shahak has extensively documented what, at one time at least, seems to have been the simply incredibly tribal-centric nature of judaism so that, for further instance, it was considered no sin at all if not indeed a virtue to cheat non-jews, or to kill them or etc. and so forth. (With what are at least echoes of this not infrequently being heard still today from other modern-day jewish authorities like Rabbi Yosef.) Or, one could perhaps cite even if far lesser in importance, the apparently chronic problem in Israel of Christians being routinely spat upon by observant jews.

    Lastly, it might be observed, there’s perhaps at least a molecule of humor involved in what happened to this banner-wielding young lady herself in this substantive “values” department: After all there she was, standing with her banner proclaiming that the values of the people in that auditorium were really oh-so liberal and broad and … what happened? The people in that auditorium instantly and it can appear even viscerally tried to actually strangle her, and otherwise physically set upon her so that she had to be forcibly rescued from obvious serious harm if not worse. And one of the audience members thereupon further displayed the nature of their liberality by actually ripping at her banner with his bloody teeth.

    So, I at least say, please God spare me the condescension of lecturing me about “jewish values.” Especially now not only in light of what Israel is clearly doing with the widespread support of its jewish citizens to non-jews, but also quite frankly given the immense vituperation that has been heaped in this country over the last few decades on so-called “Christian” values. (Perhaps nowhere better seen than the kind of abuse directed at those who link their Christianity to their abhorrence of abortion even though nobody, no matter what their stance on the issue, takes issue that the taking of innocent unborn human life—with no euphemism even disputing that it *is* human and that it *is* life at the very least—is or ought to be a very grave matter.)

    Please God spare me.

    • homingpigeon says:

      If Jewish people disrupting a Jewish conference refer to “Jewish values” I am more grateful to them than annoyed with that particular rhetorical device. However the point Sin Nombre brings up is very valid when people criticize a particular US atrocity and then claim it is “un-American” as though torture, genocide and war crimes in general are alien to American history and values. Same with when people talk about something being “inhuman.” We are savage beasts, a failing species, despite the best efforts of a few good people.

  23. Shmuel says:

    SN,

    I see nothing wrong or insulting in a Jew pointing out to other Jews that they are betraying the best values of our tradition. That is not to say that Jewish values are better than (or even different from) any other values, or that all Jewish “values” are good.

    Israel Shahak was a very good man and a true humanist. His work on chauvinism in Jewish tradition however, sorely lacks historical context and perspective, and so offers an extremely distorted and simplistic view of Jewish attitudes to non-Jews in many different societies, over the course of millennia.

    • Sin Nombre says:

      Aw, c’mon Shmuel, are you really contending that that banner really said “The settlements betray our (possibly crappy) jewish values?”

      Again I don’t want to indict the young lady who held up that banner too much (or indeed at all) since, as I said, in her case it may well have been just to “get to” her audience. But, like I also said, I see in so many other contexts the same self-congratulatory talk about “jewish values” that it’s just nonsense to say that those who speak that way aren’t asserting that those values are superior. And that is insulting. (And I think I’m being quite reasonable here in not indicting this particular young woman since, after all, damn near *all* of the rest of the world’s values could have been cited as being violated by the settlements, with her still then just choosing to talk about “jewish” ones which, of course, at least somewhat implies that they matter the most, if not solely.

      As to your comments regarding Shahak, I’ll bow to what seems your deeper understanding of him. But, however, that still begs the question: Where does Rabbi Yousef’s views come from if not from Shahak’s explanation? Where does the spitting on Christians come from? Where does that one settlement rabbi—who, as I understand it, is recognized as “the” settler’s rabbi—come from who, not long ago, said something to the effect that a thousand or a million arabs are not “worth one jewish fingernail”? Where does that official IDF rabbi come from who, during the Gaza invasion, was saying that “mercy” was not a jewish value?

      I just can’t bring myself to care anymore about not offending the delicate sensibilities of some of these “jewish values”-folks anymore, Shmuel. I have no problem with cultural or ethnic pride such as you seem to possess. Indeed I find it admirable. But, damnit, when it comes to talking not just about cultural or ethnic beliefs or traditions but instead of such supposedly awesome “values,” it *is* insulting to the rest of us the way so many talk so often.

      • Shmuel says:

        SN,

        To use a terminological anachronism, Judaism has always had progressive and reactionary elements. The influences and impulses that have affected both of these tendencies have come both from within and from without, generally naturalising “foreign” ideas and translating them into Jewish idiom. Obviously, interaction with other traditions and cultures has been essential to these processes (for better and for worse). Jews as individuals and communities have sometimes lived up to their own ideals, and sometimes they have not.

        In this sense, the “Bibi 5″ were indeed standing up for “Jewish values” (i.e. the best values of our time, as expressed and transmitted by and through Jewish tradition). There are certainly contexts in which talk of “Jewish values” may be offensive and even obscene, but I don’t see this as one of them. “Jewish values” does not necessarily mean “as opposed to non-Jewish values”.

        Minority contemporary Orthodoxy (or neo-Orthodoxy or Modern Orthodoxy) is neither a final nor a particularly “authentic” arbiter of Jewish values. It too is selective in its understanding and interpretation of Jewish tradition and experience, and it too is a product of time and place. The rabbis you mention are less “liberal” in many ways than many of their pre-modern counterparts – both in Europe and the Arab world – and certainly out of touch with the developments and changes Judaism has undergone over the past three centuries or so (to use a somewhat arbitrary and Eurocentric frame of reference). To take the example of Ovadiah Yossef, he represents a certain ultra-conservative (and by no means representative) tendency within Middle-Eastern Judaism, combined with the effects of decades of Zionist isolation and supremacism, contact and/or “competition” with Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodoxy, political/ideological trends within Israeli society as a whole (secular and religious), and his own brand of political populism, as embodied by the Shas movement. The Ovadiah Yosef of today does not even represent many of the values espoused by the Ovadiah Yosef of 20 years ago.

        I don’t think you are offending anyone’s sensibilities (certainly not mine). I just think you’re wrong ;-)

        • Sin Nombre says:

          In response to my post Shmuel wrote:

          “I don’t think you are offending anyone’s sensibilities (certainly not mine). I just think you’re wrong ;-)”

          Well, it won’t be the first time!
          Gotta say you make some points, Shmuel, that oughta have been made in response to my perspective, so thanks. (Indeed I like your posts in general too; always smart, always informed.)

        • Shmuel says:

          Thanks for the compliment and the exchange, SN. Remind me some time to comment on the spitting thing (maybe on a less dead thread) – which in fact offers not a bad example of some of the dynamics I described.

  24. One of the reasons that I think the demonstrators failed to justify their disruption as a means, as it is not apparent to me that they undertook alternative means in any significant scope, instead of disrupting.

    Its not that they couldn’t convince. Its that they didn’t try in the scale and quality that is necessary to move this mountain.

    There are convincing reasons to urge Israel to change its policies, that were in the content of their slogans, the return to credibility, reason and justice.

    The appeal to conscience is important. “See how our actions affect our neighbors. We are here for a different purpose than this.”

    • annie says:

      obviously the demonstration did not fail richard. the whole point of demonstrations is to be heard, and they were heard. you thinking it failed means nothing in the face of all this publicity.

      The appeal to conscience is important

      exactly, that’s why rae’s banner is the most powerful message, for the opposition that is.

    • Shingo says:

      Indeed Witty, I’m sure that your approval is of uptmost importance to the protesters. Of course, if you’d read Matthew Taylor’s comments on Sale’s web site, you would have know that “As far as persuading people in the room — this was a secondary goal. ”

      And another commenter stated that:
      “. While Ben Sales agonizes over the propriety of upsetting the representatives of established Jewish organization gathered at the GA, Netanyahu’s gov’t is proposing a racist loyalty oath, settlers are desecrating mosques, IDF soldiers are kicking down the doors of non-violent activists in midnight raids, homes are being demolished, olive trees are being uprooted, and Israeli police, military and other security forces are doing dry runs exercises in anticipation of riots arising from moves by Israel to forcibly “transfer” Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

      But your concernes begin and end with the feelings and emotions of Israelis and Jewish supporters of ISrael. The Palestinians are of no cocern to you.

      It’s obvious they couldn’t convince anyone in the room. The psychotic rabbi who was tearing the banner with his teeth is never going to be open tobeing convinced, and neither are you frankly.

      “The appeal to conscience is important. “See how our actions affect our neighbors. We are here for a different purpose than this.”

      I have come to the conclusion that you have lost your mind. IDF soldiers or F16 pilots who kill Palestinian families or bomb cimmunities stopped questioning hwo their actions were affect their neighbors from when they were indoctrinated to hate.

      You never fail to deliver the most pathetic and lame brained arguments Witty.

      At least youre consistent.

  25. annie says:

    stunning rae, simply stunning. and i love your article here. can i use it w/permission and copy it elsewhere please?

    you are a jewel. a leader now and a leader of the future. the jewish community is privileged to call you their own. we’re all privileged to have you amongst us. you make my world a better place. all of you make me so proud. run for office, here or in israel…we need more leaders like you. a very bright future w/your courage and conviction. you all give me much hope for our future.

    i loved this line from the forward

    “We are often far [more] concerned with being polite and being politically correct and being nice than we are with human rights, dignity, justice, and international law”

    • annie says:

      whoops! that quote wasn’t complete

      “We are often far [more] concerned with being polite and being politically correct and being nice than we are with human rights, dignity, justice, and international law,”Abileah said later in an interview.