Some things just didn’t make sense

on 56 Comments

I grew up in the womb of the Jewish Community of Washington, D.C, studied at our Hebrew Academy (a school that my grandfather helped found), and worshiped at the Beth Shalom Orthodox Jewish synagogue. After marrying, I travelled to visit family in Israel. On one trip, I had the pleasure of seeing one of the Israeli national forests that held trees that I had helped to plant with the coins I collected in my youth. Looking out from atop a tree-covered hill, I remember experiencing a feeling of pride in Israel military power while catching the sounds of Israeli fighter jets passing though the valley below.

My understanding of Israel evolved. On one of the trips to Israel, my uncle, proud of Israel’s many accomplishments, drove us to see diverse different parts of the country, including the swamps that were drained and the forests that were planted. In none of those places did we see any sign of places where Palestinians used to live. “That’s odd,” I wondered. “How do I reconcile us reclaiming a land of empty swamps and deserts and making them bloom with the fact that 700,000 Palestinians had become refugees? Where had these people lived?” Something just didn’t seem to fit. If the land had been empty swamps and deserts, how did 700,000 people become refugees?

In trying to learn more about Muslims, I took a course on Islam that presented the Muslim perspective of what Islam was like. Boy, was it different from the perspective learned from my teachers/rabbis and the U.S. media! The course made the basic tenets of Islam sound altogether similar to those of Judaism that I studied in Hebrew school: devotion to one God, giving charity, acting in humble, respectful ways that bring honor to one’s faith, and treating others as we would be treated. I began to wonder if our perceptions of Arabs were misperceptions.

As I studied the history of Israel, I learned disturbing things that did not fit at all with the things I had been taught. I had been taught things like, “Arabs started all the wars,” and “Jews never terrorized anyone.” I was very surprised to find that these fundamental facts of Jewish history were flatly wrong, that Israel, in collusion with England and France, started the 1957 war, and that there were organized Jewish terrorist groups—the Irgun and the Stern Gang. These organizations were recognized as terrorists by other Jewish organizations of their day. According to Israeli historians, the Jewish terrorist groups had perpetrated the first bombings of buses and civilian markets in Palestine (only much later did I appreciate the irony in the claim that we can’t negotiate with terrorists, knowing that leaders of the Irgun and Stern Gang had been elected Prime Ministers of Israel).

At least we Jews didn’t commit atrocities. Well, I found out we did one time, in a place called Deir Yassin. Later though, I learned that it wasn’t just Deir Yassin; Israeli historians documented that we Jews had expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children from their homes, whole villages of people, before any Arab army declared war on the nascent Jewish state. I no longer found this surprising. Having learned that so many of the other “historical facts” I had been taught weren’t true, learning that there had been expulsions didn’t seem surprising. Indeed, the expulsions—committed by horribly persecuted European Jews desperate for a country of their own— seemed to make a whole lot more sense than what I had been taught: that “Arabs fled their villages in order to make it easier for the Arab armies to kill Jews.” When I think of that now, it never really made much sense, as up until about 1920, there were hundreds of thousands of Muslim and Christian Arabs in Palestine, living in peace alongside thousands of Jews. If Arabs had wanted to “throw the Jews into the sea,” it seems they could have done it long before 1948. Any remaining seeds of doubt were dispelled by learning that there were Haganah war plans—in writing in the IDF archives!—that called for, “Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris)” and “the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.” 

I was left with a new appreciation of the Israel/Palestine conflict, no longer thinking of “the founding of the Jewish State” but always thinking of “the founding of the Jewish State at the expense of the non-Jewish families who were already living there.” We used to be so proud in hearing that our heroic soldiers killed 20 of theirs for every one we lost because we cared so much for human life. Now I realize that killing 20 of them for each one of ours, or imprisoning hundreds or thousands, shows nothing about our regard for human life./ I’ve begun to consider how the world looks both to us, and to them. Yes, we are horrified when a Gilad Shalit is taken prisoner. But now I feel the same pain for each and every Palestinian who is taken prisoner. We know the pain when the people of Sderot are terrorized; I feel the same pain for the terror suffered by our brothers and sisters in Gaza. I still feel the pain knowing that Jews were killed in the Hebron massacre of 1929, but now I also realize that over 800 Muslims were killed in Palestine that year, and that the conflict was caused by colonialism and nationalism, not by anti-Semitism. The idea of Israeli democracy and equal treatment was lost, too. I read the writings of Palestinian Christian families, Israeli citizens, who were displaced from their homes and not allowed to return to those homes after the 1948 war was over, even though the families were still living in Israel. A Jewish person from Minneapolis can go live in the homes of those families, but not the Israeli Christian family who had been expelled. And those trees I had helped to plant? They had been planted over the remains of Palestinian families’ homes and villages. I don’t have the same sense of pride in those trees anymore.

I hear my Israeli relatives talk of Arabs as though they were animals. Having grown up in the Jewish community, I used to think that way, too. I understand that thinking, knowing that we’ve seen Arab terrorism and that my Israeli family members have probably lost close friends to it. Still, I know that we commit most of the killing. I’m left with the same sick feeling upon hearing Arabs called animals as when I heard Blacks called animals back in a less enlightened time in Washington, DC.

My sense of Jewish morality remains as strong as ever. The lessons in Torah tell me that the expulsions of Palestinian families from their homes and villages were not in keeping with Jewish values. Yes, we Jews must have peace and security, but peace and security can’t come from mistreating other people. Peace and security will come when we realize that what we did was not in keeping with our Jewish standards, when we treat our Muslim and Christian brothers as we would ourselves be treated, and when we tear down the walls and invite Palestinians to return to their homes and villages to live in peace together.

Feldman is author of A Jewish American’s Evolving View of Israel published by the American Council for Judaism (and Compartments: How the Brightest, Best Trained, and Most Caring People Can Make Judgments That are Completely and Utterly Wrong.

56 Responses

  1. annie
    December 1, 2010, 12:47 pm

    thank you steve. i appreciate hearing the story of your evolution thru the minefield of false perceptions.

  2. Avi
    December 1, 2010, 1:06 pm

    This is the kind of intellectual and exploratory journey on which every American Jew and every European Jew must embark. Children are told of the Tooth Fairy, Santa and Aquaman, but eventually they reach puberty and grow up.

    That’s the same ‘growing up’ process that which Jews throughout the world must undergo, especially those in the US.

  3. Mooser
    December 1, 2010, 2:18 pm

    “That’s the same ‘growing up’ process that which Jews throughout the world must undergo”

    Oh, they do Avi, they do. And the first thing they learn is which side their bread is buttered on, and what to keep their mouths shut about.
    Or, they cease to identify as Jews, although not necessarily denying they are Jewish. I know lot’s of them. We are after all, just people.
    Don’t you see, Avi? Since there is no way, in America to tell who is Jewish unless they say so, it’s a perfect scheme for Jewish leaders: There is never any accounting for all the Jews who are not in accord with the Jewish “community” or Jewish “leaders”, they simply cease to exist. And anybody who tried to make that kind of accounting would be damnned as anti-Semitic.

  4. Mooser
    December 1, 2010, 2:21 pm

    “Yes, we Jews must have peace and security”

    Yes, and expensive presents all 12 days of Hannukah.

  5. Mooser
    December 1, 2010, 2:24 pm

    Notice, at no time does Fledman even contemplate that their might be a price to be paid for the things the Zionists have done. Oh, he would like them to stop, sure, but he’s very realistic about that. Nope, they just need to treat people better.

    Dream on.

    • Mooser
      December 1, 2010, 2:28 pm

      “when we tear down the walls and invite Palestinians to return to their homes and villages to live in peace together.”

      Jesus, on this even Witty is more realistic. He knows (and is willing to say) what the Zionists will do in that situation.
      But then again, I’m sure a Star-of-David burns just as well as a cross.

      • eljay
        December 1, 2010, 2:49 pm

        >> Yes, we Jews must have peace and security, but peace and security can’t come from mistreating other people. Peace and security will come when we realize that what we did was not in keeping with our Jewish standards, when we treat our Muslim and Christian brothers as we would ourselves be treated, and when we tear down the walls and invite Palestinians to return to their homes and villages to live in peace together.

        1. Peace and security also require accountability for crimes, and restitution to the victims.
        2. Jews will invite Palestinians – their “Muslim and Christian brothers” – to live in peace…where? In “the Jewish state”?

      • Potsherd2
        December 1, 2010, 2:50 pm

        Now, Mooser, if we condemn the “realism” that condemns the Palestinians to refugee camps in perpetuity, we shouldn’t use realism to condemn an idealistic call for the right of return.

      • Light
        December 1, 2010, 3:54 pm

        Mooser, you are normally one of my favorite commenters on Mondoweiss. However, in this case, I don’t uderstand why you are jumping on Steve for acknowledging that what was done to the Palestinians was wrong and that Palestinians have the right of return.

      • kapok
        December 1, 2010, 4:35 pm

        Mooser has a point. Some things can’t be walked back to live-and-let-live.

      • Mooser
        December 1, 2010, 8:56 pm

        Exactly, kapok. So the Palestinians are supposed to, in a one state solution, live with those who have murdered and stolen from them with impunity? What are they supposed to do, come back and see how long it takes the same exact people to start forming active death squads.

        And there it is, and to me it’s the ultimate in contempt for the Palestinians. They are supposed to trust Israel based on good intentions? And without Israel taking any responsibility?
        It’s the ultimate in egotism and entitlement: Because Mr. Feldman has woken up to the situation, his good intentions make up for all that theft, all that murder?

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 1, 2010, 9:30 pm

        What’s your problem, Mooser? Have you tried Ex-Lax?

  6. Richard Witty
    December 1, 2010, 2:34 pm

    If you are honest in your search, you will find that in spite of your disillusionment at discovering that “storks don’t bring babies”, you will still regard the establishment of Israel as valid, important, progressive, and that there is a vibrant way to be Zionist and urge reform.

    Please also be aware of the potential of misrepresentation in the pendulum swing.

    For example, the West Bank was entirely ethnically cleansed of Jews following 1948 (a couple hundred remained in East Jerusalem). (Thats close to 100% removed, compared to 50% that left Israel and was not permitted to return.)

    • Saleema
      December 1, 2010, 3:05 pm


      You are so pretentious. How dare you tell Steve that he isn’t intelligent enough to form his own conclusions on Israel?

      I have an exam tomorrow on a comm class. I was poring over an ethical communicator. I couldn’t help but think of you. I hope you will pore over this and become the better wheel:

      As a communicator (everyone is a communicator) it’s your responsibility to be ethical to your audience. That means presenting information that is correct, relevant and appropriate. And ethical communication is respectful. Respects the intelligence of the audience. Speaks with compassion. An ethical communicator has to be trustworthy. He doesn’t omit, delete or take out of context any information.

      The credibility of the communicator is in the mind of the audience. The communicator should be trusthworthy. Trustworthy means to have a positive character.

      Above all, the golden rule is applied in communication. Do unto others….

      Most importantly, while communicating, you communicate your SELF-CONCEPT.

      Your self-concept comes across as very rigid, controlling–very bossy.


      • James North
        December 1, 2010, 9:07 pm

        Saleema: You are right, as always.

      • Richard Witty
        December 1, 2010, 9:53 pm

        The only thing that you are right about is that of attempting to silence a minority.

        The theme of “I found out that babies don’t come from storks” is a common one here. That is a summary of the “I used to believe in the simplistic myth and now I see that that is not perfectly accurate so I disbelieve EVERYTHING.

        It ain’t so. The reality is of conflict, of mutual brutality, or intended mutual ethnic cleansing over decades, all stimulated by something understandable, but not just.

        The pendulum swing. Pendulums look they should settle, but they don’t. It takes intervention, some effort to calm the momentum, for the pendulum swings to settle.

        The anger that is expressed here, the rejection of any Israel, your anger, exacerbates the pendulum.

        Don’t tell me that “noone has threatened Israel’s existence”. Certainly yours are words only, but others’ actions motivated by the words of some that are quoted here, are not only words.

      • Richard Witty
        December 1, 2010, 10:31 pm

        Is there some meaning of “urge reform” that you don’t understand?

        Only to a radical (I was going to say “hateful” radical) is the encouragement to work for reform not positive.

      • Sumud
        December 1, 2010, 11:44 pm

        Is there some meaning of “urge reform” that you don’t understand?

        The problem is, Richard, you NEVER get off the starting blocks.

        You’ve been clogging up the works @ Mondoweiss for four years, and still you haven’t managed to come up with a single useful suggestion or action anybody can take to bring about positive changes in Palestine and Israel. And, you tirelessly pillory, badger and criticise anybody who does.

        You prohibit violent resistance. You prohibit non-violent resistance. As I previously wrote, the subtext of this position is “just die Palestinians”. In your sick fantasy Palestinian self-determination is perpetually denied, they are to be sacrificed at the altar of a more important, more worthy people – your people. This will not do.

        Chris Hedges:

        The lesson of the holocaust is not that jews are special. It is not that jews are unique. It is not that jews are eternal victims. The lesson of the holocaust is that when you have the capacity to halt genocide and you do not, no matter who carries out that genocide or who it is directed against you are culpable.

      • Richard Witty
        December 2, 2010, 6:59 am

        I am not a dictator. I don’t prohibit anything.

        Again, dissent is communication. And that requires speaking in terms that can be heard.

        Dissent that ends up as primarily threat and particularly threats of isolation, do resemble pendulum swings of persecution rather than liberation and/or reconciliation.

        The invocation of “you liberals do not do enough” is partially a valid criticism.

        I personally am older, with family in college and otherwise requiring material support, dependant on dedicating my time to working, not to dissenting, so I will never be the individual to meet your or Chris’s “standard” of what is enough.

        The most that I will do is to bear witness to what I have seen, and to what I am confident of by study and discussion.

        In only very rare cases (none actually), has the assertions of Israel’s demon-status, of Zionism as a liability on the planet, been conveyed to me that is compelling.

        They have struck me as religious in the worst sense of demanding conformity and verbally violently, rather than taking on the responsibility to make the better argument.

        There are some appealing ideas within the single-state approach that are appealing on positive merit, but they are minimized by dissenters here and elsewhere, and proponents regard them as secondary to Palestinian resistance, which leadership is not so benign.

        I AM a supporter of genuinely non-violent dissent. I did applaud the Gaza flotillas as courageous (but prone to fanaticism given the danger of the form of the action), but warned that ANY diversion from disciplined non-violence would result in harms. And that bore out.

        I am a supporter of negotiation.

        I do think of Jewish Israelis as “my people”, and will not accept solutions or efforts that are motivated to harm them.

        You choose whether you are willing to harm in your dissent, and if you choose no, then actually take the time to grapple with your chosen means, and NOT to rationalize.

    • pjdude
      December 1, 2010, 3:26 pm

      whats progessive about founding a country through naked aggression hell the last time that happened in such a way was well over a thousand years prior it was neither valid nor progressive. Important i’ll give you the naked aggression against a peaceful people so one people could get there want while the world watched as international law was raped is an important event

    • Shingo
      December 1, 2010, 3:30 pm

      “Thats close to 100% removed, compared to 50% that left Israel and was not permitted to return”

      What a blatant lie. Jews were ethnically cleansed but 80% (not 50%) of Palestinians just “left”.

      Yuo givign advice on honest research is like the Hunchback of Notre Dame giving lessons on correct posture.

      • Richard Witty
        December 1, 2010, 9:56 pm

        You exagerate the implication of the word “left”. Some left from threat. Some left from wanting to stay away from potential danger. Some left from solidarity with invading armies.

        The event that created the permanence of the nakba were three laws passed by the knesset in 1950 and 51, prohibiting return, prohibiting defense of title in court, and annexing “abandoned” land.

        The 1948 nakba itself was temporary, for MANY like residents of ocean front property leaving the scene of a storm, but not permitted to return to their homes.

        Don’t misrepresent my views.

      • Shingo
        December 2, 2010, 7:03 am

        “You exagerate the implication of the word “left”. ”

        No, I just see through your phoney efforts to trvialize what was done to the Palestinians and dismiss it as an unfotunate events, as opposed to a crime. When you have a gun pointed at you, and you do as you are told, you are not leaving, you are beign forced to do somethign against your will.

        The permanence of the Nakba took palce in 1948, when Israel denied the return of th 750,000 it driove from their land. It wasn;t tempirary, it was the last time the refugees got to see their homes,

        Your views are repugnant, racist and extremist. There is no othwe way to present them.

    • The Hasbara Buster
      December 1, 2010, 5:31 pm

      For example, the West Bank was entirely ethnically cleansed of Jews following 1948 (a couple hundred remained in East Jerusalem). (Thats close to 100% removed, compared to 50% that left Israel and was not permitted to return.)

      Except that those Jews numbered fewer than 10,000. I.e., almost as many Jews were removed by Israel from Gaza as were expelled by Arabs from the West Bank.

      As for the Jews of Hebron (another favorite subject of yours), if you look at the list of the fewer than 70 that were killed, more than 90% were ashkenazim. They were recent immigrants, and the local Arab leaders gave strict orders (which, it is true, were not followed) that the Sephardim who had always lived there were spared.

      Also, the 500,000-750,000 Arabs who were expelled or fled from Israel didn’t constitute 50% of the Arab population. Just 140,000 Arabs remained: do your math.

      Thus, your analogy is utterly invalid. A few thousand, even if it’s 100% of a population, is not comparable to hundreds of thousands, even if it’s “just” 80% of another population. Numbers do matter.

      • Citizen
        December 1, 2010, 6:14 pm

        And Witty knows how much numbers matter. He’s an accountant. Hence, I agree with Saleema.

      • eee
        December 1, 2010, 6:25 pm

        Really, it is numbers that matter, not the principle? Very well, let’s wait for the 48 refugees to die from old age, and voila, problem solved!

      • Shingo
        December 1, 2010, 8:12 pm

        “Very well, let’s wait for the 48 refugees to die from old age, and voila, problem solved!”

        In your dreams.

        Of course, there is the issue of property rights. The refugees owned titles to land in Israel which will be inherited by their offspring – at least that’s what happens in real democracies.

      • pjdude
        December 1, 2010, 9:52 pm

        you’d lack that but thankfully there those that think of the the justice and empathy as virtues rather than vices

      • Richard Witty
        December 1, 2010, 10:04 pm

        citation, Hasbara Buster.

        The riots in Hebron were prosecuted on ALL Jews, and ALL were removed by force, including those that had “lived in peace and SECURITY” for milennia. Similarly in Safed.

        How many Jewish residents of Jerusalem were removed?

        I do NOT deny the intentional use of force and the laws to institutionalize the removal of non-Jews from some areas of Israel.

        It would be useful for you to recognize that the Arab communities and ideologs that chased Jews from their homes did so intentionally as well.

        The REALITY is that in 1949, the population of Israel was 60/40 Jewish/Arab. Due largely to migration, the population went to 82/18 and is now 79/21. The Arab community is a minority, and there are very few in many parts of Israel, but to say that they were ethnically cleansed from Israel is an exageration. Whereas, it is NOT a falsehood to state that Jews were ethnically cleansed from the West Bank.

        If you want justice, work for justice, and not just self-opportunistic rumor.

      • The Hasbara Buster
        December 2, 2010, 6:48 am

        Witty, it’s rich that you ask for a citation when you haven’t been able to provide a link in the many cases in which you have been asked to (e.g. with regard to Finkelstein’s assertions re the legal force of General Assembly resolutions).

        But I’d like to point out what your mistake is re the percentage of Arabs who fled. The 140,000 or so who remained in Israel were 50% of those who lived in the original Jewish state, not in the whole area finally taken over by the Jews. By the end of the war, Israel had almost doubled its size, and most of the Arab refugees came from new the lands conquered by the Jews.

        Your assertion re ethnic cleansing is simply a rhetorical game. You say Arabs were not ethnically cleansed from the whole of Israel. Agreed, but I don’t think anyone has claimed as much. On the other hand, we constantly claim that Arabs were ethnically cleansed from some 350 villages that were razed by Israel. In other cases, the Arabs were expelled and Jews moved in to occupy their homes (like in Ein Hod, which was transformed into a colony for Jewish artists). Thus, full expulsions, aka ethnic cleansing, did take place in hundreds of communities, even if Arabs were allowed to remain in other villages and towns.

      • Shingo
        December 2, 2010, 7:06 am

        “The Arab community is a minority, and there are very few in many parts of Israel, but to say that they were ethnically cleansed from Israel is an exageration”‘

        No it’s a fact. 750,000 we ethnically cleased from Israe in 1948. Do us a favor and read the accounts of Benny Morris, and stop trying to wing it.

        How is it an exageration that 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed and not a falsehood that a few thousand were ethnically cleansed from the West Bank?

        Another case of your tribe being wronged Witty? God you make me sick.

      • eGuard
        December 1, 2010, 6:29 pm

        Glad to read Hasbarabuster. So HB is back. Is why I break my vow not reacting to the usual trolls (RW/whoppy/e3. Sstill allowed, MW? eee was a troll in June after the 9 IDF->MM killings. I get less exposure. eee is a RW-like friend?).

      • wondering jew
        December 1, 2010, 6:53 pm

        Hasbara buster- I don’t know why you brought up the massacre of the Jews of Hebron of 1929, but you certainly make it sound like killing Ashkenazis is a lesser crime than killing Sephardim. That sounds pretty narrow minded. Also keep in mind Hebron was the location of a yeshiva, very different than a university in some ways but very similar in other ways: a transient, changing population. So if they were recent immigrants, that’s because they came to the school there from outside the country. This too is no excuse for murder.

      • Potsherd2
        December 1, 2010, 8:04 pm

        The Zionists weren’t Sephardim, they were Ashkenazim. True, not all European Jews in Palestine at that time were Zionists, but they would have looked just as alien.

      • andrew r
        December 1, 2010, 7:05 pm

        I think it’s also worth pointing out that most of the refugees fled to Gaza and the West Bank. Witty’s attempt to equate the siege and destruction of kibbutzim with the Haganah/IDF’s depopulation of villages carries the assumption that Kfar Darom, Gush Etzion, et. al would elect to remain under Arab occupation. With a large Arab refugee population, no less. That’s the last thing these kibbutzim were created for.

      • yonira
        December 1, 2010, 9:39 pm

        In case anyone wants the truth and not HBs lies:

        After the first victim was killed on Friday, 40 people assembled in Dan’s house, confident that because of his influence, no harm would come. On Saturday, the rioters approached the Rabbi and offered him a deal. If all the Ashkenazi yeshiva students were given over to the Arabs, the rioters would spare the lives of the Sephardi community.[23] Rabbi Slonim Dwek refused to turn over the students and was killed on the spot, along with one of his wives and 4-year-old son (another son, 3 years old, survived). In the end, twelve Sephardi Jews and 55 Ashkenazi Jews were murdered.

      • Shingo
        December 1, 2010, 10:01 pm

        What lies are those Yonira?

        12 + 55 is less than 70, which is what HB claimed, though admittedly, that makes the number of Ashkenazim 83% not 90

    • annie
      December 1, 2010, 8:13 pm

      For example, the West Bank was entirely ethnically cleansed of Jews following 1948 (a couple hundred remained in East Jerusalem). (Thats close to 100% removed, compared to 50% that left Israel and was not permitted to return.)

      you mean after jews completely ethnically cleaned cities like lydda (100% removed) and al ramla (100% removed), cities that were supposed to be in the future palestinian state?

      • annie
        December 1, 2010, 9:00 pm

        i meant ‘you mean after zionist forces completely ethnically cleansed…’

      • yonira
        December 1, 2010, 9:21 pm

        ha ha, the cat is out the bag annie, no need to try and ‘correct’ yourself now.

      • annie
        December 1, 2010, 9:54 pm

        whoa, big cat…almost a tiger eh yonira. yes witty referenced jews and so did i. then i rethought my words. i was just reading lemon tree this morning and recalled the words of bechor shalom shitrit, the israeli minister of israeli affairs. he had arrived at the junction between the two towns ‘greeted by ‘throngs of people walking east’. (pg 65) shitrit thought the people of the two towns would be allowed to stay. he made inquiries. it was ben gurion who gave the order to ‘drive them out’. shitrit had not been privy to these meetings. he was ‘outraged’ and considered the expulsions a ‘criminal act’ and ‘bad example to the masses’.

        so, i changed it. but it still stands true, jews did completely ethnically cleanse lydda and al ramla and lots of other villages. so take your pick, whichever suits your fancy.

      • annie
        December 1, 2010, 9:56 pm

        amend: “bechor shalom shitrit, the israeli minister of minority affairs”.

      • annie
        December 1, 2010, 10:02 pm

        yes pjdude. i realize someone reading it could assume i meant every single one of them. i’m sure there were innocents but hey..logic demands something aint right when you move into a house w/all the drawers and closets full and soup on the stove. hmm, in july maybe not soup.

      • Sumud
        December 1, 2010, 11:07 pm

        i realize someone reading it could assume i meant every single one of them.

        Nobody who had read more than a few of your comments would assume you meant that annie, you corrected yourself & still yonira pounces, making unsupportable accusations.. (go on yonira: support them, i challenge you!!)

        This reminds me of the recent exchange between Sullivan and Goldberg, where Sullivan pulls Goldberg up on conflating jews & Israel:

        Notice something about these two passages. Jeffrey interchangeably uses “Israel” and “Jews” in the paragraph above, when it suits him, which makes anyone’s commentary on Israel at any particular time indistinguishable from some grand ethnic or racial statement about “Jews”. For me and most people, there is, of course, a distinction. There is also a distinction between Israel and any particular Israeli government. And that is why strongly resisting the arguments and actions of any one Israeli government is not about Israel as such or “Jews” or “the Jews.” It is about my good faith belief about US interests. By conflating these things so casually, Jeffrey keeps the anti-Semite card fully on the table, chilling criticism of Israel as if it were indistinguishable from bigotry. This rhetorical game really does have to stop.

        It’s an old hasbara trick. Zionists continually use “jews” instead of zionists or Israelis, but if you do, better watch out..

    • Shingo
      December 1, 2010, 8:31 pm

      Witty the humanist, demonstrates once again that he lacks any semblance of humanity when unpleasant truths are help up before him. His dismissal of Steve’s insight goes to show, yet again, how out of touch and unreachable he is and will remain.

      Instead of allowing himself to be educated and enlightened, Witty simply scampers back tot he hole he merged from, and embraces all the lies and myths he himself has repeatedly accepted as false.

  7. Antidote
    December 1, 2010, 7:11 pm

    “Numbers do matter”

    thanks for this illumination of Zionist number magic. How does this differ from trivializing the Holocaust in principle? Existing EU denial legislation not only protects Jewish victims but all other victims of fascism and totalitarianism. How about some high-profile lawsuits for Nakba-denial? Some prominent historians come to mind

  8. robin
    December 1, 2010, 7:34 pm

    Wow, thank you Steve for this important reflection on your personal transformation. This is the kind of piece that really has the potential to change minds in the Jewish community, because it comes from a place of sympathy and understanding, and it traces the steps that they must take. I truly hope you can get a wide audience for this message.

  9. Shingo
    December 1, 2010, 8:27 pm

    Thank you Steve for that very moving, and honest account. You demonstrate to us what true Jewish values mean and what a n outrage it is when the war criminals in Israel claim to be representing those values.

    You’re an inspiration.

  10. Richard Witty
    December 1, 2010, 10:51 pm

    On Judaism,
    The best of Judaism employs the attitude of “all my relations”. (For all those that are tempted to interpret that as “all my relatives” as a “racist” approach, it refers to literally all of one’s personal relationships, some of which are intentional and intimate, some of which are random.)

    It is a holistic approach, that definitely emphasizes healing and nurturing one’s relationship with the ever present, with one’s self, with one’s intimates and family, with nature, with one’s neighbors and community and professional colleagues, with one’s nation, and with one’s agency or citizenship relationship as part or conscience as a part of a group.

    For the vast majority that intentionally regard Tikkun Olam as a value system, the most intimate is the focus. An accepting and loving relationship with the ever-present, an accepting and loving relationship with one’s own thinking, an accepting and loving relationship with one’s intimates.

    Many have insightfully noted that to undertake the approach of tikkun olam (the natural and intentionally cultivated instinct to responsibly heal the world) without undertaking the effort to heal the largest contexts (the political, towards peace in particular) is missing something critical.

    Its like a shoe that has shoelaces, that are kept clean, free from shredding, but aren’t tied. Unfinished, incomplete, absent something fundamental.

    Detail, but not whole.

    But, to regard the political alone as tikkun olam, is to have just tied shoe laces but without shoes.

    Tikkun Olam is an integration of the complexity of the world, into coherent whole. It is a meditation in practice of Adonai echod (God/reality is ONE). Our work on the metaphorical “seventh day of creation” when God rested.

    Our turn.

    Make a loving spiritual life, a loving self, loving relationships with spouse, friends, children, parents.

    Make a healthy and loving community of friends of friends, of cousins of cousins, of cousins of others cousins.

    Make a healthy nation, a moral nation, a loved and loving nation.

    Make a coherent world.

    Thats my blessing to Steve in particular, in case he misunderstood my earlier posts as negative.

    • Shingo
      December 2, 2010, 7:08 am

      In other words Witty, all you care about is your own tribe. Your refernce to your relations is also a lie, because you reflexively run to the defnese of all millions of Israelis you never met.

    • Chu
      December 2, 2010, 7:53 am

      Richard- you should head to the wastelands of Gaza with your natural instincts to responsibly heal the world. That way it’s not as though your good deeds become up close and personal, and not theoretical constructs.
      You talk about sense of good, but it only exists in you mind and your small community in Massachusetts.

      • Chu
        December 2, 2010, 8:34 am

        I say this, because you seem to preach in a giant empty bubble, like a Barnes & noble book reading where only a handful sit and listen.

        One day you may have the strength to break out of the bubble and ask for help from people like Phil, on what it really is like stepping foot in Gaza and speaking with the families that have lost everything.

      • eljay
        December 2, 2010, 8:48 am

        >> Its like a shoe that has shoelaces, that are kept clean, free from shredding, but aren’t tied. Unfinished, incomplete, absent something fundamental.

        And goodness knows that it’s hard to remain “resilient and energetic” when your shoelaces are untied! 8-o

        Palestinians may not have to worry about ethnic cleansing – seeing as how it’s “currently not necessary” – and they certainly can’t expect accountability, atonement and justice from Israel and its Zio-supremacist supports.

        But by tying up their laces nice and snug, they can at least ensure that they won’t trip and stumble as they dance their dance of submission and humility. And, in the end, isn’t that what really matters here?

      • Richard Witty
        December 2, 2010, 9:15 am

        I take my stand where I am placed, including my community and including my interests.

        As should you.

        Expand the range of your effort. Include all your relations.

  11. Citizen
    December 2, 2010, 6:35 am

    My blessing to Steve, and my understanding of his coming of age as he most courageously depicts it, is to be found in the tale of the Kuckuck bird:
    link to

  12. MRW
    December 2, 2010, 1:30 pm

    Wonderfully evocative piece, Steve. Thanks.

Leave a Reply