‘Jewish Press’ piece sees ‘Gatekeepers’ as evidence of rising Jewish anti-Zionism

Israel/Palestine
on 34 Comments

Phyllis Chesler is a terrified Jewish writer; she believes that anti-Semitism is an enduring force in Jewish life in the west, and there’s an “impending Holocaust” in Israel. The Jewish Press has posted her review of The Gatekeepers that begins with a caricature of New York liberal Jews as anti-Zionist. I hope Chesler is right, that these attitudes are now widespread. Her nutty tone here is revealing of the panic inside the rightwing Zionist community (the piece calls settlements “settlements”) over changing attitudes among liberal Americans. 

The crowd at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema on the upper west side is mainly Jewish and liberal—ultra-liberal. They behave as if they are superior to all “oustjuden,” the illiterate, superstitious, unwashed Eastern European Jews–and therefore, in their sleek leather boots and fashionable coats they are, surely, finally, safe. At least, safer. After millennia of persecution, here are Jews who are not self-hating, not even opportunist, just Jews who feel secure as long as they feel superior to other Jews. The “outsjuden today are the Zionists, the “settlers,” the “right wing.”

Psychologically, this means that they deserve to survive. They are the “good” Jews. Assimilated, exquisitely moral, the first to find imperfections in their co-religionists…

“I am surprised those Zionists are not outside protesting,” says one woman.

“They’ll be here for the later showing, believe me” says another.

A man chimes in: “You have no idea how fanatic they can be. I know.”

His listeners nod approvingly.

And still, these safe-and-liberal Jews push and shove and behave like Jews do on a line, at the Jewish Film Festival or at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. This I find funny and slightly endearing.

The film, “The Gatekeepers” directed by Dror Moreh, will cause Israel great harm, great damage.

Thanks to Annie Robbins.

34 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    February 8, 2013, 10:35 am

    “The Jewish Press has posted her review of The Gatekeepers that begins with a caricature of New York liberal Jews as anti-Zionist.”

    One can dream…

    “The film, ‘The Gatekeepers’ directed by Dror Moreh, will cause Israel great harm, great damage.”

    One can dream…

  2. joemowrey
    February 8, 2013, 10:54 am

    Thanks, as always, for providing us with another revealing glimpse at the deranged mindset of the rightwing Zionists. The last line of her piece says it all, not just about her attitude, but about Zionism in general. “The film, “The Gatekeepers” directed by Dror Moreh, will cause Israel great harm, great damage.” In other words, Zionism is incompatible with the truth and cannot tolerate its light. The two concepts are mutually exclusive.

    • ritzl
      February 8, 2013, 1:57 pm

      The parallel to what you point out is also astounding – that what is most precious/important/critical to her is preserving the image of Israel, not coming to grips with the underlying and ongoing amorality.

  3. justicewillprevail
    February 8, 2013, 11:06 am

    No the film will not cause any damage, however Israel’s actions, its morality and its atrocious attitude towards human rights will cause the damage.

  4. Avi_G.
    February 8, 2013, 11:28 am

    If Chesler wishes to limit her claims to the United States, then her argument might have a molecule of validity. In other words, I don’t agree with her hysterics.

    But if she is referring to information available in the mainstream press coming from Israel, then her claim is ludicrous precisely for the reason that the press in Israel has been exposing Israelis — those who cared to pay attention anyway — to the kind of information and arguments seen in the movie The Gatekeepers. Any Israeli older than 30 should be quite familiar with the information presented in The Gatekeepers. The problem with Israelis is that they do not care. They know, but they do not care.

    So if one were to take the Gatekeepers as an indication of rising anti-Zionism, it would be a good indicator of how unfamiliar and how detached Zionist American Jews are from Israel and from what goes on within that state.

    Here’s a news and politics talk show that used to air in the 1990s on the Israeli Channel One. This episode aired on May 4, 1994, the day Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed the Cairo Agreement.

    At the start of the show, the late professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz — a moral giant — educates the woman seen to his right about the self-congratulatory pro-Zionist myths she was espousing.

    At 09:30, the host introduces Mustaffa Barghouthi.

    The point is that the information contained in this show alone — nevermind the rest of the Israeli press and media — disproves Phyllis Chesler’s claims.

    P.S. – Phil, let me know if you would like me to translate the exchange in that video. It’s quite instructive for several reasons and would be a great addition to Mondoweiss’ repertoire. It is also quite revealing as it shows how Israeli media was far more balanced in the 1990s (Relatively speaking) than it is today.

    • Inanna
      February 9, 2013, 4:54 am

      Avi_G I’m not sure about Phil but I would love to read what Leibowitz and Barghouthi had to say.

    • MRW
      February 9, 2013, 9:32 am

      Avi_G,

      Who knows whether Phil has electricity as a result of this storm. So I will ask for the rest of us. Yes, please. Please transcribe it and place it here. Please.

      I enjoy, and appreciate, straight-talking Israeli media output far more than the pablum we have to endure here.

      • American
        February 9, 2013, 9:48 am

        Second that….would appreciate a translation Avi_G

  5. Citizen
    February 8, 2013, 11:34 am

    Zionism, like Nazism, started in the 19th Century with the goal of being anti-assimilationist. In both cases, assimilation (the US standard) has always been viewed as the death knell for the chosen, the best people the world had to offer. The two isms disagreed on which chosen was best for the world, and–a problem then was the Jewish Zionists did not yet have their own state . Later, this mutual admiration society of basic principle (them v us) was repeated by the state of Israel and apartheid S Africa.

    “Phyllis Chesler is a terrified Jewish writer; she believes that anti-Semitism is an enduring force in Jewish life in the west.”

    What Zionism and Nazism have in common as ideologies is that both posit they are the last and best defense against the eternal enemy other.

  6. Tzombo
    February 8, 2013, 11:43 am

    Is it just me or is almost every sentence of that incredibly racist? Or maybe tribalist is a better word.

  7. a blah chick
    February 8, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Methinks that Phyllis has some issues, I mean a Orthodox Jewish girl marrying a Muslim and going to live with him in Kabul? If that’s not getting back at daddy I don’t what is.

  8. Cliff
    February 8, 2013, 12:23 pm

    ‘in their sleek leather boots and fashionable coats they are, surely, finally, safe’

    I wonder if she thinks these ‘liberal, pretentious, Jews’ are effeminate and weak next to the Israeli supermen who walk around with uzis and kippas. Orthodox, nationalistic, no-nonsense.

    She seems to be the anti-intellectual’s intellectual romance novelist.

    What a buffoon.

    • MRW
      February 9, 2013, 9:43 am

      “‘in their sleek leather boots and fashionable coats they are, surely, finally, safe’”

      And as Israel Shahak pointed out in that excellent talk he gave at MIT in 1994 (around 50 minutes of Pt. 1) they are also safe from the rabbis who could murder Jews within the community for centuries with impunity, and the permission of the host ruler, for infractions like smoking a pipe on the sabbath, or improper dress.

      Shahak said they have Napoleon to thank for that, at least in Warsaw and the rest of Poland, where he came from.

  9. pabelmont
    February 8, 2013, 12:35 pm

    Nazi Germany felt (or its leaders felt) that they had to make Germany (and Europe) safe for “Arians” and did so, in part, by killing off the resident Jews. Israel (and I think it is fair to say, not by any means only its leaders) feels it must make itself safe for “the Jewish people” and has so far done so, in part, by expelling and excluding non-Jews (though some of those pesky Russians are a bit of a problem) and by oppressing non-Jes living under Israel’s control.

    BDS asks for equality, non-discrimination, democracy, return of the expelled and not-yet-readmitted “others”, and an end to the oppression of the “others”, espcially an end to settlements, settlers-in-OPTs, the wall, and the siege. In other word, compliance by Israel to international law and norms of human rights. Anathema to the frightened Jews.

    Good, clear, plain sense to the Jews who are not frightened. and more and more Jews outside Israel see this.

    It doesn’t bode well.

  10. Les
    February 8, 2013, 12:44 pm

    Is she concerned that Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the name of Judaism is not being criticized by the vast majority of Jews in the US?

  11. MRW
    February 8, 2013, 1:01 pm

    The film, “The Gatekeepers” directed by Dror Moreh, will cause Israel great harm, great damage.

    This idea of Israel as a bubbe who can be physically harmed in an attack, something you need to throw your coat over to protect from harm, this anthropomorphic nation state, is the thinking of a fool. A movie can harm a country? Damage it?

    This maudlin sentimental characterization of a country Chesler only assesses from afar is an affectation due to her age (our Hostage is far, far younger mentally by comparison) and marriage to an Israeli. It’s tiring to read this hyperbolic s**t which Gentiles can’t take down with the derision deserved because of the usual accusations.

    You call her terrified, Phil. I call her tedious and intellectually vacuous, esp. considering where she lives. I mean, c’mon. But then I never bought any of her peasant-posing-as-a-pedant thinking when I read her years ago.

    • Cliff
      February 8, 2013, 1:35 pm

      “It’s tiring to read this hyperbolic s**t which Gentiles can’t take down with the derision deserved because of the usual accusations.”

      Perfect summary of how non-tribe members (including Jews who aren’t fanatically pro-Israel) feel about the psychosis of Zionist Jews.

  12. Ismail
    February 8, 2013, 3:57 pm

    I had the surreal pleasure of attending a Dershowitz/Chesler dog and pony show in Cambridge MA many years ago. The latter had just published her risible “The New Antisemitism” and was flogging the hell out of it with the help of the contemptible Dersh, who’d just opened a Jewish deli in Harvard Square (the food even worse than Dersh’s politics, if you can imagine. Even the deli-starved denizens of Cambridge knew they were being hustled and the place shut down quickly).

    Needless to say, the performance was odious. Palestinians were the new nazis, any minute now the trains to the camps would be leaving from South Station, blah blah blah. Just a symphony of paranoia and delusion.

    I recommend a look at Chesler’s website when you’re feeling blue. Her outright lunacy and teenage girl diary prose – “methinks” this and “dear reader” that – is bound to cheer you up. Complete hoot.

    And if you’re still not smiling, remember – according to Phyllis, India’s an Arab country and Aung San Suu Kyi’s a Muslim. Priceless.

    If only all the crusaders of Zionism wore such big red noses and enormous shoes…

  13. Oklahoma farmer
    February 8, 2013, 5:17 pm

    They are SQUATTERS not SETTLERS damn it. Get it right.

  14. sardelapasti
    February 8, 2013, 6:03 pm

    “Nutty tone”? Then, even if you forget about this drunken maenad, what about the rest of the articles in that paper? I mean every single one. Jeezus H. Christ. This is an an in-your-face obvious nuthouse, we’re talking totally off the wall. Even trying to answer or even quote this sh*t outside a specialized paper in a psychiatric journal would be ridiculous. I had always assumed that these Zionists would try to maintain a minimum level, but now we have it confirmed that no sane persons are left who would be willing to be associated with the Zionists in public.

  15. piotr
    February 8, 2013, 9:35 pm

    Phyllis Chesler authored “New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It”. I came to the conclusion that there is nothing particularly wrong in “Ne Anti-Semitism”, as opposed to the old variety. All arguments based on “New Anti-Semitism” are crap. Self-serving crap, of course.

  16. EUR1069
    February 8, 2013, 10:03 pm

    The correct term is “Ostjuden”, just for the record. Alas, I never understood the concept of “self-hating Jews” that the pie-eyed Zionists keep throwing at clear-minded dissenters like Finkelstein & MJ Rosenberg (G-d bless them!) I tried to fathom it from every angle but it still doesn’t make any sense to me.

  17. piotr
    February 8, 2013, 10:46 pm

    I wonder where Chesler got that comparison to the prejudice against “oustjuden” or “outsjuden”. Eastern Jews would be Ostjuden in German, and only in German it makes sense, so she misspells in two ways the distinction which was making some sense 100 years ago. I am getting impression of quite confused old lady, complete with early Zionist myths like that Palestinians are a group of Egyptians, Syrians and Jordanian who out of sheer anti-Semitic spite invented a fake nation.

    • sardelapasti
      February 9, 2013, 2:02 pm

      “only in German it makes sense”
      Well, no, it is a long-established division among the Ashkenazi, and their language is of course German (Yiddish being one of the dialects of it.) The prejudice of the German Ashkenazi toward the Ostjüdisch / Ostjiddisch in Poland and Tsarist Russia, who often lived separated from the country population and kept their own ways and language, is well-known, as is the contempt of the Easterners for the generally secular urban Jews assimilated to more civilized conditions, and with no separate language or ethnic culture of their own. It is said by many (and makes sense) that up to the rise of Nazism, Zionism was mainly a movement of the Easterners.
      BTW that the crazy psychology Professor can’t spell is the least of her problems.

    • Antidote
      February 9, 2013, 3:18 pm

      “Eastern Jews would be Ostjuden in German, and only in German it makes sense”

      100 yrs ago this distinction made perfect sense in the US as well. You can read about ‘Germans’ and ‘Russians’ (Ostjuden) in Cohen’s excellent book on Jacob Schiff

      review article here

      link to h-net.org

      or Birmingham’s “Our Crowd” (search for “Russians”)

      As Birmingham notes, because the surnames of the Russian and Polish Jews (who arrived in great numbers in the late 19th and early 20th c in NYC) often ended in -ki, they were called ‘kikes’ by the established and assimilated German-American Jews who were greatly concerned about the new arrivals increasing anti-semitism among gentile Americans

      link to books.google.ca

      • sardelapasti
        February 11, 2013, 7:49 am

        “100 yrs ago this distinction made perfect sense in the US as well. ”
        It makes perfect sense in NYC today, too! Compare the life of the proudly and ostensibly caftaned, corkscrewsideburned and wigged crowd to the people she described in the movie theater. The difference is not really in the religious attitude but the culture, Ostjiddisch vs… let’s say western. One difference is that the kippa exhibitionists may today belong to Zio-reconverted Westerners.

      • Antidote
        February 13, 2013, 12:03 am

        I agree, sardelpasti. I would also say that the aversion 0f the secularized and Americanized ‘Tel Aviv Jews” against the Haredim in Israel – apparently a major factor in the recent Israel elections – is strongly reminiscent of Polish (as well as Russian/Soviet and Western European plus American) anti-semitism in the early 1900s

  18. RoHa
    February 9, 2013, 12:43 am

    “And still, these safe-and-liberal Jews push and shove and behave like Jews do on a line, at the Jewish Film Festival or at the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. This I find funny and slightly endearing.”

    A queue (line) is a system for dealing with people on a basis of equality and fairness. She is saying that Jews do not fully accept this system, and they do not how to know how to behave properly in public.

    Isn’t this an anti Semitic accusation?

    She probably doesn’t intend it to be anti-Semitic, since she says she finds this bad behaviour funny and endearing, but that suggests that she too does not accept the idea of dealing with people on a basis of equality and fairness.

    • sardelapasti
      February 9, 2013, 1:40 pm

      “Isn’t this an anti Semitic accusation?”
      It certainly is because, once more, she conflates Jewish and Zionist: if you want to lose your mind try to keep a line in (or more exactly over, under and around) which there are two or three long-term Israelians.

  19. American
    February 9, 2013, 10:31 am

    Now added to the Zionist enemies list is liberal US Jews…. this is actually good, we should encourage the zionist in their Jewish ‘Civil War’ with US Jews over Israel. Let them have all the enemies they want and box themselves into a tiny corner.

  20. yourstruly
    February 9, 2013, 12:17 pm

    evidence of rising jewish anti-zionism?

    causing israel great harm?

    justice for palestine?

    no cause for alarm?

  21. American
    February 9, 2013, 1:43 pm

    Perfect example of zionism.
    Jews as a “people nation”….zionist created a definition of ‘peoplehood’ that doesn’t exist…..plucked out of thin air a conglomeration of religious to make them something akin to a distinct “‘race”. Its so ,so bizarre…they have invented a ‘Unique”, ‘new race’ out of religion. They even make up their own definitions of what ‘nation’ means.
    You know if someone really wanted to get these zionist nutcases they should get a case before the US Supreme Court asking for Jews to be declared and recognized as ‘members of the Jewish Nation’, just like the zionist claim all Jews are.
    And also ask that they be recognized as a ‘different or distinct race” from whites, black, Asians or any other race…just as the zionist claim they are.
    Make it ‘official’ in the US. Give the zionist exactly what they want—separate out the Jews as members of their own nation and separate them out from any other race…make it Official Recognition. Some how I think the implications of that would cause a huge earthquake in the Jews vs Zionism that could lead to the end of zionism.

    link to thedailybeast.com

    Why BDS Isn’t Compatible With Two States
    excerpts…

    “Comparing Jews to Protestants, as Abunimah does, insulates him from the need to extend the right of self-determination to Jews, and can be done only in the most superficial manner. Both groups are guided by some religious creed. But on the global stage, to be a Jew means to be part of much more than a religion. Unlike Protestants, Jews constitute a nation; the range of belief (and non-belief) among Jews who still feel deeply connected to Jewish peoplehood suggests as much. And while not all contemporary states are nation-states in the strictest sense, the global stage has evolved to allow the nation-state pride of place. ”

    ”Add to this the fact that the Jews—unlike Protestants in Ireland—were buffeted for centuries by the bloody vagaries of anti-Semitism, that scourge of being deemed as a fundamentally “Other” people. And the fact that Jews share the basic textbook definition of a nation, an acute sense of their own collective past coupled with a common destiny, means, for Zionists — and anyone else who views nations as in principle being deserving of self-determination, that Jews are entitled to restoration in a state of their own. ”

  22. iResistDe4iAm
    February 10, 2013, 10:54 pm

    How apologists for Israeli occupation manufacture doubt within their own minds to assuage their conflicted consciences:

    “Even if each of the six former heads of the Shin Bet had the right to say what he said;
    even if the filmmaker had the right to direct just such a film—
    even if more than half of what each former Shin Bet director has to say is true, either technically or factually or philosophically or metaphorically…
    Even if the scenes of the right-wing anti-Rabin protests and the alleged “settler” plot to blow up the Al Aqsa mosque are real,
    Can this be true?
    Even if it is,
    (really, the Arabs who were once Egyptians, Syrians, and Jordanians and who historically never thought of themselves as “Palestinians”),
    What courage Moreh has demonstrated! But not really:
    To the extent to which this film is accurate I salute it. To the extent to which it is false, defamatory, biased, exaggerated — I consider it suicidal and traitorous.”

  23. piotr
    February 11, 2013, 6:52 am

    A man chimes in: “You have no idea how fanatic they can be. I know.”

    His listeners nod approvingly

    This is quite funny because Chesler herself is a fanatic Zionist protesting the movie AND is offended by people describing her correctly — or “inventing” her existence?

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