When loving Israel is a social credential

I got upset on the commuter train the other day. There’s a woman in my town I run into five or six times a year. She’s social, and she’s conventional. The best schools, the best causes. She’s the soul of convention. If they were having charity slave auctions in New York, she’d be primping the centerpieces at the tables as the wranglers pulled the wives apart from the husbands in chains. And smiling, with her good lipstick and hairdo.

Anyway, last year she invited me over to her house for dinner to talk about Palestine before she went on an Ivy League alumni tour to Israel and Palestine. I didn’t see what was coming: I drank her wine and gobbled the chicken and laid out my serious concerns about the politics of the place. Then when she got back, I found out that she hadn’t visited Palestine for a second. They’d gone to one high tech factory after another, with the alumni spooning praise over Israeli high-tech wizardry, marveling at their intelligence and resourcefulness, in the very worst neighborhood in the world. And I felt disgusted with myself that I had been a party to it; I’d offered her preemptive atonement by talking Palestine with her sitting there nodding. Then she’d gone off with her fancy friends and felt, all is right with the world.

Well I ran into her on the train the other day, and she said that she had been to the Other Israel film festival, hosted by Carole Zabar. You would like it, she said. There are all kinds of films there, in Hebrew and Arabic.

And I said, “I’m sure I’d like some of the films. But it’s hosted by Zionists.” 

My friend’s smile froze. 

“A Zionist,” I went on prosecutorially, “is someone who believes in the need for a Jewish state. You’re a WASP, right?”

Frightened nod.

“If you wanted to set up a Christian white state in this country, I’d have a real problem with it.”

“So would I,” she said, chirpingly.

“Well good, we agree,” I said. “And my people have set up a Jewish state in a land that has got a sizeable population of non-Jews. It’s not fair.”

My friend was now trying to edge away into her seat. I decided not to let go.

“And my people– we were at the forefront of the civil rights movement and many other liberal movements; we helped move this country forward. But on this issue, we’re by and large reactionary—and that’s why I’m engaged on it, as a Jew.”

My friend had a curare look, as if I’d shot a poison dart.  I imagine she will gossip about me now: that I’ve gone nuts. And that’s fine. The issue is too important for me to be polite. Not when socially aspiring Americans find that sucking up to Israel burnishes their date books.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

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

  1. Cliff says:

    In the 7+ years I’ve been following Phil Weiss’s writings – since I was around 21 and got interested in this conflict during the 2006 Lebanon War – this is my favorite article on MW.

    My friend had a curare look, as if I’d shot a poison dart. I imagine she will gossip about me now: that I’ve gone nuts. And that’s fine. The issue is too important for me to be polite. Not when socially aspiring Americans find that sucking up to Israel burnishes their date books.

    Phil, you’re a rock star. And through your actions – in the realm of perceptions rather than objectivity, because all groups are of course ‘humanized’ – (and not through socialization), you ‘re-humanize’ Jewishness (mitigating the damage done by Jewish nationalism and colonialism).

  2. i believe, more than the news bites, it’s these personal interactions that shift the public’s mindframe.

    and this is gold:

    If they were having charity slave auctions in New York, she’d be primping the centerpieces at the tables as the wranglers pulled the wives apart from the husbands in chains.

  3. American says:

    LOL…good for you!

  4. HarryLaw says:

    Well done Phil, the Israelis could have a predominately Jewish state if they wanted to, or put it this way a predominately Jewish state for the foreseeable future with a 20% non Jewish minority plus a certain number of refugees whose return would be the subject of negotiations, within the 1967 borders. The Saudi plan in 2002 I think envisaged some such arrangement, unfortunately the Zionists are going for broke, all or nothing. Here is a quote from Shakespeare’s Richard the third who, like the Zionists was determined not to let anything sway him from the course he was set on, which I think captures the Zionist mindset perfectly “But I am in/so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin./tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye”. I imagine after much bloodshed they will end up with nothing.

    • MRW says:

      The whole quote amplifies it even more. ;-)

      I must be married to my brother’s daughter,
      Or else my kingdom stands on brittle glass.
      Murder her brothers, and then marry her!
      Uncertain way of gain! But I am in
      So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin:
      Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye.

  5. joemowrey says:

    ” The issue is too important for me to be polite. ”

    My feelings exactly about this issue and also about the issue of U.S. wars of aggression and empire. This is exactly what I tell people when they say I’m being “too aggressive,” or “too negative.” Politeness has its place. but so does directness and passion. People are suffering and dying. How “polite” are we supposed to be in the face of that reality?

  6. Les says:

    If she visited East Jerusalem, she did visit Palestine.

    • Inanna says:

      If she visited Israel she visited Palestine.

      There are millions who have not forgotten where they come from.

      • Blake says:

        Indeed Inanna. My Palestinian friend inside what is Israel has a doctor who is a Jewish Palestinian and he refuses to call himself Israeli. He calls himself Palestinian.

  7. Dan Crowther says:

    Phil – “some” of “your people” were involved in those “liberation” movements, but others (in fact, sometimes majorities) were on the opposite side. “organized jewry” has often sided with some horrible forces throughout history (big fans of italian fascism and early german fascism as well) so enough with the blanket “my people” statements, it’s past obnoxious. Other than that, good for you – now it’s time to take on Mama Weiss and your Rabbi(can you have a Rabbi if you aren’t observant?). I’ll buy the shovel that digs up your SodaStream so you can chuck it out!

    • tokyobk says:

      On Civil Rights, which is what Phil mentions, organized Jewry and many Jewish individuals (i.e. Spingarn and NAACP) was on the forefront from the turn of the century. But, as you note, not all movements. In fact, the organized Jewish community during slavery and the Civil War has a lousy record. There were only one or two rabbis who denounced slavery qua slavery (many said the problem with American slavery was that it was Roman and not Hebrew). But Phil’s point here stands correct.

      • Citizen says:

        @ tokyobk

        Judah P. Benjamin (1811-84) of the law firm of Slidell, Benjamin and Conrad in Louisiana was a Rothschild agent who became Secretary of State for the Confederacy in 1862.

        • Ellen says:

          The very first Senator of Florida was David Levy, who was so ferocious in defence of Slavery and the Southern cause, he was called “The Florida Fire Eater”

          Also known as David Levy Yulee as he added the name of his wife’s family before entering politics.

          Point is just because a few prominent, and not so prominent, Jews had a hand in keeping the slave trade alive in the South does not AT ALL place the legacy of slavery onto Jews. Not any more than the civil right movement is a Jewish legacy because there were effective Jewish activists for Civil Rights.

          BTW Quakers out of Philadelphia and later Catholic nuns were the first to start organizing schools for children of slaves. Some of those first Quaker schools still stand in remote places in South Carolina. An unsung legacy we hear little about.

        • BTW Quakers out of Philadelphia and later Catholic nuns were the first to start organizing schools for children of slaves. Some of those first Quaker schools still stand in remote places in South Carolina. An unsung legacy we hear little about.

          the methodists were divided over slavery. but some of them were at the forefront of the abolitionist movement. there were good people from all sides and bad too.it took a nation bringing it down, and thank god we won. it took too long but it could have taken longer. but it was destined to fail just like the zionist situation will fail.

        • lysias says:

          The Quakers also had a marvelous record in alleviating the starvation in Ireland during the Potato Famine, as detailed in Tim Pat Coogan’s The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy, which I recently read.

        • goldmarx says:

          August Bondi, a Sephardic Jew, financed John Brown’s abolitionist movement.

        • Ellen says:

          Interesting that you mention Bondi. He was fighting the good cause of his adopted country. (Or territories as it was then.)

          Bondi was one of many backers of the Abolitionist movement as it played out in Kansas. And he was part of the movement that pushed to settle Kansas as a free state. And like many, put himself out for the cause in a major way. But do not think he was ever in the position to “finance” the movement. To say so is…well… quite a stretch.

          The financial and other backing for Brown’s phase of the movement came from groups out of Boston. The so-called Secret Six.

          And that was the group that organized many new Englanders to settle in the Kansas territories to keep it free.

          Here they are:

          link to history1800s.about.com

          The Abolitionists, as an organized group have their roots with the Quakers. They were a lonely and ridiculed voice in this country.

          The politics of the times have parallels to the present. Any mentions or motions in Congress regarding Abolition would be met with an immediate gag. It is a fascinating history. Not too much has changed.

    • tripledobe says:

      When I say ‘my people’ I mean Jews. Not because I am so proud of belonging to this group or that I highly value that. Or that I don’t consider myself a human first. It is mostly because of you (non-Jews) that have been putting me into that group all my life. If an Irishman said something similar no-one on this list would pay any attention to that. He was talking to another Jewish person while sharply criticizing ‘my people’ for the bad things they have done contrasting that with some other good things they have done. What’s so blanket about this?

      • sardelapasti says:

        tripledobe: “It is mostly because of you (non-Jews) that have been putting me into that group all my life. If an Irishman said something similar no-one on this list would pay any attention to that.”

        BS, if you’ll excuse my French. Where are you living, in WWII German-occupied Europe with a yellow star on your jacket? In an ethnic-dress-compulsory ghetto? What is there to differentiate you from other US or European people from your class and area? Which “non-Jew”, or Jew, would have any clue about your geographic origin generations earlier –if you weren’t displaying signs because you consider your nationality to be first of all “Jewish”?

        It works the other way around, too: the Queens, NYC Greeks of the pre-war generation used to call all English-speaking White Newyorkers “Jewish”.

        If you are hyperreligious and ostentating external signs of devotion, that’s of course different, but then you do effectively belong to a separate group…

      • Ellen says:

        It is mostly because of you (non-Jews) that have been putting me into that group all my life.

        Ok, I get it. You are jewish and identify yourself as such, because all your life those who are not (the “other”) just keep telling you this stuff.

        Phil was speaking to a non-Jewish woman and pinned a kind of tribal identity label onto her — WASP.

        Putting people into labels is catagorizing. Catagorizing is evaluating, judging.

        We do thhis to navigate our world. To know how to “act.” But the less we do this in our relations, the better we may act towards all.

        • marc b. says:

          i partly agree with the essence of 3dobe’s comment. identity can never be the exclusive result of individual sensibilities (which is one of the stupidities of the 20th century’s obsession with ‘uniqueness’ and ‘individuality’, the advertisement that everyone is the master of their own identity) but really, in 21st century america, who even thinks about an individual’s ‘jewishness’ or ‘catholicism’ if that individual doesn’t take the initiative and raise the issue him- or herself?

      • American says:

        tripledobe says:

        It is mostly because of you (non-Jews) that have been putting me into that group all my life.”……

        Oh please. Not to start one of those ancient religious/culture discussion, but the evidence says that you also had a hand in putting yourselves into a separate, unique group.

        It’s been a two way street, take some responsibility.

    • HRK says:

      Dan,

      I’d say Phil’s way more critical of the identity groups with which he’s associated than most people are with theirs. . . .

      • Dan Crowther says:

        Phil is critical of white, wealthy, well educated east coast elites?

        Nonsense. They’re his favorite people. You can say he’s critical of Jews, but Phil’s real group is the one I first mentioned. That said, the ID stuff is secondary to the way he spoke to that woman, and I should have recognized that immediately – I do now.

        • Philip Weiss says:

          Dan I think it’s a mistaek to say that they’re my favorite people. Yes I am of the privileged highly educated group in the US, and I live in a white neighborhood; and I chart these attitudes closely, and would be hypocritical if I said I wasn’t privileged. It doesnt follow that they’re my favorite people. I am proud of having diversity in my friendships

        • Dan Crowther says:

          When I say they’re your favorite people I meant that you continually give them the moral benefit of the doubt – you make a lot of excuses for the American Establishment which is more or less that hyper “educated” east coast elite I mentioned, right down to blaming our disastrous foreign policy on “The Lobby” instead of taking them at their word when they say the US has the right to dominate the globe

  8. Ellen says:

    Remain a bit troubled about the ongoing”my people” expressions. Identity politics is part of the problem. Alas, maybe we will probably never get over that.

    Otherwise, great effort and thank you.

    In defense of the well-positioned lady. She is under enormous social pressure to adopt Israel-Love. She might be seeking acceptance or be a social climber in her circle, but few have the strength to stand up to the real pressure that is there. If she were to even dare question, she will become an immediate social outcast; maybe even from her own family. You know a sort of “Ni&&&% Lover.” Just as what would happen to such a well positioned lady of the 40′s and 50′s in Charleston, SC who might dare look beyond her comfortable bubble and ask questions.

    And “your people” were no more in front of the civil rights movement any more than others, just as “your people” were profiteers just as others in the slave trade.

    We are all in this together and need to get over ourselves to see each other.

    • Newclench says:

      Ridiculous. The reason people talk about Jews being at the forefront of the civil rights movement has to do with the ethnic breakdown of participants in Freedom Summer, or the ethnicity of the whites who were in SNCC, or the way that American Jews are the only white ethnic group to give solid majorities for Democrats in proportions totally out of line for other white Americans.
      So today you find American Jews taking pride in this history (and sometimes the high Jewish presence in the early labor movement) and it bothers you?
      Going past Zionism in the Jewish community is EXACTLY a process of taking pride in our values and legacy, and understanding how Israel’s behavior is a threat to that.

      • Ellen says:

        Newclench, identity politics is often sickening. A big subject.

        Exactly what was the “ethnic” breakdown of those who participated in the Freedom Summer? And if we can even begin to determine that, (which we cannot because it had so MANY facets of participation) it does not give ownership of a movement that, like all movements, is mostly made up of the invisible and unsung players?

        If any ethnic group can take specific pride, it shall be African Americans who did the most for their collective cause.

        As for the labor movement — it started in the mines and factories of Pennsylvania.

        And that movement, just like the civil rights movement, is shared by many groups and individuals and organizations.

        So yes, it bothers me that “ethnic” identity of some prominent participants is worked up at the cost of what is a collective legacy. This is how myths are made.

        That distorts truth and is, or would be, as wrong and distorting as working up the ethnic identity of the prominent early slave merchants and land holders from the Carribean and American South. And then to place THAT as a legacy onto a people.

        Like I said, we are all in this together. And Israel’s behavior is a threat to us all.

        Jews will survive Israel because Israel is not Judaism.

      • tree says:

        The reason people talk about Jews being at the forefront of the civil rights movement has to do with the ethnic breakdown of participants in Freedom Summer, or the ethnicity of the whites who were in SNCC…

        Its a stereotype, although in this case its a positive one. There were a little over 1000 volunteers who joined the Freedom Summer in 1964. Even if they were ALL Jewish (and they weren’t) that would mean that somewhere around one tenth of one percent of American Jews were involved. It makes as little sense to claim that “Jews were at the forefront” of the civil rights movement as it does to say that “Jews were at the forefront of Communism”, since the comparative numbers of Jews involved in the Communist Party was many times greater than their percentage of the total population. However, in both cases, the the number of Jews involved in civil rights or the numbers in the Communist Party were a minuscule percentage of the number of Jews overall. A few Jews were at the forefront of one or the other or both, but the overwhelming majority were not.

        Going past Zionism in the Jewish community is EXACTLY a process of taking pride in our values and legacy, and understanding how Israel’s behavior is a threat to that.

        I strongly disagree. “Going past Zionism” is more a process of understanding that one’s ethnic or religious community is not inherently more moral or advanced or more worthy of consideration simply as a result of their ethnicity/religion. For many Zionist Jews there is a self-sense of moral or intellectual superiority based solely on their ethno-religious background. “Jews don’t do that” is the attitude: believing that that Jews are somehow less capable of committing horrible acts than any other group, and that is what fuels the massive denial of what Israel is doing day in and day out. A little less pride based purely on ethnicity/religion and a little more personal pride in one’s own good works is what leads to less bigotry and more acceptance of people based on their individual merits. And that acceptance would mean the end of Zionism. If someone is opposing Zionism primarily because it is “bad for the Jews” they aren’t really making any forward progress in facing their own prejudices and sense of Jewish superiority.

        The same statements above would and do apply to any other ethnic group as well.

  9. Pamela Olson says:

    “If they were having charity slave auctions in New York, she’d be primping the centerpieces at the tables as the wranglers pulled the wives apart from the husbands in chains. And smiling, with her good lipstick and hairdo.”

    Such an apt description of the 1% in their delusional attempts to brush off the facts of the case with “nice” trimmings…

  10. pabelmont says:

    Some of your people? Phil? Are you OK? “Your people”? C’mon. Are you, perchance, human? In which case, who are “your people”? Are you, perchance, “American”? In that case, who are “your people”. Some people who called themselves and were called Jews started up a bloody colonial project in 1900 and carried it through to bloody war in 1948 and beyond. they were opposed by most (other people who called themselves) Jews perhaps until 1967.

    As to the lady.

    As long as there is a (WASPish) social convention to speak favorably of Israel and of Jews, the WASPs will carry it forward. If their social convention were to speak harshly of Israel and Jews, ditto. Their behavior is to go along with social convention — and don’t we all, very often? some of my best friends observe conventions.

    OUR PROBLEM is to shatter this convention, and get people to CONVENTIONALLY praise actual democracy and actual human rights and to decry Israeli “democracy” and Israeli “human rights”. Until such time * * *.

  11. flyod says:

    classic. been around those parts and know the type. now if you want up close with “my people” the owner of a coffee shop on main street, right side as one walks down towards the river. can’t remember the name of the place but you won’t forget benny….

  12. radii says:

    concise and to the point … this is how the subject needs to be discussed

    further, if someone cares about jews then they realize that the zionists have taken israel into racism and fascism and that it cannot sustain … the zionists, through their policies and actions, are putting all jews everywhere at risk and the good people of Mondoweiss and those like-minded are trying to save the zionists from themselves and their extremists

  13. hophmi says:

    “Well I ran into her on the train the other day, and she said that she had been to the Other Israel film festival, hosted by Carole Zabar. You would like it, she said. There are all kinds of films there, in Hebrew and Arabic.

    And I said, “I’m sure I’d like some of the films. But it’s hosted by Zionists.” ”

    Because stuffy doctrinaire leftists will inherit the earth.

  14. Nothing offends a person more than to reject their deeply held beliefs. ~ LanceThruster

  15. sardelapasti says:

    This incorrigible “my people” BS applied to “Jewish” nationalism is not very far from Zionism. In fact, this fiction is what makes Zionism at all possible. In Phil’s case it is very probably well-meant and honest, but not in several other cases.
    I am sure that if he limited that “my people” to the Yiddish-speaking cultural heritage it would be unanimously seen as legitimate, at least in the US.

  16. It seems fair to say many people are “too polite” about Israel/Palestine, and that this helps prevent effective discussion.

  17. dimadok says:

    My guess is that logic and common sense are disposable, when it comes to the pompous righteousness:
    “In my name”-nothing is done in your name.
    “My people”- your people are as diverse as any country on Earth.
    Also being Jewish does not equals being religious person ( as your “Christian” state buff) or white for the same reason.
    It is the history and culture what makes us Jews as the nation and not the religion-but you wouldn’t know either.
    Your loss only.

    • And where in that history and culture does it say that your superiority entitles you take other people’s houses and land, and then treat them worse than dogs? Just wondering.

      • W.Jones says:

        I notice that usually racist southerners are more comfortable expressing or explaining their beliefs in environments more “friendly” and “supportive” to them. Of course, now and then they blurt out some justification they made in public.

    • W.Jones says:

      “Also being Jewish does not equals being religious person”
      That makes sense logically.
      But if religion is not determinative, why does the State say you can- and can only- join it by religion and if you change your religion you lose it?

    • It is the history and culture what makes us Jews as the nation and not the religion-but you wouldn’t know either.

      who are you talking to? i assume phil since you posted to the thread.

      before ‘jews as a nation’ first and foremost it is ones family that determines ones identity. phil’s mother and father (both jewish). this will never change, the imprint was/is..likely, the most determining factor in who he is, morally and otherwise (this goes for everyone). then the rest of the immediate family (same imprint), and then cultural/educational/recreational surroundings.

      my point is that phil’s identity/jewishness imprint from his parents (probably) out trumps ‘history and culture’ of the jewish people. and who are you to make any judgement about phil’s self identity as a jew? it sounds like you just spit on his parents, both exceptional people. you should watch yourself, your anti semitism is showing.

      • dimadok says:

        @Annie. From time to time I’m so glad that you are here, Annie. If you weren’t here- they should have made you up!
        Especially when it comes to whom determines whether person is Jewish or not. Also thank you for calling me antisemite. I really appreciate that-I think it is a first time in my life I was called as one. Having experienced it through my life makes your response even more special to me.
        I don’t have any clues about Phil’s “imprint” and its Jewish values, perhaps he thinks that he has some or perhaps he does not. What I do know for a fact, is that his actions and views lead to the erasure and perversion of Jewish history, and this blog provides a breeding ground for all kind of antisemitic, anti-”Zionist” trash. That is a fact.
        Thousands of Jews have died and suffered for the creation of Jewish state or for the freedom to live according to their religious views, without the shadow of the “enemy within” being cast upon them. Claiming that the creation of Israel is wrong and should be reversed-that is a denial of Jewish history.
        Even if a person is a secular Jew, history tells us that he is not protected from antisemitism and distrust, rooted in any Western or Arab society, regardless whether it was 200 or 1 year ago. It is still there-alive and as ugly as they come.
        Therefore by cherrypicking the facts of American Jewry actions during the Civil Rights Struggles and by denying the suffers of other “Ostjuden”, and saying that their dreams and hopes, and sacrifices are worthless or even evil-that is just wrong, my dear Annie.
        Parents do not make you a Jew, Annie- they just provide you with the direction, genetic and cultural, and you always chose whether to follow or forget about it.

        • seanmcbride says:

          dimadok,

          From time to time I’m so glad that you are here, Annie. If you weren’t here- they should have made you up! Especially when it comes to whom determines whether person is Jewish or not.

          Actually, what is Annie’s ethnic and religious background?

          It is helpful for us to understand what cultural conditioning and biases we all bring to the Great Mideast debates. Phil has been refreshingly frank and intellectually honest in analyzing his own cultural conditioning — he has set a laudable standard for all of us, from all ethnic and religious backgrounds, to match.

          Regarding my own ethnic and cultural background: Anglo-Irish by ethnicity, Roman Catholic by upbringing, currently progressive libertarian and humanist by choice. My current ideological/cultural framework explains why I oppose ethnic and religious nationalism across the board and without special exceptions.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Thousands of Jews have died and suffered for the creation of Jewish state or for the freedom to live according to their religious views, without the shadow of the ‘enemy within’ being cast upon them.”

          BFD. Millions of people through out history have died for similar evil projects as those Jews. And if you can’t exercise your desire “for freedom” without oppressing someone else, then you don’t deserve freedom.

          “Claiming that the creation of Israel is wrong and should be reversed-that is a denial of Jewish history.”

          Call it whatever you want. (I thing “evil” is more precise than “wrong.”) If you can’t create a state without oppressing and ethnically cleansing the native people of the land, then you don’t deserve one and the sooner it can be ground in the dust and be replaced with a humane one, the better. Israel delenda est.

          “Even if a person is a secular Jew, history tells us that he is not protected from antisemitism and distrust,”

          And if those same Jews are willing to do the same to someone else, like the Palestininans on whose land the abomination of a state was built, then why should anyone gives a damn what happens to those Jews?

          “saying that their dreams and hopes, and sacrifices are worthless or even evil-that is just wrong, my dear Annie.”

          If there dreams, hopes and sacrifices were made in order to secure a ethno-religious apartheid state, borne of ethnic cleansing and theft, then, yes, they were evil and the world is worse off that they ever existed.

        • Cliff says:

          LOL

          If you think it’s an example of cherry-picking (which in and of itself implies that was the motive – which it was not and has been explicitly state as sampling EXAMPLES contrary to yada yada yada) – then prove it.

          As to the rest of what you cry about:

          What I do know for a fact, is that his actions and views lead to the erasure and perversion of Jewish history, and this blog provides a breeding ground for all kind of antisemitic, anti-”Zionist” trash. That is a fact.
          Thousands of Jews have died and suffered for the creation of Jewish state or for the freedom to live according to their religious views, without the shadow of the “enemy within” being cast upon them.

          Israel and Zionism are a blight. They are a blight because they destroyed another society and are in-this-moment ERASING Palestinian civilization.

          The slow-moving genocide that is Zionism did not exist and does not occur in a vacuum.

          Your cartoon version of events is ‘Jews have been historically wronged and Zionism is the answer’. And you state that to deny Zionism is to deny Jewish history.

          No. They aren’t interrelated. Jewish history is Jewish history.

          A Palestinian has NO REASON to be ‘thankful’ for Zionism or Jewish nationalism.

          You are so wrapped up in yourself that you remove Zionism’s effects on non-Jews.

          Zionism is not an innocent ideology. It did not innocently ask the Palestinians to coexist in a fairy tale Land of Israel.

          No, Zionism sought to make a Jewish State with a Jewish majority. And there was no Jewish majority.

          That is where all the suffering occurred and why it still occurs.

          If you want to lecture us, non-tribe members, on why a Jewish State is a good idea then don’t start off by presupposing that a Jewish life is worth more than a non-Jewish life you LOW-life.

        • Especially when it comes to whom determines whether person is Jewish or not. Also thank you for calling me antisemite. I really appreciate that-I think it is a first time in my life I was called as one.

          you’re welcome dim, any time. speaking of determining whether person is Jewish or not, it’s really not for you to say phil isn’t, which is exactly what you implied when you said

          It is the history and culture what makes us Jews as the nation and not the religion-but you wouldn’t know either.
          Your loss only.

          you may not recall back in the ol’ daze here we had a couple regular posters who used to bandy about this notion phil (and others) were not ‘real jews’ based on their presumed authority on what it means to be jewish. i find that particularly offensive speech. those posters are gone now, thank goodness. i hope you don’t plan on taking this up as a regular feature of your discourse. if you want to use this forum to lecture on what and who is or is not a real jew, please do a rethink.

          also, you may not have noticed it, but my comment about self identification (5:10) was not exclusive to jews. you may think you’re wired differently than other people in that regard, but you’re not. this kind of bullying and intimidation what makes us Jews ….but you wouldn’t know either that’s a form of anti semitism in my book. it’s not for you to determine anothers self identification just because you’re jewish.

          respecting people means respecting their self identification.

        • seanmcbride says:

          Annie,

          respecting people means respecting their self identification.

          How do you identify yourself in terms of ethnicity and religion? To what religion did you receive the greatest exposure growing up?

          Me: Anglo-Irish, Roman Catholic by upbringing, currently humanist, theosophist, transhumanist and Americanist (in Thomas Paine/Enlightenment terms). Also progressive libertarian politically.

          I received a great deal of exposure to Roman Catholicism, of course, but have also been exposed in depth to quite a few other religions (Judaism, Islam, Unitarian Universalism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) through study and friendships.

          Regarding the innate preciousness of human beings that you discussed earlier: one good takeaway from Roman Catholicism — the belief that each and every human being is equally precious, cutting across all national and ethnic boundaries. That stuck with me — a universalist outlook on the world.

        • sardelapasti says:

          Annie: “respecting people means respecting their self identification.”

          Why would that be so? That is so in the good old US tradition of suing for “hurt feelings” and the good old US tradition of forbidding disrespect to religion. But where is the compelling argument for such “respect”?

          No, there is no law that obliges anyone to respect any bogus identification that is based on obvious fabrication. If anything at all has been fabricated, that is “Jewish people”. No basis at all; no common anything except religion. It has absolutely nothing to differentiate it from Catholicism or Baha’ism or Mormonism, that could even start to justify moronic ethnicity claims or stupid nationalism.

          Of course most people will respect a cultural or linguistic self-identification. For example, if you are biologically Polynesian but prefer to identify as an Ostjiddisch or a Finn because you are so into Yiddish or Finnish and the associated cultural features from which you have become indistiguishable and you have been adopted by the appropriate community, etc. No problem there.

          But there is no need to respect some crazy who self-identifies as, say, a Martian.

          Self-identification is not an accident of birth. One is not born with it, one is allowed to choose it. Just like religion, and just like religion it is open to any discussion and doesn’t deserve any kind of respect!

    • Cliff says:

      Tell that to the people whose society you WRECKED and whose land you STOLE, dimadok.

      This isn’t about you. It’s about the Palestinians. It’s about Palestine. It’s about the lack of a Jewish majority and Zionist terrorism that led to a Jewish majority and the tragedy for all the non-tribe members in the region.

      You are trying to push your ETHNOCENTRIC morality on us.

  18. W.Jones says:

    “And my people have set up a Jewish state in a land that has got a sizeable population of non-Jews. It’s not fair.” My friend was now trying to edge away into her seat.

    Preach it, brother.

  19. Phil writes, I can’t go there, It’s hosted by Zionists.

    Is it the ownership of the building that Phil is objecting to. The JCC is Zionist therefore he can’t go see this. Is there something about the Other Israel Film group that is Zionist?

    Don’t you think there were people who attended the films who were not Zionists? Does Phil advocate that they too should avoid seeing these films?

    • tree says:

      Is there something about the Other Israel Film group that is Zionist?

      From The Other Israel Film Festival’s “About Us” page:

      Carole Zabar
      Founder
      Mrs. Zabar has been an active supporter of Israeli documentary filmmaking over the last decade and has recently founded the Other Israel Film Festival. As part of her support for Israeli cultural, social and political causes, Mrs. Zabar serves as board member of The JCC in Manhattan, New Israel Fund, and the American Friends of Meretz.

      link to otherisrael.org

    • Cliff says:

      Wondering Jew,

      Maybe he thinks that it’s a Zionist PR job.

      Why should we see Israeli films that part of a campaign to whitewash Israel’s image overseas?

      Isn’t that was the boycott of TIFF (spotlight on Israel) was about?

      Promoting Israel as a stable democracy ‘with problems, but hey we all got problems right?!’ is propaganda.

      If that is the message of the sponsorship then yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil’s reason was boycott.

  20. Keith says:

    PHIL- For what it is worth, I’m a little surprised by the negative reaction to your “my people” reference. I’m not sure how your critics would have you rephrase your comments. Refer to “the Jews” instead of “my people?” I think that you are making it quite clear that as someone who self-identifies as a Jew, you strongly disapprove of the actions of the “Jewish state.” Actions which are not in keeping with your understanding of liberal Jewish support for civil rights, and which you have a right and obligation to oppose. And while your view of “traditional” Jewish values may not be fully accurate, nonetheless, you take Israel’s actions as a self-proclaimed Jewish state personal, opposing Zionism’s ugly reality the primary purpose of Mondoweiss. Under the circumstances, I thought your phraseology was fine.

    • i agree keith. people should be allowed to self identify anyway they want without getting hounded. there’s nothing wrong per se with identifying with a group, ethnicity or nationality especially when you spend your time trying to improve it.

      this reminds me of cult like behavior when people are asked, or there’s an inferred demand to disassociate oneself from ones family in scientology or something. if phil feels he’s part of the jewish people then who are these people chastizing him for that? for better or for worse we are who we are. better to move forward and transform from within than cut off all ties. this criticism is rude and ridiculous. there, i said it. there’s a lot to be proud of being jewish. a lot. this kind of negative response is very sad indeed.

      • Ellen says:

        people should be allowed to self identify anyway they want without getting hounded. there’s nothing wrong per se with identifying with a group, ethnicity or nationality ….

        No one is hounding anyone. It is natural for humans to be attractd to group identity for bettor or worse. A survival mechanism — we need(ed) to belong to a group, clan, tribe to survive.

        In modern western society we are a product of many groups and influences. (Unless you are living in a closed social/religious group that shuns outside contact as much as possible.)

        This “my people” talk is exclusive, tribal, a mindset that leads to the often toxic identity politics of today’s world such as Zionism.

        Zionism can be overcome when we do away with that kind of thinking. It will be diluted. Maybe Phil should have gone to the Zionist-run film center.

        It is “love your enemy.” Because only then is your enemy no longer the “other” and overcome.

      • Citizen says:

        @ Annie Robbins
        Where there is a “my people” self-identifier in a conversation, there is, by direct implication at least, a “not my people.” In the conversation, Phil first established directly that he was talking to a WASP, a group with a history of discriminating against Jews, a group traditionally subject to ridicule and negative satire in secular American Jewish literature and film media. I guess that’s why the woman he was talking to was frightened? As a practical matter all Phil did by identifying his people and the woman’s people initially, was take away any defense she had at the knee-jerk ready to what he wanted to tell her.

    • marc b. says:

      keith, as i have stated ad nauseum, i’m not a fan of weiss’s ethnic navel gazing for a variety of reasons, which i will spare you right now, but this exchange is pure unalloyed brass (yes, i know that’s an oxymoron), and i mean big, brass balls on weiss’s part, entirely in a good way. hats off to him. he said exactly what should have been said, and if it’s only 95% brass (and 5% ‘advertisements for myself’), well he’s a mailer fan and only human after all. he’s absolutely the good guy, the hero in this context. i’m sure that there will be plenty of appropriate times to criticize weiss on his ‘my people’ shtick in the future, but i agree with you, it’s poorly timed here.

  21. RE: “I found out that she hadn’t visited Palestine for a second. They’d gone to one high tech factory after another, with the alumni spooning praise over Israeli high-tech wizardry, marveling at their intelligence and resourcefulness, in the very worst neighborhood in the world.” ~ Weiss

    EXCERPT FROM “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict”, Third Edition (2001), Published by ‘Jews for Justice in the Middle East’ (page 23):

    . . . Israeli leaders have long adhered to the judgment of early Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann: “The Arabs will be our problem for a long time… They’re ten to one, but don’t we Jews have ten times their intelligence?” . . . ~ Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in 1919 at the Paris peace conference, quoted by Ella Winter in “And Not To Yield”

    SOURCE (ENTIRE “ORIGIN” BOOKLET) – link to archive.org link to original.antiwar.com

  22. Citizen says:

    “‘…You’re a WASP, right?’

    Frightened nod.”

    Glad she knows her place. Or is that, lack of place? How the mighty have fallen, eh?

    Was Dick Cavett the last tattered remnant? He might even be still alive, probably feeling guilty over how, as a child, he was in love with a lugar pistol.

  23. dbroncos says:

    Good for you, Phil. It seems like she had never before heard such blunt, smash the idols commentary on Israel before. It wont be the last time, either. She, and others like her, will be hearing more about it in the months and years to come and she’ll remember where she heard it first.

  24. Sorry Phil. Your friends’ real feelings about Jews are coming out.

  25. yourstruly says:

    phil, you planted a first seed of doubt. let’s hope it takes.

  26. mcohen says:

    wishful thinking my friends. when the oil and gas start to flow, when the rail link from eilat to ashdod is completed israel will be booming and its neighbours will come begging
    think about it -2 months ago israel bombed gaza and now the turks are building a huge hospital.
    it is israel that is situated in the middle east, not america

  27. Kathleen says:

    Good story. Great that you confronted her. You certainly have made her think

    Why not just say something simple like Jews have been involved in many human rights and social justice issues and this is a human rights and social justice issue that is especially critical and relevant for Jews to get involved with because they have been in large part silent about for quite some time. Why do the “forefront” dance?

    • Citizen says:

      @ Kathleen
      I like your comment. As to “Why do the ‘forefront dance”? See my earlier comments here. In boxing terms, it seems to me Phil was softening her up to deliver his knockout punch–a cry for simple fairness. I’m sure, as some commenters here have said, this punch was designed to hit home, and probably did, probably at least got her to think about her usual knee jerk thinking in the interest of burnishing her social credentials. I wonder if the WASP women ever heard of WASP Vanessa Redgrave’s trophy speech re I-P conflict?

      • American says:

        “this punch was designed to hit home”..Citizen

        Agreed.
        Identifying as Jewish in this case was a bigger punch to the woman’s ignorance on Israel.

      • Kathleen says:

        Vanessa one of the very brave folks out on the forefront of this issue. We are standing on the shoulders of real giants…brave brave giants like Vanessa

  28. W.Jones says:

    Regarding all the amazing Israeli science, why can’t Palestinians get Nobel science prizes, but the group in control of the situation there often does? Is it because the Pals don’t have sophisticated lab equipment? Or are we supposed to assume they aren’t as intelligent.

    Despite living with frequent electricity cuts, limited clean water, and the lasting effects of the recent conflict, Areej (a 9th grader from a Gazan refugee camp) solved 182 complicated math problems within an 8 minute period, beating out 2,500 other participants from ten countries and wining the top prize at the IMA International Competition.

    !

  29. dbroncos says:

    Jews have a lot to be proud of and I don’t see the problem with expressing that point of view as it is one that I share. Jews in America have made our country a better place than it would otherwise be and I’m happy to call them my fellow countrymen. They’ve certainly raised the bar in American intellectual life. The passionate investment American Jews have made in intellectual/educational acheivement is part of what’s at stake with the Zionist enterprise. Zionism demands of its supporters a demeaning level of bigotry and stupidity that I think many Jews will ultimately reject because it will cost them too much self respect in so far as that self respect is seated in a Jewish tradition of intellectual persuits, and a willingness to recognize facts for being facts. This is part of what I understand Phil to mean when he says he’s outraged/disgusted/angry about Jewish support for Zionism. He expects better things from his people. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  30. mcohen says:

    “I drank her wine and gobbled the chicken and laid……….. ”

    hey hey hey things must be looking up mr weiss

    anyway its a problem that i have been grappling with for some time.how do you stick with the tribe and not be that “zionist” everyone dislikes.
    which to choose and which is right as the song goes.as an ex south african i regret not standing up to the afrikaaner government as some of my friends did.some like les who spent a year in jail -awaiting trial or other jews who joined the anc and took a stand.it was not hard because the choices were obvious and apartheid was blatantly wrong but as long as it did not impact on my life too much i turned a blind eye to the injustice and i regret that, even if i believed that my allegiance was to the white tribe first and foremost.
    israel is more complex than the south africa as i believe that the jews do have a claim ,and it has always played a central role in jewish life
    next year in jerusalem-every year you say it at passover
    ask any person what word connects with jerusalem and they will say jew
    however when you take into account the jewish relegion as a whole -a way of life then israel is only a part of that whole
    and it is here that we must decide which to choose and which is right
    firstly my allegiance is to the jewish tribe-no question
    secondly i believe that israel is not “my country” but exists only in my relegion as “my country” so my allegiance is to the country i physically reside in -as long as it respects my right to practice my faith,but spiritually i owe my allegiance to israel.
    thirdly because my allegiance to israel is spiritual then all matters connected to that spirituality-justice ,morals,etc must be upheld and it is at this juncture that i find myself back in south africa and wanting to turn a blind. because the moral situation in “my country”does not look good man-you dig
    so how does one go about supporting the jewish tribe but at the same time fix the moral problem-
    easy -you apply extreme pressure to the spiritual leaders of the jewish faith-your local rabbi -complete revolt against the priesthood ,jesus of nazareth style and get them to bring about change
    if you sit in a car with the engine running and a hose pipe connected to the exhaust pumping gases into the car you will die-the rabbis say this is suicide and is forbidden
    but they themseves drive cars and pump those same gases into the earths atmosphere yet there is no ruling on pollution that kills because the laws are outdated
    well the same with the israel/palestinian conflict-why are there no just rulings worldwide -not only in israel but world wide-you dig man
    ok thats it -waffle over
    easy -

  31. “And my people– we were at the forefront of the civil rights movement and many other liberal movements; we helped move this country forward.”

    Phil, you’re STILL at the forefront of the civil/human rights movement.
    The only difference in this struggle is that the oppressors are also of your people.

    Keep up the great work for human rights.

  32. Polly says:

    @Dan Crowther
    “Phil – “some” of “your people” were involved in those “liberation” movements, but others (in fact, sometimes majorities) were on the opposite side. “organized jewry” has often sided with some horrible forces throughout history (big fans of italian fascism and early german fascism as well) so enough with the blanket “my people” statements, it’s past obnoxious.”

    Yes, all relevant points Dan but in the context of this beautiful and heartfelt piece this is just outright pedantic and it’s hard not to see this as more popping phil’s balloon than anything else.

    • marc b. says:

      this is just outright pedantic

      polly, dan retracted his criticism – see above – and is presently beating his bare chest and back with a wreath of stinging nettles and barbed wire. (yes, that’s what that sounds like.) keith and i convinced him of his error, just like we convinced him to ‘buy low and sell high’ rather than the other way round.

  33. munro says:

    “And my people– we were at the forefront of the civil rights movement and many other liberal movements; we helped move this country forward. But on this issue, we’re by and large reactionary—and that’s why I’m engaged on it, as a Jew.”

    I wish Phil was engaged because racism is wrong instead of fraying prestige.

  34. Carowhat says:

    I’ve never understood why Americans are expected to love Israel. No one expects us to love Iceland, Bulgaria or New Zealand. But if you are a public figure who shows insufficient love for Israel (not dislike, just insufficient love) your career is shot before it begins.