‘Forward’ slams Ehrenreich for questioning Zionism and Palestinian villagers for throwing stones at soldiers

Yesterday’s cover story in the New York Times Magazine on resistance in occupied Nabi Saleh, by Ben Ehrenreich, is already having a huge effect. Rashid Khalidi praised the piece on WNYC this morning. While the liberal Zionist editor of the Jewish Forward, Jane Eisner, is pushing back. She doesn’t like the fact that Ehrenreich has questioned Zionism:

“In 2009, Ehrenreich published a direct attack on Zionism in the Los Angeles Times entitled ‘Zionism is the Problem’. In the article, Ehrenreich castigates not only the ‘deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in Gaza and the West Bank’ but ‘the Zionist tenets on which the state was founded’ as well.” [Per Chemi Shalev in Haaretz]

Ehrenreich continues: “Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion… or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.” He concludes by calling for a secular, pluralistic, democratic government in Israel and Palestine, and the abandonment of the Zionist dream….

Ehrenreich is hardly a disinterested observer of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… Ehrenreich’s politics are so evident and his sympathies so decided that it is difficult not to see his bias running through the long magazine story.

I wonder if Eisner ever spotted bias when Zionists were penning articles?
She titles her piece, “Real Non-Violence Doesn’t Look Like This,” and offers advice to Palestinians on how to resist occupation:

My husband has long argued that if the Palestinians really wanted a state side-by-side with Israel, all they would have to do is adopt a nationwide, non-violent strategy. Peaceful demonstrations up and down the West Bank, continuously, steadfastly, would prick the world’s consciousness and give Israeli and Palestinian leaders no choice but to negotiate and do what they needed to do to end the occupation and secure Israel’s democratic future…
Throwing stones — not little pebbles, but at times stones that can damage or even kill — is a violent act. Gandhi didn’t do it. The courageous African Americans who stood at the bridge in Selma didn’t do it. It takes great determination, character and patience to engage in such protest, and I can understand how, after decades of occupation, it may be difficult for the villagers of Nabi Saleh to restrain themselves. But that’s unarmed resistance. Anything else is a misnomer…
 Not that Eisner is for the occupation:
And it’s too bad that the picture he paints will now be discredited, because we need to be reminded of the costs of occupation and the continued drain on Israeli and Palestinian moral behavior.

Here’s an excellent comment on the piece from Matt Berkman:

Ms. Eisner uses this line from one of Ehrenreich’s previous op-ed pieces to discredit his reportage: “Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion… or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.”

I’d like to know which part of this statement she disagrees with. Does she not believe that states based on ethnic or religious domination “lead inexorably to politics of exclusion” (a truism), or does she not believe that Zionism set out to establish an ethnic Jewish hegemony over a land already populated by non-Jews (an historical fact)? Or does she not believe that a “politics of exclusion” or “wholesale ethnic cleansing” constitute a “problem”?

Which is it, Ms. Eisner?

 

Who is driving this conversation now? Anti-Zionists, non-Zionists. If you’re a smart young Jewish kid, what gang would you want to be in…

About Philip Weiss

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

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

  1. MRW says:

    I love Ben Ehrenreich’s writing. Mama raised him well.

    • Krauss says:

      His sister is a disaster, though (Rosa Brooks). She’s a Zionist but her feminism keeps getting her to attack the state, saying she wouldn’t want to live there(duh! most fervent U.S. Zionists would never want to move to Israel, what else is new?) but then goes on to blame Palestinians for their oppression.

      As for Phil’s question… If we’re to believe the people who have done studies on the topic, most young Jews who are estranged from Zionism are also, to some extent, estranged from Judaism. Therefore, it’s hard to make a case that most Jews are actively choosing to distance themselves from Israel, rather than a function of their general detatchment. And since Jewish organizations have gone all-in on Israel in the last 20 years, if you’re not into Jewish community stuff, you’re bound to be disengaged on Israel too. They’ve become so interwoven, at least in the secular community, it’s one and the same now.

      I think a more important question is what young, smart liberals(regardless of race or creed) think of Israel now. Haaretz published a piece on Harvard students being uncomfortable with Israel, and the journalist, a Jewish Harvard grad himself, was greatly worried.

      But is that concern valid? Most young and smart liberals I know of just avoid the topic or are just generally uncomfortable with Israel. It doesn’t have that halo it used to have, but it’s not like South Africa in the 1980s. There’s far too much pushback for that. And liberal gentile whites also found it a lot easier to attack white gentiles in Africa, than white Jews in Israel. For whatever reason.

  2. MRW says:

    Who is driving this conversation now? Anti-Zionists, non-Zionists.

    Who are realizing the strained fedupness amongst the Gentiles deep inside the country. It’s in the churches, now. Regular church-going people, not the Evangelical megachurch flamethrowers in Austin or South Florida. It’s the product of a lot of things, such as this “MI6 and CIA were told before invasion that Iraq had no active WMD,” which appeared today in the Guardian (advance press for BBC Panorama’s show tonight ‘splainin’ it all). I’m finding a growing realization among the religious folk that I know that we fought the war in Iraq for Israel. They blame the neocons for undue influence over a spineless US leadership. They’re not blaming Jews. They’re blaming Zionism. It’s a nascent realization, but it’s growing…and as MW commenter Betsy remarked last October after the 15 Churches letter to Congress, when you piss off the middle-of-the-road Protestants, you forge a steel backbone in them. You pitchfork them.

    Ehrenreich’s writings are right on pulse.

  3. Shingo says:

    The “bias” argument is a familiar tactic of Dershowitz too. It’s such a non starter. Do Eisner and Dersh expect us up believe they don’t have their own bias?

  4. Donald says:

    “And it’s too bad that the picture he paints will now be discredited, ”

    I just read her piece. I missed the part where the picture he paints was discredited. It must have been typed in invisible ink or appeared on the computer screen with invisible pixels.

    On the stone-throwing thing, this is yet more victim blaming. One can’t expect the poor Israelis do anything except continue to steal land and practice apartheid until the Palestinians achieve moral perfection.

    Or perhaps the Israelis could set the example. Let them try practicing apartheid and land theft without violence. And if Palestinians move back inside the 67 borders, perhaps they could protest that in a nonviolent sort of way as well. We could have a nonviolent competition between Palestinians asking for their rights and Israelis denying them without a single projectile flying anywhere, whether it’s one of those terrible stones, or one of those harmless American-made Israeli launched missiles.

    • Krauss says:

      Eisner is a notorious Zionist and racist. She’s the kind of person who worries about “keeping the bloodline pure”.

      The Forward as a paper is split. You have genuine liberals like Nathan Jaffay or several of their women feminists. And then you have thuggish nationalists like Eisner or Guttman, who’s constantly seeing anti-Semitism behind every corner.

      Remember the paper has still not forgiven Walt/Mearsheimer for their book. Even today! We’re not talking about gentle “we disagree” but about hysterical pronouncements of murderious anti-Semitism. How dare they not support our version of violent ethnic nationalism! How dare they!
      That speaks volumes about their ‘liberal’ inclinations.

    • marc b. says:

      On the stone-throwing thing, this is yet more victim blaming.

      she’s an ass. another zionist referring to material she’s apparently never read. gandhi was quite comfortable with the use of violent force in resistance to oppression. what eisner and other lying rat f*cks are doing is erecting an impossible standard for conduct, one which they wouldn’t even consider adhering to themselves under similar circumstances, to portray palestinians as inherently violent, and thus not worth negotiating with, and not worth mourning when they are killed.

      this is what the real gandhi had to say about non-violence, not the cartoon character eisner and other liars refer to:

      he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honor by non-violently facing death may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. he who can do neither of the two is a burden.

      a non-violent man or woman will and should die without retaliation, anger or malice, in self-defense or in defending the honor of his women folk. this is the highest form of bravery. if an individual or group of people are unable or unwilling to follow this great law of life, retaliation or resistance unto death is the second best though a long way off from the first. cowardice is impotence worse than violence.

      ‘Gandhi on Non-Violence’, edited by thomas merton, pp. 46-47, 50.

  5. seafoid says:

    link to guardian.co.uk
    “Binyamin Netanyahu vows to guarantee future of Jewish people as Israel, prepares for Barack Obama’s first visit as president”

    Pyromaniac guarantees integrity of house.

  6. seafoid says:

    Is Ehrenreich related to Barbara?

  7. K Renner says:

    I don’t know why people are confused over “young intelligent liberals” being hesitant to criticize the judeosuprematist state. Most of these “intelligent” liberals are also preposterously socially liberal- and as a result, they correlate “Arab” with “homophobic” or “misogynist” despite ample evidence showing the diversity of opinion in regard to social issues in the Arab world. They also, I suppose, never see some of the photos coming out of metropolitan areas in Beirut and Abu Dhabi (or Tehran, for that matter).
    I fear the same idea infests the minds of many “western” feminists, especially the younger ones. Or so I’ve seen.

  8. Bumblebye says:

    For an example of Eisner’s behavior when she thinks she won’t be found out (commenting on the Brooks piece, which also had an article here on MW):

    “You lying fat fuck! The Forward has an article from someone echoing your point; its not as of yet the opinion if the Forward’s editors. Its not an editorial but you want your hating followers to believe it is you lying fat fuck.

    Eat Shit, you self hating Jew!

    Posted by: BigMouth | March 09, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    >>”You lying fat fuck! The Forward has an article from someone echoing your point; its not as of yet the opinion if the Forward’s editors. Its not an editorial but you want your hating followers to believe it is you lying fat fuck.

    Eat Shit, you self hating Jew!

    Posted by: BigMouth | March 09, 2013 at 11:18 PM “<<

    The person who wrote that piece is Jane Eisner – Jane Eisner who is the Forward's Editor-in-Chief.

    idiot.

    Posted by: Shmarya | March 09, 2013 at 11:27 PM "

    link to failedmessiah.typepad.com

    Oops! Shmarya outed her!

  9. There has NEVER been a resistance against occupation which has been non-violent. Ever. Sure, some resistance movements may use non-violent tactics, but no national resistance has ever entirely eschewed the use of violence. Those who complain about the Palestinians’ use of violence (against an infinitely more violent Israeli occupation) don’t really mean it when they say they object to violence, but would support a ‘non-violent’ resistance. What they mean is that they don’t want Palestinians to resist the occupation. At all.

  10. eGuard says:

    Philip Weiss: Who is driving this conversation now? Anti-Zionists, non-Zionists.

    Liberal Zionists do, still, Phil. Now please go back to the issue, and forget about your internal American tribal stuff. No Palestinian is waiting to hear the outcome of these quibbles.

  11. Inanna says:

    Yes, apparently there’s a nice way to oppose the occupation. Too bad those liberal zionists shove their liberalism aside when it comes to Israel since I’m pretty sure that occupation, theft, ethnic cleansing are not really liberal values.

    • seafoid says:

      Ya’ni Inanna the Americans use the word “liberal” because it is haram to say “left wing”. Or “social democratic” .

      Colonisation in the 19th century was a liberal project – occupation, land theft and ethnic cleansing are thus liberal values but not social democratic values.

  12. a blah chick says:

    It’s really very simple, Jane wants the Palestinians to be non-violent because they’re easier to ignore that way.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “It’s really very simple, Jane wants the Palestinians to be non-violent because they’re easier to ignore that way.”

      That’s exactly right. She’s one of those people who have bought into the myths spouted by israeli supporters so much that she is willing to simply ignore the daily horrors that that state inflicts on the Palestinians and to blame them for their own suffering. It’s low and disgusting.

  13. pabelmont says:

    So the Palestinians should just adopt non-violent resistence and all would (soon?) be well? Have these bozos seen what Israel does to non-violent demonstrators? They’re imagining a cozy zionism, but ignoring the Zionism-in-fact. Facts-on-the-ground (you might almost say) give the lie to this cozy but evidence-impervious American defense of zionism.

  14. Chespirito says:

    Perhaps Ms. Eisner could write a “Chicken Soup for the Palestinian Soul” book to help fortify their “determination, character and [especially] patience.”

  15. Basilio says:

    I think many liberal Jews find it harder to be silent in the face of Israel’s brutal behavior when compared to say 20 to 30 years ago. Israel, in many ways, resembles apartheid South Africa, and there’s no question you have a status where a state is endeavoring to increase its ethnic supremacy over an other group. People who seek to defend Israel’s record want to ignore the fact that Israel’s a Jewish state that passes laws so that the Jewish population can lord over the Palestinians. It’s a tyranny of a majority over a minority, and if we consider the fact that Gaza and the West Bank do not enjoy sovereignty or freedom, then you have a Jewish minority controlling a Palestinian majority. When is Israel going to let those people go and live in dignity and end the occupation, and when are we going to stop supporting the status quo?

  16. MK_Ultra says:

    The Palestinians and their damn WMD (weapons of mass distraction). One of these days, they’re just going to have to be invaded and taught a lesson… oh, wait…!

  17. lysias says:

    Gandhi was only victorious because other people were violent.

    We have the word of none other than the British Viceroy in India at the time, Lord Linlithgow, that the level of violent protest against British rule after the Congress Party leaders — including Gandhi — were jailed as a result of their Quit India campaign in 1942 had been exceeded only by the Great Mutiny nearly 100 years before. The military resistance against British rule by Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army in the last years of World War Two ended up playing a critical role in leading the British to decide that they really would have to quit India, because the soldiers of the Indian National Army were generally regarded as patriots by the Indians, and, when the British attempted to try their officers for treason, the result was that there was general outrage in India and the Royal Indian Navy and the Indian Army mutinied, which for the British meant that the game was up.

  18. Woody Tanaka says:

    “Gandhi didn’t do it. The courageous African Americans who stood at the bridge in Selma didn’t do it. ”

    Gandhi and the Civil Rights marchers had the luck to have the British and Southern US governments as their enemies. The Palestinians have the misfortune of dealing with a people who are heartless an inhumane to a greater extent than those faced by Gandhi and the Civil Rights marchers. The terror forces of the israeli state don’t stop now from using disproportionate and deadly force, regardless of what the Palestinians do. The brutal and inhumane barbarians in control of the israeli state are not going to suddenly grow a conscience or humanity if the Palestinians were more non-violent. They would simply torture and oppress them more.

  19. W.Jones says:

    Matt asks about Eisner’s article:

    I’d like to know which part of this statement she disagrees with. Does she not believe that states based on ethnic or religious domination “lead inexorably to politics of exclusion” (a truism), or does she not believe that Zionism set out to establish an ethnic Jewish hegemony over a land already populated by non-Jews (an historical fact)? Or does she not believe that a “politics of exclusion” or “wholesale ethnic cleansing” constitute a “problem”?

    My guess is that Eisner expects her audience to automatically object to Ehrenreich for his philosophical disagreement with Zionism as an ideology. She merely quoted Ehrenreich and labeled him as making a “direct attack on Zionism”, but she does not explain theoretically why she supports the ideology of Zionism.

    Matt’s questions about pluralism might simply be too “deep”. My guess is that, as with many “liberal Zionists”, it is a little of both. She might find the terms “domination” and “hegemony” to be too strong for her (even if ethnic states like Turkey really do have ethnic hegemony over minorities like Armenians). And she might also not find this domination to be a problem, and find the idea of ethnic states to be OK, even though in fact they put minorities at a societal disadvantage.

    Ironically, dissatisfaction with living as a minority in ethnic states in Europe was a main motivation for creating Zionism in the first place. This shows that the exclusive aspect of Zionism would be a problem after all.

    • MHughes976 says:

      States based on ethnic or religious supremacy don’t just lead to exclusion, they are designed from the very beginning to exclude or humiliate the subdominant group.