Extremists & traitors

Israel/Palestine
on 88 Comments

Noah Millman has an odd, and disturbing, post up on the American Conservative website titled “Extremists in the Family” which deals with the intra-Jewish conversation on Israel/Palestine. It begins:

The subject came up at lunch recently, apropos of a writer for Mondoweiss who is apparently the son of people some of our guests knew. The young fellow spent some time in Gaza and has become a professional pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli (not necessarily the same thing) activist. There was much clucking around the table about the shame, until someone asked the question: well, would it be better or worse to have a son who became an extreme left-wing anti-Zionist – versus having a son who became a right-wing settler?

I would not describe the people around the table as right-wing in general, nor right-wing within the specific spectrum of Jewish opinion about the “situation” in the territories. In the American context, these were liberal Democrats; in the Israeli context, these were probably Yesh Atid types with no love for Netanyahu. But the immediate answer of the bulk of the group was: the settler would be obviously preferable. He would, after all, still be “family” in some sense, even if wayward.

But the mere fact that the question could be asked suggests that, on some level, the group understood that the settlement project as a whole occupies extreme ground. That a “settler son” was the appropriate hypothetical to compare to the “traitor son.” And how do we really decide when, and in defense of what, or whom, extremism actually is a vice? And what are we supposed to do then, when the extremist is “in the family?”

Putting aside the outrageous premise of comparing writing for this site with this, the piece is striking sociological reporting.  The fact that the people at this particular lunch would understand a settler as an “extreme” yet welcomed member of the community and a critic of Zionism as an irredeemable “traitor” is just another indication of the degree to which Zionism serves as the connective tissue of the American Jewish community. Whereas the litmus test for this son might once have been his religious practice, or who he chose to spend his life with, he is now outcast over his relationship to Jewish nationalism.

The writer in question is Max Ajl and his mother wrote the best response in the comment section to the post:

The writer you are speaking about is not ” in some sense, family.” He is family. He is my son. His father and I are immensely proud of him. He was raised in a Jewish household and went to a pluralistic Jewish day school. His sense of ethics and morality came from his very Jewish background.

Your are audacious in calling him the”traitor son.” He is acting on his convictions. He is a voice among many who speak for the voiceless. He has traveled to Gaza and seen defenseless people shot on their own land. He has watched the settlers build illegally while the Israeli government looks aside.

He is not a ” nice Jewish boy” . He is a man that I am proud to have raised. He is a Jew that needs to be listened to. He has something extremely important to say.

I applaud her response and of course agree with it in a sense. But I also wonder if writers like Ajl and myself are in fact traitors, if not to our immediate families then to our broader Jewish communities that have embraced the extremist over the critic?

Marc Ellis refers to Jewish dissidents in the community as Jews of Conscience, yet the concept of the race traitor feels appropriate to me, rejecting and challenging the ethos of the broader collective. I don’t consider myself an extremist, but I am clear I stand against the tide in the Jewish community. I take positions in support of Palestinian justice, equality and freedom that are considered heretical within the Jewish mainstream. At no point has my motive been to “betray” the community I was raised in, but I am aware that much of my writing and advocacy breaks community norms and is perceived as betrayal. If this community brands me a traitor for holding these beliefs, does it matter if I say I’m not? 

I’m aware there are Jewish activists that will say it’s possible to square this circle, to reject Zionism and “stay in the family” or remain engaged in the community. My own feelings on this question change almost daily, as well as my desire to even attempt to do so. Regardless of where I might fall on this I am also aware that this decision is not necessarily up to me. Extremists are debated and begrudgingly accepted. Traitors are expelled.

The lunchtime chat Millman reports on reflects a debate that was been swirling around Zionism for decades, and is endemic to any community swept with nationalist fervor. It comes down to the question – is he for us or for them? The settler is forgiven because, even violence aside, he is seen as working to advance the cause of our people, while the anti-Zionist has switched sides.  I’m reminded of the famous correspondence between Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt following the publication of Eichmann in Jerusalem where Scholem castigates Arendt for lacking Ahabath Israel or “love of the Jewish people.” Arendt’s response rings true for me today and perhaps still serves as an indication of where one line is drawn in the Jewish community – putting the love for people over the love for People. Arendt wrote:

You are quite right — I am not moved by any “love” of this sort . . . I have never in my life “loved” any people or collective — neither the German people, nor the French, nor the American, nor the working class or anything of that sort. I indeed love “only” my friends and the kind of love I know of and believe in is the love of persons.

And for this she was branded a traitor.

 

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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88 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    April 17, 2013, 5:01 pm

    RE: “[S]omeone asked the question: well, would it be better or worse to have a son who became an extreme left-wing anti-Zionist – versus having a son who became a right-wing settler? . . . But the immediate answer of the bulk of the group was: the settler would be obviously preferable. He would, after all, still be ‘family’ in some sense, even if wayward.” ~ Noah Millman

    MY COMMENT: Dare I say “two state fakers”?!?!

    SEE: “Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech with Gaza’s Ark”, By Robert Naiman, truth-out.org, 3/25/13

    [EXCERPT] . . . Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state; and Congress – which defers to AIPAC – doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words – not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that – but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me. . .
    . . . So, …the question boils down to this: Can we engage the multitude in civil society initiatives to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine . . . ?
    A compelling effort to do this is a project called Gaza’s Ark.
    Gaza’s Ark is a logical next step to follow the Gaza freedom flotillas, and some of the folks who helped organize previous flotillas are helping to put it in place. Unlike the flotillas, Gaza’s Ark isn’t going to sail into Gaza. It’s going to sail out from Gaza, carrying Palestinian exports. . .
    . . . Gaza’s Ark is starting a campaign to support Gaza’s economy by encouraging people to buy Gaza’s exports: “trade not aid,” as they say. It’s a “procott.” Don’t support the blockade? Put your money where your mouth is.
    I claim that by supporting Gaza’s Ark, you can support a civil society initiative to oppose the occupation without giving up any evenings. Put your money where your mouth is. Buy Palestinian goods from Gaza. If the Israeli government tries to stop you, then they’re interfering with your commerce.
    I claim that by supporting Gaza’s Ark, you can support a civil society initiative to oppose the occupation without giving up any evenings. You can sign up [I.E. SIGN THE PETITION] here. – link to gazaark.org

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to truth-out.org

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 17, 2013, 5:20 pm

      P.S. ALSO RE: “[S]omeone asked the question: well, would it be better or worse to have a son who became an extreme left-wing anti-Zionist – versus having a son who became a right-wing settler? . . . But the immediate answer of the bulk of the group was: the settler would be obviously preferable. He would, after all, still be ‘family’ in some sense, even if wayward.” ~ Noah Millman

      MY QUESTION: Do they mean that the settler “would still be family”, or that the settler “would still be La Familia”*?

      * SEE: “Beitar Jerusalem fans suspected of hurling flare at journalist’s home”, By Moshe Harush and Yuval Goren, Haaretz, 3/11/09

      [EXCERPTS] Police arrested on Tuesday four Beitar Jerusalem supporters on suspicion of hurling a flare at journalist Orly Vilnai’s home.
      Vilnai, the presenter of the investigative television program “Hashtulim” (The Moles), launched an investigation into a radical group of Beitar supporters, known as La Familia. . .
      . . . Haaretz has learned that one of Vilnai’s researchers penetrated the group, equipped with a secret video camera, and filmed two of its members instructing two teens how to make their way into the Israel Football Association offices in Ramat Gan and set them ablaze, as well as the smuggling of weapons into soccer fields. . .
      . . . La Familia was set up in 2005 as a result of dissent among Beitar supporters as to the nature of their desired activity. Its members, who are 16 to 25 years old, attempt to give it an image of underground organization. They are associated with far-right movements, and were sometimes seen among Kahane supporters. The group’s violent record led the Beitar management to disavow them.

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to haaretz.com

      • kalithea
        April 17, 2013, 11:48 pm

        La Familia. From roots to branches all in it in tacit solidarity up to their eyeballs.

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 17, 2013, 5:49 pm

      P.P.S. ALSO SEE WIKIPEDIA [La Familia (Beitar supporters' group)]:

      La Familia are an Association football supporters’ group of Israeli Premier League club Beitar Jerusalem.[1] They are known for their opposition to Arab and Muslim players.

      • Organization
      The organization began in 2005 and occupy the eastern sections of Teddy Stadium. Estimates of the group’s numbers vary. A reporter put the number at a few hundred[2] while a leader of the group said that it encompassed a network of 3,000 supporters.[3] At a home match in 2008, a correspondent for the BBC said that the group was about 20% of the crowd. They are the most vocal in the stadium and some local fans follow their chants.[2][3]
      La Familia is proud of its Jewish identity. The group is notorious for chants that insult Arab and black players, and for displaying the flag of the banned Kach party.[2] Cheers with lines such as “death to the Arabs”[4] and “Muhammad is a homosexual”[5] are common. Unlike other top clubs in the country, no Arabs have ever played for Beitar. La Familia has continuously raised strong objections to any Arab transfers.[6] The group was adamantly against the signing of Nigerian Muslim (who lasted half a season in 2005) and the 2013 transfer of two Chechnyan Muslims.[7]
      The team has roots in the Betar Zionist youth movement and has been supported by several Israeli politicians on the political right throughout its history. La Familia has similarly been labeled far-right and is openly against those they view as being on the left.[4][8] The club has publicly condemned the group and has gone as far as barring it from a match.[7] Some Beitar fans have expressed embarrassment over the organization and openly oppose their ideals.[9][7]

      • Incidents
      During a December 2007 Toto Cup semifinal game between Beitar Jerusalem and the Israeli-Arab team Bnei Sakhnin, Beitar Jerusalem fans took up provocative chants that insulted Muhammed. The Israel Football Association (IFA) punished Beitar by forcing them to play their next game against Sakhnin with no fans present. Vandals set fire to the IFA’s offices and left graffiti threatening the life of the IFA chairman. The graffiti included the initials “LF” for La Familia, but the group denied involvement.[10][11]
      Beitar was disciplined in 2008 after fans disrupted a minute of silence to mark the death of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Later that year La Familia led a pitch invasion in what would have been a title-clinching win against Bnei Herziliya. The IFA deducted two points from Beitar and ordered that the next game be played behind closed doors.[12] In December 2011, fans yelled “Give Toto a banana”[2] towards Nigerian-born Toto Tamuz. The IFA again punished Beitar with a two-point deduction and another game in an empty stadium.
      Supporters stormed the Malha Mall after a match in March 2012 while chanting racist slurs. It was reported that Arab workers were harassed and beaten.[6]
      The club’s 2013 signing of two Chechnyan Muslims, Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev, raised anger from the supporters. Members of La Familia set a team office blaze after the announcement.[7] Fans walked out of a match in March that saw Sadayev score his fist goal for Beitar.[13]
      [REFERENCES]
      [EXTERNAL LINKS]

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

      • kalithea
        April 17, 2013, 11:51 pm

        Self-explanatory; racists without borders expanding their reach.

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 17, 2013, 5:56 pm

      P.P.P.S. RE: La Familia is proud of its Jewish identity… The team has roots in the Betar Zionist youth movement and has been supported by several Israeli politicians on the political right throughout its history.” ~ WIKIPEDIA [La Familia (Beitar supporters' group)]

      ● FROM WIKIPEDIA [Betar]:

      (EXCERPT) The Betar Movement (בית”ר, also spelled Beitar) is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky. Betar has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group Irgun Zevai Leumi. It was one of many right-wing movements and youth groups arising at that time out of a worldwide emergence of fascism.[1] Some of the most prominent politicians of Israel were Betarim in their youth, most notably Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, the latter of whom idolized Jabotinsky.[2]. . .
      . . . The group initially praised Mussolini for his anti-communism and fascist principles, leading it to adopt the black uniform shirt of Italian fascism for a short period. Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia, however, was seen as “cowardly” by Betar and led them to break with him shortly after.[8] . . .

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

      ● ALSO SEE: “The Hidden History of Zionism”, Chapter 6, by Ralph Schoenman

      [EXCERPT] . . . Mussolini set up squadrons of the Revisionist Zionist youth movement, Betar, in black shirts in emulation of his own Fascist bands.
      When Menachem Begin became chief of Betar, he preferred the brown shirts of the Hitler gangs, a uniform Begin and Betar members wore to all meetings and rallies – at which they greeted each other and opened and closed meetings with the fascist salute. . .

      SOURCE – link to marxists.de

      ● P.P.S. RE: “Mussolini set up squadrons of the Revisionist Zionist youth movement, Betar, in black shirts in emulation of his own Fascist bands.” ~ from the Wikipedia excerpt above
      • SEE WIKIPEDIA [Blackshirts] – link to en.wikipedia.org
      • AND SEE THIS VIDEO – Mussolini in Color : The Blackshirts [VIDEO, 02:24] – link to youtube.com

      • kalithea
        April 17, 2013, 11:30 pm

        Notice how Zionist Betar fascists are glorified on this site:

        link to jewishvirtuallibrary.org

        One cannot overstate the manner in which the Nakba was executed resulting in the expulsion and ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and total annihilation of Palestinian villages repeated again in 1967 or the manner in which the Nakba was erased from the pages of history.

        It takes a village of well-trained fascists hiding behind legitimacy and a victim facade to commit and get away with such a staggering crime.

  2. Donald
    April 17, 2013, 5:06 pm

    In your shoes I’d probably be tempted to embrace the “traitor” label out of anger or contempt, but since I’m not in your shoes and can look at the subject as an outsider, I say “Don’t do it. Don’t let these idiots get to dictate who is a good Jew and who is a bad Jew.” What these people at Noah’s dinner party were doing is bad even for Judaism–they’re saying that to be a good Jew, a member of the family, you can be the moral equivalent of a KKK activist, but you can’t be someone who speaks out against racist crimes, if the racist crimes were committed in the name of Judaism. Which is a crock. And anti-semitic.

    It’s as if a white Southerner had said, circa 1965, that KKK members, while a little embarrassing, were part of the family, but any white southerner who joined up with the Freedom Riders was a traitor. Well, I was too young to join (and probably too chicken), but if that’s what being a traitor meant, well obviously the decent person would want to be a traitor.

    On the “people” vs. “People” thing, Noah is trying to claim that both sides are doing this–the “traitors” identify with whoever the politically correct victim of the day is, while the “extremists” (and those at that dinner table) identify with their ethnic group. But I don’t think all “extremists” do this. Some identify with individual people as people, and so get upset when they see people being treated like animals. For myself, I don’t particularly identify with Palestinians–it’s just a fact that they are a group my tax dollars are being used to harm, and I have to listen to idiot American politicians talking about this like it’s some kind of honor that we are allied with Israel while they do these things. We do enough oppressing on our own without having to subsidize and praise other morons.

    • ToivoS
      April 18, 2013, 12:25 am

      It’s as if a white Southerner had said, circa 1965, that KKK members, while a little embarrassing, were part of the family, but any white southerner who joined up with the Freedom Riders was a traitor.

      Perfect comparison.

      Those good old boys were definitely part the southern tribe. Certainly before 1964 any white Southener that supported civil rights for the Negro people were considered traitors.

    • Krauss
      April 19, 2013, 3:32 am

      What these people at Noah’s dinner party were doing is bad even for Judaism–they’re saying that to be a good Jew, a member of the family, you can be the moral equivalent of a KKK activist, but you can’t be someone who speaks out against racist crimes, if the racist crimes were committed in the name of Judaism.

      There’s so much win in your post, Donald, that it feels unfair to pick out a single paragraph. But if I had to do it, I’d pick this one.

      What Millman is writing about is essentially the level of racism that has gone unchecked in the Jewish community and Israel is the fault line that reveals the pathology.

      I mean, there’s always been this tension between the way we perceive ourselves and how we actually behave. A good example is after MLK’s death. The lore is that we fought on the barricades on civil rights issues(many of our community did, but it was still not a widespread phenomenom) but then the vast majority of Jews fled to the white suburbs along with other embittered whites. No racial sympathy or loyalty in our own personal lives with African-Americans. Better have them at an arm’s length to morally grandstand our WASPish neighbour(who we secretly desire to live next to).

      Another example is the entire career of Matt Weiner. Here is a classic liberal Jew, who came of age in Hollywood. Yet if you look at Man Men his portrayal of PoC is nonexistent. The defence is “well those were the times” but my crazy conspiracy theory is perhaps he enjoys working with whites/wasps a lot more than black/brown people. If you look at his previous work, it isn’t a crazy thought. But by going back in time, you can deflect the kind of acusations that are inevitably levied against you like Lena Dunham had to face.

      But these domestic cultural issues are complicated and there’s no sure-fire way to prove one thing or another. Israel is another story. And there the racism can be laid bare, nakedly, which is why Millman’s story is so striking.

      But the competing narratives being fought in the background of young Jews is nothing new. We’re told we’re liberal but we’re also told dating outside of our narrow little group is not only wrong but maybe even treasonous. Yet at the same time, would not a vast majority of us condemn a white neighbour for instructing his daughters to only date white? To have both of these belief systems in your head, one for us, one of them, requires a certain level of shizophrenia or it helps if you’re an actual racist and just want to pretend in front of others that you’re not.

  3. Susie Kneedler
    April 17, 2013, 5:10 pm

    Wow, Adam, thanks: brilliant. And how sad.

  4. mcohen
    April 17, 2013, 5:16 pm

    Extremists & traitors
    by Adam Horowitz on April 17, 2013 says

    “That a “settler son” was the appropriate hypothetical to compare to the “traitor son.””
    a question for you mr horowitz-moving away from the middle east

    so which “son” was responsible for the bombs in boston

    more importantly who provided the manifesto that sets the action in motion
    the “settler” son or the”traitor” son ?

    • Annie Robbins
      April 17, 2013, 7:36 pm

      so which “son” was responsible for the bombs in boston

      is that an either or? do you know something we don’t?

  5. piotr
    April 17, 2013, 5:33 pm

    But you are traitors!

    Some people claim that there is a war of ideas in the Middle East, and where is a war, there are sides, and where there are sides there are traitors. In the case of Max Ajl, his mother was clearly a contributing factor — pluralistic upbringing? Proud of it? As could be expected. If I could admonish Mrs. Ajl, I would dedicate this song to her:

  6. yourstruly
    April 17, 2013, 5:51 pm

    think of willy brandt, adam

    for opposing nazi germany

    wasn’t he looked upon as a traitor by that nation & its supporters

    forced into exile

    yet history vindicated him

    because after ww ii he returned to germany and went on to become chancellor

    not that you aim for such heights

    sure the enmity of friends hurts

    but what’s the alternative?

    caving-in?

    then how would you feel about yourself?

  7. John Douglas
    April 17, 2013, 6:16 pm

    Adam, This is a wonderful post. As a retired philosophy prof., I find so much good philosophy here. Reading your piece I thought of King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written to liberals, Christian and Jews specifically, who support his goals but not his methods. He’s off the liberal reservation, doing rather than chatting. Here’s a bit.
    “I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who . . . prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; . . . “

    • Danaa
      April 18, 2013, 5:12 pm

      John Douglas,

      That is a really excellent comparison. And right on the money.
      Embracing the sufferings of people persecuted by one’s own tribe (whatever that “tribe” is) is bound to be perceived as treason against the group of which one is supposed to be a part. Whenever people choose to enlarge their view of who their ‘tribe” is – to include all members of the human family – they will incur the wrath of not just those mired in their own parochialism, but of those among their group whose ultimate commitment is to “peace and quiet”. That’s why progressives did not give full throated support to the Occupy movement and even now, as we speak, are slithering away in the shadow of the abominable killer drone program condoned and practiced by their own supposed leaders of the democratic camp.

      I am also reminded of the kids who rose against the Vietnam war and of Jane Fonda who went to North Vietnam and was branded as a “traitor’ ever after. But your quotation is by far the most astute, all the more praise-worthy for being so succint.

  8. radii
    April 17, 2013, 6:43 pm

    you go mom!

  9. dimadok
    April 17, 2013, 6:43 pm

    I think putting yourself at the same slot as Arendt is a bit preposterous, but let it be on your conscience.
    I would like to comment on your remark: ” I take positions in support of Palestinian justice, equality and freedom that are considered heretical within the Jewish mainstream.” Nice touch, but why you would say the half-truth here.
    The fact is that you, Weiss and Ajl argue for the sake of Palestinian rights, completely denying the rights of Israeli citizens, Jews and others, to live their life in pursuit of national aspirations. This effectively, and not theoretically, aligns you and aforementioned activists, with the sworn enemies of Israel, religious or nationalistic alike. That what makes you a traitor.
    Criticize Israel till kingdom come, scrutinize it till your face turns blue, but you have to check your starting line. Yours lays with the enemies of ours, my State, that just had celebrate it’s 65th birthday.
    Human rights argument has to cut both ways, but here it is only applied towards the weak side. That’s also fine with me, since I know that if things would turn otherwise, we Jews would be hunted down and living in constant fear.

    • piotr
      April 17, 2013, 11:55 pm

      dimadok,

      perhaps you are not familiar with curses heaped upon the memory of Hannah Arendt. This is what professor Ruben Gur wrote on the occasion of BDS conference at U Penn: ” Sadly, [...] there are Jews among the posse in the assault on their own people. The macabre sight of the likes of Stella Kübler, (arguably Hannah Arendt) and the Capos in the extermination camps is about to be replayed here at Penn.” So for some reason intelligent Zionists are putting Nazi collaborators, Hannah Arendt and BDS activists in one sentence. Adam did not mention Arendt gratuitously.

      Another issue that you raised is that the strong side also has human rights. This is a fascinating topic: yes, the powerful are human too and they have their rights too. But it is also fair to observe that the powerful have their champions regardless of the activity on low cost web sites like mondowess.com. For examples, the rich also have the right to enjoy life, and many Republicans lamented their plight — for example, the rich pay more taxes then the poor even though they have their needs too, and though they create jobs for the less fortunate. Moreover, exempting the poor from taxes simply encourages unhealthy behavior: it is documented that the rich lifestyle is healthier.

    • ToivoS
      April 18, 2013, 12:32 am

      Oh whoopee, dimoduk believes that Jews who support justice for Palestinians are traitors. Traitors to what? To the United States? To Zionism? To a foreign nation that is not the US?

      Please oh dimoduk give us your definition of traitor and while you do let us know if you think Jonathan Pollard is a traitor.

    • Cliff
      April 18, 2013, 3:51 am

      Palestinians are not immigrants.

      Your nationalism is not benign.

      Your nationalism came at the cost of their homeland.

      And your human rights are not violated as much as theirs is. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

      If you regard all activists as your enemies then I suggest you stick to your usual laughably childish one-liners and vanish, only to reappear again and repeat the cycle of simplistic, UNSUBSTANTIATED, nonsense.

      You’re a true believer, so no one cares. True believers cannot sympathize with the people they are destroying nor can they see past their (minuscule) suffering to see the suffering they’ve caused.

      Israel is a nation of KKK members and you’re no different.

    • Peter in SF
      April 18, 2013, 5:17 am

      dimadok:

      The fact is that you, Weiss and Ajl argue for the sake of Palestinian rights, completely denying the rights of Israeli citizens, Jews and others, to live their life in pursuit of national aspirations.

      First, most of those “others” of non-Jewish Israeli citizens are Palestinians. And second, we argue on this blog that most Palestinians ought to have the rights of Israeli citizens, because either they live in the area under Israeli government control, or they have homes in the area now under Israeli government control but the Israeli government bars them from returning not only to those homes, but even to the entirety of the area under Israeli government control.

      This effectively, and not theoretically, aligns you and aforementioned activists, with the sworn enemies of Israel, religious or nationalistic alike. That what makes you a traitor.

      Horowitz, Weiss and Ajl are not Israelis, so they cannot be traitors to Israel.

      • Shmuel
        April 18, 2013, 5:28 am

        Horowitz, Weiss and Ajl are not Israelis, so they cannot be traitors to Israel.

        I am an Israeli, but the label is irrelevant to me. It’s dimadok’s (and Millman’s) frame of reference.

      • bintbiba
        April 18, 2013, 10:25 am

        Good to see you again,Shmuel. I’ve missed reading your presence on MW.
        Whatever happened to Mooser? I hope he is well .
        N.

      • Shmuel
        April 19, 2013, 2:39 am

        Thank you, bintbiba. Good to be back.

    • Sumud
      April 18, 2013, 8:55 am

      Human rights argument has to cut both ways, but here it is only applied towards the weak side.

      You have accused Adam, Phil and Max Ajl of favouring Palestinians and seeking to deny Israelis their human rights.

      Can you please name the specific human rights you think these 3 are seeking to deny Israelis? Please don’t answer with generic or motherhood terms such as “national aspirations”, I’m asking you to name the specific laws or human rights you think will be denied to Israelis.

      • piotr
        April 18, 2013, 2:48 pm

        One right is to celebrate holidays in satisfactory manner. In Israel, part of the celebration is to lock down Palestinians, i.e. closing he checkpoint and crossings. Or to visit pilgrimage site in a satisfactory manner, which entails locking down a part of a Palestinian city.

        Second aspect is to “feel secure”. Israelis feel more secure when the undesirable riff-raff is humiliated at the airports (to mention on of many things that they need).

    • Shingo
      April 18, 2013, 9:24 am

      That’s also fine with me, since I know that if things would turn otherwise, we Jews would be hunted down and living in constant fear.

      So you are using an imaginary scenario to justify hunting others down and subjecting them to constant fear. Of course, what you are saying is that you fear that the Palestinians would behave as badly as you do.

      BTW. Don’t you guys still insist you live in constant fear anyway?

      • seafoid
        April 18, 2013, 10:01 am

        “Don’t you guys still insist you live in constant fear anyway?”

        Only during business hours.

        link to haaretz.com
        “The contradictions of Israeli self-presentation – “we are very strong/we are very vulnerable”; “we are in control of our fate/we are the victims”; “we are a normal state/we demand special treatment” – are not new: they have been part of the country’s peculiar identity almost from the outset. And Israel’s insistent emphasis upon its isolation and uniqueness, its claim to be both victim and hero, were once part of its David versus Goliath appeal. ”

        the canard “we have to torture and dehumanise palestinians, otherwise they will murder us” is despicable.

      • K Renner
        April 18, 2013, 10:26 am

        Yeah, it’s “WHY DO THEY HATE US IT’S NOT LIKE WE STOLE/INVADED THEIR LAND AND MURDERED THEIR LOVED ONES AND STARVED THEIR FRIENDS OR ANYTHING! IT’S ANTI SEMITISM! ANTI SEMITISM IS HERE! WE CAN NEVER BE SAFE BECAUSE WE ARE THE VICTIMS FOR ETERNITY! PITY US!”

    • K Renner
      April 18, 2013, 10:24 am

      “The sworn enemies of Israel”- you make the people your state has attacked and oppressed sound like villains in a story book.
      Nice work with the “Jew as the perpetual victim” schtick as well. Whatever helps you sleep at night, assuming you have even a single scrap of morality left in your body.

    • RoHa
      April 18, 2013, 10:46 pm

      “the rights of Israeli citizens, Jews and others, to live their life in pursuit of national aspirations.”

      What does “live in pursuit of national aspirations” mean?
      What is the basis for the alleged right to live “in pursuit of national aspirations”?
      Is this a right that all people are supposed to have, or is it only for Israeli citizens?

  10. Stephen Shenfield
    April 17, 2013, 6:44 pm

    In either case — whether you accept the label of “traitor” or say that you are not a traitor (implying that perhaps someone else is) — you are accepting “traitor” as a meaningful concept and thereby accepting the moral framework of ethnic warfare that gives the concept meaning. It is better not even to try to engage with people who think and talk this way. Instead let us stick to a sharply distinct alternative framework of humanistic values and offer it to those whose minds are open.

  11. Citizen
    April 17, 2013, 6:57 pm

    Adam, what do you think would transpire if those “people around the table” heard Pollard’s name raised? Would they view him as a traitor to the land and state he was born and bred in, the same one as theirs, or as patriot for a foreign state, Israel? And what would they say about his taking lots of money for his patriotic mission? What if somebody raised the subject of the attack on USS Liberty or the bulldozing of Rachel Corrie? Would they behave the same if Corrie’s parents came to the table? Finally,
    how about an analogy with an all-American gentile family sitting down at the table, at which somebody starts criticizing their own government, for example, it’s preemptive war on Iraq, or its “special relationship” with Israel? You don’t need to be a Jew to have family dissent and friction over political matters regarding foreign policy. Would it be better or worse to have a son who became an extreme Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul supporter fighting for a more balanced view of US foreign policy – versus having a son who religiously supported the likes of Dick Chaney?

  12. Sumud
    April 17, 2013, 7:01 pm

    If you want to assert that because of Israel’s behaviour in Palestine, jews are genetically disposed to steal from, bully, torture and kill other people (which strikes me as rather anti-semitic) then by all means, you are a race traitor Adam.

    But we know that is garbage – zionists are the extremists, not you. So don’t take on board other peoples baggage.

    • Donald
      April 17, 2013, 9:45 pm

      “If you want to assert that because of Israel’s behaviour in Palestine, jews are genetically disposed to steal from, bully, torture and kill other people (which strikes me as rather anti-semitic) then by all means, you are a race traitor Adam.

      But we know that is garbage – zionists are the extremists, not you. So don’t take on board other peoples baggage.”

      That’s what I was trying to say in a more longwinded way upthread.

    • kalithea
      April 17, 2013, 10:26 pm

      Okay, but then no one ever asks how many Jews are Zionists. Why is that? If people don’t ask that question; it’s because they know Zionism is wrong and they’re afraid of the answer…too many.

      So be careful when you define anti-Semitism with such a broad interpretation; it limits how far justice can attribute responsibility for damages. It’s like saying the German people were not complicit or did not enable what the Nazis did. And they did enable; they were complicit THEN and AS A PEOPLE they were forced to make amends with their tax dollars and rightly so. You can’t exonerate people who support a supremacist ideology of all blame.

      It’s about making a choice to support right or wrong, and if someone supports wrong and others suffer as a result of that material support then that someone is just as guilty as the one actually commiting the wrong. Complicity with a crime is a crime.

      And by material support, I don’t mean just funding settlement expansion; I mean hasbara propaganda; I mean illegal settlement tourism, sale of products, cooperation with in any way, etc.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        April 18, 2013, 7:32 am

        Why “rightly so,” Kalithea? Do you really think it right that the “Germans as a people” should have been “forced to make amends” (not only with tax dollars but above all by assuming a heavy burden of guilt and stigma) — including all those who always voted against the Nazis before 1933 (the Nazis never won the votes of a majority of the German people in a free election), those who continued at enormous personal risk to resist after 1933, and the generations who were still children or unborn in 1945?

        “Jews as a people” will really be in trouble if the principle of collective responsibility is ever applied to us, because the degree to which we as a collectivity are responsible for Zionism is much greater than the degree of the Germans’ responsibility for Nazism. Thanks to the internet and websites like Mondoweiss, we will not be able to claim that we did not know what was going on.

  13. Mayhem
    April 17, 2013, 7:02 pm

    From Ben Cohen’s article “Attacking Israel Online” at link to commentarymagazine.com we see that your efforts Adam provide immunity for those who deep down despise Israel and Jewish influence:

    The persistent inclusion of these “dissident voices” in discussions of America, Jews, and Israel has proven very useful indeed, since their membership in the tribe is deemed to give them special standing in presenting their indictment of Israel—and, somewhat more subtly, inoculates Gentile critics of the Jewish state against the charge that their attacks on Israel might be anti-Semitic.

    and about your comrade-in-arms Weiss

    The practice of selectively quoting Jewish advocates against themselves is associated most of all with neo-Nazi propaganda outfits such as the website Jew Watch, so Weiss is in exactly the kind of company he deserves.

    You might not yourself utter the oft alleged anti-semitic tirades that frequently grace the pages of Mondoweiss, but you offer a vehicle for others who do.

    This is reinforced by Philip Mendes at link to abc.net.au

    BDS proponents malevolently exploit the willingness of self-denying Jews to vilify their own people. The BDS campaign has tapped into the long history of radical Left anti-Semitism whereby a small number of unrepresentative token Jews (some would call them “Uncle Toms” but I prefer the term “self-denying” Jews since they deny any feeling of solidarity with other Jews who are oppressed or attacked) are opportunistically encouraged to exploit their own religious and cultural origins in order to vilify their own people.
    The radical Left would never employ such techniques against other historically oppressed groups.

    During the Marrickville BDS furore in Australia recently, Mendes went further to show how “this offensive and ridiculous misrepresentation of Jewish views was prominent”. He mentioned Lee Rhiannon (ex Communist Greens politician) who had claimed that “many Jewish communities support this work”. Mendes emphasized his argument, “In fact, no Jewish communities support the BDS, and the only Jewish community group in Marrickville, the Inner West Jewish Community and Friends Peace Alliance which is left-oriented and strongly supportive of a two-state solution, devoted considerable time and resources to opposing the Marrickville BDS proposal.”

    • Annie Robbins
      April 17, 2013, 9:09 pm

      ;-0 commentary mag! shiver me timbers

      • aiman
        April 18, 2013, 9:56 am

        Annie, Djinn and Shingo,

        Mendes once came to lecture Mondoweiss, I remember from a comment ages ago. He never returned, wonder why, though that’s one less hasbarist. “Mendes and co.” tried to bully Overland magazine and failed: link to overland.org.au

        I was googling for his exact comment on Mondoweiss but instead came upon a dishonest recent article smearing Mondoweiss. Mendes, of course, couldn’t miss commenting on it and ran with his usual propaganda.

      • Donald
        April 19, 2013, 11:27 am

        I looked at Mayhem’s link–all the usual nonsense you’d expect from a COMMENTARY writer, with even Peter Beinart lumped in as a self-hating Jew. Nuff said.

    • Djinn
      April 17, 2013, 9:52 pm

      Mendes once claimed I was a liar because when a LTTE I wrote about the morality of BDS was printed, I didn’t write that I was a known activist for Palestine. In other words at the end of a letter in support of the BDS I didn’t write “I support Palestinian liberation”.

      He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.

    • kalithea
      April 17, 2013, 10:46 pm

      “In fact, no Jewish communities support the BDS”

      Sadly, I suspect this may be true. Which proves that the majority of Jews support Zionism. Today, you may ask: And what’s wrong with that? In some not so distint future, you’ll pretend you had nothing whatsoever to do with the crimes actually occuring against a nation of Palestinians and you’ll plead “innocent”, you didn’t provide any kind of support even hasbara propaganda, BUT, a future more just, more evolved society and history will judge your very harshly and DESERVEDLY SO!

    • Shingo
      April 18, 2013, 1:59 am

      BDS proponents malevolently exploit the willingness of self-denying Jews to vilify their own people.

      Because we know that only self-denying Jews have a conscience and empathy.

      This is reinforced by Philip Mendes

      Who happens to be a phony. He presents the argument as one between a “Greater Israel” solution and a “Greater Palestine” solution .

      Except that there is no such thing as a “Greater Palestine” solution .

      Note all the comments in Mendes article. 90% of them call him out for his dishonesty and lies. Little wonder that Mayhem agrees with him.

    • Cliff
      April 18, 2013, 3:47 am

      No one knows what you’re blabbering about Mayhem.

      Provide evidence that is relevant to this website and its authors.

      • Mayhem
        April 18, 2013, 9:21 am

        No one knows what you’re blabbering about Mayhem.

        @Cliff, that’s the problem with your position – it’s riddled with ignorance and peppered with arrogance and contempt.
        If you had any truly Jewish acquaintances they could explain the perversity of the self-hating Jew.

      • Cliff
        April 19, 2013, 8:42 am

        Riddled with ignorance and peppered with arrogance and contempt?

        Are you sure you’re not talking about Sabra Hummus?

        LOL

      • K Renner
        April 19, 2013, 9:01 am

        You’re a joke. Apparently “self hating jew” to you is a jew who sees Palestinians/Arabs at large as human beings and not “evil scum”, or what have you.

  14. Citizen
    April 17, 2013, 7:04 pm

    History reveals that every time anyone is critical of government action impacting beyond local domestic issues, their patriotism is called into question. Does anyone doubt that any Israeli settler who came from America would not stand for a moment anyone doing back in the USA what he or she gets to do in Israel? Res ipsa loquitur.

  15. Annie Robbins
    April 17, 2013, 7:39 pm

    adam, i think this could be, of all the posts you’ve written (quite a few!), my favorite. hats off to you.

    • ToivoS
      April 18, 2013, 12:44 am

      annie, I agree. Adam has written a number of good posts over the past few years. This is one of his best. It is interesting to see young writers evolve.

  16. Inanna
    April 17, 2013, 8:53 pm

    Adam, you’re only a traitor if you accept their definitions and their redlines. They are the ones being anti-semitic by conflating their Judaism with Zionism.

  17. yonah fredman
    April 17, 2013, 9:01 pm

    There seems to be an assumption that the probability that a right wing settler engages in violence (other than the illegal nature of his presence, but actual violence) is more than .5, and I believe this is not true.

    Here is the quote that seems to be based upon this assumption- “Putting aside the outrageous premise of comparing writing for this site with this,” and “this” is linked to settler violence.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 17, 2013, 9:13 pm

      yonah, iow by US standards that would be the equivalent of 1.5 million armed and dangerous fanatics near our borders supported by the US military. i’d say they could do some damage.

      • yonah fredman
        April 17, 2013, 9:55 pm

        I think the settler enterprise was a bad idea strategically (for Israel) geostrategically (for the United States) and morally (for the cause of human democracy and fairness). But I think that when one says, on the one side you have someone who writes for mondoweiss and on the other side you have someone who engages in violence as specified by the link, is in fact misinterpreting what the people at the dinner were discussing. The theoretical person referred to by the diners was someone who was involved in the settler enterprise but not personally involved with violence and adam horowitz’s citing a link to actual acts of violence is yet another case of rhetorical excess.

      • Cliff
        April 18, 2013, 3:47 am

        Wondering Jew,

        Where is your evidence?

      • Cliff
        April 18, 2013, 3:58 am

        How do you know the comparison was made to a non-violent, benign settler, who just wandered into occupied territory and accidentally began colonizing the Palestinians land.

        And when he was told to stop, he simply could not hear, for this settler has a trouble hearing – so he innocently kept colonizing, who could blame a deaf settler?

        Oh, Wondering Jew, you do wonder too much.

      • talknic
        April 18, 2013, 5:25 am

        yonah fredman “The theoretical person referred to by the diners was someone who was involved in the settler enterprise but not personally involved with violence and adam horowitz’s citing a link to actual acts of violence is yet another case of rhetorical excess”

        A) They’re involve in the illegal settler enterprise = criminal
        B) The rhetorical excesses of Israeli propaganda railing against Palestinians is legend “when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us” More link to wp.me
        C) The majority of Palestinians have never fired a rocket, never picked up a gun, probably never thrown a stone at an illegal Israeli settler. They were ALL children in 1948. They didn’t fight any Jews, they didn’t support Al Husseinni when he met Hitler, he wasn’t a representative of the people of Palestine at the time. No Palestinians fought on his behalf in the Balkans. The Palestinians of the time didn’t elect him to represent them. They have not claimed anything other than their legal rights. They are not claiming any Israeli territory, (RoR is not a claim to ‘territory’). They have never taken any Israeli territory.

      • yourstruly
        April 18, 2013, 11:34 am

        stealing another people’s land is an act of violence.

      • Dutch
        April 18, 2013, 1:42 pm

        @ Yonah: ‘The theoretical person referred to by the diners was someone who was involved in the settler enterprise but not personally involved with violence.’

        Living on ethnically cleansed land is a very violent thing to do. All settlers commit violence and crimes each day, even if they don’t pick op the guns themselves.

      • Cliff
        April 19, 2013, 1:58 pm

        Wondering Jew

        Where is ur evidence that the scenario u suggest is that which was proposed by the people in the article?

    • Bumblebye
      April 17, 2013, 9:38 pm

      The right wing settler, indeed every Israeli, engaged in violence when thay voted for the continuation of the occupation, the continuing theft of resources, land, destruction of homes of Palestinians, denial of their own resources to them, continuation of the humiliation of checkpoints, the wall, roaming violent gangs of press-ganged youth in uniform, and so forth. Every zionist living outside of Israel who squawks that justice for Palestinians equates to the ‘destruction of Israel’ is guilty of continuing the violence. Every donor to zionist causes, every Israeli taxpayer, continues the violence. Occupation is violence. It violates the human spirit every minute of every day. Of course the Israeli governments bear the primary responsibility, but the settlers are second on the list.

      • yourstruly
        April 18, 2013, 11:37 am

        if what it takes to bring justice to palestine requires the destruction of israel (the entity, not its people), so be it.

    • Donald
      April 17, 2013, 9:49 pm

      The comparison is outrageous even comparing a settler who hasn’t personally engaged in violence with a Mondoweiss front pager. The settler is benefiting from a vicious and racist system. Mondoweiss writers are criticizing that system. I know it’s common for people to see themselves as the happy middle between two extremes, but in this case one extreme is in favor of bigotry and prejudice and the other is in favor of human rights.

    • ToivoS
      April 18, 2013, 1:32 am

      Yonah writes: There seems to be an assumption that the probability that a right wing settler engages in violence (other than the illegal nature of his presence, but actual violence) is more than .5, and I believe this is not true.

      I agree with this. But let me change your words a bit but referring Germany 1938:

      There seems to be an assumption that the probability that a right wing Germans engages in violence against Jews (other than the illegal nature of his presence, but actual violence) is more than .5, and I believe this is not true.

      Yonah is correct. I think that only about 10% of the Nazis were sufficiently psychopathic to carry out the holocaust. But some how during the course of WWII they gained total political power. The rest is history.

    • Ecru
      April 18, 2013, 2:03 am

      I’d say taking part in the theft of land, the theft of resources, the deliberate oppression of another group and being complicit in all violence carried out to support a “settler” life-style constitutes a monumental amount of violence even if the “settler” never personally picks up a rock or lights a match.

  18. RoHa
    April 17, 2013, 11:06 pm

    To be a traitor to a group, you have to act against a group to which you owe loyalty.

    Do you owe loyalty to “the Jewish community.” If so, why?

  19. Sycamores
    April 18, 2013, 12:18 am

    Adam what comes first, a person of consciousness or a person that follows traditions and religion of an ethnic group? if both work together – great! if they don’t follow your conscience.

  20. Taxi
    April 18, 2013, 1:02 am

    The ultimate loyalty that matters is to immutable Truth – the great sieve separating delusion from reality.

    It ain’t easy though, waving that flag highest before the eyes of a sick world. Could get you assassinated, crucified, disappeared. Figuratively, or literally. Yes the pompous deluded ‘dining’ classes will (character) assassinate a truth-teller; but when Truth is uttered, all the (verbal) bullets and gasoline-gags in the world can’t stop the crisp echo from spreading out.

    Mega Kudos to Adam and Phil and the growing number of jews against zionist injustices. You guys really are the bravest – putting yourselves right there on the front lines, armed with ONLY a clear conscience, facing daily and nightly attacks by that loathsome toothy beast we call ‘ignorance’.

    • Sumud
      April 18, 2013, 9:38 am

      Mega Kudos to Adam and Phil and the growing number of jews against zionist injustices. You guys really are the bravest – putting yourselves right there on the front lines, armed with ONLY a clear conscience, facing daily and nightly attacks by that loathsome toothy beast we call ‘ignorance’.

      +1!!!

  21. Ecru
    April 18, 2013, 2:00 am

    I would say that when a community has gotten to the point where it will happily dismiss the crimes of its members against those of any other community (Settlers) and would rather disown those that stand for justice for all irrespective of origin (Pro-Palestinian campaigners), then it no longer deserves loyalty but rather deserves betrayal.

    Do we condemn those Germans who betrayed Nazi Germany? Those Palestinians who helped Jews escape death in the Hebron riots? Those “Whites” who campaigned against Slavery and Jim Crow? No we honour them, and rightfully so. The ones we condemn were the morally bankrupt and cowards who aided the crimes, for the single reason that it was their “group” perpetrating them.

    One last point – it has long been an anti-semitic claim that Jews do not view any act against non-Jews as a crime. The people at this dinner party seem intent on proving this old charge, for themselves at least, true. Complete with their own version of the “Settler” as a “Jewish good old boy”. Very very sad.

  22. Cliff
    April 18, 2013, 3:56 am

    Max’s mom is so awesome.

    Her response was perfect.

    To think that comments section will be filled with narcissistic Zionists (“me,me,me,Israel,Israel,Israel”) who just don’t get her loyalty to her OWN SON.

    This is cult mentality at its most blatant. And of course, WJ, Mayhem, and Dimdok bit the bait as usual and did the hasbara square dance.

  23. Shmuel
    April 18, 2013, 4:26 am

    The “treason” (or “self-hater”, or “moser” or whatever) card is a strategy (conscious or not) employed to silence critics and, perhaps more importantly, to neutralise the internal effect of their criticism. A settler does not threaten the liberal Zionist worldview the way an anti-Zionist does (although many liberal Zionists do perceive the settlements as a threat to the Zionist project). The problem is not extremism per se, but a perspective that undermines certain convictions on the basis of common values (professed by all but the most extreme lunatic fringe). The loyalty argument is a moral cop out — the excuse of mafiosi and torturers — and they know it.

  24. Nevada Ned
    April 18, 2013, 6:38 am

    I think it’s ridiculous to label people like Max Ajl as “traitors”. That’s just a propaganda term, used to suppress dissent within the Jewish community. As an insult, it has little force beyond the Jewish community.

    It’s better to rephrase it, as follows:
    When Israel was established, the already-existing Palestinian society was destroyed, and the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed, turned into a nation of refugees. About 1/3 of the Palestinians remained, and were subject to Israel’s system of racial discrimination.
    Most Israeli Jews accept and support this racism, using one rationalization or another. Many American Jews, if they have an opinion on the matter, support it also. Accusations of “treason” are one weapon in Israel’s arsenal, designed to suppress dissent.
    In recent decades, the near-monolithic support for Israel among American Jews has declined.
    There has always been a small minority of Jews, in the US and in Israel, who oppose Israel’s racist oppression of the Palestinians. Some of the sharpest and most articulate opponents of Israeli policies are Jewish: Chomsky, Finkelstein, some Israelis. However, this is a small minority. In recent decades, the number of American Jews who actively oppose Israeli policy remains small, with some growth (in my opinion). The biggest change is the “distancing” of many American Jews from Israel: for a growing number, Israel is just not an important issue.
    I hope the small minority will grow, and MondoWeiss is an important avenue of communication.
    A second important trend is that the Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinians have grown in numbers recently. The are still outnumbered by the supporters of Israel, by a huge factor. The Electronic Intifada is an important factor for these activists.
    A third important trend is that several Establishment figures – Jimmy Carter, Walt&Mearsheimer – have criticized the lopsided US support for Israel, and their books became best-sellers.
    The Israelis, and the network that they control, are worried, and it’s not surprising, because the trends are running against them.
    The Israelis and their supporters still have enormous power in the US media and among the politicians. The Palestinians, by comparison, have nothing.
    In conclusion, Max Ajl is an example of the younger generation of Jewish activists, who has been able to free his mind from Israeli propaganda. Accusations of treason are predictable.

  25. piotr
    April 18, 2013, 7:38 am

    A tarnished cause deserves traitors. Marc Ellis calls them prophets and exiles.

    If I can summarize what the Jewish cause is it would be identity and security. Both sound fine but if they can be achieved only by unceasing oppression of millions of people, then the cause is worse then tarnished, it is unredeemable.

    Both “settler” and “radical BDS supporter” would believe that the Jewish identity and security (as a combo) indeed require oppression, with different conclusions if this is OK or not. Liberal Zionists or moderate supporters of BDS think otherwise, but this is a hard preposition to prove (but hard to prove does not mean false, Fermat grand theorem was proven after all these years!).

    One rather unique aspect of the discourse on Jews and Israel is that anti-Semitism was given the status of ur-though crime. Were it not the case then it would be pointless to debate if opposing certain policies concerning Israel is anti-Semitic or not, we would need to dispute the merits of these policies. However, for all involved it is easy to get carried away.

    I have seen articles with this pair of arguments: (a) it is anti-Semitic to equate Zionism with Jewishness and (b) it is anti-Semitic to oppose Zionism because Zionism is so overwhelmingly supported by Jews that you cannot credibly separate the two (traitors do not count). Join the Borg or admit that you are an anti-Semite, resistance is futile.

  26. Don
    April 18, 2013, 8:09 am

    Great post, Adam.

    But as an outsider (non Jew) it strikes me that this conflict is not even about, or between, Israelis and Palestinians.

    It is, as Phil has often pointed out…about Jewish identity. Pure and simple.

    • Danaa
      April 18, 2013, 5:25 pm

      Don, I think the conflict is in the process of becoming about jewish identity, and the article cited in the post is a case in point. It wasn’t always so. Once there was a huge debate about zionism and its role in jewish life. That debate has been largely resolved in favor of zionism and has now degenerated into a sad cacophony of whimpers, as zionism has slowly but surely risen to eat up Judaism itself. In the process, jewish identity has been swept up into the maelstrom, something that Israel welcomed and did its utmost to encourage.

      The unfortunate thing is that the harshest battle front is yet to be made manifest in its full goriness – that’s the one between Jewish and human identities. The two are already in a state of all out war in israel, where one sees daily calls for exiling the leftists to gaza and/or giving them a taste of the Palestinians’ lives that they are keen on defending (people have no clue, I think, about the unbelievable vitriol directed at Gideon levy and Amira Hass’ way). In the US, the battle lines have not yet been fully arrayed, but the skirmishes are increasing in both frequency and shrillness. Unfortunately, this has already torn up the fabric of democratic party and is now laying siege to democracy itself.

      • Don
        April 19, 2013, 12:47 pm

        Thanks for your reply, Danaa; and my apology for such a delayed response – I don’t know how to keep up with these threads…

        But your comment is very helpful. Your comments are always extremely intelligent, thoughtful, insightful. Sometimes they leave me stunned.

        Your sentence above about the harshest battle yet to come…that is a bit scary (maybe a lot scary). And I cannot imagine what Gideon Levy and Amira Haas go through.

        Anyway, thanks again.

  27. karen
    April 18, 2013, 9:46 am

    Max’s mom sounds awesome!

  28. Pamela Olson
    April 18, 2013, 10:39 am

    Love this post, and love the responses. Really glad to be a part of this community of thoughtful, humane people. It’s a privilege.

  29. Gene
    April 18, 2013, 1:58 pm

    I take positions in support of Palestinian justice, equality and freedom …

    Therein lies the problem, Adam.

    Food for thought: “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” – Lilla Watson and Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970

    There’s another quote that haunts me still today. It is from Joseph Massad who, in his essay chiding European intellectuals for their silence on what he sees as the racism inherent in Zionism, wrote:

    Unless their stance is one that opposes the racist basis of the Jewish State, their support for Palestinian resistance will always ring hollow. As the late Gilles Deleuze once put it, the cry of the Zionists to justify their racist violence has always been “we are not a people like any other,” while the Palestinian cry of resistance has always been “we are a people like all others.” European intellectuals must choose which cry to heed when addressing the question of Palestine.

    With that in mind, the question of whether or not one is a traitor when criticizing Zionist extremism starts to get, well, “complicated”.

  30. American
    April 18, 2013, 3:32 pm

    I feel the same as Arendt —I’ve never felt some special love for any particular group of people. I might ‘admire’ something in this or that group but “love-luv them’?…nope, can’t see how that could come about without it being tinged with a kind of racism or narcissism or something else equally as unbalanced.

  31. American
    April 18, 2013, 4:06 pm

    ‘I would not describe the people around the table as right-wing in general, nor right-wing within the specific spectrum of Jewish opinion about the “situation” in the territories. In the American context, these were liberal Democrats; in the Israeli context, these were probably Yesh Atid types with no love for Netanyahu. But the immediate answer of the bulk of the group was: the settler would be obviously preferable. He would, after all, still be “family” in some sense, even if wayward.”

    Wow ! ……Realize how damning that is of the US Jewish community? Think about what that says. …you’re a traitor to Jews if you go against Jews oppressing and cleansing Palestines…but you’re just a bit wayward if you personally get your hands dirty being a settler.
    Hummm…so shouldn’t this let the German’s off scot free also? After all they were just being loyal to their German family and very few were actual concentration camp officals.
    Just cause the majorty didn’t ‘actively oppose Hitler , just like the majorty of Jews aren’t actively opposing I /P, shouldn’t make the German’s guilty….unless of course we are willing to apply the same standard to the Jews.
    So, which is it to be…….both collectives guilty or both not guilty?
    Suppose we even stretch it to include all Americans?…guilty or not?

  32. lysias
    April 18, 2013, 5:40 pm

    Speaking of traitors, I think this is an appropriate place to cite what Hermann Göring said at Nuremberg about how easy it is to convince the common people to support a war:

    Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.

    Isn’t that just what is going on when Jews who oppose Israeli treatment of Palestinians are accused of being traitors?

  33. piotr
    April 19, 2013, 9:47 am

    It is a bit of rhetoric ju-jitsu to turn “traitor” into a badge of pride, but this approach has a long tradition. After all, there is right and there is wrong, and it is a right thing to do to support the king, so opponents of the king were seated on the left. But did the “left” remain humiliated?

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