US Jews are so ‘polarized’ over Israel they can’t talk about it to each other, ‘Jewish Chronicle’ reports

Israel/Palestine
on 160 Comments

At this site, we have long maintained that the anti-Zionist movement inside leftwing Jewish life is burgeoning and will ultimately devour Jewish community organizations, that Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark and Max Blumenthal’s frank description of Israel as a racist rightwing polity is actually now commonplace in the Jewish grassroots, it just hasn’t broken out because it is contained by such official travesties as Peter Beinart and Alan Dershowitz debating the supposed question, Is Zionism in Crisis? in fancy halls in New York, at a time when any fool can see that Palestinians are living under apartheid. That question is so morally obtuse it is no wonder many Jews have walked away from the official institutions and begun a conversation of their own– This Israel you gave me doesn’t share my values or interests, it recently killed nearly 400 Palestinian children in three weeks with your active support–that will one day swamp the official organizations like a tsunami.

Or as I have written on earlier occasions: Roll over Ben-Gurion and give Jabotinsky the news.

There is good evidence for these claims in a Jewish Chronicle piece on a Jewish Council for Public Affairs survey of rabbis showing “that as many as half of the respondents feel that they are restricted in some ways in speaking about Israel in their congregational and other settings.”

I.e., those rabbis want to raise gentle criticisms of Israel, but they feel they can’t; and Ethan Felson of JCPA says the resulting blight on dialogue is occurring throughout the Jewish community. People can’t have a conversation about Israel because they’re too divided. 

In an interview with the Chronicle prior to the program, Felson said Israel has always had something of a polarizing effect on the Jewish world. Now, the problem is becoming acute…

That’s right: the traditional Jewish opposition to Zionism has been revived, and we’re not going away.

[This represents] a polarizing problem in the Jewish community. Like much of the country, when it comes to politics, Jews are increasingly breaking off into camps, talking at one another, instead of with one another and eschewing constructive dialogue.

“There’s also a polarization that is sometimes overwhelming in the Jewish community because these issues feel existential,” he said. “People feel that they have a tremendous stake and a conflict, and sometimes they inappropriately choose to act out the conflict here at home.”

How so?

“We are seeing more resorts to silencing opposing viewpoints,” Felson said. “We find people taking their marbles and walking away from institutions because that institution isn’t aligned with them, so less of a respect for the debate or, in some cases, some of the majoritarian influences in a community.”

This absence of dialogue is a good thing. The problem is too severe and Palestinian human rights too important to seek to ameliorate matters by dialogue. The institutions don’t want to reflect our views, they want to tincture their own support of Israel with a little criticism. They are corrupted; that is the actual crisis of Zionism, what it has done to Jewish life in the Diaspora; the Rx is not dialogue but adversarial debate; and the anti-, non-, post-Zionists must come up with new institutions that will reflect our values.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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160 Responses

  1. American
    May 9, 2013, 10:11 am

    ‘The problem is too severe and Palestinian human rights too important to seek to ameliorate matters by dialogue”

    Right……. and there is nothing left to debate.

    “Something happens….then you make a choice and take a side”
    Graham Green..”The Quiet American”

  2. Nevada Ned
    May 9, 2013, 10:13 am

    Phil, thanks for your thoughtful essay, dealing with the conflicts over Israel, conducted within American Jewry, who make up about 2.5% of the US population.

    The next series of battles is likely to be conducted within the 96-97% of the US population that is not Jewish. In the past, criticism of Israel drew accusations of anti-Semitism. But recently, Mearsheimer/Walt, and Jimmy Carter wrote critical books, geared to the general public, and they successfully fought off the usual smears from the Israel Lobby. Their books became best sellers.
    The Israeli/Palestinian conflict will be echoed within non-Jews also, with evangelical Christians (Robertson, Hagee, Falwell) allied with the Israelis, and other Christians supporting the Palestinians.

    • Citizen
      May 10, 2013, 9:35 am

      @ Nevada Ned
      RE: “The Israeli/Palestinian conflict will be echoed within non-Jews also, with evangelical Christians (Robertson, Hagee, Falwell) allied with the Israelis, and other Christians supporting the Palestinians.”

      Yep. It’s already happening with some of us, has been for a few years now. Anyone who thinks Zionists are hard to sway, should try swaying a Christian fundy. Logic and intellectual curiosity favoring objective facts is just not part of their mental skills.

      • James Canning
        May 10, 2013, 3:24 pm

        Many of the true believers, of Pat Robertson, John Hagee, et al., do indeed have blinders on and they often have no desire whatever to consider actual facts.

  3. CitizenC
    May 9, 2013, 10:28 am

    So when are these heroic, enlightened “anti-Zionist Jews” going to join a movement against Zionism? The Boston organized Jews staged the “Amazing Israel Race”, centered on the statehouse on Beacon Hill. “The Amazing Israel Race is a fun-filled day with YOU racing around Boston with your teammates led by clues and obstacle tasks in search of sites related to Israeli culture and history.”

    link to jewishboston.com

    Jewish Voice for Peace organized a demo and put out email on non-Jewish lists. “Join us to challenge a local event that celebrates Israel’s settlement industry, erases occupation, and ignores restrictions on Palestinian movement.”

    I was pleasantly surprised, and decided, after some thought, to show up and help them out. I brought my non-sectarian banner, “Zionism Threatens Us All”. It got
    some comment from the handful of demonstrators when I unfurled it. Then people moved away, and I didn’t realize exactly why. One guy attending the “race” said he opposed what Israel was doing, but insisted that the banner was dangerous. “That’s what they said about the Jews. You really mean Jews.” I tried to tell him that 9/11
    happened because of our relationship with Israel but he wasn’t receptive.

    Then the JVPers politely informed me that my banner was off-message. I
    explained that they had to appeal to the public, that they would always lose an intra-Jewish debate, that this was an urgent issue for all of us. They invited me to stay, but not with the banner visible. Essentially, they chose to endorse the views of the man who had denounced the banner, rather than stand with the 98% of the US who pay the bills and suffer the consequences, not to mention the Palestinians and their regional neighbors. I was happy to leave in a way, had things I wanted to do.

    The term “anti-Zionist Jew” is an oxymoron, in any secular sense. Shlomo Sand’s third installment in his trilogy will be “The Invention of the Secular Jew”. In the modern world, people can be Judaic, practice their religion. They can be “Jewish” in a “cultural” sense, whatever that means to the most acculturated and accomplished elements of US society. “Jewish identity” in a political sense, or anything approaching it, is either a) not Jewish, but merely liberal; or b) privilege and discrimination, as the demonstration clearly shows.

    • notatall
      May 9, 2013, 12:52 pm

      Bravo.

    • yourstruly
      May 9, 2013, 12:57 pm

      too bad you didn’t attend a rally by the jewish anti-zionist network, because, if you had, your conclusion might have been different. they’re the group that garnered considerable media attention a couple years ago when some of its members chained themselves to the gates of the israeli consulates in los angeles and san francisco. goes to show that a generalization about five million people that’s based on only a handful of them sure ain’t worth much.

      • CitizenC
        May 9, 2013, 1:11 pm

        And did they invite the gentiles to chain with them? The whole idea of secular “Jewish anti-Zionism” is an oxymoron for reasons I explained. If you look at IJAZN’s web site, you will find a truncated, Zio-Marxist critique of Zionism as colonial-settlerism. CS is simply a question of method. The essence of Zionism is a reaction against liberal modernity, against the integration and assimilation of Jews, which separatist politics upholds. See Shlomo Sand’s forthcoming “The Invention of the Secular Jew”. We need a sequel about identity politics in the US.

    • Ellen
      May 9, 2013, 3:15 pm

      CitizenC, thank you for your account. I have trouble with the who JVP thing as it seems to be conflicted. Why exclusion, why only a Jewish Voice for Peace? Non-Jewish voices are unworthy? Not from “within the tribe?”

      The idea that only Fellow Jewish Voices and thoughts can reach other Jews for real change — that Jews will only really listen to other Jews — is tribal thought. And that is a road block to any understanding or growth needed for Peace.

      So something seems shady about JVP.

      just sayin’

      • Annie Robbins
        May 9, 2013, 4:52 pm

        The idea that only Fellow Jewish Voices and thoughts can reach other Jews for real change

        i don’t think that is a motto for the group or anything. i went to their annual ‘meeting’ a couple weeks ago, which was more like a conference. lots of different voices. lots of people who were not jewish including lots of palestinians. i don’t think they’re such an easy organization to classify and they do lots of incredible activism. i wouldn’t think to judge the entire group by the actions of members of one chapter. plus, i’ve worked with them before (ie link to mondoweiss.net , and use their resources many times link to mondoweiss.net )

        perhaps you could recommend an effective org active in boycott who doesn’t work with jvp.

        • Ellen
          May 12, 2013, 3:37 am

          Annie, I cannot recommend an effective org.

          JVP is not ineffective and could have some positive impact. And Hostage’s point on efforts by others (even criminal elements) to usurp and damage the group is real. This is a serious danger/problem all social change groups endure.

          So I have no problem with controlled activities or messages. My unease is the exclusivity of the mission statement. That it is based on “Jewish values.” Why not universal and humanistic of the entlightment. Why not A Voice for Peace?

          JVP calls for peace and equal right and and end to military support, but clings to ideas of the other. I think this may undermine their ultimate effectiveness.

        • Hostage
          May 12, 2013, 8:36 am

          My unease is the exclusivity of the mission statement. That it is based on “Jewish values.” Why not universal and humanistic of the entlightment. Why not A Voice for Peace?

          JVP calls for peace and equal right and and end to military support, but clings to ideas of the other. I think this may undermine their ultimate effectiveness.

          We really do cling to the complete equality and humanity of the other and we stand for the proposition that universalism or humanism and non-discrimination are equally authentic values with origins in the Enlightenment and the Haskalah.

        • Citizen
          May 12, 2013, 10:16 am

          @ Hostage

          Looks like Haskalah copied/adopted Enlightenment values, except, from what is said here–Deism:

          link to en.wikipedia.org

        • Citizen
          May 12, 2013, 10:24 am

          Here’s a bit more indicating the concept of Deism was pretty influential with the Enlightenment’s guiding stars: link to theopedia.com

        • Hostage
          May 13, 2013, 2:24 am

          Looks like Haskalah copied/adopted Enlightenment values

          That’s one way of looking at. Even secular 17th century Jewish thinkers, like Spinoza, studied Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes. But Spinoza and others helped lay-down some of the important foundations that fueled the Enlightenment into the 18th century in the areas of political philosophy, ethnics, and the philosophy of science. So the Enlightenment relied heavily on secular Jewish contributions in the areas of philosophy, science, medicine, & etc.

        • James Canning
          May 13, 2013, 2:26 pm

          Citizen – - The appalling slaughter of the Civil War in England, and religious struggles later in the 17th century, helped foster a search for something in the way of intellectual compromise.

        • RoHa
          May 13, 2013, 11:58 pm

          “So the Enlightenment relied heavily on secular Jewish contributions in the areas of philosophy, science, medicine, & etc.”

          Aside from Spinoza, who was cast out from the Jews, what other major contributions were made by Jews? And in what way (other than being made by Jews) were these contributions Jewish as distinct from being (e.g.) Dutch or German?

          (These are genuine questions. I am being uncharacteristically unsnarky.)

        • Citizen
          May 14, 2013, 3:32 am

          @ RoHa
          Good question. Any takers?

      • Joe Ed
        May 9, 2013, 8:08 pm

        JVP is controlled opposition. There was no JVP until criticism of Israel hit the mainstream

        • Annie Robbins
          May 9, 2013, 8:24 pm

          mainstream? israel was totally off my radar in 96. but then i wasn’t very hooked into the mainstream.

          link to jewishvoiceforpeace.org

        • seafoid
          May 12, 2013, 9:03 am

          Triangulation and controlled opposition won’t work.
          Israel is a car crash. There will be no soft landing . There’s no way to tell Phil’s mother that her generation have been wrong for over 40 years.

      • yourstruly
        May 9, 2013, 10:25 pm

        the most important reason for presenting oneself as a jewish anti-zionist is to counter the zionist claim that israel speaks for all jews, a claim that not only paralyzes jews from speaking out against zionism/israel for fear of being called antisemitic, but non-jews also & for the same reason. my experience is that palestinians welcome anyone who participates in their liberation struggle, regardless of nationality, religion, sex, etc. as for israel being a colonial/settler enterprise, well? besides, whatever the ijzan’s/jvp’s credos, if their actions help the palestinian cause, isn’t this what matters most?

        • ritzl
          May 10, 2013, 8:08 am

          Well said, yt.

        • notatall
          May 10, 2013, 9:39 am

          Contrary to what yt asserts, identifying oneself as a Jew within the antizionist movement subtly reinforces the idea that Jews have a special right to speak on this issue and thereby devalues the contribution of those not identified as Jews. There was no Whites Against Apartheid group in S. Africa, and the absence of such a group was no loss.

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 10:08 am

          Yes, JVP original message in 1996 asked everyone of all stripes to join their organization. As JVP says on its website: “The original message was intended for the Clinton Administration: American Jewry is not a monolithic movement which categorically supports all of the policies of the government of Israel, and thousands of American Jews, in partnership with the interfaith community, demand justice and equality for Israelis and Palestinians.”

        • Hostage
          May 10, 2013, 1:45 pm

          There was no Whites Against Apartheid group in S. Africa, and the absence of such a group was no loss.

          Bigots in South Africa and the United States justified discrimination, prohibitions against intermarriage, and policies of physical segregation or apartheid on their interpretations of the Jewish scriptures. I think the role played by white Christian or Jewish religious leaders who repudiated those doctrines was invaluable in both cases.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 1:57 pm

          Hostage – - And let’s not forget the B.O.S.S. (Bureau of State Security). Making too much noise about apartheid could pose risks.

        • notatall
          May 11, 2013, 1:45 pm

          No one doubts the contribution made by whites in S. Africa and the U.S. The point is, they didn’t need a “white” group to make it.

        • Hostage
          May 12, 2013, 12:28 am

          No one doubts the contribution made by whites in S. Africa and the U.S. The point is, they didn’t need a “white” group to make it.

          That’s a bit of revisionist history. There certainly were Afrikaner groups who practiced civil and religious disobedience and suffered the consequences in order to call international and local attention to the problem. You can’t very well dismiss the publicity they generated or gauge whether or not they were a significant factor in the long run in undermining support and changing the thinking of leaders like F.W. De Klerk.

          For example:

          A significant step forward in Christian criticism of apartheid was taken with the publication of Delayed Action (Pretoria: NC. Kerkboekhandel, 1960) by Professor AS. Geyser and ten other leading Afrikaner churchmen. This work, which led to heresy trials against its authors and the foundation of the Christian Institute, roundly denounced apartheid as anti-Christian. So great was the potential impact among Afrikaners that in his New Year’s message Dr. H. Verwoerd, then Prime Minister, warned members of the ruling National Party that it was being attacked by “enemies within.”

          – See Irving Hexham, Christianity and Aparthied link to people.ucalgary.ca

        • seafoid
          May 12, 2013, 9:06 am

          “No one doubts the contribution made by whites in S. Africa and the U.S. The point is, they didn’t need a “white” group to make it’”

          Good point. In addition, I would say that Zionism has become a problem that is too big for Judaism to manage internally. Like a son in the family who started off on soft drugs and is now addicted to heroin. The family can’t sort him out any more.

          Jews alone do not have the capacity to get Israel back to equilibrium.

        • American
          May 12, 2013, 12:05 pm

          ‘… identifying oneself as a Jew within the anti zionist movement subtly reinforces the idea that Jews have a special right to speak on this issue and thereby devalues the contribution of those not identified as Jews. ”….not at all

          I don’t think that’s the position of JVP…….but it is very obvious among the Liberal Zionist. When you look in on their conversations their weird idea that non Jews in the US have no right to any say so about their country’s Isr policy is glaring……even though we are paying for it and it ultimately affects all Americans…..imo it ‘s the sense of Jewish holocaust entitlement compounded and further screwed up by the zionist special/unique people thing.

        • Hostage
          May 13, 2013, 1:49 am

          Good point. In addition, I would say that Zionism has become a problem that is too big for Judaism to manage internally.

          JVP isn’t trying to manage anything internally. It is open to membership by anyone and works in cooperation and alliances with other groups.

          On the other hand, it is sort of impertinent to tell Palestinians or Jews to butt-out while you solve our problems for us. Zionism happens to be one those things that affect Jews and we have a right to speak out about this stupid and harmful tradition.

      • Clif Brown
        May 10, 2013, 6:17 pm

        I am not Jewish. I attended a weekly vigil in downtown Chicago for the JVP. I was given signs to hold, there was a banner. A leaflet was passed out. When I originally asked if I could help pass out leaflets I was refused. Then I was told that I could pass them out but if any passerby asked about it, I was not to comment but to direct them to a Jewish demonstrator. Since this was the only show in town, I continued attending, though somewhat put off by the treatment.

        Then I decided to bring my own sign. This was not appreciated. I was told that all signs had to be approved by JVP beforehand, though I protested that we were all working for a common cause – to relieve the oppression of the Palestinians. I was also told I was not “showing respect” to JVP when I brought my own sign without approval. I was then told that JVP essentially owned the site for the one hour that they have their demo, although it is a public space.

        I explained that I supported them and was not opposed to what they were doing, that we should work together. When next I showed up with my sign, one of the JVP people attempted to force me away from passersby, stepping in front of me so that he could pass out a JVP flyer and I couldn’t pass out something I had brought.

        Feeling this was childish, I put down my sign and started calling out to the people to take his material, telling him at the same time that I was not in competition with JVP.

        I did get an email explaining how JVP needed to control the content of the material and that since they had been conducting the vigil for many years, they felt it was legitimate for them to do so, or they would be misrepresented to the public.

        To my mind, the presentation of the plight of the Palestinians to the public is all that is important. I don’t think the general public gives a hoot about the manifesto of this or that subgroup and would never bother to take the time to find out about them. I haven’t been back but, as far as I know, they are still there passing out the densely worded pamphlet explaining who they are.

        • Hostage
          May 11, 2013, 10:28 am

          To my mind, the presentation of the plight of the Palestinians to the public is all that is important. I don’t think the general public gives a hoot about the manifesto of this or that subgroup and would never bother to take the time to find out about them.

          FYI, you aren’t necessarily paranoid if you think that JVP is up against a network of trained professional political operatives and amateur zealots who will go to almost any lengths to discredit the organizations and individuals that threaten their status quo. You only have to look at the behavior of the apartchiks that we know about, like the International Hasbara Fellowship, StandWithUs, CAMERA, Campus Watch, Israeli-trained Campus Hillel staff advisors, and etc. to see that the Zionist political machine never sleeps, infiltrates every Jewish institution, and has no intention of playing by any rules of civilized behavior.

          So it may be wise to have a few guidelines and provide a little organizational structure while conducting public demonstrations to prevent a few bad apples from co-opting or subverting our message or goals.

        • James Canning
          May 11, 2013, 1:49 pm

          Every US newspaper should try to have a good photograph each week, of the Apartheid wall in Palestine. Fat chance.

    • atime forpeace
      May 9, 2013, 5:51 pm

      I applaud you for your concern, I not being jewish, see the potential for blowback if a xenophobic reaction ever arises. We live in precarious economic times and those have been the times when these events have taken place in the past, and since I married jewish I try to introduce the zionist issue into my partners life so that she can intelligently choose which position she will ultimately take.

      Knowledge is power.

      • Citizen
        May 10, 2013, 10:14 am

        @ atime forpeace
        So how receptive is she? Do you have kids? If so, how receptive are they?

    • Hostage
      May 10, 2013, 1:30 am

      The term “anti-Zionist Jew” is an oxymoron, in any secular sense.

      No you are still just a jerk who tries to make being an anti-Zionist Jew some sort of new social taboo. There certainly are liberal and religious Zionists in JVP who don’t believe that either Ben Gurion or Netanyahu are the Messiah. But there are also secular anti-Zionists who do not condone emigration to, or settlement in, any part of historical Palestine. There are members who hold a range of personal opinions in between. JVP doesn’t exist to stamp out Judaism or the Jews. All opinions are welcome, so long as a prospective member supports the JVP mission statement: link to jewishvoiceforpeace.org

      They can be “Jewish” in a “cultural” sense, whatever that means to the most acculturated and accomplished elements of US society.

      Maybe you should stop making overly-broad and platitudinous statements about American culture and society? Some of the most acculturated and accomplished elements of US society are pulling the strings behind the scenes that ensured the adoption of the Patriot Act, the invasion of Iraq, and the extraordinary rendition/torture/Guantanamo debacle. These days they are quietly working on laying the official legal framework for autonomous killing machines. See “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots” and the new DOD Directive, on “Autonomy in Weapons Systems.”

      I’m not so keen on sharing those American values.

      • Citizen
        May 10, 2013, 10:20 am

        @ Hostage
        “I’m not so keen on sharing those American values.”

        Me either. Too bad I’m not one with any influence in our small handfull of mainstream media corporations, which gets smaller by the day.

        • Hostage
          May 10, 2013, 1:58 pm

          Too bad I’m not one with any influence in our small handfull of mainstream media corporations, which gets smaller by the day.

          The publishing and motion picture industries made a fortune during the 20th century by entertaining the masses with books and movies about the dangers or horrors of creating killing machines or robots.

          Now that our own “defense” department is actually issuing directives to do exactly that, there isn’t a peep of protest from any of the major news outlets or our lawmakers. How does the world contain this much irony?

      • James Canning
        May 10, 2013, 7:46 pm

        Surely “anti-Zionist Jew” is clearly and easily understood term.

        Most upper-class Jews in England, 100 years ago, were “anti-Zionist Jews”.

  4. David Samel
    May 9, 2013, 10:37 am

    the traditional Jewish opposition to Zionism has been revived, and we’re not going away.
    Another appropriate opportunity to cite the fascinating 1919 petition to Wilson, printed in the NYTimes, from dozens of prominent Jews opposing Zionism (commenter MRW has repeatedly linked to this).
    link to home2.btconnect.com
    The concerns raised by these Jewish Americans in 1919 were both wise and prescient, though if uttered today, would be condemned today as extremist and antisemitic.

    • lysias
      May 9, 2013, 10:59 am

      Note that one of the signatories of that petition was “Adolph Simon Ochs, publisher The New York Times.” How times (and the Ochs-Sulzberger family) have changed!

      • David Samel
        May 9, 2013, 3:26 pm

        yes, lysias, very funny. Another signatory was a Morgenthau. I assume most of the rest were fairly well known at the time.

        • lysias
          May 9, 2013, 4:39 pm

          The Morgenthau was Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who was born in Mannheim in Baden shortly before Baden became part of the new German Empire and who will forever have a glorious page in history for having protested the Armenian genocide to the Ottoman government while serving as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey. Unfortunately, the elder Morgenthau’s son, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., FDR’s neighbor and Secretary of the Treasury, became quite a committed Zionist, and will forever be infamous in history for his Morgenthau Plan to reduce Germany to poverty after World War Two. Barbara Tuchman, Morgenthau, Sr.’s granddaughter and Morgenthau, Jr.’s niece, was later enough of a Zionist to actually pen praise of Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial. It’s hard to believe Tuchman was not enough of a historian to recognize what nonsense Peters’s book was.

          So Morgenthau’s family exhibited as much degeneration as the Ochs-Sulzberger family.

          According to the Wikipedia entry on Morgenthau, Sr., he and Adolph Ochs were friends, and together worked to alleviate the plight of the suffering Armenians.

        • ToivoS
          May 9, 2013, 8:14 pm

          be infamous in history for his Morgenthau Plan to reduce Germany to poverty after World War Two.

          What exactly are your talking about here?

        • yonah fredman
          May 10, 2013, 3:11 am

          lysias- It was fortunate that the plan to impoverish Germany was not necessary to stop Germany from starting any more wars. But Morgenthau’s instinct was not wrong and I do not hold his plan as infamous, but unfortunate. As Judt proves in Postwar- the fact that Europe survived the post war without again engaging in more wars was partially a matter of luck. We were lucky and Morgenthau did not wish to depend on luck.

          Hindsight is 20 -20.

        • Hostage
          May 10, 2013, 3:12 am

          who will forever have a glorious page in history for having protested the Armenian genocide to the Ottoman government while serving as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.

          You may not be aware of the fact that there was a 20-year long public partnership and political scheme between the Armenians and the early Zionist movement that culminated in the Balfour Declaration. It was an Armenian, James A. Malcolm, who proposed a scheme to secure autonomous Armenian and Jewish states through the intervention of the government of Great Britain, acting in its role as “the policeman of the Ottoman Empire”. That plan obviously didn’t end very well for the Armenians.

          In fact, Christopher Sykes recorded the fact that years later it was Malcolm who had rekindled interest in the moribund negotiations between the Zionists and the British government. One day he advised Mark Sykes:

          “The question is, do you want the help of the Jews in the United States? The only way you can get that help is by offering Palestine to the Zionists.”

          – Two Studies in Virtue, by Christopher Sykes (London, 1953), cited in Lucien Wolf and Theodor Herzl, by Josef Fraenkel, Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), Vol. 20, (1959-61), pp. 161-188. link to jstor.org

          The full article, minus the illustrations, is available here: link to jhse.org

        • marc b.
          May 10, 2013, 9:48 am

          As Judt proves in Postwar- the fact that Europe survived the post war without again engaging in more wars was partially a matter of luck.

          that’s not even an accurate summation of judt’s ‘proof’. and luck had little if anything to do with ‘Germany not starting any more wars’. Germany was divided and occupied; European politics were sufficiently polarized so that no European state, including Germany, could expect popular support for another European war; nuclear technology assured that another European war on the scale of the ‘great wars’ was not an option; etc.

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 10:24 am

          @ lysias
          Yes. Deep disappointment in Barbara Tuchman. I guess she thought Hannah Arndt was a “self-hating jew”?

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 10:44 am

          @ ToivoS
          The plan was intended to make Germany nothing but farmland forever. Try using google.

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 10:46 am

          Tuchman’s take on Arendt was very superficial, and Tuchman never considered the Palestinians at all: link to jcpa.org

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 10:49 am

          @ yonah fredman
          “But Morgenthau’s instinct was not wrong and I do not hold his plan as infamous, but unfortunate.”

          Yeah, his instinct was to turn Germany into nothing but eternal farmland, forever. Whatta guy, so wise!

        • American
          May 10, 2013, 11:34 am

          yonah fredman says:
          May 10, 2013 at 3:11 am

          lysias- It was fortunate that the plan to impoverish Germany was not necessary to stop Germany from starting any more wars. But Morgenthau’s instinct was not wrong and I do not hold his plan as infamous, but unfortunate.
          >>>>>>

          Either you are ignorant of all the dirty details of his plan and how many people and children the blood thirsty, driven by revenge Morgenthau starved in postwar Germany or you’re no better than a nazi.

        • Woody Tanaka
          May 10, 2013, 12:53 pm

          “It was fortunate that the plan to impoverish Germany was not necessary to stop Germany from starting any more wars. But Morgenthau’s instinct was not wrong and I do not hold his plan as infamous, but unfortunate.”

          That’s a load of absolute utter ignorance. Not only was Morgenthau’s “instinct” (id-induced rage, more like it) wrong, it probably cost the lives of Allied soldiers and civilians by hardening the German’s desire to fight. Moreover, reducing Germany to agrarian poverty would have been a crime against humanity that would have killed millions, as turning an industrialized nation into an agrarian land would have predictably and unavoidably cost the lives of millions of people.

          Further, the notion behind it — that Germans were someone predisposed to start war — was as racist (or perhaps merely stupid) as it gets, and informed by the nonsensical notion that Germany single-handedly was responsible for both wars. (Absolute garbage regarding the First War and false regarding the second, as the USSR was also responsible for the Second, as the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty and the USSR’s agreement to attack Poland along with the USSR’s Nazi Allies was a necessary precondition to the war.)

          Further, Morganthau’s plan was publicized by the Nazi media and predictably had the effect of strengthening Germany’s resistance and lengthening the war. This costs the lives of Allied troops and civilian lives.

          “As Judt proves in Postwar- the fact that Europe survived the post war without again engaging in more wars was partially a matter of luck. We were lucky and Morgenthau did not wish to depend on luck.”

          Again, rubbish. Morganthau’s plan was sheer stupidity and it probably would been difficult to actually design a plan more likely to generate a population hell-bent on revenge than what would have developed from this plan had it been put into effect.

          Further, there was no luck involved. There was a massive crime against humanity as the Allies ethnically cleansed millions of Germans, (mostly women, children and old people) from their homes in USSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc.; there was a dismemberment of German lands into ten different sections, under various schemes of authority (only seven of which are a part of the modern German state); but above all, there was the Cold War, whereby about 1/3 of what would become modern Germany was held by the USSR through local proxies and the other 2/3 was brought into the West’s orbit through the Marshall Plan, reconstruction and integration into the European market.

          Morgenthau was an idiot and the world should be thankful that the worst excesses of his plan were scrapped.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 2:01 pm

          American – - Yes, absolutely. And Morgenthau’s plan was supremely idiotic. Imbecilic. Germany was vital part of Western defence.

        • marc b.
          May 10, 2013, 2:02 pm

          it is amazing citizen. despite the mass murder of jews on so-called racial grounds, there continue to be any numbers of jewish individuals who see the world primarily in terms of race/genes and conduct their relationships accordingly.

          ben Hecht wrote a piece entitled ‘the sickness called germany’ based on his experiences in Germany in the immediate post-war years, the early 20s. it’s a racist diatribe, referring to germans collectively as this or that species of animal or herd, ignoring or belittling what many germans were doing, including sacrificing their lives, to avoid a future of more militarism. and so we go from that to this; morganthau’s ‘instinct’, an inclination to send Germany back into the stone age was ‘not wrong’. never mind that the history of Europe is a nearly unbroken 2,000-year chain of bloody conflicts up to the present. but again the instinct to pave Germany is not wrong. brilliant.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 3:14 pm

          Idiotic plan of revenge, by Morgenthau.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 3:17 pm

          But let’s remember that JFK’s reading of “The Guns of August” helped convince him not to follow the advice of most of his military advisers during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Oct. 1962).

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 3:22 pm

          German strength was a vital part of West’s ability to deter Soviet aggression.

          And let us thank Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands.

        • hophmi
          May 10, 2013, 4:04 pm

          Is it really amazing? Look at all the nonsense in this thread, yet another one where you’re complaining that the Jews hate everybody. You actually feel a need to go back in history to complain about the Morgenthau Plan, as if there was some collective effort to starve Germany by Jews. Gee, I can’t imagine why Jews would be upset after the war. Without question, any instinct to demilitarize Germany after the war was correct, and if you can’t admit that, there is seriously something wrong with you.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 7:28 pm

          The balance after the Second World War was between East and West. Germany was important factor in weight of the West.

        • libra
          May 10, 2013, 7:36 pm

          yonah fredman It was fortunate that the plan to impoverish Germany was not necessary to stop Germany from starting any more wars. But Morgenthau’s instinct was not wrong and I do not hold his plan as infamous, but unfortunate.

          Not to mention his plan could be recycled in Gaza, couldn’t it yonah?

          Did you think at all about what you wrote above or are you really as odious as these words suggest?

        • yonah fredman
          May 10, 2013, 10:21 pm

          Upon reflection my acceptance of Morgenthau’s instinct as “not wrong” reflected my anger at Germans who were alive on May 1, 1945 and particularly those who were over 18 in 1933.

          But those who think the West knew how to handle Germany and it was because of forethought that no wars were fought between WWII and the breakup of Serbia on the European land mass, are just plain wrong. The path forward was not clear and various factors, including Soviet tanks and US troops and the invention of nukes were involved in the balancing act that led to the peaceful interim that lasted from 1945 until 1990. That Morgenthau saw drastic measures to be taken against the Germans as the path forward, seen from today seems like a desire for vengeance, (a desire that I understand though I realize it is regressive and I caution those whose grandparents all died in beds to pause before they cast the first stone.)

        • Donald
          May 11, 2013, 1:10 pm

          “a desire that I understand though I realize it is regressive and I caution those whose grandparents all died in beds to pause before they cast the first stone.)”

          Morgenthau’s plan would be worthy of Stalin or Mao–it really is on that level. It’s not a rational plan–it’s madness. Now as for vengeance, sure, but you could also say that about, say, the Khmer Rouge attitude towards “city people”. They had some justification for feeling vengeful, since from their point of view the “city people” were allied with the US, which sent the B-52′s against them and the B-52 bombing if continued would have been genocidal in itself.

          The problem here is the usual one of double standards–genocidal rage on the part of Westerners is somehow seen as more understandable and less barbaric than when expressed by non-Westerners. I can understand why someone would react to Nazi genocide with a plan that would also have been genocidal, but then I also understand why victims of Western colonialism react with terrorism. Doesn’t make it right in either case.

        • James Canning
          May 11, 2013, 2:00 pm

          yonah – - I think the truth of the matter is simply that Morganthau did not have a good understanding of the sweep of history, shifting alliances, etc etc etc.

        • James Canning
          May 11, 2013, 2:17 pm

          Woody – - Morganthau simply lacked an adequate understanding of history. Full stop.

        • American
          May 11, 2013, 3:42 pm

          “That Morgenthau saw drastic measures to be taken against the Germans as the path forward, seen from today seems like a desire for vengeance, “..yonah

          Quit trying to justify Morgenthau’s vengeance by pretending his goal was just to reduce Germany to a non threat.
          Evidently you are ignorant of whole story and how all of Europe objected to his plan as one that would ‘pull the underpinnings’ of the whole European economy.
          Morgenthau didn’t give a shit about post war Europe or planing or anything but making sure as many Germans as possible died of starvation and disease as possible in post war Germany. Ever read his JCS 1067, I suggest you read it.
          And what the real cincher is on Morgenthau?….he actually tried to ‘keep secret” parts of it, that’s how sick it was.

          He didn’t allow any ‘donated’ food into Germany and had the US Army enforce the order that US troops and their families were to destroy their own ‘excess food’ rather than letting German families have access to it.

          ”In early October 1945 the UK government privately acknowledged in a cabinet meeting that, German civilian adult death rates had risen to four times the pre-war levels and death rates amongst the German children had risen by 10 times the pre-war levels.[62] ”

          After that report the US congress had had enough of Morgenthau and his ‘Morgenthau boys” he had dispatched to Germany to out nazi the nazis.

          Maybe the US anti semites will give the zionist children the same treatment bloodthirsty Morgenthau gave the Germans when the zionist nazi enterprise goes down in flames.
          I am sure you will also ‘understand’ that preventive measure applied to Israel and zionist too when the time comes……right?

        • marc b.
          May 11, 2013, 4:32 pm

          that’s the polite interpretation of morganthau, j.canning. y.fredman’s walk back of his own comment is the honest interpretaton. and for all his biases, i’m sure yonah knows the history. germans were collectively punished for the war. their punishment may not have been the consequence of a coordinated, unified plan, but the punishment began with the decision to bomb concentrated civilian populations and continued with the mass rape and intentional killings of millions of german nationals, mass expulsion, killing and ‘appropriation’ of the property of ethnic germans, the mass killing of collaborators, etc.

        • marc b.
          May 11, 2013, 5:09 pm

          Is it really amazing? Look at all the nonsense in this thread, yet another one where you’re complaining that the Jews hate everybody. You actually feel a need to go back in history to complain about the Morgenthau Plan, as if there was some collective effort to starve Germany by Jews. Gee, I can’t imagine why Jews would be upset after the war. Without question, any instinct to demilitarize Germany after the war was correct, and if you can’t admit that, there is seriously something wrong with you.

          are you capable of expressing a coherent, logically consistent thought? no, apparently. no one here alleged that ‘the jews hate everybody’. no one. and morganthau’s instinct was not to ‘demilitarize’ germany, but, as y.fredman put it, to forceably ‘impoverish’ the country, an important distinction which passes over your head. even the ‘instinct’ to demilitarize germany ‘after the war’ was not correct, unless you consider soviet-style domination of w.europe a favorable result.

        • James Canning
          May 11, 2013, 6:17 pm

          Question: was Morgenthau so filled with hatred, that he would happily have gravely injured the national security of the American people, in order to wreak his revenge on the Germans?

        • seafoid
          May 12, 2013, 9:15 am

          “reflected my anger at Germans who were alive on May 1, 1945 and particularly those who were over 18 in 1933.”

          And you took it out on the Palestinians. Germany turned into a fantastic trade partner for Israel , didn’t it?

        • James Canning
          May 12, 2013, 2:21 pm

          Bravo, Marc B. Morgenthau clearly failed to comprehend that possession of most of Germany, by the West, was essential to allied security. Against Soviet threat.

        • James Canning
          May 12, 2013, 2:23 pm

          Yes, collective punishment of the Germans, was Morgenthau’s object. Was Morgenthau willing to undermine the national security of the West, to achieve this object?

        • Keith
          May 12, 2013, 7:30 pm

          HOPHMI- “Without question, any instinct to demilitarize Germany after the war was correct, and if you can’t admit that, there is seriously something wrong with you.”

          I mostly agree, and am appalled by many of the comments distorting historical reality in a chauvinistic fashion. One can never be sure of what would have occurred under a scenario not pursued, however, a demilitarized Germany with no NATO or Warsaw Pact (formed in response to NATO) could have lead to a much more peaceful world. Surely, the US lead arms race has been an ongoing disaster.

        • Woody Tanaka
          May 13, 2013, 2:24 am

          James Canning — Morganthau’s lacked more than merely an understanding of history. That was the least of his faults.

        • marc b.
          May 13, 2013, 1:48 pm

          I mostly agree, and am appalled by many of the comments distorting historical reality in a chauvinistic fashion.

          keith, with all due respect I think you misinterpret ‘the demilitarization of Germany’ argument, at least made in this context. as I said, ‘demilitarization’ is a mischaracterization of the morganthau plan. ‘demilitarization’ really means deindustrialization here. and that’s the underlying motivation: not the demilitarization of Germany as part of permanent peace plan for Europe, but as intended as a punishment of Germany as a state, and the germans as a people. I don’t recall any argument about the withdrawal of what became NATO forces from allied territory, or of a negotiation of NATO withdrawal in the context of eastern bloc demilitarization, i.e. the demilitarization of europe. (the European history of mass murder is a European problem, not a german problem.) hophmi just wants to punish germans for killing jews. he doesn’t give a sh*t about gentile germans killing gentile poles or gentile dutch or gentile greeks, as he’s already stated.

        • James Canning
          May 13, 2013, 2:28 pm

          Certainly Germany saw it as necessary to make restitution in one way or another.

          And yes, the Palstinians have been punished for sins committed by others.

        • lysias
          May 13, 2013, 5:23 pm

          It occurs to me that, since Barbara Tuchman was the granddaughter of the elder Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey during the First World War, she must have known from family tradition and from her own grandfather’s tales that the Palestinians were not recent arrivals.

        • James Canning
          May 13, 2013, 6:44 pm

          @Woody – – Is it agreed generally that Morgenthau lacked an adequate understanding of the sweep of history, reversals of alliances, etc?

        • James Canning
          May 13, 2013, 6:50 pm

          Keith – - Why did the Soviet Union refuse to accept American assistance (Marshall Plan)?
          USSR intended to dominate Europe, after end of Second World War.
          Germany was improtant part of Western defence.

        • Citizen
          May 14, 2013, 3:18 am

          Stalin admitted before he died that two-thirds of Russia’s industrial capability was due to the assistance of the United States. US firms directly helped soviet firms begging in the earlier 1920s, and, of course we gave stuff to Stalin’s regime throughout world war two, not the least of which was the lend-lease program. In short, after the war Stalin emerged as the head of one of two superpowers; he had already gotten his own version of the Marshall Plan from US aid, and subsequently he decided had no need of it as it would’ve furnished the US with a tether curbing his ambitions too much.

    • pabelmont
      May 9, 2013, 11:00 am

      The rabbis who are having trouble talking about Israel are presumably not the ones who support the GoI in all its doings, who promote sale of Israel Bonds (if this still happens), etc. Support of Israel is a form of talking about Israel, but not a form of criticizing Israel.

      This 1919 statement should be published to all Jewish congregations so they can start a discussion about whether the Zionist project makes any better sense today, when we can see the results, than it did in 1919, in prospect. Also, Judah Magnes’s statement (in prospect)

      Moreover, a Jewish Home in Palestine built up on bayonets and oppression is not worth having, even though it succeed, whereas the very attempt to build it up peacefully, cooperatively, with understanding, education, and good will, is worth a great deal, even though the attempt should fail.

  5. Daniel Rich
    May 9, 2013, 10:38 am

    “When’s it gonna be a good time to be me?”

  6. DavidK
    May 9, 2013, 10:45 am

    I wish people would stop refering to the Diaspora. As Schlomo Sand and others have pointed out, there was no great exile after the Romans sacked Jeruselam. Refering to “Diaspora Jews” only lends credence to the Zionist myth that Jews of the world must return to their ancestral home in the land of Israel. Modern Jews are no more descended from the ancient Hebrews of the Bible than Christians are descended from the original twelve disciples of Jesus.

    • pabelmont
      May 9, 2013, 11:11 am

      Good point, no such thing as “diaspora” for the Jews, because “diaspora” requires dispersion from a single home, which the people who anciently followed the Jewish Teachings did not have.

      There is, however, a Palestinian “diaspora”, because there were a Palestinian people and Palestinian community living on a land which they called home, presumably something Israel wishes to deny, saying there never was a Palestinian people, never, not recently and not from Time Immemorial.

      When in 1966 my mother (of Jewish stock) mentioned to her grocer (Palestinian, in San Francisco) that her son (me) was going to marry a Palestinian woman, the grocer said, “Tell me her name and I will tell you where she is from”. On learning (after an exchange of letters, we avoiding the high expense of telephone calls in those days) that her name was “Totah”, he said, “she is from Ramallah. she is my cousin.”

      I tell that story to suggest that Palestine was always a community, a small town sort of place, where people were inter-related and knew each other. Not a place of recent immigrants (as NYC is, where I live today). NYC is a melting pot, as Israel is (in its Jewish aspect), but Palestine was established over long time, a nation.

    • Danaa
      May 9, 2013, 1:34 pm

      DavidK, I have taken to refering to jewish people outside israel as “Jews of the world” or “Jews out in the world”. By no means implying a single umbrella to lump all unto but inferring that there is a multitude outside the israeli shtetl. It’s more accurate this way and does not posit that some are lesser than others by virtue of being in some kind of a “diaspora”. this BTW, was not an original term but one suggested to me by a certain commenter here, and I decided to adopt it.

      In hebrew, the word “diaspora’ usually translates as “galut”, and it definitely comes with negative connotations of something diminished by “outsiderness’, deprived of warmth and distant in heart and soul – a sad kind of existence, like fish out of water.

      I am now more careful to use “diaspora” to refer to a mental state of a distancing of the soul from its human essence. By which definition, it is israelis (the vast majority of them) who live in a true diaspora.

      On that, I am sure the prophets of old (well, some of them) would back me.

      • RoHa
        May 9, 2013, 9:39 pm

        ‘In hebrew, the word “diaspora’ usually translates as “galut”, ‘

        And “galut” make me think of “galoot”.

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 11:13 am

          Galut’s definition refers to the alleged forced exile of Jews, especially from countries where they were, it’s also alleged, most persecuted. Some day, perhaps, the world historians will get together with the Jewish historians, and make some factual sense of these sometimes conflicting narratives? Don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath. Mainly because the Jewish religion celebrates holidays dependent on a purely Jewish interpretation of history whenever and wherever Jews are concerned. When one weds religion with history, one does not get objective history. And there’s the other related matter: history is written by the victors. Although Bush Jr was more than normally honest about it, he did tell us that he was the doer, and the scribes can say later what they want–when it’s too late to stop what the doer did. A third part of this reality is that governments retain secrecy as to vital documents until way past their due date. And lastly, seldom do governmental actors rail in public about what they do–until they’ve left government office, if ever.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 3:07 pm

          Forced exile, in case of Spain in 1492, or at least to pretend to be Christian. Many Jews grew rich due to fabulous wealth flowing from Spain’s holdings in the New World. But they had to rpetend to be Christians. (Some genuinely converted, of course).

      • notatall
        May 10, 2013, 11:25 am

        There is, in fact, an Israeli “diaspora,” consisting of the estimated 750,000 to one million Israelis living abroad, a statistic that says a great deal about life in the Promised Land. They are, of course, in addition to the indigenous Palestinians who were forced out. link to mideast.foreignpolicy.com

    • Hostage
      May 10, 2013, 4:01 am

      I wish people would stop refering to the Diaspora. As Schlomo Sand and others have pointed out, there was no great exile after the Romans sacked Jeruselam.

      I’m afraid the Diaspora is an inseparable part of the Jewish religion despite all of that.

      There was already a Jewish Diaspora scattered throughout the known world long before the Romans ever sacked Jerusalem. It’s indicated in the list of countries cited in the early Christian scriptures, like Acts Chapter 2:

      5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. . . .
      9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

      10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

      11 Cretes and Arabians . . .

      That’s a fairly ancient text. No one ever questioned the fact that Jewish pilgrims from all of those lands were traveling to Jerusalem in the era before the Temple was sacked.

      FYI, the Diaspora was already part of Jewish prophetic mythology by the time the text of the Torah became fixed. See for example Deuteronomy 28:

      63 And it will be, just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do good for you and to increase you, so will the Lord cause to rejoice over you to annihilate you and to destroy you. And you will be uprooted from the land which you enter therein, to possess it.

      64 And the Lord will scatter you among all the nations, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will serve other deities unknown to you or your forefathers, [deities of] wood and stone.

      An exile(s) is an integral component of the legends about the Patriarchs. Jewish historian Josephus records the fact that, even during the second commonwealth, the Jews of Palestine went into a voluntary exile in the wilderness where they established colonies and initiated converts into their religious cults. All of this symbolized Jacob’s flight, exile, servitude under Laban – and his eventual return.

      The notion that a Messiah would regather the exiles is also contained in the Torah. See Genesis 49:

      10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the student of the law from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him will be a gathering of peoples.

      Down through the ages, Jewish religious leaders applied that text to a number of potential Messianic figures, including a few Gentiles (e.g. Cyrus, Herod, and Vespasian). It’s obvious that the majority of Jews did not readily accept the proposition contained in the books of Isaiah, Ezra, and Nehemiah that a divine in-gathering had somehow been sanctioned during the Persian era. Most of the Diaspora decided to stay in exile.

      • Hostage
        May 10, 2013, 4:26 am

        P.S. I would hasten to add that according to the Jewish legend, Israel became a great and mighty nation during an extended period of exile in Egypt. Only a few souls went there, but a “mixed multitude” returned.

        The modern Jews are also a mixed multitude, and studies indicate that most of us are descended from a few gentile matriarchs with resulting evidence of “admixture”, “founder effects” and “bottlenecks”.

      • RoHa
        May 11, 2013, 12:16 am

        “Acts Chapter 2:”

        We don’t know when Acts was written. My guess is sometime in the second century. That puts it after the fall of Jerusalem, but still pretty old. However, we find references to Jews in the Roman Empire in pre-Christian Latin literature.
        link to fondazionecanussio.org

  7. hophmi
    May 9, 2013, 12:24 pm

    I think you’re engaging in some wishful thinking here, and part of the problem is that you just don’t know the grassroots very well. People like Max Blumenthal may shout loudly, but they continue to represent no meaningful constituency in the American Jewish community. They are merely people of the left who happen to be Jewish. And to my knowledge, they really have no interest in joining the American Jewish community or creating an alternative to it. They’d be happy if organized Jewry disappeared and Jews fully assimilated like most of them have.

    It is not commonplace to hear Jews in the grassroots refer to Israel as a racist rightwing policy. It is common to hear criticism of Israel’s policies in the West Bank. It is also common, to the extent that people care, to hear criticism of some internal Israeli policies toward Israeli Arabs and especially common to hear criticism of Israel’s haredi population. But Newmark and Blumenthal continue to be outliers.

    “There is good evidence for these claims in a Jewish Chronicle piece on a Jewish Council for Public Affairs survey of rabbis showing ‘that as many as half of the respondents feel that they are restricted in some ways in speaking about Israel in their congregational and other settings.’

    I.e., those rabbis want to raise gentle criticisms of Israel, but they feel they can’t ”

    It is true that many rabbis, particularly the younger ones, are on the liberal side of the political spectrum, and that many of them, particularly in more liberal synagogues, serve memberships that are much older and more conservative than they are. But they are not anti-Zionists. They are liberal Zionists. They strongly believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. And they feel constrained to bring up Israel not because they want to voice anti-Zionist views, but because they don’t want fighting within their synagogues and they don’t want to lose their jobs.

    Unfortunately, all of this infighting ignores the elephant in the room, which is that support for Israel in the Jewish community is concentrated in the Orthodox community today. They are basically of one mind about Israel.

    So you’re deluding yourself if you think that the fact that young liberal rabbis, who are increasingly irrelevant to begin with, and outliers like Max and Marilyn, who represent fringes who have no grassroots support in the Jewish community and no demonstrated interest in remaking Jewish communal institutions, are going to lead to the redefinition of Jewish communal institutions. Survival of these institutions is much more dependent on incorporating right-wing voices on Israel, not left-wing voices.

    Most Jews, I predict, will avoid the issue of Israel before they will speak out on it. And that is human nature and also reflect the stands of most Americans. I don’t see Arabs speaking out in any organized way against human rights abuses in the Arab world or Muslims speaking out against the the destabilization of several countries by Islamic fundamentalist movements. You’re not going to get an anti-Zionist wave, just as you never got a pro-USSR wave and you never got an anti-War on Terror wave or even an end-to-Iraqi-sanctions wave. Most Americans do not criticize the United States in harsh terms. The best you can hope for is a shouting battle, which more and more defines American political debates, and you’ll most likely lose it, even if you gain a few easy European victories here and there.

    Liberal Zionists, by and large, do not do shouting debates; they are moderates. And unfortunately, moderates don’t do well in this age.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 9, 2013, 1:41 pm

      hops, i think you are missing the point of the jewish chronicle article which is why your critique of phil’s article falls flat.

      It is true that many rabbis, particularly the younger ones, are on the liberal side of the political spectrum, and that many of them, particularly in more liberal synagogues, serve memberships that are much older and more conservative than they are. But they are not anti-Zionists. They are liberal Zionists. They strongly believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. And they feel constrained to bring up Israel not because they want to voice anti-Zionist views, but because they don’t want fighting within their synagogues and they don’t want to lose their jobs.

      phil didn’t say the liberal rabbis were turning anti zionists, only that they didn’t know how to talk about israel to their congregations. phil said those rabbis want to raise gentle criticisms of Israel, but they feel they can’t. and to find out why they can’t, the jewish chronicle claims “the problem is becoming acute.” what problem? Israel having “a polarizing effect on the Jewish world.”

      so you should take up your claim here: Most Jews, I predict, will avoid the issue of Israel before they will speak out on it, with the jewish chronicle. because according to them, jews are talking about it, they’re just talking about it …outside the synagogue. and that’s what the conference in the article is trying to remedy. the way it’s talked about. because the rabbi’s holding the conference think members of the jewish community ” inappropriately choose to act out the conflict here at home.””. in fact, it says ” Jews are increasingly breaking off into camps”.

      “breaking off into camps” is code for talking outside of controlled environments without over-seaers.or (over-hearers) , and they intend to fix this with a seminar, or seminars, in ‘how to be civil’, which really means how to control the debate:

      The program, titled “Can we Talk … About Israel: A Community Conversation on Civility in Discourse about Israel,” was moderated by AJL Community Scholar Rabbi Scott Aaron.

      Danielle Kranjec, AJL adult education coordinator, said the rabbis in charge of the program wanted to address civility.

      …….

      “We can’t be on autopilot about this,” Felson said. “We have to take a look at the nature of the problem and figure what kinds of skills we need to have as leaders in the community to facilitate communication across conflict.

      “We need leaders who are able to create safer spaces to hear from people representing multiple narratives. …”

      He offered some examples:

      • San Francisco had A Year of Civil Discourse, through which the community offered leadership training and worked intensively with organizations facing deep divisions; and

      • Nashville, Broward County, Fla., and Westchester, N.Y., all developed civility statements through which communities determined what the norms of conversation would be.

      “Conversation on Civility in Discourse about Israel” iow, the focus is the civility in the discourse, not israel. the “coordinator” says the rabbis ‘want to address civility’. which probably has to do with acceptable topics, reut’s red lines. ‘determining what the norms of conversation would be’ means deciding/controlling the content.

      • hophmi
        May 9, 2013, 2:55 pm

        “Jews are increasingly breaking off into camps.”

        Those are right-wing and liberal Zionist camps. The right-wingers are overwhelmingly the ones responsible for the uncivil atmosphere. The civility seminars (which I’ve been to) are not about controlling the debate. They’re about helping people talk civilly to one another, just as it says. It’s not about which topics are acceptable. That’s a different issue.

        Is Israel having a polarizing effect? I think that’s overstating it a bit. The 2012 election cycle left a bad taste, because for the first time in a general election, Israel was thrown on the field of partisan politics by the right-wingers. That was responsible for a major loss of civility on the issue. The worst polarization is more about American politics than it is about Israel per se.

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 11:48 am

          RE: “The worst polarization is more about American politics than it is about Israel per se.”

          You mean more about US politics than Israeli politics per se,” right?
          Of course. Been that way since Truman told us so, meaning, since the US via Truman first unilaterally recognized Israel against the advice of the US state department and diplomatic corps. See Truman Library archives available on the internet.

          And Re: “They are liberal Zionists. They strongly believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. And they feel constrained to bring up Israel not because they want to voice anti-Zionist views, but because they don’t want fighting within their synagogues and they don’t want to lose their jobs.”

          Ah, yes. If you criticize Israeli policy and/or conduct you definitely can lose your job, your career. You don’t see a problem with that? Any true blue American would.

          We agree with you. So what are you trying to prove? We don’t like this status quo, and you do. Anything else?

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 2:58 pm

          US recognition of Israel before borders were clarified, was cited by virtually all Truman’s military and foreign policy advisers, as reason not to recognise Israel at that time.

          Israel was seen as a “millstone” around the neck of the US.

      • marc b.
        May 9, 2013, 2:56 pm

        really, annie, what logical conclusions, if any, can you reach from that stew of factual contradiction and logical inconsistency? most American jews, just happen to be jews, and aren’t jews in any meaningful sense; only the opinions of the orthodox matter on the subject of israel; oh, and shut up because nothing you say or do will ever amount to anything on any topic of importance.

        • Annie Robbins
          May 9, 2013, 7:35 pm

          marc, in hophmi’s world, when the article states ‘Israel is having “a polarizing effect on the Jewish world.” ‘ the 2 poles are liberal and right wing zionism. iow, beinart’s point in his book, that jewish youth..having a choice between the left and zionism, is moot.

          and when Nashville, Broward County, Fla., and Westchester, N.Y., all develop civility statements through which communities determined what the norms of conversation would be, it had nothing to do with nixing words and ideas like ‘apartheid’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ , ‘genocide’ or ‘one state’ as being acceptable discourse. it was just about polite and civil ways to confirm the right and left loyalties to israel.

          there are probably no children ( in their teens, 20′s or 30′s) of those “much older and more conservative” liberal jews hophmi mentioned, who are questioning the premise of zionism.

          on a side note i went out to dinner w/my friend last night. we rarely talk politics, she doesn’t think anything is changing. she listens to npr. she’s not optimistic like i am. and she’s jewish. around 65. not what i would term an activist on the least. and over dinner she says, do you think anyone even notices what they are doing now..is like the early nazis?

          i said…”wellllll as a matter of fact a few people have raised that issue on some of the threads.” maybe that’s an example of the kind of ‘civility’ the rabbis are trying to avert, wrt this “acute” problem.

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 11:50 am

          @ marc b
          What are you driving at? It took many decades to get the US to support BDS against apartheid S Africa. The US was one of the last western countries to do so, with Israel being the last (even though it’s status as a western civilized country is rightfully disputed).

        • marc b.
          May 12, 2013, 7:46 pm

          sorry, citizen. that was my not-so clear sarcastic response to israel’s used car salesman.

        • Citizen
          May 14, 2013, 3:24 am

          @ marc b
          Oh jeez, I see what you say clearly now upon a second look. The satire is clear–I guess I had a senior moment and did not reflect that I nearly, if not always agree with your comments.

    • yourstruly
      May 9, 2013, 1:53 pm

      rather than face zionist vitriol most anti-zionist jews will keep their views to themselves. consequently the only voices heard until recently are those of zionist jews. zionist institutions act as enforcers to intimidate and silence anti-zionists, especially jews, lest their views take hold, not only among the heretofore silent-on-the-subject-of-israel jews but among the general public, which is the reason that zionist organizations such as the ADL have a list of those they’ve dubbed “self-hating jews”. except history will show who the real self-haters are.

      • hophmi
        May 9, 2013, 2:58 pm

        “rather than face zionist vitriol most anti-zionist jews will keep their views to themselves.”

        I doubt it. Zionist Jews face plenty of vitriol from anti-Zionist Jews. It’s not a one-sided thing.

        “which is the reason that zionist organizations such as the ADL have a list of those they’ve dubbed “self-hating jews””

        The ADL has a list? Where is that? I just don’t get the sense that most anti-Zionist Jews are people who were interested in the ADL or any of the Jewish communal institutions in the first place, so I don’t see how they could be intimidated by them.

        • yourstruly
          May 9, 2013, 10:48 pm

          @ hophmi

          should have said most non-zionist jews will keep their views to themselves. and the vitriol that anti-zionists face isn’t so much from individual zionists, it’s from zionist organizations and their lackeys in msm. as for your not seeing how “they could be intimidated by them”, perhaps you haven’t noticed what happened to norman finkelstein at loyola university.

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 12:07 pm

          @ hophmi
          You don’t seem to have any knowledge of what has happened to those Americans political players who have been publicly critical of Israel over the last half century. Why is that?

        • hophmi
          May 10, 2013, 1:17 pm

          I have plenty of knowledge of them. If they were elected officials, they lost their seats because their views were unpopular. If their views were more popular, they’d have remained in office.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 7:13 pm

          I think Hop is well aware of the casualty list of American politicians willing to challenge the Israel lobby.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 7:34 pm

          And Rabbi Michael Lerner of Berkeley, California, is an expert on pressure on Jews to be quiet about what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, etc etc.
          Pressure by Jewish organisations.

        • James Canning
          May 11, 2013, 2:21 pm

          Hop – - The Israel lobby took out politicians prepared to resist the demands of that lobby. Full stop. The “unpoplarity” of the politicians was largely manufactured by the lobby.

    • Ellen
      May 9, 2013, 3:17 pm

      Hop, you say, I don’t see Arabs speaking out in any organized way against human rights abuses in the Arab world or Muslims speaking out against the the destabilization of several countries by Islamic fundamentalist movements. …

      You obviously are not looking. Just one example:

      link to csmonitor.com

      • marc b.
        May 9, 2013, 5:25 pm

        ellen, hophmi’s problem (or at least one of them) is the jew-gentile lens he views the entire world through. it allows for recognition that there are ‘arabs’ or ‘muslims’, which he casually exchanges as synonyms, but after that any nuance is lost. no ‘arabs’ speak out against ‘human rights abuses’ in the ‘arab world’. the spectacle of millions of Egyptians protesting Mubarak’s human rights abuses and corruption is a peg that can’t fit in that hole, Tunisians protesting corruption and essentially overthrowing their government don’t count, women in Saudi Arabia protesting against the prohibition on women drivers don’t count, and the millions of non-Egyptian, non-Tunisian, non-Saudi Arabian, non-arabs who support those causes are non-existent. he lives in a captian israel comic book world.

      • hophmi
        May 10, 2013, 1:19 pm

        Ellen: You must seriously be kidding if your example is a Saudi Arabian women’s program. I’m talking about here in America, not in the Arab world. I see individuals speak out against problems in the Muslim and Arab worlds, but not organizations. And I can understand that.

    • American
      May 9, 2013, 7:07 pm

      “Most Americans do not criticize the United States in harsh terms. “….hoppie

      roflmao!…….you must live under a rock…..there are 2 Americas..the one out here and the one in Washington…the one in Washington has a 19% favorability rating…..81% that live in the other America are criticizing it plenty.

      • Donald
        May 9, 2013, 8:43 pm

        “oflmao!…….you must live under a rock…..there are 2 Americas..t”

        I don’t know–I think he had a point. Sure, Americans do criticize our government as you say, but with the majority it seems to be criticism of how our government doesn’t do enough for Americans, or (if the criticism comes from conservatives) how it spends too much money, etc… When it comes to criticizing American war crimes, that sort of thing is much less popular.

        For instance, some weeks ago I heard “liberal” commenter Mark Shields on the PBS Newshour talking about the ten year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. He spoke about it as an awful tragedy, but he only spoke about the Americans who died needlessly. And that’s really common when people speak about American wars–in the mainstream, they usually criticize them from the point of view that they were harmful to Americans. It’s much rarer to hear criticism of the horrors our government has inflicted on people elsewhere. That’s what I think Hophmi is talking about.

        • yourstruly
          May 9, 2013, 10:53 pm

          weren’t you around during the vietnam war? if so, what did you think the protests and marches were all about?

        • Donald
          May 10, 2013, 12:02 pm

          “weren’t you around during the vietnam war? if so, what did you think the protests and marches were all about?

          I think the marches were largely composed of young people and far lefties who tend to be more idealistic. But many were also concerned about being drafted. Once American ground forces were being pulled out the antiwar protests started fading. How many people do you think you could get to protest the brutal sanctions on Iraq in the 90′s? As hophmi correctly pointed out, not that many. Americans weren’t dying, so it didn’t matter that much. If the antiwar movement had truly been a mass majority movement of Americans who felt that it was wrong for us to kill innocent civilians, principled antiwar positions would be taken by mainstream politicians, not just fringe people like Dennis Kucinich. Someone like John Kerry swings to the right of his antiwar roots if he starts having serious political ambitions. And you’ll notice that soon after the war ended the way the country started talking about Vietnam was mostly in terms of how it was bad for America. I mentioned Mark Shields in the earlier post because his position–he thinks the Iraq War was tragic because Americans died–is pretty representative of how the majority of Americans talk.

          Anyway, there were huge protests in Israel after the Sabra/Shatila massacre. Fine, but that attitude didn’t grow into anything.

          Of course America is a big country and if you can get, say, 10 percent aroused over some moral issue then you can get big marches.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 7:17 pm

          How big was the march and rally in London, against Tony Blair’s pending illegal invasion of Iraq? One million?
          US news media help cause relative lethargy by concealing important aspects of the idiotic wars the US has waged in the greater Middle East since “9/11″.

        • Citizen
          May 12, 2013, 10:37 am

          Draft notices?

    • Donald
      May 9, 2013, 8:37 pm

      “Most Jews, I predict, will avoid the issue of Israel before they will speak out on it. And that is human nature and also reflect the stands of most Americans. I don’t see Arabs speaking out in any organized way against human rights abuses in the Arab world or Muslims speaking out against the the destabilization of several countries by Islamic fundamentalist movements. You’re not going to get an anti-Zionist wave, just as you never got a pro-USSR wave and you never got an anti-War on Terror wave or even an end-to-Iraqi-sanctions wave. Most Americans do not criticize the United States in harsh terms. The best you can hope for is a shouting battle, which more and more defines American political debates, and you’ll most likely lose it, even if you gain a few easy European victories here and there.”

      Interesting paragraph. There are a couple of analogies that don’t work (outside the Communist party why would anyone expect a pro-USSR wave?) and I don’t know precisely what Muslims say about Muslim atrocities (I suspect we don’t get an accurate or complete picture), but overall, yeah, you’ve got a point regarding human nature. Most people aren’t comfortable criticizing their own country or tribe or co-religionists or whatever group they identify with, at least not if we are talking about war crimes and that sort of thing.

      On liberal Zionists, I think the term actually encompasses a fairly wide range of views. Jerome Slater is a liberal Zionist, but he’s extremely critical of Israel. But on the other hand there are plenty of people who call themselves liberal Zionists who mostly seem to say this in a perfunctory way–they don’t support the settlements, but when all is said and done they obviously don’t think Israel’s crimes amount to much compared to Palestinian terrorism. If most “liberal Zionists” were like Slater we might see a serious attempt by the US to press for a 2SS along the 67 lines with adjustments that, if anything, favored the Palestinians. (I’m dodging the question of whether a 2SS is the right way to go–just talking about the preferences of various people.) But with the sorts of liberal Zionists who seem to have more influence the US has mostly acted as Israel’s lawyer and that’s one of the main reasons the “peace process” has gotten nowhere.

  8. yourstruly
    May 9, 2013, 1:09 pm

    dialogue & debate while palestinians are being slaughtered is equivalent to nero’s fiddlying while rome burned.

  9. DICKERSON3870
    May 9, 2013, 5:17 pm

    RE: “There’s also a polarization that is sometimes overwhelming in the Jewish community because these issues feel existential,” he [Ethan Felson of JCPA] said. “People feel that they have a tremendous stake and a conflict, and sometimes they inappropriately choose to act out the conflict here at home.” ~ Jewish Chronicle piece

    REGARDING “ACTING OUT”, NOTE THIS FROM WIKIPEDIA [Defence mechanisms]:

    [EXCERPTS] In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defense mechanisms (or defense mechanisms) are psychological strategies brought into play by the unconscious mind[1] to manipulate, deny, or distort reality (through processes including, but not limited to, repression, identification, or rationalization),[2] and to maintain a socially acceptable self-image or self-schema.[3]
    Healthy persons normally use different defenses throughout life. An ego defense mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behavior such that the physical and/or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of ego defense mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety and/or social sanctions and/or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.[4]
    Defence mechanisms are unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses.[5]
    . . . The list of defence mechanisms is huge and there is no theoretical consensus on the number of defence mechanisms. . .

    Vaillant’s categorization of defence mechanisms

    Level 2: Immature
    These mechanisms are often present in adults. These mechanisms lessen distress and anxiety provoked by threatening people or by uncomfortable reality. . .
    • Acting out: Direct expression of an unconscious wish or impulse in action, without conscious awareness of the emotion that drives that expressive behaviour.

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    P.S. FOR A POSSIBLE EXAMPLE OF “ACTING OUT”, SEE: “‘Arabs, I hate Arabs!’–Independence Day and just another day in Jerusalem”, by Allison Deger, Mondoweiss April 22, 2013

    [EXCEPT] “Do you speak Hebrew,” he asked in me (in Hebrew). “No, but I speak Arabic. Do you speak Arabic?” I replied (in Arabic) to the drunk twenty-something Israeli at an ATM in West Jerusalem. He looked at me for a moment like he was hearing gobbledygook. Then — “Arabs! I hate Arabs!” he exclaimed throwing his arms up for the big finale: “They want to kill us! They want to kill us! I hate Arabs!”

    SOURCE – link to mondoweiss.net

    P.P.S. FOR ANOTHER POSSIBLE EXAMPLE OF “ACTING OUT”, SEE: Pro-Israel Activist Knocks Camera Out of Hands of Alison Weir [VIDEO, 02:37] – link to youtube.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      May 9, 2013, 6:01 pm

      P.P.P.S. RE: “Arabs! I hate Arabs!” he exclaimed throwing his arms up for the big finale: “They want to kill us! They want to kill us! I hate Arabs!” ~ drunk twenty-something Israeli at an ATM in West Jerusalem (from above)

      MY AMATEURISH EFFORT AT EXPLAINING THIS “ACTING OUT” BEHAVIOR (grossly simplified): Many people in the “international community” see the Palestinians as being treated very unfairly, and most Israelis are aware of this. For an Israeli, this means that they (i.e., their government) are the the perpetrators of this unfairness (at least, as perceived by the “international community”. Consequently, this unfairness (to the extent Israelis are aware of it, at least subconsciously) has the potential to cause considerable cognitive dissonance in a good many Israelis, and this cognitive dissonance could become very unpleasant for them. So what are the poor Israelis to do? For the most part they will endeavor to use at least one (more likely several) defense mechanism to keep as much of this cognitive dissonance as possible in check (at bay; kept to a manageable level).
      Let’s consider the young, inebriated male who was ‘acting out’ at the ATM in Jerusalem by exclaiming: “Arabs! I hate Arabs . . . They want to kill us! They want to kill us! I hate Arabs!”
      Well gee, if “the Arabs” want to kill the Israelis/Jews, then “the Arabs” certainly don’t deserve to get treated fairly by Israel. Who, “in their right mind”, (other than a rabid anti-Semite) could possibly expect the Israeli’s to be fair to (dehumanized) people who want to kill the Israelis/Jews! ! ! Hell, the killer Arabs/Palestinians are mighty damn lucky to get even so much as a little chicken soup (much less, any chopped liver) every now and again! Who (other than a rabid anti-Semite) could possibly expect the Israelis to ‘aid and abet’ a (dehumanized) people who are intent on killing them! Ergo, problem (i.e., potential cognitive dissonance) solved!

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Acting out]:

      [EXCERPTS] Acting out is a psychological term from the parlance of defense mechanisms and self-control, meaning to perform an action in contrast to bearing and managing the impulse to perform it. The acting done is usually anti-social and may take the form of acting on the impulses of an addiction (e.g. drinking, drug taking or shoplifting) or in a means designed (often unconsciously or semi-consciously) to garner attention (e.g. throwing a tantrum or behaving promiscuously).
      In general usage, the action performed is destructive to self or others and may inhibit the development of more constructive responses to the feelings. The term is used in this way in sexual addiction treatment, psychotherapy, criminology and parenting.
      Acting out painful feelings may be contrasted with expressing them in ways more helpful to the sufferer, e.g. by talking out, expressive therapy, psychodrama or mindful awareness of the feelings. Developing the ability to express one’s conflicts safely and constructively is an important part of impulse control, personal development and self-care.

      • In analysis
      Freud considered that patients in analysis tended to act out their conflicts in preference to remembering them – repetition compulsion.[1] The analytic task was then to help “the patient who does not remember anything of what he has forgotten and repressed, but acts it out”[2] to replace present activity by past memory.
      Otto Fenichel added that acting out in an analytic setting potentially offered valuable insights to the therapist; but was nonetheless a psychological resistance in as much as it deals only with the present at the expense of concealing the underlying influence of the past.[3] Lacan also spoke of “the corrective value of acting out”,[4] though others qualified this with the proviso that such acting out must be limited in the extent of its destructive/self-destructiveness.[5] . . .

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

  10. atime forpeace
    May 9, 2013, 5:29 pm

    For this point of view and the outreach that you have started with your website Mr Weiss; I salute you.

    Drive that wedge through your community Phil, heaven knows you all need to separate yourselves from any association with the zionist, once the tide turns who know what that wave will bring. Judging from history there is reason for concern.

    Brutus:
    There is a tide in the affairs of men.
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat,
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures.

    Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

  11. James Canning
    May 9, 2013, 6:23 pm

    Debate, dialogue, whatever. More noise about idiotic Israeli colonisation programme in the West Bank.

  12. ToivoS
    May 9, 2013, 8:33 pm

    This absence of dialogue is a good thing.

    Well Phil is growing into a real radical. I like it. This reminds me of the civil rights dialogue that was happening in the late 50s and early 60s. I remember being part of one of these big sessions in school. All of these white people were spouting off with their racists views and were totally oblivious to how offensive they sounded to the minorities and the few lefties like myself. Those discussions went no where. But the civil rights movement did. It is not that we won these people over in argument but that there views were roundly denounced as unacceptable. So they stopped saying stuff like that in public. And slowly, racist views declined in America, mostly through the new generations not being exposed to the poison.

  13. Basilio
    May 9, 2013, 8:59 pm

    What exactly do they want to debate- whether Israel is or is not an apartheid state?
    If such a debate is necessary, it shows that Israel is horrible, and some people don’t want to admit to themselves that Israel treats the Palestinians so horribly, and don’t wake up and face their responsibilities that the state is morally bankrupt. What is their debate? It’s clear that what Israel is doing is horribly wrong, and talking hasn’t stopped Israel. The Europeans have talked and talked, and Israel destroys and destroys homes and seizes land. The talking has been useless so far because there has been no real action at the back of the talk.

    • yourstruly
      May 9, 2013, 11:38 pm

      back in the early eighties i attended a dialogue on palestine/israel that was moderated by a disciple of est guru werner erhard. the attendees were a mix of jewish liberal zionists and anti-zionists along with a few palestinians. attendees mostly expressed what they felt the other side could do to improve the climate between zionists and palestinians. civility was expected of all participants. it was say what you want & then go on to the next person. nothing else. somehow, i guess, the interchange was supposed to lead to resolution. if not then, perhaps later. although i’d spoken out vociferously against zionism/israel, i left the meeting feeling that it had been a waste of time, as it was doubtful that anyone’s beliefs had been changed even one iota, and that the underlying purpose of the endeavor had been to dissipate pent-up energy in a kind of controlled manner, such that the attendees feel good about themselves, even though nothing had been accomplished. despite this we were told that the show was to be performed at other sites, israel included.

    • yrn
      May 10, 2013, 7:53 am

      Action like what ????
      The talking has been useless so far ???

      This the aim of this blog isn’t it writing…… so if its useless why are you here ????

  14. yonah fredman
    May 10, 2013, 12:22 am

    Where I come from (modern Orthodox) the attitude towards those who replace the Torah with Zionism is that Zionism without Torah cannot last, it’s an empty shell like a zombie, a body without a soul. (This modern Orthodoxy also represents the greatest mistake of Zionism- the settler movement. But leaving that aspect aside for a moment.) Thus one would say that Phil’s critique of mainstream Judaism, replacing Torah with Zionism is spot on.

    The problem is, that Phil really rebelled and rebels against all things Jewish except that which meets his approval, those things that can be adapted and useful to the assimilationist. Phil really doesn’t care about Torah, Judaism or Jewishness. He cares about his vision of America and his vision of justice. America and justice (not in that order, necessarily) are great objects to idealize. But to pretend that his concern is Judaism is really false.

    • Hostage
      May 10, 2013, 5:26 am

      Phil really doesn’t care about Torah, Judaism or Jewishness. He cares about his vision of America and his vision of justice. America and justice (not in that order, necessarily) are great objects to idealize. But to pretend that his concern is Judaism is really false.

      Define Judaism. Most American Jews have formally rejected orthodoxy since the days of the Pittsburgh platform.

      • yonah fredman
        May 10, 2013, 6:56 am

        Hostage- Most American Jews have rejected Judaism since the Pittsburgh platform. The Pittsburgh platform was a road map to assimilation. Not a road to Judaism, but a road map away from Judaism.

        • Citizen
          May 10, 2013, 9:17 am

          You mean a road map like the Nazi Era Nuremberg Laws, right? Aryans didn’t want to assimilate with Jews either. Gotta maintain the purity of the tribe, eh?

        • Hostage
          May 10, 2013, 1:04 pm

          Hostage- Most American Jews have rejected Judaism since the Pittsburgh platform. The Pittsburgh platform was a road map to assimilation. Not a road to Judaism, but a road map away from Judaism.

          Says you. In any event, the Talmud was not written by either “the guy in the sky” or handed down by a prophet named Moses at Sinai.

          Your so-called Orthodox Judaism was a pragmatic historical revision and/or an utter fabrication in the first place. If Jews were free to call that sort of thing Judaism, then they can call whatever moral or philosophical system they devise Judaism too.

        • Hostage
          May 10, 2013, 1:35 pm

          You mean a road map like the Nazi Era Nuremberg Laws, right? Aryans didn’t want to assimilate with Jews either. Gotta maintain the purity of the tribe, eh?

          Exactly. There were certainly other, much more discriminatory statutes that were eventually adopted by the German government. But there was not one thing in the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor (September 15, 1935) that should have given offense to any Orthodox Jew. Their own community had its own centuries-old rules that already proscribed all such behavior. link to jewishvirtuallibrary.org

          Those particular German measures have exact corollaries in modern day Israeli state laws or in Jewish/Zionist policies against renting, hiring, and fraternizing with Arabs or purchasing food or agricultural products from them. Those social taboos have been publicly repeated in declarations endorsed by state-salaried Rabbis and/or their spouses. There have been a number of articles here at Mondoweiss about that situation.

        • James Canning
          May 10, 2013, 1:36 pm

          Yonah – - Judaism as you like to view it?

        • yonah fredman
          May 10, 2013, 10:06 pm

          Citizen (and Hostage)- Judaism’s closed attitude towards converts is unfortunate and it might take a few hundred years to undo tradition and trauma which are at the base of that attitude. If not for the fact that current prejudices against converting others to Judaism were part of my upbringing, my preferred attitude towards nonJews, whether in America or anywhere else where Jews live, would be marry our daughters and marry our sons, but first take on the laws and the Sabbath and the kosher rules and men, get a minor operation on your genitals, and men and women take a dip in a baptism pool (called a mikva) and then “sully the purity of our tribe” all you want. Judaism is a 52 Shabbos a year, a 365 day a year kosher, kind of thing and to imagine that Judaism can survive merely with being good, but without rituals, is a suspension of reality. What the Reform did was to imagine that Messiah had already come. That is, in my imagination of the days of Messiah, the laws will be suspended (or eased) because knowledge of God will surround us like waters. (Habakuk 2:14) And when that’s the case, the laws of Sabbath and Kosher are not so key, because we will have graduated to a less rule oriented time. But though Reform announced the end of the law, (reminds me of the Pauline conception of Rabbi Yehoshua’s undoing the law) when you declare the end of law, you declare the end of Judaism.

          I realize that in fact because Judaism is not as porous as it was before Judaism suffered the trauma of Constantine’s Christian sword, the maintenance of the congregation of Sabbath keepers has the effect of shunning the nonJew. But Judaism can survive on the fumes of the past, but it cannot survive long without the Sabbath. Reform and the Pittsburgh platform turned the Sabbath into something that Reform rabbis keep (sometimes), but the reform laity don’t keep and without the sabbath, Judaism withers. (There is great wisdom to be gathered from the writings of reform or Reform Jewish thinkers, but the practices that they initiated have failed to keep Judaism alive, if they are still around it is because of the echoes of the Sabbath and holidays and wisdom of the past, and not because of the wisdom of the content of the Pittsburgh platform.)

        • James Canning
          May 11, 2013, 1:58 pm

          I know a goodly number of Jews who married non-Jews, and the family is considered “Jewish” even if they eat ham sandwiches, etc etc.

          One can be a Christian and seldom set foot in a Christian church. One can be “Jewish” whatever is thought by the so-called authorities.

        • RoHa
          May 11, 2013, 10:01 pm

          “One can be a Christian and seldom set foot in a Christian church.”

          As long as one hold Christian beliefs.

          Are there any beliefs one has to hold in order to be Jewish?

        • Hostage
          May 12, 2013, 8:12 am

          Are there any beliefs one has to hold in order to be Jewish?

          You’re comparing apples to oranges. You don’t have to hold any special beliefs to be Anglo-Saxon. Worshiping trees, Jesus Christ, or nothing at all have been equally acceptable at different times. There is no such thing as a single Anglo-Saxon nation, although they have helped establish several countries. It would be inaccurate to discuss them in terms of a single Anglo-Saxon language or culture. But that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as an Anglo-Saxon.

          That’s sort of analogous to the situation back when the League of Nations took on the treaty responsibilities for protecting the Jews as national minority groups in Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, & etc. Those were all Jewish homelands in exactly the same way that Anglo-Saxons are at home and fully assimilated in places like Canada, the USA, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany.

          The Palestine Mandate did not prejudice the inherent rights of Jews under those other treaties and said as much. It simply recognized Palestine as the national home of the Ottoman Jews who habitually resided in the country, and those other Jews who had been assimilated to them under the regime of the capitulations. Although the mandate used the term “national home” of the Jewish people, the nationality they acquired by operation of public law was Palestinian. Jews from other countries did not have an automatic or unqualified right to even go to Palestine. Non-indigenous Jews had to apply for permission to immigrate. So it wasn’t treated or officially called “the Jewish homeland” until after the international mandate had been terminated – and there is no agreement that the practice is anything more than Zionist propaganda.

        • Citizen
          May 12, 2013, 11:18 am

          @ RoHa
          There’s a cable tv reality series about Amish youth who’ve departed in some ways from the Amish collective rigidity they grew up in, and they are all, to one degree or another, suffering from shunning by their formative community, including their own parents and sibs. What does it mean to be “Amish?” This question was raised over and over again last night, where a host did a Q & A with the Amish youth were were depicted over the course of the series. It reminded me a lot of what I’ve seen happen with Jewish people, when the Question often reduced itself to, “What does it mean to be Jewish?” Or “Is it good for the Jews?”

          The difference is, the Amish in America, whether rebels who ended up in places like NYC, or total conformists girded ’round with their insular community in the hinterlands, is not an issue US government leaders, Jewish or not, hang their blatant foreign policy on, and hence US blood and treasure–in a country that is 98% non-Jewish.

          Every single one of the Amish rebel youth (& one Mennonite rebel) declared firmly that they may not dress like traditional Amish, nor obey various of the elder’s mandates, may not talk, walk, or appear to be Amish, but “inside I am Amish.” Or “I’m neither Amish or English, but something between.”

        • James Canning
          May 12, 2013, 1:39 pm

          But we should remember the heavy pressure brought by Jews on the British government, during the 1920s and 30s, to allow Jewish immigration into Palestine.

        • James Canning
          May 12, 2013, 1:47 pm

          I have Jewish friends who say they are “Jewish” in a cultural context. Never set foot in a synagogue, unless it is for a bar mitzvah. etc etc

        • RoHa
          May 12, 2013, 10:08 pm

          “You’re comparing apples to oranges. You don’t have to hold any special beliefs ”

          Thank you, Hostage. That is what I suspected. Being Jewish is not the same sort of thing as being Christian.

        • Woody Tanaka
          May 13, 2013, 2:15 am

          ” If not for the fact that current prejudices against converting others to Judaism were part of my upbringing, my preferred attitude towards nonJews, whether in America or anywhere else where Jews live, would be marry our daughters and marry our sons, but first take on the laws and the Sabbath and the kosher rules and men, get a minor operation on your genitals, and men and women take a dip in a baptism pool (called a mikva) and then “sully the purity of our tribe” all you want.”

          This bigotry is frankly distasteful. Who are you to ask anyone to abandon their religion, undergo a ritual genital mutilation and adopt your religion in order to marry someone, simply because that person’s a Jew and so are you. It’s none of your business.

        • Hostage
          May 13, 2013, 5:27 am

          Thank you, Hostage. That is what I suspected. Being Jewish is not the same sort of thing as being Christian.

          It would be just as stupid as saying that the inhabitants of “Christendom” were a people entitled to return to Palestine, because it was the ancient homeland of the Church fathers.

        • James Canning
          May 13, 2013, 2:14 pm

          Hostage, re: early days of British Mandate for Palestine:

          “For most British in Palestine, Zionism was associated dimly with Bolshevism, international conspiracy theories and notions of widespread Jewish influence, and tainted, paradoxically, by both its German and East European intellectual origins.”

          [Quoted from "Mandate Days: British Lives in Palestine 1918-1948", by A.J. Sherman]

        • James Canning
          May 13, 2013, 2:31 pm

          @Citizen – - Great points, in response to RoHa. Emotional challenges resultig from being alienated from family and friends, etc etc etc.

          But as you say, the Amish do not control the foreign policy of the US.

        • James Canning
          May 13, 2013, 6:41 pm

          One might ask why the children of mixed marriages, where one parent is a Jew, should be raised as Jews.

        • James Canning
          May 13, 2013, 6:46 pm

          RoHa – - I know that in Britain there are quite a few Christians, who have serious doubts about rather a lot that one who is Christian is supposed to accept. But they are still Christians, especially in the cultural sense. Support their village church, etc.

        • Citizen
          May 14, 2013, 3:30 am

          @ James Canning
          Yes, one indeed might ask why. As a practical matter, that question is easier to pursue today, then it was yesterday, so to speak, especially where the children of divorced parents are concerned. Things have changed since Kramer and Kramer was new hat–it’s not the late 1970s or early 1980′s any more.

        • Citizen
          May 14, 2013, 5:18 am

          @ James Canning & RoHa

          There’s a 2012 Gallup Poll out that charts the US stats on people who self-identify with any religion. The least religious group are the Jews–by considerably far. If memory serves, the most religious are the Mormons.

          Apples and oranges.

      • James Canning
        May 10, 2013, 7:23 pm

        Bravo, Hostage.

    • American
      May 10, 2013, 11:09 am

      “The problem is, that Phil really rebelled and rebels against all things Jewish except that which meets his approval, those things that can be adapted and useful to the assimilationist.”….yonah

      If you want Jews and Judaism to survive and thrive then you need to ‘assimilate’.
      Zionist have this delusion that the existence of Israel represents the success of the idea of Jews ‘as some separate and world wide nation of people’……when in fact it represents the total failure.
      If you can’t maintain your religion without making yourself ‘alien’ in the peoplehood sense then you aren’t going to last…or at minimum aren’t going to have a peaceful existence.

      • James Canning
        May 10, 2013, 3:04 pm

        Yes, Jews certainly are thriving in the US. 140 of the Forbes 400 richest Americans. Remarkable bit of thriving, to say the least.

    • tree
      May 10, 2013, 3:50 pm

      The problem is, that Phil really rebelled and rebels against all things Jewish except that which meets his approval…

      From your first paragraph it appears that Zionism “without Torah” has exactly the same exclusionary attitude that you ascribe to Phil. Its just that Zionism doesn’t approve of justice or equality among all of humanity, whereas Phil does. Or are you saying that Judaism itself doesn’t approve of those things? And if you are, then aren’t you just as exclusionary yourself?

      Whatever happened to Rabbi Hillel’s “Do not do unto others that which you hate done unto yourself – that is the entire Torah,”? Isn’t that a part of Judaism?

      Come to think of it, was Hillel being exclusionary in summing up Torah in this manner? Doesn’t everyone take from religion that which they find useful or meaningful and disregard the rest?

      ….Which leads me to remembering one of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel songs.

      I am just a poor boy
      Though my story’s seldom told
      I have squandered my resistance
      For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
      All lies and jests
      Still a man hears what he wants to hear
      And disregards the rest

    • Ecru
      May 11, 2013, 2:20 pm

      The problem is, that Phil really rebelled and rebels against all things Jewish except that which meets his approval…

      Yonah that’s the history of your religion (although I know from many conversation most Jews hate this being brought up).

      Human sacrifice? Doesn’t meet our approval let’s get rid of it.
      Multiple deities? Doesn’t meet our approval, let’s simplify it down to one.
      Asherah? Doesn’t meet our approval, let’s give God a divorce.
      Mountain shrines? Doesn’t meet our approval, let’s just build one big one.
      Eating pork? Doesn’t meet our approval, let’s leave it to the neighbours.
      etc. etc.

      Here’s a question, do you want the Jewish people to be a vibrant people or a museum exhibit?

  15. Citizen
    May 10, 2013, 9:14 am

    Too polarized to talk to each other? How about listening: Please join us for a briefing call with Israeli political analyst Akiva Eldar on Monday, May 13th, at 1:00 Eastern Time.

    Formerly a senior columnist and editorial writer for Israel’s Haaretz Daily, Eldar recently joined Al-Monitor, a new web-based publication, focusing on the Middle East, which brings together some of the region’s best political writers and analysts.

    Eldar will address some of the recent developments in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, such as the Obama administration’s efforts to revive the diplomatic process, attempts to revive the Arab League’s Peace Initiative, and news about the Netanyahu government’s “restraining” of West Bank settlement planning.

    The details of the call are as follows:

    Date: Monday, May 13th
    Time: 1:00 PM (Eastern Time)
    Dial-in Number: 951-797-1058
    Participant Access Code: 147414

    To receive a link of the recording, please email Sarah Sagan at [email protected]. APN will send you a link to the recording of the call as soon as it is available.

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