Oppression by consensus in Israeli ‘democracy’

Israel/Palestine
on 129 Comments

Above, a video promoting Israel’s high-tech ORT schools, featuring students of many backgrounds but citing as a goal “strength-[ening] Jewish identity.” 

A final year student in an ORT high school in Israel recently wrote a letter to Israel’s Minister for Education complaining about her Civics teacher who she said expressed “extreme leftist” views. According to the YNet story, the student complained that her teacher said to her class that “the IDF is not the most moral army in the world and I am ashamed of it.” She also claimed he said that the “state belongs to the Palestinians”. (20th Jan. 2014). Following the story, a Ha’aretz editorial (20th Jan. 2014) lamented:

Instead of praising Verete [the teacher] for sparking interest in his classes, and in doing so possibly even educating students toward critical thinking, ORT is conducting a campaign of humiliation against him, at the end of which stands a possible dismissal. The support that ORT has gotten for its move from the Education Ministry —which recently declared that it intends to advance “meaningful learning” and the involvement of teachers — is no less worrisome.

I find it extraordinary how naïve or blind some Jewish Israelis are, and the author of this Ha’aretz editorial is no exception. Many, if not most Israeli Jews still believe, incredibly, that their country is a democracy like any other Western democracy, with real freedom of opinion and expression.

All formal Israeli state institutions, and the education system in particular, have always been staunchly Zionist and have always taught and promoted one view of history. They all uniformly work for the state, whether they are public or independent (as the ORT school network is). Schools carefully avoid exposing their students to views that challenge the official narrative, thus successfully averting any danger of real debate on the nature of the state and its history, the history and nature of Zionism and Israel’s settler-colonialist relationship with the Palestinian people. As a result, the vast majority of students do not even know when something might be controversial and might warrant questioning.

The idea that the Zionist movement had every right to colonise and settle historic Palestine to create a Jewish safe haven, while displacing and ethnically cleansing the indigenous population, is never questioned or debated. In fact, the word ‘colonise’ is not part of the narrative at all. The accepted consensus on all sides of mainstream Jewish Israeli politics is fundamentally that the Zionist movement, and later the state of Israel, have been doing what is necessary to ensure the survival of the Jewish people; indeed that the existential need for an exclusively Jewish state overrides all other considerations. Left or Right, Zionism itself is never questioned.

We learn to question a dominant narrative and think critically when we realise there are alternatives. Israeli schools might be teaching students to think critically in some areas, but they have no intention of teaching students to question the state narrative about Israel’s history. Alternative versions of history are just not offered for consideration.

Israel prides itself on its democracy and its freedom of opinion and expression. But this freedom exists only within a well-defined boundary. There is an invisible but clear line that everyone there instinctively knows not to cross. Beyond this line lies a taboo. This teacher stepped over the line and he is now paying the price.

The Israeli education system has always been perfectly aligned with the goals and aims of the state. I expected the Ha’aretz writer to be fully aware of the vital role that the Israeli education system plays in the Zionist project. After all, the job of the school system is to ensure an uninterrupted supply of soldiers to the Israeli military. High school graduates—female and male—must be readied to join the military as part of Israel’s compulsory conscription, before they go to university or do anything else.The school system is not there to create conscientious objectors!

I attended high school at ORT Yad Singalovsky in Yad-Eliyahu near Tel Aviv from 1978 to 1982. It was a great school and I loved it, but we were taught the standard Zionist version of history. When you live in a bubble like I did, you have no idea that there is anything to question. As hard as it is for others to understand sometimes, the way I was raised in ‘downtown’ working-class Israel, I had no exposure to alternative viewpoints and had no idea they were even there. I am sure that the courageous minority of high school graduates who end up as conscientious objectors learn about alternative views mostly outside the school system, through informal channels and personal experience.

The official narrative is not just taught in history classes across the Israeli education system. It is also reinforced and celebrated through school (and state) ceremonies all through the year on Israel’s numerous memorial days and festivals. While the ORT school system has always focused on science and technology, it is also deeply rooted in Zionism. Its purpose is to produce well-educated students who will contribute to the scientific and technological development of the state of Israel. The exclusively Jewish status of Israel is never questioned, nor is its cost. The ‘About ORT’ from the ORT website in Hebrew reads:

The primary component in the vision of the ORT network, as developed by the network’s CEO Mr Zvi Peleg is that ‘the network will develop in its students social and cultural values – with an emphasis on the values of human dignity, generosity to others, the community and the state, through the implementation of programs to instill Jewish identity and Israeli roots in the Jewish population and through strengthening these legacies in the minority population.’ (My translation).

ORT’s vision corresponds with a particular perspective on Zionism, a perspective taught in all Israeli schools. Zionism is perceived and taught as a collection of noble ideals that aim to create a Jewish state rooted in the values of dignity, decency and community spirit. Never mind that Israel is not, and never was, governed by particularly noble values. But what is important is that at the core of the official Israeli narrative Zionism is not seen for the chilling ideology it really is: the product of an ethnocentric idea that the Jewish people had a right to create and maintain an exclusively Jewish state no matter the cost to the indigenous people of Palestine. Put more bluntly, Zionism is all about the idea that the survival of the Jewish people is more important than the survival of anyone else.

Reading between the lines it is clear to me that the Ha’aretz editorial writer believes in the fictional, benign interpretation of Zionism. Like many well-meaning people on the Israeli Left, he sees Zionism as fundamentally a good ideology that has been corrupted and betrayed, not as an ideology that is fundamentally unethical and immoral. What he is in effect asking is, ‘How can a democracy, based on these noble ideals betray the principles of freedom of thought, debate and critical thinking?’ Or in other words, ‘How can the country betray the noble values on which it is established?’ This might appear at first glance to be a legitimate criticism of the quality of a democracy, which you might find in other democratic societies. However it is crucial to put it within its uniquely Israeli context. Neither Israeli ‘democracy’, nor any internal criticism of it, are the same as their apparent equivalents in other countries. This is because Israeli democracy is subjected to, and is inseparable from Zionist ideology. One does not exist without the other. Israel is not a democracy. It is a Zionist democracy, something quite unlike any Western democracy. It is on those grounds that Israeli democracy needs to be scrutinised. Can any country call itself a democracy when it is founded on an ideology like Zionism? But since Israeli Jews, (largely a product of the formal and informal Jewish Israeli education system), do not perceive Zionism for what it really is, they are blind to this problem.

Another unique feature of Israeli democracy, that arises directly out of its Zionist character, is Israel’s success at creating an effective system of oppression and domination of one national narrative by consensus, and not by coercion. It is quite an impressive, albeit disturbing, achievement. This consensus-based system is far more effective than the old Soviet Union’s police state for example. It is a complex psychological and sociological mechanism that enables a ‘democracy’ to control the parameters of debate and questioning in one particular area without the majority within it even noticing, and without any visible signs of oppression. This system turns ordinary citizens (of a supposed democracy) into willing agents of the state who voluntarily enforce the national narrative and make sure it is not questioned or challenged.

It is only on the rare occasions when someone like the teacher in the YNet story dares to suggest that there might be a different way to look at things, that the prevalent but otherwise invisible ‘oppression by consensus’ is brought to light. Only then does the true ruthlessness behind the system become,for a brief moment, more apparent. Another example of this is in Dr Ilan Pappé’s experience with Haifa University a few years ago that he discusses in his book Out of the Frame. A less known story is that of a professor of mine from Bar-Ilan university who did not quite get sacked but had to leave the university and Israel back in the late 1980s. He made the mistake of trying to teach my generation to think more independently and to question the accepted narrative. (It was from him, that at the age of twenty-five I learned the word ‘Palestinians’ for the first time. Until then it was ‘the Arabs’.) My old professor crossed the invisible line of consensus and paid the price, quietly.

There is no actual law in Israel (yet?) that criminalises dissent and criticism of the dominant narrative. Officially, everyone is allowed to question everything privately and publicly. After all Israel is keen to maintain its formal framework and appearance of democracy. But you do not need a KGB when ordinary members of the public, including this student, voluntarily and enthusiastically enforce this oppression by consensus. When they do, they are automatically backed by powerful social and state institutions, in this case the school and the Ministry of Education. These official representatives of the state step in to confer onto these loyal voluntary agents of the state their official stamp of approval, reassuring them that they are doing the right thing. So instead of state institutions backing the right to question and debate, as you would expect in a real democracy, they back those who enforce the national consensus. When the Israeli Ministry of Education talks about “meaningful learning” it includes everything except Zionism and the history of the state of Israel. On these topics, debate just does not exist.

Challenging the official Israeli narrative is perceived as nothing less than a major existential threat. This is because the true reality behind the establishment of Israel would lead any moral, rational person to question Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist as an exclusively Jewish state at such a heavy cost to an entire people. In the minds of the majority of Israeli Jews, questioning the right of Israel to exist as exclusively Jewish is synonymous with nothing less than the desire to annihilate the Jewish people. This is the reason behind the hysterical reaction to any attempt by anyone to question the exclusively Jewish status of Israel and the invocation of the holocaust at any opportunity. And when the existential fears of Israeli Jews are triggered, they unite by instinct and consensus. Other differences temporarily set aside, the ‘offender’ is ostracised, excluded or reprimanded in some way, and the collective can remain unchallenged and intact, threat averted. There is no need for arrests, torture or prison camps. (These are reserved only for Palestinians who resist the occupation.)

Don’t expect the majority of Israeli Jews to protest against the quality of their democracy any time soon. They believe their democracy is exemplary and they are proud of it. It is not that they ‘don’t know they are oppressed’. It is rather that they willingly and instinctively limit their freedom of thought and expression in this one taboo area because of their belief that when you are under threat, freedom is a luxury. This is not particularly Israeli or Jewish, and we see this playing itself out in other societies and groups. (The US comes to mind.) It is a simple knee-jerk mammal, herd reaction to real or perceived threat.

But what happens when the threat never ends? What happens when people believe that their survival is always in question, and when the institutions they create mirror and perpetuate this belief? True democracy will have a hard time existing in a society that is traumatised, that is pathologically obsessed with its own survival, with seeing threats everywhere, and where survival is the organising principle of both private and public life. It goes without saying that democracy is also not real when it is reserved only for a privileged group within a society.

It is only fair to add here that the YNet article also mentions an inspiring group of final year students who demonstrated in support of their teacher and against the limits on freedom of discussion and debate at their school. It’s yet to be seen how many of these students will follow this through, and refuse to be part of the occupation forces when they are called up to the military in a few short months.

Note: ORT is an independent network of technical high schools founded in Israel in by International ORT: World Society for Handicrafts. ORT was established in Tsarist Russia in 1880 as a not-for-profit, non-political society to provide education and vocational training to Jewish youth. It operates in in 58 countries worldwide with a global budget of over $250 million. The acronym ORT is from the Russian: Общество Ремесленного Труда.

About Avigail Abarbanel

Avigail Abarbanel was born and raised in Israel. She moved to Australia in 1991 and now lives in Scotland. She works as a psychotherapist in private practice and is an activist for Palestinian rights. She is the editor of Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012).

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129 Responses

  1. MHughes976
    February 3, 2014, 12:41 pm

    Behind the Zionist and anti-Zionist versions of history there stand, I think, the two corresponding philosophies. You put it in terms of ‘the survival of the people’. I would quite like to see the argument spelled out. How about the following –
    1. It is unreasonable (we see from Hobbes?) to expect anyone to cooperate in the least in raising even the slightest risk of his/her own destruction.
    2. Any arrangement that conflicts, to any degree, with Zionism (expressed by the slogan ‘the survival of the Jewish people is paramount’) does raise a relevant risk to each and every Jewish person.
    3. So: no Jewish person can be expected, if rational, to give Zionism anything but total support.
    4. Anti-Semitism is, in any proper system of values, the worst and most corrupting thing in the world.
    5. Anti-Semitism is defined so that if anyone to any degree rejects, condemns or opposes anything which is characteristic of Jewish people that person is anti-Semitic.
    6. The slogan mentioned is, for reasons explained, characteristic of Jewish people.
    7. Non-Jews who denounce the slogan or resist its implementation are anti-Semitic, therefore exposing themselves to the influence of the worst thing in the world.
    8. Obviously: the influence of the worst thing in the world is to be resisted totally.
    9. At this rate, the options of total support for Zionism (the only rational option for Jewish people) or disceet silence and standing aside remain open to non-Jews in these matters.
    1o. Obviously: open questioning of the Zionist version of history is neither total support nor discreet silence.
    11. So: the Zionist version of history deserves complete and unquestioned reinforcement in all actually arising discussion.

    • bilal a
      February 3, 2014, 1:24 pm

      This is

      “emblematic of the a new, post–Cold War, post-9/11 radical politics, described by David Aaronovitch as “a loose coalition of impulses: anti-globalisation, broadly anti-modernist and anti-imperialist,”’ and bound together by an “anti-Israel tinge.

      [the eite] nowadays ..are accused of being the very establishment themselves. Symbolized in France by Bernard-Henri Lévy, they are the new insiders—white, wealthy, and influential, accused of using their status to prevent others from achieving their rightful place in society.”

      DISSENT,Dave Rich, British AIPAC ~ Community Security Trust
      link to dissentmagazine.org

    • RoHa
      February 3, 2014, 10:53 pm

      That does seem like a well-formed argument. Of course, when you lay it out like that, the dodgy premises – 2, 4, 5 (as a definition for 4) – become glaringly obvious, so it is better not to express it in this formal manner. Keep it vague and wrapped in emotional waffle.

      • MHughes976
        February 4, 2014, 6:59 am

        I think 1. is pretty dodgy also. Many things we do have to involve some risk to our own survival and our search for absolute security, if we embark on it, is in fact quite risky.

  2. American
    February 3, 2014, 1:26 pm

    ”But what happens when the threat never ends? What happens when people believe that their survival is always in question, and when the institutions they create mirror and perpetuate this belief?”

    I guess we will find out eventually.
    Maybe a tribe that lives in constant fear of their many enemies could survive if they were bunkered in some remote commune somewhere off the beaten path of the modern world.
    But for Israel to try to be ‘part of the world’, even impose itself on the world as it does, and yet operate ‘in the world’ on the basis of constant fear of the world I think means they probably self destruct.. The spining top eventually spins off its axis.

    • Avigail Abarbanel
      February 4, 2014, 4:02 am

      I completely agree American! Israel’s path is unsustainable and the kind of psychology that runs Israel does lead to collapse, unless something changes of course. But your conclusions are correct in my opinion.

  3. hophmi
    February 3, 2014, 1:27 pm

    “The primary component in the vision of the ORT network, as developed by the network’s CEO Mr Zvi Peleg is that ‘the network will develop in its students social and cultural values – with an emphasis on the values of human dignity, generosity to others, the community and the state, through the implementation of programs to instill Jewish identity and Israeli roots in the Jewish population and through strengthening these legacies in the minority population.”

    Hmm.

    Google translate says:

    “[T]he network will develop in its students social and cultural values ​​- emphasizing the values ​​of human dignity, the values ​​of helping others, community and nation and in implementing programs of identity Jewish Roots of Israeli Jewish population and empowering minority population heritages.”

    Very different ending. Translate.com translates it as “empowering minority legacies.”

    Can we get a confirmation on this? Is it empowering minority legacies or empowering Jewish legacies in minority populations?

    ORT is a worldwide organization that provides scientific and technical education to people around the world, by the way. It’s not just Israel or Jews, though the organization has Jewish origins.

    • sydnestel
      February 3, 2014, 4:46 pm

      The phrase in question in Hebrew is:

      ותוך …
      הטמעת תוכניות של זהות יהודית ושורשי ישראל לאוכלוסייה היהודית והעצמת המורשות לאוכלוסיית המיעוטים

      I wold translate this as “… and through the customization of programs of Jewish identity and the the roots of Israel for the Jewish population, and the empowerment of the heritages for minority populations.”

      I left this deliberately in its somewhat vague bureaucratic jargon original.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 4, 2014, 4:13 am

        It was actually hard to translate this because the Hebrew statement is in my opinion poorly phrased. I think it is left bit vague and it is not clear whose heritages exactly it is going to empower in ‘minorities’.

        The ORT system in Israel is Zionist and the rightness of Israel being there as an exclusively Jewish state at the expense of the Palestinians is never questioned. Hence the school going after the teacher as a result of the student’s complaint.

        ORT was established for Jewish youth originally, and it may well offer education to non Jewish youth as well in the countries in which it operates, I don’t know. But in Israel it is Zionist and its purpose is to create productive Jewish citizens who will contribute to building the country. Have a look at the video that is included with the article. That’s a whole story in its own right. They are careful in true British or American style to present a multi racial image by showing students of different races, but we all know how Israel is treating its asylum seekers and foreign workers! So it is deceptive and designed to appeal to Jews from the West who might be tempted to send their kids to live and study in Israel because it looks so benign and modern and so familiar from their own societies.

        It’s not clear to me what ‘empowerment of heritages for minority populations really means’. (I agree the word ‘heritage’ is probably more appropriate than my choice of ‘legacies’.) Is it their heritages, or the Jewish/Zionist dominant one? Either way, it does not change the point of the story at all and what ORT is doing to this teacher.

      • hophmi
        February 5, 2014, 11:03 am

        “ORT was established for Jewish youth originally, and it may well offer education to non Jewish youth as well in the countries in which it operates, I don’t know. ”

        I do. link to ortamerica.org

        In truth, most of its services are offered to non-Jewish youth, and if you didn’t know much about the organization (it was started by Jews in the Pale of the Settlement to help poor Jews), you probably would not guess that it was a Jewish organization.

        “It’s not clear to me what ‘empowerment of heritages for minority populations really means”

        I would guess it means that they teach minorities about their own heritages. That would be the obvious conclusion, wouldn’t it?

        “The ORT system in Israel is Zionist and the rightness of Israel being there as an exclusively Jewish state at the expense of the Palestinians is never questioned. ”

        Yeah, but that’s not unusual. American schools don’t teach the United States as being founded at the expense of Native Americans or slaves. We teach a little about it, of course, but we gloss over it for the most part.

    • tree
      February 3, 2014, 7:01 pm

      The ORT Israel webpage in English has neither of those phrases and talks only of Jewish identity and empowerment. It reads:

      ORT Israel instills in its students social values – emphasizing contributing to the community and society, and cultural values – building Jewish identity and empowerment for social resilience. Thousands of our students volunteer in community projects – putting our values into action, benefiting all Israeli citizens.

      link to en.ort.org.il

      And my Google translate has a different outcome from yours- “flag values ​​- based on an emphasis on giving to others, the community and society, fostering Jewish identity and empowering heritage for socio – the values ​​of the State of Israel.”

      Again, no mention of minorities.

      Number two, you’d be up in arms if a US school getting state funds was”fostering” Christian “identity and empowerment”, or alternatively “white” or “WASP” “identity and empowerment” regardless of whether they threw in a sop to “minorities”.

      Number three, aren’t you diverting from the main theme of the post, instead choosing to focus on a minor detail from Abarbanel’s analysis?

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 4, 2014, 4:25 am

        Thanks for your comment. It’s interesting that the English version says nothing about ‘minorities’. I didn’t even look at it. I went straight to the Hebrew.

        You are right that an ethnocentric approach would never be acceptable in the US or here in the UK. But in Israel the Jewish identity business is very significant because Israel is keen to maintain its Jewish nature so as to remain a safe haven for all Jews. My birth certificate says that my nationality is Jewish, not Israeli. A Palestinian citizen of Israel has ‘Arab’ under nationality. There is no such thing as Israeli nationality in Israel. It’s all part of the same thing. The logic goes that if Israel turns into just another standard country for all its citizens from any race, ethnicity, culture, background etc, and not remain specifically Jewish, it will not be able to save Jews around the world when the next holocaust happens. Israeli Jews and many Jewish supporters of Israel believe that another holocaust is imminent and that the Jews are *always* facing a very real danger of annihilation. This is what the psychology of trauma does to people. Israel has a duty to heal from its trauma, not perpetuate it and certainly not inflict it on the Palestinian people, which is what it is doing through the ongoing ethnic cleansing and persecution. The Palestinians are there on borrowed time and I really am worried for them. I know how single minded Israel is about its purpose.

      • tree
        February 4, 2014, 4:38 am

        I think its great that you are interacting with those of us who comment here, Avigail, and I’ve always found your analysis quite penetrating. My remarks were directed towards hophmi, who always seems to find excuses for things that are done by or in Israel that he would roundly (and appropriately) condemn if they were done by non-Jews instead. I find it rather fascinating in a macabre way how his identity is so wrapped up in excusing things that he knows are wrong.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 4, 2014, 6:37 am

        Thank you tree. That is very kind of you!

      • thankgodimatheist
        February 4, 2014, 6:53 am

        “I find it rather fascinating in a macabre way how his identity is so wrapped up in excusing things that he knows are wrong.”
        Bingo!

      • yonah fredman
        February 4, 2014, 10:56 pm

        See my comment below. The lack of reply button in an easy spot led to me commenting here.

      • yonah fredman
        February 4, 2014, 5:05 am

        Avigail- What you write is interesting and one sided. Your “extremist” attitude towards Israel reminds me of Atzmon, but I’ll try to get specific, so that you’ll understand where I’m coming from. As an American Jew born after the state of Israel was born the sins of the nakba only entered my knowledge with the 67 war and the Life magazine special on that war and a picture of Palestinians crossing the Allenby towards Jordan and a mention of refugees of 48. My nieces and nephews, children of Americans who made aliya, are experiencing an Israeli education, but I did not. I spent two and a half years in israel in yeshiva after high school at the time of the yom kippur war, in gush etzion.

        the furthest that i’m willing to go in imagining a right of return, an undoing of the nakba, is to imagine ben gurion dying the day after the elections of 49 and sharet dreaming of the “command” to invite the refugees back. This alternative history (which would have been quite messy) is really as close as I can get.

        The fact that they send my nieces and nephews to Auschwitz on their senior trip does not really please me and though I realize that the Shoah/Churban is inevitably going to be part of the consciousness of the people for a bit longer, this is really not where my head is at. My understanding of the Arab world and the Muslim world is pretty shallow, I admit, but how can Syria and Egypt encourage belief in democracy?

        Yes, I agree that the system in Israel is contused, but no, I don’t agree that it’s as simple as you present it.

      • Shingo
        February 4, 2014, 6:33 am

        Your “extremist” attitude towards Israel reminds me of Atzmon, but I’ll try to get specific, so that you’ll understand where I’m coming from

        Your “extremist” attitude towards Avigail reminds me of David Horowitz, or Allan Dershowitz or Abe Foxman – utterly irrational, incoherent and rife with projection and paranoia.

        You don’t even offer a rebuttal of what Avigail has to say, you just want her to assure you that your tribe will be OK if Israelis stop abusing Palestinians.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 4, 2014, 6:37 am

        Yonah, thanks for your comments and for sharing some of your personal history. Sounds like a valuable and interesting journey.

        I do not believe that my account of the system in Israeli is ‘simple’ by any stretch of the imagination, and I am surprised that you would consider it that way. I also don’t consider my views as extreme, and am again surprised that you would consider me an extremist. How is speaking about something that is morally wrong, extreme? I think that doing wrong is where the ‘extreme’ really lies, not in the speaking against it…

        If you could highlight to me where you think my account is too simple, I would be grateful. What I described is the absolute truth. There is plenty of evidence for what I say and I myself am a direct product of Israel and its education system (which on the whole did me a lot of good as a person and a thinker, I should say, except of course on Zionism). Israeli ‘democracy’ is intertwined with Zionist ideology and the two are inseparable. Zionist ideology predates the holocaust. Please do not forget that. Zionism is the idea that the Jewish people had a right to survive and protect themselves by creating a national home where they can be the majority and make all the rules and laws so Jews can’t be persecuted or driven out again. In the name of Jewish survival the Zionist idea is that it was and is OK to create this national home no matter the cost to others. To question Zionism is therefore to undermine the entire foundation of the state of Israel as an exclusively Jewish state. This is precisely why Zionism is never questioned in the education system or anywhere in mainstream Israel. It is why it is not presented for what it really is but is sugar-coated to appear as some kind of a benign, lovely collection of innocent ideas and ideals, nothing to do with colonialism, ethnic cleansing, territorial expansion or occupation. If you could tell me where I am presenting anything that isn’t true, or that is too simple or simplistic in your mind, I would appreciate it.

      • Sumud
        February 4, 2014, 6:52 am

        What you write is interesting and one sided. Your “extremist” attitude towards Israel reminds me of Atzmon, but I’ll try to get specific, so that you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

        Just like clockwork.

        Yesterday you accused Annie of being anti-semitic and now Ms Abarbanel is an “extremist” who reminds you of Atzmon for arguing against racial/religious supremacism.

        You might want to read this paragraph again:

        Challenging the official Israeli narrative is perceived as nothing less than a major existential threat. This is because the true reality behind the establishment of Israel would lead any moral, rational person to question Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist as an exclusively Jewish state at such a heavy cost to an entire people. In the minds of the majority of Israeli Jews, questioning the right of Israel to exist as exclusively Jewish is synonymous with nothing less than the desire to annihilate the Jewish people. This is the reason behind the hysterical reaction to any attempt by anyone to question the exclusively Jewish status of Israel and the invocation of the holocaust at any opportunity. And when the existential fears of Israeli Jews are triggered, they unite by instinct and consensus. Other differences temporarily set aside, the ‘offender’ is ostracised, excluded or reprimanded in some way, and the collective can remain unchallenged and intact, threat averted. There is no need for arrests, torture or prison camps. (These are reserved only for Palestinians who resist the occupation.)

        Despite your calm tone I would describe your reaction as hysterical – in that there is nothing in the slightest which can be described as “extremist” in the article or viewpoints expressed.

        I am reminded of a good friend of mine, very intelligent, who believes he is never irrational because he never raises his voice in an argument.

      • puppies
        February 4, 2014, 12:13 pm

        @Friedman – And to conclude all that, what’s your point? “Moderators” take note of the gratuitous propaganda exercise.

      • yonah fredman
        February 4, 2014, 10:58 pm

        Avigail- I purposely put quotation marks around “extremist”, because I was unsure of the word. Probably a more accurate word to describe my reaction to your words would be shrill as in loud and grating (and unbalanced).

        Here’s one part of one of your paragraphs:

        “After all, the job of the school system is to ensure an uninterrupted supply of soldiers to the Israeli military. High school graduates—female and male—must be readied to join the military as part of Israel’s compulsory conscription, before they go to university or do anything else.The school system is not there to create conscientious objectors!”

        Particularly the first sentence: The job of the school system is to ensure an uninterrupted supply of soldiers to the Israeli military.

        I have never taught in Israeli high schools nor studied in them, so therefore the feel of the education (particularly in terms of history classes) one receives might feel like that. Probably an accurate statement would be: One of the jobs of the school system is to ensure an uninterrupted supply of soldiers…

        The United States before 1970 had a universal draft (males only, admittedly and unfairly applied in terms of college deferments) and the modern angle on American history was not yet widely taught. If the classes of American History in 1962 did not include a 2014 attitude towards the conquering of the North American continent by colonizers and the imperialistic role of the US in the world, would someone write: The job of American high schools in 1962 was to supply an unending supply of soldiers to the US military. I’m sure there were those who thought of American education in those terms, but I would consider such a statement as shrill and loud, and actually extreme. The American school system of the 1950′s was not there to create conscientious objectors and the conformity of the 50′s gave way to the 60′s and beyond and I am pleased by the increase of the level of consciousness of history that the cultural advances since that time have introduced into the minds of American youth, but it would be the question of segregation that was still tolerated in America in 1955, rather than the education regarding the role of the US in colonizing America and the role of the US in the world that would make me hesitate about labeling 1955 America as democratic.

        That’s what I would label as shrill and one sided. The critique is apt and useful (if only every one else in Israel agreed with you they would find it useful), but the tone is shrill.

      • yonah fredman
        February 4, 2014, 11:28 pm

        Avigail- I think that in this instance, politics must precede education. That is as long as the conflict remains unsolved or unresolved, the society will feel threatened and the education will reflect the feelings of society. The education of Americans in the states of the Confederacy up until today include praise of Robert E. Lee (if not Jefferson Davis) and this almost 50 years after school desegregation. But to imagine that the schools would have first taught how the confederacy and the secession was oh so wrong before the legal end of desegregation occurred is to imagine a society where principals and teachers are treated like gold rather than the actual attitude towards teachers as lazy and overpaid civil servants. Schools reflect society. It is nice to imagine that society changes based upon the schools, but for the most part this is not the truth of how society and schools interact.

        The change that you have in mind (I’m guessing, so correct me if I’m wrong) is a radical one in which Israel accepts responsibility for the nakba and a blanket acceptance of the right of return. Well, imagining this is a leap, but if let’s say that number of returning refugees was limited to say, 750,000, once the first 200,000 are resettled into Israel, then society will try to adjust and the role of the schools will be to help society to adjust to the radically new. In fact this is so farfetched, that I imagine that society will rebel and the schools will be the source of what the parents want their kids to hear, which will be how the US screwed Israel and the politicians were cowards with weak knees and the schools would be a source for a rebellion against such an imposed settlement. But this is not my point. My point is that first deklerk hands over power to Mandela and then the schools teach how the new system is just and the only way forward. But before the society has accepted or decided on a way forward, to expect the schools to find the way forward is an unrealistic expectation regarding the relationship of tax payer funded education to a society.

      • Shingo
        February 4, 2014, 6:28 am

        This is what the psychology of trauma does to people.

        Fascinating post and article Avigail,

        One of my favourite podcasts was your interview on Tidings, in which you explain the psychology and consequences of collective trauma. I keep going back to it to pick up the amazing insight you have into it.

        I only wish you still lived in Australia.

      • irishmoses
        February 4, 2014, 11:28 am

        Shingo,
        Do you know if the Tidings interview podcast is still available? I really want to read more about her thoughts on the psychology and consequences of collective trauma.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 5, 2014, 8:31 am

        Thanks Shingo!! It’s very sweet of you.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 5, 2014, 8:58 am

        @Yonah, thank you for your comments. I get your realpolitik perfectly, I hear it from a lot of people around me. Rebellion can start anywhere in society and schools are no exception. I am an idealist and believe in the impossible. Like Nelson Mandela said: “Things are impossible until they are done.”

        William Wilberforce who worked for 52 years–his entire working life–to bring about the abolition of slavery in England was an idealist who achieved what seemed to be completely “impossible”, “impractical” and “unrealistic” in his time. I find him a deeply inspiring figure. With my own childhood trauma, I would have been dead if I were not prepared to suspend disbelief and doubt and just walk into the unknown. I would not be where I am now, living the life that I am living and that I am deeply grateful for. Without a vision and imagination, all we have is what we see in front of our noses, and much of it is deeply discouraging and depressing. When people see that their way of life is just ongoing suffering and that it causes suffering to others, it is time to stop and think and then decide that something needs to change. The school system anywhere can rebel, we can all rebel and refuse to accept the way things are, not just in Israel but everywhere.

        As a psychotherapist I have the incredible privilege of watching the impossible happen in people’s lives all the time. People rise from their personal ashes against what seems like unbelievable odds. So as bleak as my outlook can sometimes appear (when all I am really doing is just observing and sharing what I see!), I am actually an optimist. I believe that if people really want something, they can make it happen.

        One of the problems I have with Jewish Israelis is that they don’t know what to want. Given how steeped in trauma psychology Israeli society is, the majority of people there (and the leaders they elect who reflect them) cannot think beyond very basic and short-sighted survival. This is standard trauma psychology and we know plenty about it. All Israeli Jews can think about is surviving because fundamentally they do not feel safe in the world. If they were able to stop and decide that surviving is no longer enough, but that they want to live fully and thrive, live a kind and compassionate life, I am sure that they could change everything. Fear leads to paralysis and causes us to hold on to what little we have no matter how crappy or harmful it is. We know plenty about this from neuroscience. But we humans also have the capacity to transcend our mammal instincts and reach beyond, to what seems to our mammal brain, the impossible. We can be so much more and so much better than we are.

        Given Israeli trauma psychology, there is a profound and very sad lack of imagination there. But who knows.

        You are quite right to critique my comment about the Jewish Israeli schools system’s job to create soldiers. Sure, it’s not its *only* job. I should have phrased it, “One of the most important jobs of the School system is…”

      • irishmoses
        February 4, 2014, 11:23 am

        In one simple paragraph,Ms. Arbarbanel, you have captured the essence of Zionism and its rationale. Ari Shavit wrote an entire book (My Promised Land) trying to explain (and justify) Zionism to the world but ended up only muddying the waters. To his credit, he admits how far the 1948 Zionists were willing to go to get their near-exclusive Jewish State, and is brutally honest about the horrors of the Nakba and the complicity of Israeli leaders and the Israeli Army in the atrocities and war crimes that took place. Yet, he unapologetically claims it was all absolutely necessary if Zionism and its Jewish State were to survive.

        That seems to be the nub of Zionism. We Jews must live alone to survive. To live alone we must have our own exclusively Jewish country/state. Any measures to gain that end, no matter how brutal or immoral by contemporary standards, are justified. Full stop.

        A necessary corollary that flows from this premise is that anyone who criticizes or opposes Zionism and its Jewish State is necessarily an anti-Semite, either wittingly or unwittingly.

        There really is no happy, middle ground on which Zionism can compromise its underlying premise and agree to a fair and equitable solution that will release the Palestinians from their decades of post-Nakba trauma.

        I share your fear that the Palestinians are there on borrowed time and your worry for them. But I also wonder whether this unwavering, single-minded Zionist Israel may also be living on borrowed time since it is appears incapable of compromising its foundational premise.

        Thank you for your incisive comments. I’m looking forward to reading your Beyond Tribal Loyalties and anything you’ve written about Zionism and trauma.

      • Sumud
        February 5, 2014, 6:01 am

        irishmoses ~ a link to the podcast can be found down-thread here:

        link to mondoweiss.net

        Well worth a listen.

        I haven’t read it yet but you might look into Avrum Burg’s book “The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes”:

        link to amazon.com

      • Sibiriak
        February 5, 2014, 8:52 am

        irishmoses:

        That seems to be the nub of Zionism. We Jews must live alone to survive. To live alone we must have our own exclusively Jewish country/state.

        While that certainly is a central, if not the central, tenet of Zionism, it doesn’t necessarily explain the longstanding and apparently irresistible Zionist impulse to expand beyond pre-1967 borders and to take over as much of Eretz Israel as possible. I.e., Zionism was never just about survival–it was also about a positive cultural rebirth based on religio-mythological concepts of an organic Jewish nation inseparable from the Land of Israel.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 5, 2014, 9:20 am

        @irishmoses – Thank you for your thoughtful comment and your positive feedback on my writing. I deeply appreciate it. If you do end up reading *Beyond Tribal Loyalties* feel free to send me your thought, criticism, comments if you have any.

        You say: “There really is no happy, middle ground on which Zionism can compromise its underlying premise and agree to a fair and equitable solution that will release the Palestinians from their decades of post-Nakba trauma.”

        You are quite right about this. This is the black/white thinking of our very basic survival instinct. Any ideology that is based only on the imperative to survive — as Zionism is — is bound to lack compassion and to be short sighted. Zionism cannot compromise because its premise is that the Jewish people have more right to survive than other groups, and in this particular case, more than the Palestinian people. This is an unsustainable ideology — if you can call it an ideology, when all it is basic, mammal, short-sighted survival instinct dressed up as a political ideology. Like you also rightly say, it is not only harmful to the Palestinians but is also self-destructive.

        Israeli society needs to expand its vision for itself not only to save the Palestinian people and end their trauma and torture, but also to save themselves. Our survival (mammal or limbic) instinct is only focused on physical survival not on quality of life or its ethics, morality, compassion for others or wider vision. It lacks imagination, perceives the present in terms of the past and has no capacity for a wider collective vision. It’s incredibly self-centred. The nobler qualities we have (compassion, self-awareness, perspective, objectivity, empathy, ethics and morality and more), come from a different part of the human brain (prefrontal cortex) to which we have only limited access, or none at all, when we have psychological trauma.

        I hold Israel responsible for not seeing that their main ideology (Zionism) is so limited and harmful and for allowing themselves to be so destructive to another people. Whenever anyone tries to point that out to them they fight back hysterically, out of their profound fear for their own survival. [And just for the record: saying that psychological trauma is the organising principle behind Zionism and Jewish Israeli society is not an excuse for them by any stretch of the imagination. Under no circumstances do I excuse Israel's behaviour. An explanation is not a justification or an excuse - thought I'd mention that just in case someone might misunderstand where I am coming from... :)]

      • irishmoses
        February 5, 2014, 10:47 am

        Once again the reply buttons are scattered randomly around the thread. I’ll use my own comment’s reply button to respond to Sumud, Shingo, Siberiak, and to Avigail in a separate reply.

        NOTE TO MONDOWEISS CENTRAL: THE REPLY BUTTON CHAOS IS SEVERELY INHIBITING RATIONAL DISCOURSE, THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THIS HIGHLY INFLUENTIAL BLOG SITE. TO NOT FIX THE REPLY BUTTON PROBLEM IS TO UNDERMINE THE VERY PURPOSE OF YOUR SITE. HELLOOOO.

        1. Sumud and Shingo: thank you for the links.

        2. Siberiak: Good point, but I think the expansionist tendencies of Zionism are consistent with its basic tenet, “We must live alone to survive”. If the presumption is that all the world’s Jews need to be in Eretz Israel to survive, then the acquisition of more lebensraum, by any means, is both necessary and justifiable.

      • irishmoses
        February 5, 2014, 11:08 am

        Yonah said:

        “I purposely put quotation marks around “extremist”, because I was unsure of the word. Probably a more accurate word to describe my reaction to your words would be shrill as in loud and grating (and unbalanced).”

        Your explanation for your use of the term “extremist” is disingenuous if not outright dishonest. What you actually said was, “Your “extremist” attitude towards Israel reminds me of Atzmon, ” Your reference to Gilad Atzmon in the same sentence shows no uncertainty on your part about the term “extremist”. Your direct association of Ms. Abarbenal with the very controversial Mr. Atzmon clearly demonstrates your intent.

        Perhaps you could provide all of us and Ms. Abarbenal with the specific quotes from Mr. Atzmon that reminded you, and why and how those quotes relate to specific comments made by Ms. Abarbenal?

        I won’t hold my breath.

      • yonah fredman
        February 6, 2014, 10:10 pm

        irishmoses- It was unfair of me to include the name of Atzmon and I was revealing more about my reaction than Avigail’s rhetoric. The tone is shrill and Atzmon’s tone is shrill. That is the only comparison.

      • irishmoses
        February 5, 2014, 11:47 am

        Avigail,

        Having misspelled your last name, I’ll resort to using your first. My apologies for that.

        Thank you for your kind and detailed response to my comment below. The absence of a reply button under your response forces me to respond here.

        I not convinced that “psychological trauma is the organizing principle behind Zionism”, at least not the only one. While the Jewish Holocaust experience certainly provides more than sufficient trauma, Zionism was firmly in place in Palestine well before the Holocaust. The pogroms might arguably suffice as a substitute trauma but the combined pogrom death toll was minuscule by comparison.

        The mass migration of millions of Jews from the Russian empire to the US and western democracies appears to have been motivated primarily by the economic and political attractions of those countries. Certainly, having the choice, very few Jews chose Palestine which suggests that Zionist arguments that safety for the Jews could only be found in Palestine had very little resonance among those looking for a better and safer life elsewhere.

        I think Holocaust trauma does motivate many Jews to support Zionism and Israel as a last ditch bastion against a future repetition of the Holocaust, but I also think that provides a convenient narrative for Zionists to justify Zionism and specifically Israel’s conduct toward the Palestinians, and to attract Jews to support Zionism and Israel.

        If Zionism is about anything, it’s about the narrative. Sometimes it’s difficult to sort out what really motivates the narrative.

        Holocaust trauma is real and a horrific by product of one of the most ghastly events in human history. Lest anyone be tempted, I am not a holocaust trauma denier.

      • sydnestel
        February 5, 2014, 12:47 pm

        Irishmoses – Pre holocaust Zionism was also – in large part – motivated by European anti-Semitism, by pogroms, and by fear of even greater pogroms (though its unlikely anyone predicted the full horror of the Holocaust, at least until the 1938/9/40) Herzl was spurred to invent political Zionism by anti-semitism. Bialik’s seminal Zionist poems where a direct result of anti-semitism in general (see Al Hatzipor/To The Bird) and pogroms in particular (see Ir HaHaragah/ City of Slaughter). To be sure there was an older “cultural Zionist” stream that emphasized cultural renewal and autonomy as motivators for Zionism, but they soon became overwhelmed by the statist Zionism of Herzl (and later Jabotinsky). And Labour Zionism, which was torn on the issue of statehood in its early days, moved steadily to the statists conclusion only in the 1930’s – after the assassination of Arlozorov, but also under the pressure of Naziism’s rise in Europe.

        One could imagine an alternate history were the Nazi’s never came to power, Arlozolov was never assassinated, and the cultural Zionists and bi-national Labour Zionists won. But that did not happen. For better or worse – and mostly worse – antisemitism and fear of pogroms and the holocaust inextricably shaped Zionism as it is today.

        The irony is that a Jewish State may have indeed saved much of European Jewry had it existed in 1933. (Though obviously at some considerable expense of the Palestinians.) But by the time Israel came into being in 1948, it was too late.

      • Shmuel
        February 5, 2014, 1:58 pm

        The irony is that a Jewish State may have indeed saved much of European Jewry had it existed in 1933.

        There is, of course, no way of knowing. So many Jews who did have the opportunity to emigrate (including many of my relatives) failed to do so before it was too late. It is also impossible to know how such altered geopolitics might have affected the outcome of the war.

        The hypothetical claim is part and parcel of the Holocaust justification for the existence of a Jewish state (at virtually all costs to others) — not only as a solution for the survivors and not only as a guarantee against future Holocausts but, paradoxically, as a guarantee against the Holocaust that has already occurred. This circular and a-historical self-justification is reflected in things like the bizarre IAF sorties over Auschwitz.

        The only thing we know for certain is that the Israel established in 1948 was — and continues to be — catastrophic for Palestinians and Palestinian society.

      • sydnestel
        February 5, 2014, 4:18 pm

        Shmuel – my intention was not to justify – adarabah – it was to point out that Israel was ‘the solution to the last war’ (so to speak). Unless you believe that another Holocaust is imminent (and some of my Israeli relatives do) there is no justification for Israel’s militant and oppressive posture – and even then it is probably a poor strategy.

      • irishmoses
        February 5, 2014, 4:47 pm

        The best solution for saving Jews from the Holocaust would have been if the US and other western democracies had not established immigration quotas in the 1920s. Even with those quotas in place, over 250,000 Jews were allowed to immigrate to the US between 1933 and the beginning of the war.

        Some, like FDR were pushing for changes but were facing pressure, ironically from Zionists themselves, to not open the gates to immigration to the western democracies so that more Jews would be forced to immigrate to Palestine.

        There’s a lot of blame to go around. The Saint Louis episode gives me chills when I think about it. How could so many countries, including my own, turn that ship and its passengers away? Mind boggling.

      • Woody Tanaka
        February 5, 2014, 2:44 pm

        “The irony is that a Jewish State may have indeed saved much of European Jewry had it existed in 1933.”

        How, exactly? I can see making the argument that it could have saved some of the German and Austrian Jews from ’33-’39, or even some of the Jews of Western Europe, but the majority of the Jews killed were killed after war broke out and in territories which, in ’39, were not occupied by Germany. I don’t see how having israel in existence then would have made much difference.

      • Shmuel
        February 5, 2014, 4:24 pm

        my intention was not to justify

        I know. Sorry if it came across that way. It was meant as a general reflection, not an accusation.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 5, 2014, 7:40 pm

        @irishmoses, I have always argued that Jewish trauma long predates the holocaust. It is right there in the founding/identity myths of the people. I talk about this in my recent presentation, The Psychology of Israeli Settler-Colonialism but have spoken about this before. Just came back today from delivering a couple of these talks in Glasgow and Edinburgh. (Sorry to be brief. It’s late here and I’m about to fall asleep.)

      • hophmi
        February 5, 2014, 11:10 am

        “Again, no mention of minorities.”

        “100,000 students from every part of Israel and every social and economic level, Jews across the entire spectrum, Arabs, Muslims, Druze and Bedouins.”

        That would be a mention of minorities.

        “Number two, you’d be up in arms if a US school getting state funds was”fostering” Christian “identity and empowerment”, or alternatively “white” or “WASP” “identity and empowerment” regardless of whether they threw in a sop to “minorities”.”

        You’re mincing words. ORT isn’t teaching overtly religious subjects. They mean Jewish in a secular and national sense. Public schools in America celebrate Christmas and Easter – in a secular sense, just as they instill American values in the national sense.

        “Number three, aren’t you diverting from the main theme of the post, instead choosing to focus on a minor detail from Abarbanel’s analysis?”

        I think it’s a major detail. She asserts that ORT openly claims to instill Jewish values in minority populations, and now, admits that the translation is vague and it may, in fact, mean something entirely different.

        But to address it on the merits, how much time do you think Fox News would spend on the story of a teacher who told a high school class that the American Army was not moral and that she was ashamed of it? What kind of reception do you think the teacher would have in, say, in red states like Kansas or Texas, where military service is comparatively high? How long do you think such a teacher would last in town?

      • sydnestel
        February 5, 2014, 4:41 pm

        Woody – you are right.

        What I should have written was “The irony is that a Jewish State – and a victory of Herzian/Jabotinskian statist Zionsim – may have indeed saved much of European Jewry had they existed in 1933.”

        Zionism was as much about creating a revolution in Jewish consciouness as it was about a State. And as much as I despise them, in the 1930s the statist/right wing Zionist were the most concerned about the dangers of European antisemitism and the most committed to both getting a state at all costs and in encouraging European Jews to emigrate as soon as possible. The fact that their dire warning turned out to be more or less true, has helped them sway the rest of the Zionist movement to their viewpoint – antisemitism is inevitable, Jews can only count on Jews, violence in the name of self preservation is not only permitted, it is commanded. It a Hobbsian world view. But the holocaust can lead one to Hobbian conclusions. Combine that with guilt for NOT having foreseen and mitigated the holocaust, and you begin to understand mainstream Zionism post 1942. This is not a justification. I don’t believe another Holocaust is imminent (though many Jews do.) And there are other lessons one can learn about preventing a Holocaust other than the one of armed Jewish power. But it is an explanation.

      • RoHa
        February 6, 2014, 12:42 am

        Good post.

        “The fact that their dire warning turned out to be more or less true, has helped them sway the rest of the Zionist movement to their viewpoint”

        Bad comma.

  4. sydnestel
    February 3, 2014, 1:57 pm

    “Like many well-meaning people on the Israeli Left, he sees Zionism as fundamentally a good ideology that has been corrupted and betrayed, not as an ideology that is fundamentally unethical and immoral. ”

    So the liberal Zionists are like the Trotskyist who thought the Soviet Union was a “degenerate workers state” – still salvageable and worth defending against capitalism.

    By that standard – the rights wing Zionists are the Communist Party, and the author is presumably a member of the Shachtmanites – who split from the Trotskyist Social Workers Party, declaring the Soviet Union “bureaucratic state capitalism” that should be opposed just as much as the the Capitalists. (BTW the Shachmenites eventually gave rise to – on the one hand IS, and on the other hand the beginnings of the neo conservatives. They opposed the war in Vietnam – but only tentatively because they couldn’t support the idea of the North Vietnamese communists winning.)

  5. Stephen Shenfield
    February 3, 2014, 2:34 pm

    Without questioning the basic validity of this analysis of Israeli education, there is surely some shift underway from a somewhat more flexible system of thought control to a more rigid system. There has in the past been space within Zionism for some variety of viewpoints (even if insignificant by comparison with the contrast between Zionist and anti-Zionist views) and that space is now contracting. Criticisms that were considered tolerable even a few years ago are no longer tolerated.

    Israel is making a significant contribution to political theory by proving that democracy and totalitarianism are not mutually exclusive phenomena.

    • sydnestel
      February 3, 2014, 2:44 pm

      Its not so different than the U.S. under McCarthyism? Could a teacher in Kansas have questioned the morality of the U.S. atomic bomb program and not been threatened with losing his job? Could someone have been openly an anti-capitalist and not been shunned? Did U.S. schools teach Marxist critiques the the U.S. system? (Do they do that today?)

      • Stephen Shenfield
        February 3, 2014, 5:24 pm

        Good questions.

      • puppies
        February 3, 2014, 5:37 pm

        @sydnestel – Correct. Only we have to acknowledge that the US has always been a popular consensus dictatorship, with liberties on paper only, since at least the start of the 20th Century. The Zionist entity, on the other hand, had no constitutionally guaranteed rights and liberties but real free speech, strictly restricted to the officially Jewish, and respect by people and authorities of free speech (by the officially Jewish only!) That could only last a short moment though, especially in a military state.

      • seafoid
        February 3, 2014, 6:27 pm

        ” Could a teacher in Kansas have questioned the morality of the U.S. atomic bomb program and not been threatened with losing his job?”

        McCarthyism didn’t last 67 years.

        link to en.wikipedia.org
        http://www.monthlyreview.org
        link to youtube.com
        link to youtube.com
        link to youtube.com

        A lot of the Dems in power now can trace their route to the convulsions of the 1960s

      • Rob Porter
        February 4, 2014, 2:38 pm

        How the tables have turned in the U.S.! Evidently the U.S. (and Canada) are no different to Israel – as you see it. Intolerance is still as strong as ever, but from a different perspective. McCarthyism of a different shade, just as ugly, that’s all. Be pro-life, pro-capitalism, anti-homosexual, or critical of Islam and its incessant violence and intolerance and you will mindless and viciously be “shunned”, accused of any number of things for not being “pro-choice”, or favouring socialism (in Canada even arrested on campus for displaying photos of an abortion or a living infant in the womb), or be accused of ‘homophobia’ or ‘Islamophobia’ and have no right to hold a differing point of view. And just as a matter of interest, after the 1917 Russian revolution and till Lenin’s death 1924, Marxism under the Bolsheviks was responsible for the cold-blooded murder of more than 19 million Russians – most shot in the back of their head. Solzhenitsyn calculated that in the end, between KGB murders and deaths in the gulags, 100 million individuals died violent and miserable death. So now, what is about ‘Marxist critique’ that you consider will add value to students’ intellect?

  6. DICKERSON3870
    February 3, 2014, 3:15 pm

    RE: “Another unique feature of Israeli democracy, that arises directly out of its Zionist character, is Israel’s success at creating an effective system of oppression and domination of one national narrative by consensus, and not by coercion.” ~ Avigail Abarbanel

    RELATED – “Israelis afflictions: instilled memory and paranoia vera” ~ By Uri Avnery, gush-shalom.org, 7/10/11
    Uri Avnery considers the psychological disorders underlying Israel’s response to criticism and peaceful protest, most recently manifested in its over-reaction to the humanitarian flotilla to Gaza, and the Israeli public’s generally docile acceptance of what their government and media tell them.

    [EXCERPTS] I saw on TV the results of a scientific investigation by Israeli researchers into “instilled memory”. Their experiments show that people who have seen something with their own eyes, but are told by everybody else that they have seen something else, start to suppress their own memory and “remember” that they saw what the others had allegedly seen. Neurological research then showed that this is can actually be seen happening in the brain: the imagined memory replaces the real. Social pressure has done its work: the instilled memory has become real memory.
    I believe that this is even truer for an entire nation, which is, of course, composed of individuals. I have seen this many times. . .
    . . . There is a mental disorder called “paranoia vera”. Patients adopt a crazy assumption – e.g. “everybody hates me” – and then build an elaborate structure around it. Every bit of information which seems to support it is eagerly absorbed, every item that contradicts it is suppressed. Everything is interpreted so as to reinforce the initial assumption. The pattern is strictly logical – indeed, the more complete and the more logical the structure, the more serious is the disease.
    Among the accompanying symptoms are belligerent behavior, recurrent suspicions, disconnection from the real world, conspiracy theories and narcissism.
    It seems that whole nations can fall victim to this illness. Ours certainly appears to have.
    The whole world is against us. Everybody is out to destroy us. Every move is a threat to our very existence. Everyone critical of Israeli policy is an anti-Semite or self-hating Jew. . .

    SOURCE – link to zope.gush-shalom.org

    • DICKERSON3870
      February 3, 2014, 3:26 pm

      P.S. RE: “the Israeli public’s generally docile acceptance of what their government and media tell them . . .” ~ Uri Avnery (from above)

      URI AVNERY ON THE SORRY STATE OF THE ISRAELI MEDIA/PRESS AND THE “BRAINWASHING” OF ISRAELIS:
      “Israel’s Weird Elections”, by Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, 1/04/13:

      [EXCERPTS] . . . The Israeli media are already to a large extent neutralized, a creeping process not unsimilar to what the Germans used to call Gleichschaltung. [SEE: Gleichschaltung @ Wikipedia - J.L.D. ]
      All three TV channels are more or less bankrupt and dependent on government handouts. Their editors are practically government appointees. The printed press is also teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, except the largest “news” paper, which belongs to Sheldon Adelson and is a Netanyahu propaganda sheet, distributed gratis.
      [Naftali] Bennett repeats the ridiculous assertion that almost all journalists are left-wingers (meaning traitors.) He promises to put an end to this intolerable situation. . .
      . . . In the coming four years, the official annexation of the West Bank to Israel may become a fact. . .
      . . . If the government continues on its present course, this will lead to certain disaster – the entire country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will become one unit under Israeli rule. This Greater Israel will contain an Arab majority and a shrinking Jewish minority, turning it inevitably into an apartheid state, plagued by a permanent civil war and shunned by the world.
      If pressure from without and within eventually compels the government to grant civil rights to the Arab majority, the country will turn into an Arab state. 134 years of Zionist endeavor will come to naught, a repetition of the Crusaders’ kingdom.
      This is so obvious, so inevitable, that one needs an iron will not to think about it. It seems that all major parties in these elections have this will. Speaking about peace, they believe, is poison. Giving back the West Bank and East Jerusalem for peace? God forbid even thinking about it.
      The weird fact is that this week two respected polls – independent of each other – came to the same conclusion: the great majority of Israeli voters favors the “two-state solution”
      , the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders and the partition of Jerusalem. This majority includes the majority of Likud voters, and even about half of Bennett’s adherents.
      How come? The explanation lies in the next question: How many voters believe that this solution is possible? The answer: almost nobody. Over dozens of years, Israelis have been brainwashed into believing that “the Arabs” don’t want peace. If they say they do, they are lying.
      If peace is impossible, why think about it? Why even mention it in the election campaign? Why not go back 44 years to Golda Meir’s days and pretend that the Palestinians don’t exist? (“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people…It is not as though there was a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away. They did not exist.” – Golda Meir, June 13, 1969) . . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to counterpunch.org

  7. NormanF
    February 4, 2014, 12:50 am

    Zionism has been remarkably successful as nationalisms go – and while Zionism can accept sharing the land with the Arabs without doing violence to the idea of Jewish nationhood, the opposite is true for the Arabs whose own nationalism is contingent on an absolute rejection of Jewish nationhood. Jews see the Jewish State as morally justified because they’re willing to compromise on the land to end the conflict but the Arabs are not yet ready to take this step. The reason peace is impossible has nothing to do with Jewish culpability for the Arabs’ plight.

    • eljay
      February 4, 2014, 8:55 am

      >> … Zionism can accept sharing the land with the Arabs without doing violence to the idea of Jewish nationhood …

      If that were true, there’d be no need for a separate, supremacist “Jewish State”. A unified Palestine would suffice.

      >> Jews see the Jewish State as morally justified because they’re willing to compromise on the land …

      The suggestion that making “compromises” using stolen goods is moral reflects the immorality inherent in Zio-supremacism and Zio-supremacists.

    • Walid
      February 5, 2014, 1:55 am

      “… the opposite is true for the Arabs whose own nationalism is contingent on an absolute rejection of Jewish nationhood.”

      Norman, it wasn’t clear if you meant Palestinian Arabs or Arabs in general. As far as Palestinian Arabs are concerned, the concept was rejected because long before the creation of Israel because Jewish nationhood involved a worldwide call for Jews to come to Israel which implied talking the country over at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs. History and the aftermath of WW II proved their fears correct; Ben Gurion touring Canada and the US on fund drives told the Jews that similarly to Catholic families that had to contribute a son or a daughter to join the clergy, every Jewish family had the responsibility to send at least one child to go live in Israel. Half the Palestinian Arabs were expelled by the Zionists before the Israeli state was founded and the Arab “armies” attacked it.

      As to Arab nationalism in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and all the other countries, Jews considered themselves part of the Arab people and actually favoured Arab nationalism or in the least did not oppose it. When the 48 war broke out, Jews in Lebanon actually had a fund drive to collect monies for the war effort against the Zionists.

  8. Shingo
    February 4, 2014, 6:41 am

    Everyone here should take the time to listen to take a look at Avigail’s interview with Hazel Kahm

    Israel through the eyes of a psychotherapist
    link to web.me.com

    Sadly the podcast appears to be offline, but if you can find it, it is an extraordinary interview. Perhaps Avigail knows where to find it.

    • Mndwss
      February 5, 2014, 4:52 am
      • Sumud
        February 5, 2014, 6:00 am

        Thanks Mndwss!

        I’m subscribed to Hazel Kahan’s podcast Tidings but there were some problems with it a while back and some of the older interviews including this one went missing.

        Agreed Shingo – a very interesting conversation. There’s a book waiting to be written on it.

  9. Walid
    February 5, 2014, 5:39 am

    Avigail sheds light on what students are being taught and how they should look down on Arabs. What’s being attributed to the evil that is Zionism is also part of the master plan of militarizing the students and the general population. It begins as early as kindergarten and continues through high school and even into religious schools. Israel is the only country in the world where the Ministry of Education works in conjunction with the Ministry of Defense in preparing programs to mold young minds into military machines. Uniformed military officers visit schools to teach Israeli kids from an early age.

    It begins with the very young when they are taught to count using pictures of tanks and F16s, to tours of military bases and settlements in the occupied territories. The photo of the 12-year old girls on a school outing at a military base at the height of the 2006 war autographing missiles about to be shot into civilian villages in Lebanon is known to mostly everyone (except the Mahane Brothers, of course). Nurit Peled-Elhanan wrote at length about the disinformation on Arabs in Israeli textbooks and how kids are taught that Arabs are vermin. In 2010, the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East released a textbook entitled “Learning Each Other’s Historical Narrative” written by a group of Israeli and Palestinian academics and historians that included the Israeli and Palestinian narratives of various historical events such as the Balfour Declaration and the Nakba, and left a blank space open on each page for students to write their thoughts. 1 Israeli school and 2 Palestinian ones decided to teach it until the Ministries of Education of Israel and the Palestinians banned them from doing it.

    What happened with Avigail’s Bar Ilan professor is not unique. A couple of years back, Education Minister Gideon Saar launched a new program into schools to emphasize values, such as you described in her article here, and it was intended encourage service in the IDF not as a favour for the IDF, but as a moral issue. The program included tours of settlements such as Hebron to teach the kids that Jews will always be there and that Arabs are deluded when thinking otherwise. More than 250 Israeli teachers sent a letter to Saar announcing their refusal to participate in the proposed “Hebron Heritage” tours meant to strengthen “Jewish and Zionist” values among students. In 2010, a TA-area high school principal said his life was threatened when he refused to allow army colonels to school to encourage students to join the army and sign up for combat roles. So this issue of values that Avigail describes goes straight back to the militarization of students, which BTW, is clearly against the UN human rights laws.

    • Avigail Abarbanel
      February 5, 2014, 9:26 am

      @Walid, thank you for this valuable contribution! I am really glad that you mentioned Dr Nurit Peled-Elhanan’s study of Israeli textbooks. I can confirm everything you say in your post.

      • seafoid
        February 5, 2014, 10:56 am

        Avigail

        Great to see you back. You understand the sickness of Israeli society from the inside. Dr Nurit is another Mensch but there aren’t enough of you ..yet

      • jon s
        February 5, 2014, 3:33 pm

        I have many years of experience teaching History and Civics in Israeli high schools. For a time , I was also a member of the committee that sets the curriculum in History and authorizes textbooks. So I know something on this topic. (Full disclosure: I’ve occasionally been employed by ORT, though not at present).
        There’s no doubt that the dominant historical narrative in the Israeli school system is the Jewish –Zionist one, no surprise there. But over the last decades, since Ms. Abarbanel was in school, there has been a significant evolution. The Zionist perspective is still dominant but the Palestinian voice is at least heard. It’s certainly not true that kids are taught that Palestinians are vermin, as Walid contends. Any analysis of the textbooks in use today will prove my point.
        I would be interested to know whether the Jewish voice is heard in Palestinian classrooms , and throughout the Arab world.

      • Woody Tanaka
        February 5, 2014, 3:51 pm

        “I would be interested to know whether the Jewish voice is heard in Palestinian classrooms , and throughout the Arab world.”

        How is that in any way relevant? Don’t israeli schools and teachers has a moral obligation to present the Palestinian perspective and to teach full human respect and rights for Palestinians, regardless? Or is it your contention that your moral obligations are contingent?

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 5, 2014, 7:56 pm

        @Woody Tanaka, Don’t you love it how the colonisers want the colonised to speak nicely about them…? Comments like jon’s remind me of how blind (or in denial) most Israeli Jews and apologists for Israel are about the settler-colonialist relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. They imply symmetry where there is none. Israel’s ‘specialness complex’ (as I call it) confounds things unnecessarily, making it appear as if there is something special in what they are doing and in the situation as it is now. Israel is a settler-colnialist power established on the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians people. Nothing special about it really. The Palestinians are victims of the evils of settler-colonialism and theirs is a human rights issue. This is how it needs to be approached. Israel might want special treatment but it does not deserve one. The reasons for Zionist colonialism might have been somewhat different to those of other colonising movements, but colonisation (and its evils) it is nonetheless!

        As for how Israel is depicted in the textbooks in Arab counties, I have no idea, I don’t particularly care, and do not believe this is relevant to any discussion on Israel-Palestine.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 5, 2014, 7:44 pm

        @jon, Walid is referring to Dr Nurit Peled Elhanan’s (Hebrew University) recent book about her research into Israeli textbooks and the way Palestinians are depicted in them. This will provide the analysis of the textbooks in use today, that you are suggesting and sadly it disproves your point quite significantly!

      • jon s
        February 6, 2014, 1:35 am

        I refer you to the studies done by Prof. Elie Podeh:
        link to ingentaconnect.com

      • jon s
        February 6, 2014, 1:43 am

        A critique Of Dr. Peled-Elhanan:
        link to impact-se.org

      • jon s
        February 6, 2014, 2:11 am

        Avigail,
        I dispute your contention that Israel is a colonialist power. The British in India were colonialists, the Belgians in the Congo were colonialists. Israeli Jews in Israel, the Jewish homeland, are not colonialists.
        Woody, I agree: our moral obligations are not contingent.
        I’m interested because I think it’s important to know what’s happening on the other side, in respect to the effort to promote peace.

      • Walid
        February 6, 2014, 3:51 am

        Avigail, I, like most Arabs, have no problems with the Jews’ presence all over Palestine but I have a big problem with Palestinians being kept out and not allowed to return to their lands. Israelis wanting it all for themselves is all about colonialism and greed and there aren’t nice words to describe it. The normalization in varying degrees that’s already underway between most Arab states and Israel proves it.

      • Woody Tanaka
        February 6, 2014, 8:25 am

        “I dispute your contention that Israel is a colonialist power. The British in India were colonialists, the Belgians in the Congo were colonialists. Israeli Jews in Israel, the Jewish homeland, are not colonialists.”

        Then you are delusional. The state was created, over the last 100 years, by the invasion of people whose homeland lay elsewhere, with malice aforethought, to steal the land of Palestine by theft, deception, murder and terror, from the people to whom it rightfully belongs. It is, at best, colonialism, and the fact that some Jews once lived in Palestine 2,000 years ago doesn’t change that.

        “I’m interested because I think it’s important to know what’s happening on the other side, in respect to the effort to promote peace.”

        What does that have to do with anything, when the only reason there is no peace is because the Jews don’t accept the Arab Peace Plan and make peace? The fact that there is no peace has nothing to do with what it is Arab school books and everything to do with the unwillingness of the Jews and their leadership to value justice (which would require an acceptance of the overly generous terms in the Arab Peace Plan.)

      • RoHa
        February 5, 2014, 11:23 pm

        “I would be interested to know whether the Jewish voice is heard in Palestinian classrooms , and throughout the Arab world.”

        The Jewish voice or the Israeli voice?

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 6, 2014, 3:03 am

        @jon, then I guess our discussion ends here. I suspected that this is what you believed. I think you’d better get back to the drawing board and do some more reading. The Zionist movement colonised and settled Palestine. It ethnically cleansed over 700,000 Palestinians and is still continuing on its mission to create an exclusively Jewish state from the Jordan to the sea. Please do some reading (try Ilan Pappé) because you seem to believe and support the same, incorrect and highly sanitised view of history that I grew up with and that I talked about in the article. There are also great lectures online. I recently came across this video by Ronen Berelovich, that I highly recommend to you. It’s on YouTube at: link to youtube.com

      • puppies
        February 6, 2014, 3:12 am

        @Jon S – Some logic. Russians, Poles, Bessarabians, Germans, Serbians, and so on and so forth, coming to an unarmed sunny land with their guns and money, occupying and settling there, exploiting the land, subjugating and massacring the population and that’s not colonialism? Come on, give us a valid reason. I mean, one that doesn’t mark you right away as an advanced nut case like it’s written in some nonsense book.
        Atzmon also has a critique of the colonial characterization, but then he has a valid reason for that. One can answer that there always was a “Mother” colonial country in this case, too. First Britain, now the US. The practice of terrorism against the Mother is not a criterion, everybody does it –ask the US and South Africa; tailwagging by the dog is also not unknown.

      • eljay
        February 6, 2014, 8:47 am

        >> I dispute your contention that Israel is a colonialist power.

        Prior to its establishment in 1948, Israel couldn’t have been a colonialist power. That dishonour fell to hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist Jews like you.

        Since then – and aside from the Zio-supremacist terrorism, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands, the oppression, the land theft, the occupation, the colonization and the expansionism – you’re absolutely right: Israel is not a colonialist power.

      • Sumud
        February 6, 2014, 5:25 am

        I dispute your contention that Israel is a colonialist power. The British in India were colonialists, the Belgians in the Congo were colonialists. Israeli Jews in Israel, the Jewish homeland, are not colonialists.

        Hey jon s, I’m going to Africa – everyone’s homeland.

        I’m going to kill off some locals and drive the rest into the sea, at gunpoint. Gonna steal (oops I mean redeem) the land and their property too. After all I’m white and I’m better than them.

        Coming with?

        It’s not colonialism if you say you’re returning to your homeland, right?

        – – – – –

        But seriously, Israel is just a variation on a theme when it comes to colonialism. The motivating factor behind settlement of a foreign land is just one component. The attitude of the coloniser to the indigenous population, the techniques for taking over the land – Israel shares these things with other European colonial projects.

        Do you think Bank Leumi‘s parent organisation, Jewish Colonial Trust, chose their name in London in 1899 by mistake?

        Australia declared independence when we Federated in 1901 but it took many years for the practice of colonialism to end, and reconciliation is an ongoing project. Indigenous Australians didn’t get the vote until the 1967 referendum – the majority of the population in occupied Palestine have been under occupation their entire lives, and do not have the vote.

        Would you say that colonialism in Australia cannot possibly have existed after 1901? I doubt it. Likewise for the US’ Declaration of Independence and colonialism there.

        You should give serious consideration to Israel on the topic of colonialism. A lot of other countries have done the hard work on ending colonialism and what comes next. The French messed it up badly in Algeria and unfortunately that is the destructive path Israel seems bent on following.

      • RoHa
        February 6, 2014, 5:51 am

        The British in India and the Belgians in the Congo were imperialist but not really colonialist. They ran the countries, but did not establish large colonies of British/Belgians to create another country. The British were colonialist in Australia and the Americas.

  10. irishmoses
    February 5, 2014, 4:35 pm

    Sydnestel said:

    Pre holocaust Zionism was also – in large part – motivated by European anti-Semitism, by pogroms, and by fear of even greater pogroms (though its unlikely anyone predicted the full horror of the Holocaust, at least until the 1938/9/40) Herzl was spurred to invent political Zionism by anti-Semitism.

    Zionism certainly was an outgrowth of anti-Semitism, for Pinsker, 2 decades before Herzl, as well as for Asher Ginsberg, and Herzl himself, but that doesn’t mean the primary motivator for the mass migration of eastern European Jews to the US was anti-Semitism or the early pogroms. One million or more emigrated to the US just in the last half of the 19th century, and another million or so in the first quarter of the 20th. Plus, millions more non-Jews were coming here. Most left for political reasons, famine, and because of economic opportunity in a huge country with lots of land and a fairly benign political system. If those millions of Jews had accepted the Zionist claim that Jews would only be safe in Palestine, a far higher number would have gone there. As it was, prior to 1933, very few did, and many soon left.

    As a non-Jew without the emotional connection and trauma associated with the Holocaust, I need to be careful here. I am not denying European anti-Semitism or the pogroms, all I’m saying is that the primary motivator was likely economic. The million or so that came to the US during the 19th century, well before the major pogroms of 1903 and after, is certainly indicative of that. Moreover, Pinsker, and even Herzl, weren’t insisting on Palestine as the only destination. Places like Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the American West, Canada, etc. (not to mention Uganda) were seen as attractive countries for Jews to settle in and establish large and influential communities, which many did. I would be interested to hear if anything has been written on this subject.

    The irony is that a Jewish State may have indeed saved much of European Jewry had it existed in 1933. (Though obviously at some considerable expense of the Palestinians.) But by the time Israel came into being in 1948, it was too late.

    Probably the best outcome would have been for Zionism to accept the Uganda offer Herzl obtained from the British in 1903. The Mau plateau was huge (nearly the size of the later Jewish State UN partition, fertile, and largely uninhabited. Herzl wanted it to be accepted by the World Zionist Congress, and had the votes. Ironically, it was the eastern European Jews, led by Jabotinsky (as well as Weizmann) who killed the deal by walking out of the conference. We would have a much different world today had they voted in favor of accepting the plan. Millions of eastern European Jews might have survived.

    I appreciate your interesting and thoughtful response and comments Sydnestel.

    • sydnestel
      February 5, 2014, 5:11 pm

      irishmoses – three thoughts

      (1) the difference between economic migrants and those fleeing violence, persecution and discrimination isn’t always so clear, and people motives are not mutually exclusive. Suffice it to say that the waves of millions of Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe started in 1881 – the year of major anti-Jewish pogroms. And the percentage of Jews who migrated from these lands in those years was MUCH higher than Russians, Ukrainians, Poles or Romanians.

      (2) it is true that most Jews who emigrated chose to go elsewhere than Palestine – at least until 1924 when America severely restricted immigration. That does not speak one way or the other as to how much antisemitism was the motivator. There can be no doubt that “the west” in general and America in particular were much much less antisemitic than Eastern Europe.

      (3) I think a Jewish State in Uganada would have been a TERRIBLE idea. The Jews would have be fighting the Mau Mau instead of the PLO. But the fact that the Zionist movement rejected the Uganda plan speaks to the conflicted nature of Zionism. It wanted to “save Jews” but also be a romantic pseudo-messianic revival of Jewish culture in its biblical homeland. Interestingly, the first religious Zionists under Reines (most Jewish religious leaders still opposed Zionism in 1904) agreed to the Uganda plan. They saw statist Zionism’s ONLY justification as saving Jews. They viewed the secular pseudo-messianic romanticism of Ahad Haam and others as sacrilege. Only later did the messianic land based tendency of Rav Kook take over religious Zionism.

    • jon s
      February 6, 2014, 3:30 am

      Avigail, OK, we can , indeed , end the discussion if you so wish.
      It’s ironic – and sad – that a denial of Jewish history (that’s what an equation of Israel with colonialism is ) comes from a person who bears the name Abarbanel.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2014, 3:53 am

        a denial of Jewish history

        jon,

        As someone who teaches the subject, you should be able to tell the difference between history and political/ideological interpretations of history. Unless of course, Avigail is right about the nature of teaching in Israeli schools.

        To the best of my knowledge, none of the famous Abravanels/Abarbanels were political Zionists.

      • yrn
        February 6, 2014, 4:12 am

        Shmuel

        Don Isaac Abravanel was born in Lisbon , Portugal, and was elected to the Finance Minister by Afonso V of Portugal .
        Don Isaac helped to maturity 250 Jewish prisoners who were in Arzila ) Morocco conquered by the Portuguese in 1471 (what tribalism, taking care of his tribe) . In 1483 falsely accused him that he would betray his country (wow sounds familiar) , Portugal .
        Therefore sought refuge in Toledo Spain , called by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile first appointed him as Minister of Finance of the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon . In this role server for eight years.
        In 1492, Isaac Abravanel act to prevent the expulsion from Spain but ultimately failed (Well he has done his job, not get out), and Discover along with his people to Italy , and settled in Naples . There too he was appointed Minister of Finance. In 1495, he was forced to flee to Sicily and all his property confiscated. Later on Corfu island without any property . In 1496 moved to a town near Bari monopoly . In 1503 was called to Venice , where he died at age 71 . He was buried in the old cemetery in Padua . The gravestone was destroyed in 1509 .

        Wow what a story, would it happen if he had a home country like Israel ?.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2014, 4:18 am

        Wow what a story, would it happen if he had a home country like Israel ?

        Chief rabbi of Bat Yam?

        Seriously though, Don Isaac would not have been the same person in comfortable insularity. Greatness and originality come from “contamination” and interaction. The “Golden Age” would never have happened in a “home country like Israel”.

      • Woody Tanaka
        February 6, 2014, 8:27 am

        “Wow what a story, would it happen if he had a home country like Israel ?.”

        Then we would be telling the story of the serial oppression of the Palestinian, whose home country was stolen from him. The fact that Jews got screwed over in the middle ages doesn’t justify the Jews screwing over the Palestinians now, nor does it obligate the Palestinians to give away their country to the Jews.

      • Woody Tanaka
        February 6, 2014, 8:28 am

        “that a denial of Jewish history (that’s what an equation of Israel with colonialism is )”

        No, it’s not. Your position is nothing but racist excuse-making, oh man of the “left.”

      • yrn
        February 6, 2014, 10:23 am

        Shmuel

        “To the best of my knowledge, none of the famous Abravanels/Abarbanels were political Zionists.”
        Isaac Abravanel, as One of the Jewish leaders, won victories and defeats , and experienced the expulsion from Spain – After the expulsion He comes to the conclusion that the Jews don’t have the power to establish their new home among strangers. Only hope left for them to realize the dream of redemption. and he tried to prove not only the feasibility but also the inevitability of this realization.
        He is one of the first Zionist, that did not have the ability to translate his vision into reality.
        I am sure that if the the expulsion from Spain was in the 19th century, Israel would have been created a long time ago, there was no political awareness, telecommunication and traveling ability at that time.

        You just picked the wrong person as usual.

        “The “Golden Age” would never have happened in a “home country like Israel”.”
        As I mentioned a few times, you have never lived in Israel, compare the Music,literature,science, innovation, creativity, art, dance, done in Israel today to any era in Jewish in History or any other Jewish location ….. you are a joke.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2014, 10:50 am

        yrn,

        Your provincialism and superficiality are showing again. The Golden Age produced works of poetry, philosophy, theology, mysticism, law, hermeneutics, grammar, statecraft and science but, perhaps most importantly created a cultural and intellectual paradigm that profoundly changed the face of Judaism to this day. After Israeli society has been around for 500 years and its effect has persisted for 500 more, we’ll talk.

        As for Isaac Abravanel being “one of the first Zionist [sic]“, who merely lacked “political awareness, telecommunication and traveling ability”, and if only he had he been born 400 years later certainly would have etc. — that’s simply a-historical nonsense.

        I think you have picked the wrong person.

      • yrn
        February 6, 2014, 11:13 am

        Shmuel

        escaping from your own question as usual.
        “Isaac Abravanel, as One of the Jewish leaders, won victories and defeats , and experienced the expulsion from Spain – After the expulsion He comes to the conclusion that the Jews don’t have the power to establish their new home among strangers. Only hope left for them to realize the dream of redemption. and he tried to prove not only the feasibility but also the inevitability of this realization.
        He is one of the first Zionist, that did not have the ability to translate his vision into reality.”
        This is his writings that you call it historical nonsense.
        If it’s nonsense , send over your own Isaac Abravanel writings ?

        As your History is in your imagination, same as your experience as what you claim of living in Israel.

        Israel in 66 years gained much more then any era in Jewish History or any other Jewish location in poetry, philosophy, theology, mysticism, law, hermeneutics, grammar, statecraft and science and cultural and intellectual paradigm ….. you are a joke.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2014, 11:37 am

        This is his writings that you call it historical nonsense.
        If it’s nonsense , send over your own Isaac Abravanel writings ?

        The a-historical nonsense lies not in Abravanel’s writings, but in your unsupported leap from pre-modern belief in divine, supernatural redemption to support for a modern political project. Yes, I know, if only he had been born in the 19th century, he would have been a political Zionist. And if you had been born in the 15th century, you would have been a polymath.

        Israel in 66 years gained much more then any era in Jewish History or any other Jewish location in …

        If you say so. I have no need to denigrate Israeli achievements, nor do I have the need that you seem to have to aggrandise them. The enduring positive effects of the Golden Age are manifest. Time will tell what things of value the Israeli era has left posterity.

        As your History is in your imagination, same as your experience as what you claim of living in Israel.

        More ignorance and insularity. My impressions and analyses are inconceivable to you; therefore, I cannot exist.

        you are a joke

        You’re repeating yourself.

      • yrn
        February 6, 2014, 11:39 am

        Shmuel

        “Isaac Abravanel, as One of the Jewish leaders, won victories and defeats , and experienced the expulsion from Spain – After the expulsion He comes to the conclusion that the Jews don’t have the power to establish their new home among strangers. Only hope left for them to realize the dream of redemption. and he tried to prove not only the feasibility but also the inevitability of this realization.
        He is one of the first Zionist, that did not have the ability to translate his vision into reality.”

        Please explain to the Audience, why “Isaac Abravanel” came to what you call “historical nonsense”, and came to the conclusion 500 years ago, that the only hope the Jews have, is to establish their own home” and not among strangers.
        Enlighten us with your history ?

  11. Danaa
    February 5, 2014, 11:28 pm

    Avigail – superb article – and every note strikes a cord with me.

    I actually taught for a time at one of the ORT schools as a substitute (trying to make just enough for a one-way ticket out). My subjects were math and Physics and at the time, at that age, I did not exactly pay much attention to politics (was too busy trying to resist dating my own students – was only a few years older, after all – and they were all of the male portion of the species). To be fair, in my case, it was the extreme conformism of Israeli society that set me off to other, more flexible lands.

    And though it was a few decades ago, and my memory of what and how exactly we were taught what, I can confirm that subtle indoctrination you are talking about, and then some. My own high school was one of the regular secular high schools, and the message and the branding of zionism as an incipient, never-to-be questioned ideology, were all the more intense for never even realizing that we were being brain washed. My main hobby for years was Gadna Avir – one of the para-militaristic activities that we were all exposed to, one that idolizes the wonders of the Israeli Air Force, that we all aspired to be induced into. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be at 16, I’d have said, without hesitation, that I wanted to be a pilot. It was only when I realized that the IAF had no intention of training female pilots and this little dream of mine was quite over, that I started to wake up and look at things more critically. Of course, waking up in my case, was a rather noisy affair, as it involved smashing quite a few things, especially some precious sacred cow jars.

    It still took years and years and much geographical distance to actually realize how close we were to a cult – as well as the genius of being part of one, while passionately believing we were one of the most open and individualistic societies in the world.

    For some time now, I have been engaged in an internal research to figure out just how could such an “oppression through consensus” be accomplished so very effectively. I know the arguments and I have seen and read Nurit Peled’s studies as well as your excellent essays and posts, and they all find great resonance in me. What I can’t seem to have come to full grips with yet is the personal aspect – how could one, as fearlessly non-conformist as myself – literally from toddlerhood – still be as much of a subject to the “branding” as anyone. How could one who asked questions about everything, failed to question – even once – the dominant narrative of what actually did happen to all those “Arabs”? Or just was that Kastner character that adults would clam up about whenever children were around, as an example. Though i have no answers yet, these internal questions led me to realize just how susceptible that human children are to “imprinting”, if done from early childhood, consistently and methodically. I know that this has something to do with us being a social species but that’s just part of the question, not the answer.

    My one (and I’m afraid, only) good excuse is that back when I went to high school, we did not yet have the internet, or even much television yet. Furthermore, many books were not yet even translated into Hebrew and, in a way, those of us who grew up learning strictly in that language (though we may have spoken a different language at home – we just didn’t read in it), were, in a sense “locked” into a “restricted information” world. May be not unlike Chinese children growing up in the days of the cultural revolution. Other opinions, other views of history, other narratives, just did not penetrate into our world. There was nothing that disturbed the serene pool in which we only saw our own reflections. In my entire time of growing up in Israel, I never met or heard of a single political “dissident’ voice, though there were individualistic dissidents, who, like me, chafed under the pressure to conform, strictly on a personal level. Just as I have never met an “Arab” person (other than as a vendor), or a religious Jewish person (other than seeing them walk about in their black coats and hats in Meah Shearim).

    The bubble of which you speak, Avigail, was once completely impermeable. Nothing came through, even as the barriers were seemingly completely transparent. You are lucky the world got through to you (or you got through and out to the world) as soon as you did. It took me decades to even learn to see the bubbles, much less to pop them. Of course, nowadays popping bubbles IS one of my new hobbies – mucho fun, like learning to play all over again.

    Thanks for this piece – I will contemplate it profusely.

    PS I read “Beyond Tribal Loyalties’ – much that is worth reading there from the various contributors. Highly recommended.

    • Avigail Abarbanel
      February 6, 2014, 4:04 pm

      Dear Danaa,

      Thank you so much for this beautiful post that reads like a letter! I deeply appreciate your positive feedback about my writings and your support.

      So much of what you say resonates with me. I admire your intellectual and psychological integrity. It’s a tough journey to try to understand oneself and do so with compassion for ourselves. I don’t blame you at all for taking time to realise things despite the fact that you were a born rebel… (I oscillated between limited rebellion and conformism in my youth).

      As a psychotherapist informed by neuroscience I would like to offer one possible answer to the question you are exploring. Human children do not have the luxury of really rebelling against their society. We have to belong in order to survive and every child knows that there are limits to how much they can question or rebel against social conventions, before they risk being rejected. We know that the need to belong is extremely deep in children. 300 million years of limbic brain evolution teaches us that to not belong is to perish. So when we are young we don’t have a choice but to accept our group, even if it is not a good one and even if our instincts and experience tell us that something isn’t right. In my humble opinion, the fact that you rebelled against so much and yet still was unable to rebel against the dominant narrative is not a statement about you at all, but rather a statement about the significance and centrality of that narrative to Jewish Israeli society. It tells you how sacred our former society considers it! Every child senses what is the most important thing to their group and will therefor avoid going against that. They will rebel only where the consequences do not feel life-threatening (this is all at an unconscious level because as children we do not yet possess the same self awareness we are capable of as adults).

      If you like, we can keep in touch. My email address is at the end of the Introduction to BTL.

      We have a lot in common – a great deal in fact – except that I didn’t want to be a pilot but an astronaut… Now I am a psychotherapist. Different kind of space exploration but no less vast, challenging or exciting. Thank you once again Danaa for your honest post. It was wonderful to read it. Avigail

      • yrn
        February 6, 2014, 4:12 pm

        Uhhh another psychotherapist advice for the Anti Israeli Israelis.
        You should open a clinic, you will have some 10-20 patients that suffer from the same syndrome.

      • yrn
        February 7, 2014, 3:09 am

        Avigail
        As a starter could you advice and Analyse how come a rebel soul like Danna, as she declares a Humanist, is supporting and a butcher like Assad who killed thousands of his own nation and pushed his deadly Agenda.
        Is it part of her growing up in Israel too ?

      • Danaa
        February 7, 2014, 3:42 am

        Much appreciated, Avigail, the good words and the thoughtful counsel (and it was free too- a bonus!). I think people really appreciate your engagement here – most gracious of you and considerate to boot.

        I’ll be in touch….
        _______
        *PS don’t mind our resident bot yrn. He adds color and makes for a useful foil, now and then. The sign of a blog’s success is to have acquired its very own coterie of trolls (there are five regulars, and by last count another 6 or so irregulars, sent for the one-off hit and run missions). The better the blog is, the more dedicated are the resident bots. In time, some even start wavering, which is a sight to behold (tinted glasses help…). Not yrn though – solid as a rock is he. For him, I’d charge premium – too much maintenance.

      • Walid
        February 7, 2014, 4:20 am

        2 great posts by Danaa and Avigail; learned a lot about what make Jews tick from these 2 posts.

        I also appreciate the presence of the colourful hasbara squad that keeps us on our toes and the threads going. I can see that some of them have already mellowed. We’re only a few weeks away from turning Mahane 1 into a good catholic.

      • seafoid
        February 7, 2014, 5:11 am

        Walid

        Yrn will fight to the last meme

      • MahaneYehude1
        February 7, 2014, 5:13 am

        @Walid;

        I also appreciate and want to thank you and others, especially Avigail Abarbanel, for letting us to bring our voice here in MW and to show you all that behind what you call “The Zionist entity” there are human beings, breathing, raise children and want to live, exactly like you, Walid and I assume like Avigail.

        Let me thank you in your language:
        شكرا جزيلا، يا أخي العزيز، وليد!!! شكرا لك ولافيغائيل اباربانيل

  12. yrn
    February 6, 2014, 4:00 am

    Why I wouldn’t even consider to read or comment on Avigail Abarbanel writings.
    Avigail Abarbanel is a duplicated prototype of the neglected extreme Israeli left, that instead of going with thier truth and try to change what they think that has to be changed in the Israeli Society decided to leave and when I mean leave is to disconnect themselves from the Israeli society that keeps changing everyday, I find it pathetic that Avigail Abarbanel after years that haven’t been to Israel comes to visit here family that decided to stay in this horrible place she left and Analyses the society in a week.
    I know those cycles of extreme lefties as I have been there in my youth fascinated by their “revolution” glory that came out to be very quick a bunch of disturbed not connected to reality persons, that are duplicating one another and until today if you read the writing’s of one you read them all.
    Most left Israel and joined all kind of left cults and get some attention in blogs like MW and all of those who want to read “an Israeli born” witness.
    As that’s the merchandise they sell, so they are all Israelis and for residence of MW or Deliberation or David duke, it’s a great platform and they just love their writings.
    So Avigail Abarbanel stay where you are, as long as those bubbles want to read your Intellectual one week Analysis or your horrible memories, great for them and great for you.

    • Sumud
      February 6, 2014, 4:40 am

      I see no reason Israelis should feel obligated to go down with the ship – especially those who do not feel it is a healthy environment to raise children.

      I also don’t see any correlation between truthful observation and geographical location, or if there is any it probably works against your argument – an awful lot of BS has been spread about by Israelis over the years, after all.

      Any empirical evidence, or did you want to have a rant in your comment-which-is-not-a-comment…?

    • Avigail Abarbanel
      February 6, 2014, 4:07 pm

      Oh dear @yrn, are you OK? Unfortunately, you do what so many supporters of Israel and Israeli Jews do when the Jewish Israeli cult is questioned or criticised, you resort to personal attacks and insults. That’s a real shame. I do wish you well.

      • yrn
        February 6, 2014, 5:18 pm

        Dear Avigail
        Sure I am OK, criticizing Israel is not the issue, as I criticize Israel more then you, as I want MY Israel to be better and it’s getting better everyday.
        As I live here and you don’t and you never will, so it’s not criticizing what you do, it’s a garbage can exploration to those who want to read your spew.
        If you wanted to criticize to have a better society to live in, you should stay and criticize as much as you want, as I don’t think there are many free places as Israel, that gives you the opportunity to question and criticize as much as you want.
        But you prefer to sell your garbage in places like MW.
        Funny that 99.99999999% of the people who grew up in the same country, find your Life conclusions disturbed.

  13. yrn
    February 6, 2014, 8:45 am

    Sumud
    “I also don’t see any correlation between truthful observation and geographical location,”
    At list don’t show how foolish you are.
    Would I read your observation regarding the Australian Aborigines “today” , if you are not part of the location.
    It would sound like most of MW observations regarding the Israeli society.
    A Joke !

    • Sumud
      February 6, 2014, 12:01 pm

      Possibly you don’t understand what I meant yrn.

      You criticised the author and stated she had analysed “the society in a week” as though growing up in Israeli had meant nothing, and as though a person can’t form opinions about Israel unless you live there: obviously silly, and even more so in the last 20 years with the internet and all that entails.

      This is what I meant when I mentioned geographical location and truthful observation (versus untruthful observation – lies, propaganda, hasbara).

      • yrn
        February 6, 2014, 3:56 pm

        Sumud

        You are really foolish, she has been growing in Israel 30 or 40 years ago,
        The article she wrote that I criticize was not about her horrible growing up year, but on Israel at present.
        Israel is changing so fast and as she writes an Article after coming for a week to visit after so long and expect it to be an Academic observer analysis.
        That’s your level maybe, as that’s what you want to read.
        There is nothing new, she is predicted and could have written her shallow analysis from her home in Scotland.
        As I mentioned it’s good enough for MW and it’s residence.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 6, 2014, 5:01 pm

        @yrn, I am really sorry if I upset you, which I obviously did. If you can demonstrate how Israel has changed and how I am wrong, I would appreciate it. The Yediot Aharonot and Ha’aretz articles I refer to in my piece are from less than two weeks ago, not 30-40 years ago.

        Shooting the messenger is psychologically understandable for someone trying to deflect uncomfortable information. But it is not a useful tactic when you are trying to debate with people and get your point across. I don’t think you realise yrn, but by the way you are talking about me and what I say you are actually proving the exact point I am making in my article! I think most people on this discussion can see that quite clearly.

        You might want to learn from some of the contributions above. Even though I might not agree with all of them, at least people are debating and discussing the actual issues at hand, rather than resorting to personal attacks and insults. I don’t expect you to understand as you are clearly deeply committed to Israeli society and its dominant narrative and are acting instinctively to protect it. But I do have to thank you for validating my point for me.

      • yrn
        February 6, 2014, 6:01 pm

        Avigail
        Sorry that I can not give you credit as a psychotherapist, as how can you upset me, if I never read your predicted article.
        You see your routine duplicated argument are boring, sorry that you get my critics personally as insults, but they are not, you sound like those few outsider Israelis, that decided to leave Israel which is completely ok with me.
        The Israeli press is praised also by the biggest Israel hater Gilad Atzmon, everyone from all spectrum’s writes what they wants, you pick up as most duplicated persons like you, the articles that you find that fits your Agenda and just ride on the occasion and use it to push your Agenda and come up with the shallow argument that it was published 2 weeks ago.
        “f you can demonstrate how Israel has changed”
        I want make your life easy, you will have to work hard to find out, as you are not here.
        Have fun as MW garbage dealer.

  14. MahaneYehude1
    February 6, 2014, 5:48 pm

    @Avigail Abarbanel:

    Many thanks for the video about ORT. I very appreciate your effort to show the nice face of ORT in particular and Zionism in general. As you wrote above “But in Israel it is Zionist and its purpose is to create productive Jewish citizens who will contribute to building the country.” Indeed, this reflects one of the Zionism movement goals: to create a productive Jewish citizens building their country, Independent proud citizens who are able to withstand the 21st century challenges and pose their country at the forefront of technological development. Proud Israeli Jews, unlike submissive Jews in the diaspora that were at the mercy of tyrants and the mob.

    I hope you bring us more stories in the future so we all can learn more about the Zionist movement and its achievements.

    Thank you very much
    Mahane Yehuda
    Jerusalem, Israel

    • Avigail Abarbanel
      February 7, 2014, 4:02 am

      @Mahane Yehuda – Interesting sense of humour…

    • seafoid
      February 7, 2014, 5:17 am

      “Proud Israeli Jews, unlike submissive Jews in the diaspora that were at the mercy of tyrants and the mob. ”

      You have no clue, Mahane . How could you, growing up with that education?

      link to ft.com

      “I am not a religious Jew, my family were not religious Jews. But I feel that I am a representation of the Jewish spirit, whatever that might be. To me, it is honesty, rectitude, intellectual achievement.

      • Cliff
        February 8, 2014, 7:44 am

        He sells potatoes. I think it’s safe to say education and being a part of the “forefront of technological development” was not high on his priority list.

        In fact, I think the potato salesman’s list of priorities goes something like this:

        Zionism
        Zionism
        Zionism
        Zionism
        potato

        He’s a good troll as a result. But a lousy potato salesman. I mean, all this trolling means less time to sell potatoes!

  15. MahaneYehude1
    February 7, 2014, 5:21 am

    @seafoid;

    “I am not a religious Jew, my family were not religious Jews. But I feel that I am a representation of the Jewish spirit, whatever that might be. To me, it is honesty, rectitude, intellectual achievement.”

    Please, send your comment to Philip, Max, Alex, Avigail and Dana so they all can learn the basic tenets of Judaism.

    • puppies
      February 7, 2014, 12:40 pm

      @Mahan – Why should anyone learn “the basic tenets of Judaism”? We need religion like a hole in the head. Or, to speak to your version of it, we need racist theories justifying genocides like a hole in the head.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 8, 2014, 5:02 am

        @puppies, I agree with you. Judaism is not at all attractive to me and in fact I take great objection to it. Its tenets right from the start are the same as any cult: exclusivism, pathological fear of others, exceptionalism, faith in a fickle, vengeful and psychopathic god (the behaviour of the so-called god of the Torah is pathological at best and I can diagnose that character with an anti-social personality disorder so easily it’s not funny!), a callous disregard to the wellbeing of others if you judge by the way Joshua committed a full-blown genocide in Canaan in order for the Hebrews to settle there, *and* the fact that no one ever questions the morality of this story (not that I believe that the Bible is history, but still). Judaism is also incredibly misogynistic, which as a woman of course I can’t possibly accept. I know there are people who interpret Judaism differently, and that they see other things in it. But if you go by what it is really about, it has no place in a modern, pluralistic world where we would like all people to be treated with compassion and kindness and for no one group to have any priority over another.

        It is time for the Jewish people (and any other cult) to join the human race because we are all in this together and no one is more worthy than anyone else.
        (And if anyone wishes to object to what I said above, please tell me what exactly I am saying that is wrong. Don’t bother with mindless, knee-jerk attacks because those I am just going to ignore.)

      • seafoid
        February 8, 2014, 6:24 am

        Avigail

        I see where you are coming from but Judaism is much bigger than Zionism.
        It has the potential to be cleansed and redeemed. If it lasted over 2000 years it must have stuff that is worth keeping.

        Zionism was a tremendously costly detour down a dead end, but we still need Judaism.

        “Either we are all sacred or nobody is” would be a good place to start.

        link to ft.com

        “I am not a religious Jew, my family were not religious Jews. But I feel that I am a representation of the Jewish spirit, whatever that might be. To me, it is honesty, rectitude, intellectual achievement.

      • Avigail Abarbanel
        February 8, 2014, 8:16 am

        @seafoid, OK. I accept that Judaism can possibly transform. I cannot see how myself, but perhaps if the will is there, it can. And just because something lasted a long time doesn’t mean that it necessarily has anything good or valuable in it. Child abuse has been there since the beginning of time with all the same rhetoric we see from abusers today, and all the culture around it. There is nothing worth keeping there. I am sure you would agree. Zionism has to go because there is nothing in it except a settler-colonial attitude that says that the Jews have a right to do whatever is necessary in order to survive, including ethnically cleansing an entire people. It really has to go.

      • seafoid
        February 8, 2014, 8:24 am

        Avigail

        I think you are in a place similar to where Sophie Scholl was in Germany in 1943.
        link to youtube.com

        You know the system is insane and that it is going to crash and that a lot of the people have been led to think there is no alternative and that the memes are all wrong. And that the ordinary people will be sacrificed by the elite.

        And all the leaders are complicit and there is no political alternative and it looks awful.

        But Germany made it eventually. It took a lot of hard work to get rid of all the deadwood and build up more rational institutions . Himmler thought he could take over after Hitler killed himself but the whole ideology had to be destroyed.

        Willy Brandt came out of nowhere to lead the rebirth.

        So it has been done before. Germany had a lot of good under all the crap in 1945. Judaism does too (but not under current management) .

        It would have been much easier to fix this in 1948 but that didn’t happen. It will happen. It must happen.

      • sydnestel
        February 8, 2014, 8:20 am

        Well – after all that – we do get shades of Atzmon.

        Too, bad …

      • Shmuel
        February 8, 2014, 10:23 am

        Avigail,

        My turn to generalise. I think you suffer from a problem common to many secular Israelis, and that is that the Judaism you don’t believe in is of the very worst and most reprehensible kind. Given your premises regarding what constitutes Judaism, you cannot but reject it. Not only is there much of value in traditional Judaisms (yes, there were always numerous Judaisms), but there was every reason to believe that some of us were making the transition to modernity quite nicely before Zionism gained the upper hand.

        It is time for the Jewish people (and any other cult) to join the human race because we are all in this together and no one is more worthy than anyone else.

        Why do you believe that “the Jewish people” is not part of “the human race”? Is being a member of a particular people, culture or religion incompatible with being a member of the human race? If so, the human race set must be null. Once again, the problem seems to lie with your premises. You have unnecessarily defined Judaism (or belonging to “the Jewish people”) as being incompatible with universal values and hence incompatible with being a member of “the human race” (although “universal values” are by no means universally shared – on the contrary, the kind of human race you define [sans "cults"] would not be a null set, but would almost certainly comprise only a minority of the species).

      • Annie Robbins
        February 8, 2014, 10:56 am

        Why do you believe that “the Jewish people” is not part of “the human race”?

        shmuel, i think she wasn’t being literal in her brevity. based on what she said in the preceding paragraph i think she meant ‘It is time for the Jewish people (and any other cult) to join the human race “in a modern, pluralistic world where we would like all people to be treated with compassion and kindness” ‘

        still, it assumes quite a lot indeed. these kinds of generalizations are not uncommon from someone who has internalized massive amounts of trauma. maybe the mind, maybe it serves healing to compartmentalize in this way i don’t know.

        the phrasing of “Jewish people (and any other cult)” doesn’t leave a lot of extra room for interpretation.

        anyway, carry on. but i don’t think she meant jews were not human.

      • Shmuel
        February 8, 2014, 11:06 am

        i think she wasn’t being literal in her brevity.

        Neither was I. I think I understand what Avigail was trying to say and related to it as such (universal values, sense of superiority, cult etc.).

      • MahaneYehude1
        February 8, 2014, 5:28 am

        @Puppies;

        Look how things developed in this site: seafoid sent me some link in order to “educate” me and show me several tenets of Judaism. I recommended him to sent the link to others, now you come with your comment. Next time read all the comments, not only the one that you respond.

        ” Or, to speak to your version of it, we need racist theories justifying genocides like a hole in the head.’

        Did I ever justify genocide or killing? If yes, I will be happy if you send me a link to my comment.

  16. MahaneYehude1
    February 8, 2014, 5:49 am

    @Avigail Abarbanel:

    I know there are people who interpret Judaism differently, and that they see other things in it.

    Of course, as a psychoanalyst I sure you know that their are several people that see only one side in each issue or in their life, usually the side they choose to see. It is happen frequently in marriage, with our children, with our relationships with others or in any issue like our political opinions etc. In order to convince themselves that the side they chose is right and true, they choose negligible examples and ignore the whole view. Any other fact or argument that doesn’t fit with the theory that they built themselves, will be ignored or distorted. Some of them, when they don’t want to confront the arguments that contradict their theory, choose, at best, to belittle and mock the arguments or, at worse, use disrespectful language in order to decrease the credibility of their opponents and divert the discussion to other matters.

    • Avigail Abarbanel
      February 8, 2014, 8:08 am

      @ MahaneYehuda1 – Agreed! (Psychotherapist btw, not psychoanalyst. I work from a humanistic not psychoanalytic perspective). So given that I am well versed in *both* versions of history, the Zionist one I was educated on in Israel, as well as the one I learned later which is based on on a proper look at historical documents and evidence from 1948 and earlier, how about you take a look at the other version too? Like I said earlier in this thread, I recommend Ilan Pappé’s work and also Avi Shalim’s come to think of it. They are both excellent academics and fantastic human beings. Shlaim has just published a really good article that is worth your time: link to opendemocracy.net

      • MahaneYehude1
        February 8, 2014, 8:48 am

        @Avigail Abarbanel:

        Thanks for the recommendation. Be sure that I am also very familiar with both versions of history but I chose to take little from each of them. Unfortunately, I am not an educated man like you, but fortunately, I had and still have the chance to meet many Arabs in my city and learn that life in Israel are not black and white, but sometimes very colorful. I also learn that their is no one side that is 100% right and the other wrong. Both sides, by their blindness, contributed much to our unfortunate situation where we are and to the ongoing suffering of both peoples on this land – which is my home as well as their home. Ilan Pappe has no ability to realize it, but I hope you have this ability.

        Come back home, Avigail.

      • seafoid
        February 8, 2014, 9:41 am

        “I had and still have the chance to meet many Arabs in my city and”

        you can’t even call them Palestinians, you fraud
        honesty, rectitude, intellectual achievement vs torture, hasbara, mendacity

  17. Avigail Abarbanel
    February 8, 2014, 8:11 am

    @MahaneYehuada1 – Oh, and one more point: everything I know about Judaism I learned at Bar-Ilan University. I was fortunate to be taught by Rabbis and religious scholars who were very honest about what they taught us and didn’t try to hide anything. My dislike of Jewish religion comes from the clash between Jewish principles and my values as well as my understanding of what it means to be a human being.

    • Shmuel
      February 8, 2014, 9:07 am

      everything I know about Judaism I learned at Bar-Ilan University

      Not necessarily a good thing. Were my Jewish education limited to what my religious-Zionist teachers and rabbis taught me, it would have been very poor indeed.

      My dislike of Jewish religion comes from the clash between Jewish principles and my values

      From what I’ve read, we share similar, humanistic values, yet mine were actually inspired both by my relatively narrow-minded Orthodox upbringing and by things I subsequently learned about Jewish thought, values and ethics. Go figure.

      I don’t believe it is a coincidence that some of the most open and humanistic thinkers in the Yishuv and early state period (Buber, Magnes, Shereshevsky, Simon, Berman, Radler-Feldman, etc.) were religious or religiously-inspired.

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