Resisting anti-Semitism does not contradict resisting the Israeli state

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This article first appeared in the McGill Daily yesterday. Nit In Aundzer Nomen (Yiddish for “not in our name”) is a group of Jewish students from McGill University, in Montreal.

Coming to the realization that being Jewish does not require supporting Israel is cause for both internal and social conflict. At McGill in particular, it can be quite a marginalizing experience. Campus rhetoric consistently pairs anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, preventing Jewish students from speaking out comfortably against Israel’s state policies for fear of being labelled a “self-hating Jew.” On a campus where the heart of Jewish life is dominated by Hillel, an organization whose vision is one where “every student is inspired to make a commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel,” and by Chabad, which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel” – not to mention Israel on Campus – it is crucial for Jews to act to break down the hegemony of this discourse at our university.

The representation of Jewish interests on campus is incredibly important, particularly at a university that once used quotas to limit Jewish enrolment. But when the groups who provide resources, funding, and spaces used to support Kosher options on campus or organize celebrations of religious holidays are also those promoting unconditional support for the State of Israel, these groups are acting to silence and alienate Jewish voices who dare to dissent. Similarly, at last year’s Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) General Assemblies (GAs), voices claiming to be speaking for all Jews on campus trumped and erased our own, co-opting our identities in defence of the Jewish state.

The discourse on campus has conflated Jews of all backgrounds with a nationalistic, militaristic, and racist government agenda, and as Jewish students who believe in justice, we feel a particular responsibility to speak out in support of the Palestinian people. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has given us a way to mobilize from a distinctly Jewish perspective in a way that does not contradict our values. In doing so, we are also actively resisting the use of our Jewish identities as a justification for stripping millions of people of their basic rights.

Who are we to speak on the subject? We are Jews – French, Canadian, American, and Israeli; Ashkenazi and Sephardi; Orthodox, Reformist, and secular. We’ve been raised attending Jewish day schools and after-school programs, embracing our identities while coming to terms with the central role that one particular ideology played in our upbringing: Zionism, the support for the existence of a distinctly Jewish state. We aren’t strangers to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; in fact, many of us are directly affected by it. We have lived and traveled in Israel; we have families in Israel and friends in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It is exactly this proximity that makes the conflict all the more important to engage with. Over the past few years, we’ve been working to unpack the conflation of Judaism and Zionism, trying to figure out where in our upbringing Judaism ended and Zionism began. Recently, we started gathering as a group, grappling with our personal identities, learning and unlearning, questioning our roles within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and as Jewish anti-Zionists on this campus.

We define anti-Zionism as the opposition to the State of Israel as it exists today. We do not aim to speak for all Jews at McGill, nor for all Jewish anti-Zionists; the terms “Zionism” and “anti-Zionism” are both loaded and can be defined in many different ways, and our group members ascribe to various definitions within this range. Irrespective of these identifiers, however, we feel that we must begin to take up space in a campus discourse that has been polarized for too long. It is precisely because of our deep connection to Israel created by the consistent conflation of Judaism and Zionism that we can no longer merely question what we’ve been taught – we must take action.

Fighting for justice is integral to Jewish identity, considering the centuries of persecution and exile that constitute our people’s history. We root our actions in traditions that stem from lineages of Jewish feminist thought – such as that of Judith Plaskow, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College, who writes in Standing Again At Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective that “the economic, social, and moral costs of military occupation make it incompatible with equity within one’s own boundaries. The rightful claim of Palestinians to a land of their own renders occupation profoundly unjust.” By reclaiming Jewish traditions of resistance, we hope to encourage others to make room for a critical Jewish perspective.

Recognizing these aspects of our identities, we also believe that fighting against ongoing instances of anti-Semitism is important; anti-Semitism is real, both here and abroad. However, resisting anti-Semitism does not contradict resisting the Israeli state. While instances of anti-Semitism within BDS efforts have occurred and must be acknowledged as such, they are not representative of the majority of BDS organizing. The Israeli occupation is justified through the claim that it is necessary to Jewish safety and representative of worldwide Jewry, particularly given the legacy of the Holocaust. These claims obscure and essentialize Judaism, while dispossessing Palestinians of their lands and rights. We reject this idea, and instead stand with those oppressed by the State of Israel.

The BDS movement is not one of our own design; rather, it is answering a direct call on the ground made in 2005 by over 171 Palestinian civil society organizations. BDS puts pressure on companies that profit from the creation of settlements illegal under international law and that design military equipment used in ongoing assaults on the West Bank and Gaza. BDS campaigns are targeted tactics, rather than permanent solutions. On their own, boycotts and divestment will not dismantle Israel’s multi-billion-dollar economy, but these tactics can be used as part of a strategy to pressure a nation to cease engaging in human rights violations, with the end of South African apartheid often being lauded as an example of their successful use. The idea is to urge Israel to lift its discriminatory policies, as well as to encourage the global community to follow suit in opposing state-led violence against an occupied people.

Jewish and Israeli support for BDS can be traced through civic and human rights organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Yesh Din, Adalah, and Independent Jewish Voices. Student unions at various academic institutions, including Northwestern University and Stanford, have adopted resolutions to lobby the administrations for divestment. McGill University holds investments in four companies that profit from the occupation either through financing of military systems or the expansion of illegal settlements: these are L-3 Communications, Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, Bank Leumi, and RE/MAX. Campaigning for McGill to divest its holdings from these sources – less that 0.3 per cent of its total investments – would bring international attention to McGill’s condemnation of human rights violations. Moreover, at the end of the day, it’s our tuition money being invested in these companies, and it is therefore our obligation to speak out.

We believe that it is crucial for Jews and non-Jews alike to be actively engaging with and supporting BDS. It promotes dialogue surrounding complicity in the occupation and allows for a diverse range of voices to participate. Passing a motion at the GA is not an end to involvement, but a strong first step. As such, we ask both Jews and non-Jews alike to come to the SSMU GA on February 22 at 3 p.m. to mandate SSMU to lobby McGill for divestment, in solidarity with the peoples of Palestine.

We are fighting back against the common conflation of Judaism and Zionism because we believe in more than Zionism, we believe in more than the occupation, and we need to break the silence that allows for oppression to be perpetrated. Reaching these conclusions has been a lengthy process for many of us, and many of us did not start out at McGill knowing histories of Israeli violence, but had questions and sought out this community to begin to answer them. If you are a Jew at McGill and you have questions, we invite you to contact us and join us for Shabbat dinner. In the meantime, we hope to see you at the GA.

Nit In Aundzer Nomen (Yiddish for “not in our name”) is a group of Jewish students from McGill that gathers over Shabbat dinners to engage in collective reflection and re-learning. The group takes the form of an informal discussion space or reading circle. The group can be reached at [email protected]

About Nit In Aundzer Nomen

Nit In Aundzer Nomen (Yiddish for “not in our name”) is a group of Jewish students from McGill that gathers over Shabbat dinners to engage in collective reflection and re-learning. The group takes the form of an informal discussion space or reading circle. The group can be reached at [email protected]

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51 Responses

  1. Keith
    February 16, 2016, 5:39 pm

    “The representation of Jewish interests on campus is incredibly important, particularly at a university that once used quotas to limit Jewish enrolment.”

    Quotas, I should point out, that left the Jews still somewhat overrepresented compared to their numbers in the general population, but not to the extent that they once were. This was true in the US Ivy Leagues as well. Affirmative action for Gentiles, can’t get much more anti-Semitic than that! And why would this be necessary? Are Jews simply naturally smart and Gentiles stupid? Or are there environmental factors at work? What are they? Do they reflect the higher than average prosperity of these Jews? How is this consistent with the “…centuries of persecution and exile that constitute our people’s history.”? Do any of these Jewish students care about why Jewish enrollment used to be so high? Why quotas were enacted? Or is it enough to claim anti-Semitism for anything which interferes with Jewish objectives? Do quotas equate to Jew-hatred? Is it simply a force of nature that results in Jewish domination of the intelligentsia and the doctrinal system? Is it inherently anti-Semitic for a Gentile to even question any of this?

    “…we also believe that fighting against ongoing instances of anti-Semitism is important; anti-Semitism is real, both here and abroad.”

    Oh, I am sure that you all do. The question is whether you tribal anti-Zionist/liberal Zionists have ever contemplated the possibility of Jewish anti-Gentilism? Can any of you even conceive of such a thing? Or is the suggestion itself anti-Semitic because “Fighting for justice is integral to Jewish identity….,” and anyone who questions such an obvious truth is clearly a Jew-hater?

    Bottom line: congratulations on opposing at least the worst aspects of Zionism. You have begun to reject at least some of the Judeo-Zionist mythology and to look in the mirror. Keep looking. A quote for you.

    “Therefore, the real test facing both Israeli and diaspora Jews is the test of their self-criticism which must include the critique of the Jewish past. The most important part of such a critique must be detailed and honest confrontation of the Jewish attitude to non-Jews.” (p103, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” Israel Shahak)

    • Mooser
      February 16, 2016, 8:04 pm

      “We are fighting back against the common conflation of Judaism and Zionism because we believe in more than Zionism”

      And if you don’t get it, you’ve still got your Zionism. What a deal.

    • Sibiriak
      February 17, 2016, 7:16 am

      Keith: The question is whether you tribal anti-Zionist/liberal Zionists have ever contemplated the possibility of Jewish anti-Gentilism?
      —————-
      What makes you think they haven’t? And what makes you think they are “tribal”–unless “tribal” defines any sort of human sub- culture/community/identity? They write:

      We root our actions in traditions that stem from lineages of Jewish feminist thought – such as that of Judith Plaskow, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College, who writes in Standing Again At Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective… [emphasis added]

      I haven’t read Plaskow’s book, but from excerpts available via Amazon and Google, it’s evident she takes a highly critical stance toward Jewish anti-Gentilism, strongly rejecting the concept of Jewish “chosenness” which is at the root of the Jew/Gentile dichotomy. (See the section titled “Chosenness, Hierarchy, Difference ” beginning on page 96.)

      Plaskow writes:

      ….it is the notion of chosenness that is the chief expression of hierarchical separation… As a central category for Jewish self-understanding that is emblematic of other gradations, chosenness provides a warrant for… ranked differentiations within the community and between Israel and others. If Jewish feminism is to articulate a model of community in which difference is acknowledged without being hierarchalized, it will have to engage the traditional Jewish understanding of difference by rejecting the idea of chosenness without at the same time denying the distinctiveness of Israel….

      Chosenness is a complex and evolving idea in Judaism that is not always associated with superiority. There is a strand in Jewish thinking that attributes chosenness to special qualities in the Jews and that argues for Jewish hereditary spiritual uniqueness and supremacy; by and large, however, Israel’s election is viewed as a matter not of merit or attributes but of responsibilities and duties.

      […]If ascription of supernatural sanctity to Israel is the exception rather than the rule, however, this eliminates only some of the troubling aspects of the notion of chosenness.

      [..] Feminists troubled by this hierarchical understanding of the relationship between the Jews and others are hardly alone in our concern. Since emancipation, the concept of chosenness has been as much a source of embarrassment to Jews as of sustenance. Its exclusivity has seemed to many Jews to be in conflict with the desire for civic equality; its assumptions of a special destiny in tension with the simple humanity of the Jew emancipation assumed…Thus, in the last two hundred hears, the concept of chosenness has been almost endless refashioned as Jewish thinkers have tried to discard it and retain it at the same time…

      […] chosenness becomes linked to the subordination of women and other groups in the rhythms of Jewish existence.

      […] The rejection of chosenness and the rejection of women’s Otherness are interconnected. [emphasis added]

      link to amazon.com
      ———————-

      S. Leyla Gürkan, in “The Jews as a Chosen People Tradition and Transformation” elaborates on Plaskow’s position:

      As a matter of fact, Israeli society displays a hierarchical structure, the Ashkenazi (European) Jews being at the top, Sephardic and Mizrahi (non-European) Jews in the middle and non-Jewish Israelis (Druzes and Arabs, respectively) at the bottom.

      For the American Jewish feminist scholar, Judith Plaskow, this is mainly related to the nature of the Jewish religion, which, due to the notion of the chosen people, has created a hierarchical society based on an internal hierarchical differentiation and an external strong distinction between Jew and non-Jew.

      According to Plaskow, the Jewish concept of chosenness, in practice if not by definition, presupposes a hierarchical structure as being built on a multiple differentiation on various levels. For Jewish superiority or difference is ‘not one among many’; it is, instead, ‘a matter of God’s decision, God’s mysterious and singular choice bestowing upon the Jews an unparalleled spiritual destiny’. Plaskow maintains,

      to be a holy people was both to be different from one’s neighbors and to distinguish between … pure and impure, Sabbath and week, kosher and non-kosher, Cohen, Levi, and Israel (…), and male and female….Differences in wealth, learning, and observance; differences in cultural background and customs (between … Jews from Eastern Europe, Spain, or the Orient); differences in religious affiliation and understanding (…between Hasidim and Mitnagdim…) have all provided occasions for certain groups of Jews to define themselves as superior to different and non-normative Others.

      Thus, according to Plaskow, the concept of being chosen by God is the biggest obstacle towards Jewish understanding of differences on a pluralist, rather than a hierarchical, ground and towards Jewish recognition of the other.[p.169] [emphasis added]

      —————-

      In “Speaking/Writing of God: Jewish Philosophical Reflections on the Life with Others”, Michael Oppenheim writes:

      A few decades earlier, Mordecai Kaplan—and today, Judith Plaskow—concluded that, in light of our lives with others, the concept of election/chosenness must be rejected. Kaplan wrote that chosenness was “objectionable as barring the way to peace and harmony among religions and making for self-righteousness and cant”. (1946, 20) His replacement of this concept with that of “peoplehood” was in harmony with other changes to Jewish religious thought that he sought, including the excision of supernatural revelation and the erasure of the metaphor of God as person.

      […]Plaskow also offers a remedy that recognizes that there are always differences in any group/community, or between communities. However, it positively responds to those differences, by viewing distinctive elements as a necessary and enriching feature of any wider whole. [emphasis added]

      ————————

      Nit In Aundzer Nomen also seems to reject the Zionist claim that an eternal, irrational Gentile anti-Semitism creates the necessity for a Jewish “haven” state:

      The Israeli occupation is justified through the claim that it is necessary to Jewish safety and representative of worldwide Jewry, particularly given the legacy of the Holocaust. These claims obscure and essentialize Judaism, while dispossessing Palestinians of their lands and rights.

      ——————

      It is a mistake, imo, to essentialize Judaism/ Jewish identity, to claim that Judaism/ Jewish identity must be “tribal” or that the essence of this inescapable Jewish “tribalism” is anti-Gentilism. (The same would be true for Christian identity vis a vis Christian notions of election/chosenness and negative attitudes toward non-believers.)

      If Nit In Aundzer Nomen wants to reclaim/reinvent their Jewish identity as a pluralist, non-hierarchal, feminist, anti-Zionist form of Jewish spiritual community, I say: power to them!

      • Keith
        February 17, 2016, 12:12 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “It is a mistake, imo, to essentialize Judaism/ Jewish identity, to claim that Judaism/ Jewish identity must be “tribal” or that the essence of this inescapable Jewish “tribalism” is anti-Gentilism.”

        This is a gross misrepresentation not only of this comment of mine, but of all that I have said in the past. I have never said, nor do I believe, that all Jews are tribal or anti-Gentile. I have always maintained that Zionist Jews and Judeo-Zionism are both tribal and anti-Gentile. Zionism has evolved from almost pure blood and soil nationalism of secular Jews into a combination of blood and soil nationalism with the worst of Classical Judaism. As I have quoted Finkelstein in the past, one of the core beliefs of Zionism after the Six Day War is the notion of eternal and irrational Gentile anti-Semitism. This belief is anti-Gentile to the core (how can you deny it?) and provides the basis for all manner of mischief, including the preposterous notion that Jews need an Israeli safe haven ‘just in case.’

        SIBIRIAK- “What makes you think they haven’t? And what makes you think they are “tribal”–unless “tribal” defines any sort of human sub- culture/community/identity?”

        Did you read the same article I did? Tepid support for the right to criticize Israel appears to be a flimsy excuse for this lengthy reinforcement of Jewish myth-history regarding Jewish suffering, essential Jewish goodness, Jewish upbringing and unity, and the never ending fight against anti-Semitism. I provided a few quotes. The primary emphasis of this post appears to me to be reinforcing a strong Jewish identity (Jewish solidarity) while supporting BDS. Another quote, then a comment.

        “The representation of Jewish interests on campus is incredibly important, particularly at a university that once used quotas to limit Jewish enrolment.”

        Let us begin with the quotas, keeping in mind that Canadian Jews are about 1% of the population. Their link indicates that quotas were imposed in the late 1920s and were removed at the end of WWII. Less than 20 years of quotas that ended 70 years ago. Why is this even mentioned? What is the emphasis, the implications? The rather obvious answer is contained in the sentence itself. Their primary concern is “Jewish interests on campus.”

        As for ‘Jewish feminist’ Judith Plaskow, she criticizes the occupation on mostly practical grounds and says that the religious concept of chosenness creates hierarchy. Instead, she wants to “…engage the traditional Jewish understanding of difference by rejecting the idea of chosenness without at the same time denying the distinctiveness of Israel….” Israel yes, chosenness no. The very notion of a “Jewish” feminist gives me problems. Why the emphasis on “Jewish” if not to indicate tribal solidarity and a non-universalist perspective? Jewish understanding, Jewish morals, Jewish upbringing, Jewish trips to Israel, Jewish feminism, Jewish interests on campus, Jewish, Jewish, Jewish. No tribalism here folks! Just your laudable pluralism!

        SIBIRIAK- “If Nit In Aundzer Nomen wants to reclaim/reinvent their Jewish identity as a pluralist, non-hierarchal, feminist, anti-Zionist form of Jewish spiritual community, I say: power to them!”

        I am sure you do. The essence of Zionism without Israel. Birthright Mandarins without the guilt. Kinship nepotism described as pluralism. I am beginning to wonder about you. By the way, Nit In Aundzer Nomen criticizes the occupation but does not rebut the need for Israel sans occupation. Their comment that the claimed need for future refuge tends to “obscure and essentialize Judaism” hardly supports your assertion about irrational anti-Semitism being rejected. In fact, their comment that “Recognizing these aspects of our identities, we also believe that fighting against ongoing instances of anti-Semitism is important; anti-Semitism is real, both here and abroad.”, would suggest that you are misrepresenting their thoughts in your lengthy apologia.

      • MHughes976
        February 17, 2016, 12:49 pm

        I don’t think that the idea of chosenness is that bad – it was perfectly reasonable to argue that the alienation of humanity from God could not be ended, even by God, in just one event. Some people had to show the way, so God had to choose, even though no one had superior merit. There was a split between those who thought that the nations would be added to Yahweh in the last day, duly expressing appreciation for Jewish steadfastness in the way, and those who thought that the period of the Jewish solo mission was about to end because God’s Name was already great among the nations from the rising of the Sun unto the going down of the same.
        The latter stream evolved into Christianity, which affirmed that the Jews had had much advantage every way but that now there was a more wide-ranging dispensation. The idea of a solo mission does not involve contempt for ‘gentiles’, though it does put their moral and devotional efforts into a secondary position, not that relevant to the final reconciliation with God. However, that the Jews had much advantage every way is an indispensable Christian idea and cannot really be rejected – not completely – by anyone who sets store by Western culture and tradition. Then again, Jewish people do not need and do not deserve new and exclusive rights, such as those claimed by Zionism.
        Some might call my view ‘supersessionist’ though I think that’s an unfair word.
        The students at McGill seem to reject the right to ‘occupation’, that is perhaps to accept tacitly that the right to most of Palestine is OK. More painful liberal Zionism?

      • Sibiriak
        February 17, 2016, 1:10 pm

        Keith: The primary emphasis of this post appears to me to be reinforcing a strong Jewish identity (Jewish solidarity) while supporting BDS.

        ———————

        I agree. But I don’t see anything wrong with that.

      • Sibiriak
        February 17, 2016, 2:04 pm

        Keith: The very notion of a “Jewish” feminist gives me problems.

        Why? Would “Christian feminist”, “Muslim feminist”, “Irish Feminist”, “Palestinian feminist” or “[insert group identifier] feminist” bother you just as much?

        Why the emphasis on “Jewish” if not to indicate tribal solidarity and a non-universalist perspective?

        Perhaps to put forth the idea of a Jewish identity that is NOT tribal, NOT patriarchal, NOT Zionist? Why not? I personally have no interest in Jewish identity, but I don’t see why this group shouldn’t have one. Why do you insist that any Jewish identity must involve “tribal solidarity”?

        Perhaps you could define your use of “tribal”. Do all group-identities equally imply “tribal solidarity”– religious, ethnic, political, gender, sexual orientation etc. identities etc?

        I believe humans are capable of overlapping identities. Annie Robbins, for example, identifies as a woman, but that doesn’t prevent her from also taking a universalist perspective, does it?

        I do not see group-identity pluralism as inherently antithetical to universalism.

        Jewish understanding, Jewish morals, Jewish upbringing, Jewish trips to Israel, Jewish feminism, Jewish interests on campus, Jewish, Jewish, Jewish. No tribalism here folks!

        Again, I ask, can you imagine a strong Jewish identity that is not “tribal”?

      • Sibiriak
        February 17, 2016, 2:23 pm

        Keith: s for ‘Jewish feminist’ Judith Plaskow, she criticizes the occupation on mostly practical grounds and says that the religious concept of chosenness creates hierarchy. Instead, she wants to “…engage the traditional Jewish understanding of difference by rejecting the idea of chosenness without at the same time denying the distinctiveness of Israel….” Israel yes, chosenness no

        —————–

        Yes, Jewishness without choosenness. What’s wrong with that? (“Israel” referring to Jewish people, not the state.) Plaskow is making an argument for cultural pluralism– different groups with distinctive qualities, parts of a larger whole without hierarchy, domination, supremacism. She clearly rejects Jewish anti-Gentilism.

        That was the main point. And since the Nit In Aundzer Nomen group pointedly embraces Plaskow’s views, there is every reason to believe they reject anti-Gentilism as well, especially in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. Nor is there any evidence that they buy into the notion of eternal and irrational Gentile anti-Semitism justifying a supremacist Jewish state. They seem to be fighting against all those notions. Yes, as Jews , but so what? Do all Jewish anti-Zionists have to give up on any kind of strong Jewish identity? Follow Atzmon?

      • Sibiriak
        February 17, 2016, 3:17 pm

        Keith: I have always maintained that Zionist Jews and Judeo-Zionism are both tribal and anti-Gentile.

        Not all Zionist Jews are both “tribal and anti-Gentile”. Many are–and I appreciate your insights in that regard– but I think it’s important not to view Zionism as an undifferentiated ideology. That’s were we differ mainly.
        ——————

        Zionism has evolved from almost pure blood and soil nationalism of secular Jews into a combination of blood and soil nationalism with the worst of Classical Judaism.

        That does not describe the form of liberal Zionism that evolved in the U.S. Take a look at Slezkine again. He sharply contrasts a liberal, assimilationist U.S. Jewish option to the Israeli Jewish option (and a defunct Communist option). Both options (U.S., Israeli) were Zionist, though–but very different forms of Zionism. A liberal U.S. Zionism developed for some six decades before 1967.
        —————————

        As I have quoted Finkelstein in the past, one of the core beliefs of Zionism after the Six Day War is the notion of eternal and irrational Gentile anti-Semitism.

        If you take another look at Finkelstien’s “The Holocaust Industry” you will notice that he almost always uses the expression “Jewish elites”, not simply “Jewish Zionists” or similar.

        That’s a critical point. The major ideological shift post-1967 was largely driven by Jewish elites and establishment Jewish organizations in a highly-calculated political move to shore up support for Israel.

        This does not mean however that the most American Jews–and let’s face it, most were/ are Zionists– completely abandoned their previous liberal pro-Israel views (however misguided they were) and embraced wholesale the worst illiberal notions of centuries old classical rabbinical Judaism and Eastern European “blood and soil” nationalism.

        I’m running late here, so I’ll have to back up these points in subsequent posts.

      • echinococcus
        February 17, 2016, 3:59 pm

        Sibiriak,

        I think it’s important not to view Zionism as an undifferentiated ideology. That’s were we differ mainly.

        Why should it be “important” if there is no difference for those facing its business end?
        The common denominator remains.

      • Mooser
        February 17, 2016, 4:41 pm

        “Some might call my view ‘supersessionist’”

        I won’t, unless Mike Bloomfield, Stephen Stills, or Al Kooper says so. They ought to know.

      • Keith
        February 17, 2016, 4:59 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “Why? Would “Christian feminist”, “Muslim feminist”, “Irish Feminist”, “Palestinian feminist” or “[insert group identifier] feminist” bother you just as much?”

        Probably, but it depends upon the circumstances for which there was a felt need to identify as a member of an ethnic/religious group. Perhaps you have examples of “Christian feminists” that I could evaluate? Is it your experience that the feminist movement is blatantly sectarian?

        SIBIRIAK- “Why do you insist that any Jewish identity must involve “tribal solidarity”?”

        I don’t insist that any Jewish identity must involve tribal solidarity, that is you, once again, blatantly misrepresenting me. I have said numerous times that Judeo-Zionism is an attempt to recreate the tribal solidarity of Classical Judaism in order to take advantage of the power-seeking value of kinship. Yuri Slezkine discusses the historical aspects in “The Jewish Century.” You claim to have read “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” by Israel Shahak, but seem to have retained little of it. Perhaps you should read it again (along with the Jewish Century). This time, take notes. You seem to be implying that there is no such thing as Jewish tribalism, simply a delightful, pluralistic multiculturalism. Is this what motivates AIPAC? Is this what motivates The Conference of Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations? Is this why Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson joined forces, to promote pluralism and/or their class interests? Can you think of any examples of Jewish tribalism? There are no Jews working together in the single minded pursuit of Jewish interests? I have attempted to analyze American Jewish support for Zionism and Israel and these are my conclusions. Since you disagree, what are your thoughts on why American organized Jewry supports Israel and Zionism?

        SIBIRIAK- “Perhaps to put forth the idea of a Jewish identity that is NOT tribal, NOT patriarchal, NOT Zionist?”

        Indeed, what better way to show that you are not tribal than to emphasize your Jewish identity? And what better way to show that you are not a Zionist than to reject “… the idea of chosenness without at the same time denying the distinctiveness of Israel….” The “distinctiveness” of Israel? Gosh, what does that mean? Any ideas, Sibiriak? Can it possibly refer to the Jewishness of the Jewish state? I think so. Good old pluralistic Israel where folks are free to give meaning to their Jewish identity. Beautiful. Support for the Jewish state as a sign of anti-Zionism. I will give you the “NOT patriarchal.” The goal of most of the American feminist leadership is to break the glass ceiling so that women can partake of the spoils of empire on equal footing with the men. That is why Third World women have contempt for these New York feminists of empire.

        SIBIRIAK- “I personally have no interest in Jewish identity….”

        Perhaps more than you realize.

      • Keith
        February 17, 2016, 6:37 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “Not all Zionist Jews are both “tribal and anti-Gentile”.”

        Of course they are. There is a continuum of intensity, however, support for the Jewish state is a core component of Jewish tribalism and anti-Gentilism is the motivating rational for support for the Jewish state. If what I say is wrong, what is the motivation of Zionists for their support of Israel and Zionism? And I don’t want any cultural Zionist crap, Cultural Zionism was stomped into the ground by political Zionism over 60 years ago.

        SIBIRIAK- “A liberal U.S. Zionism developed for some six decades before 1967.”

        Cultural Zionism may have been liberal but it was defeated by political Zionism and is a moot point.

        SIBIRIAK- “Take a look at Slezkine again.”

        Slezkine’s value lies in his analysis of Jews as service nomads in pre-modern society and how that relates to both anti-Semitism and Jewish dominance of certain areas of the political economy. As for his support for “liberal” Zionism, a quote followed by a comment.

        “Or rather, they all share Tevye’s most important belief: “Anyone can be a goy, but a Jew must be born one.” All Jews are Jews “by blood”; the rest is a matter of “absorbtion” (to use an Israeli term). Sooner or later, the Soviet Jewish emigres to Israel and the United States will “recover their Jewishness” in its entirety.” (p359, “The Jewish Century, Yuri Slezkine)

        Does that sound liberal to you? Jews are Jews by blood? If that doesn’t denote a tribal perspective, what does? He also claims that “Tribalism is a universal condition….” (p363). Slezkine embraces Jewish tribalism which he seek to normalize, you deny its existence!

        SIBIRIAK- “The major ideological shift post-1967 was largely driven by Jewish elites and establishment Jewish organizations in a highly-calculated political move to shore up support for Israel.”

        Well, duh. Jeez, you mean that the elites call the shots and the cadres respond accordingly? Do you think that you are telling me something I don’t know? You mean that all of those Holocaust movies, museums, education, etc didn’t spring up due to popular demand? Tell that to Hophmi, not me. This is exactly what I have been saying all along. And don’t you think that this massive effort has had an effect on Jewish perceptions of anti-Semitism? And is this perception consistent with the anti-Gentilism of Classical Judaism?

        SIBIRIAK- “Yes, Jewishness without choosenness. What’s wrong with that? (“Israel” referring to Jewish people, not the state.)”

        Israel referring to the Jewish people, not the state? What crap. I prefer to rely on the literal meaning of her words, not your fanciful (and bogus) interpretation of her words. As for Jewishness without chosenness, perhaps you would be so kind as to elaborate on your definition of “Jewishness.” And if you fall back on Jewish “culture,” elaborate on what besides Judaic ritual comprises the “culture” of an American Jew.

        This comment is already too long. Our entire exchange is too long. You don’t believe in Jewish tribalism/kinship, support for Israel and Zionism a mystery. Jewish success simply meritocracy, so stop complaining already. Any thoughts at all on why Jewish fat-cats support Israel and Zionism? What is in it for them? That is it for me.

      • Mooser
        February 17, 2016, 8:03 pm

        ” it was perfectly reasonable to argue that the alienation of humanity from God could not be ended, even by God, in just one event”

        So God can create a rock so heavy (the alienation of H. from G.) even He cannot lift it? I wouldn’t wager my soul on that.

      • Sibiriak
        February 18, 2016, 12:43 am

        echinococcus: [Sibiriak:] I think it’s important not to view Zionism as an undifferentiated ideology. That’s were we differ mainly.

        Why should it be “important” if there is no difference for those facing its business end?
        .
        ———————–

        Excellent question! In fact, I think it makes a big difference. To a large degree, Zionism in the U.S., — espoused by Jews and non-Jews alike–has deep connections with liberal ideology.

        That’s important because liberal ideology can be turned against Zionist Israel in ways that illiberal “blood and soil nationalism with the worst of Classical Judaism” (Keith’s phrase) obviously cannot. The simple fact is that vast numbers of Americans do NOT view their pro-Zionist-Israel stance in such decidedly illiberal terms. Many see their pro-Zionism as both compatible with and deriving from their Western liberalism.

        So its important to recognize the distinct liberal roots of American Zionism (and much current European Zionism as well) in order to use that liberalism to undermine support for Zionist Israel.

        (And no, pace Keith, I’m not talking about the political vs cultural Zionism distinction.)

      • echinococcus
        February 18, 2016, 2:12 am

        liberal ideology can be turned against Zionist Israel in ways that illiberal “blood and soil nationalism with the worst of Classical Judaism” (Keith’s phrase) obviously cannot.

        Something in that. What would that translate to, in practice?

      • echinococcus
        February 18, 2016, 4:17 am

        The students at McGill seem to reject the right to ‘occupation’, that is perhaps to accept tacitly that the right to most of Palestine is OK. More painful liberal Zionism?

        Exactly! Saving the Zionist entity seems to be the whole point of “liberal” Zionism and the other tribal varieties of Zionism-lite, “non-Zionism” and “anti-Zionist Zionism” up to now, including the part-participation in boycott. Let’s see how this one develops.

        If their insistence on “anti-Semitism”, just like JVP, is any clue, this operation has strictly zilch to do with Palestinian resistance but would be geared to preserving the Zionist conquest against the inevitable explosion. As a side effect, Palestinians might get a consolation prize of a Zionist puppet administration in a reservation instead of their full sovereignty and land (in fact, even if they are successful, once the current wave of resistance is staved off, the Zionist entity will revert to form anyway.)

        Again, yes the Jews in the US have access to every means of domination including the media etc. but it still is a terrible idea to organize so-called solidarity with Palestinians with tribal organizations restricted to the very tribe claimed by their mortal enemy, representing a negligible part of the general population. If I were directing Zionist propaganda, my first and best idea would have been just this: Jewish tribal groups in the leadership of the boycott movement, with a stated main goal of opposing an undefined “anti-Semitism” . You can’t beat the formula.

      • Sibiriak
        February 19, 2016, 9:25 am

        Keith: Israel referring to the Jewish people, not the state? What crap. I prefer to rely on the literal meaning of her words, not your fanciful (and bogus) interpretation of her words.
        ——————

        No, it’s not crap. Consult a dictionary and you will see that a basic meaning of the word “Israel” is indeed the Jewish people.

        link to merriam-webster.com

        Definition of Israel
        2: the Jewish people

        Cf.
        link to thefreedictionary.com
        link to dictionary.reference.com
        link to yourdictionary.com

        and Shmuel’s comment below on meaning of the word “Israel” in certain contexts:

        [Shmuel:] …the “Israel” in the “principle of Ahavat Israel” does not refer the State of Israel but rather to the Jewish people and its individual members…

        Judith Plaskow is a Jewish feminist theologian, and she often uses the word in that same sense. If you take a moment to glance through some excerpts of her work at the Amazon link I provided, that fact will become clear to you.

      • MHughes976
        February 20, 2016, 10:09 am

        To me, ‘tribal’ means ‘an attitude setting so much store by affinity with a limited group that universal moral claims begin to lose their hold’. Would that definition be agreeable?

      • Sibiriak
        February 20, 2016, 10:39 am

        MHughes976: Would that definition be agreeable?
        ————

        It would to me. That’s very similar–and simpler– than my definition:

        …having an exclusive group identity, not overlapping identities that can combine with a universal perspective; loyalty to the tribal identity above all other identities; definition of the “good” as “what’s good for my tribe”

      • echinococcus
        February 20, 2016, 11:04 am

        Sibiriak & Hughes,

        I really like both of your definitions.
        Both are, however, “incompatible with democratic multiculturalism” to use Sibiriak’s words. More precisely, with the main premise of citizenship in an egalitarian democracy under the rule of law.

      • Keith
        February 20, 2016, 4:46 pm

        Sibiriak, now that you have effectively hijacked this thread with your never ending misrepresentation of me and my opinions in a mountain of BS that it would take away from the purpose of Mondoweiss to fully respond to your dishonesty, I will at least respond to the concept of tribalism.

        SIBIRIAK- “…having an exclusive group identity, not overlapping identities that can combine with a universal perspective; loyalty to the tribal identity above all other identities; definition of the “good” as “what’s good for my tribe”

        The first part of your sentence is ludicrous. Everyone has overlapping identities, exclusive identities non-existent. Therefore, you claim that those with overlapping identities can have a universalist perspective, hence, anyone who suggests a kinship orientation must be implying an exclusive group identity. Rubbish. Tribalism or feelings of kinship occur on a continuum with varying degrees of strength. I have always maintained this and you have consistently misrepresented me on this as on so many other things. The second part of your sentence is virtually identical with Gilad Atzmon’s definition of those who “put their Jewish-ness over and above all of their other traits.” I don’t go that far. My definition would be that the tribal group identification and group solidarity are in conflict with universalist values and actions, with the emphasis on actions. Furthermore, those individuals whose groups have benefited from historical advantage and power-seeking and who wish to maintain their privileges and power at the expense of the wider community demonstrate a tribal perspective, not a universalist one.

      • Sibiriak
        February 20, 2016, 5:22 pm

        Keith: you claim that those with overlapping identities can have a universalist perspective, hence, anyone who suggests a kinship orientation must be implying an exclusive group identity. Rubbish
        —————

        To clarify: by “exclusive” I meant excluding loyalty and moral commitment to anything outside the main “tribal” group-identity, not excluding overlapping identities. That was contrasted with “overlapping identities that can combine with a universal perspective.” If you can combine overlapping identities with a universal perspective, you are not “tribal”. If you can’t do that, you are “tribal”. That’s one definition. Obviously, different people use the term in different ways.

        My definition would be that the tribal group identification and group solidarity are in conflict with universalist values and actions, with the emphasis on actions.

        I have no problem with that definition. (Although, you have to define what a “universalist action” is.) It seems like we are all presenting variations on essentially the same idea.

    • Sibiriak
      February 18, 2016, 12:19 am

      @Keith: First you write:

      I don’t insist that any Jewish identity must involve tribal solidarity

      Then a few lines later you write sarcastically:

      what better way to show that you are not tribal than to emphasize your Jewish identity?

      You imply that emphasizing Jewish identity by itself proves that one is “tribal”.

      So how is that not insisting that any form of Jewish identity (not Zionist Jewish identity) must involve tribal solidarity, and preclude a universal perspective?

      I’m defining “tribal” here as having an exclusive group identity, not overlapping identities that can combine with a universal perspective; loyalty to the tribal identity above all other idendities; definition of the “good” as “what’s good for my tribe” etc..

      I’m quite sure you are using the term in that way– pejoratively– not simply as an all-encompassing term to describe any and all group identities.
      ———-

      [Keith:] Jewish understanding, Jewish morals, Jewish upbringing, Jewish trips to Israel, Jewish feminism, Jewish interests on campus, Jewish, Jewish, Jewish. No tribalism here folks!

      So your problem is with “Jewish” not simply “Jewish Zionist.” Okay. I don’t deny Jewish tribalism. I just think it’s possible to have a strong Jewish identity and reject “tribalism” at the same time.

      The Nit In Aundzer Nomen group is doing just that.

      *They are rejecting the conflation of Judaism and Zionism

      *They are rejecting the conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism

      *They are actively encouraging Jews and non-Jews to support BDS.

      *They are embracing an anti-Zionist, non-hierarchical, non-patriarchal Jewish identity.

      They are saying “not in our name” precisely because the injustices and crimes of Zionism ARE being done in their name. .

      Similarly, some Americans rejected unjust policies being carried out in their name:

      NION Pledge of Resistance:

      We believe that as people living
      in the United States it is our
      responsibility to resist the injustices
      done by our government,
      in our names [etc.]

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Are they radical enough? Anti-Zionist enough? Your call. But I see no reason to greet them with hostility.

      • Keith
        February 18, 2016, 11:38 am

        SIBIRIAK- “You imply that emphasizing Jewish identity by itself proves that one is “tribal”.”

        Not at all. Tribalism involves a strong ethnic identification. It is on a continuum determined by the degree of importance one attaches to ones ethnicity. If your Jewish identity is very important to you then you are inherently tribal. Jews versus non-Jews. I don’t consider Phil tribal. The Nit In Aundzer Nomen group,on the other hand, comes across as extremely tribal based upon what they say indicating a strong focus on their Jewish identity. The group includes Chabad “which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel” What is Ahavat Israel? It is a Jew’s love for his fellow Jews. Not for his fellow humans, not for his fellow countrymen, not for his fellow citizens, but for his fellow Jews. Period. Full stop. And this is what you dishonestly misrepresent as multiculturalism in a pluralistic society? And before you try to twist my interpretation, read the Chabad link I provided where they make their views quite clear.
        link to chabad.org

        And what about the teachings of Chabad’s revered Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson?

        “This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world … The difference in the inner quality between Jews and non-Jews is “so great that the bodies should be considered as completely different species.”

        “An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness.” link to counterpunch.org

        SIBIRIAK- “They are embracing an anti-Zionist, non-hierarchical, non-patriarchal Jewish identity.”

        No, this is you dishonestly projecting onto the group something which isn’t really there but which you think makes your case. Let other Mondoweissers read the entire post and decide for themselves whether this is some radical anti-Zionist manifesto or an attempt to distance this group of Jewish tribalists from the Israeli occupation. Show me even one sentence where they unequivocally oppose Israel as a Jewish state. And why show the NION Pledge if not to misrepresent? This is Nit In Aundzer Nomen not NION.

        Enough of your never ending apologia. I have stated my position clearly and you have either ignored my main points or misrepresented my views. You are an apologist for Jewish tribalism which you seek to camouflage as a legitimate expression of multiculturalism, perfectly acceptable in a pluralistic society. At least Yuri Slezkine was honest about Jewish tribalism, the very basis of Zionism, now firmly rooted in anti-Gentilism. And when I say Jewish tribalism I don’t infer that all Jews are tribal, but that it predominates among organized Jews who are overwhelmingly Zionists. Based upon our exchange, I can only conclude that you are a closet tribalist, perhaps not consciously, who defends Jewish kinship nepotism and privilege without due regard to the larger social consequences. Perhaps you should come out that closet door and stand in the light? This will be my last comment on this thread. I leave you with a Israel Shahak quote regarding American Jews.

        “Those who can be called ‘organized Jews’, and who spend most of their time outside work hours mostly in the company of other Jews, can be presumed to uphold Jewish exclusivism and to preserve the attitudes of classical Judaism to non-Jews.”

      • Sibiriak
        February 18, 2016, 11:52 pm

        @Keith: In your zeal to find Jewish “tribalism” and Jewish anti-Gentilism even in places where it does not exist (and it DOES exist in many places), you completely misread the Nit In Aundzer Nomen statement.

        You write:

        The group includes Chabad “which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel” What is Ahavat Israel? It is a Jew’s love for his fellow Jews. Not for his fellow humans, not for his fellow countrymen, not for his fellow citizens, but for his fellow Jews. Period. Full stop.

        Now, look at the Nit In Aundzer Nomen passage which mentions Chabad:

        Coming to the realization that being Jewish does not require supporting Israel is cause for both internal and social conflict. At McGill in particular, it can be quite a marginalizing experience. Campus rhetoric consistently pairs anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, preventing Jewish students from speaking out comfortably against Israel’s state policies for fear of being labelled a “self-hating Jew.” On a campus where the heart of Jewish life is dominated by Hillel, an organization whose vision is one where “every student is inspired to make a commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel,” and by Chabad, which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel” – not to mention Israel on Campus – it is crucial for Jews to act to break down the hegemony of this discourse at our university.

        […]when the groups who provide resources, funding, and spaces used to support Kosher options on campus or organize celebrations of religious holidays are also those promoting unconditional support for the State of Israel, these groups are acting to silence and alienate Jewish voices who dare to dissent. [emphasis added]

        ———————

        Keith, the Nit In Aundzer Nomen is criticizing Hillel and Chabad. They say they want to ” break down the hegemony” of groups like Hillel and Chabad They are daring to dissent against such groups.

        Nowhere do they embrace anti-Gentilism.

        They state clearly and directly that their actions are rooted in traditions that stem from lineages of Jewish feminist thought.

        Surely you realize that Jewish feminist thought, exemplified by Plaskow, is vehemently and unapologetically opposed to Rabbi Schneerson’s partriarchal and anti-Gentile views?

        To suggest that this group shares those extreme patriarchal and anti-Gentile views is simply nonsense.

        ————————-

        And this is what you dishonestly misrepresent as multiculturalism in a pluralistic society?

        Nonsense. Nowhere, absolutely nowhere, have I ever suggested that RabbiSchneerson’s views, or any similar ultra-Orthodox or racist Zionist views, are an example of liberal, pluralistic multiculturalism.

      • Sibiriak
        February 19, 2016, 12:57 am

        @Keith:

        First you write:

        I don’t insist that any Jewish identity must involve tribal solidarity…

        Then you write:

        If your Jewish identity is very important to you then you are inherently tribal.

        Unless you are going to argue that “very important” is the critically operative phrase, then you are blatantly contradicting yourself.

        It’s okay to be Jewish, as long as you are not very Jewish?

        In any case, I disagree entirely. As I wrote earlier:

        …humans are capable of overlapping identities. Annie Robbins, for example, identifies as a woman, but that doesn’t prevent her from also taking a universalist perspective, does it? I do not see group-identity pluralism as inherently antithetical to universalism.

        In the U.S., for example, people can have strong African-American, Latino, Irish, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Gay etc. group identities or multiple group identities, while at the same time embracing an overarching belief in pluralism, equality, universal rights, democracy, and non-supremacism.

        After all, freedom of association is a fundamental universal right, and it implies that persons are free to enjoy strong group-identities and communal lives so long as they do not impinge on the rights of others. Group-identity diversity need not contradict democracy and universalism; it contradicts cultural homogeneity.

        By your logic, a strong Palestinian identity is inherently “tribal” and antithetical to universalism. That’s simply wrong.

        Now, please to not misconstrue any of the above. I’m not asserting that Jewish/Zionist “tribalism”, anti-Gentilism, ethno-supremacism, “blood and soil nationalism” and racism do not exist. They do exist. In spades. And they must be continually exposed and opposed.

        So we actually agree on many points. What I’m taking issue with is the attribution of anti-Gentilism, ethno-supremacism, “blood and soil nationalism” etc. to Jewish groups that are actually opposed to those pernicious ideologies.

      • Sibiriak
        February 19, 2016, 3:28 am

        Keith: Let other Mondoweissers read the entire post and decide for themselves whether this is some radical anti-Zionist manifesto or an attempt to distance this group of Jewish tribalists from the Israeli occupation.
        ——-

        Well, obviously their statement is not “radical” enough to please folks like Atzmon, echinococcus, Yoni Falic, and yourself who insist on the explicit repudiation of strong Jewish identity as an anti-Zionist litmus test.

        On the other hand, this group clearly condemns the occupation, and supports all three BDS goals, including full equality for all Israelis citizens. Not “radical enough”? So what? The more groups that support BDS, the better.
        —————-

        Show me even one sentence where they unequivocally oppose Israel as a Jewish state.

        1)They unequivocally support BDS and the second BDS goal is full rights and full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. That effective means transforming Israel from a Jewish-supremacist state to a state for all its citizens. Nit In Aundzer Nomen has signed on to that goal. Conclusion: they oppose Israel as a Jewish supremacist state.

        2)They explicitly ally themselves with groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, Adalah, Independent Jewish Voices, and various pro-BDS student unions such as those at Northwestern University, Stanford and elsewhere. All these Jewish and non-Jewish groups fully support all the goals of BDS, including the goal of full equality WITHIN ISRAEL.

        Consider ADALAH’s mission statement:

        Adalah (“Justice” in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center. Established in November 1996, it works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, 1.2 million people, or 20% of the population, as well as Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Adalah seeks to achieve equal individual and collective rights for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel and to defend against gross human rights violations against Palestinian residents of the OPT. [Emphasis added]

        link to adalah.org

        Or consider Canada Independent Jewish Voices’ explicit opposition to Jewish supremacism IN ISRAEL:

        Q: Are Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel treated equally?

        A: No. Although Palestinian citizens of Israel are entitled to vote and participate in Israeli political life, and several Palestinians are members of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), they do not receive the same treatment as the Jewish citizens at the hands of the government. Israel still applies 20 laws that privilege Jews over Arabs. For example, the 1950 Law of Return grants automatic citizenship rights to Jews from anywhere in the world upon request, while denying that same right to Palestinians. The Basic Law of Human Dignity and Freedom ensures that Israel is the state of the “Jewish people,” not its citizens. This law was passed in 1992 to serve as a “bill of rights,” as Israel does not have a written constitution.

        Israel’s flag and other national symbols are Jewish religious symbols, not neutral or national ones that represent all the citizens of the state. Government resources, meanwhile, are disproportionately directed to Jews and not to Arabs, one factor in causing the Palestinians of Israel to suffer the lowest living standards in Israeli society by all economic indicators. [ETC.]

        link to ijvcanada.org
        ———————————

        Nit in Aundzer Nomen is allied with those groups and shares their goals and values, including opposition to a Jewish-supremacist state.

        It simply wrong to lump them in with Hillel, Chabad, Israel on Campus, etc. and then summarily dismiss them as Jewish “tribalists” and anti-Gentilists.

        On a purely practical political level, It’s a mistake not try to build a broad-based, “big tent” BDS movement. That includes groups that support two-states. That includes Jewish groups. That’s the whole point behind BDS’ politically astute “rights based” approach.

        As I’ve stated, I have no personal interest in Jewish religion or Jewish identity. My only interest is in how the issue affects the I/P conflict and the Palestinian cause. I think it’s a political mistake to put the main emphasis on Jewish identity rather than on Zionist Israel’s horrific crimes, and violations of international law.

      • Keith
        February 19, 2016, 5:16 pm

        Sibiriak, I wasn’t going to comment on this thread again, however, your latest lengthy misrepresentations of me and my positions compel me to do so. I am not going to respond point by point because there are simply too many points. I suppose that when you are slinging mud and BS that volume is your friend. Instead, I will focus on a couple of key points to further clarify my position.

        SIBIRIAK- “Well, obviously their statement is not “radical” enough to please folks like Atzmon, echinococcus, Yoni Falic, and yourself….”

        Interesting. I quote Finkelstein, Shahak and Slezkine and you conflate me with Atzmon, echinococcus and Yoni Falic. I might add that you totally ignored my quotes and the implications. Obviously it doesn’t suit your agenda to link me with Finkelstein, Shahak, and Slezkine, three primary sources for my conclusions and opinions, when you wish to taint me as some sort of radical ideologue.

        SIBIRIAK- “…who insist on the explicit repudiation of strong Jewish identity as an anti-Zionist litmus test.”

        I have asked you to explain to me what exactly constitutes American “Jewishness.” Feel free to relate how a “strong Jewish identity” differs from a form of Jewish tribalism. My original comment simply noted that their statement indicated to me a Jewish tribal orientation, not that they were not anti-Zionist. A term I have begun using is tribal anti-Zionist to denote those Jews who associate their tribal tendencies with opposition to Israeli policies as opposed to Judeo-Zionists who support Israel. I concluded my original comment by saying “Bottom line: congratulations on opposing at least the worst aspects of Zionism.” Where did I call for an “explicit repudiation of strong Jewish identity”?

        SIBIRIAK- “As I’ve stated, I have no personal interest in Jewish religion or Jewish identity.”

        That is why you made so many lengthy comments misrepresenting my opinions? Because this topic holds little interest for you? Who do you think you are kidding?

        SIBIRIAK- “My only interest is in how the issue affects the I/P conflict and the Palestinian cause.”

        My, but aren’t you noble! Selfless to a fault! Do you know how tired I am of tribalist Jews claiming that their actions are motivated simply by devotion to the Palestinian cause? Of course, this phony nobility does provide you with a handy excuse for totally avoiding the issue of the distribution of power in our political economy. And avoiding the issue of “kinship” and how that relates to the struggle for power and the influence over US Middle East policy and support for Israel.

        SIBIRIAK- “I think it’s a political mistake to put the main emphasis on Jewish identity rather than on Zionist Israel’s horrific crimes, and violations of international law.”

        It is intellectually dishonest to conflate Jewish Zionism with Jewish identity. Do you want to ignore American Jewish support for Israel? Not analyse why organized American Jewry staunchly supports Israel and Zionism? Don’t try to figure out why Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson spend huge sums of money in support of Israel? Don’t even think about thinking about how a resurrected Jewish tribalism plays into all of this? Instead, focus on Israel’s crimes and see how long it will be before Haim and Sheldon come around. Israel exists and is what it is primarily because of American Jewish support. A key to change is to understand why American Jews support Israel and Zionism. Of course, if that shines a light on Jewish “kinship”, some folks are going to get their feathers ruffled.

      • Sibiriak
        February 20, 2016, 8:08 am

        KEITH: I quote Finkelstein, Shahak and Slezkine and you conflate me with Atzmon, echinococcus and Yoni Falic. I might add that you totally ignored my quotes and the implications.
        ————

        Actually, no. I didn’t ignore your quotes. Regarding Slezkine, I wrote:

        [ ” a combination of blood and soil nationalism with the worst of Classical Judaism”] That does not describe the form of liberal Zionism that evolved in the U.S. Take a look at Slezkine again. He sharply contrasts a liberal, assimilationist U.S. Jewish option to the Israeli Jewish option (and a defunct Communist option). Both options (U.S., Israeli) were Zionist, though–but very different forms of Zionism .

        And regarding Finkelstein, I wrote:

        If you take another look at Finkelstien’s “The Holocaust Industry” you will notice that he almost always uses the expression “Jewish elites”, not simply “Jewish Zionists” or similar.

        That’s a critical point. The major ideological shift post-1967 was largely driven by Jewish elites and establishment Jewish organizations in a highly-calculated political move to shore up support for Israel.

        This does not mean however that the most American Jews–and let’s face it, most were/ are Zionists– completely abandoned their previous liberal pro-Israel views (however misguided they were) and embraced wholesale the worst illiberal notions of centuries old classical rabbinical Judaism and Eastern European “blood and soil” nationalism. [emphasis added]

        You are oversimplifying and distorting Finkelstein, Slezkine and Shahak (I’ll get to Shahak in a subsequent post).

        Finkelstein makes a clear and repeated distinction between a rightward-moving, illiberal American Zionist organized elite and the popular mass of American Jews (and non-Jews) who support Israel to one degree or another.

        In your formulation, however, there are simply “core Zionist beliefs”, such as “a notion of eternal and irrational Gentile anti-Semitism” and “blood and soil nationalism”. That’s a gross oversimplification of Finkelstein and a gross oversimplification of the reality of American Zionism. It completely expunges the notion of any support, however misguided, that comes from American liberal Zionism and liberalism in general.

        Actually, almost all the points Finkelstein makes in “The Holocaust Industry” could be made be a liberal Zionist. And in fact they have.

        Peter Beinart, a religious Jew, a liberal Zionist, a “tribalist”, writes:

        Then, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, American Jewish liberalism and organized American Zionism began drifting apart.

        […] Watching these [anti-Israeli] trends with dismay, American Jewish leaders hit upon an explanation: the world was turning against Jews because it no longer saw them as victims.In 1974, Benjamin Epstein, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, coauthored The New Anti-Semitism , a book whose argument proved so influential that in 1982 his successor, Nathan Perlmutter, echoed it in a book entitled The Real Anti-Semitism in America. Epstein’s argument was that for a period after World War II, guilt over the Holocaust had kept anti-Semitism at bay. But with memories of the Holocaust fading, anti-Semitism had returned, largely in the form of hostility to Israel, because Israel represented Jewish power. “Jews are tolerable, acceptable in their particularity, only [his emphasis] as victims,” wrote Epstein and his ADL colleague Arnold Forster, “and when their situation changes so that they are either no longer victims or appear not to be, the non-Jewish world finds this so hard to take that the effort is begun to render them victims anew.” Epstein and Forster understandably felt that much of the criticism

        ******
        The argument caught on: in the 1970s, victimhood, especially as a strategy for defending Israel, supplanted liberalism as the defining ideology of organized American Jewish life.
        Before 1967, in keeping with their effort to link the struggle against anti-Semitism to the struggle against bigotry more generally, American Jewish groups had frequently universalized the lessons of the Holocaust. In 1960, when Israel arrested and tried the former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann, the ADL insisted that the trial was “not a case of special pleading for Jews” because “what happened to the Jews of Europe … can very well happen to other peoples.” The American Jewish Committee declared that the trial was aimed at combating all forms of “hatred and totalitarianism … and their continued presence in the world today.”

        But in the 1970s, American Jewish organizations began hoarding the Holocaust, retelling it as a story of the world’s eternal hatred of Jews, and linking it to criticism of Israel. / In 1973, the ADL embarked on a “new international mission” to combat “Arab anti-Israel propaganda” and four years later created a Center for Holocaust Studies. In 1980, the ADL’s Oscar Cohen advised the National Conference of Christians and Jews to link its Holocaust programming “to Israel and the dangers which confront” it. The following year, as part of its bid to prevent the Reagan administration from selling AWACS surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia, AIPAC sent a copy of the novel Holocaust to every member of Congress.

        *****
        In its embrace of victimhood as a strategy for dealing with gentiles and younger Jews, the American Jewish establishment was turning away from the universalism that had defined it for a half-century. [emphasis added]

        “The Crisis of Zionism” (pp. 35-40)
        ————-

        Beinart puts forward a critique of the American Jewish establishment almost identical Finkelstein’s.

        If Liberal Zionists like Beinart can critique the whole “New Anti-Semitism” /“Eternal Victim” ideological scam used by Jewish elites to shore up support for Israel, surely that demonstrates that a distinction has to be made between liberal American Zionism and the illiberal Zionism both Finkelstein and Beinart condemn.

        Peter Beinart:

        But who, exactly, was “we”? Even as the American Jewish establishment lurched right, the mass of American Jews remained as liberal as ever. In the presidential elections of 1972 and 1976, Jews voted for George McGovern and Jimmy Carter at higher rates than they had voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956. One reason was that most American Jews simply did not believe that the world was turning against them. Although bothered by international condemnation of Israel, American Jews also saw the Jewish state emerging— via its territorial acquisitions in 1967 and its burgeoning alliance with the United States— as a regional superpower. And while suspicious of the far left at home, most American Jews did not feel menaced by a “new anti-Semitism”; to the contrary, the barriers to their acceptance into the highest echelons of American life continued to fall. That, in a way, was the whole point. As they integrated further into American society, American Jews had less need for exclusively Jewish organizations.

        *****
        American Jews, in other words, weren’t abandoning liberalism. Rather, they were removing their liberalism from an explicitly Jewish context, leaving Jewish organizations disproportionately in the hands of those who believed that gentiles didn’t care about Jews and that Jews had little obligation to care about them.
        In the 1980s, the ideological gulf widened between American Jews and the organizations that claimed to represent them. [emphasis added]

        “The Crisis of Zionism” (pp. 41-42)
        ——————–
        Walt and Mearsheimer make the same point in “The Israeli Lobby”. But where does that widening ideological gulf fit into your scheme? I can’t find it.

        Back to Finkelstein. He writes:

        I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the theory of Zionism more than a quarter century ago, and settled accounts back then with it. I do not have to beat my breast now to show the world that I am not a Zionist. After many books, and not a small amount of troubles along the way, I think people have gotten the message.

        On the other hand, I am also not a fanatical anti-Zionist, if one conceives Zionism as wanting to preserve and develop Jewish-Hebrew culture (the strain with which Prof. Chomsky seems to identify). Each to his or her own, so long as it is tolerant of difference, and respectful of basic principles such as equality under the law.

        Clearly, Finkelstein believes a strong Jewish identity is not necessarily “tribalistic” in your pejorative sense; a strong Jewish identity is not necessarily incompatible with liberal democratic values. Your views are in fact much, much closer to Atzmon’s than Finkelstein’s.

      • Sibiriak
        February 20, 2016, 8:50 am

        Continued:

        With regard to Slezkine, he makes the distinction between American Jewish/Zionist experience and Israeli Jewish/Zionist experience one of the key themes for his whole book. But you ignore that entirely, conflating the two into one monolithic notion of “core Zionist beliefs”.

        Furthermore, Slezkine uses the expression “tribalism” in a much broader sense than you do, one which is compatible with American democratic multiculturalism. You, in contrast, define “tribalism” as incompatible with democratic multiculturalism and then erroneously use some of Slezkine’s comments about “tribalism” to make points that go completely against his views.

        Slezkine writes in “The Jewish Century”:

        [The United States ] was the only modern state … in which a Jew could be an equal citizen and a Jew at the same time. “America” offered full membership without complete assimilation. Indeed, it seemed to require an affiliation with a subnational community as a condition of full membership in the political nation.

        Liberalism, unlike nationalism and Communism, was not a religion and could not offer a theory of evil or a promise of immortality. It was— especially in the United States, which came closer than any other nation to speaking Liberalese— always accompanied by a more substantial faith (which tended to gain further substance by being “separate from the state”). The role of such spiritual scaffolding might be played by a traditional religion, tribal ethnicity, or both religion and ethnicity (fused, in the case of the Jews, into one harmonious whole).

        Whatever it was, a Jew became American by subscribing to a particular (at least outwardly religious) definition of Jewishness. [emphasis added]

        *****

        In the 1970s, most American Jews by blood became Jews by conviction— and thus full-fledged Americans. Nostalgia for a lost world was replaced with an allegiance to living relatives; chimerical nationality was transformed into a proper ethnoreligious community; Tevye, it turned out, had had other choices besides martyrdom and Thanksgiving. Tevye, it turned out, had descendants who were at peace with themselves and at war with their oppressors. The American Jews had finally become regular American “ethnics,” complete with an old country that was also a new state with a flag, an army, and a basketball team. [emphasis added]

        Slezkine argues that in the U.S., in contrast to Israel, Jews could maintain a Jewish identity and still be full Americans. In fact, he says, having a “subnational” identity while subscribing to the overall U.S. liberal political vision was exactly what it meant to be an American.

        Please note: I have never argued that Jewish “tribalism” in the negative, anti-pluralist sense does not exist, or that Jewish anti-Gentilism does not exist. What I’m objecting to is gross oversimplification that casts those elements into “core beliefs” of a monolithic “Judeo-Zionist mythology.

        ——————

        KEITH: perhaps you would be so kind as to elaborate on your definition of “Jewishness.” And if you fall back on Jewish “culture,” elaborate on what besides Judaic ritual comprises the “culture” of an American Jew

        I have no definition of “Jewishness” and I have no interest in looking for one. There are probably many kinds of “Jewishness”, all subject to change over time. I feel no compulsion to essentialize “Jewishness”. All this endless debate about who is a Jew, what is the essence of “Jewishness” etc.– I simply don’t care about it.

        I believe in freedom and self-determination of individuals and groups. Self-determination implies individual choice, self-definition, freedom of association. It’s not just about scientifically measurable objective factors. Nor is a single cultural factor shared by everyone required. Wittengstein’s family resemblance is enough ( “things which could be thought to be connected by one essential common feature may in fact be connected by a series of overlapping similarities, where no one feature is common to all.” link to en.wikipedia.org)

        I’m fine with individual Jews defining “Jewishness” religiously, culturally, ethnically or by whatever combination of objective and subjective factors they wish to embrace–as long as it doesn’t involve the denial of others’ rights and dignity.

        Getting lost in a maze of Jewish identity definitions does nothing to further the anti-Zionist cause.
        ——————–

        KEITH: Feel free to relate how a “strong Jewish identity” differs from a form of Jewish tribalism

        A strong Jewish identity can be “tribalist” (in your pejorative, anti-pluralist sense”), but it doesn’t have to be. .

        I’ve already explained this several times, but for your convenience I will repeat:

        ..people can have strong African-American, Latino, Irish, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Gay etc. group identities or multiple group identities, while at the same time embracing an overarching belief in pluralism, equality, universal rights, democracy, and non-supremacism.

        After all, freedom of association is a fundamental universal right, and it implies that persons are free to enjoy strong group-identities and communal lives so long as they do not impinge on the rights of others. Group-identity diversity need not contradict democracy and universalism; it contradicts cultural homogeneity.

        I believe African-Americans can have a strong ethno-cultural identity yet NOT be “tribalist”. The same with Palestinians. The same with Jews. The same with most other group-identities. To repeat: “tribalism” is certainly a very real possibility; I don’t deny Jewish “tribalism” at all. But I don’t insist that a strong Jewish identity MUST be “tribal”.

        To the issue at hand: the Nit In Aundzer Nomen group does not seem “tribal” to me (in your pejorative sense). The only evidence of “tribalism” that you have pointed to is the fact that they embrace a Jewish identity. That’s not enough.

        Nowhere have you shown that they don’t embrace liberal pluralist multiculturalism; nowhere have you shown that they don’t embrace notions of universal rights and values; nowhere have you shown that they espouse any forms of racism or ethno-supremacism; nowhere have you shown that they espouse “blood and soil nationalism” or anti-Gentilism. All the facts point to the contrary.

        You mistakenly tried to associate their group with Rabbi Rabbi Schneerson’s partriarchal and anti-Gentile views, completely misrepresenting their position. In fact, their group is allied with a host of progressive anti-Zionist/ pro-BDS groups and is opposed to groups like Hillel, Chabad, and Israel on Campus.
        ——————

        KEITH: A term I have begun using is tribal anti-Zionist to denote those Jews who associate their tribal tendencies with opposition to Israeli policies.

        Great. Do you then use the term “tribal anti-Zionist” to label all other anti-Zionists who have strong group-identities? If, for example, an organization with a strong African-American identity takes an anti-Zionist stand, do you label them “tribal anti-Zionists”? Or are Jews the only identity-group that you label “tribal”?

        In any case, if a Jewish group opposes Zionism, who cares if they have a strong Jewish identity? It’s the opposition to Zionism which counts, isn’t it? Doesn’t the anti-Zionist movement need to be as broad-based as possible?

        —————-

        KEITH: ! Do you know how tired I am of tribalist Jews claiming that their actions are motivated simply by devotion to the Palestinian cause?

        Who cares what the motivations are as long as the individuals are opposing Zionism. Motivations are rarely “simple” or purely altruistic. And motives are almost impossible to prove. Do you want “pure motives” to be another anti-Zionist litmus test?
        ————-

        KEITH: Where did I call for an “explicit repudiation of strong Jewish identity”?

        You stated explicitly that a strong Jewish identity makes a person “inherently tribal”.

        Numerous times you have defined “tribalism” as something incompatible with liberal, pluralist values and universalism. Over and over you have used the word “tribal” as a disparaging if not demonizing epithet. You’ve stated that the motivations of “tribalist Jews” are objectionable, even in regards to anti-Zionist actions.

        In a nutshell, you’ve argued: strong Jewish identity =Jewish “tribalism” and Jewish “tribalism” is incompatible with democratic pluralist values and genuine anti-Zionism.

        Clearly that calls for a repudiation of strong Jewish identity. Pure Atzmon.
        ———-

        KEITH: …avoiding the issue of the distribution of power in our political economy. And avoiding the issue of “kinship” and how that relates to the struggle for power and the influence over US Middle East policy and support for Israel.

        Keith, this is an article about a particularJewish anti-Zionist student group. So that’s what I’ve been discussing. Anybody can check the archives to see that I don’t avoid those topics you mention.
        ————–

        KEITH: Do you want to ignore American Jewish support for Israel? Not analyse why organized American Jewry staunchly supports Israel and Zionism?

        I don’t ignore American Jewish support for Israel. That’s silly. I happen to disagree with your oversimplifications in that regard, but in any case, to repeat, this is an article about an American Jewish group that OPPOSES support for Israel. I support them. You disparage them simply because they have a strong Jewish identity.
        ———–

        KEITH: A key to change is to understand why American Jews support Israel and Zionism.

        Bingo! 100% agreement. That’s precisely why I wrote:

        The simple fact is that vast numbers of Americans do NOT view their pro-Zionist-Israel stance in such decidedly illiberal terms [“blood and soil nationalism with the worst of Classical Judaism”.] Many [but by no means all] see their pro-Zionism as both compatible with and deriving from their Western liberalism.

        So its important to recognize the distinct liberal roots of American Zionism (and much current European Zionism as well) in order to use that liberalism to undermine support for Zionist Israel.

        ————–

        KEITH: Of course, if that shines a light on Jewish “kinship”, some folks are going to get their feathers ruffled.

        I have no problems whatsoever with shining a light on Jewish “kinship”, “tribalism”, “blood and soil nationalism”, anti-Gentilism etc.

        What I object to is shining the light ONLY THERE, completely obscuring a number of other key sources of American Jewish (and non-Jewish) support for Israel.

      • Sibiriak
        February 20, 2016, 3:33 pm

        Keith: Interesting. I quote Finkelstein, Shahak and Slezkine and you conflate me with Atzmon, echinococcus and Yoni Falic.
        ————–

        I’m not sure why you want to distance yourself from echinococcus. Your views and his are quite similar, and he is certainly one of the most logically rigorous–and entertaining– posters at MW.

        In any case, since Finkelstein is one of your three prime sources, here’s a little collection of quotes from his book “Knowing Too Much”. They might convince you that he sees liberalism as a key, if not they key, ideological element in American Zionism.

        ——————-

        The lineaments of the American Jewish relationship with Israel have also been molded by liberal ideology. A pair of allegiances distinguish American Jews from fellow Americans: their markedly greater support of liberalism and of Israel.

        […] For a long while “pro-Israel and liberal activity” appeared perfectly compatible. Israel was conceived among enlightened Americans as an offspring of their own nation-building experiment, a place where rugged settlers had also transformed wasteland into a democratic oasis. But in recent years it has proven increasingly difficult to marry support for Israel with liberal values.

        ****

        In the course of nearly a century American Jews have demonstrated an enduring commitment to liberal values. Even after achieving worldly success, they resisted the gravitational pull of the conservative pole on the political spectrum. In recent years the liberal ethos of American Jews has been put to a new test. When they first embraced Israel after the June 1967 war, the Jewish state appeared to embody the highest and best in Western civilization: it was the “Light Unto the Nations.”

        But much more is now known about Israel’s actual human rights, historical and diplomatic record. This voluminous dossier, assembled by unimpeachable authorities, many of them Israeli and Jewish, cannot be reconciled with the liberalism of American Jewry. Forced to choose between Israel, or the tug of kinship, and liberalism, or the tug of ideology, many American Jews have stayed true to the belief system that has brought them so many earthly blessings, and distanced themselves from a state that has become an embarrassment.

        ***

        Regardless of how one accounts for this persistence of liberalism, the fact remains that its values have molded the Weltanschauung of American Jews. These values include inter alia the rule of law and equality under the law, human rights and international organizations, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

        When the romance of American Jews with Israel began after the June 1967 war these liberal values appeared also to be Israeli values. The Jewish state was said to encompass the highest and best in American liberalism : the “Light Unto the Nations,” the torchbearer of Western Civilization and an oasis of democracy in the benighted East. American Jews did not have to choose, ideologically, between dual and divided loyalties.16 But the era of the “beautiful” Israel has now passed, it seems irrevocably, and the disfigured Israel that has replaced it is a growing embarrassment to Jews weaned on liberal values.

        ***
        American Jews have been weaned on, and benefited from, the values of secularism and church-state separation, and more than half do not belong to a synagogue, do not participate in Jewish communal life and are taking the route of intermarriage. The broad support in Israel for an intrusive State in matters of religion cannot but discomfit many of them.

        ***

        “In the long run,” Steven Cohen has predicted, a “polarization in American Jewry” will ensue: “a small group growing more pious and attached to Israel, while a larger one drifts away.” In fact Orthodox Jews, who constitute just ten percent of the American Jewish population, already stand out at the annual Salute to Israel parade in New York City in their overwhelming numbers, fervor and ideological ferocity.51 A harbinger of things to come is the pervasive and pronounced alienation from Israel among the subgroup of younger American Jews.

        ***

        Three factors have historically shaped the contours of the American Jewish relationship to Israel: ethnicity, citizenship, and ideology. Of these three, ideology is currently a dynamic element. The widely observed decline in support for Israel among American Jews is significantly a result of the unavoidable clash that comes when liberal principles are tested against a growing awareness of Israel’s actions.

        ***

        The idea of a Jewish state was rooted in the Zionist tenet of eternal Jewish alienation from the gentile world. But after the June 1967 war Israel paradoxically facilitated the assimilation of American Jews. It was Jews who now stood on the front lines in Israel defending America, even Western Civilization, against Soviet totalitarianism and kindred retrograde forces. Whereas before the June war Israel constituted for American Jews a liability conjuring the bogey of dual loyalty, it was now a boon connoting super loyalty as Israeli Jews fought and died to protect U.S. national interests.

        ***

        Like Zionism, Jewish neoconservatism was ultimately a form of assimilation; indeed, in their insatiable lust for American power and American privilege, they were the ultimate assimilationists.

        ***

        In the course of nearly a century, American Jews have demonstrated an enduring commitment to liberal values and have contributed disproportionately to the vitality of liberal American institutions. In recent years however they have experienced a conflict between fidelity to these liberal values and fidelity to an increasingly illiberal Jewish state. The focus of this book has been on the ideological rift. It has been argued that in the face of the accumulated documentary record American Jews are no longer able to reconcile Israeli policy with bedrock liberal principles. Except in cloistered Orthodox Jewish communities, and among elderly Jews who have been weaned on Zionist mythology, the human rights, historical, and diplomatic record of the Israel-Palestine conflict can no longer be ignored.

        ***

        A young, liberal and idealistic Jew does not want to have to defend flooding south Lebanon with four million cluster submunitions , or firing white phosphorus shells reaching a temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit on hospitals in Gaza, anymore than he or she wants to defend the legality of Israeli settlements against the considered opinion of every member of the International Court of Justice

        ***
        because American Jews are susceptible to appeals based on truth and justice, it is not only possible to reach them on a principled instead of a self-interested basis, but that is probably the only basis on which they can be persuaded.

        […] To try to reach Jews on the basis of their liberal conscience, however, it would have to be shown that Israeli policy cannot be reconciled with elementary principles of justice. Here, the answer is no longer open to serious dispute. We are therefore in the historically rare position of being able to build a mass movement that appeals not to narrow sectarian or patriotic interests, but to the great universal principles that have brought glory to and elevated humankind.

      • Sibiriak
        February 20, 2016, 4:23 pm

        Conclusion:

        Keith, our disagreement here is about emphasis than fundamental principles. You argue that an evil brew of “blood and soil nationalism with the worst of Classical Judaism” has, post-1967, become the overwhelmingly dominant ideology of American Zionism..

        I agree there has indeed been a shift to such an illiberal Zionism, but I see it as being in competition with a deeply rooted (though highly mistaken and fatally flawed) liberal American Zionism.

        I recognize a growing gap between the increasingly illiberal, hawkish, venal Jewish establishment and a more liberal base. As Philip Weiss, Finkelstein, and many others have shown, U.S. Jewish elites and establishment organizations are less and less representative of most American Jews.

        And while I don’t deny the partial validity of many of your assertions, I find you too often express them as absolutes. For example you write:

        ”…anti-Gentilism is the motivating rational for support for the Jewish state “

        If you had written that anti-Gentilism was “a” motivating rationale, not “the” motivating rationale, I would have no dispute with you at all. The all-encompassing “the” is what I have issue with. As it stands, it your formulation completely overlooks all the pro-Israel rationales based in liberal ideology as well as in rightwing American ideology.

        You write:

        Is this what motivates AIPAC? Is this what motivates The Conference of Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations? Is this why Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson joined forces, to promote pluralism and/or their class interests

        No. The Jewish establishment and Israel Lobby took an extremely illiberal rightward turn after 1967. No question about it. Finkelstein, Walt, Mearsheimer and many others have written about it.

        Walt and Mearsheimer:

        Most American Jews have long supported liberal causes and the Democratic party, and a majority of them favor a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nonetheless, some of the most important groups in the lobby— including AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents— have become increasingly conservative over time and are now led by hard-liners who support the positions of their hawkish counterparts in Israel.

        As J. J. Goldberg chronicles in his important book, Jewish Power, a the Six-Day War and its aftermath brought into prominence group of “New Jews” drawn disproportionately from hard-line Zionist, Orthodox, and neoconservative circles. “Their defiance was so strident, and their anger so intense,” he writes, “that the rest of the Jewish community respectfully stood back and let the New Jews take the lead. The minority was permitted to speak for the mass and become the dominant voice of Jewish politics.”

        *****
        In addition to this tendency for those with more extreme views to back and dominate key organizations in the lobby, there is another reason that many pro-Israel groups have moved rightward: to keep contributions flowing in. As Waxman notes, “Many American Jewish organizations now need Israel to legitimate their own existence. Although these organizations may have been established for the purpose of enhancing and strengthening Israel, today Israel is vital for their continued viability.” Portraying Israel as beleaguered and vulnerable and issuing dire warnings about continued or growing anti-Semitism helps maintain a high level of concern among potential supporters and thus helps ensure these organizations’ continued existence.[emphasis added]

        “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (pp. 126-128)
        ———————-

        You write:

        I have attempted to analyze American Jewish support for Zionism and Israel and these are my conclusions

        But for you that “American Jewish support” is monolithic; you don’t focus on the distinction between established mainstream Jewish organizations and the rank and file, between pro-Israel sentiments rooted in illiberal “tribalism”/ anti-Gentilism and pro-Israel sentiments rooted in liberal American Zionism.

        And without such distinctions, it becomes impossible to analyze the major fault lines and conflicts within the American Jewish community as well as between the American and Israeli Jewish communities.

        How can you possibly understand the rift between American Jews and Israel if you don’t recognize American Jewish commitment to liberal ideology?

        If American Jewish support for Israel was based solely or primarily on “blood and soil nationalism” and “anti-Gentilism” why indeed what there be any growing rift in the first place?

        These distinctions have very important practical implications. Liberal Americans and Europeans, Jewish and non-Jewish, are much more likely to abandon support for Israel when the focus is put on the Israeli Zionism’s complete incompatibility with liberal ideals: democracy, human rights, international law.

        And as Finkelstein says:

        Even an invigorated grassroots [anti-Zionist] movement cannot possibly succeed unless it wins the backing of international public opinion, both popular and governmental.

        You are not going to win the backing of international public opinion by banging on incessantly about Jewish “tribalism” and Jewish “anti-Gentilism” or by trying to convince the world that there is no legitimate definition of “Jewishness” and that a Jewish people does not exist. Attacking Jewish identity ala Atzmon is a losing cause; it has no political traction.

      • Mooser
        February 20, 2016, 11:37 pm

        Listen, “Sibiriak” and “Keith”, I have been following this very closely, but I’m really tired, and I’ve got to go to sleep. But I’ll check back tomorrow, and hopefully then I can find out who I am, once and for all.

      • Keith
        February 21, 2016, 11:47 am

        MOOSER- “But I’ll check back tomorrow, and hopefully then I can find out who I am, once and for all.”

        Moose, you are in a class by yourself. I wouldn’t even attempt to analyze who or what you are. Have you asked your wife?

      • Mooser
        February 21, 2016, 1:34 pm

        ” Have you asked your wife?”

        My wife, Froomah Moosette? I don’t need to, I already know the song by heart.
        Oh well, it’s like she always says: “Before they made you, they broke the mold”.

      • Keith
        February 21, 2016, 3:36 pm

        Sibiriak, since the comment section on this thread has become a de facto Mondo-Sibiriak, I figured that before going out of town I would sneak in a (hopefully final) response to one of your article length comments which concerns me. Have you ever considered actually writing an article for Mondoweiss instead posting multiple article length comments? Just a thought.

        SIBIRIAK- “I’m not sure why you want to distance yourself from echinococcus. Your views and his are quite similar, and he is certainly one of the most logically rigorous–and entertaining– posters at MW.”

        I am pleased that you approve of Echinococcus’ views, many of which are, in fact, similar to mine. However, there are significant differences in philosophical outlook and the use of language. I am not the manichean firebrand that he is. I think these differences were well illustrated in an exchange I had with both Echinococcus and Yoni Falic on the “Zionism is Blocking the Path to Peace” thread. I am going to quote first Yoni then Echinococcus then me and finally Norman Finkelstein. At least on the question of Chomsky and Cultural Zionism, I am relatively close to Finkelstein and at odds with Yoni and Echinococcus whom you seem to want to link me with. Perhaps you should ask them how simpatico they think I am to them versus how they relate to you?

        “Really there is only one conclusion. All forms of Zionism are evil and just represent an attempt to legitimize one of the most vile and disgusting forms of white racist genocidal colonialism….” (Yoni Falic) link to mondoweiss.net

        “You continue conflating outright Zionists (“Kulturzionists” who were imagining a “right” to be in Palestine where their ass had no business at all, or asking for “binational state” nonsense on other people’s land) with some confused and shaky figures like Chomsky, Einstein etc. who did speak in principle against the establishment of the Zionist state in its actual form without ever being adamantly against Zionism as a fake nationalism.” (Echinococcus) link to mondoweiss.net

        “As for the cultural aspect of Zionism, that could have been easily achieved without political Zionism, without a Jewish state, with far fewer Jews in Palestine, and without the unholy alliance between the Jewish state and imperialism.”

        “I might add that at least some of the strands of cultural Zionism seem somewhat similar to the attempt by Native Americans to salvage what remains of their culture from the Western homogenization juggernaut through the creation of museums, etc., something which I generally approve of.” (Keith) link to mondoweiss.net

        “On the other hand, I am also not a fanatical anti-Zionist, if one conceives Zionism as wanting to preserve and develop Jewish-Hebrew culture (the strain with which Prof. Chomsky seems to identify). Each to his or her own, so long as it is tolerant of difference, and respectful of basic principles such as equality under the law.” (Norman Finkelstein) link to mondoweiss.net

      • Sibiriak
        February 21, 2016, 11:45 pm

        Keith: , I figured that before going out of town I would sneak in a (hopefully final) response…
        —————-

        Have a nice trip. I certainly would welcome further responses from you.

        It’s a little ironic actually. In the past, you have complained about suppression of discussion about Jewish “tribalism”, Jewish anti-Gentilism, Jewish kinship networks, Jewish Zionist power-seeking etc. And yet now you appear to be engaging in self-suppression on these topics which you brought up.

        In any case, I’m sure these issues will come up elsewhere and we will be able to continue the discussion there, if you wish.

  2. Emory Riddle
    February 16, 2016, 5:54 pm

    “..we also believe that fighting against ongoing instances of anti-Semitism is important; anti-Semitism is real, both here and abroad.”

    This is the crux of the problem. This statement is absolute baloney. While there may be some irrational anti-Semitism, for the most part that is non-existent.

    What is real is the belief in ever present anti-Semitism by large numbers of the Jewish community. They are raised in that belief. And it is this mindset that led to Zionism and the attendant racism and violence.

    If you want to be an organization that fights for peace and justice, you need to get away from this “fighting anti-Semitism” as part of the mission. Hell, there are lots of organizations already dedicated to that (ADL at the top of the list). Either you exist to promote justice, or you have another, compromised agenda. It’s up to you guys

  3. An interesting letter with both clear highs and lows. Highs would be to form a distinct counter and separation within the Jewish community to the prevailing requirements at Mcgill that all Jewish students must stand with Israel and Zionism. Another high is that one should attempt to stand with the oppressed regardless of tribal and religious affiliation. Some lows are the statement that “The rightful claim of Palestinians to a land of their own renders occupation profoundly unjust. ” This limits Israel’s transgressions to 1967 and reduces Palestinian claims to injustice to a non-specific land somewhere and sometime. Another low is the students claim, one they know is made by 171 Palestinian organizations in 2005, “BDS puts pressure on companies that profit from the creation of settlements illegal under international law and that design military equipment used in ongoing assaults on the West Bank and Gaza.” This again twists the clear language of the BDS call to only corporations that profit off of settlements. Please read the actual call for BDS in 2005 to what these students say it means. Very different birds. So, in short, the students are on the right path but surely are still grappling with the notion that Palestinians are real people and deserve the same rights all other people deserve. Is the glass half full or half empty? Since the glass was completely empty just a few years ago, I’ll choose to be the optimist. It’s half full…..:)

  4. gingershot
    February 16, 2016, 9:12 pm

    ‘Stopping Jews, Israelis, and Zionism as practiced by Israelis and Anti-Semitism Claims in the Context of Clear-cut Crimes against Humanity (- like in Palestine)’

    Anti-Semitism charges as leveled to try to escape consquences for clearly obvious crimes amount to an aggressive demands for a ‘carte blance get out of jail free card’ for Jewish crimes, because one is a Jew.

    In Palestine it basically ‘has made and still makes Jewish crimes unstoppable’.

    Great job if you can get it, right?

    This is an amazing and wonderful part of call it what you will – exceptionalism, chutzpah, chosen-ness, ‘entitlement'(=code for Narcissism-used recently by Remnick describing Bibi), whatever – ofJews leveling charges of Anti-Semitism when confronted with a crime they’re commiting. It also permits a win almost every time if used adeptly.

    OK here we go for a 2 minute debunking of ‘Anti-Semitism’ claims in context of prima facie crimes – like Apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

    Let’s just start off on the right foot and say STOPPING any Jewish individual from what is a recognized a crime against humanity — like ethnic cleansing or apartheid should they be commiting such acts — IS A GOOD THING.

    Further, we don’t much care what the individual getting stopped FEELS about it, the important thing is that they are successfully stopped.

    Bank Robbers don’t like getting caught, Bernie Madoff didn’t like getting stopped, and Bonnie and Clyde wanted to continue their spree. That’s the nature of a criminal sociopathic mind. Most Israelis want to continue to their Apartheid rape of Palestine as well. So what?

    Let’s stipulate that a Zionist Jewish individual like Bibi doesn’t like to be stopped doing what they are doing (like ethnic cleansing Palestine, Apartheid, etc) – but STOPPING THEM doesn’t have anything to do with the ‘Anti-Semitism’, unless the Jewish individual SELF DEFINES ‘getting stopped from ongoing crimes as Anti-Semitism’

    So here’s the crux – if STOPPING JEWS commiting crimes is self defined as ANTI-SEMITIC, then that’s one heck of a definition that ;you have self defined for yourself. It’s laughable and ridiculous as well, and shameful enough to be laughed off the bus for even trying it. Any one who has worked in the mental health field will recognize this phenomen very quickly.

    Many Jews actually conflate ‘getting stopped from ongoing crimes as ‘Anti-Semitic’ – getting stopped from continuing the abuses of Apartheid is actually experienced as ‘Anti-Semitic’. For others they consciously make the claim just to try to escape the consquences.

    Now, if a Jewish individual SELF DEFINES being stopped from commiting a crime as Anti-Semitism, then that is a patently bizarre concept of Anti-Semitism similar to a sociopath disliking being stopped from his sociopathy, a Borderline Personality disliking getting stopped from the fun and games that Borderline engage in at the destructive cost to the ones around them. And who the hell cares? No one who is sane cares is the answer to that.

    In fact, spurious claims of Anti-Semitism don’t just SHARE these same sociopathic quailities – THEY ARE just a form of sociopathy. SNAP>more on that later.

    There – that wasn’t too hard after all, was it? All you have to do is not think like a sociopath and it’s easy

    If a Sociopath, Borderline or anyone else defines getting STOPPED from commiting a crime as ITSELF a crime, well now, that’s a great job if you can get it.

    Is the sociopathic/narcissistic quality of the ‘Anti-Semitic’ claim really as twisted and sick as any other sociopathic/narcissistic attempt to justify continuance of a crime, such to make one unstoppable? Oh yes. Politically incorrect? – you betcha! It’s actually nothing special – ‘just one not so special-special flavor’ like any of the other 32 sociopathic/narcissistic flavors. It’s just the one Jewish sociopaths/narcissists use

    The good news, as is evidenced abundantly – Jews who are not sociopathic/narcissistic simply don’t use this get out of jail free card. It’s just that there’s nothing special about Jews who do use this – they have abundant company worldwide. Jews, contrary to some of their opinions, are not ethnically immune from sociopathy/narcissism any more than any one else.

    Stopping a Jew commiting a crime – and yes Jews do commit crimes just like everybody else – is a GOOD THING and not Anti-Semitism. On the other hand, NOT stopping a Jew commiting a crime because of a laughable Anti-Semitic claim is called ‘enabling’, as the term is used in mainstream psychology

    Nobody should fall for

  5. yourstruly
    February 17, 2016, 12:02 am

    since Jewish Zionists crimes against the Palestinian people is what incites antisemitism worldwide, it follows that Jewish Zionists (and their non-Jewish supporters) are the real antisemites. Indeed, were there justice for Palestine, antisemitism would be reduced to a size that could be flushed down a toilet.

  6. RoHa
    February 17, 2016, 4:43 am

    ‘On a campus where the heart of Jewish life is dominated by Hillel, an organization whose vision is one where “every student is inspired to make a commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel,” and by Chabad, which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel” ‘

    I visited my cousins in Montreal many years ago. In those days, Montreal was in Canada. And as far as I can tell, it still is. Yet on a Canadian campus the dominant Jewish organizations are urging Canadian Jews to love and commit themselves to another country, Israel. But saying that Jews care more about Israel than about their own country is still forbidden.

  7. Shmuel
    February 17, 2016, 5:15 am

    Chabad, which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel”

    Not that Chabad (in general, or Chabad McGill/Concordia specifically) doesn’t have a pro-[State of] Israel agenda, but the “Israel” in the “principle of Ahavat Israel” does not refer the State of Israel but rather to the Jewish people and its individual members. It is one of the central principles of Chabad ideology, as developed by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

    • RoHa
      February 17, 2016, 6:59 am

      Thanks, Shmuel. This double reference for “Israel” is a bit confusing.

      • Mooser
        February 17, 2016, 11:08 am

        “Thanks, Shmuel. This double reference for “Israel” is a bit confusing.”

        Yup! Makes a damned good excuse, doesn’t it!

        “Shmuel”, who the hell are you trying to fool? Please!

  8. Ossinev
    February 17, 2016, 6:47 am

    “Fighting for justice is integral to Jewish identity, considering the centuries of persecution and exile that constitute our people’s history. We root our actions in traditions that stem from lineages of Jewish feminist thought – such as that of Judith Plaskow, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College, who writes in Standing Again At Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective that “the economic, social, and moral costs of military occupation make it incompatible with equity within one’s own boundaries. The rightful claim of Palestinians to a land of their own renders occupation profoundly unjust.” By reclaiming Jewish traditions of resistance, we hope to encourage others to make room for a critical Jewish perspective”

    I`m sorry but all this sounds to me like condescending crap , tiptoeing round the reality of what Zionist Jews have done and continue to do. “Profoundly unjust” !! – give me strength.
    “The rightful claim to a land of their own ” !!! – give even more strength.

    It all amounts to a comforting pat on the puppy dog Palestinians head whilst their fellow Jews continue to steal,maim and slaughter.

    They simply haven`t got the balls to condemn the actions of their fellow Jews as barbaric crimes.

  9. Ossinev
    February 17, 2016, 2:10 pm

    Meanwhile absolutely on an entirely coincidental visit to Jerusalem and an entirely coincidental planned meeting with the Yahoo the British Cabinet Minister Matthew Hancock briefed the cuddly closet Fascist on the Tory government`s new ” guidelines” promising tough action on publicly funded bodies such as local councils and NHS trusts who decide on ” boycotts ” of other countries products. This of course is not at all related to the BDS movement and Israel but is to protect members of the World Trade Organisation in general and obviously if local authorities in the UK chose to boycott the products of say Russia over the Crimea/Ukraine/bombing of hospitals in Syria etc or Zimbabwe over corruption etc the Tory government ( vast majority of ministers inc Hancock surprise surprise = Friends of Israel ) will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

    I am really really worried about this – if my local hospital decides not to buy dates from a West Bank settlement will their funding be cut? Will UK patients suffer and possibly die ?

    Even more great publicity for BDS and great to see a Tory Minster in Ziofellatio action especially one who in the very recent past tweeted that the UK Labour Party was “full of queers” – he should really consider emigrating to the US and standing for Congress = A1 credentials.

    • Bumblebye
      February 17, 2016, 3:14 pm

      No, it’s the drugs, according to Jonathan Sacerdoti on bbcR4 Moral Maze on BDS right now. Think he said 1 in 6 come from “Israel” (quote marks used to indicate I don’t know where they’re made, which could of course be Palestine).

  10. oldgeezer
    February 17, 2016, 3:07 pm

    A very interesting articl. I wonder if the group has had any communication with Trudeau who has made some very public comments wrt BDS?

  11. Atlantaiconoclast
    February 18, 2016, 11:48 am

    Too often, it seems that “anti Semitism” means any criticism or truth telling about an individual Jew or a group of Jews. And too often the idea is that any pushback against the idea that Jews have always been the victims in their interactions with the larger Gentile community is anti Semitic. This has to change. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to convince Americans that our policy must change toward Israel.

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