Israelis don’t exist

Middle East
on 98 Comments

Just before leaving Israel last week, I had a little conversation with my nephew aged 7. He asked me whether Denmark was a Christian country. I said that whilst the majority are considered Christians (most of whom don’t go regularly to church), there are people of other religions and faiths. He asked me whether Christians were enemies of Jews, and I said they weren’t. He said that was good, because then he would be enemies with my children, his cousins (who in fact are not Jews).

Then he said he’s not Jewish himself, because he was born in USA. I told him that Judaism is a religion – and here I had to tell him a truth which caused a roaring silence amongst the family bystanders – I told him that a Jew can be born anywhere in the world, because Judaism is a religion – and not a nationality… and this is where I was obviously speaking diametrically against the deceit of the State of Israel, in its considering Jews a “nation”, whilst denying the recognition of an Israeli nationality – officially so – and in addition deceiving the world on Israeli passports marked “Nationality – Israeli”.

You might think I’ve got to be kidding, or exaggerating. No, not a joke – in fact, a very serious issue with grave ramifications.

Let me present some solid facts:

In Israeli ID cards, there is no Israeli nationality (LEOM in Hebrew) – only Israeli citizenship (EZRAHUT in Hebrew). Within the Israeli internal registry there exist about 130 different “nationalities” that the Israeli state recognises. Whilst in the new biometric ID (see photo above) Israel omits specifying “citizenship” or “nationality”, it has mentioned “nationality” on older ones (see photo below) or later written “Citizenship-Israeli” and added an additional backslip where “nationality” and “religion” are mentioned. Whilst an “Arab” for example will be listed under “religion” as a Christian, or a Muslim etc., Jews will have BOTH their nationality and religion listed as “Jews” by default. The Jewish aspect is thus considered by the state as an absolutist national-religious unity, by default. Whatever the State chooses to specify or omit as items on the front or the back of the cards, for any sort of national convenience, it has its own internal registry which specifies these mentioned items.

Israeli i.d. card

Israeli i.d. card

There are those who have tried to attain recognition of their nationality as “Israeli”, but those who have tried receive the standard answer from the Ministry of the Interior, that “it was decided not to recognize an Israeli nationality”.

Now this is very irregular, and would look really bad abroad. I mean, doesn’t it?

So in order to conceal this irregularity, Israel pretends to be normal – here’s how it’s done:

I have an Israeli passport. I just looked it up, to be sure:

In the English section titled “Nationality” it says in English “Israeli”. Oh but wait a minute; didn’t the Ministry of the Interior explicitly say that it doesn’t recognize such a thing? So what is written in Hebrew on my passport, in the corresponding section? In Hebrew, it says “Citizenship – Israeli.” So it translates “Nationality” to the Hebrew term for “Citizenship.” That way it doesn’t imply that there is an Israeli Nationality in the Hebrew terminology. But it does do so in the English version.

In our age and times, a “nation” is generally understood as related to a country, a state entity. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “A large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory” [my emphasis]. The “United Nations” generally means a collectivity of states and state entities, generally related to particular territories. Israel is represented there as Israel, not as “The Jews”.

Israel thus realises that such a discrepancy between state and nation is, internationally, quite meaningless for all practical terms, which is why it applies “Israeli” as nationality in passports – but not in its ID cards. So it has two sets of definitions: one inside Israel, one abroad. Let’s call a spade a spade: the State of Israel lies about its definitions and misrepresents them internationally.

The reason Israel actually refrains from recognising an Israeli nationality (despite the misrepresentation abroad), is because Israel is a Jewish State, that’s what it defines itself as, that’s how it wants to be recognized. The consequence of making every Israeli equal before the State as an Israeli national, would inevitably mean that the State’s ability to control the “Jewish character” of the state, which also translates down to outright discrimination of non-Jews and control of “demography”, would be undermined.

The “Jewish State”, by its very definition, has to keep its population separated in definition, so that it would always reserve for itself the possibility of discriminating against a “sector” of the population on a quasi-religious-quasi-racial basis, without it appearing as if it favours one “Israeli” more than another “Israeli” – simply because for the State of Israel, ISRAELIS DON’T EXIST.

So whilst a “State of Israel” does exist, whilst it does have Israeli citizens, it has no Israeli nationals. In this void, the default becomes that the state is the Jewish State, and therefore those who are in closest proximity to this national definition are the Jews. Thereby, without there in fact being Israeli nationals, the ones who come closest to actually being Israelis… are the Jews. Thus, whilst “all Israelis are equal” (whilst not really existing as nationals), some are indeed more “Israeli” than others…

Go and explain that to a 7 year old. But what about us adults? Have we understood the full meaning of this paradigm? If the state itself has not separated between religion and nationality, how can it ever hope to achieve “religious freedom”? How can it ever “ensure complete equality…to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion…guarantee freedom of religion” as it states in its Declaration of Independence?
About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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98 Responses

  1. diasp0ra
    March 25, 2016, 10:53 am

    Good piece.

    People abroad often don’t understand that Citizen and National aren’t the same thing in Israel. They are used pretty interchangeably worldwide.

    You also see that even they think it’s indefensible when abroad, so they alter the English translations to make it more acceptable to western audiences.

    Is this not a microcosm for all of Israel’s existence?

    • rosross
      March 26, 2016, 10:50 pm

      It is Israel trying to pretend Judaism constitutes a race, nation, people etc., and being Jewish is a nationality, which of course, it is not and never could be.

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 12:58 am

        rosross: It is Israel trying to pretend Judaism constitutes a race, nation, people etc., and being Jewish is a nationality, which of course, it is not and never could be.

        —————–

        The Jewish people does not exist! The Jewish people does not exist!

        Zero-traction rhetoric (or worse). Does nothing to help the Palestinian cause.

      • MHughes976
        March 27, 2016, 8:52 am

        Would ros and Sibiriak like to say what ‘nation’ means to them? Is it possible to belong to several nations or to none? There is certainly a set of people who make the claim that they belong to a Jewish, British or whatever nation: are such claims self-validating? If someone said ‘I have forsaken my former nation, now I am a stranger everywhere’ could that be true? If someone said ‘I am both British and Jewish and proud/ashamed of both’ would that make sense?

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 9:57 am

        rosross: Being Jewish is not, never has been and never can be a nationality. Being Jewish is belonging to a religion, Judaism.
        —————-

        Your argument is circular. You assume without proof that //Jewish IFF adherence to Judaism//, but that is exactly the proposition that is under dispute.

        And, as a matter of empirical fact, Jews have been widely recognized as a people, and historically have been legally recognized as a nationality by various states and international entities. So the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate why such widespread designations have been in error. And proof requires more than tautologies. Simply defining “Jewish” as adherence to Judaism does not cut it.
        ————————–

        Being a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Christian etc., may confer religious ethnicity but it is not ethnicity in any real sense.

        You appear to be conflating ethnicity with nationality and peoplehood . Being a member of a people is not equivalent to being a member of an ethnic group.

        —————————-

        Religions do not get homelands, statehood, or land rights, or self-determination because they are religions.

        And neither do nationalities or peoples necessarily “get” homelands (whatever that means), statehood or land rights. Whether they are a people or not, Jews had no right to Palestine. Being a nation or people does entail a right to another group’s land.

        You are free of course to contest the notion that Jews could be a people. I just think it’s pointless if not counterproductive. In all my years—in the U.S. and now in Russia—I’ve never met anyone who thought that a non-religious person who self-identified as a Jew or was other-identified as a Jew, could not be a Jew. If you wish to convince the world that Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, is not a Jew, have at it. And good luck!

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 10:14 am

        Being a nation or people does entail a right to another group’s land

        Correction: “does NOT entail”.

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 10:40 am

        MHughes976: Would ros and Sibiriak like to say what ‘nation’ means to them?
        —————-

        I would prefer to focus on the term “people” in its role as a fundamental concept in international law. That is something that can be discussed with empirical references: how international institutions and the legal community have actually employed the term and to what purposes.

        Otherwise, you are inviting a debate about personal definitions which can never be proved or disproved and which have no legal or practical significance.

      • Mooser
        March 27, 2016, 11:29 am

        “The Jewish people does not exist! The Jewish people does not exist!
        Zero-traction rhetoric (or worse). Does nothing to help the Palestinian cause.”

        Maybe, maybe. But knowing the truth about ourselves could help the hell out of us Jews!
        Maybe, just maybe, if we are able to see ourselves as we are it could help us.

      • Mooser
        March 27, 2016, 12:00 pm

        “And, as a matter of empirical fact, Jews have been widely recognized as a people, and historically have been legally recognized as a nationality by various states and international entities.”

        “ROTFLMSJAO!!!” They have been “widely recognized” for what purpose? Weren’t Jews “recognized as a people” to discriminate against them? Right? Wanna find another reason for it? Can you? No, I don’t think you can.

        That’s why where the Jews are not “recognized as a people” (like in America, we are not “recognized as a people we’re just persons) we do just fine.

        So basically, you want to recognize and make official doctrine, the product of antisemitism, the idea that Jews are a “people”? No, thank you!

        My Gawd, the naivete about antisemitism here is shocking sometimes!

        Oh. BTW, “Sibiriak” if the Jews are “recognized as a people” (say Hitler did that, didn’t he?) do I lose the option of converting? I mean anybody can switch religions, but how the hell do you switch your “people”?

        And which form of Judaism and Jewishness, which of the diverse groups and individuals which go to make up the “people” is representative and normative?

        Wait, let me guess, Euro-Askenazi, as defined and delineated by Zionism?
        Good lord, what a mess this Jewish “peoplehood” is!

      • Mooser
        March 27, 2016, 12:16 pm

        “—I’ve never met anyone who thought that a non-religious person who self-identified as a Jew or was other-identified as a Jew, could not be a Jew. “

        So what’s my prize? Okay, nobody can deny, even if I am not religious, that I am a Jew. Okay, now that you have identified me as a Jew, what do I get for it?

        Oh, I see, you don’t insist there is such a “people” as Jews to do anything bad to us, it is because you want to give us something for it?

        Nah, no thanks. I’ll keep my Jewish birthright, that “people” mess o’ pottage doesn’t look like a good deal. Has it ever been?

        No “autonomous regions” and “peoples” for me, comrade.

      • MHughes976
        March 27, 2016, 12:27 pm

        Well, what is ‘a people’? Personal definitions are very important for avoiding argument at cross purposes, which I think may well be happening between you and ros. I’d tend to use ‘a people’ to express the idea of a group standing apart from others by being concentrated in a certain area and feeling an affinity with each other. I don’t think that significant rights arise from being a member of a people in this sense.

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 12:52 pm

        MHughes976: personal definitions are very important for avoiding argument at cross purposes, which I think may well be happening between you and ros.
        ————–

        My problem with rosross is this:

        He says a Jew is someone who adheres to Judaism.

        I counter: No, look at all these empirical cases [x,y,z] of Jews who do not adhere to Judaism.

        He says: No, they are not Jews. By definition.

        There is no way forward. He has his personal definition of what “Jewish” means and that’s that.

        The fact that many other people do not share his definition cannot invalidate it.

        So we are not arguing at cross purposes; there can be no argument over a personal definition. How would I invalidate it?

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 1:13 pm

        Hughes976: Well, what is ‘a people’?
        ——————–

        In the realm of international law, a “people” is a group that can make a legitimate claim to the right of self-determination ( a right which is in no way absolute, being “balanced” by other principles and rights such as state sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality etc.)

        Which groups can legitimately make that claim is contested .

        There is no uncontested objective criteria for peoplehood. But that’s exactly as it should be. If some objectively measurable criteria such as language, ethnicity, religion etc. or combination thereof, were strictly formulated, then that would negate the principle of self-determination in favor of alien determination.

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 2:57 pm

        Mooser: Oh, I see, you don’t insist there is such a “people” as Jews…

        ——————

        Of course I don’t. I’m not insisting on anything. It’s about freedom of association and self-determination.

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 3:05 pm

        Mooser: Weren’t Jews “recognized as a people” to discriminate against them? Right? Wanna find another reason for it?
        —————

        Many Jews have self-identified as members of a people. Their choice.

      • echinococcus
        March 27, 2016, 5:27 pm

        Many Jews have self-identified as members of a people

        Exactly as I, or you, or any one of these guys, are free to self-identify as Napoleon. There are some objective criteria according to a consensus about such identifications, and I am not Napoleon; the self-identifying members of such a people are no “people” either. The only objectively determinable group that can be called “Jewish” is religious, in the absence of even a single identifiable common element among the different groups of “Jews” that is not religion. Unless you want to introduce a post-Zionism nationalist feeling re illegally conquered land.

      • MHughes976
        March 27, 2016, 7:19 pm

        Sibiriak, you tell me that a people is defined as a group with the right to self-determination, a status which he says is contested and not subject to any objective test. (You add that an objective test, such as all speaking the same language, would bring in ‘alien determination’: this is not true – objective facts about me, such as what languages I can speak at this moment, are not determined by the will of anyone, alien to me or identical with me,,they are facts about the world.). At this rate, there is no objective test for being a people. If this is so, then anyone can make a claim to be part of such people as may seem attractive, but no one can expect their claims to being a people to be recognised by others:,why should they,,if there is no objective test?
        Rosross defines Jews solely by religion but her definition doesn’t by itself prove anything. Perhaps there is a group, to be called (say) ‘Herzlists’ , who do have some characteristic that entitles them to Palestine,,even if the term ‘Jews’ is not appropriate for them or for all of them.

      • Keith
        March 27, 2016, 7:31 pm

        MOOSER- “I’ll keep my Jewish birthright, that “people” mess o’ pottage doesn’t look like a good deal.”

        “Jewish birthright”? Jews aren’t a race, yet you were born a Jew? No choice in the matter? What exactly is the nature of the Jewishness that you were born with? A sense of kinship, perhaps? And, if so, why?

      • MHughes976
        March 27, 2016, 7:35 pm

        Well, echino, perhaps we both think we’re Napoleon, in which case we form or form part of an easily identifiable set, say ‘pseudobonapartes’, membership of which seems to depend on self-ascription. Several sets determined by self-ascription do exist. Being a pseudobonaparte might not lead to serious respect but if self-ascription is supported by personal passion, longstanding custom and social consensus may it deserve to be taken seriously?

      • Keith
        March 27, 2016, 8:04 pm

        ECHINOCOCCUS- “The only objectively determinable group that can be called “Jewish” is religious….”

        So you are going to tell all of the secular Jews who self-identify as Jews that they aren’t Jews? Are you serious? Once upon a time, Jews were defined as those who followed the Judaic religion known as Classical Judaism. With the advent of modernity and the enlightenment, the religious definition was no longer the single valid criteria. Initially, anti-Semites and Zionists racialized the definition. Because of the Holocaust and the skillful Zionist exploitation of the Holocaust, many people born to Jewish parents have come to believe that they share a common heritage and fate with others born to Jewish parents. That they believe this to be true has consequences. To ignore the reality of group solidarity based upon a common ideology is not realistic. Also, it appears that an irrational and exaggerated concern with anti-Semitism is a significant factor in the ideology.

        My own simple definition is as follows: I define a “Jew” as someone who self-identifies as a Jew and is accepted as a Jew by other Jews.

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 10:08 pm

        MHughes976: Sibiriak, you tell me that a people is defined as a group with the right to self-determination, a status which he says is contested and not subject to any objective test.
        ————————

        To be precise, I’m saying that is how the term “people” functions in international law with respect to the principle of self-determination.

        I’m not saying that it is my definition or the only possible definition.

        You add that an objective test, such as all speaking the same language, would bring in ‘alien determination’: this is not true – objective facts about me, such as what languages I can speak at this moment, are not determined by the will of anyone, alien to me or identical with me,,they are facts about the world.

        It would be alien determination of language were made the basis for drawing up and legitimating political boundaries, without taking into consideration the subjective political preferences of the people involved.
        ——————–

        At this rate, there is no objective test for being a people. If this is so, then anyone can make a claim to be part of such people as may seem attractive, but no one can expect their claims to being a people to be recognised by others:,why should they,,if there is no objective test?

        That pretty much describes the way it actually works. There is no automatic validation and acceptance of political self-determination claims. There is no hard and fast objective criteria. Everything is contested on a case by case basis.

        And the political reality is this: if one or more of the “Great Powers” backs a group’s claim to self-determination, its chances for acceptance are enormously increased; and if the “Great Powers” do not back a self-determination claim, it’s chances are drastically reduced.

      • echinococcus
        March 27, 2016, 11:40 pm

        Keith,

        Once upon a time, Jews were defined as those who followed the Judaic religion known as Classical Judaism. With the advent of modernity and the enlightenment, the religious definition was no longer the single valid criteria

        I don’t see any change from a single valid criterion to many: there was no uniform religiosity earlier either. There is a passage from the imperial, religiously-based group designation of nationalities (continued in the Zionist entity) to the modern concept of citizenship vs. religion vs. ethnicity..

        Initially, anti-Semites and Zionists racialized the definition

        Their problem; not anything I have to follow and not objectively established, given that the racial basis is fictive and that there is no common origin or culture among the different groups having historically practiced the religion.

        Because of the Holocaust and the skillful Zionist exploitation of the Holocaust, many people born to Jewish parents have come to believe that they share a common heritage and fate with others born to Jewish parents. That they believe this to be true has consequences. To ignore the reality of group solidarity based upon a common ideology is not realistic

        They believe this in the absence of any objective criteria, which does not impose any obligation to respect any of it.
        More importantly, the only point of discussing this “Jewish peoplehood” nationalist nonsense is Zionism and the Zionist invasion. What I discuss here with regard to it is always as of the start
        of Zionist invasion.

        Anything later than that is illegitimate invader ideology and must be fought against by all means.

        If they “believe that they share a common heritage and fate with others born to Jewish parents”, or that they are Aryans who share a common superiority over non-Aryan peoples whom they have the right to enslave or that they are of the race of extraterrestrials may be their belief but they don’t have the right to ask anyone else to share such nonsense belief in the absence of objective, cultural criteria anterior to the start of Zionism.

        Also, it appears that an irrational and exaggerated concern with anti-Semitism is a significant factor in the ideology

        Irrational people shouldn’t ask others to respect their madness.

      • Sibiriak
        March 27, 2016, 11:41 pm

        Mooser: the product of antisemitism, the idea that Jews are a “people”?
        ———

        The idea that Jews as a people is not simply “the product of antisemitism”.

        That ignores entirely the long history of Jewish self-conception as people.

        Is not the idea of a Jewish people a central to Judaism? Are you going to pretend that the idea of a Jewish people, a “chosen people,” never existed before it was created (not just intensified or reshaped) by anti-Semitism?

      • echinococcus
        March 28, 2016, 12:12 am

        Sure, Sibiriak, the colonial powers make the law or, better said, are the law.
        That doesn’t mean that there is no rule.
        Two rules seem to enjoy a consensus developed over the history of self-determination: determination by the legitimate inhabitants/citizens of the area subject to determination, not aliens residing elsewhere or forcibly invading or smuggled in; need for a vaild plebiscite among such people; territorial basis, i.e. there is no such thing as the self-determination of the xyz people but self-determination of the people of XYZ land or region.
        Hostage had commented and provided references on this.

      • echinococcus
        March 28, 2016, 12:30 am

        Hughes,

        Exactly, the discussion is one of the logic of sets. We have one uncontested whole whose subsets all belong to a religious common feature, but no common feature at all among the alleged subsets in the absence of religion. Which in all logic means there is no such overarching set for the irreligious.
        Now, this means that the language usage consensus is one that regards one such subset with whom the users of the term are, or were (because we must ignore any situation posterior to the start of Zionism) in frequent contact, not of the other alleged subsets. In this case, the erroneous name means that particular subset, not the alleged, but non-existent, whole.

      • yonah fredman
        March 28, 2016, 5:23 am

        Imagine someone standing in Berlin in may of 45, spouting this stuff that the only jew is a religious jew, and all other jews are guilty of what ? false identity? All historians or men of serious import would have dismissed such spouting as crackpot and certainly not relevant to that moment.

        And beyond that how are we to analyze the Jewish experience of 1881 to 1945 , if all we had was this theory of limiting jew to torah and not recognizing any other dynamics as illuminating to the history. These, as presented, rather than as spur to deeper thoughts are ideas built on ignorance and arrogance.

        It is understandable that given the dire consequences suffered by the Palestinians that resulted from Jewish nationalism that such an overreaction is natural.

        There are elements of validity: If one compares Polish nationalism of a single racial group (that viewed the Jews as an alien nation, but my point is their common racial identity rather than the affect cited) to the variety of races and ethnic groups that constitute “the jews” there is no comparison. American nationalism on the other hand, although all patriotism is suspect to some, American nationalism can certainly include many races so it is not diversity per se which invalidates some grouping from qualification.

        Those who busy themselves with imagining a better world will naturally deal with the problem of nations, specifically how are we to build this peaceful future while recognizing various owners of land and commanders of armies, how can our philosophy of the future, the new law to explain and absorb aspects that are not tabula rasa, but history with non ideal circumstances. Thus to label Jewish nationalism as false simplifies. One less nation to have to accomodate, simplest just to declare that they don’t exist.

        And indeed if the mere idea of American nationalism teaches us anything it is the fluidity of history. 200 years ago American nationalism was an infant or an idea. And just like America can appear out of nowhere, the Jewish people/nation can surely disappear. In modern society this does not require baptism but merely time and the current intermarriage rate and the Jewish group will slowly or quickly disappear, so the situation is not static.

        The Soviet Union listed jew as a nationality and nazi Germany pursued jews despite their beliefs thus the two worst European movements of the last century did not limit their definition of “jew” to religion. Obviously any attempt to build a better future should not be limited by the definitions of Hitler and the cultural heirs of the czars, yet dogmatic statements that do not include sufficient flexibility or definitions to help us understand two of the most important movements of the last century fail at a major requirement of completeness. If you can not explain history you are spouting off with some motive in mind other than understanding.

      • MHughes976
        March 28, 2016, 7:13 am

        Sibiriak, I’m asking you what your understanding of ‘a people’ only to facilitate discussion with you – which is fair enough,,surely. We won’t be binding anyone else. I wouldn’t mind knowing Yonah’s definition either, though that may be different again. As I often say, no one owns words.
        If we set the meaning of a term so that there is a certain objective test for membership of a category – let’s say that a duck is defined as something that quacks and that quacking is objectively determinable – then it follows, not by any act of will alien or otherwise but as a matter of fact, that Jemima is a duck by our standards if she quacks. If we decline to set objective tests then we cannot find reason why anyone who is inclined to think differently should agree with us.
        Subjective feelings exist objectively and some people have defined nations and peoples by reference to such feelings, as the Renan tradition does, I think.
        If subjective feelings are to be crucial I would wish to ask whether it is possible to lack all such feelings, and therefore to be a no-people person, or to direct them towards two or many groups, therefore to be a many-people person.
        Liberal use of terms without explanation of what they mean to each of us in discussions where they seem to be understood differently by different contributors creates only frustration and rancour.

      • echinococcus
        March 28, 2016, 7:14 am

        Mister Fredman,

        Imagine someone standing in Berlin in may of 45, spouting this stuff that the only jew is a religious jew, and all other jews are guilty of what ? false identity?

        No, but of 1. following the same racist and nationalist categories as used by Hitler and associates (a serious crime, especially in 1945); 2. abandon of logic.

      • yonah fredman
        March 28, 2016, 8:59 am

        I think it is difficult to define in what way the Jews of 2016 are a nation or a people, and other than common concern with fellow jews and specifically common concern with Israel, I don’t know what makes them a nation or a people. I think one of the questions posed by Pew was one of pride: are you proud to be a Jew. And so identity with a group would be one aspect of people hood but certainly a low level in terms of asserting rights based on that identity.

        The Jewish urge towards a specific plot of land for the purposes of self defense is readily understandable given the knowledge of the years 1881 to 1945 and the place: eastern and central europe. We know today that the common language of those Jewish communities was on its final legs due to the various dynamics of history, including nazism (with its urge to destroy the Jews physically) communism (with its urge to destroy the Jews spiritually) migration to America (with its impulse towards individualism and opposed to group consciousness) and zionism (which proposed a new /old language in its urge to deny the jew of old and propose the new jew).

        There are usually two elements to nationalism most often cited: language and land. And because the aspect of land gets into the heart of the matter regarding the conflict with the Palestinians and the horrible blow suffered by the Palestinians, it is easiest to emphasize (here) other aspects of nationalism, (if one wishes to minimize ruffled feelings). But the Jewish religion has a heavy land content. Despite a prolonged passivity and fatalism to the passing centuries, there was an emphasis on the land of Israel and the city of jerusalem. This leads us right into the conflict of Palestine Israel and ups the emotional level of the discussion into the red.

        Emphasis on the Churban and antisemitism is a symptom that jews do not quite know how to be jews without the torah and therefore either give up the habit of group identity or else totally focus on the abyss of 39-45 or both. Thus those who assert that without torah there are only former jews may be on to something, but the transition from torah to nothing takes a few generations and these haters of the Jewish religion (sometimes as haters of all religion, but often with a special animus) can’t wait for the generational dissipation to take its time, but instead are demanding that jews stop being jews immediately if not sooner.

      • eljay
        March 28, 2016, 12:54 pm

        || yonah fredman: … The Jewish urge towards a specific plot of land for the purposes of self defense is readily understandable given the knowledge of the years 1881 to 1945 and the place: eastern and central europe. … ||

        “The Jewish” didn’t have an urge – some Jews did. And what some Jews wanted was a religion-supremacist state in what they claimed was their “historic homeland”. It may have been understandable, but it was and is neither just nor moral.

        The self-defense angle is amusing in light of never ending moaning from Zio-supremacists that their “Jewish State”:
        – is located in a region that is both dangerous and highly-hostile to Jews; and
        – is perpetually on the verge of being wiped off the map and pushed into the sea.

        || … haters of the Jewish religion … can’t wait for the generational dissipation to take its time, but instead are demanding that jews stop being jews immediately if not sooner. ||

        People who wish to self-determine as Jewish should be able to self-determine as Jewish. If there comes a time when no-one wishes to be Jewish, Jewish will cease to exist naturally and by choice. There’s no crime in that (even though your personal sense of perpetual victimhood tells you otherwise).

        Meanwhile, Zio-supremacism – Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine – deliberately and unapologetically remains a crime.

      • Keith
        March 28, 2016, 2:24 pm

        ECHINOCOCCUS- “They believe this in the absence of any objective criteria, which does not impose any obligation to respect any of it.”

        No one is asking you to respect any of it, nor are those who self-identify as Jews likely to be concerned about your definition of who is a Jew.

        In evaluating the political economy, I rely upon empirical evidence. That Israel relies heavily upon the support of organized American Jewry should be rather evident. In attempting to understand this support for Israel, we need to analyze these organizations as they exist in the real world. As such, we recognize that it is the organization which defines the criteria for membership. Likewise, the internal solidarity of the membership depends upon the degree to which the membership identifies with the goals of the organization and with their sense of kinship with their fellow members.

        For example, The conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is composed of those major organizations who identify as Jewish and whose membership identifies as Jews. In evaluating these powerful organizations and their activities, we need to deal with that reality. And since significant members of these organizations are secular Jews it is only logical to accept the fact that, for whatever reason, American Jews do not stick with a specifically religious definition of Jewishness. And since many of the member organizations exhibit considerable member solidarity, we can rest assured that the membership does, in fact, consider itself Jewish.

        Now, we can attempt to analyze the political economy of Zionism, of anti-Zionism, of post-Zionism, and of Jewish tribal solidarity in general, but we need to deal with the empirical reality of how things actually are, not how you think they should be based upon a feudal definition of who is a Jew. And while I also lament the demise of the religious definition of Jewishness, it is obvious to me that a new definition of Jewishness has evolved, and that is the reality we face, hence, I acknowledge that reality and attempt to deal with it.

      • MHughes976
        March 28, 2016, 4:39 pm

        I think that echino and the rest of us are indeed being asked to respect claims to rights made on the basis of being Jewish.
        ‘Jewish’ commonly means (I think) ‘being of the Mosaic religion or being descended from many who were of that religion and having one’s life significantly afected by that fact, through choice or the attitudes of others’ – or something like that. That sort of definition can be understood (and I think would apply to the members of most organisations calling themselves Jewish) but, seeing that there will be many borderline cases and that it will probably include people with hugely different characteristics, it is hard to see it as the basis for any plausible claim of right – since rights are normally claimed on the basis of characteristics, of being a person of a certain sort or status.

      • echinococcus
        March 28, 2016, 6:43 pm

        Keith,

        The discovery that the sun emits light or that stones are made of stone is not likely to take us much further. Virulent criticism of the nationalism of people calling themselves “Jewish” against any logic is an important part of the attack against Zionism and “non-Zionist” nationalism. It’s not likely to be more effective, better said it’s expected to be as ineffective as any effort to turn them away from their criminal support to Zionism but it does help the general public understand the absurd nationalist essence of the Zionists and their alienation from the nations they are a part of.

      • Mooser
        March 28, 2016, 11:56 pm

        “… haters of the Jewish religion … can’t wait for the generational dissipation to take its time, but instead are demanding that jews stop being jews immediately if not sooner.” “Yonah ‘Cry Me a River’ Fredman”

        First of all, you are a contemptible, self pitying liar dear “Yonah” No one, anywhere, is demanding Jews stop practicing their religion. That is a lie Ever hear of the boychik who cried “Wolf, and terrible gender confusion!”

        And “Yonah” why is there so much “generational dissipation? It’s all their fault, putting up those sparkly crosses and blow-up Santas? Did ja ever think that if maybe we didn’t have to embrace a 1)violent and illegal and 2) doomed (see “generational dissipation”) and 3) associated with values no parent wants their children to pick up, the values of a criminal conspiracy and ethnic superiority, thing like Zionism, maybe Judaism might do a little less dissipating? But of course, it’s not our responsibility to see to the continuity of our own religion, it’s the world’s responsibility to supply Zionism with Jews, right?

        Basically, what it adds up to “yonah” is this: “You don’t give a husky f–k about Judaism, and have even less regard for the Jewish people. All you care about is associating yourself, identifying yourself with Zionism makes you feel like a macher. And you might get something out of it.” What could be bad?

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 12:13 am

        MHughes976: Sibiriak, I’m asking you what your understanding of ‘a people’
        ———————

        The word “people” has multiple meanings for me, depending on context. My understanding pretty much follows Merriam-Webster’s definition (#4 not so much):

        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/people

        I’m primarily interested in how the term “people” is used in the context of international law, specifically with regard to the “right of self-determination of peoples”.

        And please note, I have always emphatically held that “whether they are a people or not, Jews had no right to Palestine. Being a nation or people does not entail a right to another group’s land. ” “Historical homeland” arguments have no legal or moral validity.

        ———————-

        lIf we decline to set objective tests then we cannot find reason why anyone who is inclined to think differently should agree with us.

        There certainly are no precise “objective tests” in international law when it comes to the principle of “self-determination of peoples”, and yet that is an indispensable, foundational legal principle in the modern world. (Undermining or rejecting the principle of self-determination of peoples certainly would not be any help to the Palestinian cause.)

        Furthermore, I don’t see why a lack of “objective tests” (what would they be?) necessarily precludes agreement from others. Agreement, of course, is not in any way automatic, but there are plenty of good reasons why people might want to recognize and respect subjectively-based rights and aspirations of others (usually depending on a lack of conflict with others’ rights.).

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 12:46 am

        echinococcus: there is no such thing as the self-determination of the xyz people but self-determination of the people of XYZ land or region
        —————
        Territory is essential to any notion of political self-determination. Absolutely true. (But see below for complications).

        That’s why I have repeatedly argued that it is irrelevant whether Jews are a people, a nation, a religious group, an ethnocultural group, a “power-seeking” solidarity group or whatever–in no case would they have have had a right to political self-determination in another group’s land. “Historical homeland” arguments have zero legal or moral validity.
        —————-

        Two rules seem to enjoy a consensus developed over the history of self-determination: determination by the legitimate inhabitants/citizens of the area subject to determination [emphasis added]

        It’s quite a bit more complicated than that (putting aside the I/P issue now). By your rule, before you could consider a self-determination claim you would need to define the “area subject to self-determination”. But on what basis would you do that?

        Take, for example, the Catalonian self-determination claim. Would the “area” be Catalonia? Or would it be Spain?

        If you say it is Spain, then you are in effect equating “peoples” with the populations of pre-existing states, and the principle of self-determination of peoples becomes completely unnecessary–a principle of democracy would do just fine by itself.

        If you say it is Catalonia, then you need some principled basis to justify why Catalonia should be considered a territory separate from Spain when it comes to self-determination. The notion of a “people of XYZ land or region” is no help at all. It just begs the question.

      • Mooser
        March 29, 2016, 1:41 am

        “There certainly are no precise “objective tests” in international law when it comes to the principle of “self-determination of peoples”,

        Gee, you don’t think having to come from all over the world, everyplace but there, and then seizing the place in a war against the civilians there, and making war on the indigenous people there sort of deflates the “self-determination” claim? Even without “objective tests”, the Zionists fail every “subjective” test.

        It wasn’t a “self-determination” that’s ridiculous. It was simply a brutal colonial enterprise, using the both troubles and the attainments (affluence and influence) and/or desires of Jews in Europe and elsewhere and preying on the martial weakness of the Palestinians.
        Why the hell can’t it be what it obviously is, and continues to be? .

      • MHughes976
        March 29, 2016, 3:57 am

        Thanks for Merriam W, Sibiriak! I share your judgement about the Zionist claims re ‘rights of the Jewish people in the Holy Land’, as you know. I would just put it to you that the Merriam W definition gives abundant reason for your being right, since innumerable groups, far too many for any meaningful claim of right by all of them, are ‘peoples’ by its standards. ‘Common interest’ – an extremely low bar – clearly makes all religious groups and sects and all football and tennis fans Peoples. An American Episcopalian football fan who likes visiting France and drinking Beaujolais belongs, I think, to at least five peoples. And so on with the other criteria. At this rate Jews are certain,y a people but nothing of interest follows from that.

      • echinococcus
        March 29, 2016, 5:09 am

        Sibiriak,

        Re defining the territory, of course. That’s one of the features that, as you say, need some discussion and case by case judgement, etc.
        Only, in the case of Palestine, we have an iron-clad old history of unit Palestine, also subunits Cisjordan and Transjordan; even if it weren’t the case one thing is damn sure: the Zionists are not a party to that discussion, not by a thousand miles.

      • yonah fredman
        March 29, 2016, 6:07 am

        Mooser- Judaism’s dramatic trajectory will not be altered an iota by my thoughts and if I thought you gave 2 shits I would be deeply hurt. But bold type and sincerity are not one and the same.

        The Judaism or Jewishness depicted by Philip Roth in goodbye Columbus was awfully superficial and lacking gravitas, that is weight enough to resist the pushes and pulls of modern individualistic urban society. Zionism is a symptom of that superficiality.

        Idealists who transform the moralism of the rabbis into lifestyles of doing good and empathy and helping their neighbors are the creme de la creme and if they speak Yiddish or hebrew and quote a verse or a sugya of gemorrah while doing good that adds spice to their goodness. My attempt to assert my right to illogical identity is not mere obfuscation, it is my assertion of human nature, given the facts as handed down to me by fate. Y’know that “friend” to Richard Kimble.

        I was born to people who asserted moses on sinai. My own trajectory has been to reject such myths, but not to disown them. Maybe a plant succeeds enough to reach towards the sun and the sky, but I am still busy with my roots.

        All do gooders and all do gooders who use God to spur their doing good are a blessing to the planet. I apologize that all I do here is try to clarify my own thoughts.

      • yonah fredman
        March 29, 2016, 6:23 am

        Eljay- yes, the urge of some jews was in this direction, not all jews or most jews.

        A logical assessment of the long range feasibilities by pinsker and herzl only saw the dangers of the status quo, they did not have a global appreciation regarding the development of freedoms and rebellions against colonialism at a distance of 70 or so years.

        The dangers of the status quo were very real, nest pas? So a strategy of group survival was called for. If in fact that strategy was insufficient then it is an insufficient strategy, but a cool eyed assessment of history reveals that there was a need for SOME strategy. You’ve had 70 years perspective what do you whisper in pinsker and herzl’s ear?

      • eljay
        March 29, 2016, 7:26 am

        || yonah fredman: Eljay- yes, the urge of some jews was in this direction, not all jews or most jews. A logical assessment of the long range feasibilities by pinsker and herzl only saw the dangers of the status quo … The dangers of the status quo were very real, nest pas? So a strategy of group survival was called for. … ||

        A strategy for the survival of people in danger – not a strategy for all people in the world who happened also to be Jewish – was called for.

        || … a cool eyed assessment of history reveals that there was a need for SOME strategy. You’ve had 70 years perspective what do you whisper in pinsker and herzl’s ear? ||

        What I would say to anyone back then is what I am saying now: The solution to acts of injustice and immorality against Jews (or anyone else, for that matter) is justice, accountability and equality. If a dire situation also requires some form of sanctuary (such as expedited refugee immigration), let there be sanctuary.

        At no point would I say to anyone that acts of injustice and immorality against some portion of a group of people justify the commission of terrorism, ethnic cleansing and other (war) crimes by some portion of that group of people with the intention of establishing a supremacist state in as much as possible of a geographic region.

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 7:58 am

        MHughes976: At this rate Jews are certain,y a people but nothing of interest follows from that.
        ——————————–

        Which raises the question: what is to be gained then, by making “Jews are not a people!” a major anti-Zionist talking point?

        In my first post in this thread I wrote that such rhetoric had zero traction–at the very best it creates a huge distraction, endless discussion of definitions and so on.

        Should the BDS movement adopt the slogan ” Jews are not a people!” ? Put it on t-shirts and signs and shout it out in every meeting and demonstration? Or just make it a major ideological plank in mission statements, media appearances etc.? (They could bring in rosross and echino to finesse it!) Do you think that would help the Palestinian cause?

      • echinococcus
        March 29, 2016, 10:08 am

        Sibiriak,

        what is to be gained then, by making “Jews are not a people!” a major anti-Zionist talking point?

        Pulling the floor clean from under Zionism. Negating any defensible ground for their nationalism. Denying any excuse for solidarity among various bands of Zionist cannon fodder against the rest of humanity. Finally, giving its due to logic and human language that admits peoplehood based on cultural or religious or language commonality but not on the sole basis no longer practiced religion.

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 12:09 pm

        echinococcus: Pulling the floor clean from under Zionism. Negating any defensible ground for their nationalism. Denying any exc >use for solidarity among various bands of Zionist cannon fodder against the rest of humanity. ETC.

        —————
        None of that is being gained. What you ARE gaining– at best — is endless discussion of “what is a people?” and “who is a Jew?” Questions that have been around forever and ever and haven’t shown the slightest ability to undermine Zionism. (Recall Einstein’s definition of insanity.) At best, it’s a huge, totally unnecessary distraction; a major embarrassment–an anti-Zionist “own goal.”

        Benjamin Netanyahu is not a Jew? You want to try to convince the world of that? That line of argument is going to “pull the floor clean from under Zionism?” Get serious.

      • Mooser
        March 29, 2016, 12:32 pm

        “Maybe a plant succeeds enough to reach towards the sun and the sky, but I am still busy with my roots.”

        Yeah, yeah, But wait, let me guess, “Yonah”! Next you will tell us that you never get any older, never grow up, but there’s a portrait of you in your attic which ages instead.

        Ah, the privilege of remaining a child all through life. That’s the kind of thing antisemitism might destroy in America!

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 1:14 pm

        echinococcus: any one of these guys, are free to self-identify as Napoleon. There are some objective criteria according to a consensus about such identifications, and I am not Napoleon;
        ——————

        You are making a basic logical error. You have conflated two different kinds of English copula clauses which express two different kinds of logical relationships:

        X is Napoleon (identification)

        vs.

        X is a Jew. (classification).

        Identification and classification must not be conflated. In your example, “Napoleon” is a noun with a unique reference. We can look at a painting and say the person depicted “is” Napoleon—both the image and the noun have the same singular referent. The relationship is one of identification.

        Likewise, when I say “John Smith is my brother ” both noun phrases, “John Smith” and “my brother”, refer to the same unique referent. If the sentence is reversed, it still has the same meaning: “My brother is John Smith”.

        The logic is very different for classification expressions. In English, the indefinite article is utilized to mark this difference.

        The expression “John is a doctor has a very different meaning than the expression “John is the doctor .”

        Expressions with “is a” are not reversible: “He is a doctor ” — but not “a doctor is he (him) ”. “Is a” designates a relationship of classification.

        Compare these different uses of the English copula “is”:

        John is tall. Attribution
        John is a doctor. Classification
        John is the winner. Specification
        John’s brother is Tom’s lawyer. Identification
        That car is John’s. Possession.

        As I demonstrated, you conflated classification with identification.

        (For another angle on the “is a” relationship, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is-a)
        —————————————

        Not all group memberships are defined by objective characteristics. Compare:

        1)X is a giraffe IFF X has certain objective giraffe characteristics. X cannot choose not to be a giraffe.

        2) X is a Rotarian IFF only if X voluntarily joined the Rotary club and was accepted. X can choose not to be a Rotarian.

        Type #1 group membership is based on X’s objective characteristics; type # 2 is not.

      • echinococcus
        March 29, 2016, 1:56 pm

        Sibiriak,

        Fail:

        First: there is nothing necessary in the choice of “Napoleon” for comic effect rather than, say, “a Xian Scientist” or “a deciduous plant”. The argument wouldn’t have suffered at all.

        Also note that “Jew / Jewish” is not an objectively determinable category for anyone non religious. As opposed to, say, “Bessarabian”, “Ashkenazi” or “Martian”.

        Looks to me as if you have wasted all these perfectly good electrons for nothing.

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 2:22 pm

        echinococcus: Looks to me as if you have wasted all these perfectly good electrons for nothing.
        ——

        No, your admittedly inane “Napoleon” argument was thoroughly debunked, If you wish to try another, go ahead.

        And I showed how not all group memberships need be defined by objective characteristics.

        Your response: zip.

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 2:22 pm

        echinococcus: … the discussion is one of the logic of sets. We have one uncontested whole whose subsets all belong to a religious common feature, but no common feature at all among the alleged subsets in the absence of religion. Which in all logic means there is no such overarching set for the irreligious.
        ——————

        1) No. That is not the only possible kind of logic of groups. Wittgenstein long ago pointed out an alternative with his famous “family resemblance” concept, which is based on the idea that:

        ..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

        Wikipedia (emphasis added)

        Thus, an essential common feature is not necessary for a large “kinship” type group structure.

        ——————–

        2) Let’s take a look at Keith’s beautifully simple formulation:

        I define a “Jew” as someone who self-identifies as a Jew and is accepted as a Jew by other Jews.

        That gives us a set of people with two defining characteristics shared by all members.

        In terms of set theory, where is the logical problem?
        ——————-

        Taking both points #1 and #2 into consideration yields the possibility that Jews could be defined as a group via Keith’s membership criteria and at the same time be linked together in a “family resemblance” kinship- type structure by a series of overlapping similarities normally associated with “peoples” (religion, ethnicity, location, language, shared beliefs, etc.)

      • echinococcus
        March 29, 2016, 6:11 pm

        Sibiriak,

        Kindly point out where, in the specific case discussed, the overblown Wittgensteinism would apply.

        Keith’s criteria are no objective criteria where objective criteria are a necessary condition.

        Finally, you could have replaced “I am Napoleon” in that argument by “we all are lemmings” without making any difference.

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 11:03 pm

        echinococcus: you could have replaced “I am Napoleon” in that argument by “we all are lemmings” without making any difference.
        —————-

        True, no difference– your argument would have been just as inane and illogical. But go ahead and restate your argument with “lemmings” instead of “Napoleon” if you wish, and let’s see how far it gets.

        “But, but, but I could have made a stronger argument” is not a compelling response after your first attempt has been thoroughly debunked.

      • Sibiriak
        March 29, 2016, 11:41 pm

        chinococcus: Kindly point out where, in the specific case discussed, the overblown Wittgensteinism would apply.
        —————

        You wrote:

        …but no common feature at all among the alleged subsets in the absence of religion

        Wittegenstein’s “family resemblance” concept showed that a common feature or property was not a requirement for many kinds of concepts (classes).

        See: “Family resemblance” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_resemblance

        Since the publication of the Investigations, the notion of family resemblance has been discussed extensively not only in the philosophical literature, but also, for example, in works dealing with classification where the approach is described as ‘polythetic’, distinguishing it from the traditional approach known now as ‘monothetic’. Prototype theory is a recent development in cognitive science where this idea has also been explored. As the idea gains popularity, earlier instances of its occurrence are rediscovered e.g. in 18th century taxonomy,[4] in the writings of Vygotsky[5] or Tatarkiewicz.[6]

        Read the link for examples.

      • Sibiriak
        March 30, 2016, 12:04 am

        echinococcus: Keith’s criteria are no objective criteria where objective criteria are a necessary condition.
        —————-

        Another logical error: you are conflating ” objective criteria” with objective features or characteristics.

        Previously you wrote:

        “Jew / Jewish” is not an objectively determinable category for anyone non religious [emphasis added]

        However, Keith’s criteria for being a Jew, religious or not– someone who self-identifies as a Jew and is accepted as a Jew by other Jews is no less “objectively determinable” than the criteria for being a religious Jew.

        In both cases, the criteria involve subjective beliefs, attitudes etc. But subjective beliefs, whether religious or non-religious, can be objectively determined by interviews, surveys etc. The process isn’t perfect–people can lie etc.–but the problems are the same no matter whether the beliefs in question are religious or secular.

        As far as “objective features or characteristics are concerned, I have already demonstrated that they were not necessary for group membership–it depends on the type of group in question.

        Not all group memberships are defined by objective characteristics. Compare:

        1)X is a giraffe IFF X has certain objective giraffe characteristics. X cannot choose not to be a giraffe.

        2) X is a Rotarian IFF only if X voluntarily joined the Rotary club and was accepted. X can choose not to be a Rotarian.

        Type #1 group membership is based on X’s objective characteristics; type # 2 is not.

        —————–

        I asked you previously to explain what is the logical problem, in terms of set theory, with Keith’s definition.

        You have yet to respond.

      • echinococcus
        March 30, 2016, 1:35 am

        Sibiriak,

        There still is no single common element among the various “hereditarily” Jewish cultural subsets, from Bukharan to Ethiopian to Ashkenaze as of the start of the Zionist calamity, so there can be no overclever-by-half Wittgensteiniac or other “family resemblance” *in this specific case*. Unlike you, I don’t enjoy empty sophistry.

      • Sibiriak
        March 30, 2016, 10:15 am

        There still is no single common element […] so there can be no overclever-by-half Wittgensteiniac or other “family resemblance” *in this specific case*.

        ————–

        The whole point of the “family resemblance” idea is that there does not need to be a single common element. Not sure why you can’t grasp that point. Dogmatism, presumably.

        Your “overclever-by-half Wittgensteiniac” epithet, cute as it is, is simply an admission that you have no substantive response.

        —————————————————–

        I don’t enjoy empty sophistry.

        Easy to make the charge; much harder to back it up. Care to give it a shot? Or are you wisely throwing in the towel?

        (Wittgenstein is not known for sophistry, btw.)

        And I’ll ask you for the THIRD time , what is the logical problem, in terms of set theory, with Keith’s definition?

      • echinococcus
        March 30, 2016, 10:49 am

        Sibiriak,

        The weak point of all three of your relentless disquisitions is the absence of any common element among the “hereditary-Jewish” subgroups by any objective criteria, the total absence of any “family resemblance” (the diametrical opposite of a family resemblance is true, if anything) and the fact that subjective delusions are the deluded ones’ own problems, not mine. So I’ll say goodbye until you can bring objectivable elements for your suggestions.

  2. Mooser
    March 25, 2016, 12:02 pm

    Great article. Thanks.

    • Mooser
      March 25, 2016, 12:14 pm

      I think the first paragraph has a lot of significance for Americans who are Jews. I get the feeling there has been some dishonesty here, too.

  3. Jasonius Maximus
    March 25, 2016, 12:55 pm

    Great article!

    Which incidently and indirectly describes, to the letter, the very reason every single Israeli pre-condition to peace now begins with “recognizing the State of Israel and its right to exist as a Jewish state” instead of the previous “recognizing the State of Israel and its right to exist”.

    One seemingly innocuous change to their wording with huge implications. A change, that in no small part would effectively delegitimize one fifth of the population of Israel as true “nationals” of Israel and effectively sanction the revokation of their legal right to equality, full democratic participation and legal recourse within the state, thus ensuring in perpetuity the “democratic” dominance for the steadily declining Jewish majority.

    Such wording would also provide legal cover and grounds for Israel to maintain said majority should Israel thereafter become a binational state with an Arab majority. As they would would have a legally binding agreement that clearly stipulates Israeli “nationality” within the State is based on the Jewish nature of the person concerned and not their citizenship per se.

    In short, legally entrenching and expanding the already existing reality of “second-class citizens” within the State of Israel and any possible future that may involve either the ‘right of return’ or the ever-increasing reality and formation of a binational state.

    It’s little wonder that this clause in Israel’s preconditions for peace, and echoed verbatim by the US at every opportunity, is such a poison pill for Palestinians and Arab Israelis alike.

  4. Citizen
    March 25, 2016, 12:59 pm

    Yes, I agree. Wonder what Dick and Jane would think about this?

  5. Blake
    March 25, 2016, 1:11 pm

    “The Supreme court said they could not acknowledge having an Israeli nationality because that would undermine the very character of the state of Israel” – Ronnie Barkan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVn0LXPDIbw&

  6. michelle
    March 25, 2016, 4:13 pm

    .
    what price has been paid for Israel
    what is the price of;
    love
    peace
    truth
    trust
    faith
    justice
    equality
    when did Israel become more important to the world than G-d
    .
    just what do our children learn from us
    .
    G-d Bless
    .

  7. Stephen Shenfield
    March 25, 2016, 6:10 pm

    The sharp distinction between “citizenship” and “nationality” in Israel may be unfamiliar in the contemporary West, it is in fact a survival of traditional Central and East European practice, dating back to the pre-WW1 era when the region was dominated by multiethnic empires and the “national” principle was based on language and culture (in its milder versions) and/or heredity or “blood” (in its racist variant). Thus while Jews in Britain and France had become citizens of those countries in Russia and Austro-Hungary they were considered one “nationality” alongside others labeled Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, etc. So it was natural that the nationalisms that emerged in that region included not only Polish, Ukrainian, etc. but also Jewish nationalism in its Zionist and various non-Zionist forms.

    The split between “citizenship” (grazhdanstvo) and “nationality” (natsional’nost’) was preserved in Russia during the Soviet era and has not disappeared even today.

    The architects of both major wings of Zionism (Labor Zionism and Revisionism) were products of pre-WW1 and interwar Eastern Europe, especially the Russian empire, and naturally shared its mentality. Israel is a sort of living fossil. It looks odd in today’s world but in its origin it had numerous counterparts in other ethnic nationalisms.

    • Boomer
      March 26, 2016, 7:20 am

      Thanks for this added bit of explanation, which I found a helpful supplement to Mr. Ofir’s statement. I’m sure his explanation is very good and helpful to some people, yet I read it twice without being able fully to grasp it. I’ve had a similar reaction to similar explanations in the past. I had concluded that as an American who isn’t Jewish I simply couldn’t understand what was being discussed, just as I get lost with some esoteric discussions of modern physics or Tibetan Buddhism. Sometimes I felt on the verge of understanding, but it was rather like reading explanations of the cause for WWI. By that I mean that, an hour after reading it, the war still seemed senseless to me. Indeed, already–as I write this–I feel the sense that I understand slipping away once again.

    • rosross
      March 27, 2016, 1:46 am

      Being Jewish is not, never has been and never can be a nationality.

      Being Jewish is belonging to a religion, Judaism. The first Jew was a convert, just like all religions.

      Being a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Christian etc., may confer religious ethnicity but it is not ethnicity in any real sense.

      Religions are not nationalisms. Religions do not get homelands, statehood, or land rights, or self-determination because they are religions.

    • tod77
      March 28, 2016, 9:40 am

      “unfamiliar in the contemporary West”

      Not sure why you say that. There are so many examples of “persons” or “peoples” that define themselves as having a different nationality than citizenship. A Syrian refugee living in the UK and granted citizenship would no longer be of Syrian nationality? What about the many in Quebec that consider themselves a separate nationality? Are Scottish people Scottish or British? What if you are English and live in Scotland?

      Nationalism is a complex and ambiguous term (you would get different answers to the above questions from different people).

      The definition of the Jewish people (I personally think it’s less confusing to use the term hebrew people – even though the terms are identical) and of the Palestinian people is more or less clear to both sides (despite attempts of delegitimization from both sides).

      • echinococcus
        April 24, 2016, 1:56 pm

        The definition of the Jewish people (I personally think it’s less confusing to use the term hebrew people – even though the terms are identical) and of the Palestinian people is more or less clear to both sides (despite attempts of delegitimization from both sides)

        Wrong. There is not a single element, not a single mother tongue, not a single cultural element –not a single shadow of a thought of any– that is not strictly religious/ritual. The only thing left is religion, and that is only for believers. Palestinians are the owners of the sovereignty over all of Palestine and don’t have to justify anything but their origin, to anyone.

  8. Nevada Ned
    March 25, 2016, 7:51 pm

    Thanks, Stephen Sheffield!

  9. Spring Renouncer
    March 25, 2016, 8:52 pm

    This is an enlightening, nuanced and vital article, Jonathan. The lack of a common Israeli nationality (discussed here), the lack of an Israeli constitution, the lack of political representation for millions of Palestinians controlled by Israel, and the fact that non-governmental sectarian organizations like the JNF have quasi-national power in Israel-Palestine, separates Israel from even the most peculiar nation-states. This ambiguity allows for and perpetuates the continued oppression of non-Jews within the territory.

    Israel is like the mobile Mongol capital, which was basically a movable garrison. Under the sway of this force, concepts like nationality, constitutional rights, and democracy are made obsolete, crushed and perverted by the dynamic violence of the ‘great horde’.

  10. JLewisDickerson
    March 26, 2016, 12:26 am

    RE: “Israelis don’t exist”

    FOR A LITTLE BACKGROUND, SEE: “Discrimination is legal, there are no Israelis: Reading the Supreme Court’s decisions on Israeli nationality” | By Ofra Yeshua-Lyth | Mondoweiss.org | June 3, 2014
    LINK – http://mondoweiss.net/2014/06/discrimination-decisions-nationality/

  11. Marnie
    March 26, 2016, 2:35 am

    “So it has two sets of definitions: one inside Israel, one abroad. Let’s call a spade a spade: the State of Israel lies about its definitions and misrepresents them internationally.”

    I don’t have an israeli passport. My ID card shows my place of birth – united states – has ******** for nationality. Inside israel I have no nationality. I don’t know what it would say on my israeli passport under “citizenship” if I had one. This is the internal israeli method of separating the Jew by birth from a convert so any time I have to present my ID card, I have no identity. I was so self-conscious about this difference for a long time but was told many years ago that converts and Russian Jews have asterisks under nationality – which confirms my understanding that converts in israel are seen as fakes, as are Russian Jews. Fine by me.

    • Boomer
      March 27, 2016, 2:26 pm

      Marnie, thanks for your added example. Even so, I must confess, I don’t understand this. But I don’t need to understand, so don’t worry about trying to explain it further. If I don’t understand now, after all that has been said in this thread, it’s probably beyond my comprehension.

      I just would like to see the U.S. stop enabling the oppression and dispossession of Palestinians. I feel complicit in that ongoing crime, and I don’t like that feeling. I infer that the kind of distinctions being discussed here may make a one-state solution with equal rights for all problematic. If so, then maybe a two-state solution is the better way to go. I don’t know about that either. I just know what has been happening, and continues to happen, is unfair, and the U.S. is enabling it.

      • Marnie
        March 28, 2016, 7:50 am

        I’m not complaining and if that’s what it sounds like, I apologize to all. I have nothing to complain about for myself. I wish the US would cut the cord already. I’m so tired of the freak show that is US/Israel relations – it’s perverse and incestuous. Why aren’t more US Jews and European Jews on board with ending the free pass to the zionists?

  12. Rafi
    March 26, 2016, 5:09 am

    Are u going to write about the citizenships\nationals\CULTURE\rights nexus of arabs and non arabs in 20+ arab countries? muslims and non in 70+ muslim countries? christians and non in the west? Not too mention east asia and black africa, but israel… do you celebrate purim in copenhagen, or easter?

    The christians in denmark are not enemies of the jews, not at all, the jews had to flee to sweden on boats in the middle of the night to escape being murdered bcause of donald trump, or zionism. Christianity to nazism is like islam to isis, parallel lines that never meet, mutually exclusive.

    You want to limit jewdaism to a religion while claiming to be a jew while claiming to be not religious. Sad. The jewish people are a nation, despite attempts to wipe us out near and far, mayb bcause of them. Self determination means never to ask validation from your enemies, foreign, domestic, and latter that became former.

    • Talkback
      March 26, 2016, 6:53 am

      Rafi: “The jewish people are a nation …”

      ROFL. If that was the case one could become “Jewish” by simply acquiring citizenship, like becoming American, French or British, etc. But “Jewish” is neither a citizenship nor the name of a constitutive people and that’s the reason, why a “Jewish state” is inherently racist.

      “Self determination means …”

      … that only the people of Palestine (who were a constitutive people in 1948 with “Palestinian” being a citizenship and including native Jews) had the right to determine Palestine’s future and not Jewish foreign settlers who infiltrated Palestine under British gun and whose Apartheid Junta took over Palestine through war and expulsion.

      • echinococcus
        March 26, 2016, 7:43 am

        Talkback,

        that only the people of Palestine (who were a constitutive people in 1948 with “Palestinian” being a citizenship and including native Jews) had the right to determine Palestine’s future

        Not 1948 because

        not Jewish foreign settlers who infiltrated Palestine under British gun and whose Apartheid Junta took over Palestine through war and expulsion

        given that the “foreign settlers who infiltrated Palestine under British gun” started infiltrating with declared hostile intent in 1897 at the latest –if you want to be extremely lenient, 1917.

      • Sibiriak
        March 26, 2016, 9:15 am

        echinococcus: [ Not 1948 ] given that the “foreign settlers who infiltrated Palestine under British gun” started infiltrating with declared hostile intent in 1897 at the latest –if you want to be extremely lenient, 1917.
        ———————-

        Finally, I can agree with echino 100%.

      • MHughes976
        March 26, 2016, 10:13 am

        What is meant by ‘a nation’? The Renan-style definition, centring on admiration for certain stories and heroes, does not seem to imply any serious rights – how can rights spring from a mere state of mind? Moreover it seems to be compatible with belonging to more than one nation or to none, which would complicate the National Rights question.

      • Talkback
        March 27, 2016, 6:30 am

        @ echinococcus

        There’s nothing wrong with my claim that the people of Palestine were a constitutive people in 1948. And I consider Jews who became ipso facto citizens of Palestine because they were habitually resident in that part of the Ottoman empire to be legal Palestinians.

        There’s a difference between the state sanctioned immigration of Jews in Ottoman times and their enforced immigration under British de facto occupation which would be considereded a violation of the Geneva Conventions nowadays, even if not all Jews were citizens of the de facto occupying state (because of the Marten’s clause). It was clearly a violation of self determination with the same negative consequences which the Geneva Conventions wants to prevent.

    • eljay
      March 26, 2016, 8:35 am

      || Rafi: You want to limit jewdaism to a religion while claiming to be a jew while claiming to be not religious. Sad. The jewish people are a nation, despite attempts to wipe us out near and far, mayb bcause of them. Self determination means never to ask validation from your enemies, foreign, domestic, and latter that became former. ||

      Jewish is a religion-based identity. People who wish to be Jewish are free to self-determine as Jewish. That self-determination does not entitled them to a colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state.

      • tod77
        March 28, 2016, 9:48 am

        “Jewish is a religion-based identity. People who wish to be Jewish are free to self-determine as Jewish. That self-determination does not entitled them to a colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state”
        eljay – well put. The article and comments are all going into pointless philosophical discussions while you summed it up beautifully.

      • Mooser
        March 28, 2016, 6:56 pm

        “Jewish is a religion-based identity. People who wish to be Jewish are free to self-determine as Jewish. That self-determination does not entitled them to a colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state”

        Oh, please. Wouldn’t the most sensible thing be to assume that being entitled “to a colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state” (I got no argument about that, it’s pretty obvious) is the reason for identifying as Jewish?
        It is after all, a tangible, material and fungible reward. Why not work from the most reasonable assumption?

        Why make it more complicated than it is, and give Zionists credit they don’t deserve.

    • Mooser
      March 26, 2016, 1:18 pm

      “Self determination means never to ask validation from your enemies, foreign, domestic, and latter that became former.”

      “Rafi”, my friend, people might take Jewish self-determination more seriously if we were on the increase instead of the decline. As it is, all they have to do is wait us out. And if the Jewish religion, and the way it’s inflicted, isn’t unpleasant enough, Zionism and its influence is proving a very good reason to flee Judaism.
      So, when we can show a little increase, a little retention, maybe that “self-determination” might be a threat, instead of a joke.

  13. talknic
    March 26, 2016, 6:32 am

    @ Rafi “Are u going to write about the citizenships\nationals\CULTURE\rights nexus of arabs and non arabs in 20+ arab countries? “

    Uh? Oh!! I understand. Writing about other un-related citizenships\nationals\CULTURE\rights in 20+ arab countries, will somehow resolve the incongruities presented by the Zionist Movement’s Jewish State in its convoluted attempts to avoid fully implementing the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel

    “The jewish people are a nation, despite attempts to wipe us out near and far, mayb bcause of them. Self determination means never to ask validation from your enemies, foreign, domestic, and latter that became former”

    The Zionist Movement, Jewish Agency, Jewish People’s Council and provisional Israeli Government already self determined Israel “as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947″ http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/documents/newPDF/49.pdf

    It’s very simple. No territories outside of Israel’s self determined and Internationally recognized borders are Israeli and no further territories have ever been recognized as Israeli because it has been illegal to acquire territories by war since at least 1945 under the UN Charter

  14. KS Barghouti
    March 26, 2016, 8:29 am

    Many people around the world still do not realize this mix-up. It just show the culture of Deception that Zionists follow.

    “Ends Justify Means”, was best practiced by Zionist, surpassing Niccolò Machiavelli.

    I just often wonder for how long can this corrupt culture lie its way and survive, another 100 or 200 years, but it will definitely decay, we are at a different age.

    Good article Jonathan

  15. RobertHenryEller
    March 26, 2016, 8:45 am

    Further, Israel thereby reserves for itself the right to define who is Jewish, and who is not.

    Watch how the definition of “Jew” changes in Israel, as the right wing and the Orthodox further ascend, while the left wing and the more secular, further descend politically.

    • eljay
      March 26, 2016, 8:56 am

      || RobertHenryEller: Further, Israel thereby reserves for itself the right to define who is Jewish, and who is not.

      Watch how the definition of “Jew” changes in Israel, as the right wing and the Orthodox further ascend, while the left wing and the more secular, further descend politically. ||

      Zio-supremacists insist that Jews are entitled to self-determine and self-identify. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond to their “Jewish State’s” anti-Semitic undermining of these professed rights.

    • Mooser
      March 26, 2016, 1:21 pm

      “Watch how the definition of “Jew” changes in Israel, as the right wing and the Orthodox further ascend, while the left wing and the more secular, further descend politically.”

      Excuse me, but Holy Land, they aren’t making any more of it. Gotta keep the standards high. There’s only so much land and so much Jewish to go around.

  16. RobertHenryEller
    March 26, 2016, 8:50 am

    An Islamist is distinguished from a Muslim as being a Muslim who believe that both Mosque and State are governed by the Quran.

    Following this model, perhaps we have to create new words for most Jewish Israelis. Perhaps we should call Zionists “Jewists,” or “Judaist,” for Jews who believe both Synagogue and State should be governed by the Bible, by other Jewish sacred texts, and ultimately, by Rabbis who will be empowered to say what the law is.

    Just like the Imams and Ayatollahs in Islamist countries define the law, the lawful, and the law breakers.

  17. xanadou
    March 26, 2016, 7:13 pm

    Excellent article.

    The Israeli pols are corrupting logic by conflating the nebulous (religious id that can be, and is practiced anywhere), with the tangible (secular id that is defined by one’s residence in a specific territory), i.e., two entirely different and unrelated concepts. In South Africa the dividing principal was based on skin tone, in Israel, a religion. Both equally pointless, irrelevant and deliberately contentious tools used to divide and conquer, which soils the spiritual sanctity of that whose purpose it is to bring solace and healing to the despairing. Thus the Israeli pols are corrupting their own religion, which makes them the ultimate antisemites.

  18. just
    March 27, 2016, 7:31 am

    This is a great article, Jonathan. I have been enriched with all of your contributions to MW. Please keep writing, playing your violin, and teaching your nephew and others the truth in “little conversations” and pieces like this.

    Rigtig mange tak.

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