Why a Texas rabbi keeps losing a debate over Israel with a white nationalist leader

Middle East
on 88 Comments

It must have been a terrible embarrassment to Hillel rabbi Matt Rosenberg at Texas A&M University, when he tried to challenge the alt-right Spencer with ‘radical inclusion and love’. Spencer was invited to the University, and Rosenberg was there to challenge his bigotry:

“My tradition teaches a message of radical inclusion and love,” Rosenberg said, in a video picked up by the Forward, and posted by the campus newspaper The Eagle. “Will you sit down and learn Torah with me, and learn love?”

Spencer gracefully declined the offer to pray, but in return offered an appraisal of Judaism and Zionism that literally left the rabbi speechless. Spencer actually blew Rosenberg’s pink balloon, and Rosenberg didn’t know what to do. Here is what Spencer said:

“Do you really want radical inclusion into the State of Israel?” Spencer said. “And by that I mean radical inclusion. Maybe all of the Middle East could go move in to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that?”

Rosenberg was silent.

“You’re not answering,” Spencer said.

“I’m not answering,” Rosenberg said.

“Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate,” Spencer went on. “That is why Jews are a coherent people with a history and a culture and a future. It’s because you had a sense of yourselves. I respect that about you. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves.”

Shock horror. With all the generalism inherent in Spencer’s appraisal, he was touching upon a very central issue for Zionism, and he connected it to the Jewish culture – it’s the exclusivist vein that Zionism champions in Judaism. Whilst there may be many Jews in the world who seek greater or lesser assimilation, Zionism basically defies, on a national level, the issue of assimilation. Zionism assumed from the outset that Jewish assimilation is not viable and should not really be attempted, and realised its exclusivism (which Jews also blamed the world for upholding) through the Jewish nation-state. The ideology became reality, the Palestinians were and are continually being ethnically cleansed, there is Apartheid. This is the manifestation of what Spencer seeks, ‘white exclusivity.’ This ‘whiteness’ is just as real and valid as Jewish ethnic homogeneity, and those who truly believe in the validity of these constructs are the racists.

In any case, Rosenberg didn’t have an answer. Spencer’s point was, after all, compelling. What’s more, he didn’t throw spiteful words at Rosenberg, he simply took Rosenberg’s ‘radical inclusion and love’ and questioned it in light of Israeli policy and Zionist ideology, and in a rhetoric martial-arts turn of energy, gave him back the ‘’inclusion and love’ by saying how he respects Jews, respects that sense of exclusivity.

You’ve got to hand it to this neo-Nazi, he is a masterful debater. He’s certainly not stupid. And yes, Spencer said the same thing to our website last summer: “I respect Israel as a homogenous ethno-state.” 

But the same skills cannot be ascribed to Rosenberg. He has now admitted to not being a great debater anyway:

“I wasn’t on the high school debate team,” Rosenberg told the Forward.

He also thinks such a task, in the future, should be passed on to the “next rabbi”:

“I really didn’t want to get into it. That might have been the wrong decision, but I’ll let the next rabbi deal with it,” he said.

He continues to ‘humble’, or perhaps humiliate himself by saying “I am a simple teacher of Torah”.

Well, that is some failure, huh? But Rosenberg doesn’t offer any actual answers to Spencer’s contentions. Perhaps because he doesn’t really have them. His only attempted punches in the aftermath are generalist accusations of ‘hate speech’:

“We can’t normalize hate speech…It’s a philo-Semitic campus, where people appreciate Jewish culture and Judaism.”

Yes, but didn’t Spencer just say how he appreciated and respected Judaism, in his own way?

The Forward tells us that Rosenberg “said he found Spencer’s attempt to get him to defend Israel erroneous and bordering on anti-Semitic”.  Erroneous? Wasn’t Spencer allowed to ask these rhetorical questions and pose these views to Rosenberg? Rosenberg’s attempt at ‘tarnishing’ Spencer with being ‘borderline anti-Semitic’ is perhaps the most pathetic of all. Who does Rosenberg think he’s talking about? Some Jewish Hillel student who went out of line? ‘Borderline anti-Semitic’ is by now a claim that doesn’t even add a scratch to people like Spencer. It would be totally realistic to call Spencer something more precise – borderline Nazi – and even that would be a conservative appraisal.

The more Rabbi Rosenberg lashes out in retrospect against Spencer and the debate he sorely lost, the more he attracts attention to Spencer’s point. Yet he bemoans also this very aspect: “The undue amount of attention given to Richard Spencer and his message was and is troubling to me,” he said.

Yes, Spencer made a point, posing how Rosenberg’s supposedly Jewish, pink, multicultural advocacy of ‘radical inclusion and love’ is incompatible with Israel and Zionism, and Rosenberg was silent because he didn’t want to fall into the trap of ‘defending Israel’, that is, Israel’s intrinsically exclusionist policies, but he didn’t want to attack it either. Rosenberg’s silence represents the prevailing paradigm of Jewish ambivalence about Zionism, where the ‘liberals’ simply seek to paint it over. One scratch under the surface and it isn’t very appealing anymore.  

Spencer masterfully put Rosenberg in a checkmate, whilst Rosenberg the amateur player was thinking that he would outplay him with liberal and humanistic bravura.

This debate should focus us upon far more than the rhetorical aspect of the debate itself. It should alert us to how Zionism and white-supremacy in fact dovetail, and it should make us think about what Zionism may be doing to this world, beyond what is supposedly ‘good for the Jews’.

As Zionism’s founder Herzl wrote in his diary, “the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies” [see the Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl. Vol. 1, page 84]. This prophecy may come to manifest in ways that will leave Jews speechless.

About Jonathan Ofir

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

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88 Responses

  1. eljay
    December 8, 2016, 12:24 pm

    Mr. Rosenberg’s belief in “radical inclusion and love” is similar to the Zio-supremacist belief in “peace”: It’s great as long as it doesn’t affect Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine.

  2. Scott
    December 8, 2016, 1:48 pm

    There’s a lot of truth here. I first became conscious of the hypocrisy of neoconservatives — at the time my friends and allies– when I saw how viciously they went after immigration restrictionists in the 1990’s. Their views for the United States were exactly the opposite of those they defended for Israel. Spencer is an extremist, of course, but seeking some degree of national self-preservation is not extreme, imo. Rather hope there is a middle ground forged between extreme multiculturalism and neo-Nazism/civil war, rather like social democracy was forged somewhere between unbridled capitalism and Leninism.

    • Spring Renouncer
      December 10, 2016, 11:36 pm

      Sorry, Scott, “national self-preservation” is an oxymoron of the worst sort. To me it really sounds like something an ardent Zionist might say in defense of Israeli policies (existential threat, self-determination, self-defence etc.)!

      You mention that your “neoconservative friends” had contradictory policies on immigration with regards to the U.S. and Israel, but sadly so do you. You seem to be sympathetic towards, and calling for the preservation of, the White settler state in North America, but against the Jewish settler state in Palestine: what inconsistency.

      Neither Israel, nor America, nor “Europe” nor Russia have any right to complain about immigration or changing ethnic compositions in their countries, whether real or imagined. All are settler/imperialist states that have destroyed natives and appropriated their land. The West has succeeded in making the entire world Western, even those peoples they see as their opposites. Now it is the West’s turn to reap the “harvest of empire.”

      Finally, claiming that “multiculturalism” is as far from the center, and as problematic, as neo-Nazism is really bizarre, illogical — and in my opinion — laughable. The world was not thrust upon Europe and America, but rather Europe and America upon the world. The only alternative to northward immigration from the global south would be a mass global redistribution of capital without the movement of people, which Westerners will never agree to.

      Europe and America have flung their own people, culture, religion, investment, technology and states across the earth’s surface, with no regard for any border, whether ethical or physical, yet now demand that in return their “composition” must be “preserved”. Sorry buddy, that simply won’t fly — regardless of Trump and his European equivalents. It is far too late to return to some prelapsarian “normalcy”. Even ending the West’s current oppressive and imperial economic and foreign policies at once will not suffice, for the damage has already been done long, long ago: “because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude, [do] not have a second [chance] on earth.”

  3. Keith
    December 8, 2016, 4:58 pm

    JONATHAN OFIR- “Zionism assumed from the outset that Jewish assimilation is not viable and should not really be attempted….”

    Methinks that you are being a tad disingenuous here. The early Zionists were at least as concerned with the existential threat assimilation posed to Jewish peoplehood. That remains true today as modern Zionists are deeply concerned that Jewish assimilation is too viable and an existential threat to Zionist based Jewish kinship solidarity.

    • Jonathan Ofir
      December 9, 2016, 8:33 am

      Keith, you are attacking an interpretation of what I wrote as disingenuous. Of course assimilation was possible on its own, but the belief was that it’s either a complete conversion or a maintenance of some Jewish identity, where the latter would mean that the gentiles would always eventually persecute Jews, no matter how ‘assimilated’. The logic suggests that ‘mixing in’ will always eventually mean a ‘disappearance’ either by custom or eventual persecution – unless there was a decidedly isolationist venture that would protect the Jews in one place.

      This a rather uncontroversial Zionist logic.

  4. AddictionMyth
    December 8, 2016, 5:28 pm

    Jews will have to take a stand for or against Zionism. It’s pretty clear now which side will win. And some people will suffer a humiliating defeat – I think it’s all very funny.

    Israel will be fine. The Jews will be fine. The key is to ensure robust protections for freedom of speech and religion. This works because it prevents people from killing each other based on stupid theories and manifestos that flourish under banishment. The Dylan Storm Roof trial will be a good demonstration of that: “I believed it because they tried to suppress it.” (This is also why CVE’s tactic of suppressing videos that ‘radicalize’ is so misguided – it only gives them credibility.)

    Many people think that some people are just evil and will kill without reason. This is the supervillian delusion (thanks Stan Lee). In fact people need good reasons to kill. Yet we are master justifiers. (How do I know? Because ….)

    • xwpis onoma
      January 7, 2017, 1:09 am

      I agree with the majority of your comment EXCEPT when you talk about religion. It is religion (christianity, islam and especially judaism) that is gravely responsible for the indoctrination of the ideologues who manipulate the masses in the name of religious affiliation and faith. Religion is a man made invention disgracefully aiming at controlling the faithful “sheep” by providing quasi-plausible interpretations (but never solid explanations) to the impossible eternal question of “why us and why here?”. Religion needs to be slowly isolated and eventually removed from human civilization and replaced by something else. And that something which has not been found yet, can simply be, nothing at all.

      • Mooser
        January 7, 2017, 3:35 pm

        “especially judaism) that is gravely responsible for the indoctrination of the ideologues who manipulate the masses in the name of religious affiliation and faith”

        As far as “especially Judaism” goes, where (home, Temple, Jewish social organization?) and at what ages are Jewish children (outside of Israel, of course) given “the indoctrination of the ideologues who manipulate the masses in the name of religious affiliation and faith”?

  5. lyn117
    December 8, 2016, 6:19 pm

    Unfortunately, Spencer has a good point.

    I don’t know what Rosenberg means by radical inclusion, I don’t think studying other people’s religions is at all necessary for loving other cultures, or practicing tolerance. Nor is excluding people of other cultures from one’s territory or civic participation necessary for whites to “have a sense of themselves”

    The whole Middle East wouldn’t have to move to Israel, just its indigenous Palestinian population could move back and Rosenberg could have some radical inclusion.

    • RoHa
      December 8, 2016, 8:06 pm

      “I don’t think studying other people’s religions is at all necessary for loving other cultures, or practicing tolerance.”

      Can be counter-productive. I have found that the more you learn about other people, the more you realise that they are as bad as you are.

      • Sulphurdunn
        December 12, 2016, 5:23 pm

        And just as stupid.

  6. oldgeezer
    December 8, 2016, 9:50 pm

    This is funny in a sad way.

    That the ideology of zionism is akin to white supremacy is glaringly obvious. Israel is their wet dream. So much more in common than in difference.

    Of course the rabbi had no comeback. There isn’t one.

  7. Stogumber
    December 9, 2016, 3:01 am

    I appreciate that Mondoweiss called Spencer a “white nationalist” and not a “white supremacist”. As for Phil Weiss, simple gracefulnesses or fairnesses like this will cost him his reputation, some day or other.

    • richard vajs
      December 9, 2016, 8:36 am

      Stogumber,
      The rabbi has a disadvantage – there may be a difference between a “white nationalist” and a “white supremacist”, but there is no difference between a “Jewish nationalist” and a “Jewish supremacist”.

      • xwpis onoma
        January 7, 2017, 1:19 am

        IMHO, the only disadvantage this Rabbi and any Jew has is the fact that they had the misfortune to be born in a culture that has made hypocrisy a sublime form of art. And it is impossible to escape the gravitational forces of Zionism. Once you -somehow- managed to do so, you will be condemned to forever wander in “space” without a chance for redemption.

      • Mooser
        January 7, 2017, 2:16 pm

        “And it is impossible to escape the gravitational forces of Zionism”

        Try one of those F-1’s like they used in the Saturn V. The F-1 remains the most powerful single-combustion chamber liquid-propellant rocket engine ever developed.

      • oldgeezer
        January 7, 2017, 3:24 pm

        @mooser

        Clearly they never tried patron tequila.

    • echinococcus
      December 9, 2016, 9:02 am

      Stogumber,

      When you have time, would you care to define the difference?

      • Mooser
        December 9, 2016, 5:18 pm

        “When you have time, would you care to define the difference?”

        “Echin” just like certain other things, ‘it’s complicated’. Maybe even ‘complex’.

      • Maghlawatan
        December 9, 2016, 10:49 pm

        Mooser

        It’s complicated. It always is

      • Mooser
        December 10, 2016, 12:31 pm

        “It’s complicated. It always is”

        Isn’t it, tho?

        “If love should call, and you were I,
        And I were you, and love should call,
        How happy I could be with I,
        And you with you, if love should call.
        Your shoulders broad, your instep arched,
        Without your kiss my lips are parched.
        For love comes late, and now, and soon,
        At midnight’s crack, and blazing noon.
        My arms are ready, the wine is heady,
        If love should call.”

        S.J.Perelman

    • Mooser
      December 9, 2016, 12:21 pm

      “As for Phil Weiss, simple gracefulnesses or fairnesses like this will cost him his reputation, some day or other.”

      Yeah, leftist liberals will nail him to the cross for not calling a spade a spade. When the US is obviously the white man’s country.

      • Maghlawatan
        December 9, 2016, 2:13 pm

        Yeah Mooser
        It is no country for old spades

    • Spring Renouncer
      December 11, 2016, 3:29 am

      There is no differences between the two terms, Stogumber.

  8. echinococcus
    December 9, 2016, 8:57 am

    The pitiful figure of the of a liberal White-Jewish nationalist cutting short his bleating upon receiving a glowing tribute from a conscious White nationalist –that was so predictable.
    Zionists nowadays don’t even know what they are and what they stand for. This guy was totally unable to recognize his twin brother until his nose was ground on his own doo-doo.

    We’ve already had two generations of people who grew up in the Zionist Jewish bubble. Cut off from critical teaching of history, critical news, critical thinking –and at the same time ready to pretend being one of the general American public, ready to defend principles that were never taught to them in the Z bubble. I don’t think that the Rabbi here is a moron. He just never was taught, between his all-Zionist environment and his tribally restricted schooling, that Principle 1 says: “Principles don’t admit racially grounded exceptions”.

    • John Smithson
      December 10, 2016, 1:01 pm

      Approach to life by Super Smart Special people – be they white, black, brown, yellow, red…

      1) Tell yourselves your better and smarter than everyone else – and ‘special’.

      2) Tell yourselves you deserve ‘exceptions’ in your case – because you’re so ‘special’. Pursue and obtain exceptions for yourselves whenever possible.

      3) Vigorously maintain a separate, exclusive culture – discourage your children from
      marrying ‘the others’. Help others in your group way more than anyone outside your group.

      4) Wonder why you get picked on so much – then tell yourselves and ‘the others’ “it’s obviously someone else’s fault” and ” ‘the others’ hate us because x,y, and z” – and hope you and ‘the others’ buy it. Never introspect or entertain the idea your own behavior and attitudes might make others justifiably upset – that’s impossible, you’re Special!

      Not really the smartest approach to life, but there are those who strictly adhere to it – despite ample evidence that it’s really not a good way to treat ‘the other’ or even in the long run to ensure your own survival.

      But hey, what do I know – I’m not Super Smart nor Special!

      Probably tough for the Rabbi to have to see it all so clearly all at once when seeing his own reflection in the visage of a white nationalist…

      And just to pre-empt the ‘Smithson is such an Anti-Semite’ barrage:
      ‘Specialness’ is not just a white nationalist problem or a Rabbi problem – just ask a Hutu, Nazi, Tutsi, Hottentot, Japanese WWII soldier, ISIS fighter, the list (sadly) is endless. We simple, dumb, non-special folk have to pick up broken, worn-out tools every generation and try the fix the current specialness situation and the resulting messes they cause. And now we get to post on the internet about it too – not that it does much good other than getting tagged as ‘Against the Special People’ – however they define themselves.

      • Mooser
        December 10, 2016, 2:38 pm

        Yup, I bet that’s why all those black and brown people came to the US, to show us how special they are. The nerve.

      • John Smithson
        December 10, 2016, 4:24 pm

        Methinks the Mooser doth protest too much! Stings don’t it?

        Sorry to gore your sacred cow buddy…but that’s what true friends are for – they let you know when you’re full of it.

        Nice attempted deflection though.

        Good attempt at Hasbara #3 – the old ‘you suck’ approach. I’ll let others judge if it stuck.

      • echinococcus
        December 10, 2016, 5:32 pm

        +10, hands down.
        Just don’t forget: we are always specialer!

      • RoHa
        December 10, 2016, 6:45 pm

        You are an anti-Semite, Smithson. You are suggesting that the merely imagined specialness of those groups is similar to the super-specialness of the Jews. Which is, of course, very special and very real indeed.

      • Mooser
        December 10, 2016, 7:31 pm

        “You are suggesting that the merely imagined specialness of those groups is similar to the super-specialness of the Jews.”

        You tell ’em, “RoHa”!

    • Spring Renouncer
      December 11, 2016, 3:31 am

      I hate to say it, and and am quite restrained and thoughtful in criticizing others, but your language is quite problematic.

      • John Smithson
        December 11, 2016, 12:35 pm

        How exactly? Seriously – what is problematic?

        I agree it may make some uncomfortable but my metric is more about truth and reality than about anyone’s feelings.

        Fire away – I want to learn!

      • Spring Renouncer
        December 11, 2016, 2:45 pm

        @John Smithson I don’t necessarily disagree with the content of the original post, but the style through which it is conveyed is problematic. “The pitiful figure of the of a liberal White-Jewish nationalist cutting short his bleating upon receiving…” That sentence should be revised or thrown out.

      • echinococcus
        December 11, 2016, 6:54 pm

        Renouncer,

        You are unfairly attacking Smithson!

        The paragraph below is from me:

        The pitiful figure [of the] of a liberal White-Jewish nationalist cutting short his bleating upon receiving a glowing tribute from a conscious White nationalist –that was so predictable

        So let’s hear it: what, exactly, is not supported by fact there? Precision, please. Or, alternatively, you may try to explain why it is “problematic” and why I should care.

        As long as the facts fit, I don’t give a rodent’s nether parts about “the style through which it is conveyed”. If you took offense, I can guarantee that the intent was not to specifically and personally offend Misterormissus Renouncer about anything private: I don’t know you at all.

        You can have the post deleted by appealing to the site owners.

      • echinococcus
        December 24, 2016, 3:06 am

        Renouncer,

        No harm in being “quite restrained and thoughtful in criticizing others” but hit-and-run smearups are not the done thing.
        What exactly was not supported by fact in my characterization of the Zionist rabbi?
        Been waiting for a longish time.

  9. broadside
    December 9, 2016, 11:00 am

    “You’ve got to hand it to this neo-Nazi, he is a masterful debater.”

    That’s like saying, ‘You got to hand it to that guy, the way he played those four aces.’

    In fact it’s pretty hard to lose a poker hand being dealt four aces, playing anyone. And there is no defense for Zionism. None. All their talking points are nonsense, the problem is they are never challenged, and Spencer did, shutting Rosenberg up. That’s gonna happen every time.

    Next time some Israeli official (or NPR host) says Hamas targets civilians, the Israeli Army does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties, I wish someone would respond: how is it, then, in the latest mowing of the grass Israel killed 500 Palestinian children, whereas of the 73 Israelis killed by Hamas, 67 were soldiers?

    I think we’d hear the same silence Spencer heard.

  10. hophmi
    December 9, 2016, 12:02 pm

    I expected this piece, which shows the following:

    1. When a rabbi makes a statement that has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel, you’ll make it about Israel anyway.

    2. BDS supporters like what Spencer said because they agree with his views. Chew on that for awhile.

    3. It’s, of course, utter bullshit. Israel is one of the most diverse societies on the planet, from every possible point of view. It’s home to people who are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Bahai. It’s home to people of every race. It’s home to people of every sexual orientation.

    4. There’s nothing masterful about Richard Spencer, who is a poor excuse for a human being and a poor debater. The only two groups of people who think Spencer is a good debater are neo-Nazis, and BDS supporters. He’s a piss poor debater, because his analogy is nonsense. People here just share his hate.

    • eljay
      December 9, 2016, 12:33 pm

      || hophmi: … Israel is one of the most diverse societies on the planet, from every possible point of view. … ||

      Yup, it’s so inclusive:
      – it was established and operates as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” – a state primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews – rather than a secular and democratic Israeli state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally; and
      – it views non-Jews (incl. the non-Jewish refugees it refuses to repatriate) as a “demographic threat”.

      But I hear ya: Israel is a “moral beacon” and a “light unto the nation” state that’s not as bad as Saudi Arabia, Mali and African “hell-holes”.

    • echinococcus
      December 9, 2016, 12:36 pm

      Hophmi made me laugh harder than any time this month.

      Israel is one of the most diverse societies on the planet, from every possible point of view. It’s home to people who are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Bahai.

      So true, Hophmi! As long as they are born to a Jewish mother, no one cares about their religion. The others can be murdered inside their homes, or outdoors, too.

    • Donald Johnson
      December 9, 2016, 1:37 pm

      1. The rabbi made a statement in favor of inclusiveness and love. You say this has nothing to do with Israel. Very harsh, there, hophmi. Israel practices apartheid in the WB and commits war crimes, but it isn’t all evil.

      2. Finished chewing. BDS supporters favor equal rights for Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Spencer favors counties which favor some ethnicities over others. They disagree on morality, but agree on what anyone can see, which is that Israel practices apartheid. They probably also agree that on a clear day the sky is blue.

      3. Israel is very diverse and is not pure evil. It does practice apartheid in the WB and treats the Palestinians in Gaza like caged animals.

      4. Even a Nazi scumbag can score a point against a good person with a huge blind spot. I don’t know anything about the rabbi, but he sounds like someone unprepared to deal with the ugly realities about Israel.

      • Maghlawatan
        December 9, 2016, 4:20 pm

        Israel is maybe 40% evil

    • Annie Robbins
      December 9, 2016, 2:04 pm

      hops, your comment is merely a false equivalence/strawman/ad hominem argument.

      meanwhile, simply stating spencer’s “analogy is nonsense” is not an argument nor evidence he’s a piss poor debater — it’s just an unsupported declaration. just thought i’d point that out.

      try harder: #fail

      • Mooser
        December 9, 2016, 2:19 pm

        “It’s home to people of every sexual orientation”

        Well, they probably discourage a missionary position.

      • Maghlawatan
        December 9, 2016, 3:12 pm

        Every sexual orientation other than Jews who fall in love with Palestinians….. not kosher
        And what good is a fascist trans person anyway ?

    • Maghlawatan
      December 9, 2016, 2:17 pm

      “BDS supporters like what Spencer said because they agree with his views.”

      I think you mistook BDS for the ZOA, habibi

    • kma
      December 9, 2016, 2:18 pm

      “When a rabbi makes a statement that has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel, you’ll make it about Israel anyway…. Israel is one of the most diverse societies on the planet, from every possible point of view. It’s home to….” etc

      hypocritical to complain about the linkage and then defend zionism. “but it’s a *nice* ethnic cleansing!” If the rabbi had an argument against racism, he would have criticized Israel and white supremacy and there would have been an actual debate against Spencer.

      • MHughes976
        December 9, 2016, 3:52 pm

        The linkage arose because the rabbi was asked how his ideas about inclusiveness and love apply to Israel: does he believe all the implications of what he says? He might have replied ‘Israel is not my concern and I’m not here to discuss it; you shouldn’t make assumptions based on my being a rabbi’. Or perhaps ‘Would we were as inclusive and loving as Israel’, or ‘I condemn Israel; let us never go down that road’. It seems that he could not quite bring himself to say any of these things. What do we make of this? Perhaps that it is difficult to reconcile liberal Judaism with any form of Zionism.
        The alternative, nationalist interpretation of Judaism offered from outside by Mr. Spencer has its anti-Semitic aspect, since he seems to distinguish Jewish people from ‘his people’, which seems to imply that Jewish people are somewhat out of place in the West, unable to fulfill themselves completely on the moral level. This is the sliver of common ground between Zionism and anti-Semitism – not a proof that Z is wrong, but interesting.

      • Mooser
        December 9, 2016, 5:03 pm

        ” Jewish people are somewhat out of place in the West, unable to fulfill themselves completely on the moral level. This is the sliver of common ground between Zionism and anti-Semitism – not a proof that Z is wrong,”

        Yeah, maybe not for you “MHughes976”, but as far as I’m concerned, any Jewish ideology which uses even a “sliver” of antisemitism as a way of controlling or influencing Jews, is wrong. Maybe that’s just a personal problem, of course, but I’m sorta down on antisemitism.

      • rosross
        December 9, 2016, 9:13 pm

        @MHughes,

        The errors arise with the delusional concept of a Jewish people in the literal sense of a people.

        Yes, there is a Jewish people, as religious metaphor, just as there is a Christian, Hindu, Moslem etc., people, as a religious group/community. But religions do not make a people in any true sense of the word.

        A Jew from Ethiopia is as different to a Jew from London or Chicago, as is a Christian from Ethiopia as different to ones from London or Chicago. The commonality is the religion, but beyond religious practice and dogma, the individuals are culturally very different, which is hardly surprising.

        The only ‘unity’ for Jews is from the religion, whereas a true people are united socially, culturally, and sometimes ancestrally. Jewish unity in this sense is no different to the unity any other religion confers. What is different is that this religious unity draws upon Jewish teachings of superiority and exceptionalism, hence the literalising of the metaphor.

        But interpreting a metaphor in the literal does not make it real, true, or fact. A lie repeated, remains a lie.

      • Mooser
        December 10, 2016, 12:43 pm

        “rosross” there is no unifying dogma or doctrine in the Jewish religion. The religion consists, at this time, of at least three mutually antagonistic sects.
        The religion is also decentralized.

    • broadside
      December 9, 2016, 5:21 pm

      “Mooser”: ‘Well, they probably discourage a missionary position. ‘

      Not bad!!

    • rosross
      December 9, 2016, 9:06 pm

      @hophmi,

      Diversity is common to all nations and it is democracy which creates cohesion from the diversity.

      Israel may have citizens of a variety of religions but the reality is that all non-Jews are second-class citizens and are considered to be inferior, with the inconvenient indigenous Palestinians, Muslim, Christian or whatever, relegated the status of subhuman in true Zionazi style.

      And while Jews in general and in UN mandated Israel and Occupied Palestine, comprise all races and are drawn from dozens of nationalities, even Jews in their diversity are not united because the Euro-centric Jews are racist toward those who did not originate in Europe and the Russians, most of whom are not even Jewish anyway, are racist toward pretty much everyone.

      Zionist Israel is a State founded on and sourced in religious bigotry where followers of Judaism, practising or not, often in essence, Jewish or not, but with some ancestral Jewish links, are superior to the rest and demand they remain in power and dictate to non-Jews living in UN mandated Israel, how they will live, think and act, and ensuring they remain second-class citizens, under the jackboot of the superior Jews.

      Zionist Israel is an occupier, coloniser and apartheid State which has no place in an enlightened democratic world because of its backward and bigoted views and practices. Whatever lies Zionists and Jewish Israelis might tell themselves, Israel is a blot on the modern world and as knowledge grows around the world of the truth of its foundation and function, tolerance will diminish for its human rights atrocities and war crimes.

    • thankgodimatheist
      December 9, 2016, 10:45 pm

      Hophmi : “Israel is one of the most diverse societies on the planet, from every possible point of view. It’s home to people who are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Bahai.”
      It has never been the intention from the get go and it still isn’t, Hophmi. If there are Muslims and Christians, Palestinian in fact, at all, it’s not thanks to Israel’s willingness to include but despite its unwillingness do so. Zionists made no secret about their intention to rid the new founded state from its indigenous population, Muslims and Christians alike. They proceeded to kick them out by all means necessary. In fact, they only stopped when they believed that the remaining ones, who hanged on to the bitter end would be a very small and insignificant minority that represented no threat to the state’s dominant population’s homogeneity. The only ones who were not seen with suspicion and tolerated were the Druze who, to a great degree, showed willingness to collaborate.
      Another point. Non-Jew immigration to Israel is inexistent. If there any non-Jews are allowed in they’re not to become citizens and those who do are the exception which confirms the rule.

      • thankgodimatheist
        December 9, 2016, 10:59 pm

        The only “diversity” in Israel is within the Jews themselves. Moroccan Jews, Russian Jews, American, French, South African, etc. Diverse Jews, yes.

    • DaBakr
      December 9, 2016, 11:08 pm

      @hp
      . Exactly. Especially #3.

      Spencer is an idiot. He has soon some marketing and social skills. big deal. I know fourth graders who could out-debate him on so-called ‘white nationalism’ . of course mw commenters are eating up their imagined parallel between Israel and Spencer’s ideology. It is totally expected of the mediocre mindset of all true believers. wether they are obsessed with so-called white people’s decline and need for a racially pure nation which is so asinine in the first place- or- obsessed with their need to prove the illigitimacy of the state of israel as well as their need to discredit any jewish connection to the land and comparing zionism to the one movement in modern history that was almost exclusively (from one crazed megalomaniacs paranoia) devoted to exterminating these ‘jews’ (oh, lol, who are actually khazers) . Their further obsession being the singular focus on this one modern and very successful nation that is Jewish but extends rights to all colours, religions,etc, as hpm stated without any desire, plan, or intention to destroy the arabs who came to identify as Palestinian or any of the other many people’s living I the land of Israel.
      This rabbi in the article may indeed be a boob but that has nothing to do with Spencer believing he admires what the jews (who he thinks are mud people btw. figure that into his ‘debating’ skills)

      The only thing this article proves is how gullible and predictable the commenters here are I the subject of the jewish nation.

      • oldgeezer
        December 10, 2016, 12:15 am

        @dohbaker

        Yes i am sure you know some 3rd or 4th graders which could out debate spencer which is why you failed to make any comment contradicting what he said. Since you know them please call upon your betters in those grades and save yourself the effort.

        We agree spencer is an idiot. That said be is right that zionists are no different and the wet dream of white supremacists and neo nazis.

      • Citizen
        December 10, 2016, 1:02 am

        Please explain how the basic principles and conduct of Zionism differ from Spencer’s white nationalism principles.

      • Talkback
        December 10, 2016, 3:55 am

        DaBakr: “… obsessed with their need to prove the illigitimacy of the state of israel…”

        There’s no obsession, because it’s a fact. The only obsession is to frame everybody as antisemitic who points out this fact. Israel even doesn’t have an internal legitimacy. Nobody in Palestine voted for it to be established. Nobody voted in Palestine for a Jewish minority to rule over Nonjewish majority. It has been an Apartheid Junta from day one.

        DaBar: “… as well as their need to discredit any jewish connection to the land …”

        A “connection” is totally irrelevant. It is you who has the “need” to inflate the importance of a “connection” where it becomes more important than the “connection” of Nonjews who actually have been living there for thousands of years.

        DaBakr: “… comparing zionism to [nazism] …”

        You mean when it comes to exercising supremacy and differentiating between nationals and citizens for example? Or is it more about illegal settlements and war crimes like collective punishment?

        DaBakr: “… without any desire, plan, or intention to destroy the arabs …”

        Only to keep them expelled, if the Arabs aren’t Jewish Arabs, right?

        DaBakr: “… arabs who came to identify as Palestinian …”

        The term “Palestinian” refers to the nationality of the citizens of the mandated state of Palestine and its successor state. The term includes Nonjews and Jews. Is this to complicated for you to understand?

        DaBakr: “… jewish nation …”

        There is no nationality/citizenship called “Jewish”. As there was not nationality/citizenship called “Aryan” or “Boer”. All cases reveal institutionalized racism. In all cases the states were not the states of all of its citizens. Whether you like it or not, Israel is a genuine racist state by design, has always been and will be as long as it exists.

      • eljay
        December 10, 2016, 9:40 am

        || @aBr: … obsessed with their need to prove the illigitimacy of the state of israel … ||

        Israel exists. Religion-supremacist “Jewish State” is illegitimate.

        || … as well as their need to discredit any jewish connection … ||

        Jews and non-Jews living in and up to n-generations removed from the geographic region of Palestine have a connection to it. Beyond that, it’s fairy tale shit, the stuff you Zio-supremacists specialize in.

        || … this one modern and very successful nation … ||

        Thanks in (great?) part to enormous amounts of American (and Western) economic, political, financial and military support.

        || … that is Jewish … ||

        …and unapologetically colonialist, belligerent, intransigent, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist.

        I know, I know: It’s a “moral beacon” and a “light unto the nations” but, hey, it’s not as bad as Saudi Arabia, Mali and African “hell-holes”.

      • Mooser
        December 10, 2016, 12:45 pm

        “Dabakr” don’t pay any attention to the people here! Both you and I know that 2 billion united Jews is all the legitimacy Zionism or Israel needs!

      • oldgeezer
        December 13, 2016, 8:01 pm

        @citizen

        I didn’t ignore it at all. I said it isn’t relevant. Nor is their relative height nor beauty. A repugnant belief system is a repugnant belief system.

        If you want to redeem spencer that way then zionists are proper in using pink washing.

  11. Ossinev
    December 9, 2016, 1:29 pm

    @Hophmi
    “It’s, of course, utter bullshit. Israel is one of the most diverse societies on the planet, from every possible point of view. It’s home to people who are Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Bahai. It’s home to people of every race. It’s home to people of every sexual orientation”

    You continue to plumb the depths of excretory nonsense. The diverse Muslim,Christians ,people of every race etc to whom you refer are the natives who your Ziobuddies weren`t able to expel or otherwise cleanse or incrementally neutralise. The”home” which you refer to has effectively and predictably morphed into an Apartheid Colony with a limited life span . Next you will be claiming that any old Muslim , Christian , Hindu , Sikh whatever can emigrate to the Land of Creation and make it their “home” with no problems whatsoever.

    As for Mondoweissers “sharing hate ” – Absolutely pathetic. Hasbara , paid for or voluntary is one thing, but statements like these are classic examples of someone who is pissing into the wind and not realising that he is in fact soaking himself in his own urine.

  12. oldgeezer
    December 9, 2016, 2:57 pm

    @hophmi

    That’s the most pathetic response possible. Did you have to work at it?

    Israel is not a diverse society. Nor is it a democracy. It doesn’t even pretend to be diverse and has proclaimed itself the Jewish state. From the run up to it’s creation to the present day it has worked to drive out people not of the chosen tribe. Diverse societies would not ethnically cleanse the inhabitants of the region. Diverse societies do not consider it’s constituents to be a demographic threat. The fact that Israel didn’t ethnically cleanse 100% of minorities (or hasn’t finished the process) does not endow with the label of a diverse society. It’s a tribalist tyranny at best.

    I can’t speak for the crowd here but I don’t like Spencer. The man is a flaming bigot and racist. Just like zionists. Some may be willing to cut left wing zionists some slack but the reality is that they have perpetrated the same crimes against humanity as the extreme right wing. Mouthing meaningless platitudes doesn’t excuse such vile behaviour.

    It’s impossible to not notice that you tackled nothing of substance related to the article. You couldn’t!

    Spencer called out the Rabbi for what he was. A bigot and racist like himself. A certified hypocrit who stands against bigotry and racism while believing his own brand of it was acceptable.

    Zionism is the twin brother of white supremacy.

    • Maghlawatan
      December 9, 2016, 4:32 pm

      Bringing out the love bomb that is tikkun olam in a debate about Israel is stupid.
      Israel walks all over tikkun olam.

      • echinococcus
        December 9, 2016, 5:34 pm

        For the uninitiated, Tikkun Olam is a J-Streetoid, lib-Zionist organization in the San Francisco area. Doesn’t look like a bomb, least of it a love bomb. More like PC lamentation of “excesses”.

      • WH
        December 10, 2016, 3:29 pm

        Echi, you seem to be uninitiated yourself, as the phrase comes from Jewish tradition and means ‘healing of the world’.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 10, 2016, 3:47 pm

        yes, i doubt Maghlawatan was referring to michael lerner’s magazine, or richard silverstein’s blog either.

      • Maghlawatan
        December 10, 2016, 4:23 pm

        Tikkun olam is the respectable face behind which lurks Zionism, the ugly bastard with the anger management issues

      • echinococcus
        December 10, 2016, 4:24 pm

        WH,

        Anybody knows that, duh.
        It’s no fun if you can’t make fun of it, though. Especially pointing at the ways in which well-meaning phrases get misused in later centuries. Invoking that principle in its Hebrew version when it’s been reduced to a rag by the Zionists, as rightly observed by Maghlawatan, is nonsense.

    • ritzl
      December 9, 2016, 4:32 pm

      Great comment.

    • Maghlawatan
      December 9, 2016, 4:45 pm

      Israel is so diverse that non Jewish citizens are advised to turn up at the Airport 2 hours earlier than Jews to go through insecurity

  13. Deist
    December 9, 2016, 5:04 pm

    If Rosenberg is “a simple teacher of Torah” shouldn’t he know that the ancient Jewish clergy who wrote the Torah claims God chose the Jews “above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6), that Jews should not own fellow Jews as slaves, but should instead only have Gentile people and their children as slaves “for ever” (Leviticus 25:44-46), etc., etc. The Hebrew Bible is overflowing with superiority of Jews and Israel over all Gentile people and nations.

    As Albert Einstein pointed out, we need a new way of thinking if we are going to survive. That’s why I’m a Deist.

    Progress! Bob Johnson
    http://www.deism.com

    • Mooser
      December 9, 2016, 5:27 pm

      So, I gather you want us to cease-and-deist?

      • Citizen
        December 10, 2016, 2:41 am

        Witty one, Mooser.

  14. Maghlawatan
    December 9, 2016, 10:59 pm

    Spencer and co want to maintain a white majority in the US.
    There are 75m white evangelicals. They are the dumb Orthodox wing of white America.
    They have had their time.

  15. nothingtolose
    December 10, 2016, 3:02 am

    rosross

    What you say isn’t correct. There is no Christian people, Muslim people etc. , only Christians,
    Muslims, Hindus, Catholics etc. And for French, German, Spanish , we intend people living in Germany, Spain, France.
    Totally different from ‘Jewish people’

    • MHughes976
      December 10, 2016, 11:23 am

      Ros, if I understand her, says that Christians form ‘a people’ only metaphorically. She (I hope I’m right in interpreting the name as female) has often made this point, I think reflecting a secularist conception of ‘people’ which I for one don’t quite share and which for me doesn’t play such a big part in the debate. My belief is that there are no political rights for some but not other members of a citizen body based on their belonging to a set of people which is a subset or intersecting set, such as those defined by religion or ancestry. Well, some exceptions for custom and general utility can be made but not of the radical sort that has people lose their homes or be mass-disfranchised.

  16. Spring Renouncer
    December 10, 2016, 10:51 pm

    I’m sorry Mr. Ofir — though I stand in solidarity with the Palestinians and all oppressed people, and am opposed to the abuses of Zionism — I think it was a mistake to write an article that even vaguely portrays Spencer as morally or intellectually positive. You could have just as easily reported on this debate, mentioned what transpired therein, and made a comparison between attributes of “White Nationalism” and Zionism, etc. without having portrayed Spencer in a relatively positive light. An article like this could so easily be spun by those against Palestinians as an example of the supposed radicalism and antisemitism of critics of Israel, harming our entire movement, and tainting all of the great work you and others have put into journalism and activism.

    I’m a gay, non-white, non-monotheistic American, and have listened to interviews of Spencer with complete terror. He is sleazy, manipulative, and vile. The current political climate has given him and others like him attention they should not be getting; the media spotlight only fans the flames of hatred that these people light. Even this article may unwittingly be contributing to the normalization of Spencer and his ideology, which is something that he is trying very hard to achieve. It might have helped to mention some of his more egregious statements, and challenge his smooth but inherently flawed intellectual point of view.

    The Rabbi’s positions on Israel are problematic in their own right, but Spencer’s view on all sorts of domestic and foreign policy issues is far, far worse. Suggesting some equivalence between their respective ideologies, even if implicitly, is dangerous, and probably incorrect. Zionism operates very much like racism, but the truth is that if I decided to convert to Judaism officially, and spent the time and energy doing so (and getting circumcised!! :/), I could settle in Israel as (sort of) part of the oppressive elite. I would never do this, and am not advocating for anyone else to either, but this clearly demonstrates that Zionism is more flexible than Racism or White Supremacy, according to which I and most of the world’s inhabitants are, and always will be, inferior.

    The fact that you are Israeli and Jewish gives you the ability to criticize Zionism and Israel plainly, without incurring as many unfounded accusations of antisemitism as other critics may — though I’m sure you have to deal with all sorts of other social pressures due to your political positions. It is laudable that you are using your unique position to advocate for equality in Palestine/Israel; however, the international movement that Spencer is part of dwarfs even Zionism in it’s potential to oppress and inflict damage. Spencer is as anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic as extreme Right-wing Israelis are, though in a distinct way. Thus he cannot be an ally of any sort, even incidentally, in any movement against oppression, including that of the Palestinians. I am very grateful for the effort you have put into writing articles for Mondoweiss, Mr. Ofir, and I am a regular reader of yours, but I fear that this time you have erred.

    • Citizen
      December 13, 2016, 5:07 pm

      U really think U can become a Jew more easily than somebody allowing you to pretend you are white? Ivanka has problems here, and You?

  17. ronron
    December 11, 2016, 12:58 am

    here’s a little video response about the ethnic-supremacist meeting the white-supremacist: https://www.facebook.com/BDSBarkan/videos/1846072988966893/

  18. rhkroell
    December 11, 2016, 3:59 am

    I see Spencer as one prominent leader of a “new breed” of semi-covert racists and antisemites (a.k.a. anti-Semites). Many Americans have a difficult time challenging Spencer in public debates because — like Rabbi Rosenberg — they support some version of a “Jewish state” (even if they do not agree with all of Israel’s present-day policies and/or actions).

    Spencer uses some Israeli policies and/or actions to promote hate in the U.S. Many Americans — for good reasons in some cases — refuse to criticize Israeli policies (and/or actions) simply because they do not want to be branded as an antisemite or “self-hating Jew.” This is, in my view, unfortunate.

    The fear of being branded an antisemite (or “self-hating Jew”) opens a space in political discourse for white supremacists like Spencer to promote antisemitism in a backhanded manner by suggesting that some Israeli policies and/or actions are “exclusionary” and therefore may be as “racist” as Spencer’s views. The fear of publicly criticizing Israel is, in my view, wrongheaded.

    Today, more than ever, Americans must take a stand — with or against specific Israeli policies/actions — just as they do with those policies/actions of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and other countries with which they disagree. Political outspokenness should not be condemned. Fear of standing up for, or speaking publicly about, what you believe in, is (in my view), ultimately, detrimental to the United States’ political stature in the world. It also encourages American “adventurism,” heavy-handed overt and covert military operations, endangers our cherished freedoms and, most importantly, perhaps, the lives of our people in uniform and innocent civilians who are the victims of U.S. military “collateral damage.”

    • Spring Renouncer
      December 11, 2016, 6:12 pm

      I’ve seen a few interviews of this awful man recently, and it really astounds me that reputable, well educated, generally witty journalists are so fazed by Spencer’s slimy and obnoxious demeanor that they allow him to dominate the conversation completely, without noting the obvious flaws in his strenuous arguments. Because of this, those interviews practically serve as free advertising for the “White Nationalist” movement. Invite any somewhat decent and communicative physical anthropologist, sociologist or historian to challenge this man on air, and his facade of ignorance will collapse like the house of cards it is. But no! The media is totally blind and incompetent. They publicized Trump for free, and now seem to be doing the same for these freaks.

      • echinococcus
        December 11, 2016, 7:05 pm

        What’s this fury against Spencer?

        I want to know where I can send money to support him under the express condition that he limit his speech to the warm commendation of Zionism that he gave that Rabbi Rosenberg.

        It will save a lot of effort in telling the Americans about the Zionist menace.

        At any rate, whatever there is of it must be reproduced and repeated all over the media, relentlessly. The guy must be a genius.

  19. People keep attacking Spencer in the replies. Why? I see him as morally consistent. He wants racism and a ethno-supremism here and admires it in other places. That is a valid world view. Yes of course, it is facististic but it applies rules that are universal. The rabbi on the other hand is deplorable. Clearly he is so confident holding up Torah as an example of universal love and radical inclusion. But he has nothing to say because he endorses the very same racism and echo-supremism when it suits his purposes. Spencer should win the argument because his views are defensible in the sense they are universal and apply to all peoples in all places. The rabbi has nothing to say as his views are that of a hypocrit. Public displaces of universal love and piety hiding behind the same world view of Spencer. In short Spencer has integrity and rabbi doesn’t .

    • oldgeezer
      December 12, 2016, 10:13 pm

      @pdxmuscle

      I guess the question of whose bigotry and racism is the best might be an interesting debate or question for those who think that the concept of best could apply.

      The reality is that spencer and the rabbi are bigots and racists and therefore both losers. There us no winner. At least for those people who are against bigotry and racism.

      Couldn’t say a nice word about either. They both think they are leading the good fight when they are both in the bottom of the gutter.

      • Citizen
        December 13, 2016, 5:30 pm

        But, Spenser is morally/ethically consistent, he’s principled, even if I for one, don’t like his principles,, and the rabbi is not. You ignored pdxmuscle on that aspect of his comment. Why? Please address the fact Spenser is not a hypocrite.

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