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Dear Natalie Portman: I too was once a liberal Zionist

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“Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.”

Natalie Portman, Friday 20 April 2018

Dear Natalie

I too was a liberal Zionist.

I too thought the problem was the leaders of Israel and their policies.

I too thought a change of leadership and a change of policies could fix things.

I don’t think that anymore.

Like you, I care about “Jewish values” but I long ago gave up on the idea that Israel, and the Zionism that created and sustains the Jewish State, would protect those values.

We should both be clear about what those Jewish values are.  They’re to be found in the Hebrew bible and are the ideas that have stood the test of time and been passed on to the world through Christianity and Islam: The innate equality of all humanity; a bias towards the poor, the downtrodden and the marginalised; and a committment to speak out against the wrong-doing of authority. In your statement on Friday you list what happens when these values are lost: “violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power”.

But to protect those Jewish values you have to push yourself beyond Zionism, especially of the liberal variety that sees today’s violence and inequality as merely a derailment from Zionism’s true course.

Let me explain why.

Genesis Prize

Natalie, without doubt I welcome your decision to snub the Genesis Prize. As an A-list Jewish Israeli-American Hollywood movie star, your stand is a big deal. People take notice. It has influence. Minds are changed when people like you do things like this. So I congratulate you. You’re are already taking serious flak for this and it will take a toll on you personally and professionally.

You talked about “recent events” in Israel making you feel it was inappropriate to go there to receive the prize money. I think everyone knows what you had in mind. When Israeli snipers pick off 32 Palestinian protesters (so far) on the Gaza border, including a 15 year old boy, and wound or maim well over a thousand men, women and children I would also call that “extremely distressing”.

So I understand exactly where you’re coming from. I used to be there too.

I believed there was a ‘good Zionism’ that could take back control from the ‘bad Zionism’ that had somehow captured the soul of the Jewish State.

Good Zionism v. Bad Zionism

In my late teens and early 20s the bad Zionists for me were Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Itzhak Shamir, both former Jewish terrorists during the British Mandate. I refused to accept their Likud Party take on Zionism was the real thing.

I admired the cultural Zionism of Ahad Ha’am from the early 20th century. I believed in the Socialist Zionism that had built the Kibbutz movement. I loved the bi-national Zionism of the 30s and 40s promoted by Judah Magnus, Martin Buber and Henrietta Szold. This was the Zionist thinking I could feel at home with.

But then I looked deeper. I studied. I read. I asked. Most importantly, I listened to Palestinian voices for the first time.

What I discovered is that it’s not the politicians or the policies that are the problem in Israel. It’s the ideology they follow.

The cultural Zionism of Ahad Ha’am was beautiful. But he was admired rather than taken up.

Socialist Zionism was never a socialism for everyone. It was socialism for Jews only. There was never a Muslim or Christian Arab that was allowed to become a member of a kibbutz until one kibbutz allowed one Palestinian Muslim woman to join in 2008. The proclaimed universalism of Jewish labor lost out to the particularism of Jewish nationalism.

And the Brit Shalom movement of Martin Buber never had more than a hundred members.

I imagine, Natalie, that you’re opposed to the Occupation and to the Settlements. For liberal Zionists that’s usually a given. It was for me. The 1967 ‘Six Day War’ turned out to be ‘bad Zionism’ because we hung on to the territory we captured. But the 1948 ‘War of Independence’ was fundamentally ‘good Zionism’ because we (re)created our Jewish homeland and achieved sovereignty and security.

But you’re wrong if you think fixing 1967 will end the affront to your Jewish values.

You need to go back further.

You need to understand that Zionism has, and remains, both a project of Jewish liberation and a project of Jewish colonisation and Jewish apartheid. Our liberation was going to mean another people’s enslavement. Which is why Liberalism and Zionism turn out to be such awkward partners with offspring that look nothing like the Jewish values you say matter to you.

Collision course

By the 1940s the dominant strain of Zionist thinking, and the only strain that would matter, was State building and the creation of a Jewish majority in the land. For most Zionists this had always been the desired outcome of their efforts. That put Zionism on a collision course with the indigenous majority Arab population of Palestine. For this kind of Zionism to succeed another people would need to be displaced – one way or another.

I think we can both agree that it’s wrong to think that every Zionist pioneer or Jewish refugee that arrived in Palestine before 1948, or after, was hell bent on land theft and ethnic cleaning. That would be a foolishly simple reading of history. But liberal Zionists still refuse to acknowledge Israel’s primary culpability in creating the world’s longest standing refugee community. Without confronting the Nakba there is no road to peace nor justice.

But there are other consequences of Zionism that I feel you should think about in relation to Jewish values and they too are far from being “recent events”.

The democratic deficit

Liberal Zionists have a habit of talking up Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East. After all, every citizen of Israel has the vote. The Israeli Declaration of Independence, which has no constitutional standing in Israeli law, is championed as the enshrinement of Jewish, democratic and Zionist values. But no matter how much liberal Zionists want to celebrate equality in the State of Israel it doesn’t look or feel that way for the 20 percent of its citizens who are Palestinian.

For the first 18 years of Israel’s existence the Palestinians who had been allowed to remain were ruled by martial law and treated as the ‘enemy within’. Many were classified as ‘present absentees’ and their homes and land were confiscated. Their hundreds of villages were destroyed. Parks and forests now grow over many of the ruins.

But the discrimination and inequality are still very much with us. There is dramatically lower investment in Palestinian neighbourhoods and schools, despite the fact that they pay the same taxes as everyone else. They cannot buy State-owned land because State land in Israel is held in trust for the Jewish people exclusively. They cannot marry someone from the West Bank or Gaza and live together in Israel as citizens. They cannot teach their own history because teaching the Nakba is against the law.

Yes, they have the vote and yes, there are Palestinian Israelis elected to the Knesset. But don’t expect them ever to be invited to join an Israeli government coalition. They can have the vote as long as it makes no difference.

This is not equality. This is not real democracy. It’s certainly not liberalism. It is a large minority seen primarily as a demographic threat to the Jewish State.

All over the world Jews thrive in liberal democracies where all citizens have equal rights. We judge countries by how they treat their minorities, particularly their Jewish minorities. But in Israel the rules change. In the one Jewish State minorities are  a bad thing and can be treated badly.

What I’m trying to point out, Natalie, is that it’s not Netanyahu who’s spoiling your Jewish values. It’s Zionism that keeps 1.8 million Palestinians locked in the Gaza Strip. It’s Zionism that wants the land and the resources of the West Bank. It’s Zionism that keeps the Israeli Palestinians as third-class citizens in their own land.

The damage done by liberal Zionism

I used to be thankful that liberal Zionists like you were around to provide a critical, if moderate, objection to what goes on in Israel. Obviously, your voice was preferable to the right wing zealots of Israeli religious and secular nationalism.

But now I’m not so sure.

Now I fear you do more damage to Jewish values than anyone else. Why? Because the framing and language of liberal Zionism obscures the truth. We are not seeing a conflict between two foes. We are not looking at a tragic clash of right against right. We are not even watching a battle over sharing the land between two people. Long, long ago it became something else. It became colonisation and theft. It became oppression. It became an issue of human rights. Who has them and who are denied them.

If you continue to see Zionism as essentially liberal and progressive you will never understand why it creates in your own words: “violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power”. The current Israeli government is not an aberration. When Netanyahu falls, Zionism with all of its violence, corruption and inequality will stay put.

So yes, please snub the Genesis Prize and refuse to go to the ceremony in Israel. But don’t do it in the name of liberal Zionism and don’t defend a fictional Israel that deep down embodies your Jewish values. It doesn’t and it never did. You have to push past it if you want to protect the Jewish values that matter to you.

Sincerely,

Robert Cohen

This post first appeared on the Patheos site.

About Robert Cohen

Cohen is a British writer. He blogs at Micah's Paradigm Shift. http://micahsparadigmshift.blogspot.co.uk/

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35 Responses

  1. eljay
    April 22, 2018, 12:45 pm

    Thank you for your excellent letter, Mr. Cohen. I hope it inspires Ms. Portman to (at least begin to) reject Zionism.

    • bintbiba
      April 22, 2018, 5:37 pm

      I give thanks to you too, Mr Cohen .
      I am a diaspora-ed Palestinian , Jerusalem born 1935 . Naturalised Brit since 1954 !

      Ms Portman would be wise to heed your true and deeply knowledgeable and heartfelt advice !

      • just
        April 22, 2018, 8:53 pm

        hi bintbiba!

        So lovely to ‘see you’ again here @ Mondoweiss. All the very best to you and yours~ always. I’ll ditto your comment with pleasure and thanks.

      • bintbiba
        April 23, 2018, 1:34 pm

        Hi Just
        Thanks for your welcome . I’m always lurking about MW ! I never forsake a good friend ! There was a time you were gone for a while and I missed your good sense and warm heart
        Too much bad news lately ! From all sides ! Too depressing and debilitating to the core . Yet I do take strong comfort from all the good family of MW commenters !

        My warm regards to one and all of the good MWers !

  2. sharonsj
    April 22, 2018, 2:45 pm

    Mr. Cohen, you need to be reminded about the 1967 war. Egypt, Syria and Jordan tried to wipe out Israel and the Jews but Israel won. Israel also retook the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan during that war. Under Jordanian control, Jews living in those were expelled and Jewish cemeteries vandalized; headstones were used as paving stones, so the Arabs could feel superior while walking on monuments to dead Jews, and headstones were also used to build latrines.

    While I agree that Israeli solders should not be shooting unarmed protestors, do not forget for a moment that these protesters and the rest of the Muslim world still aim to destroy Israel and get rid of the Jews.

    • just
      April 22, 2018, 3:39 pm

      ay yi yi yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii !!!

      {sigh}

    • oldgeezer
      April 22, 2018, 3:49 pm

      @sharonsj

      More zionist fake history.

      I swear you copied that garbage from somewhere. It doesn’t even sound original.

      Israel started the 67 war. And the rest of your post is equally wrong.

    • echinococcus
      April 22, 2018, 3:58 pm

      do not forget for a moment that these protesters and the rest of the Muslim world still aim to destroy Israel and get rid of the Jews

      You seem to be terribly uninformed about Palestine. What’s that got to do with the “Muslim world”? Christian and Jewish and atheist Palestinians have been just as affected by the Zionist invasion and murder as their Muslim peers. Also, why shouldn’t a bastard state resulting from colonial invasion be destroyed? There’s no good reason to oppose to that, while destroying colonial invader states seems to be the right thing to do. As for “getting rid of the Jews”, all Palestinian Jews as of 1897, when the hostile intent of the colonizers was declared, remain Palestinian and what you mean remains very unclear.

    • amigo
      April 22, 2018, 4:40 pm

      sharonsj , you state that Israel retook the “Occupied) West Bank and (Occupied )East Jerusalem from Jordan.

      When were these places ever belong to “Israel ” and btw where is this Israel and what are it,s borders .Can you supply the readers with a Map.

      You state that Israel should not be shooting unarmed Protesters but just can,t leave that stand alone.

      You just felt the need to contribute to the false claim that all Muslims are bent on killing all Jews .

      You should note that during this last round of killings by Israel,s so called “Most Moral Army ) have murdered some 40 protesters and injured or maimed so 1500 protesters through the use of rubber bullets and live Fire and not one of The Jews has been harmed .I guess those Muslims are not succeeding in their goal of getting rid of the Jews.

      You zionists are such confused people , which is fine but what I cannot tolerate is you propensity for telling lies .

      • guyn
        April 23, 2018, 8:39 am

        “what I cannot tolerate is you propensity for telling lies .”

        And unfortunately, they are first and foremost, liars.

    • Misterioso
      April 23, 2018, 9:43 am

      @sharonsj

      Such appalling and inexcusable ignorance!!

      Reality:

      At 7:45 AM on 5 June 1967, Israel attacked Egypt and thereby, Jordan and Syria who each shared a mutual defense pact with Egypt. The attack took place just hours before Egypt’s VP Mohieddine was to fly to Washington for a prearranged June 7th meeting with the Johnson administration to defuse the crisis between Egypt and Israel based on an agreement worked out in Cairo between Nasser and Johnson’s envoy, Robert Anderson. In a cable sent to Johnson on May 30, Israel’s PM Eshkol promised not to attack Egypt until June 11 to give diplomacy a chance to succeed. However, on June 4, when it heard about the June 7th meeting and the distinct possibility that it would rule out war, Israel’s cabinet ordered its armed forces to attack Egypt the next day. In short, the war was another massive land grab by Israel.

      Prime Minister Menachem Begin, former Minister without portfolio in PM Levi Eshkol’s cabinet, while addressing Israel’s National Defence College on 8 August 1982: “In June, 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.” (New York Times, 21 August 1982)

      Meir Amit, chief of Israel’s Mossad: “Egypt was not ready for a war and Nasser did not want a war.”

      Israeli Chief of Staff Rabin: “I do not believe that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on 14 May would not have been enough to unleash an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.” (Le Monde, 25 February, 1968)

      Prime Minister Eshkol: “The Egyptian layout in the Sinai and the general military buildup there testified to a military defensive Egyptian set-up south of Israel.” (Yediot Aharonot, l8 October 1967)

      Robert McNamara, U.S. Secretary of Defence: “Three separate intelligence groups had looked carefully into the matter [and] it was our best judgment that a UAR attack was not imminent.” (The Vantage Point, Lyndon Johnson, p. 293)

      An article published in the New York Times (4 June 1967) just hours before Israel attacked notes that Major General Indar Jit Rikhye, Commander of UNEF in the Middle East, “who toured the Egyptian front, confirms that Egyptian troops were not poised for an offensive.”

      On May 26, in reply to Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s assertion that according to Israeli intelligence, “an Egyptian and Syrian attack is imminent,” Secretary of State Dean Rusk dismissed the claim and assured Eban that Israel faced no threat of attack from Egypt.

      On the same day, during a meeting at the Pentagon, Eban was also told by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and his aides that “…Egyptian forces were not in an aggressive posture and that Israel was not opening itself to peril by not attacking immediately. The contrary was true, Eban was told.” (Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem, pp. 140-41)

      As the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) Commander, Major General Idar Jit Rikhye, revealed, Nasser was not enforcing the blockade of the Tiran straits: “[The Egyptian] navy had searched a couple of ships after the establishment of the blockade and thereafter relaxed its implementation.”

      According to Patrick Seale, highly regarded historian and journalist, Israel had been meticulously preparing for another war against the Arabs since its 1956 invasion of Egypt: “In the decade since the Suez campaign Israel had built up forces that could move fast and hit hard: mobile armoured units able to cover long distances, mechanized infantry, heliborne and naval paratroopers for use behind enemy lines, and above all an air force of Mirage and Super-Mystere interceptors and Mystere fighter-bombers of unchallenged superiority. The main lesson Israel had learned from the [1956] Suez war was the importance of air dominance not only to neutralize Arab air forces but also for use as flying artillery against infantry and tanks.” (Patrick Seale, Asad…, p. 117)

      Ezer Weizman, former commander of Israel’s Air Force confirmed in his memoirs that Israel spent years meticulously planning the attack against Egypt: “For five years I had been talking of this operation, explaining it, hatching it, dreaming of it, manufacturing it link by link, training men to carry it out.” Recalling how he felt at 7:30 A.M. on 5 June 1967, Weizman wrote: “Now in a quarter of an hour, we would know if it was only a dream or whether it would come true….” (Donald Neff, Warriors for Jerusalem…, p. 202)

      • Kratoklastes
        April 23, 2018, 7:39 pm

        Facts, facts, facts. Is that all you’ve got?

        SharonSJ is simply following Elie Weisel’s dictum:

        certain things are true though they didn’t happen, while others are not, even if they did. – All Rivers Run to the Sea p275

        Statements are true or false based on two criteria: how righteous they make the teller feel, and whether or not they advance the teller’s side of the argument.

        To believe otherwise is anti-Semitic. (That’s still a thing, you know – it’s getting pretty frayed, but it still plays OK in Queens and with members of Gush Emunim)

      • Mooser
        April 24, 2018, 11:28 am

        “Statements are true or false based on two criteria: how righteous they make the teller feel…”

        In the future, every Jewish person will be Chief Rabbi for fifteen minutes.

    • Misterioso
      April 23, 2018, 10:16 am

      sharonsj

      For your further edification:
      A grand total of 1,500 Jewish civilians and soldiers were captured in East Jerusalem/the Old City in 1948. As requested, the Jewish women and children were sent to Israeli occupied West Jerusalem. Jewish male civilians and soldiers were returned to Israel following the signing of the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan.

      To quote UN representative Pablo de Azcarate, who was in the Old City at the time: “[Major al-Tal, commander of Jordanian forces acted] “with great affability and without a single word or gesture that could have humiliated or offended the defeated leaders in any way.” (Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, pp. 103-04)

      Among the civilians captured in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter were Rabbi Mordechai Weingarten and his daughter Rivka. They were frightened at first, but as Rivka later recalled: “I must say that the Jordanian soldiers behaved wonderfully well. I will never forget what my own eyes saw…. The first thing the soldiers did was to give us all cold water to drink. They gave out bananas to the children and cigarettes to the soldiers. I also saw them carrying old men and women in their arms to help reach Zion Gate.” (L.R. Banks, Torn Country…pp. 187-88)

      In 1948, only one-half of one percent of the land comprising East Jerusalem/the Old City was owned by Jews. The remainder was owned by Muslims and Christians. (Assessing Palestinian Property in the City,” by Dalia Habash and Terry Rempel, Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighbourhoods and their Fate in the War, edited by Salim Tamari, The Institute of Jerusalem Studies, 1999, pp. 184-85)

      BTW, during March and early May 1948, before Israel was declared a state, 60,000 Palestinians were expelled from occupied West Jerusalem by Jewish forces. They were just part of the 400,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their native land in the five plus months between passage of the recommendatory only Partition Plan (UNGA Res. 181, Nov. 29/47) ) and the declaration of the state of Israel effective 15 May 1948, e.g., 60,000 from Haifa in late April, 75,000 from Jaffa in late April and early May.

      Although outnumbered, outgunned and reluctant to do so, Arab state armies had no choice other than to enter Palestine as Jewish forces and the IDF were accelerating their expulsion of Palestinians. By the end of 1948, 800,000 Palestinians were dispossessed and expelled (according to Walter Eytan, then Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry), and about 500 of their towns and village were destroyed, including churches, mosques and cemeteries.

      • biggerjake
        April 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

        Misterioso
        April 23, 2018,

        Thanks you for all the great information that you bring to bare here.

        You are one of the reasons that I read Mondoweiss every day.

      • Misterioso
        April 25, 2018, 2:51 pm

        @biggerjake

        Afwan!! Thank you for your kind words.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 1, 2018, 11:53 am

        i second that misterioso, thanks so much

    • jsinton
      April 25, 2018, 6:24 pm

      Right. Poles invaded Nazi Germany. Gulf of Tonkin really happened. Saddam was having yellow cakes for tea. Assad gassed Douma… again. Taliban was protecting bin Laden and al Qaeda. And Arabs attacked Israel in the ’67 war. Yup,

  3. MHughes976
    April 22, 2018, 5:58 pm

    What then is Zionism? I suggest ‘the belief that people who are Jewish, and they only, have an inherent right, now commonly called a birthright, to a share of sovereignty over the Holy Land, others having a share only by the grace and generosity of the true heirs, the birthright holders’. Liberal Z is the belief that grace and generosity should go to the point of setting up two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian. LZ is wildly popular around the world, almost all significant Western leaders being in its fan base, but has little political strength in Israel, where it is understood that the existence a Palestinian State recognised by Israel, however shackled and constrained, would imply that Palestinians, even though they are not Jewish, have an inherent right to be there, contrary to Z’s main proclamation. Which makes LZ not a version of Z but a contradiction of it. The exponents of LZ hide their eyes from this but if LZ were ever enacted it would, even though it would buy Israel,a lot more time, expose every day, that bit more every day, the arbitrary and morally indefensible nature of Z itself.

  4. Sulphurdunn
    April 23, 2018, 9:20 am

    There are about 6 million Palestinians and an equal number of Jews living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. There is unlikely to be an Exodus of either population forced or otherwise since no foreign country really wants them, Israel has nuclear weapons, and the world would not allow it to forcefully displace 6 million Palestinians.

    The status quo is untenable. Half a population cannot oppress the other half indefinitely, especially with a domestic policy of ghettoization and a foreign policy based upon stoking region war and the deliberate destruction of surrounding states. The only workable solution is a regional military stand down, and the establishment of a liberal democracy in Israel. This needs to be accomplished before the crazy bastards start WWIII.

    • echinococcus
      April 23, 2018, 2:06 pm

      I’d be interested in the solid facts that justify your crazy optimism.
      What was different with the other major genocides? Some nice people kept saying genocide was impossible, then too. Except it’s not so nice to help the enemy in a propaganda intended to lower our guard.

      • Sulphurdunn
        April 23, 2018, 4:20 pm

        What I have suggested is realistic, not optimistic. Neither Jews nor anyone else has ever been expelled from or exterminated in a liberal democracy. That is because no liberal democracy can also be an ethno-theocratic state. Under the existing status quo, Palestinians have far more reason to fear genocide than Jews.

      • echinococcus
        April 23, 2018, 5:02 pm

        No need to be “an ethno-theocratic state” to perform the genocide of unwanted populations.

        It was the secular and non-ethnic Union and Progress (continuing as the Single Party after refounding as a Republic) that eliminated millions of Armenians, Greeks and other undesirables in Turkey, and the very US-client “liberal and secular” democracy that followed them continued their operation.

        A “liberal”-Zionist, secular and tolerant “Zionist Bloc” or other LZ, beloved of the Western liberals will be much more effective than the Yahoos completing the already fully ongoing genocide of Palestinians when they finally manage to get the US to start a general war (while at the same time legislating equality, of course.)

        Start by reading “liberal” Zionists on their superior effectiveness in holding on to Palestine. Also read the UN Convention on genocide.

  5. echinococcus
    April 23, 2018, 2:23 pm

    I think we can both agree that it’s wrong to think that every Zionist pioneer or Jewish refugee that arrived in Palestine before 1948, or after, was hell bent on land theft and ethnic cleaning. That would be a foolishly simple reading of history

    Oh, it’s so foolishly simple indeed: organized invaders on behalf of the colonial powers of the time invaded Palestine, settled there against the wishes of the local population and established their own racial-supremacist rule already during the colonial British mandate.
    And you two agree that not all “Zionist pioneers” are unwanted invaders of someone else’s land?

    The general thrust of the article is quite good, but some monstrous assumptions cannot be left alone.

  6. Kratoklastes
    April 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Read Jabotinski’s “The Iron Wall”: from its inception, the ‘thought leaders’ of the Zionist plan to invade and occupy Palestine understood full well that ‘liberal’ Zionism was simply not possible.

    It is actually a document that shows considerable insight, and does a very decent job of forecasting the relationship between the invader/colonists and the indigenous people.

    The thing I can’t get past is that Zionism’s clam of historical yearning for return to Eretz Yisroel among the Diaspora, was absolutely rejected by the most respected rabbis in England, France, Germany… basically, the early Zionists had to go further and further east until they got to somewhere with rabbinical leadership apostate/illiterate enough to ignore two thousand years’ worth of teaching about what being Jewish means.

    Going back even further: Maimonides had every opportunity to live in Jerusalem; if yearning to live in Eretz Yisroel is such a fundamental part of Jewishness, why did Rambam stay in Morocco and Egypt? His answer may surprise you.

    Zionism bears the same relationship to Jewishness, as ISIS does to Islam: it’s a political movement that uses a degenerate, apostate form of a specific religion, to convince the theologically illiterate that what they’re doing has a divine imprimatur.

    • Kratoklastes
      April 23, 2018, 8:01 pm

      Going back even further

      That bit is badly positioned: it makes it look like I was implying that Rambam lived BCE.

      I don’t mean “going back even further” than two thousand years – I mean going back further than the period in which the most distinguished rabbis in Western Europe refused to give their blessing for the Zionist project of the invasion of Palestine.

    • Mooser
      April 24, 2018, 11:35 am

      “The thing I can’t get past is that Zionism’s clam of historical yearning for return to Eretz Yisroel among the Diaspora, was absolutely rejected by the most respected rabbis in England, France, Germany”

      In America, they tried calling them “ocean vegetables”, but European Chef Rabbis know trefe from glat.

      • Kratoklastes
        April 24, 2018, 7:59 pm

        lol @ ‘chef rabbis‘ (a nice typo{?} to go with ‘cla[i]m‘ – even missing the same letter).

        Seriously though: both halal and kashrut food practices are retarded beyond belief, although Islamic dhabīḥah is reasonably sympathetic to the animal (it must not see the blade, nor smell the blood from a prior slaughter): I seriously doubt that it is observed in practice.

        It’s all of a piece: a control trope that intrudes on everyday life, and gives additional unmerited gravitas to the grifters who gravitate towards political power (and theological power is unambiguously political).

        My favourite quip about ritual animal sacrifice is from R. G. ingersoll, and goes something like …

        Why did ‘god’ so organise things, that a murderer could transfer his sins to a lamb, and then sacrifice the lamb as a sin offering?

        Because priests love mutton.

    • Mooser
      April 24, 2018, 11:39 am

      “Zionism bears the same relationship to Jewishness, as ISIS does to Islam”

      Hey, when you’re looking for of an exemplar for the worst, always turn toward Mecca.

      • Kratoklastes
        April 24, 2018, 7:41 pm

        It’s de rigeur to use Islam as a rhetorical whipping boy these days, so it pained me to use an Islamist movement as an analogy – there are people who will just yell “Islam is evil! Exactly!”, which is not the point.

        I’ve said before that ‘radical Islam’ is a flag of convenience for theologically-illiterate, poor, downtrodden people whose life is being made shitful by Western support for oppressive governments – something that has its roots in the letter from Crewe to Hardinge in 1914, in which Crewe said –

        What we want is not a united Arabia, but a weak and disunited Arabia, split into little principalities as far as possible under our suzerainty — but incapable of coordinated action against us, forming a buffer against the Powers in the West.” Crewe to Hardinge, 12 November 1914, Archives of India (quoted in Britain, India and the Arabs [Busch, 1971] p62)

        Crewe and Hardinge were not nobodies; they were the UK government’s Secretary for the Colonies and Viceroy of India, respectively. They were intimately involved in formulating policy. Note that when they talk about ‘a buffer against the Powers in the West’, they are talking about the Ottoman Empire, which lay to the west of India (the “Middle East” is between modern Turkey and India, roughly speaking; in 1914 the Ottoman Empire extended to the Gulf through its holdings of what became Iraq).

        Anyway… point is that the version of Jewish theology deployed by Zionism is a specifically apostate version – which is why the only way it could get a rabbinical imprimatur was to hear far enough East to find some semi-literate hovel-dwellers who stood to be socially elevated in exchange for their support of the project to invade and colonise Palestine.

        But back to “Islam is the enemy”… I don’t think so.

        I’m an atheist, so I seldom bother trying to rank-order the various congeries of primitive gibberish that people pretend to believe in order to give their small lives meaning. (My small life doesn’t have meaning: in a universe as large and old and dark and cold as the one we’re in, anyone who seeks meaning is beyond retarded).

        But if I was to put the three Avramic cults in order based on their canonical literature, Judaism is objectively the worst; the Jesus torture-porn cult is next, and Islam is relatively mild. I’ve read significant chunks of the primary literature of all three – in translation, of course: the Quran and the main hadiths are the only ones that are less controversial than Mein Kampf (which I’ve also read).

        It’s also worth noting: the tactics used by ISIS are specifically haram – and haram in a very peculiar way, given that ISIS claims to want to re-instantiate the Caliphate.

        See, the first Caliph (Abu Bakr) laid down some hard and fast rules for warfighting: the so-called “ten points”, which taken together for a fatwah declaring that civilians, infrastructure and surrendered enemy are sacrosanct.

        So for some reason, people who pretend to be following in his footsteps, are nonetheless pursuing tactics and strategy that have been haram since the days of Muhammad… weird, right?

        You know where you will find that approach to captured territory? The Pentateuch.

        Isn’t it odd that ISIS have a very “Old Testament” (dare I say, Israelite?) approach to the areas that fall under their control? The behaviour being discussed in this article would not be out of place in the depraved, primitive hate-literature of Joshua, Samuel I or Deuteronomy.

        If the US decides to create another cosplay troupe, it should at least spend five minutes giving it behaviours that are congruent with its purported ideology (and vice versa)

      • gamal
        April 25, 2018, 3:32 am

        “I’m an atheist, so I seldom bother trying to rank-order the various congeries of primitive gibberish that people pretend to believe in order to give their small lives meaning. (My small life doesn’t have meaning: in a universe as large and old and dark and cold as the one we’re in, anyone who seeks meaning is beyond retarded).”

        well ok but a well known Muslim scholar did write:

        “For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust-grains
        floating and flying in the will of the air,
        often forgetting ever being
        in that state, but in sleep
        I migrate back. I spring loose
        from the four-branched, time -and-space cross,
        this temporary place.

        I walk into a vast space
        I nurse the milk of millennia

        Everyone does this in different ways.
        Knowing that conscious decisions
        and personal memory
        are much too small a place to live,
        every human being streams at night
        into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
        in some absorbing work.”

        it’s in the Quran, but the one in Persian….”poor and downtrodden” perhaps, but how do you suppose they get by in their bombed out depleted uranium dusted cities and wrecked infrastructure states, American military and “contractor” and sectarian militia invested roads ..”primitive gibbering” do you think that likely i mean really, which translation of the Quran did you read?

        anyway currently i aspire to primitive, i may or may not be beyond retarded, as yet, but may well have devolved to below primitive recently which i only do as i believe it is my perfect right so to do.

        you ever been to a modern slaughter house…none of it looked painless to me, you want to see a cow incorrectly shot with a captive bolt and then tended to with a sledge hammer, industrial killing is rarely as advertised, both Halal and Kosher are massive scams such things are not possible on an industrial scale, the corruption and conflicts of interest in the certifying processes are plain to see, eid-ul-adha the streets of Cairo run with blood and there are sheep everywhere, don’t go you’ll get culture shock, you know what Oscar said about travel.

    • echinococcus
      April 24, 2018, 3:45 pm

      Read Jabotinski’s “The Iron Wall”: from its inception, the ‘thought leaders’ of the Zionist plan to invade and occupy Palestine understood full well that ‘liberal’ Zionism was simply not possible.

      Exactly!

      In fact, that same clear vision by Zionists of their own crimes goes back a ways. “Der Judenstaat” also carries a clear definition, and proud endorsement, of colonial invasion and settlement, as do the Basle Congress documents. Settler colonialism, in 1897, represented the main crime against humanity, “the supreme international crime” of that time that “contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

  7. Yonah Fredman
    April 25, 2018, 3:45 am

    The gap that exists between those who would undo Zionism versus those who seek to redo Zionism is a real one and although certain individuals pass from one concept to the other, this process is by no means assured and does not occur in all. The personality and social dynamics that are involved in changing one’s attitude is ignored when the topic is “what is right?” rather than “why do people believe the way they do?”

    (for example trying to convince trump supporters to stop supporting him seems folly and much more interesting would be to study the very fact and mentality of trump suporters. although in america the balance between red and blue states is very near 50-50, whereas the balance in Israel, however you phrase it, has far different dynamics.)

    I find that since I moved back to Brooklyn from Israel over the last 7 years, with visits back to Jerusalem every summer, that my opinions vary from season to season, with different sorts of headlines leading to slight changes, but the primary changes occurring due to the changed environment both familial and societal. I spend much time with family when I’m there and Zionism is something that I discuss with family in America at passover and such, but the intensity with diaspora relatives is far different than discussions with people and hanging out a lot with people who embody aliya, Israel and Zionism, this creates a specific dynamic. And then there’s the Jerusalem versus Brooklyn as my location: presence in the country and the type of calm and comfort I feel in Jerusalem and the combination of increased Hebrew and increased contact or proximity to Arabic, has its influence as well.

    Thus it is a very personal mixture of feelings that go into my politics. The politics is on the surface in a way and to assume that superficial political arguments about Herzl’s comments about moving the indigenous to other locations, while also an element in the thoughts, is merely an outside face to the deeper dynamics going on.

    Thus when you write to Natalie Portman, you are writing about a topic that is very deep and dear to her. You raise ideas that are important, but in terms of communication with her as a person, you are in fact not doing so, because you are ignoring deeper emotions and ties.

    (She is not Howard Stern or Ed Koch or Roseanne Barr, whose politics are far to the right of Natalie, but whose connection to the land and people were/are far more superficial.)

    • eljay
      April 25, 2018, 9:50 am

      || Yonah Fredman: The gap that exists between those who would undo Zionism versus those who seek to redo Zionism is a real one and although certain individuals pass from one concept to the other, this process is by no means assured and does not occur in all. The personality and social dynamics that are involved in changing one’s attitude is ignored when the topic is “what is right?” rather than “why do people believe the way they do?”

      (for example trying to convince trump supporters to stop supporting him seems folly and much more interesting would be to study the very fact and mentality of trump suporters. although in america the balance between red and blue states is very near 50-50, whereas the balance in Israel, however you phrase it, has far different dynamics.) … ||

      I can see it now: Someone’s beating you up for being a Jew. Some passers-by approach to intervene but you wave them back, shouting No! Stay back! The personality and social dynamics that are involved in changing one’s attitude is ignored when the topic is “what is right?” rather than “why do people believe the way they do?” Trying to stop this man from beating me up seems folly and much more interesting would be to study the very fact and mentality of who he is! Ouch!

      • Mooser
        April 25, 2018, 1:12 pm

        “Some passers-by approach to intervene but you wave them back…/…to study the very fact and mentality of who he is! Ouch!”

        Why, of course! That’s why we assimilated so well in the US. Only way to play it.

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