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Total number of comments: 36 (since 2012-12-10 08:10:29)

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  • Why does Uri Avnery know so little about Palestinian citizens of Israel?
    • But Norman, isn't the entire point of being Jewish to subject oneself to a double standard? Isn't Judaism all about being "a nation of priests and a holy nation" as per the Torah, i.e. holding oneself to a higher and more perfect standard? What does the Aleinu prayer we recite every day say (forgive the transliteration): "she lo asanu k'goye ha-aratzot", meaning precisely that we were not made to be merely one nation among others. Only by separating your Jewishness entirely from Judaism can you ignore this responsibility. Now of course you are welcome to do so, but then your state should as well and not make explicit use of the symbols and terminology of Judaism to identify and promote itself.

  • Yeshiva U panel concludes Israel and Jews face destruction from: Iran, assimilation and occupation critics
    • Slightly off topic, but can we stop using the phrase "Jewish state" in reference to Israel? I realise it's a handy shorthand but since Israel represents neither Judaism nor anything recognisable as Jewish values the term is really counterproductive to efforts at separating Israel and Jewishness in the popular imagination (I note the excellent Belen Fernandez makes the same mistake in her most recent article at AJ, and hope she gets some better advice on the issue). I suggest we use "so-called Jewish state" or "Jewish-run state" instead. A pet peeve to be sure, but I think an important one.

  • Pro-settler group uses nudity to promote cause in U.S.
    • It's "Afrikaners" not "Afrikaaners".

      Charlize Theron achieved fame well after the end of Apartheid and was certainly never associated with it in any way.

      The Afrikaners were too religiously conservative to use nudity as PR stunt, obviously unlike Israel which traditionally has never had any connection to any religion or...

      Oh, wait.

  • 'It is Zionist to think that American Jews have any connection to Israel'
    • Hi Yonah

      I actually have to disagree with you a bit. The modern prayer books used in the Reform movement were developed after the movement's (institutional) turn to Zionism and thus are more likely to be pro-Zionist (i.e. viewing Jerusalem literally and so on). The Reform liturgy you are thinking of probably dates from the 1800s.

      As far as the traditional Orthodox liturgy goes, this is actually inherently anti-Zionist. As you know, the text dates from long before the creation of the State of Israel and in no way refers to it or anything like it. References to Israel usually mean "k'lal yisrael" or the Jewish people rather than a country, and while the references to Jerusalem indeed indicate the actual city, its re-occupation by Jews according to Orthodox tradition could only be done as part of a larger messianic redemption. Thus "next year in Jerusalem" expresses a wish for the coming of the messiah and the refounding of the ancient kingdom of David, not the creation of a military state by a group of atheist Europeans.

      It is exactly this conflation of Judaism and Zionism that is the problem. By all means be a Zionist if you must, but keep religion out of it.

  • Moral obscenities in Syria
    • The petition seems entirely geared toward American signers (it talks about "our constitution" and requires the provision of a zip code). Is this deliberate, based on the assumption that non-American voices would not likely sway the US administration? If not, a more inclusive effort will certainly result in a great many more signatures.

  • Jackie Mason says 'giving' the Palestinians the West Bank is like giving them half of Florida
    • Actually, the official cant was that the whites and blacks arrived at the same time, two settler groups meeting one another half-way. And that was printed in high school history textbooks!

  • After Qalandia killings, shops close in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and Al Aqsa brigade members brandish AK-47s
    • Hilariously, Kerry calls the use of chemical weapons a "moral obscenity". Obviously not meant to apply when concerning allies dropping, say, white phosphorus onto urban areas.

  • Killings in Qalandia cause Palestinians to cancel talks set for today
    • Now Israel's enablers in the Western media can report how, once again, Israel was ready to enter into negotiations in good faith while, once again, those intransigent Palestinians scuttled talks because they're not really interested in peace.

      Mission accomplished.

  • Israel's Rx for the Palestinians, and the region: managed conflict
    • I fear we must prepare for darker prophecies instead:

      "Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion!How long must this go on? Will not your creditors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their prey. Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

      Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin! You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.

      Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice!"

      (Habakkuk 2:6 - 12)

  • Segregated kindergartens -- for Tel Aviv, 2013
    • We can try setting the advice of Micah as the cornerstone of our religion (and its real-world application):

      "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy
      and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

      The most succinct summary of Jewish ethics there is - note that the values extolled - justice, mercy, humility and (implied) faith - are exactly the ones absent from any manifestation of Zionism.

  • 'NYT' stonethrowing piece gets it from rightwing propagandists
    • David, while I appreciate your obvious admiration of Mandela, an oft-overlooked feature of the dismantling of Apartheid is the willingness of the white population to surrender their privileged status once given the option to do so. Remember that the process of change began with the ouster of then State President PW Botha by a small cabal of "young Turks" in his own National Party, led by future President FW de Klerk. Convinced that Apartheid was no longer sustainable, de Klerk then proceeded to unban the ANC and begin the long road toward reconciliation. Part of this process was the holding of a national referendum (the last one in which only whites were allowed to vote) seeking support for the new direction that had been set - support was declared by a margin of more than 60%. And when the first democratic elections were finally held in 1994, the white population submitted to them - and their outcome - without resistance or significant resentment (I remember that day, and can say truthfully that the mood at polling stations among whites was upbeat and optimistic, reflecting a sense of relief rather than fear or anger). I think this willingness to accept change and disenfranchisement on the part of white South Africans also played a significant role in bringing about a peaceful transition - and it is a willingess to compromise and sacrifice which I don't see on the part of Israeli society today.
      (PS: The South African national anthem is actually composed of verses in four languages - almost nobody knows the whole thing, but we're generally happy to sing "our" bits).

  • What the Tour de France doesn't teach you about life
    • I can never watch the Tour de France without noticing that it remains an all male event - if there is a female equivalent it receives exactly zero coverage, at least where I live. Hard to believe in this day and age.

  • 'Any Revolution Needs an Anthem': Lessons from the downfall of the original Apartheid
    • Here's another voice of resistance from that time, Afrikaner poet Ingrid Jonker. This poem was read by Nelson Mandela at the opening of parliament following his election as president in 1994. With just a few changes it can apply pretty easily to Palestine as well. (The "pass" mentioned in the last line refers to the mandatory identification document black South Africans were required to carry with them at all times):

      The child is not dead
      The child lifts his fists against his mother
      Who shouts Afrika ! shouts the breath
      Of freedom and the veld
      In the locations of the cordoned heart

      The child lifts his fists against his father
      in the march of the generations
      who shouts Afrika ! shout the breath
      of righteousness and blood
      in the streets of his embattled pride

      The child is not dead not at Langa nor at Nyanga
      not at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
      nor at the police station at Philippi
      where he lies with a bullet through his brain

      The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers
      on guard with rifles Saracens and batons
      the child is present at all assemblies and law-givings
      the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
      this child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
      the child grown to a man treks through all Africa

      the child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world
      Without a pass

  • The Solyndra of Israel, adored by Tom Friedman and NPR, goes bellyup
  • After all-night debate, Berkeley student senate calls on university to divest from 3 companies profiting from occupation
  • Bloomberg backs Brooklyn College over BDS event as another official withdraws funding threat
  • Hagel described Palestinians as 'chained' and 'caged,' but 'NYT' can't touch the issue
    • As a white South African who lived through the transition from Apartheid to democracy, let me offer this perspective:

      When all the arguments for maintaining Apartheid had failed, and all the usual attempts at justification had been dismantled, the final, desperate rationalisation for keeping it in place was the one made here by Mr. Konrad; namely, that it would spell death and destruction for the whites.

      Oh yes, we heard all the stories: how the day after the first democratic election bands of feral blacks would roam the streets slaughtering any white person they could find, how the new government would turn us out of our houses and how we would all be reduced to indentured servitude or worse.

      Guess what? It was all crap.

      When we went to the polls on that historic day in 1994, white and black lined up in the cues together, laughing and joking. There was no retaliation, no vengeance wrought. The day after life continued as usual...and it continues still.

      Most people just want to live peaceful, regular lives, assured in the knowledge that they and their children have a fair shot in a just dispensation.

      Fears of retaliation are largely the result of a guilty conscience, paired with a projection of one's own hatred onto the other.

      Physician, heal thyself.

  • Wiesenthal Center calls leading German journalist 'anti-Semite' for criticizing Israel, then refuses to debate him
    • In response to Mooser: Judaism certainly does not drive Zionism, since Zionism was created primarily by non-religious Jews. Nor does Judaism constitute a "plot to take back Palestine", since the Orthodox view for almost 2000 years has been that exile from Palestine was a divine punishment which could only be ended by divine will manifested via the coming of the messiah. This is why most so-called "Torah-true" Jews (really "Talmud-true") today do not support the State of Israel in its current configuration. That said, and as I have noted in an earlier post, the fact that Orthodox Judaism was constructed around the idea of preserving Israelite temple worship in symbolic form for the express purpose of one day re-actualising it in a rebuilt temple in a re-established Kingdom of David clearly allowed for an eventual philosophical merging of this brand of Judaism with Zionism, as has indeed occurred (and not just philosophical - I have even encountered the notion, among Reform Jews no less, that the State of Israel IS the messiah...try to wrap your head around that!). More scandalous is the non-Orthodox groups jumping on the Zionist bandwagon, this after explicitly rejecting any so-called "return to Zion" as a religious principle. In their case I would agree that there is generally not much of a link between their religion (such as it is) and their Israelophilia. Or perhaps in their case it is better to say that Zionism has become their Judaism (much as Amercian nationalism for many US evangelicals seems to have become their Christianity).

  • Hagel looms -- will AIPAC dare to take him on?
    • But I do blame the Jews, or at least the Jewish establishment, for the propagation of Zionism both in the US and abroad. The fact is that most Jews grow up within communities where Israel's "right to exist" and the whitewash of the Palestinian plight are articles of faith, transmitted to children as a matter of course through every social, cultural and educational mechanism available. And contrary to your assertions, these communities are not stocked with "billionaire neoconservatives", but largely with Obama-voting liberals. Indeed, one of the primary causes for Israelophilia in the US even among non-Jews is Zionism's positive portrayal in movies and on TV, the studios largely owned and operated by far-left Jews for whom there is no distinction between their Jewishness and their support for Israel. The fact is that Zionism has infected the Jewish world like a cancer, and until we stop trying to make excuses by trumpeting "don't blame the Jews" at every opportunity, but instead take responsibility for our "illness", we will only perpetuate the status quo.

  • Jews for Palestinian right of return
    • Excellent post. I recall that, during the negotiations leading up to the 1994 elections in South Africa, attempts were made to assure the retention of white privilege even in a majority-ruled country, but in the end all such fantasies had to be abandoned in order for true democracy to be installed. This wholesale abandonment of their power by whites proved particularly important on a psychological level, since it served as a tacit admission of collective guilt for the crimes of Apartheid, an act of contrition that allowed for the healing to follow. In the Israeli case however, I fear that they are too far lost to their own arrogance ever to accept such a necessary humbling.

    • You mean "Israeli Jewish", don't you? Most non-Israeli Jews live in countries where they enjoy full citizenship and voting rights, i.e. "self-determination". Stop trying to drag the rest of us into your little imperialist project.

    • There can be no doubt that most countries that exist today do so only because at some point in the past one group of people violently took a piece of land from another. However, the purpose of human evolution must be constant progression towards what is better; hence, once we know better, it is incumbent upon us to do better. The fact that a country like the US was built on the death and destitution of who-knows-how-many Indians (to take one example) can no longer be used to excuse a similar policy followed by another, younger country. Now we know better, so now we must do better.

  • Exchange on anti-Sephardi racism on the left
    • Mooser said:

      "Shmuel, I hope you don’t think that I wrote that crap, do you? I did not, and I reject it entirely. I do not tell other people whether their religion is valid or not."

      I, on the other hand, did write that crap (thanks for that), and stand by it. As I say in another post somewhere, the purpose of religion is to facilitate communion between the human and the divine. Since I do not consider animal sacrifice as a viable method of doing this, I do not consider ancient Israelite temple worship as religion in the proper sense of the word (proto-religion perhaps). And since rabbinic Judaism was created purely for the preservation of such practice (as well as Israelite law) in representative form, it follows that I do not consider it as a religion in the full sense of the term either. The upside of this is that Judaism has shown itself capable of evolution, adapting to a changing world and becoming better. We no longer yearn to slit animal throats or stone gays to death - what this means in terms of becoming a proper religion (i.e. achieving harmony with the divine) I'll leave to the more pious among us, but in terms of its social operation, we are clearly much better off.

    • In response to Shmuel and his assertion regarding the Jewish sages and their knowledge of religion and spirituality, of course he is right - intellectuals will always be drawn to more profound considerations, and it is clear that many Jews have allowed themselves to explore notions of spirituality over the years and centuries. However, from a doctrinal point of view, the purpose of religion is to facilitate the communion between the human and the divine (to "reconnect" as the Latin root would have it), whereas the primary purpose of rabbinic Judaism was merely the preservation of Israelite law for the the ultimate purpose of re-establishing it as the legislative framework of a newly-established Kingdom of David following the advent of the messiah. It was not meant to operate any kind of "spiritual elevation" in its practitioners - any such content inserted into rabbinic Judaism would not have been reflective of its main purpose.

    • I find myself in broad agreement with Sean. Without going too deeply into the history, from a Biblical perspective there really is no such thing as "Judaism", merely a tribal nationalism based on its own creation myth with a territorial constitution held together by a theocentric mythology. Once the land around which all of this was based was lost, the concrete elements of this nationalism were transformed into symbolic form and strung together as what would eventually become Orthodox Judaism. Yet the only purpose of this ideology was to preserve the practical nationalism in allegorical form so that it could once more be retransformed into practice upon the reclamation of the lost land. Thus Orthodox Judaism was still not a religion in the proper sense of the word, since it lacked any spiritual content or objective. It was only with the universalism of the Reform movement that Judaism assumed a proper religious character, as a result jettisoning all ambitions for a re-actualisation of the original nationalism via a return to Zion or a practical re-implementation of the original laws governing the tribal territory. Unfortunately it was at this point that Zionism entered the scene, and the Reform movement re-introduced a "return to the land" as one of its official doctrines, hence once again robbing Judaism of its religious function. It is only by re-embracing its founding universalism (as expressed in the Pittsburgh declaration of 1885) that Judaism can reassert itself once more as a proper religion. In terms of Sean's query therefore, I would say that Judaism can be untangled from Zionism, and rather easily, since the original Reform blueprint exists, and only needs to be embraced once more. Orthodox Judaism is inherently Zionist; even if some streams believe that the current State of Israel is not a legitimate manifestation of their religious doctrine, they still hold fast to the idea of a Jewish kingdom in the Promised Land...and would in fact be far more vicious in creating such a state than most Zionists if ever they felt that the time for this had come.

  • Hasbara fail: the ambassadors mutiny
    • Actually, how Israel's destruction would help the Palestinians is quite clear to me. But of course, all this talk of "destruction" is disingenuous, suggesting that those of us opposed to Zionism seek some sort of genocide against the Israelis. In reality, one-staters like me simply seek the creation of a single, mutli-ethnic, multi-party democracy along the South African lines. And while it is true that this will result in the disappearance of Israel as the ethno-supremacist state it currently is, this "destruction" would in reality be little more than a socio-political re-classification, involving no actual destruction of anything. In the same way, apartheid South Africa was also "destroyed", yet we're all much better off for it. Using language to create an impression of your opponents' motives you know to be false is dishonest.

  • The Establishment fights back (Hagel gets nod from Volcker, Hills, Wolfensohn, Crocker)
    • I can't help but wonder if this show of support for Hagel isn't a subterranean way for career politicians to manifest their opposition to the Israel lobby in a way that wouldn't hurt them professionally. I suspect more than one of them are fed up with having to kow-tow before Israel in order to assure election or advancement, and in consequence must be grateful for the opportunity to take a contrary position without risking the usual accusations of anti-Semitism etc.

  • The coming divorce: US Reform Jewish orgs ignore memo from Jerusalem re Palestinian statehood
  • Bin Laden execution has claimed more innocent victims
    • Thanks for this. When I saw this story on another site I too immediately thought that it was simply a case of Islamic fundamentalist tribal superstition at work, on par with honour killings and FGM. Who'd have thought all this background came into play? Makes one wonder what real history might lurk behind so many of the other "straightforward" headlines we read every day...

  • Liberal Zionists and neocons battle over Chuck Hagel
    • "...plays golf..."

      This is now a prerequisite for being a good ol' boy? When did this happen?

    • And don't forget the Democratic Party convention blithely suppressing what was clearly a majority delegate vote to leave mention of Jerusalem out of the party's platform. A real Stalinist moment, that was.

      I take issue with the term "many Jews" though. I don't know how things stand in the US, but my experience has been that Jewish anti-Zionism is very rare.

    • I think you mean that you love your idea of Israel. If you really loved the actual Israel itself, shouldn't you have moved there already?

  • Gun lobby in the headlights (Israel lobby in the brush)
    • Restricting gun ownership is one side of the equation, but I believe much of the psychology behind these shootings is created by the entertainment media (movies, tv, video games, graphic novels) glorifying violence and portraying it as the way real men (and real Americans) solve their problems. Yet all focus now is on the gun lobby and almost none on the entertainment industry which, incidentally, is equally responsible for creating such a powerful pro-Zionist tendency in the American public.

  • Exile and the Prophetic: An Israeli plots her escape from Israel
    • This captures well the mindset of both the Israeli and Jewish left. While they seek improvement in the lives of Palestinians, good liberals that they are, they will under no circumstances abandon their belief in the necessity of a Jewish state existing as such. As a result, the idea of a single, multi-ethnic, multi-party democracy for Jews and Palestinians is still heresy to them, hence their desperate clinging to the fantasy of a "two state solution" despite all evidence to the contrary. As long as they remain incapable of relinquishing their deeply-held belief in Jewish superiority, and thus exclusivity, they will remain part of the problem rather than the solution.

  • Israeli army releases video of Dec. 12 killing of Palestinian youth at Hebron checkpoint
    • Strange. I thought Israeli soldiers were all trained in Krav Maga. Between that and the Israeli numerical superiority, they should have been able to subdue the kid easily, without gunfire. Also, if he had a gun the whole time, why engage them in hand-to-hand combat at all?

  • In 'Dissent' debate, Walzer hints that leftists who focus on Israel are anti-Semitic
    • a native South African still living here, I'm happy to say that my country does, in fact, still exist.

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