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  • If I had to live in Israel again, 'it would actually drive me insane' -- Shaul Magid
    • AP, you put your reply to me under the wrong thread and I did not see it till now. yes, the thread only go to second level, but....

      Glad you took on the "inferior" part of my comment. For some reason, I can't find that word in my own comment. yes, I put in the words "archaic/primitive" as a way to refer to halachic law, but that did not mean that a state run according to bilingual and/or multi-religious laws is something I'd consider "inferior". Quite the contrary, actually, as to me a bi-national or multi-ethnic or bilingual states appear to adopt the higher values embodied in concepts such as "universal", "humanistic", "tolerant" and, indeed "liberal".

      Had israel chosen to run itself as a bi-national state, with equality under the law for its citizens who speak different languages and practice different religions, I'd have much less objection to its continued existence as one that bracketed itself into the apartheid-like, illiberal, anti-universalist, uber-nationalistic country that it is.

      Not only that but though i do consider halachic law to be a vestige of medieval, more primitive times in the development of humans, that won't lead me to endorse prohibiting said practices by some community that so wishes. The halacha, like the Sharia, are pre-ordained ways to impose rules - often anachronistically opposed to modern modes of behavior and values - on communities that want to live that way. In the US there are ultra-orthodox communities that follow halacha to the letter. Just as there are Amish and mannonite and Mormon communities. But the understanding is - and courts often interpret it so - federal law overrides religious dictates where there are conflicts (OK, brushing aside for a moment the difficult cases of children custody by those who exit those communities).

      In israel, this is not the case. halachic law supercedes State law in many cases (go see the Hebrew movie "Gett" to get an idea of the complexities this causes in divorce cases alone). It is that which leads me to conclude that indeed, israel is an "inferior' state among other modern nation-states, when it comes to "values". That's because the old and the archaic supercedes the modern and enlightened in practice (never mind the fine words issued by zionist spokespeople). I would say the same about an Afghanistan run by the taliban for example, though no one would for a moment choose to describe such a taliban-run state as "modern" or "liberal">

      Whatever the halacha represented once, 100's and millenia of years ago, now it is an anachronism for any pluralist state. Most countries move to enshrine the rights of minorities in the states, often by law. They prohibit discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or religion, and more do so as time passes. but in israel, if anything, the trends go the other way. It is becoming more nationalistic and parochial, not less.

      Separation of religion and state is the better value IMO, and that goes for Catholic, muslim and jewish states. America and Canada are so run. Mexico has still not separated itself entirely from Catholicism and neither had ireland, but they are both getting there, in those few areas where religion dictates still override state law. Israel, OTOH, is moving in the opposite direction, and demographic pressures only accelerate the process. In 20 years, it will be a full-fledged theocracy, even as Iran, its nemesis, will likely become much more liberalized. These predictions are born well by recent trends as anyone who cares to look into them can find out for themselves.

      I also predict - along with many others - that as the immutable process of theocrathgization unfolds, slowly but surely the die-hard secular part of the israeli population will seek to cast its fortunes elsewhere, leaving behind an israel, even more mired in the clutches of an old, old xenophobic, superstitious and supremacist set of values.

    • Keith, I think you have just convinced me to buy Neuser's book as a companion to Shahak's (which I already have and read). Phil's points are taken as well, adding to some intersting insights from the conservative angle.

      Re your comment about the curious attitudes towards emancipation within the Jewish community: I have to concur about the strangely diluted enthusiasm with which emancipation was welcome. That from a viewpoint of one that's gone through the Israeli secular school system. Though it was quite a while ago, in my recollection, emancipation in history classes was presented as something of a "mixed bag", because it ushered in the ultimate danger confronting jewish people in Europe - which was always encapsulated in one word: assimilation. Lessons about the periods where emancipation swept through the shtetl were quickly followed by lessons about the lingering anti-semitism, leading up to the Holocaust. That while introducing zionism as a "way out".

      I am sure that the teaching of jewish history nowadays in israeli schools has, if anything, further emphasized the latter (zionism) at the expense of the individualistic/liberal values embraced by the former (emancipation).

    • Israel hasn’t become the United States. Weiss is blown away by this new information and thinks the idea that Israelis live “in a particular way” is some kind of put-down.

      That Israel did not become the US is hardly the point. rather the point Phil makes is one about VALUES. As in Democratic and Universal values. It is true that israel is neither a true democratic state (one for ALL its citizens), neither does it have the separation between religion and state required for nearly any modern enlightened state (ie, it is run by archaic/parochial halachic Laws rather than civil/legal laws). It has accordingly failed to enshrine either free speech or respect for human rights in its constitution. A constitution that doesn't exist and cannot come into existence precisely because the principles above straight out conflict with "Israel as a Jewish state". A state that ultimately is bound to be run according to those anachronistic, primitive medieval laws that religions end up imposing.

      So yes, israel is bound to turn into a jewish mirror image of the Ayatollah-run state of iran. In the not too distant future that'll become obvious to all, if it isn't yet.

      And yes, the Jews of America have the best of all worlds. They can be citizens of the enlightenment, they are protected by a robust constitution that respects theirs as well as anyone else's rights, they are free to speak and to associate however they care, and they can, at the same time, define themselves as 'something Jewish".

      Oh yes, they can also thrive economically, intellectually, and if they so care, spiritually, just as many other groups of people do.

      So what's not to like?

      problem is, Israel appears like such an inferior construct by comparison that one wonders why anyone who could emigrate from there hasn't done so yet.

      So indeed, "Israelis living in a particular way" is the nicer way of a put-down. I could think of a lot worse. Shall I, AP? or have I done so already?

  • 'Why Ahed slapped the soldier' --an interview with Bassem Tamimi
    • Mooser - that's a funny joke indeed. Three lines that say [almost] all hat I tried to say in 5 long paragraphs.

      I shall learn.....eventually?

    • American Perspective:
      When the government of the State of Palestine shoots rockets across its borders against a foreign country, the response was a blockade and political pressure.

      Couple of points:

      1. There is no State of Palestine, last I saw. Gaza has its own government and the West bank is only allowed something called "palestinian Authority", a far cry from a state. Israel to the Palestinians of gaza, in particular, is no "foreign country". It is a country, yes, but one that evicted them and shut them off in a ghetto. israel is as foreign a country to them as the Polish government of warsaw was foreighn to the Ghetto residents. Just because one is closed into a ghetto (something that happened long before any rockets were flying any which way) does not make the residents foreign.

      Rather the appropriate terminology is one of "conflict", of the kind people who are colonized have with their colonizers. So the colonized fight back, and if the the colonizers are much stronger, as Israel is, then naturally, such fight backs are doomed. At least on a battlefield.

      2. By your very own argument, since victory on the battlefield is not a possibility for the Palestinians, then political response is all they got. That and demonstrations that bring the struggle of the oppressed to the attention of an otherwise indifferent and busy world.

      So the Palestinians did respond politically. they got the UN condemnation - essentially by a vast majority of the world's countries. They also capably elevated their hopeless struggle to a martyrdom, scoring significant PR victory across the globe. By their dead and wounded they have become humanized, as much as israel keeps trying to lump them all under the label of "Hamas, something, something".

      Therefore the Gazans struggle for Human Rights - it bhaving a distinct political dimension, even if Gaza is far from a "sovereign" entity - should receive your whole-hearted approval.

      As I said in my other comment, they, the Palestinians, could do worse than hiring you as their lawyer.

    • >biggerjake, Good points, but for the record, I actually like the types of "American Perspectives" to walk in now and then. yes, it was all hashed over several times, and then some. Still, he makes some staggeringly fantastic "new" points that are not really new but have not been stated as clearly before. Like that 'chosen" bit, which, well, tempted me to come out of the woodworks an"d chomp on for a bite.

      Heck, we need these types now and then. Their groundless, warmed over arguments, their shilling for the chosen, masked as a new form of fuzzy logic. If not for them, we would all have melted into a pool of stupifyng agreement, no?

      Also, some of the points he made, if points they can be called, are the very ones Israelis make - time and again - to themselves and to their friends and family, and its all over their social media too. So it may be good to see sometimes, if a touch exasperating.

    • I don’t think the Arab nationalists living in Israel see themselves as “god’s chosen people”. For the Jews living in Israel, the idea of being an Am Hanivchar (a chosen people) is a common motif in their culture and religion.

      I have news for you! everyone sees themselves as god's chosen people, because, by definition, their god chose them. The Jews (some of them) and all israelis feel "chosen" in the same way that every cult members from like, forever, felt both chosen, and persecuted for being chosen.

      Of course they have "chosen" as a motif. That's the critical aspect of cult life and, of course, tribalism. You do know, the japanese people feel quite chosen - and indeed superior - to other cultures, because well, they are japanese. The Chinese feel similarly about their culture. And the Inkas and the mayas felt very chosen over all others, which is what justified them colonizing and brutalizing others around them.

      Still, I love your argument because i's like cannon fodder to me. Please do come back and give me more! extra bullets! the store is a bit low at the moment as I seem to have run out, shooting this and that way. But yours are great, may be because you are new here and don't realize we have gone over these grounds many times over. So to see you, a naif, state it all so simply, so succintly, so straightforwardly is a joy to behold.

      But just to make sure I catch it all, here is another one for the books:

      Sovereign Immunity. The only recourse for a “shooting” or “murder” done by a country’s military is on the political level. The same sovereign immunity that the State of Palestine consistently and successfully claims for itself. The idea of sovereign immunity is deeply embedded in Islamic law as well.

      So, according to you, the Palestinians can claim soverign immunity for shooting any settler and/or taking their pathetic settlements over, swimming pools and all. Now, could you please serve as their lawyer on this matter? clearly, it can't be "terrorism" if it's "soverign". I am beginning to kind of like you, actually.

      More of the same, please.

  • Joyless in Zion
    • Yonah, I promise a longer reply later, if you promise to plow through it. For now, let's just say that our journeys appear, in essence, to be orthogonal.....

    • It must be like explaining a nightmare.

      Good way to put it. Something that is deeply scary to the dreamer, yet somehow loses its bite when explained. that happens even in one's native language, much less a language learnt late in life.

      The analogy of explaining an emotional state in a foreign language in which one has limited vocabulary,with a dream may, in fact, be quite deep. I think I'll use that next time the subject comes up, if you don't mind.

      FYI, I am mired in the throes of an essay on just this kind of emotional disconnect, that seems deeply tied to language. I struggle with the concepts - one second they are crystal clear, but the next they seem contrived. Like I am trying to graft a Chomsky or a Lakoff onto a Leibnitz (disclaimer - I am decidedly not a scholar on any of these illustrious people's work. Just wish I were more, so I could ground it all in something learned-sounding. I do try though....when not lazy).

      Also, thanks for the dream-analogy inspiration. Now all I need is the perspiration, and I'll have my book chapter!

    • the Mondoweiss Live Chat feature

      Is there such a feature? should there be? can you imagine the cacophony (cf symphony of accents)? I think it's fun to imagine though.

    • Good question. I don't have exact percentages, and the definition of "unilingual" can be a bit vague. But basically, I'd say that over 70% of Jewish israelis are, for all intents and purposes, unilingual. Their understanding of English comes from 6 years of school study plus what they get from TV. I had those 6 years of study, and I can tell you that at the end of those one is quite far from fluent, and I got a pretty good grade in English too. So one can, for example, read simple things, and respond to a tweet, but not a long article, much less a book. Not even fiction. Neither would people get any of the nuances so common in, say, English, or, for that matter french from watching movies and TV which all come with subtitles. As for conversational skills, that depends on how much effort people cared to spend conversing and at what level. Most people in israel, just like in the US, are basically lazy when it comes to mastering another language.

      just think how fluent people who got Spanish in school are. They can manage as tourists in Mexico or the carribeans and that's about it.

      There was recently a fine interview conducted by Abby martin of israelis in the street. Their command of English was, pretty much, as I would expect. For some, nearly non-existent. For others, they could string conversational words together but without true fluency. I can't blame them, as i know it took me well over 3-4 years before i could conduct a half-way decent conversation about something complicated, like Politics. And I was supposed to have had a talent for languages. The majority of the ex-israelis i know in the US (the non-academic people) are still not entirely comfortable in English even 10 years later.

      My 70% figure makes allowances for the 1 M or so who are fluent in Russian (but who likely speak hardly any English at all, if they did not go to school in israel), and perhaps several 100's of thousands who speak French. Once upon a time the people who came from North Africa spoke french fluently - in their own dialect, but that generation has pretty much died out, so such French that is spoken is brought over by French emigres, and there are not so many of them, and many of those who go to israel, are more orthodox inclined.

      Also, the influx of jews from Anglo-saxon countries is relatively small, despite appearances. Perhaps 200K? I don't have the numbers, and it would probably be good to do the research to find out how many.

      So unfortunately, my observations tend to be anecdotal and/or inferential. When I visited (the more recent visits) I'd insist on addressing people in English, for the most part. But it was easy to tell when people couldn't quite follow as I'd find myself reaching for some Hebrew word or expression to explain meanings. It was difficult, somehow, to find the right words too. And I know they - the people I used to know, what family I have there - were both puzzled and seemed a bit annoyed that I did not revert to hebrew as most visiting ex-israelis do. heck I made them work at it! My excuse was that I can't express nuances well enough in hebrew any longer, and they'd try to bear with it, since they know very well that English is far the richer language. Truth is, it made life easier, as it prevented me from getting into too many heated arguments, and forced everyone to stick to 'simple' stuff. Here and there, if someone expressed too much annoyance, I'd retort that since the US pays israel over $3B/year (and then some) the least they can do is to learn to speak the donors' language (heck, I can still be rude when I have to be!)..

      All of which kind of makes it a somewhat boring visit for me, so I don't care to go there much. Got so many more exciting places to visit in the world where i haven't been yet!

      I think it would be interesting though to do some research on this language barrier thing.

      Apologies if reply is too long. Wish I had more precise numbers to make it all shorter!

    • But the Israelis are as bad off mentally in their own way as the Palestinians, or worse. They know their indifference to others’ opinions cannot last. On the day I stopped people in West Jerusalem to ask about Gaza, 20 people refused to talk. They frowned and shook their heads. They knew that the world won’t understand them, and they walked hurriedly by.

      The conflicted and dysfunctional mental state of Israelis is even more obvious in Hebrew. The social media of israelis ,including FB and Instagram, and the commentary on newspaper pages reveal a very seriously compromised collective. To some degree, speaking a language not spoken by the vast majority of the planet's dwellers, insulates israelis to some extent from the truly devastating criticism directed their way. They really receive only snippets of what's said out there, translated - selectively - for their convenience by various media figures. Those israelis who migrated to israel from Englsih speaking and French speaking countries, are exposed more to the opprobrium, which usually results in them building a near-hermetic mental shield around themselves.

      Those shields are easier to build when you have religion to provide the mortar for the walls and religious emigres to israel are among the worst of the worst, if we speak nationalist zealotry. That's because they have to go all biblical (and Talmudic) to maintain a less hellish view of themselves.

      I communicate with 4 israelis now and then, but it is difficult going due to language barrier. I write in English, they use google translate to understand what I said, then respond in Hebrew, which I understand less and less. And though I read the words, the context I notice is beginning to escape me. It's like a foreign language to me now, but one that strangely I can understand, but from a distance, and through dense fog. One of the difficulties for me is that hebrew, as a language, has become extremely lazy at conjuring up new words, so they use Englisized words, which no dictionary will identify. A word like "universal" becomes in hebrew Uni-ver-sali, which somehow loses its bite, and much of its basic meaning, by becoming hebrewsized. This, plays a role, I think, in preventing the flow of ideas between them and us, on the outside. It is as if the word itself, its very meaning, becomes a sharpened Hasbara tool, that can be hurled back at you.

      I believe that this language barrier is partly what allowed cult-like mentalities to develop in Israel, just as Phil has noted based on the responses he got. The cults we are all familiar with, like the Koresh Davidian branch and those mormon cults had to resort to actual physical barriers as well as a near-complete clamp-down on outside information, to maintain the hold on the cult members. basically, to deprive them of independence of thought, even as the cult leaders clamp down on any critical thinking or questioning. the physical barriers often included strange dresses for the women that would set them apart from the outside world. But in a small country, it is possible to segregate the people - young and old, religious and secular, into a cult-like mental state, just by filtering every bit of feed-back from the world outside, and/or every discussion with an "outsider' through a language that is singularly not amenable to translation into the Anglo-saxon and/or latin languages (much less Asian ones, but i don't know much about those).

      The beauty of this cult-like segregation is that it seems rather open, yet is actually as closed as if there was an actual meters high walls separating them. That strange dichotomy between the seemingly open and carefree and the deeply propagandized internal reality is, I think, part of those disturbing undercurrents sensed, but not easily expressed, that visitors like Phil, are sensitive to. That undercurrent toad that now and then raises its misshapen head just above those lovely warm waters. One minute it's a nice conversation with a hospitable , open and even warm person. The next minute, there's that toad, peeking up from underneath, leaving one both perplexed and perturbed.

  • Jews and trauma
    • jon s Starting this evening Jews all over the world are remembering and mourning.

      Mourning what? surely not just one holocaust among many?

      Would that they add the Naqba victims to their many mournings.

      Would that they add the young Gazans they murdered and the West bank persecutions and pogroms to their mournings.

      Would that they add the countless Iraqis Israel insisted on wiping out to the list of victims to be "remembered".

      But they won't, of course, because Jews supposedly mourn only Jews as even those other lives, the ones that perished in the same places and over the same time, but failed to be Jewish enough, will neither be mourned, nor remembered.

      That is how xenophobic, ethno-tribalism works and always did.

      Only our victims really count. The rest? well, yes, something happened to them too. Life is tough, so no remebrance or mourning for them. Not from us. We have room in our hearts only for our own Holocausts......

    • RoHa, you interpret my words a bit too literally. Of course, I don't think it is ONLY the trauma of a past event (WWII, Soviet occupation, etc) that caused the Poles to veer rightwards (and only in some respects) or the Hungarians to reject migrants, etc. These are complex developments that have to be seen in both historical and contemporary contexts.

      Though Poles and Hungarians chose very different paths, both show more than a few traces of resurgence of what can be called "national interest". The EU is obviously the bigger threat now hanging over east European countries, as they try to figure out whether economic goodies are worth giving up on much of their sovereignty as a people, which is pretty much what belgium is demanding. Brexit happened for similar reasons - I saw it as a revulsion against the dictates of a European entity that was increasingly viewed as un-representing the interests of the British people (naturally, for many, economic "goodies" trump everything else. But not for everyone, apparently).

      But before you conclude I am backtracking - far from it. I would merely posit a somewhat more nuanced view of the complex factors that underlie nationalist sentiment. Both Poles and Hungarians (and Czechs and Slovanians) have suffered the double whammy of conquest - first, by Hitler's forces and then by the Soviets, as they were used as pawns to separate spheres of influence. It is the combined experience of loss of agency that beget the collective trauma of which I speak.

      So, basically I am suggesting that this collective trauma of loss of independence and agency in running their own internal affairs played a role in these countries asserting themselves now. It's really quite simple, people get sick and tired of always being told what to do. They rebel. The traumas suffered in the decades before are often a key factor in how strong the rebelion is.

      I do think that the years under Soviet rule play an important part in the emergence of nationalist sentiment in eastern Europe. That, IMO (and only an opinion it is), is the reason Orban's party is so popular in Hungary, but say, Le Pen's party or the AfD in Germany are not quite as victorious in Western Europe. The yearning for real independence is that much stronger for those who not only were conquered by the nazis but then had to endure decades under a not very welcome Soviet rule. For that very same reason, the rebellion against compromising the national will comes from the direction of the 'right" (kind of more obvious in Poland than Hungary) than the left. The latter has simply become too entwined with something "communist" and lost the trust of the people*.

      Hope I clarified my point?

      * again, let's not simplify too much here. The left is on the run everywhere in Europe and the reasons for that are, well, complicated, and go beyond the point I wanted to make here.

    • Keith: It is only when discussing Jews, Judaism and Jewishness that I experience moderation difficulties and find myself walking on egg shells and self-censoring. Jewish Zionists have been extremely successful in branding any examination of Jewish power and influence as anti-Semitc tropes.

      Hope you don't mind me serving as your personal (and secret) attack dog.......heck, there was a job opening for crushing egg shells so I took it. Doesn't pay so well, though......

    • Mooser, now that was really funny! as good as that primo-fascist you threw out a while ago.

      More tales of encounters with your dad, please. Mom too. Actually, anyone.

    • You being mean, Keith? give Phil a break - his choice of words did generate conversation, no? of which we haven't seen a whole lot lately......

      Not that i disagree with your points or anything (well, I rarely do, but when i do - it's for a good cause, if not reason!). Especially about genocides being the rule rather than the exception in our lametable human history.....

    • Glad you liked it. Will try to do it one better next time.

    • Convincing the nontraumatised American Jewish young ‘uns that they have little in common with Israel is the workable strategy. Convincing people who are attached to israel, that they should detach, because their attachment is a result of trauma and let’s have a discussion about the trauma, that’s not going to work

      I can't believe it, but I actually agree with this statement. based on my own observations it is true that once people become attached to something on an emotional/psychological level, they are not likely to let go (well, except for a few).

      However, before it gets to your head, I'll have to take exception to your description of Gaza as a place ruled by the "bad" hamas. As I said before, hamas, is just a boogey-man word, invented by israel to give them an excuse for keeping the Gazans locked in a concentration camp. If Hamas came out tomorrow as followers of Mother Theresa or Ghandi, israel would find fault with that.

      The proof? every time Hamas and the PA negotiate some agreement israel pulls it asunder. To not see that is to be willfully blind, which I am sure is a fate you are trying to avoid. So please revisit your convictions on this matter, if you will. Insight does wonders for one's health, you know. Cures much. Beats an expensive spa any day of the week. Insights is what keeps me happily furious, for example (doctor very happy with my blood pressure lately. Told him its middle eastern politics. He seemed doubtful. One can wonder why, right?).

    • eljay, I concur with your point. The germans - and indeed, countries such as Poland and Hungary, where jews played a vastly disproportionate role in the professions (law, medicine, journalism, accounting, finance, academia) did regard the jewish "problem" as, well, a problem. They recognized the innate advantaged jews had for the professions having been always urban (throughout the Middle Ages, and not necessarily by choice) and essentially confined to finance and banking. Just because the rules and strictures of the Middle Ages were responsible for this state of affaires does not mean peole did not see the consequences as highly problematic. Since they couldn't go back 100's of years and change the rules, they were left looking at a state of permanent disadvantage for their own Middle classes.

      I am not saying of course that this justifies genocide in any which way, but it does explain deep deep resentment. It did provide however a keg of gun powder that the Nazis, once in power, could exploit.

      jon s really needs to learn to read history with less prejudicial eyes. He might be able to note the nuances should he be so inclined (which I doubt. The jewish thing, etc.).

    • Interesting comments. The different ways trauma plays out. In Poland it manifested as a hard turn right. In Germany as a love affair with money. In Hungary, as a complete rejection of migrants from the Middle east as well as deep suspicion of NGO's and the West's use of those as means of political manipulation. Also, complete distrust of Russia (have they really changed? what about the past?).

      In the US, it only ever had two major traumas - the Civil war and Vietnam. I use these examples because that's the way trauma plays out in the collective consciousness - the origins are in a profound sense of loss.** WWI and WWII cannot be counted as traumas because the US ended up "winning". That softens the sense of loss, limiting it to the individuals who lost rather than the nation.

      The reaction to Vietnam was predictable - kind of like Israel's - more arms, more conquests, more "wins" however dubious they were. It is Vietnam that prevented a decent resolution in Korea and it is probably Vietnam syndrome that led to the many regime changes - from Chile to Iran to the attempts against Cuba and all the way to Iraq.

      Young countries, with little in the way of centuries old traditions tend to over-react, when calamities befall them. Israel is a good example. It really is a country without tradition and without real mooring in a rich past. All that hanging on to Jewish history, including biblical "history' (which is mostly legends anyways) are desperate attempts to build a history from scratch. Judaism never was the basis for israel. Only the myth of some arbitrarily cobbled together Jewish "people".

      And that's one thing Phil probably doesn't quite get, being so American and all (and he is, first and foremost, IMO, an American, with a jewish layer grafted onto that core identity). I doubt any American jewish person gets just how far from Judaism Israel really is. They know it's in the Middle east, but that fact somehow doesn't compute. To me, OTOH, as one who came from there, the israeli jews (taken en mass) are so much more similar to the Arabs of the Middle east than the Jews of new York. But this is another subject for another day. A day when people may perhaps be a little more open to "settling out of court" (a far off day indeed).

      **PS I should have probably added in the great Depression. Didn't because i am not sure that trauma was as long lasting as the other two. After all, there was FDR, who kind of fixed things (for a while).

    • On Holocausts and traumas: how come it is somehow "understandable' to project their trauma on a convenient new victim (the palestinians) but others, who suffered every bit as much don't get to do the same?

      Twenty Million Russians perished during the World war, many in camps and massacres not just on the battlefield. What was done to the Russians as people is, in many ways, just as bad if not worse than what was done to the jews of Europe. The nazi plan was always to go after the "slavs" when they were "done" with the jews. And Russians know it. There is hardly a single family in Russia that did not count a few dead of its own during WWII. Yet, their way of dealing with the trauma (at least in the last few decades) was to commemorate the dead through the March of the Immortals, which is carried out every year, in nearly every city. Through that march one hears hardly any invectives against the Germans. Neither do they stage "field trips" for the youths of Russia to the location of the death camps and to the places where countless civilians and/or soldiers were massacred.

      The Russians, every bit as much as Jews, should have had the right for compensation from Germany. So, how much did they get? Ok, they had east Germany under their control for some decades, but I did not hear of truckloads of "compensation" traveling from occupied East Berlin to Moscow.

      And yes, I do think that the years of Stalin and the Gulags and all the other bad stuff that happened in the Soviet union, was kind of an unintended result of the collective trauma. Too many good people died. Which allowed too many brutes to rise to power, among other things. But the Stalin is gone as is the Soviet Union. And the Russians, as a people seem genuinely interested in moving forward (with the West making it as difficult as possible, but that's another story).

      Not to detract from anyone's traumas, but the fact remains that different people choose to deal differently with them. Only the Jews received the reparations they did 9which israel happily pocketed). Only Israel harps endlessly about the persecution of the Jews as if they were the only victims ever. Of the nzis or the kossacks or the medieval knights and kings.

      Frankly, it's getting a little precious to keep up that torch. A truly great and good people would have looked beyond the collective trauma by now and some did, even in Israel. But israel was founded on keeping the trauma alive as long as possible because it is their entire raison d'etre and it is the ONLY excuse they ever offered for persecuting, terrorizing and genociding the palestinians. It's an excuse that gets ever weaker as the years pass, and hence the panic among Israelis and their jewish bretherns. Oh my! the younger generation is looking forward not backward! They might stop supporting israel so build yet another Holocaust memorial!

      Personally, I think israel - as an entity - has begotten a very petty, vengeful, small minded nation of whiners and braggarts. They, more than anyone else in the world, show just how wrong it is - psychologically - to keep up the memories of a past Holocaust long after its "sell by" date. Israel, single-handedly will, in due course destroy Judaism itself, both as a worthy religion and as a set of values. The only question is when the chickens will come home to roost.

    • The parallel with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is much closer for tsarist Russia than it is for Nazi Germany — restriction to specified areas, complicated bureaucratic regulations, periodic ethnic cleansing, occasional massacres, but not outright genocide.

      Except that the israelis really do have a "final solution" in mind - they just differ in the details of exactly how it is to be carried out and how long it'll take. Jewish Americans don't want to and can't accept the truth of this, but this is how most israelis think. And it is what they talk about amongst themselves, when "nice" jewish people from America are not around.

      The modern day genocides take different forms than they used to because information is out in the open and the dastardly realities of what genocide means and what it looks like cannot be hidden for too long. Whether it's the Rohinga in Myanmar or some tribes in the Sudan or the palestinians in Israel, the news have a way of getting out - if not in full force, then in trickles. As a result, the persecutors and executioners have to take heed. They go slower, they wrap up their purposes in high minded words, they write high minded opinion pieces about "tit-for-tat", they label groups of people, entire tribes even, as "terrorists', secessionist or subversives. They even go as far as pretending that it's only "a little ethnic cleansing" and that refugees of said "cleansing' can be - and should be - settled elsewhere.

      So yes, what's going on in the West bank looks like pogroms in Poland and ukraine of old. But what's going on in Gaza is something else entirely. Just to remind you - there was no parallele in tsarist Russia to enclosing people in a ghetto with no way out and almost no way to communicate with the rest of the world. Yes, now and then a jewish community would suffer a pogrom and now and then a Jewish community would be forced to vacate the place where they lived. But never have they been locked-up en mass in a small cage, under the pretext of "terrorists' or whatever, for decades on end. There has been no attempt by tsarist Russia to eradicate Millions of jews and "disappear' them collectively, while denying them water, sustenance, medical care and means of making a livelihood. And while Israel's storm troopers, masquerading under the innocent sounding "defense forces' could act like the worst of Kossacks (and not all kossacks were "bad"!), the parallels stop there.

      Sorry to disillusion you but israelis do have a plan. They just know that since the world is [kind of] watching, it's going to take a little longer to get from here to there. Neither do israelis - the majority of them - hold back seat to some of the worst German Nazis in terms of the ways they talk and think. For the most part, they really do believe Palestinians are sub-humans (which even the worst of the Kossacks of Russia did not, though they thought of them as un-believers who would corrupt the "morals" of the real Christians). When you think of a people as sub-human, that opens the door to all manner of "dealing with them".

      You know in your heart, as well as I do, that had the world taken off its eyes from gaza for a few years, extremely bad things would happen.

      And yes, had there been internet in the 30's and 40's, the nazis would have also gone slower probably. They might have even come up with the brilliant idea of making many little "Gazas" for the jews. may be somewhere just out of sight. And they would have upped the propaganda about communists and terrorists to get the people - their people, and the world's - to look the other way as they mount periodic target shootings in their little out-of-sight ghettos.

      Sorry, not much difference that i can see. But then I am not so inclined to prevarication (too tiring....).

  • The problem with Passover
    • I am delighted to see this article about the Haggadah being "grafted" onto an - oh so "human" -"liberation" theology a la one size fits all. For the longest time, I felt the haggadah, as it is written and read in Hebrew, is an absolute travesty - in essence a poetic rant against human rights and human dignity. There is - and never was a single word in the hebrew version - that would apply even a smidgen of said "liberation" to non-Jews. Those who read this into the haggaddah - its original, the one israelis read every passover, for example - were guilty of either ignorance of language, or delusion or the need to fabricate a PR campaign that would 'soften" the harshness of the original for purposes we can only guess at.

      For harsh it is. If anything, I felt the basic, unabridged haggadah (and how many even could read it?) scroll was a shrill documentation of parochial self-love, extreme xenophobia, and self-aggrandisment that come together into a toxic racist screed against just about everyone who failed to be jewish (or "properly Jewish"). There is nothing in the Haggadah (the traditional hebrew version) that would bestow any dignity, virtue or value upon non-Jewish people. Anyone who read such attributions into the haggadah, either did not read hebrew and/or saw what they wanted to see. Or had an agenda, as mentioned above.

      When god is asked to visit his wrath upon those who know not his name, it is not meant just some old "pagans" or some such. It is meant, quite specifically, any and all who are not jewish (however they came by such predicament).

      Worse yet, this haggaddah, this "liberation treatise" is actually a celebration of nasty vengeance of the most brutal, unfeeling and merciless kind, upon "others". Who are to be treated much as the Egyptians were (and mind you, no exceptions were made for any particular Egyptian of any gender, age or preference. All the same. All bad. All deserving of the harshest of treatment - being mere appendages of a bad bad Pharoh that just won't "let my people go". I can assure everyone that, at least in israel, they know exactly who those "others" are - it's pretty much everyone who is not them, including even some jews who may see things differently than the rightmost israelis.

      Frankly, the Hebrew Haggadah should have no place in a modern, humanistic society, and certainly not in an American one. I would outlaw the traditional haggadah from the tables of the jewish people of America, unless it undergoes sizeable revisions, decided upon by the people of the land. The people who founded a country based on the principles of liberty and justice for all. Indeed, why should this cesspool of invectives and exhortations for evil deeds to be perpetrated upon them who "knew not your name" (meaning the canaanite, but also the Christian, the Muslim an certainly some "funky" Indian god be an acceptable reading material for a passover ritual? has anyone ever wondered about that? why is it permitted to read from this text (cf., the unabridged, unadulterated, if translated, version) in American households? why is it not considered to be something akin to Mein Kampf which celebrated Arian "purity" and rained derision upon others not so Arian, not so pure?

      Yes, I know most people here and in the US (99.9% of Jewish Americans included) cannot read Hebrew other than a few words here and there. I know the Englisdh version is already a much "softer" version of the original. And yes, there were many more "softening" touches added over the years by the Reform and Conservative and certainly Unitarian congregations. But none of that is an excuse for indulging in a work founded on ethnocentric travesty, a work of spite for others, a work of naked ugly vengeance, a work celebrating paroxyms of ethnic supremacy, masquerading as something "good", something "liberation".

      Personally, I feel the Haggadda, in all its versions, including the very word "exodus" should be re-examined and at least entirely re-edited to fit with the values of a modern, diverse and pluralistic society, which cares about justice for all (whether achieved or not; it's still the ideal).

      There, i said it. Been meaning to say just this for the longest time. Well, at least I can't be accused of being short on opinions....

  • Schumer and Dems outdo Trump at AIPAC-- there's no peace because 'Palestinians don't believe in Torah'
    • As always, I am late to the party, but couple of comments anyways:

      1. I don't think the real issue here is young jewish people's estrangement from israel. Yes, that is an "issue' to the AIPAC crowd and to the likes of Schumer, but I see a much larger cloud hovering over the entire country AND the threat to the American constitution and its democratic institutions that the pro-israelites zealot lobbies represent.

      Let's say it like it is (for once): AIPAC is hate-mongering, bigoted and outright racist institution. It is there to corrupt the American governance system through its myriad of sub-lobbies using a combination of threats, entreaties and bribes.

      In that, it is more like a traditional MAFIA like organization, using very similar tactics, even if they specialize in character, assassination (rather than the more physical elimination techniques the Mafia preferred).

      Which leads to the obvious question: why is it even legal to allow an AIPAC conference where its main message revolves around sowing hatred and monger for wars against some "un-washed' citizens of select countries who failed to appreciate the "Torah" (what's that anyways? can Schumer explain please?).

      Why is it even permitted for American lawmakers to speak at their conference? why is the racism and bigottry tolerated from the participants? what would we say if Schumer etc. spoke at a Big Pharma conference advocating drug monopolies and unleashing more opioids upon the population? would he get positive press of any kind?

      And would it be OK for the likes of Schumer - or paul Ryan - or any Republican - to speak in fron of the KKK conference? would they be OK parading with the equivalent of white hoods through the streets of DC, holding torches and calling for the lynching of Iranians, lebanese, or Syrians or palestinians?

      2. The fight as it is shaping up is not about the hearts and souls of younger jews but for the heart and soul of the US, where free speech has constitutional protection. Just a couple days ago Blumenthal was speaking about the effort to silence Al-Jazzerah (and not just him). Several red states passed first-amendment-baiting laws against BDS. Schumer is calling effectively for a mcCarthyist witch hunt against BDS supporters from all angles, jews and otherwise, through a congress passed law that'd curtail free speech. Yet, most democrat establishment types, if not all, are silent about this.

      All this is taking place against a background of extreme Russophobia whipped up mostly by Democrats. And therein lies a still greater danger.

      So, younger jews, who mostly track with progressive ideas (call it "Bernie-like" for now) are moving away from the democratic establishment. Along the way, strange friendships between left and right are being struck. tense friendships, to be sure, but something like embryonic alliances that focus on economic justice and anti-interventionism before identity issues. I have been witnessing strange things lately across the land. A peculiar openness on the part of those on the Right we used to despise. An even more peculiar tone-deafness on what we once called "left". I followed some of Carlson Tucker's recent programs, and am shocked - shocked! - at how "progressive" he sounds on some issues (of course not all. And not always, but some sure beats the none we see from the usual quarters).

      Into these new fissures the Israeli and Jewish lobbies step. Along the way, as they descend ever faster into the pit where ethics go to die, they are becoming legitimate targets for populists from both sides of the aisle. Not because they are regressive., which they are. But because they have become entirely identified with establishment politics, big money and corruption of the government through lobbies that care only about their own narrow interests. It is not hard to convince some right leaners (who are not of the Christian zionist ilk) that AIPAC is Big Israel, just like Big Pharma, and Big Agro and Big MIC (Military-Industrial Complex).

      I have raised the question of AIPAC in some quarters and find ithe responses are not as negative or quick to draw guns - or quick to withdraw - as was true before. I would raise some obvious questions: how would we feel if, say, a Japanese American lobby group that is dedicated to keeping parts of Korea Japanese, came and held a conference in DC, and rained fire and brimstone upon those hapless non-shinto believing Koreans who refuse to accept Japanese ancestral rights in the Korean peninsula (which they are reputed to have if one goes back far enough. The reverse is true too, but never mind that)?

      Many more such comparisons can be thought of - from Africaans who are descendants of the boors, to Turks who seek to explain why Armenians just had to be driven out and why it was not a genocide, because they say it wasn't. Like the palestinians in '48, them Armenians just upped and left. Why was it Turkey's fault that many died on the way? the high mortality rate is simply the result of there not being a UN refugee support organization, so there. Besides, it's against Turkish Law to even mention Armenian "genocide, so anyone who does is anti-Turk

      I run these comparisons by people sometimes (when I get the chance, and always after dinner...when people are less inclined to jump up and down. I, of course, am always so inclined....). It seems to me that some headway is being made, though of course, my respondents are not erudite, all-knowing east coast know-it-alls, so perhaps to them it's just musac (never mind that. Subliminal stuff works!).

      OK, comment got too long. Stop here - take up another day.

  • Jared Kushner's swift rise and long, long fall
    • Well said. As I.Hunter pointed out - this kind of corruption and nepotism are signs of an Empire in decline. happened in Rome too. If Trump is a Nero, are we still waiting for Caligula?

      Alas, unlike Rome, this particular Empire has enough weapons to take the entire world down with it, as it goes through its paroxyms of self-destruction.

    • from Wikipedia:

      "Before 2016, Kushner was a donor to the Democratic Party.[13] He serves on the boards of Touro College, Stern College for Women, Rabbinical College of America, and the United Jewish Communities.[25] Kushner has donated to Harvard University, Stern College, the St. Barnabas Medical Center, and United Cerebral Palsy.[25] He contributed to the funding of two schools, Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, in Livingston, New Jersey, and named them after his parents.[2][25][26] Kushner Hall is a building that is named after him on the Hofstra University campus.[27] The campus of Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center is named the "Seryl and Charles Kushner Campus" in honor of their donation of $20 million.[28]

      In August 2015, Kushner donated $100,000 to Donald Trump's Make America Great Again PAC, a super PAC supporting Trump's 2016 campaign for the presidency.[29] Kushner and his wife also hosted a reception for Trump at their Jersey Shore seaside mansion in Long Branch.[30]".

      Edit; my bolds.

    • The sordid history of Kushner senior (Jared's dad) was brought up above. It reminded me of someone else whose son found a fine Shiksa, daughter of a president to marry. That someone was also a convicted felon who served quite a bit of time in jail for graft, racketeering, tax evasion and what not.

      Similar criminal background - almost too similar. Corruption of the father, to be "cleansed" by the pedigree of the daughter-in-law. Here they are managing to marry their semi-competent, spoiled sons upward into WASP "royalty". And in the process receive the blessing of presidents and power brokers throughout the upper echelons of the Empire. .

      Makes one almost yearn for good old-fashioned protestant ethics values.

      BTW, I do happen to think the parallels are almost too weird to be considered accidental**. Though no, its not any Cabal I am suspicious of. More like a glitch in The matrix (it's like a line of code "leaking from one sub-routine to another). Either that or someone(s) are just having a belly laugh at our expense.

      Just like the Trump card was. Entertainment, though may be we - all of us - are just 'collaterals" who laugh and cry at the same time.

      **PS wasn't it Einstein who was reputed to say that "coincidence is god's way of staying hidden"?

    • Arby, nice collection of links. Glad to see you added the Elizabeth Vos article. It laid out the case well, especially vis-a-vis The Intercept.

  • Israeli journalist who called for unspeakable acts against Ahed Tamimi tries, and fails, to backpedal
    • Excellent point. That's typically how it is. In Hebrew palestinians are a low form of "human". But if you dare expose the Hebrew lingua cesspool of racism, then you are at fault for causing trauma.

    • I suspect people who read Hebrew, like Jonathan, have had more than a belly-full of the vile things being said on Israeli media outlets and social media. To most israelis Caspit's suggestion of "things that can be done in the dark" is definitely tame, and many unabashedlty connect the dots in their own postings to their circles of similarly minded "friends' and spell out those "things done in the night".

      I keep thinking that someone(s) could do a great service to the world by offering weekly collections of the translated pieces from the great minds of Israeli FB, Twitter and Walla users. Lets just say that calling palestinians "dogs" and "worms" is the least of the names they get called (no insult meant for dogs or worms in this context, of course). I reckon that such an exercise will go long ways towards helping the Israelis to "clean-up" their language, at least in public, after a few weeks. For those israelis who relish shooting out their vilest "feelings" into the ether space, the effort it'd take to keep one's language under control would by itself be a fine punishment.

  • The never-ending crisis of Zionism
    • Keith:

      I would argue that Zionism was/is a significant contributor to turning Jewish social reformers into militaristic supporters of empire and war if sold as “humanitarian” intervention.

      I think you are onto something here, on a deeper level than usually discussed. The transmutation of a positive social impulse into its near-opposite through an alchemy that involves a secret ingredient - in this case - zionism, is a process that most humans are oblivious to. That's because people can be so clever with words that they can successfully wrap empty space in a package that uses smart sounding verbiage as colorful packaging material to mask the fact that the content has been hollowed out. It is then that the medium becomes the message, so all it takes is mastering the medium to garble any message at all.

      It is also possible that some people, through centuries of endless practice of theological sophistry about the nature of god, or Talmudic wisdoms,have become naturally adept at packaging thin air to make it appear substantial. the trick is to make the process and the end one and the same, by selling sophistry as the height of rationality.

      So it is not so difficult for the social justice warriors to turn overnight into occupation/regime change advocates. Just as it is not so hard for modern day israelites to wrap themselves in the flags of the old rapaciously aggressive Israelites while denying the essence of that aggression, claiming both piety of purpose and purity of arms. heck, the old testament did just that, so it's hardly a stretch to rinse and repeat for the consumption of modern sensibilities.

      PS took too long to reply - hope you'll still catch the drift (the draft?) though it be long after hannukah now.

    • Unfortunately, secular zionism is in a state of symbiosis with religious zionism. That's because the first cannot stand without the second. Which is why, as time goes on, more and more of the jews of Israel will turn religious, even as they deny it.

      Why is jerusalem yours? ask a zionist or an Israeli. And they'll answer: because we had a long history there. But so did the Palestinians, you may say. To which they'll reply, but it was ours first. But how do you know it was yours 3000 years ago? because the tanach says so, comes the reply. Which is where religion intersects with the secular to become one not-so-holy ideology.

  • The Chanukah of fire and occupation (is not about ancient times)
    • the closest modern day analogy to the maccabbees are the Taliban in Afganistan. Just like the Maccabbees the Taliban are a zealot military-religious fighting force, holy warriors so to speak, who are extremely intolerant of other religions and are totally committed to fighting an invading culture. The US, through its occupation force and alliances with the equivalent of Assyrians and other local tribes recepetive to "helenization", is tnot unlike the conquering Greeks, who also sought to introduce a more modern culture into a highly illiberal and socio-economically inferior Judean peasant-like population.

      Indeed, based on all I read, the Jews of the then-Judea were very much like the current day Afganis - economically backward, spiritually insular, religiously intolerant and riveted by various tribal conflicts. They did not approve of artistic depictions, statues or dance. Not even songs, other than devotional ones.

      To celebrate Chanukah is like celebrating a Taliban victory - a momentary one. Indeed, i could never figure out what was so wonderful about that old Judea and I remember being rather repelled, as a school kid, by the brutality of the practices of the Hashmonaim (who later became a de-facto dictatorial power over Judea, a totally corrupt one). Sure, the Maccabbees were a warrior culture, and like all such, very radical - religiously and militarily. Not much into taking prisoners either.

      I now think that the religious extremism of some warrior cultures - be they hamas or Taliban - can be best understood when considering the context of having to fight against a vastly superior force, especially one that seeks to colonize both militarily and culturally.

      When i grew older and started to read more broadly, without having to put everything through the extremely narrow filter of israeli myths, I came to see Helenization as an attempt to unit diverse people under a more tolerant (give or take), more secular and more liberal umbrella. Sadlly for the hellenizers they also subscribed to something like a Neoliberal version of economics - a catch-all-you-can type, that deepened rather than lightened existing inequalities.

      In any case, as a child in israel, i would not sing any Chanukkah songs. I said I didn't like to and couldn't sing (not without some truth). Sometimes i would step out from the circle of singers, or put my head down in class so no one will see I don't sing. Still I remember that in 6th or 7th grade I choreographed a victory dance for Channuka using the wedding march music. I liked warriors so I had my dancers dressed with shields and helmets. very Greek looking. I caught my then teacher looking sideways at me, seemingly perplexed. That's all I remember of him - that puzzled look. That and visiting him once in a rehabilitation clinic after he was wounded in one war or another.

      There was However no one to talk to about the stirrings I felt against zealotry of any kind. Or about this feint - but growing - aversion to the whole Chanukkah concept based on idolizing an extremely intolerant and xenophobic streak of fanaticism, candles or no candles. Kids need symbols and feasts, but my child's concerns were waived off as, well, childish.

      I now think they were anything but. May be it was vague foreboding of a dark future that the stories of the Maccabbes exploits conjured. Too vague to put into words. I just knew I didn't want to sing those silly songs.

  • Anti-Christianism
    • WEll, there has to be some nuance here when it comes to what we define as neoconservatism. Generally regarded as a stated desire to reshape the Middle East and/or other regions in Israel's image. So yes, on the face of it, neoconservatism which supports and approves interventionism seems to indeed be on par with zionism, digging a little deeper will reveal a schism, with positions on a kind of a spectrum (just like autism). There are many Jews in the US who consider themselves "zionist" only in the sense that they support Israel but relatively narrowly. And while such professed zionists may indeed possess views that do not exactly uphold Palestinian rights, not all of them agree that the US should engage in fights on behalf of Israel.

      Be they a fight with words, as is now directed against Iran, or a fight with weapons and logistics as was done to Syria, the zionist subset of jews is not all of a cloth. Even many of those much derided - justifiably - as "liberal zionists" (Ie zionists on the so-called neoliberal/liberal left) disagree with making Iran a boogey-man or with the CIA's/US military not so covert actions in Syria. Not that they would go so far as to cheer Assad or anything, but many jewish zionists are, in fact, against the out-of-control defense budget and/or so-called "humanitarian" interventionist adventurism. Of course, many of those could still be classified as "Empire jews"; it's just that they are not always on the same side when it comes to the Empire acting on behalf of or in coordination with Israel.

      So, I am just being careful here with my verbiage, because precision matters. That's what I called Giraldi out for. May be he got exasperated or something (can't blame him), but he should know that a few caveats can make a big difference. Especially in defending against deliberate misinterpretation. I mean, it's not like he is a mere commenter on a blog, right?

      PS Needless to say I have little patience with zionists of all stripes, be they neo-this or neo-that, because by and large to be a zionist means to hold Palestinian rights as something separate from and/or inferior to human rights. That because to a zionist, by definition israeli Jewish rights trump everyone else's rights, whether they acknowledge that or not (many won't, as we all know, because they have such beautiful souls, as they display sometimes on these very pages, etc. etc.).

    • I didn't know Giraldi was fired from The American Conservative. I read that article at the time and knew he is asking for trouble.

      The real trouble is that he was not entirely wrong, just lacking nuance. Not a good idea to lump all Jews into one basket, as a majority are as far from neoconservatism as most of us are. The problem is, as many pointed out before, that a small but influencial minority, did manage to hijack America's foreign policy by making alliances with the Deep State and with Christian zionists (who basically bring up the rear).

      That being said, Giraldi was careless and did not put in the appropriate caveats. These days, it's dangerous to point out that America's foreign policy in general is teetering partly because all the Realpolitik guys were banished (and yes, it was mostly guys) and that was done primarily at the behest of an Israel grown blind to its own best interests.

      To see someone like Kushner, a thoroughly unqualified fellow by all accounts and a novice on just about everything, running around making mistake after mistake, yet winning praise from israel, is truly a sad sight. Do people really expect the world to not notice he is an orthodox jew? just watch this to get a taste of how the "great" Saban really feels about all the machers trying to stir up the pot:

      One gets the feeling that what really annoys Saban is that Kushner was too wet behind the ears to know he has to stack the deck with a couple non-Jews. As it stands, his team is way too visibly Jewish.

    • Com'on eljay - the entire old testament is the story of women "given" unto men. Such was the custom among the ancient elite. But be fair, that's just bible talk, and we may be unfair to said Asenath. For all we know she may have liked Joseph well enough and successfully manipulated her father to agree to "give" her hand in marriage. Heck, to take a page from the Book(s) of Mooser "there are them who giveth and there are them who taketh, but it's all relative, and that which is given often ends up taking the store".

      In any case, you may be guilty of anthropomorphising - projecting modern day sensibilities on people long gone, who may or may never have existed. next we'll take all these guys - the Abrahams, and isaacs and Jacobs and Josephs to the cleaners for sexual harrassment. And no small amount of pedophilia, surely. Me, I'd just like to inquire what said Asenath's age really was. For all we know she may have been 12 or 30, and was "regifted".

      Oh and then there's that: Joseph may never have been anything other than a nice story to tell the children. Them Babylonian Jews who wrote the bulk of the old testament sometime in the5th-6th century BC, were an imaginative lot.

    • Keith, I agree with your reading, especially this:

      Trump skillfully (and dishonestly) capitalized on working people’s disenchantment with the Wall Street

      Trump won partly because many Democrats did not care for the packaged establishment candidate they were presented with, like a gift that keeps on not giving. Some did not vote at all (numbers were down in key states lost by Dems); some voted green and some left the president box a blank.

      In addition, the Democrats completely failed to gauge the mood of a public that was seriously disenchanted by a candidate so compromised by corruption that even a barely qualified, rather distasteful candidate like Trump seemed better.

      Trump is now president partly because of the rigging and probably outright fraud committed in the Democratic primary, which by all rights, Sanders should have won. Had he done so we would now be knee deep trying to help Sanders fight the Deep State, instead of running around frothing at the mouth over some hogwash Russia "collusion" fairy tale.

      That on the Democrat side. On the Republican side, they just closed rank around Trump because many believed he could actually "drain the swamp". Alas, it looks like the swamp, in the person of paul Ryan and the Intelligence agencies are draining him.

      People who think it was about identity issues are out to lunch and should not be surprised when they lose the next election. The electorate - as in the 95% who are not part of the ruling class + enablers - is extremely disgusted with the Empire, the out-of-control military budget and the steady decline of jobs as well as America's reputation.

      I speak to many right wingers and not a few Evangelical Christians, where I live. I second Phil's comment about the diversity of their opinions. I'd hardly classify them all as narrow-minded, racist, brain-dead apparitions as the coastal elites seem to do. Many are thoughtful people and many are very good people - even if they do go to church and believe in Jesus. I hate to admit it, but these days, I am having far better conversations with these Republican/Libertarian people than with die hard democrats, who I seem to have lost in some pit of mush where they still mourn the loss of Hillary, and fight the ghosts of a made-up "Russia, Russia" thingy, while failing to see the reasons for the dems failures.

      Trying to talk to democrats about the mistake of abandoning the working class is like engaging in a slogfest in the middle of a blizzard.

  • Israel will get 'more understanding' from Trump's negotiators because they're all observant Jews, Sharansky says
    • Sorry, catalan, but BDS is the best thing that hapened to israel in a long time. The reasons for that may be a bit complex for you or for the simpleton Sharansky.

      You are wrong BTW about the reasons I don't like Sharansky. It's his looks, not his ideas. Of course, like the picture of Dorian Gray, sometimes the looks come to reflect the ideas, in time, all in good time. He reminds me of a weasel, just not my favorite, alas. There, see how politically incorrect I can be?

      If you dislike this blog so much because of something BDS, you are either a masochist for visiting and being pained over and over, or just so lonely that even our company is better than nothing. You do know that one can find really cheap rates on cruises these days, right? holler and I'll give you a link. And don't knock 'em till you try 'em. Some modern cruises offer political discussion circles - it could be fun, you know....real people and all that --

    • I think that indeed, the Israelis are feeling pretty confident these days. They are ever so more comfortable with a Republican administration, and even more so with one not known for its brain power (Trump is known for many things. But braininess is not one of them). Generally, they are delighted to be rid of Obama, who was, to them, one of "those" black people. Whom they don't trust. And rarely respect.

      But, as always, Israelis are fond of counting their chickens before they hatch. Trump is a two-edge sword, never mind Jared kushner. Oh,, sure, Trump will let Jared ratchet up some "peace plan", just as he let him play lovey-dovey boy with MBS, the new clown prince. But then, as we may all know by now, the best plans sometimes go awry. They sure did in Syria, didn't they? and Qatar? a poor move perhaps?

      I don't know what will happen in the next few weeks or months. But yes, trump thinks he can wheel and deal his way out of anything. Alas his son-in-law is not exactly the brainiset in the bunch and by now, perhaps good ol' Trump - who has street smarts if not sharp intellect (over-rated anyways) may be figuring that out.

      So, Sharansky thinks he - they - got an Ace in the Hole in the person of the Clown Prince. And the desperation of a KSA that was not able to bring tiny little Yemen to its knees, Billions of warfare materiel notwithstanding. Of course the reasons for KSA's desperation is another story for another day, but for now, desperation is what holds Israel and KSA together. Like peas in a pod, they sweat together. One can only wonder why (hint: the name starts with an 'R').

      In any case, silly Sharansky should think a little more about those Americans with Kippas. People know them around here (here being the US which Sharansky knows nothing about). They are a rather changeable lot, last i heard. here today, there tomorrow. Me thinks he should not be quite so comfortable (you know, butter on which side of the bread, etc).

  • Draft-dodger Tzipi Hotovely comes out as an anti-Semite
    • There is no belief that Jewish people are damaging to the society where they live, quite the contrary.

      Actually, there is a version of that belief - in Israel, of all places. Where many (especially any and all in Hotolevy's camp) voice the strongly held belief that the sizable (exact number is unknown) part of the Jewish population that leans left (i.e., consider Palestinians to be humans) are indeed damaging to the society in which they live. As in VERY damaging.

      A cursory perusal of social media posts and comments by Israelis will bear the truth of this kind of deeply held sentiment. Calling "the lefties" trash, traitors and haters of Jews and Israel is the least of the names they get called., names usually stated quite casually without caveats or subtleties - when in Hebrew. No need to dress up that turkey when speaking in the secret tongue. After all, it's not like >99% of jewish Americans can read it with any kind of fluency. Hotolevy's pages are especially well-littered with comments hurling epithets at Jews that might have embarrassed some Nazis, back in the day. I mean, Hebrew IS a colorful language, and israelis pride themselves on being, well, direct.

      Ergo, anti-semitism it is - in Israel - perhaps the most openly anti-semitic country in the world.

      Hotolevy's real crime? she made her pronouncements in English, a language with which American Jews are apparently quite familiar. Thus breaching the ultimate taboo - being honest in the wrong language.

  • 'Facebook' ads are way more important than the children we slaughter in some poor country
    • Well said, Donald. It needed to be said too. Especially these days, when a groping by some political figure gets far more attention than collusion with or even the outright order of murdering people willy nilly in other parts of the world (I have Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Syria in mind, for starters).

      I can't get over the fact that GHBush is accused of the crimes of groping but not the crime of bombing people into dust. War crimes don't matter because they happened to other people in parts of the world we don't care about. But inappropriate touching or groping - assuming it took place - even decades ago - now that's a major crime.

      Same twisted moral standards with Bill Clinton -

      Not belittling the victims of inappropriate behavior on the part of powerful people. Only questioning how we rank different levels of victimhood, and how we exclude so many from even being viewed as victims, oftentimes, because it was the US's policies that generated the victims in the first place.

      But that's how it's always been with Empires. Dehumanize others living on the edges of the Empire, but god help the gropers inside the Empire.

      Well, that's why the Romans referred to those germanic tribes as barbarians. In other words, fair game. In due course, it was of course the "barbarians" and the vandals who swept into Rome, but not to worry - the US is still way away from that.

  • The Clinton scandals entailed violent threats against people who knew about his sex life
    • I moved on to more important heresies

      Did you ever!

      A lot can and will still happen on the way to killing the king. Though I agree, the House of Clinton is on its way down. The only question is how many will it take thrashing about on its way to perdition. For the Dem Party this will prove costly.

      And there was a high price to pay for the schadenfreude theatre, because we now have a clown king to deal with. Which would be funny were it theatre rather than real life.

      Where is Shakespeare when we need him?

  • 'American Jews are losing it bigtime' -- Netanyahu gov't official slams '80 percent' assimilation rate
    • yonah, when have you become so reasonable? this is actually not a bad statement:

      This blog is devoted to the clash between American ideals, including fairness and democracy, with the current state of Zionism and with the very idea of Zionism

      Ok, so now i'll pick at the pieces:

      1. I would probably replace "fairness" with "justice", meant in the sense of upholding human rights, in a universal sense.

      2. it's not only the "current' state of zionism that this blog addresses. As you go on to state, it is indeed the very concept of ethnic nationalism that zionism embodies that is seen as standing in direct opposition to the American "melting pot" ideals.

      3. on that 'devoted' part: what you didn't mention is that a very big part of this blog is dedicated to witnessing and commenting on the plight of the people who are the oppressed ones, even as their oppressors go on and on about "assimilation" and "continuity". I see several posts every week on those "other" people (I think they are referred to as "Palestinians"). May be you missed those?

      Later you mention the blog's antipathy towards 'continuity of the Jewish people". You may have a point about this though I'd call it more of an indifference than antipathy. Also, it's a bit of a generalization, as not all who speak up here are antipathetic or even indifferent.

      Still, I do think this could be a point of discussion, this continuity business. It's not spoken of much, one way or another, except in context of various Israeli efforts to "preserve the Jewish race".

      I think for many people this 'continuity" thing should be stated differently for them to take an interest. For example, I wouldn't mind seeing a discussion about "Jewish ideals" as opposed to "Jewish people" who many times don't even carry forth the ideals, or at least a big chunk of them.

      This BTW, is where there'll be a big difference between discussion in America and discussion in israel. because for israelis "Jewish ideals" means quite simply "love for the Jewish people". If you have an issue with the people, even those like Hotolevi, then you are guilty of loving enough". In America, OTOH, such a discussion would take on a more abstract tone, probably veering off to a discussion about "Jewish values" something that Israelis have not much use for ( they prefer something more concrete, like "love").

      Of course, the real problem I see is that all such discussions are quite immaterial in so far as the current sad state of the Palestinians is concerned, both in israel proper and in the occupied territories. Jews arguing with other Jews about 'continuity", "values" and "ideals' must smack of theological disputes even as the Plaestinians' ship is being taken down, board by board, continuity, ideals or values notwithstanding.

  • My journey away from Zionism
    • Well said, genesto. I agree with the part about impatience from different quarters. It is, I think, sometimes difficult to imagine for those who have never been part of a cult-like inculcation from early childhood, what it's like for those who try - as adults to escape the bounds of their programming.

      To grow up in Israel for example, is to buy wholesale into an entire mind-frame and view of the world that becomes deeply embedded into the brain, even as it develops. Indeed the programming of children is very effective - as we know from countless examples. And the process of de-programming involves not only questioning aspects of one's identity, but the acceptance of estrangement from friends and family to whom one was close once. Which is why not many do escape and of those who do, the escape is never really finished - it's a life-long process.

      I have seen many people who are either Jewish or ex-Israelis - or even still resident israelis - who are accused at one point or another of being "gatekeepers". That is Atzmon's favorite labeling of anti-zionists, and as you probably know, this kind of "impatience" did not always serve him well. Truth is, not everything can or should be lumped under the "gatekeeping" rubric. I see people accused of that sometimes rightly, sometimes not so much. Many individuals just continue to struggle against their own boundaries while straddling a rather thin line. Also, in Gilad's particular case - and may be others I don't know or heard about - there's the danger lurking of the pendulum swinging too far. In the process of undoing personal programming sometimes one excises too many healthy parts as well, which I think is something that could have happened to him (though he won't agree, I am sure).

      I can also understand the exasperation of say, Palestinians and non-Jewish solidarity activists who have to go through any number of wickets to "prove" they are not "anti-semitic" (whatever that is). That while watching the Jewish people who are at various stages of post-zionist discourse, still go through those navel-gazing exercises ad-nauseum. You know the To-be-or-not-to-be stuff which you can witness on this very thread. And of which I am sometimes guilty myself (though at least I know it....).

    • I loved the whole Zionist ethos, I loved the whole militarism thing. But it was only because I was brainwashed. You can’t really expect much dissent from people who were brainwashed from when they were kids, especially not when they still are kids.

      This says it all, for most of us, who carry a lifelong puzzle about how could we ever believe the "ethos". And not just believe but buy it wholesale, like a self-evident truth. This is a question I once posed to Avigail Abarbanel, when I was confounded by my own acceptance - as a child and a young adult - of the Israel myth, given that I rebelled against much else, and early on.

      How can one make what seemed like radical departures from the mainstream yet be a conformist at the same time to the ruling ideology?

      Avigail's answer - from the viewpoint of a psychologist - was probably the best I had: even as a child, and even as an already rebellious child, one knows - and recognizes - consciously and subconsciously - that there are red lines. Lines that if crossed, can result in the kind of expulsion that no child dares risk. So, someone like me could question much of what they were taught, and still remain just within the borders.

      In high school I was quite fond of taking out pages from the Tanakh book that we were forced to study daily (and which bored me to tears), and fashion them into paper airplanes, while complaining bitterly that the pages were too thin, so the planes didn't fly far enough (not to worry, my just as boring Hebrew and jewish literature books (which were so uninteresting in my then view as compared with world literature) made for much better planes - they could reach the teacher's desk from the back row which is where I was relegated to due to excessive noise making). But even such a student, one who kept receiving a near-failing grade in citizenry and promptness, never asked the obvious question: how come all those Arabs just upped and left? I - along with just about everyone else - probably even Gideon levy when he was young, accepted that those "Arabs" (as we referred to the '48 exiled residents) were not 'as attached" to their homes as we were. Ergo, why ask questions?

      So, the "rebel" is tolerated, as long as they rebel within the allowed parameters.

      My own experience cause me to take quite an interest in stories of people who escaped cults. It's funny how complicated the internal de-programming process is. It's never actually completed. Even after so much time, I am still expunging bits and pieces where I find them, sometimes buried quite deep.

      And Offir's Kibbutz background is very interesting to me as well, since nowhere was the zionist myth, in all its secular glory , plated so deeply, as in the Kibbutz's socialist dreamscape. After all, the Kibbutz was - and may still be - viewed as the epitome of the zionist experience - it's best and brightest.

      You can hope that as adults they may develop some critical angles, but really, only few do so.

      Emphasis on "Few". Indeed.

  • The Russia influence story just crashed into the Israel influence story
    • jackdaw - in Singer's mind - his two passions - israel and money - are one and the same. One begets the other. The first lays the highway that siphons money (tax payer's and private) from the Empire's heart to its unruly outpost, and the second needs to be protected from any tax-grabbing government, so more will be left over to fund the first.

      On another level, people like Singer and Addelson are the kind of Oligarchs now in charge of US policy, just as their fellow oligarchs are nearly completing their ascendancy in israel. When both israel and the US are gavel-to-gavel plutocracies, then the final unification of the 0.1% can begin in earnest.

      The only remaining question is whether the Chinese plutocrats (now rising in the east) will be willing to wheel and deal, or whether they'll form their own -trans-pacific oligarchy that can then fight the club Singer belongs to - the Atlantic oligarchs.

  • American Jewry and Israel, unbound
    • where would Jerry have the Jewish people, from Israel and Brooklyn, return to (paraphrasing), “… they are the indigenous people of of Ur (Abram’s home town) … Let them return to their native homeland (Kuwait). The base from which the Jewish expansion began in 1900 BCE.”

      Cute. I like. Didn't think about that one. I mean, this kind of heritage (and as we know the Tanakh is proof enough. Just ask the Christian zionists!) should give the modern day Israelites a serious stake in Kuweit's oil.

      BTW, are you sure that's where Ur Kasdim was? I thought there was some controversy about the exact location (I mean, it's not like the bible provided the GPS coordinates).

    • Keith, I was kind of trying to do justice to the israeli viewpoint here, which basically views Jewish Americans as "freyers", ie, suckers. There is little respect from that part of the woods even for them who give the biggest bucks. That's just they way it is.

      Naturally, from the Jewish American viewpoint, they may well see things differently, and perhaps they even believe themselves to be in control. My point was that they are not. They are the tail that wags the dog. Where Israel goes they have little say over (yes, I know that many of the settlers hail from the great US of A, but once they are in israel, they do whatever they please, no matter how it might affect the ones "left behind"). As a result, I believe there are many Jewish Americans, including those who are various levels of zionist, who may cringe, just a little, at the kind of country israel is becoming.

      There is a reason I generally stayed away from the word "zionist" It's a different lens through which to view things. Not that I disagree with what you say, or with Israel Shahak in this context.

      An aside: there are those in israel who will also disagree with my take. Many there believe that American money has a corrupting influence on Israeli politics, and yes, they point to the support Netanyahoo got as a specific example.

      Point is, the relationship between Israel and its primary supporters in the US is like a distorted prism. Depending which angle you view it from the picture may be different. But my main point remains - no matter which angle you choose, israelis, on the whole have a dim view of most American jews, including the richest of the rich (whom they kind of despise all the more). That attitude of barely concealed contempt is true even for the settlers who just yesterday were American citizens themselves. Doesn't take long to take on the Israeli attitude, which pretty much looks down on everyone else out there. Whether they fear them or not.

      Yet another angle is how much Israelis actually worry about losing the support of America, including the new generation of Jewish Americans. They really do lose sleep over that. Yet strangely for the most part they won't process that their own arrogance may eventually beget the very estrangement they fear.

  • 'The Siege' gets US premiere at last, in blow to 'Israeli propaganda machine'
    • hophmi, may I introduce to you a nice blog called Mondoweiss? talks a lot about israelis. Some even write there. Almost all are presented as human beings. Flawed ones, here and there, but quite human. You should really read it sometime.

      Also, do you accept invitations for guest appearance on comedy shows? can I contact your agent?

  • The problem with Miko Peled's 'Holocaust: yes or no'
    • As usual, to me these discussions seem to be more evocative of a theological dispute rather than anything substansive. people parsing the 'true" meaning of Peled's 4 word throw-away sentence, part of a paragraph delivered in a speech - he must be a lucky man indee, to draw this kind of careful attention!

      The argument Ofir seems to be making is "be careful and don't give ammunition to the Lib zionists" The argument Peled seems to have waded into appears to be something like "are there or should there be limits to free speech?" (just trying to boil things down to the basics).

      Now I see no way for reaching a consensus on either side. As someone in the habit of "speaking from the hip" I'd say that the Lib Zios, like the true blue Zios, and/or the arch-zios, need no excuses whatsoever to appeal to some throw-away sentences to interpret ill-intent. After all, the euphemism known as the dreaded "anti-semitism", whatever that is, will be found even among the most artfully delivered expressions anyways, givenenough microscopes. In any case, the high priests of liberal zionism, people like, what's his name, Freedland?, are as practiced in linguistic contrivances as Israel's illustrious archaeological experts are at finding Judaica evidence in very artefact they dig out from anywhere. Trying to herd all speakers, especially those for whom English may not be their mother's tongue, into some kind of a linguistic and contextual straight-jacket will only serve to get us an ever -diminishing pool of speakers from which to choose. At the end all there'll be left are the linguists, and may be not even them.

      So yes, this argument of "watch your language! bears be there" is something that can only beget rites of counting just how many devils can safely dance on a pin (answer: more than one, if they be good dancers).

      But as to Peled's wading into the "how free should free be" well, that's another can of worms that the wise would better stay away from. There's no way one does not get trapped in a muddy swamp full of hungry alligators just waiting for a chance of an evening meal. One becomes prey the minute one gives in to the temptation of providing a single example. Basically, no, there are no safe examples to give (OK, I'll bite - how can I resist? here's one: "The genocide of the Indians beget the great country of America. Was it worth it? discuss.....").

      I realize this kind of debate may make sense in the English context, what with Corbyn rising (hooray!), a history of sectarian in-fighting going back to Henry the VIII's (which may be what led to this apparent fondness for semanticism of "ism"s), and yes, the spectre of Atzmonics (an interesting phenomenon all on its own - something akin to dread of the nightwalkers. Note to self: need to look more into this some day). It may also appeal to the subset of Americans that still miss their debate clubs (I didn't get to be in one, ever!). But does any of it make any difference to events on the ground in a Palestine being carved up as we speak?

      I imagine the [unstated] response of an arbitrary palestinian, may be someone stuck in a Gaza bread line, or lost in a crowd milling through a west bank checkpoint (who may be reading this debate on his/her mobile, having just finished going through the latest Weinstein disclosures). Thoughts such as: say what? could Peled or Ofir get me through this checkpoint a little faster if I say I agree with all they say, and which one shall I choose? Is this debate a sign that our water allotment going to be reduced again? or, better yet, this anti-semitism business - should really look into that some time - wonder if it's like a Zika virus, or that Lyme disease I've been reading about. May be it's something chronic, or is that just one of those conspiracy theories Americans are always into?

      Me, I always try to imagine, if only for a moment, that [imaginary?] lost-in-place Palestinian, as I [desperately] attempt a half-way decent come-back to one or more of those really well-articulated points made by my betters above, failing miserably. It kind of helps dispel, if only for a second, the cloud of disconnect that keeps hovering over everything, casting an ever-darkening shadow.

  • Watch the cathartic Vietnam documentary
    • I wholeheartedly agree with Phil's take on this series. I too was absolutely riveted, even though I knew (from reading, not experience) that much was left out and that some perspectives got the short end of the stick, especially the imperialist machinations that got Americans involved in the first place. It was the totality of the human experience that got me, the utter helplessness by so many in the decision making machinery who knew it was all for naught, yet could do nothing about it. McNamara's about-face got to me for some reason because I was so comfortable for the first 3 installments fingering him as a villain. How we need a villain! and then suddenly, as if a switch was thrown, he flipped. Actually, more like woke up. I thought of how he lived the rest of his life. His nightmares. The stories he told himself. His descent into political irrelevance. A victim of sudden insight, I almost felt sorry for him, despite his critical role in upping the ante on the military involvement, his serious strategic and tactical blunders, the insistence on "body Counts".

      Which was the second thing that got to me - those "body counts" as a "measure of success. What that did to those who had to assemble the lists. The tendency to inflate and conflate civilians with soldiers. The bodies themselves. Unknown, shown only as corpses. Mere numbers for military planners. I don't care what the critics - illustrious experts they all must be - I, as one who wasn't there when it all happened, found this effective. It connected from then to now. It can't have not made an impression on those who watched the whole series because it was a theme.

      The Moghe story was indeed powerful, one man's life. Lost for nothing. So were Mosgrave's and several others' commentaries. The veterans on both sides who became philosophers as a way of coming to terms with what happened.

      But more than anything, the series brought to life the absolute senselessness of it all. The military planners gigantic failures completely under-estimating and understanding their 'enemy". The misery of the soldier grunts capturing hill after hill just to leave it. Capturing a hill for nothing. Losing half the platoon for nothing. Killing hundreds of Vietnamese in the process for nothing. the Vietnamese holding on - just to make a point that they will hold on, knowing no doubt they'll lose that hill and take on stageering casualties in the process. It was one Alamo after another for the NVA. It was losing by winning for the Americans tasked with taking these targets. One could go on.

      But there are a few positives too - the Americans who flocked to the streets raging and demonstrating against the war. Whatever else one can say - it was effective. Street action changed the war's conduct and influenced decisions. There was power in the people.

      But then also the Vietnamese. The unbelievable resistance they put up. It wasn't just communist ideology or communist brainwashing that drove individuals to help keep the Ho Che Min trail open against all odds. It was commitment to something I can only call "resistance". Communism, as an ideology does well of course in co-opting the spirit of people. But that should not take away from the spirit those people showed. The many women who drove the trucks down that trail (I didn't even know so many women participated actively in the war effort for north Vietnam) set against the dearth of women among the American invading army. As we now know, so many years later, the spirit did survive, even communism's worst excesses, even Drezden like bombing runs. These people were bloody resilient, and that did come through just fine.

      And finally, that last segment, Part 10 - was really tear inducing. After so much has gone down and so many died and so many lives destroyed and a country brought to complete ruin, here we are, 50 years or so later, and Vietnam is a thriving tourist destination. And hard core communism gave way to ca Vietnamese version of capitalism with central planning. No different that countless other countries in the world. The Vietnamese would have nver allowed themselves to be taken over by Chinese. As the showed when they actually fought them later. And more than anything - the graciousness of a people who survived hell, several invasions, civil war and horrific deprivation, yet everyone who visited Vietnam (I know over 10 people now who went on tours of Vietnam as tourist. ) cannot but go one about the warmth, welcoming spirit and good will of the people who live there. They can't stop raving and all would love to go back. Of course, the country is quite beautiful and the Vietnamese people quite enterprising. But it appears they also have the gift of being able to forgive, even after the appalling cataclysm the previous generation went through.

      The Vietnamese people somehow persevered after endless trials and tribulations. They still have the spirit of a still fiercely independent people. We, in America, did not. We still have the ever hungry Empire beast to feed, the military planners go on making the same kind of strategic mistakes that come from refusing to understand what and who they are up against, we are more torn apart than ever, we are still relitigating a civil war, whose wounds keep opening up afresh. And our young people seem to have turned off. Our music gone to monotone, the songs belted out with more sound effects than heart, and our movies are, well....another time about those. We are an Empire in decline and Vietnam may have signaled just the beginning of the long descent that all Empires must go through.

      These are some of the thoughts I had as I watched each episode, some parts twice. Glad to hear there are many critics, but heck, the series was effective plenty in its own, no-doubt imperfect, way. It may have been too shallow about some facts for some people's taste, but it was not emotionally shallow, at least for those willing to watch with intent. And it made me think a new about things I haven't thought about for a long time, if ever. For which I am always grateful.

  • Rightwing campaign against Jewish exec who called for exposing Nakba seems likely to fail
    • Annie, I am afraid you are right about "organized Jewry" being essentially captive to israel, no matter what the latter does. When israel is proven to be an apartheid state, they are behind it; if Israel openly starts to practice ethnic cleansing (as opposed to the kind they are doing now - creepily), they would be behind that too; and if Israel were to bomb every structure to smitherins in Gaza, killing 100's of 1000's "organized Jewry" would find reasons to "justify" that, if not cheer them outright (insert sad face here). And when israel goes all theocratic outlawing the Americans' reform and conservative congregations altogether, "organized Jewery" would turn the other cheek. So all this we already know. The only question remaining is - If there is an all out campaign to outlaw BDS and perhaps even jail those who dare as much as utter the words, where would "organized jewry" stand? well, I say that, about half of "the organized ones" would be silent as lambs while a third would be busy finding constitutional justifications for just such a course of action. Never mind the remaining 20% - may be they'll stop being so organized? greater miracles have happened.....

      What is the matter with "organized Jewery" is the question that people should be asking, just as someone once asked "what's the matter with Kansas?".

      Because if they don't, the next question will be "what's the matter with Judaism that it beget such organizations"?

      As for speaking for most Jewish Americans, of course they don't. Unfortunately, they do hold sway over many of the largest donors to political and academic causes. And therein lies the problem. You can't fire these organizations, even if they don't speak for you. Not if livelihoods and careers depend on the largess of donors.

      And though I am glad the organized ones - through their selected frontmen/women - were not able [yet] to drop Myers to his knees, they still win more than they lose. Especially in a country where private donations grease just about every wheel.

      So, keep worrying.

  • Lessons from Finkelstein: a response to Seth Anderson
    • Tony leaves us with a call for…a mass movement from below.

      This is indeed a bit vague - more like begging the question than giving an answer.

      But, given Greenstein's arguments about the powerlessness of International law when all the Western, and much of the Middle eastern - world is held captive to a single Empire, one that's completely intertwined with the infrastructures of zionist ideology, the meaning of the vagueness is actually clear, and he does say it, in fact, in a few places.

      basically, it's no use waiting for International law to exact justice because the law itself is administered according to the whims of one Empire, in which zionism is embedded both by hook and by crook. IOW, the "International Law" as it is presently conducted is mostly an empty academic construct that serves only to assuage the guilt felt by some members of The Empire. Waiting for this "Law" to deliver either justice or solutions to deep international problems is something academics do by definition, as they debate the merits ever so capably.

      Greenstein's answer is not so hidden, even if it is not entirely realistic - for palestinians to get their day in court, the Empire that must fall first from its power pedestal. because it is The Empire that props up the racist ideology known as zionism, giving it teeth, preventing effective challenge. As for the "movement from below" this clearly alludes to masses of people rebelling against the existing power structure. The really relevant questions are therefore when and how are such masses to be cobbled together.

      Of course, the answer to that is not exactly hopeful, especially as everywhere we look The Empire - now turning itself over to the Corporate State - is flexing its muscles through wars and economic pressures and propaganda everywhere. Yet we know that declining empires do just that - they first become extremely arrogant, they overreach, and then they fall. We just don't know ahead of time what the inflection point is. Therefore, we must be prepared for when the time is right.

      And this is where BDS comes in - not as a movement that can bring rights and justice to palestinians overnight - but as a challenge to the power structure. Not only to Israel. Not only to "organized/established Jewery" which is fighting it tooth and nail. But to the entire existing power structure of Empire itself. An Empire which depends on various legalistic distortions to get its way, then claims to have done its evil deeds through the "power of law", so they can't possibly be evil. BDS is a people's revolt, just as occupy was. Our job is to see to it that it doesn't get easily squashed as occupied was and continues to grow - both above and under the ground (underground is what BDS has to do in Israel already).

  • Two Chicago pols break over BDS, as U.S. Jews divide over Israel
    • Keith - that's a great article - it really does a lot to show off people like warren, Booker and Franken as the faux progressives that they are. I heard that Elizabeth warren actually spoke in favor of the military increase by Trump in Afganistan. Wome,n rights, something, think that once there was a movement to draft her to run for the presidency!

      Also Misterioso, thanks for the link to Narwani's article. Haven't had a chance to read it all yet, but I found some interesting nuggets there.

    • What's the relationship between the kotel and Herod's wall?

  • Going veg
    • The best of Phil Weiss. Much to enjoy in this reading .....

      When it comes to Israel/Palestine: the political is personal, and the personal political.

  • The United State of Israel and Palestine
    • David, I back echinococus on needing some back-up for that elusive hope. Specifically, while there's some pressure from outside (empahsis on "some"), the pressure from the inside is practically non-existent. So you know a few good good people in Israel. So do I. And we all read Gideon levy and Amira hass and Yossi Gurvitz and jeff halper and breaking the Silence and most of the writers on 972. That all adds up to far fewer than even 10-20% of the Jewish residents of israel, if we include the silent supporters. Of those, half will probably go along with some degree of ethnic cleansing, if it is packaged "nicely", and if the world could somehow be made to swallow it. That leaves less than 10%.

      MY estimate is even more pessimistic. Judging by israeli social media (some of which I consult now and then - in Hebrew - I'd guess there are perhaps 100,000 people from among all the jewish residents who actually care for some long term and equitable solution to Israel/Palestine and are willing to pay the price (eg, withdrawing from post '67 borders). And of those not even half are willing to put themselves on the line by writing, putting comments on line, participating in rallies, supporting Palestinian solidarity, supporting BDS and/or bringing court cases where needed (the lawyers among them).

      So there you have it - the "pressure" from the inside is pretty paltry, one would say. And that is the problem. There really is no other problem.

      What we need are solutions to the problem of absence of hope. Violence in the form of an intifada is, IMO, a non-starter, for various reasons. So, at this time, the battle must take the form of resistance, be it through the solidarity activists (both israeli and foreigners), through Palestinian civil society (definitely NOT the PA), and of course by spreading BDS as far as possible, especially in an expanded vigorous form that will indeed delegitimize the Israel experiment in its currently toxic form. At least until such a time they show willingness to join the civilized world. Until that time, solutions can be proposed and immediately be put on the shelf for consideration as soon as there is someone to talk to on the israeli side. About anything. let me know when you find a suitable governmental entity to talk with.

      You had nothing to say, BTW, about my estimated $1T price tag for refugees wanting to settle elsewhere. I forgot to add - America will have to take in I'd say at least 100,000 as compensation for their vicious Israel-supporting, occupation promoting policies. It's only fair.

    • David, I am not as opposed to the ideas you advocate because the concept of One State Two Nations has been on the table for a long while (in one form or another), and there were a few wover the years who also felt this could, in principle (if not on every detail) represent an acceptable solution. Personally I like the model of England and Scotland even though many Scots are lately agitating for parting ways (as are the Venetians and the Catalans, but we'll chuck that to the vagaries of that malformed EU creature ). But having said that, I will take you to task for one tacit assumption underlying your entire premise, namely that Israel, as it is now is a rational entity. One that can be negotiated with. One that understands concepts of enlightened self-interest. One that cares about the institutes of civilization and international law. One that cares for humans outside its own narrow definition of "preferred humans". Or, for that matter, one that cares about the opinions and feelings of the world outside its borders.

      Unfortunately, that's not the case. You are far more likely to get rational debate with Palestinians than with Israelis. The palestinians may well disgree fiercely with one or another of your propositions (some more emotionally than others) but the israelis , for the most part, will go balistic at any suggestion of any kind of compromise or granting of equal rights to Palestinians within their union, however that union is defined. If you were dealing with sane people then conversations about what, where and how can be had. I had many of those myself over the years, including with select israelis. Who then turned out to be in such a dire minority that whatever agreements or disagreements we might have had meant as much as a Fata Morgana in the midst of shifting sand dunes.

      The reality is that israelis want the west bank - or most of it. And they want it minus the palestinians, or with minimal number of them. They not only want it but many believe that eventually they can have it and get the world to accept it as a fait accompli. They are working hard towards accomplishing that goal, using Gaza as a preferred model. And the people who turned Gaza into a horrific ghetto and are basically trying to figure out how to disgorge its inhabitants one way or another while the world doesn't notice, those people will not even go as far as to consider the first two sentences in your proposal. They feel they don't have to. And besides, they want what they want so there.

      One point regarding the RoR. You say:

      After 70 years of denial of their right to return, the most just solution of the Palestinian refugee problem would be for them to be given huge sums of money, by Israel, to enable them to settle in any country of their choice willing to take them.

      This can only happen AFTER the RoR is accepted as a principle. IOW, Israel has to acknowledge that, in principle, the Palestinians have the right to return, and once that's agreed, practical aspects of how to go about it can be discussed. The idea of offering substantial compensation can of course be entertained once the principle is established. I once calculated the compensation, using as a figure of merit the sum offered the settlers who left gaza, and came up with something just over $1T, if most of the refugees chose to take the money and run. These sums are interesting because one could, for example, offer reduced compensation to those who elect to return to israel, which can "sweeten the pot". Ah, if only we were talking tachles!

      Wouldn't it be nice if we could sit and talk relative sums of money? give or take on who pays it? and to how many? and who goes where?

      Well, in an ideal world where we deal with sane people who are not wrapped in their toxic ethnic/religious supremacy cloaks, we could indeed discuss such things. But the country you are talking about, Israel, is in the midst of collective psychosis, so first we may need to put them on some serious meds. Getting them to take the meds is something none of us, here or anywhere else, has figured out how to do. And without the necessary medications and, of course, serious counselling and rehab, unfortunately all proposals are doomed to remain academic exercises.

      Anyways, it's an interesting detailed thesis you put forward. A worthy effort, IMO, though one might quibble with "some" details (which I would absolutely do, if I thought it'd make a difference. Like the Areas A, B and C - these are Israeli inventions, meant to keep the sheep in their holding pens, so I would not even agree to these classifications, for starters, unless we agree to also divide israel into Areas A, B, C and the rest of the alphabet soup).

    • irishmoses, my comments often cross into that new realm of auto anti-semitism 😀 so there....

    • Any solution that addresses RoR should first and foremost accept the principle of RoR. Once that is accepted (and good luck with that) manners of practical excution can be discussed.

      For myself, I did always feel that a very substantial compensation for those who want it is a possibility, as part of a comprehensive package, but with emphasis on "substantial". In my book, at least as much as the settlers who left Gaza got (check out the numbers and you'll see we are talking A trillion $ or more in toto).

      However, as I first mentioned before anything at all can be discussed RoR must be accepted as a right. In my estimation, the chances that israel could ever be brought to a point of even offering an apology, much less accept the principle, are about as good as reversing global warming. IOW, there's a small chance. A vanishingly small one. Though that tiny chance can be increased if the pressure on israel increases. like, a lot.

    • This is really great information, misterioso. Keep it up! some of us are suckers for good references (because we are lazy bums?).

  • As many as 1 million Israelis have left for the U.S.
    • Well, irishmoses, it ain't over till the fat lady sings, as they say. Yes, the near future for palestinians does not look promising at the moment. But neither is Israel's, not when you take into account that this country is well on its way to being a theocracy coupled with ultra-right nationalism. I commented above on what the numbers look like for israel - the Demographic trends point to an absolute majority of religious and ultra-religious before 2025. With the haredis reaching 25%. With them living mostly on some kind of welfare assistance that's a large chunk of very very backward, under-educated and reactionary segment for the country's economy to carry. Add to that the Arab population at 20-22% which is also not doing well economically due to extremely discriminatory apartheid like rules, and of course a very large part of the Mizrahi who are still struggling economically, and you get a country where fewer than 30% will carry the full economic burden.

      Also as I pointed out and Keith elaborated on, israel now has just about the highest inequality of any country among the OECD. This inequality index is getting more and more skewed, even as the run of the mill young persons struggle to get adequate housing and other basic necessities.

      So it'll be a combustible combination that spells ultimately, something more like a failed state than a "start-up" nation. A very dangerous one, I should say. If you read today's story on MW from Ofir about Bennett's insidious plan to crypto-insert "Jeiwsh" "values" into secular schools, you can see where this increasing religiosity trend is going. With over 35% of israelis wishing the could leave (per recent poll), many will do just that even as the ones they leave behind will be the more religious and less productive ones. As the religious gain power and infringe on education, freedom of speech, democratic institutions etc. the seculars - who don't want to leave - will no doubt fight back.

      One of my past predictions was that in a few years some strange and unexpected alliances will start forming. Including potentially, alliances between the educated Jewish seculars and the more educated Arab seculars. There may be new parties. It is, in fact, possible that many seculars will come to regard Arabic people who are not too religious and/or christians as less of a threat and more of a natural ally than their fellow jews who have kind of gone nuts with too much religiousity.

      Under this scenario, there's no telling which way the cookie will crumble, including for the Palestinian residents of the west bank and Gaza.

      People don't realize just how serious the gap is between secular and religious jews. Not just gap, but outright hostility. They basically despise each other. And no one know better than Jewish people in Israel just how crazy mad their religious bretherns can get. Judaism, which in America and other western countries is a relatively benign religion and/or culture can, in truth, be anything but. May be it'd be advisable for non-Jewish people outside israel, to pay more attention to what the old testament actually says, and Christians in particular would be well advised to try and imagine what it can be like when much of the biblical god's admonishments are taken literally.

      Besides, the idea that Israel, as it is now has the slightest intention of "integrating" palestinians into its midst, even with limited rights, can be entertained only by those not so familiar with what Israeli reality actually is.

    • AAlen - they consider themselves culturally Israeli, which to them means speaking hebrew, a language most jewish Americans don't speak at all. The entire israeli culture revolves around the language, and hebrew is radically different from European languages that israelis, for the most part don't speak. Most of the secular israelis don't even think of themselves as Jewish and follow none of the halachic dictates. They may do Passover but again it is part of a culture to them rather than any great affinity with the religion.

      That was my point - Jewish culture in the US or UK is vastly divergent from israeli culture. Therefore the two do not converge when Israelis move to the US.

    • Misterioso, these were good sources. I think your reply and mine to JuanR (yours being the by far better sourced) complement each other. I tend to project ahead, based on trends that are reasonably well supported. Inside Israel there is much talk about the splitting apart of society along several seams. Here we address the religious/secular divide but there are other, troubling fault lines and one of your sources mentioned the educational/underemployment divide. Indeed, robust neoliberal policies, coupled with self-segragation (Haredi) and discrimination (Arabs) have taken a huge toll on the Inequality index in Israel. IT has, I believe an even worse inequality than in the US, and getting worse ever faster.

    • These numbers don't even mention the growth rate among the observant/traditional/orthodox, which also exceeds that of the secular though not as much as the Haredi one does. At some point - already around 2020-2022, the total religious pJewish opulation will exceed that of the non-religious one by as much as 5%, rising to a ratio of 60-40% by 2025. By 2030 it will be even more lop-sided.

      What that means for politics and for life in israel is easy to guess - more extreme white zionism, more enforcement of halacha, more neighborhoods taken over by the religious and more and more separation. Since the majority of emigrants from israel will be secular, the internal ratio of religious to not religious will accelerate.

      Basically, israel is well on its way to becoming a theocracy, ruled by halacha as much as Iran is ruled by Sharia. When the theocracy is coupled with ethnic supremacy, I think we can all guess where this will lead and what kind of country this will become.

      I mentioned Iran, but i think that over the same period of time Iran will actually start liberalizing. I predict that in another 10 years the scarves will be all but gone except for the more devout rural populations. Who knows, by such a time it may be Iran that will be the "only Democracy in the Middle east" while israel sinks to being ruled by a cabal of religious mumblers who will convert the Kneset to the old sanhedrin.

    • Actually, that's not true. The figures of 8M+ count many israelis who have already left, because it is assumed they will return. That's an open secret but everyone in israel knows. There is hardly a family that doesn't count at least one of their members who emigrated, even if it was supposedly "temprary". For some it is, but for many it's permanent.

      I don't denty that the birth rate is high, especially among the religious but therein is the biggest problem. The secular and the traditional/observant are diverging rapidly in israel. As I said above, they don't even socialize together much, and I am not even taking into account the ultra-orthodox. Already, the religious exceed the secular in israel's educational institutes - in elementary schools, the ratio is 3:2 religious to secular. Which means they receive differring education programs and generally don't walk in the same circles. After all, it is not possible for a secular to be happily married with an observant, virtually by definition. This is the end result of Judaism being so strict about inteer-relationships, customs and values. One of the two has to convert - either to religious or to secular. for there to be any kind of a match.

      The result is that israeli society is fast splitting into at least 4 distinct and barely relating branches: the secular, the traditional/observant, the ultra-orthodox and the non-Jewish/Arab. The latter account for nearly 25% of that number you quoted. With this kind of separation in another decade you will have several distinct bubbles that do not inter-mingle. Since there'll be more religious, their rules and preferences will prevail, making it ever less comfortable for the secular. Who will continue to leave in droves.

      Also, BTW, it is not true that the reverse aliyah slowed down. That contention is just the official story. The reality is something else.

    • mcohen - not quite right on this score. israelis, when they live abroad, tend to congregate in their own israeli communities rather than make much of a bridge to the local Jews. Indeed, Israeli culture deeply separates them from most "Jewish cultures" especially when you take religion into consideration.

      Most of the israelis who leave israel - to never return (whether they plan on it or not) are secular, and too much jewish religion is exactly one of the things they escape from. Israel is becoming increasingly more religious, and the guys with kippas are now in evidence everywhere, when once you could count them on one hand. The people who live in the tel Aviv and haifa Hi Tech bubble, for the most part, are repelled by all the overt Jewish symbols and certainly by much of the observant self-righteous, holier than thou pronouncements. In Israel, I am told, the two communities - the ultra-secular and the observant/orthodox/traditional do not mix socially at all. They don't intermarry and don't share the same values.

      So when the secular (especially from Hi-Tech sectors) come to a place like the US or the UK or Germany and are all too glad to integrate with their non-Jewish but also non-religious new neighbours and co-workers. from experience, I know at least 4 such families, whose children married non-Jewish Americans. That despite going to Israeli camps in the summer, despite visiting israel several times, and despite speaking Hebrew. In the end, it's the American college life that's so attractive to second generation ex-Israelis. None I know actually got a new spouse from the "Old country".

      So don't count on ex-Israelis strengthening Jewish "diaspora". The ex-Israelis will make their own diaspora that will have only very limited association with the indigenous Jewish ones, and over time they diverge more and more.

  • Chomsky on what 'everyone knows'
    • RoHa, those titles! you have my full sympathy for the bubble life. Yet it's not the worst bubble out there, is it?

      PS my own specialty used to be the Physics of bubbles (believe it if you wish). How can I avoid blowing them every-which-way? and just you wait till you see my take on the economic bubbly species....very explosive, that (sadly not on this blog).

    • Keith - I will address only the "volitional" part. Whatever you may have read into a preamble, it was I who desired to expand my own comment, influenced by none other than my very own self. As you can tell from multiple typos and egregious grammatical cul-de-sacs. I often produce my comments in one breath, literally at the heat of the moment, and frankly a 10 min edit window hardly suffices for the needed repairs. Also, as you can well imagine, given my preference for expounding, well, it bears to reason that things may need to be "expanded" for clarity, if nothing else. Wouldn't you do the same?

      So while I cannot take editors off the hook on everything, as I know basically nothing, in this particular case, blame for content, should there be any, must be shouldered all by my lonesome (and i had shoulder surgery not so long ago, too. Ah, the burden!).

      An aside - to your other points, think of it this way - if people did not care so much for Chomsky's opinion,s they surely would not take the time to run every sentence through a grinder, would they? can there be a greater complement?

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