Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 5 (since 2010-04-22 14:45:04)

Jeremiah Haber

Jeremiah (Jerry) Haber is the nom de plume of Charles H. Manekin, an orthodox Jewish studies and philosophy professor, who divides his time between Israel and the US. His website is The Magnes Zionist.

Website: http://www.jeremiahhaber.com/

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  • Reading Maimonides in Gaza
    • Yonifalic, a few corrections. First, Maimonides accepted the Jewish law that determined that one is Jewish if one is born of a Jewish mother, or has converted to Judaism. One could commit all the transgressions in the Law and still be counted as a Jew, according to Maimonides Heretical Jews remained Jews, albeit heretics, whom other Jews are commanded to hate and even kill. As heretics, they should be excluded from the Jewish community. (See commentary to Mishnah Sanhedrin: Perek Helek). Nevertheless, they do not pass into the category of non-Jew. So it is not accurate, to say the least, to deny an ethnic component to being Jewish. But it is not a racial or metaphysical component.

      Second, Maimonides says in his Mishneh Torah of a Jew who acts cruelly that his Jewish lineage is suspect. That seems to be his way of shaming Jews not to act cruelly, to say that they are not of Jewish lineage. But it is impossible to divide neatly the ethnic from the spiritual component of Jewish identity for Maimonides or for most Jewish thinkers.

      Third, although Maimonides does not list the conquest or settlement of the Land of Israel as one of the 613 commandments (much to the consternation of religious Zionists), he clearly believes that the Land of Israel belongs exclusively to the Jewish people, and that when King Messiah comes, the Jews will have sovereignty in the land, and non-Jews will be able to stay provided they accept the Noahide laws and "dhimmi" status; they must go around humbly and deferential to Jews. He is one of the few Jewish legal authorities who discuss the laws of land of Israel in the messianic age, and, in fact, in any age where the Jews have the upper hand.

      Fourth, Maimonides might think that Jewish traits pass from generation to generation, and he certainly believes in the superiority of Judaism, but he does not believe that Jews are in their essence different from non-Jews. Here he follows the philosophical, not the mystical tradition. (Halevy, who thinks otherwise, is influenced by certain Shiite conceptions.)

      Fifth, Maimonides was deeply influenced, of course, by the intellectual and local environment of the twelfth century. He lived under four different khalifates in Spain, Morocco, and Egypt. And of course, he was deeply immersed in the Jewish and in the philosophical/scientific traditions. While we can certainly learn a great deal from him (I think), and while he can serve as a model and as a hero (he does for me), we all should remember that he is a person of the twelfth century. We've come a long way since then.

    • Yonifalic, a few corrections. First, Maimonides accepted the Jewish law that determined that one was Jewish if one was born of a Jewish mother, or converted to Judaism. One could commit all the transgressions in the Law and still be counted a Jews. Heretical Jews remained Jews, albeit heretics, whom other Jews are commanded to hate and even kill. (See commentary to Mishnah Sanhedrin: Perek Helek). But they do not pass into the category of non-Jew.) So it is not accurate, to say the least, to deny an ethnic component to being Jewish. But it is not racial or metaphysical.

      Secondly, Maimonides says in his Mishneh Torah of a Jew who acts cruelly that his Jewish lineage is suspect. That seems to be his way of shaming people not to act cruelly. But it is impossible to divide neatly the ethnic from the spiritual component of Jewish identity for Maimonides or for most Jewish thinkers.

      Second, although Maimonides does not list the conquest or settlement of the Land of Israel as one of the 613 commandments (much to the consternation of religious Zionists), he clearly believes that the Land of Israel belongs exclusively to the Jewish people, and that when King Messiah comes, the Jews will have sovereignty in the land, and non-Jews will be able to stay provided they accept the Noahide laws and "dhimmi" status; they must go around humbly and deferential to Jews.

      Third, Maimonides might think that Jewish tradition, religion, culture, passes from generation to generation of Jew, and he certainly is a cultural chauvinist, but he does not believe that Jews are in their essence different from non-Jews, and here he follows the philosophical, not the mystical tradition. (Halevy, who thinks otherwise, is influenced by certain Shiite conceptions.)

      Fourth, Maimonides was deeply influenced, as are we all, by the intellectual and local environment of the twelfth century. He lived under four different khalifates in Spain, Morocco, and Egypt. And of course, he was deeply immersed in the Jewish and in the philosophical/scientific traditions. While we can certainly learn a great deal from him (I think), and while he can serve as a model and as a hero (he does for me), we all should remember that he is a person of the twelfth century. We've come a long way since then.

  • Chomsky and BDS
    • http://www.kabobfest.com/2010/04/noam-chomsky-endorses-berkeley-divestment.html

      "April 13, 2010 I would like to express my support and appreciation for the principled statement of the ASUC Senate calling for divestment from US corporations providing military technology for Israel to use in the occupied territories and in its past and possibly future invasions of Lebanon. Amnesty International has gone further, calling for a full arms embargo during Israel's murderous attack on Gaza in January 2009, with pretexts that do not withstand a moment's scrutiny, one of the most egregious of recent US-backed Israeli crimes. There can be no question about the right, in fact responsibility, of students to express their concerns about official actions of their university, and to call on university authorities to refrain from improper actions -- in this case, indirect participation in ongoing crimes. The statement appropriately focuses on our own responsibilities: on our own actions -- or inaction -- and their consequences. That much is hardly more than moral truism. In the present case, the decision goes beyond moral truism: the US plays a decisive role in implementing illegal Israeli takeover of occupied territories, harsh repression, violence and aggression. It is our responsibility to do what we can to act ourselves, and to mobilize others, to change the US government policies that foster serious crimes and bar the path to peaceful diplomatic settlement. Terminating support for US corporations that participate in US-backed Israeli crimes is a significant step towards this end, both in its policy and educational implications. Noam Chomsky"

      I WAS surprised to read a letter to the editor of The Australian claiming that I regard the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement's tactics targeting Israel as "pure anti-Semitism, aimed at the destruction of Israel" and that I said BDS efforts are "inimical to the interests of and lacking any genuine support from the Palestinian people" (Letters, 14/12).

      These tactics have enormous support among Palestinians, and the charge of anti-Semitism should be dismissed with disdain.
      When Human Rights Watch "calls on the US and European Union member states and on businesses with operations in settlement areas to avoid supporting Israeli settlement policies that are inherently discriminatory and that violate international law", it is advocating BDS tactics, rightly, and there is no hint of anti-Semitism.

      I have personally been involved in such forms of opposition to the Israeli occupation for years, long before there was a BDS movement.
      Any tactics, however legitimate, can of course be misused. But they can also be used quite properly and effectively against state crimes, and in this case regularly have been.
      Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA

    • I would just add that I obviously don't agree with Chomsky, since not only do I support BDS, I support the Palestinian BDS movement.

      But all the people who say here that Chomsky doesn't support bds at all are simply dolts who not only don't understand Chomsky, they also don't understand Tom Suarez's excellent article.

    • eGuard, I have supported global BDS on numberous blog posts, argued with Beinart about it on Open Zion, have endorsed it in the New York Times, and endorsed it as recently on this site as last week! So unless you can't read English, I have no idea what you are referring to. And yes, my kind of Zionism can support BDS because, my friend, global BDS requires the existence of the State of Israel to make sense. Again: if you don't accept the existence of the State of Israel -- albeit, a state of all its citizens -- then you cannot support BDS. Read the 3 calls -- they are addressed to the State of Israel: end occupation, end discrimination, recognize the right of the refugees to return according to 194 -- all this is addressed to the State of Israel.

      But maybe, eGaurd, you don't support global BDS....

      My point in my post last week was that there should be an unofficial coalition between my crowd (Barghouti, Abunimah, etc.) and the liberal Zionist BDS crowd. As it is, the major victories on BDS have been directed towards the Occupation, and even those academics like Hawking who boycotted Israel do so because of the Occupation. So I have yet to hear a serious argument -- no, I have yet to hear any argument -- why there shouldn't be what I called an unofficial coalition of the BDS'ers, one, by the way, that would include Chomsky.

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