Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 2245 (since 2010-09-16 16:15:33)

jon s

An Israeli history teacher,long-time activist on the Israeli Left.

Showing comments 2245 - 2201

  • Gilad Atzmon’s attack against me – the 'merchant of JVP'
  • 'Why do I not cry out for the right of return?' -- an exchange between Uri Avnery and Salman Abu Sitta
    • A personal memory:
      When I was 13 years old I read Uri Avnery's "The Other Side of the Coin", his unexpurgated account of his battleground experience. I read it cover-to -cover in one night and it had a huge , life-changing impact on me. After that , I read his weekly editorials, volunteered for his party and eventually met him in person. So maybe I'm not quite objective writing about him but I do think that he's an example of unwavering commitment to the ideal of Israeli-Palestinian peace. It's amazing that he's still around after all those years.

    • I wonder what Uri Avnery, author of "Israel Without Zionists" (1968), thinks of the irony of being considered a Zionist.

    • All of us on the Israeli Left owe a huge debt to Uri Avnery. Indeed, I can't even a imagine the Left without his groundbreaking efforts. In the aftermath of the 1967 war, proposing a Palestinian state co-existing with Israel (what's called today "the 2 state solution") was considered a weird idea of the lunatic fringe of the Left. Today that idea that he promoted 50 years ago is at the center of an international consensus.
      He's 93 years old now, respected as the founding father of the Israeli peace movement (and of modern Hebrew journalism in Israel!)
      I still remember the huge impact his writing had on me as a teenager.

  • I am not a jew
    • As to Yonifalic's alleged "eidetic memory":

      From the Brittanica:
      "Eidetic image, an unusually vivid subjective visual phenomenon. An eidetic person claims to continue to “see” an object that is no longer objectively present. Eidetic persons behave as if they are actually seeing an item, either with their eyes closed or while looking at some surface that serves as a convenient background for the image. Furthermore, eidetic persons describe the image as if it is still present and not as if they are recalling a past event. The incidence of eidetic imagery is very low in children (2–10 percent) and almost nonexistent in adults."

      Also see:

    • Absolutely, Yonifalic, I suggest that you surrender yourself to Palestinian authorities. Preferably Hamas.

    • Yonifalic , the Anti-Semitic meshumad, is also a self-confessed murderer. Why not encourage him to surrender himself to the appropriate authorities to stand trial for his crimes?

  • Sean Spicer needs to go to a Holocaust center
  • Passover has become little more than an act of communal hypocrisy
    • On Passover and Easter among other Jewish-Christian issues in medieval times I recommend this book:

    • Talknic,
      You wrote that Israeli Jewish children deserve to be murdered.
      If you're retracting, fine. But I didn't lie.

    • Marnie, I'm sure that we all have problems.
      What I can't understand is how anyone can say that children deserve to be murdered.

    • Marnie
      All children are innocent.
      No children deserve to be murdered.

      Who has a problem with that principle?
      (aside from talknic)

    • Annie,
      I wrote quite clearly that no children deserve to be murdered, from whereever.
      I specifically wrote Jewish children because they are the ones who deserve to be murdered , according to talknic's outrageous comment.
      I have always condemned the deliberate murder of innocent people, especially children. No matter where, when and by whom.

    • Yonah,
      Thanks for your thoughtful response.
      I was also thinking of the late Prof. Leibovitz. And I recall a discussion with an active Orthodox rabbi (with a connection to Leibovitz) who said that more than believing in Hashem , he believes in "avodat Hashem".

    • No children deserve to be murdered.

      No matter what nationality, ethnicity, religion, race, whatever...

      No children deserve to be murdered.

      Not even Jewish children, talknic.
      Not even Israeli Jewish children, talknic and Annie and everyone.

      I can't believe that what should be a universally accepted principle needs to be argued here.

    • Annie,
      Talknic wrote that they (Israeli Jews) "deserve... to have their children murdered..."

      You don't have a problem with his comment?
      You just have a problem with my calling it bloodthirsty?

    • Talknic,
      I was just shocked by your bloodthirsty fantasy, especially regarding the murder of children.
      Maybe I should not have been.

    • Yonah,
      I would be interested in your opinion on the issue of belief vs. deeds in Judaism.
      Hag Same'ah

    • RoHa,
      I don't mean that there's no belief involved. I was just pointing out the emphasis on what you do, not what you believe.
      And I agree that there's no point in living according to the laws and upholding the traditions- if it does not lead to a moral life.
      Of course this is only one possible interpretation of Judaism.

    • amigo,
      My comment contained a certain interpretation of traditional Judaism. It had absolutely nothing to do with Zionism.

    • RoHa,
      On "belief" vs. deeds:
      Since it's impossible to know what's really going on between your ears, since no one knows whether you sincerely believe what you claim to believe, Judaism said never mind about endlessly declaring your belief. Instead, here's a set of laws to live by and deeds to perform. Live according to those laws and you'll be fine. You'll find yourself living a good, moral, life, and you'll belong to a community based on shared laws and traditions.

    • RoHa,
      Your question is a very serious one ,difficult to answer without resorting to a book-length essay.

      One concise formulation which I've heard is : "it's not about believing, it's about belonging".

    • Wow, talknic, how bloodthirsty can you get?

    • I agree with JeffB on this.
      Judaism puts the emphasis not on what you believe, or claim to believe, but on what you do.

  • You know your country's in trouble when you're afraid to put on a bumper sticker
    • Here's the Webster definition of racism:

      Definition of racism
      : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
      a : a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles
      b : a political or social system founded on racism
      : racial prejudice or discrimination

      The absolute opposite of what I think and believe.

    • Ossinev,
      Why would I appreciate manifestations of racism? I despise racism.

    • Do you think that intolerence only occurs from one side?
      What would happen to a pro-Israel sticker in a predominantly Arab neighborhood?

    • amigo,
      So it will be easy to find you when and if I visit Ireland. You're the guy driving around with the "Boycott Israel " sticker.
      Annie, "Free Gaza" can be understood as an anti-Hamas slogan.

  • Israeli Jews maintain the occupation because it is in their interest -- Noam Sheizaf
    • Maghlawatan,
      Why is voting for a better government "instead " of keeping kosher? Who says we can't work for a decent government and also keep a kosher kitchen?

      I don't recall ever attending a seder in which "Go Down Moses" was sung.
      The seder is a good opportunity to remind ourselves that the struggle for freedom is not a thing of the past, it's ongoing . "In every generation..."

    • Marnie,
      For people who maintain a kosher home-and are hosting the seder- the days before Passover really are rather busy,

    • amigo,
      I'm aware of the horrible killing of an innocent Eritrean man in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Beersheva. I wrote about it on this forum at the time.

      I do try to discuss with my students the dangers of racism and fascism.

      As to the happiness index, I'm still trying to figure it out myself, sort of caught me by surprise.
      When I have more time maybe I'll try to think it through (this being a few days before Passover, very busy...)

  • Read the full translated text of the leaked Hamas charter
    • Helen4yemen,
      Jews in the Jewish historic homeland are not outsiders.

    • 1. If Hamas has moved beyond the vile Anti-Semitism of its present charter it's a positive development. On the other hand the new charter in article 10 mentions only Muslim and Christian holy places, ignoring Jewish ones. The text , in general , denies the Jewish presence.

      2. There's a clear contradiction in article 19. Establishing a Palestinian state on the pre-67 lines implies accepting partition and two states. However in the very same article there's the "from the river to the sea" formulation. If the pragmatic line gains the upper hand it may be possible for Hamas to become part of the solution.

  • New book by Larry Derfner, the American-turned-Israeli journalist, crushes liberal Zionism
    • James North,
      Aside from thanking me (you're welcome..) , I would be interested in any on-topic comments you may have on my comments...

    • talkback,
      "Israeli Left " means a commitment to democracy, social justice and peace.

    • Maghlawatan,
      I don't understand what you mean about there not being any Palestinians south of the Galilee?
      You're not ignorant. Unless you're trying to be sarcastic.

    • James North,
      No, I'm not in hiding. I just can't inhabit MW 24/7 and comment on every post, especially these busy days before Passover.
      However, since you asked:
      1.First, I confess that I haven't read Mr.Derfner's book. I'm responding to the excerpts you provided.
      2.I've never defined myself as a "Liberal Zionist" and would prefer the title "Israeli Left" which I use in my commenter profile. The various categories – liberal Zionist, non-Zionist, anti-Zionist- may be anachronistic these days. A so-called liberal Zionist who supports Meretz probably has more in common with a supporter of the non-Zionist Joint List than with , say, Lieberman and Bennet. The important distinction in my opinion is not between Zionists and non-Zionists . It's between those who seek a reasonable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement which will end the occupation and terrorism and bloodshed and assure a better future for both peoples –and those who oppose any such option.
      3. There's a masochistic and defeatist trend, which Derfner's book may be part of, of people on the Left beating up on… the Left. "Why are we so small, why are we so weak? We're fighting a rearguard battle for a lost cause, etc." Well, I don't buy it. The Left has a lot to be proud of, has been correct in its predictions and analysis. The Right is leading the country to disaster, has no real answers , and it's up to us to be the alternative, to be the future. We need to go back to basic politics, organize and return to the streets.
      4. I agree with some of Derfner's ideas, such as his critique of the stupid, endless "peace process".
      5.On the other hand I disagree with BDS, both morally and tactically (although I support a boycott of the settlements). And my experience here in Beersheva is quite different from Derfner's in Modiin. I certainly don't feel that I live in a segregated society (I've never even visited Modiin).

  • The Jewish revolution
    • Annie, Yonah, Ok, if those groups are community-oriented, that's good news, in my view.
      I don't recall Phil Weiss here as ever expressing interest in sustaining the community.

    • Regarding Phil's interesting report: Jewish anti-Zionists don't have a chance of "winning the argument" in the American Jewish community, in my opinion, as long as they seem to be indifferent to the goal of sustaining the community as such. If anti-Zionists, people like Phil, would say "instead of supporting Israel, let us devote our resources and energy to stregthening our institutions (community centers, synagogues and such), to more Jewish education (more day schools, more Bible and Talmud study, more Hebrew and Yiddish, more Jewish history and culture)" - then maybe they wouldn't be perceived by the majority of the community as not caring about the community, caring only about opposing Zionism.

    • A correction: Shabtai Zvi lived in the 17th century, not the 16th.
      This is important for understanding his significance. The 17th century was in many ways the dawn of modernity: the scientific revolution, the first stirrings of Enlightenment, but also a prolongued bloodbath, the 30 Years War. The Jewish people ( a people which hadn't been invented yet, according to Prof.Sand...) were stunned by the horrific pogroms of 1648-49 in eastern Europe. Shabtai Zvi's movement could be seen as an early attempt , couched in religious-messianic terms to become pro-active, to "take our fate into our own hands".

  • The dispossessed
    • Thanks to Howard Cohen for his firsthand account.
      I had never met Yaqoub Abu Al Qian, but last week a colleague of mine who had described him as"one of the most charming people I've ever met". He -and police officer Erez Amedi Levi- would still be alive today if not for the tendency of the police to open fire first and ask questions later, especially in encounters with the Bedouin population, as compared with the kid gloves used in the encounter with the illegal settlers in Amona. Add to that the malicious statements by Netanyahu and Erdan, accusing Mr. Abu Al Qian of being a terrorist.
      Howard Cohen is not alone in supporting Bedouin rights in the Negev. Many of us were appalled and heart-broken. Mr.Cohen is invited to join the various initiatives and actions in which we stand with the Bedouin against injustice and racism.

  • 'Destruction of Israel' is its abandonment by American Jews, in novelist's imagining
  • Sports and the Palestinian BDS Struggle (Part 3): Looking Ahead
    • South Africa practiced apartheid in sports and the boycott was directly connected to that policy . According to Wikipedia "The International Olympic Committee (IOC) withdrew its invitation to South Africa to the 1964 Summer Olympics when interior minister Jan de Klerk insisted the team would not be racially integrated". Whites and Blacks did not play on the same teams or compete with each other. as I wrote, that's certainly not the case here.

      Beitar Jerusalem is a team with a blatantly racist fan base, including the infamous LaFamilia, and a semi-official policy of not hiring Muslim players. The team has been repeatedly punished by the IFA for the fans behaviour. Should FIFA compel the IFA to take more severe measures such as relegation or even closing the club? Or compel it to hire Muslims? I would support that.

      The minor-league teams in the illegal settlements are a clear violation of FIFA rules. The IFA should be sanctioned for that. As a supporter of the two state solution, I oppose legitimizing and normalizing the settlements.

    • The sports boycott of South Africa was appropriate and justified especially because SA practiced racist apartheid in the realm of sports, which is not the situation in Israel.

    • Page: 22
  • User comment archives
  • Head of UN agency resigns after refusing to retract report calling Israel an 'apartheid regime'
    • amigo,
      According to the World Happiness Report, these are the key variables:

      "These six factors are GDP per capita, healthy
      years of life expectancy, social support (as measured
      by having someone to count on in times
      of trouble), trust (as measured by a perceived
      absence of corruption in government and
      business), perceived freedom to make life
      decisions, and generosity (as measured by recent
      donations). "

    • talknic,
      "What two people[s]?"
      This land is the homeland of both the Palestinian people and the Jewish people.

    • Marnie,
      I'm not sure I understand your personal situation.
      Renewing a passport isn't such a big deal, If you want to leave, go ahead and don't blame the technicality of having an expired passport. On the other hand, why would you "have to leave?"
      Maybe you prefer being here, after all?

      Incidentally, Israel once again scores high ,in the 11th place, in the World Happiness Report, ahead of the USA (14th), the UK (19th), France (31st), and way ahead of all other countries in the region:

    • Just, I note thay you haven't responded to my questions, even though I answered yours.

      Jews have also been here for centuries, and I've never said that our rights supercede the rights of others. This land is the homeland of two peoples. That's the conflict in a nutshell.

    • Just,
      I'll answer your questions, even though I'm not sure as to the relevance to the topic. And then I'll ask you a few of my own.
      1. Two, Hebrew and English. It's one of my greatest regrets that I've never managed to learn Arabic.
      2. Two, Israeli and American.
      3.History and Civics.

      My questions for you:

      Are you saying that this land is NOT the Jewish historic homeland?

      Do you agree with "echinococcus", who basically wants to get rid of the Jewish population in the country?

    • Fact is, Jews are not interlopers or invaders or pirates in our historic homeland.
      For millions of Jewish Israelis , immigrants or native-born, this is our home.

  • For Purim, costume contest celebrates soldier's killing of a Palestinian (free vacation on the line)
    • eljay
      On Purim we don't "celebrate murder". We celebrate foiling a genocidal plot. The Jews were threatened with annihilation, managed to turn the tables and exercise self-defense.
      In practice, it's a fun, carnival-like , kid-friendly holiday.
      I never justified Elor Azaria and celebrating him as a hero is nauseating.

  • Israel detains one activist and deports another, amid int'l outcry over boycott ban
    • Ronald Johnson is not replying to my questions.
      In any case, Amazon can't "ban" anything, they can decide not to sell various items.
      For example: porn , or as I suspect in this case: Holocaust denial literature or other hate material.

    • Ronald Johnson,
      What are you referring to ? What books were banned at Amazon? What's your source?

  • 'We may no longer be permitted—nor permit ourselves—to enter Israel,' 172 scholars write
  • No space for Zionism
    • Annie,
      The Jews in the arab countries were being persecuted, were being murdered. In many cases they were essentially kicked out.

    • Rasmea Odeh was subsequently convicted in the US of immigration fraud.
      She appealed the conviction successfully, is now out on bail awaiting a new trial.

  • Some Jews support BDS 'from a place of love' for Israel, says AJC official
    • The commenter archive function seems not to be working.

    • eljay,
      Of course I mean the first feminist moment in the Megillah.

      My take on the Megillah is based on a careful reading of the text. As with the entire Bible, different interpretations are possible.

    • A few years ago, never mind for what purpose , I wrote the following reflections on the Book of Esther (the "Megillah"). Anyone taking the trouble to read them should do so with the Biblical text on hand:
      1.Feminism: In Chapter 1 we are introduced to the first feminist moment: Vashti's refusal to appear before the king and his drunken cronies.
      Here we have the king and his retainers, seriously drunk after a 7-day binge*, and Vashti refuses. What's their reaction? Memucan**, the chief genius here , says : "let's legislate!" Let's pass a law that says that women have to obey. All the other guys say: Right, we'll pass a law. That'll make 'em respect us…
      Now it seems to me that the author is trying to show how stupid and ridiculous they are. Respect and honor are certainly not values that can be legislated.
      *7 days? What am I talking about? The ministers had been partying for 5 months! (See verse 4. The 7 day party was for the common people.)
      ** According to some commentators Memucan is non other than Haman himself! Why? Because of his way of thinking: Memucan , because of the incident with Vashti, wants to punish all women, the same as Haman, who because of his problem with Mordecai, wants to destroy all Jews.

      2.Look at 2:12: "Six months in myrhh oil, six months in perfume". Is this for real? A year in the bathtub? In any good satire , a phenomenon is exaggerated to emphasize how ridiculous it is. Perhaps the author – once again- is slyly hinting at the ridiculous attitude towards women, who need to be "softened up" by a year of cosmetics.

      3. Throughout the Megillah, the women are more impressive than the men: Queen Vashti with her proud refusal to be exhibited as a trophy; Zeresh, Haman's wife, who is way ahead of her husband in understanding what's going on (6:13); and, of course , Esther herself, who emerges from her role as the meek, passive girl doing her cousin's bidding , turns the tables ("turning the tables" is what Purim is all about…) and starts commanding him,and all the Jews(4: 15-17) . Note that only at this point, after she gives orders to her uncle and people , and then goes forth to confront the king , is she regularly referred to as "Queen Esther". She has earned the title.
      Among the men, on the other hand, we have the dumb and easily manipulated King, and a farcical villain like Haman. See the events of his downfall: pure comic-opera.

      4. Haman may be farcical, but his plot is anything but amusing. Note his use of the classical Anti-Semitic formulation (3:8). Haman's plot is no spontaneous outburst. It's not like he's pissed with Mordecai, and immediately goes off to instigate a pogrom. On the contrary: it would have been deliberate, premeditated genocide. Look at the timeline (3:12-13): Haman is given authorization on the 13th of Nissan, to execute his plan on the 13th of Adar, 11 months later. He has almost a year to prepare: to hire, indoctrinate and train the would-be perpetrators. In retaliation we eat his ears, which is weird.

      5.Clearly, Jewish tradition has always opposed intermarriage. Yet there's no getting around the fact that the Jews are saved thanks to an act of intermarriage.
      The Dead Sea Scrolls contain at least fragments of all the books in the Bible, with the exception of Esther. Given the Qumran sect's obsession with matters of "purity " and "impurity" , one can imagine that certain aspects of the book offended them, and they didn't accept it.

      6. Names: As Diaspora Jews, Mordecai and Esther bear Babylonian or Persian names , which they may have felt they needed to get ahead in the local society. Mordecai may well have also had a Hebrew name (much as many Diaspora Jews today have Hebrew names, aside from their day-to-day English names) , but it's not revealed. We are told Esther's Hebrew name: Hadassah (2:7).

      7. Vengeance: I've heard the accusation that Purim celebrates the massacre of innocents, certainly offensive to present-day sensibilities. Well, not quite: According to the Megillah (8:11) , the Jews were given permission to annihilate their enemies, including women and children, and loot their property. However, in the execution, that's not what happens. Those killed are "enemies", presumably members of the militia Haman had enlisted to destroy the Jews, not innocent women and children. The Megillah also repeatedly emphasizes that no loot was taken, despite the authorization the Jews had to do so.

      8.The Megillah calls Haman "the Agagite" (3:1) , a reference to Agag, King of the Amalekites. Mordecai is a "son of Kish", of the tribe of Benjamin (2:5). To understand the meaning of these references we have to go to 1 Samuel, chapter 15.
      In this chapter King Saul – who is the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin – is commanded to utterly wipe out the Amalekites , who are the embodiment of evil. Saul defeats and annihilates the Amalekites but spares their king, Agag, and their cattle. The prophet Samuel is furious, informs Saul that for his "sin" of disobeying a divine commandment in showing compassion for the evil king, his kingdom will be taken from him , and executes Agag. Now it looks to me like the lineage here shouldn't be taken literally. A Persian minister is not a biological descendent of a desert tribe, which existed hundreds of years earlier, and was, indeed annihilated*; and Mordecai is not likely to have been able to trace his ancestry back to Saul. The Megillah is implying a "spiritual ancestry": Haman is as evil as Amalek, and Mordecai is an heir to Saul, in leading his people against the Amalek of his time, and perhaps also in his display of compassion. (See point #7)
      Incidentally, there was a Nazi criminal named Hamann. (Einsatzgruppe A, personally responsible for the murder of the Jews of Shavli, Lithuania).
      *Though there's a midrash according to which Agag, in the brief time that he lived after being spared by Saul and before having his head cut off by Samuel, managed to impregnate a woman, and from that bloodline came Haman.

      8.The traditional commentaries provide endless surprises. The Talmud goes as far as to say that Haman's descendents "studied Torah in Bnei Beraq"(!) (Bavli Gitin 57B) Just to show that repentance and "tikkun" are always possible.

      9. I've always wondered about the last verse in the book (10:3). After all he's done why is Mordecai accepted only by "most of his brethren"? The Hatam Sofer offers this explanation: anyone in the Jewish community who deals with conversions, as Mordecai probably did (8:17), sooner or later finds himself in trouble with parts of the community. Sounds familiar.

    • eljay,
      In the Book of Esther, the Jews manage to avoid annihilation and turn the tables on their enemies, but there's no massacre of innocent non-Jews.

    • Slightly -but not entirely -off topic here: there's a "Team Israel" in the WBC , made up of Jewish -American players (and doing very well, so far). I don't know much about them, like how many of them have ever set foot here. But they are Jewish- Americans happy and proud to represent Israel.

      And a very happy Purim to all those celebrating!

  • Human rights lawyer: Israel's new anti-BDS travel ban violates international law
  • Open Letter: Against the blacklisting of activists and writers
  • Trump warns annexation of West Bank will cause 'immediate crisis' between US and Israel - Lieberman
  • Liberal newspaper Haaretz calls 1937 Palestine 'pre-state Israel,' in article by gov't employee
    • Three languages appear on the coin.
      The Hebrew is:
      פלשתינה א"י
      =Palestine (E"Y)
      E"Y= Eretz Yisrael=Land of Israel

  • Israel and Palestine: Settler colonialism and academic freedom
    • Boris,
      It is indeed outrageous to bar entry on the basis of political views.

      On the other hand, Prof. Pappe supports bds but is outraged by blacklisting of anti-Zionists. How does that work?

  • History shows that anti-Semitism and pro-Zionism have never been mutually exclusive
  • Trump is putting the crunch on liberal Zionism
    • diasp0ra,
      I, for one, support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, in a Palestinian state. I don't see why the Palestinians should be expected to forego the right to a state in which their culture will be predominant. All this- in the context of a two state solution.

      In my view, the two sides, Israelis and Palestinians, can have either justice or peace, can't have both, and I hope that both sides ultimately choose the latter. What I mean is that what both sides would consider real justice can only be achieved through a bloodbath. Instead of obssessing over who did what 50 years ago, 70 years ago ,100 years ago, we should focus on the present and the future and seek peace: find a reasonable, practical, agreement, which will enable the two peoples who are destined to share this land to envision a better future for our children , without violence, without bloodshed, without so many wasted lives. Any such agreement will entail compromises and will fall short of any notion of "justice".

    • Diasp0ra,
      "Nobody suggesting a one state solution is saying it will be Arab. "
      Really? Nobody? How about Hamas, for example?

      As you say, we disagree. The ultimate objective is to achieve a future in which Israelis and Palestinians live in peace, without fear and hatred and bloodshed. I think that partition, two states ,is the best and only realistic solution. I'm not getting into the precise borders and percentages. Once partition is agreed on in principle, all that can be discussed.
      And since you mentioned the refugees : two states is the only path to a resolution of that issue as well.

    • diasp0ra,

      "I have never seen anyone here advocating for an Arab or Muslim supremacist state. "
      You may be correct in regard to "anyone here"- the world of MW commenters.
      However, out in the real world, the Palestinians strive for a state in which Arab Palestinian culture and the Muslim religion are predominant

    • Giving up on the two state solution is like saying to Netanyahu, Bennet and the settlers: "I give up, you win".
      Two states is still the only solution, which is both politically possible (just barely...) and morally sound.

  • New Israel Fund response to Ben Gurion harassment reinforces very system it claims to oppose
    • A casual reference to the birth of my grandson has brought good wishes on one hand and vicious remarks about "mutilation " on the other and a full-blown discussion of ritual circumcision.

      The history: the "mitzvah" (good deed) of the "brit" appears in Genesis 17:

      10This is My covenant, which you shall observe between Me and between you and between your seed after you, that every male among you be circumcised.
      11And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be as the sign of a covenant between Me and between you.
      12And at the age of eight days, every male shall be circumcised to you throughout your generations, one that is born in the house, or one that is purchased with money, from any foreigner, who is not of your seed.
      13Those born in the house and those purchased for money shall be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant.
      14And an uncircumcised male, who will not circumcise the flesh of his foreskin-that soul will be cut off from its people; he has broken My covenant."

      Throughout history, the brit has been a sign of Jewish identity. Jews have been willing literally to give their lives, to die, rather than forego it. The disastrous Bar Kokhva revolt broke out after the Emperor Hadrian tried to ban the practice.

      Jon66 provided information about the health benefits. For people like myself, , who perform the ritual because it's our people's tradition, the health benefits are an added bonus.

      As to obtaining "consent": that's nonsense. Parents are always making decisions for their kids: naming them, deciding where to live, what to eat, what to wear, which school to send them to, what values to raise them on. It's part of what parenting is all about. That said, I'm totally against coercion. Parents who don't want to do it should not be pressured, parents who do, should not be prevented. It's a freedom-of-religion issue.

      In practice, it's important to hire a qualified, competent mohel, with plenty of experience under his belt –so to speak- who maintains a strict standard of sterility in the procedure, who examines the baby in advance and makes a follow-up visit. The guidelines for mohalim specifically bans the old-school practice of mouth-to-penis suction. In general, it's not done.
      When the procedure is performed, the baby cries and then calms down amazingly fast. Within a few days the place heals.

      The ceremony itself is a joyous event, a celebration of life and love, welcoming the new guy into the tribe. There's also the matter of announcing the boy's name, which in our case , in my family , triggered very emotional responses.

      The only minor glitch we had was that the mohel was late , so we had to tell the hall go ahead and serve the first course. When he finally showed up,the ceremony was done between the first and main courses , not exactly as we had planned, but no big deal.

    • echinicoccush,
      So it's not only "barbarian", it's "criminal". I take it, then , that in your opinion our circumcision ritual should be outlawed. Rabbis and mohels and parents should be prosecuted and sent to jail.
      You're not even original: the ritual has always been a favorite target for Jew-haters.

    • talknic,
      What you call "barbaric mutilation" is regarded by most Jews as an important ritual, a traditional sign of Jewish identity and a joyous occasion.

    • talknic, thanks for the good wishes, even though you couldn't bring yourself to refrain from some nastiness. ("brainwashing", "mutilation"...)

    • talknic,
      Thanks for the good wishes, though you couldn't refrain from some nastiness. Oh, well...

    • Yonah,
      Thanks , shabbat shalom!

    • oldgeezer, eljay,
      Thanks for the good wishes!

    • oldgeezer,
      Your apology is unreservedly accepted, of course.
      Sorry for not responding sooner, been sort of busy (for happy reasons: my wife and I have just welcomed our first grandson...)

    • old geezer,
      Rereading your comment, it looks like your source is "Mooser", a commenter who obssessively responds to every post of mine with nonsense and lies, even inventing biographical details of my life. Just ignore anything he writes about me, as I do.

    • oldgeezer,
      With all respect, your comments are off-the-charts nuts.
      I would be delighted by a terrorist attack?
      I was part of a mob attacking an innocent man?
      A credit to my uniform ? What uniform?
      Where do you come up with this stuff?

    • old geezer,
      Why in the world would I be elated by a terrorist attack? In my "stolen town" or anywhere else?
      I despise terrorism

    • eljay, I believe in equal rights for all, regardless of religion, nationality, race, gender, whatever. So, naturally, I condemn any form of supremacism. And I don't see the NIF supporting Jewish - or any other- supremacism.

    • The NIF does admirable work, for which it deserves nothing but praise from all those for whom promoting peace democracy and social justice is important.
      See here:

      These are the causes and organizations it supports:

  • Celebrating Tu B’shvat, the 'new year for trees,' as ethnic cleansing continues
    • talknic, Yes, that's what I wrote, and that's Rashi's interpretation. Natan Zach gave the words a different twist. By the way, the poem has been put to music by Shalom Hanoch:

    • Regarding the quote from Deuteronomy 20:19 -"man is a tree of the field"- it 's better understood as a question: is a man a tree? Is a tree a man? Why should trees suffer when people go to war?
      This is the entire verse:
      "When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you?"
      This is Rashi's explanation:
      "Is the tree of the field a man, to go into the siege before you]?: The word כִּי here means“perhaps:” Is the tree of the field perhaps a man who is to go into the siege by you, that it should be punished by the suffering of hunger and thirst like the people of the city? Why should you destroy it?"

      Natan Zach's beautiful poem based on the verse does indeed remove the question mark:

      Because Man Is the Tree of the Field

      Because the man is the tree of the field;
      Like the tree the man grows up.
      Like the the man, the tree also gets uprooted,
      And I surely do not know
      where I have been and where I will be,
      like the tree of the field.
      Because the man is the tree of the field;
      Like the tree he aspires upwards.
      Like the man, he gets burnt in fire,
      And I surely do not know
      where I have been and where will I be,
      like the tree of the field.
      Because the man is the tree of the field;
      Like the tree he is thirsty to water.
      Like the man, thirsty he remains,
      And I surely do not know
      where I have been and where will I be,
      like the tree of the field.
      I've loved, and I've hated;
      I've tasted both this and that;
      I was buried in a plot of land;
      And it's bitter, it's bitter in my mouth,
      Like the tree of the field;
      Like the tree of the field.

      translated by Warren Bargad and Stanley F. Cheyt,

  • What would Anne Frank do?
  • Rallies at White House and airports across the US as outrage builds over Muslim ban
  • More and more people see 'one state only' but Remnick fears it will be like Bosnia
  • It's happening
    • It so happens that the weekly Torah portion read on Saturday, just as Trump was getting started , is from Exodus and includes this verse :

      " Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:8)

  • Palestinians demand Israeli authorities release the remains of slain loved ones
    • Annie,
      You can't seem to bring yourself to agree to the simple formulation that all sides should release all bodies.
      The dead should not be held as bargaining chips. They should be returned to their families, no bargaining, no conditions , no deals.

    • Annie, Jon66 wrote a very clear formulation: "All parties should immediately return the bodies of ALL the dead ". Do you agree?

    • Holding on to bodies is both morally wrong and counter-productive. They should all be returned to their families unconditionally. And that principle also applies in regard to the remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, fallen IDF soldiers, being held by the Hamas terrorists.

  • The immaculate conception of Louis Brandeis
    • gamal,
      I'm not implying that the Arab immigrants and their descendants are not part of the Palestinian people.
      As to the family names:
      el-Masri ="the Egyptian"
      Hourani = from the Houran
      Hijazi = from the Hijaz

    • There's an interesting similarity between Brandeis and another prominent American Jew, Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
      Morgenthau , who had never been involved in Jewish affairs, served as FDR's Treasury Secretary during WW2. In 1944, shocked by the Holocaust, he was instrumental in creating the War Refugee Board. As the war ended, he resigned from the cabinet and spent the rest of his life working for Jewish causes, supporting the UJA and Israel.

    • According to a Palestinian source, "Palestine and the Palestinians" by Farsoun and Zacharia (Westview Press, 1997), p.78 ,the Arab population of Palestine increased from 300,000 in 1880 to 1,300,000 in 1947. The population more than quadrupled in less than 70 years, so it certainly makes sense that some other factor , aside from the birth rate , was at play ,immigration.
      And it also makes sense that the development and modernization of the country opened up employment opportunities, thereby attracting immigrants from the neighboring countries.
      Also note some Palestinian family names like Masri, Hourani, Hijazi, etc.

    • Hophmi, Thanks for the illuminating critique.
      A professor here at BGU, Prof.Allon Gal (it was my pleasure and honor to learn from him) wrote a biography of Brandeis:

      As to Phil's request for a photo of the late Prof.Shapira, see here:
      He's the 6th from the top.

  • Video: Support for one democratic state grows as Palestinians lose hope in two-state solution
    • just,
      "Setter jon s"?. I suppose people can invent their own definitions for commnly-used terms such as "settlements" and "settlers", but without an accepted, commonly used, termonology, there isn't much chance for a discussion.
      Maybe I should simply call you "terrorist-sympathizer just".

    • amigo, I didn't say that you coined the phrase, and I have seen it before. But you used it, and it is offensive, in my view.

    • amigo,
      I may have participated in more demos, marches , petitions, etc. against the occupation and the settlements and for peace, social justice and democracy than any other commenter on this blog.
      Also, I wish you wouldn't use an offensive term like "mowing the lawn" when referring to Palestinian casualties. They are people, not grass.

    • amigo,
      I've never intentionally lied on this forum, but if you choose not to believe me, that's your choice. With all respect, it's not like I need your approval.
      I'll post a photo and my real name when all other commenters do so.

    • Annie, amigo,
      I oppose the use of administrative detention, which is what I assume you're referring to as "held without trial". As to settlers being tried in Palestinian courts, yes. I've even written something on that on a local website: that settlers suspected of attacks on Palestinians should be handed over for trial to the Palestinian courts.

    • amigo,
      Why should I be afraid of equal rights for all?
      In case you haven't noticed, that's what I support.
      Beersheva, where I live, is not exclusively Jewish, nor is my school, and plenty of people drive around and make noise, Jews and non-Jews

    • amigo,
      You quote Ali Abunimah using the term "one country". The point I'm trying to make is that "one state " is not necessarily a bi-national state, and the two terms should not be used as synonyms.
      This is a serious issue in my opinion, an essential issue, because it relates to the essence of what we want to achieve. It's not splitting hairs.
      Too bad that that you can't resist adding another ad hominem attack, calling me dishonest and pathetic and "living on someone else's property". Why not try to just address the issue?

    • Annie, It's not a matter of "my approval". I'm just interested in the question of whether there is Palestinian support for a binational state. So the exact phrase I'm looking for is "b-inational state".

    • Annie,
      "Can we back up? " Sure, .we can go back to the 1930s. At that time "dovish" Jewish groups like Brit Shalom (Magnes, Buber and others) and the Socialist-Zionist Hashomer Hatzair advocated the binational state concept as an alternative to a Jewish state and to partition. It was a minority opinion, rejected by most Zionists, and also received near-zero support from Palestinians.

      I'm not being cynical, I would sincerely like to know if there is at present any Palestinian support for a binational state. Please point out where in Jarai's website or elsewhere is there support for that concept among the Palestinians. Perhaps I'm missing something.

      In answer to your question: if the West Bank is annexed, then, yes the struggle wil be for equal rights for all. Absolutely.

    • Amigo,
      I'm not splitting hairs: I pointed out an important distinction between "one state" and "binational state". Minister Naftali Bennet, for example , rejects the two state solution. The one state that he advocates is certainly not a binational state.
      In the link you provided the late Edward Said is not directly quoted as supporting the binational concept, but he did come pretty close. In general, the Palestinians have always rejected the binational state concept. At present they're committed to establishing an Islamic state, as I've pointed out in the past. Far removed from Prof. Said's secular vision.

    • amigo, Yes, they reaffirmed the 67 lines as the basis for the two state solution. Check a reliable map and see where Beersheva is in regard to those lines. You're invited to visit Beersheva and see my "squat".
      In my experience, people usually remain loyal to their teams, through good times and bad.

    • Annie, thanks for the links. I didn't say that one state means without Jews. I say that one state and a bi-national state are not necessarily the same.

    • Also: The UNSC recently reaffirmed by an overwhelming majority the international commitment to the two state solution. So did representatives of 70 countries in Paris.
      Mondoweiss repeatedly tries to make the point that two states is finished, when actually we see that it's still the only game in town.

    • Mondoweiss Editors seem to regard the terms "one state" and "bi-national state" as being synonyms.
      See this paragraph:
      "But today support is growing according to Radi Jarai, a Fatah dissident and Political Scientist at Al-Quds University. In 2013, together with members from other political factions, he created the ‘One Democratic State’ movement that advocates for the creation of a binational state. According to Jarai: “We are in a one-state solution since 1967, after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip”. Young people are key proponents of the binational state. "

      Does Mr. Jarai's movement call for one state or a binational state? Do you have a direct quote from Palestinian thinkers advocating a bi-national state?

  • The formal end of the two-state solution
  • Israeli hysteria over UN vote is solidifying country's new status, as a rogue state
    • Netanyahu's hysteria, including his instructions not to meet leaders of countries considered friendly - cancelling the state visit of the Ukrainian PM!- is being criticised here as "self -BDS".

  • Rallies in 25 cities say 'No to Islamophobia; No to Racism: Yes to Justice'
  • Breaking: UN Security Council passes historic resolution against settlements as two-state solution 'slips away'
    • The UN vote is proof that the entire international community has reiterated its commitment to two states. If you read the resolution, these are the main points: the settlements are illegal and are obstacles towards reaching a two state solution. And two states is really the only possible solution, the only game in town.
      In any case, anyone who thinks that one state is a solution, should not be too happy with the resolution.

    • I welcome the Security Council resolution, as should everyone who sincerely supports two states. Netanyahu's hysterical reaction is pretty much to declare war on the rest of the world.
      Too bad that President Obama's decision is too little, and way too late. He should have acted much more forcefully against the settlements, and not have waited until now.

  • Hell just froze over: the New York Times runs an article saying Zionism is racist
    • RoHa,
      I'm also interested in the question of what we are allowed to say. Does "free speech " include hate speech? racism? calls for violence and murder?
      As for here, on this blog, we have the (loosely enforced) comments policy, set by Phil and Adam.

    • As for discussing peace, I've recently received a communication from Gershon Baskin, who is apparently relaunching IPCRI :

    • talkback, amigo,
      The term " the settlements" has an accepted, conventional, meaning in the context of the conflict. Of course, you can invent your own terminology, and so could I (like defining New York and London and Dublin as settlements...), but then the discussion becomes meaningless.
      So, once again, in the conventional use of the term (including in the recent UN resolution) I don't live in a settlement. And I've been active in opposition to the occupation and the settlements , from the start.
      As to military service: I served honourably in the IDF, without ever committing any war crimes, even when I opposed the goverment's policies and actions. If the Vietnam War was unjustified, does that make every Vietnam vet a war criminal? I don't think so.
      Have you served in your country's armed forces?

    • amigo,
      If you think yonifalic is not an Anti-semite, and is trying to "save " Israel, you probably haven't been reading his comments.
      And your comment about my not "donning olive-greens' is a bit unfair, since I'm now past the age of military service. When I was of the right age, I did my service in the IDF.
      No, I'm not an illegal settler. I've been against the settlements from their inception. I've probably participated in more activities and campaigns against the settlements than any other MW commenter. Don't forget that I support the two state solution. the settlement issue is most significant for people with positions like mine.

    • Oh boy, Talkback is going to "expose" my game, using the
      I'm not a politician, thank God, so I have no reason at all to disguise my ideas. What I write is what I think.
      I think that there are nearly 200 or so states in the world, most of them nation-states . Why is it ok for all those nations, but not for the Jews to have a nation-state? And even if you say that the Jews are a religion and not a nationality -well , from Morocco to Indonesia, including the Middle East, Muslim-majority states proudly proclaim their Muslim identity, and plenty of countries have a significant Christian component in their identity. Among the nearly 200 states on this planet, there's room, and justification , for one (1!) small Jewish state, located in part of the Jewish historic homeland.

      Talkback, I see from your profile that you left the "Jewish cage". Does that mean that you're free from lighting Hanukkah candles and eating potato latkes this week?

    • talkback, amigo,

      Not a word of condemnation for Yonifalic,a despicable murderer of innocent Palestinians. Does he get a pass because he's at present a despicable Anti-Semite?

      I response to your deflections: Naftali Bennet is certainly no hero of mine. Way on the other end of the political spectrum. Incidentally, I heard him speak once, and came to the conclusion that the guy is an idiot.
      As to myself, I don't live or "squat" on someone elses property and have never commited a war crime.

    • Annie,
      Is there a difference between having Islam as the official religion and being an Islamic state?
      Seems pretty similar to me. Note also the reference to sharia law.

    • talkback,
      Yonifalic:" I participated by murdering unarmed Pali men, women, and children during Cast Lead ".
      Yonifalic is therefore a self-confessed war criminal and should be prosecuted.
      Any court of law can take into account his confession and expression of remorse, when it comes to sentencing, but that doesn't mean that he shouldn't be put on trial.

    • Annie,
      That's what the Palestinians themselves say:

      see article 4.

    • talkback,
      As you may know, I support the two states concept: Israel as a Jewish state and a democracy, with equal rights for all citizens, the Palestinian state as Islamic, or any other definition the Palestinians decide on.

    • catalan,
      I also often wonder why I come in for so much verbal abuse and ad hominem attacks here.
      When I respond to Yonifalic's hatefilled and outrageous comments- other commenters jump to his defense and attack me.
      Maybe it's easier for some people to believe all Israelis =evil; all Palestinians= righteous, and they can't deal with the concept of an Israeli Left, an Israeli peace movement. Actually, it seems to me that the term , "peace", is rarely discussed here.

    • YoniFalic wants to expel millions of people , based on ethnic identity and skin color. That's pure racism.
      I recall that he has also confessed to being a murderer of Palestinian civilians. He should turn himself in and stand trial for his crimes.
      As to his issues with his own family - where catalan tries to use empathy - that's for the shrinks. I, personally, don't care.

  • Historical evidence does not support Zionist claims re the Western Wall
    • MHughes, you're welcome.
      I don't know whether you've ever had the opportunity to visit the site and see the topography and the archaeological discoveries with your own eyes. If you haven't - I recommend that you do so. I would be happy to accompany you.

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