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jon s

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

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  • On Charlottesville and Jewish memory
    • Herzl in his utopian novel Altneuland envisions a state which is liberal and secular. From the plot:
      Löwenberg and Kingscourt spend the following twenty years on the island, cut off from civilization. As they stop over in Palestine on their way back to Europe in 1923, they are astonished to discover a land drastically transformed. A Jewish state officially named the "New Society" has since risen as European Jews have rediscovered and re-inhabited their Altneuland, reclaiming their own destiny in the Land of Israel. The country, whose leaders include some old acquaintances from Vienna, is now prosperous and well-populated, boasts a thriving cooperative industry based on state-of-the-art technology, and is home to a free, just, and cosmopolitan modernsociety. Arabs have full equal rights with Jews, with an Arab engineer among the New Society's leaders, and most merchants in the country are Armenians, Greeks, and members of other ethnic groups. The duo arrives at the time of a general election campaign, during which a fanatical rabbi establishes a political platform arguing that the country belongs exclusively to Jews and demands non-Jewish citizens be stripped of their voting rights, but is ultimately defeated.

      Ben Gurion:
      WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.(from the Declaration of Independence. BG wrote the final draft)

      We do not wish, we do not need to expel the Arabs and take their place. All our aspirations are built upon the assumption — proven throughout all our activity in the Land — that there is enough room in the country for ourselves and the Arabs.(from a letter to his son Amos, 1937)

      In our state there will be non-Jews as well — and all of them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception; that is: the state will be their state as well. ...The attitude of the Jewish State to its Arab citizens will be an important factor—though not the only one—in building good neighbourly relations with the Arab States. If the Arab citizen will feel at home in our state, and if his status will not be the least different from that of the Jew, and perhaps better than the status of the Arab in an Arab state, and if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social, and cultural level of the Jewish community, then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge to a Semitic, Jewish-Arab alliance, will be built... (Ba-Ma'Araha Vol IV, Part 2, pp. 260, 265, quoted in Fabricating Israeli History, Efraim Karsh, p.67)

      Jabotinsky :
      https://en.idi.org.il/media/5103/jabotinsky-idi-2013.pdf

  • 'Transferring' Palestinian citizens of Israel to a Palestinian state goes from outrage to Netanyahu policy
    • Herzl's utopian novel Altneuland describes a society in which Jews and non-Jews enjoy equal rights. From a summary of the plot:

      Löwenberg and Kingscourt spend the following twenty years on the island, cut off from civilization. As they stop over in Palestine on their way back to Europe in 1923, they are astonished to discover a land drastically transformed. A Jewish state officially named the "New Society" has since risen as European Jews have rediscovered and re-inhabited their Altneuland, reclaiming their own destiny in the Land of Israel. The country, whose leaders include some old acquaintances from Vienna, is now prosperous and well-populated, boasts a thriving cooperative industry based on state-of-the-art technology, and is home to a free, just, and cosmopolitan modern society. Arabs have full equal rights with Jews, with an Arab engineer among the New Society's leaders, and most merchants in the country are Armenians, Greeks, and members of other ethnic groups. The duo arrives at the time of a general election campaign, during which a fanatical rabbi establishes a political platform arguing that the country belongs exclusively to Jews and demands non-Jewish citizens be stripped of their voting rights, but is ultimately defeated.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_New_Land

    • An excerpt from an essay by Efraim Karsh (criticizing Benny Morris):

      Consider, for example, Morris's charge that Herzl wished to dispossess Palestinian Arabs because of his fear that the Jewish state would lack viability if it were to contain a large Arab minority. Morris bases this assertion only upon a truncated paragraph from Herzl's June 12, 1895 diary entry, which had already been a feature of Palestinian propaganda for decades.[16] But this entry was not enough to support such a claim. Below is the complete text, with the passages omitted by Morris in italics:

      When we occupy the land, we shall bring immediate benefits to the state that receives us. We must expropriate gently the private property on the estates assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly … It goes without saying that we shall respectfully tolerate persons of other faiths and protect their property, their honor, and their freedom with the harshest means of coercion. This is another area in which we shall set the entire world a wonderful example … Should there be many such immovable owners in individual areas [who would not sell their property to us], we shall simply leave them there and develop our commerce in the direction of other areas which belong to us.[17]

      By omitting the opening sentence, Morris hides the fact that Herzl viewed Jewish settlement as beneficial to the indigenous population and that he did not conceive of the new Jewish entity as comprising this country in its entirety. This is further underscored by Herzl's confinement of the envisaged expropriation of private property to "the estates assigned to us"—another fact omitted by Morris. Any discussion of relocation was clearly limited to the specific lands assigned to the Jews, rather than to the entire territory. Had Herzl envisaged the mass expulsion of population, as claimed by Morris, there would have been no need to discuss its position in the Jewish entity. Morris further ignored context. There was no trace of a belief in transfer in either Herzl's famous political treatise, The Jewish State (1896), or his 1902 Zionist novel, Altneuland (Old-New Land).[18] Nor for this matter is there any allusion to "transfer" in Herzl's public writings, his private correspondence, his speeches, or his political and diplomatic discussions. Morris simply discards the canon of Herzl's life work in favor of a single, isolated quote.

      Most importantly, Herzl's diary entry makes no mention of either Arabs or Palestine, and for good reason. A careful reading of Herzl's diary entries for June 1895 reveals that, at the time, he did not consider Palestine to be the future site of Jewish resettlement but rather South America.[19] "I am assuming that we shall go to Argentina," Herzl recorded in his diary on June 13. In his view, South America "would have a lot in its favor on account of its distance from militarized and seedy Europe … If we are in South America, the establishment of our State will not come to Europe's notice for a considerable period of time."[20] Indeed, Herzl's diary entries during the same month illustrate that he conceived all political and diplomatic activities for the creation of the future Jewish state, including the question of the land and its settlement, in the Latin American context. "Should we go to South America," Herzl wrote on June 9, "our first state treaties will have to be with South American republics. We shall grant them loans in return for territorial privileges and guarantees." Four days later he wrote, "Through us and with us, an unprecedented commercial prosperity will come to South America."[21]

      In short, Morris based his arguments on a red herring. He not only parsed a quote to distort its original meaning, but he ignored the context, which had nothing to do with Palestine or Arabs.

      http://www.meforum.org/711/benny-morriss-reign-of-error-revisited#_ftnref19

  • Passover has become little more than an act of communal hypocrisy
    • 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".

  • Trump aide blows off Zionist gala, and Dershowitz warns that politicizing Israel means 'we could lose'
    • JWalters,
      The quote from Herzl is totally out of context. Efraim Karsh discussed it here:
      http://www.meforum.org/711/benny-morriss-reign-of-error-revisited

      This is the relevant part:

      "Consider, for example, Morris's charge that Herzl wished to dispossess Palestinian Arabs because of his fear that the Jewish state would lack viability if it were to contain a large Arab minority. Morris bases this assertion only upon a truncated paragraph from Herzl's June 12, 1895 diary entry, which had already been a feature of Palestinian propaganda for decades.[16] But this entry was not enough to support such a claim. Below is the complete text, with the passages omitted by Morris in italics:

      When we occupy the land, we shall bring immediate benefits to the state that receives us. We must expropriate gently the private property on the estates assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly … It goes without saying that we shall respectfully tolerate persons of other faiths and protect their property, their honor, and their freedom with the harshest means of coercion. This is another area in which we shall set the entire world a wonderful example … Should there be many such immovable owners in individual areas [who would not sell their property to us], we shall simply leave them there and develop our commerce in the direction of other areas which belong to us.[17]

      By omitting the opening sentence, Morris hides the fact that Herzl viewed Jewish settlement as beneficial to the indigenous population and that he did not conceive of the new Jewish entity as comprising this country in its entirety. This is further underscored by Herzl's confinement of the envisaged expropriation of private property to "the estates assigned to us"—another fact omitted by Morris. Any discussion of relocation was clearly limited to the specific lands assigned to the Jews, rather than to the entire territory. Had Herzl envisaged the mass expulsion of population, as claimed by Morris, there would have been no need to discuss its position in the Jewish entity. Morris further ignored context. There was no trace of a belief in transfer in either Herzl's famous political treatise, The Jewish State (1896), or his 1902 Zionist novel, Altneuland (Old-New Land).[18] Nor for this matter is there any allusion to "transfer" in Herzl's public writings, his private correspondence, his speeches, or his political and diplomatic discussions. Morris simply discards the canon of Herzl's life work in favor of a single, isolated quote.

      Most importantly, Herzl's diary entry makes no mention of either Arabs or Palestine, and for good reason. A careful reading of Herzl's diary entries for June 1895 reveals that, at the time, he did not consider Palestine to be the future site of Jewish resettlement but rather South America.[19] "I am assuming that we shall go to Argentina," Herzl recorded in his diary on June 13. In his view, South America "would have a lot in its favor on account of its distance from militarized and seedy Europe … If we are in South America, the establishment of our State will not come to Europe's notice for a considerable period of time."[20] Indeed, Herzl's diary entries during the same month illustrate that he conceived all political and diplomatic activities for the creation of the future Jewish state, including the question of the land and its settlement, in the Latin American context. "Should we go to South America," Herzl wrote on June 9, "our first state treaties will have to be with South American republics. We shall grant them loans in return for territorial privileges and guarantees." Four days later he wrote, "Through us and with us, an unprecedented commercial prosperity will come to South America."[21]

      In short, Morris based his arguments on a red herring. He not only parsed a quote to distort its original meaning, but he ignored the context, which had nothing to do with Palestine or Arabs."

  • Celebrating Eid al-Adha in Gaza
    • Bryan,
      For the most part I don't read the Bible for historical accuracy. I read it –and other Jewish texts – for the great stories, for the fantastic cast of characters, for the human insights, for the moral dilemmas, for the quality of the prose and the poetry.

      For example, the story of the Exodus from Egypt, for which there's no real historical or archaeological evidence. Yet it's a great story, a nation of slaves emerging from bondage to freedom, an inspiration for oppressed people for centuries. That's why so many Jews, including non-orthodox, conduct Passover seders and retell the story every year.
      Millions of Jews regard themselves as part of the Jewish people and seek to preserve our unique identity. So that's another reason for maintaining certain traditions and rituals such as kosher food or Bible and Talmud study or the Passover seder and much more . In many cases it's a matter of belonging more than believing. All this is done voluntarily , and , speaking for myself, it's usually enjoyable. Nobody is "kidnapped".
      You assert that there's no "Christian people " or "Muslim people". Think of this: you can't be a "Christian atheist ' or a "Muslim atheist". There are no such terms or categories. On the other hand , there are Jewish atheists, plenty of them. That's because Christianity and Islam are religions and Judaism is not only a religion.
      I also object to using the Bible or other texts to justify present-day brutality and injustice. I prefer to make use of the passages that talk about peace and social justice and equality.

  • Fasting for Palestine
    • Bryan,
      The dietary laws were one of the ways to keep the Jews separate and -this is crucial- thus ensure the survival of the Jewish people as a distinct identity.
      Today, too, people want to feel that they belong to something larger than themselves. For that feeling, that sense of identity, people are willing to give up "world cuisines".

  • CT bus ads feature longstanding plan to 'abolish partition'
    • Amigo, No, I was not "shot down" last time, and I stand by my critique of the misleading maps.
      "State land" is land owned by the government, and there were different categories. For a detailed explanation :
      http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/Land_question_in_Palestine.htm
      Scroll down to "who owned the land?"

      Did the land belong to the Palestinians? some was privately owned, some by the government. The maps ignored Jordanian and Egyptian rule.

  • Gaza’s al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades prepares for next Israeli war
    • RoHa,
      Regarding "my people": Most people (maybe you're the exception...) tend to identify themselves as part of a group- a tribe , nation, ethnic group, religion, class, political party, fan club, etc.- and it's perfectly natural to be proud of the group you belong to. Of course you can belong to multiple groups, so, in answer to your question ,all the groups you mention can be considered "my people" in some way.
      I don't know why you find the matter "incoherent". Don't you belong to a nation, ethnic group, religion, or any kind of collective?
      If you've read my comments, you should know that I've never denied the Palestinian's right to live in their homeland, which is also my homeland.
      That's the situation in a nutshell: two peoples, sharing the same homeland. And, in my opinion the only possible solution is partition, and two states.

  • 'This land is ours. All of it is ours': Meet the Netanyahu cabinet members focused on fighting BDS & annexing the West Bank
    • Ms. Hotovely and extremists like her love to use that quote from Rashi:

      “Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of the world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us.”

      The late Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz pointed out years ago that the emphasis is on God's will: "when he wanted to". And so when He wanted to He gave (the land) to us and then when He wanted to gave it to the Romans and then to the Arabs and then to the Crusaders and then to the Mamelukes... and so on...The religious right-wingers deliberately choose to misunderstand Rashi. The real meaning is that God can give us the land , and can also take it away.

  • Non-Jewish Israelis remain faceless, nameless, voiceless in 'New York Times' coverage
    • Marnie,
      Your comment belongs in the damned-if-we-do-damned -if -we-don't department.
      If we would NOT join so many other countries in sending aid to Nepal you would be saying "the whole world sends aid to a country hit by a natural disaster; Zionists don't care".
      If we do send aid -it's a "PR prop".

  • Why I hope Netanyahu will be crushed tonight
    • Ellen ,
      I don't know which planet you live on, but in this world we do belong to communities ("tribes", if you like...), usually multiple communities simultaneously. For example , my cousin in Boston is an American, and a Jew , and a Bostonian, and a Democrat, and a Red Sox fan, and a music -lover...and more.
      It's quite natural to care about the various communities one belongs to and identifies with. It seemed to me that Phil expressed a lack of concern for a community to which he belongs.

  • Chomsky supports portions of BDS agenda, but faults others, citing realism and int'l consensus
    • Chomsky spent some time on a kibbutz belonging to the Hashomer Hatzair movement in the early 1950s, not the 60s.
      Hashomer Hatzair was a movement that, prior to 1948, subscribed to the "bi-national state " idea.

  • Video: Checkpoint by Jasiri X
    • On the website Mr. Sheppard describes his trip from the airport to Jerusalem:
      "Riding from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the first thing I noticed, besides the breathtaking Palestinian landscape with its palm trees, olive trees and immense hills and valleys, were walls and barbwire. There were literally hundreds of miles of concrete walls and barbwire–not the kind one sees on a Los Angeles off-ramp, but those belonging to a prison".
      After that, how can he be taken seriously? Literally hundreds of miles... "literally". Seeing that the distance from TA to Jerusalem is about 80 km. and from the airport to Jerusalem less than 60 km. A hallucination?

  • 'It's hard to see why Israel won't follow white South Africa's road to extinction,' says 'Forward' writer
    • MHughes976, You definition of Zionism:
      "To my mind Zionism is the claim that there are certain rights belonging solely to people who are Jewish and so that no one who is not Jewish is equal in that regard. "
      Zionism made no such claim. On the contrary, Zionism can be seen as a movement intent on putting the Jewish people on an equal footing with other nations. Not supremacy, but equality.

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