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Total number of comments: 43 (since 2010-05-16 14:25:53)

Matthew Taylor

Matthew A. Taylor is co-founder of PeacePower magazine, and author of "The Road to Nonviolent Coexistence in Palestine/Israel," a chapter in the book Nonviolent Coexistence.


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  • Liberal Israeli leaders were contemplating genocide in Gaza already in 1967
    • "We must expel the Arabs and take their places," future first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion famously wrote in 1937 in a letter to his son, a decade before he planned, organized, and led the 1947-1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Let's not forget this important part of the lineage.

  • Cartoon of Dershowitz mingled appropriate satire and anti-Semitic imagery
  • Calling Herzog and liberal Zionism ‘racist,’ Gideon Levy instigates a reckoning
    • HI Bornajoo -- Although I understand the reasons for your comments, I caution against descending from an honest critique of an ideology -- and specific adherents of the ideology -- into broad generalizations about people.
      You wrote, "Levy ripped this fool to shreds and exposes just how delusional and racist (and scary) they all really are."
      In my experience, comments about "they," especially "they all," are unhelpful at the least, and can be heard as attacks on a group of people and a form of prejudice. Our goal should not be to attack Zionists as a group, but instead to point out the moral flaws in the ideology of Zionism while simultaneously showing a new, just path forward, and a way to gracefully let go of anachronistic forms of Zionism and instead embrace equality. It is fine to assert that a public figure like Herzog is a racist when he makes clearly racist statements; it's a hard truth, and it's backed up by facts and his statements in writing. But, "all ____ are delusional and racist"? Not kosher, in my book, and not welcome as a comment under this article.

  • Now that Israel has killed the two-state solution, will liberal Zionists support equality or ethnocracy?
    • Hey Larry, thanks for jumping into this and I appreciate your argument. I think the only way the dead 2SS could be resurrected as a legitimate option is, if (ironically enough), there is enormous pressure for one person, one vote, equal rights. When forced to choose between that and resurrecting the 2SS/partition, I think then Israel's extreme right, in a last gasp to protect a part of the 60+ years of land conquest, could suddenly become serious about partition. However, I think advocacy of a 2SS is self-defeating for those who genuinely favor it because it plays into the Israeli regime's talking points.

  • In historic interviews, US officials blame end of talks on Israeli land theft
  • BBC lampoons view that criticizing settlements is 'anti-Semitic, mate'
  • Israel apologists attempted to discredit Mandela with false Israel apartheid quote
    • Hostage, when you say "It’s very possible that Arafat was simply repeating and approving exactly what Mandela had said the day before," this is just speculation. If you can find a legitimate, reliable source that Mandela ever used the word 'apartheid' to describe Israel -- or, that the "same trench... apartheid" quote was ever uttered by Mandela -- please share it! However, I think it's important that we be thorough in our research when we quote anyone, especially a leader of Mandela's caliber, and at this point I can't find a single reliable source showing Mandela ever said 'apartheid' to describe Israel. Mandela's comments about 'colonialism' and so forth are more than enough to make the point, no need for anyone to embellish his already righteous and accurate remarks.

    • Annie, I'm sorry if my story makes you feel uncomfortable. If you can find facts that contradict any of what I've presented, please share them.

      Yes, I paid to access the behind-firewall Newsday reports I mentioned from February/March 1990.

      Here is a precise quote from "African Summit Rallies to Mandela" by Les Payne (Newsday, March 1, 1990):

      Most of the discussions held to regional concerns African states are facing in a rapidly changing world. However, one diversion arose Tuesday when, during a news conference, Mandela was asked if he was "frightened" that his statement comparing his fight with that of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat would "alienate the powerful Jewish community in South Africa."

      "If the truth alienates the Jewish community in South Africa, too bad," Mandela said. "I sincerely believe that there are many similarities between our situation and that of the PLO."

      He also said, "We live under a unique form of colonialism in South Africa, as well as in Israel and a lot flows from that fact."

      Asked about Mandela's remark, Arafat said, "We are in the same trench, struggling against the same enemies, against apartheid, racism, colonialism and neocolonialism."

      So far as I know, this is the first place that the "same trench...apartheid" quote appeared, and this indicates that it was Arafat's quote, not Mandela's.

    • Hostage - While Muravchik's Commentary piece does indeed reference remarks Mandela made on television, Muravchik does *not* specifically say that the "same trench...apartheid" quote was made on television. In fact, Muravchik offers NO reference of any kind for that quote. I stand by my analysis I gave in the above article.

  • Obama's Mandela eulogy -- moving, and hypocritical
    • NickJOCW, all good. Whether or not Obama wrote the words, he spoke them, and thus he's accountable for them. Interesting that you knew Ben Gurion, did he ever comment to you about his desire to expel the Arabs, plan Dalet, or anything else related to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine?

    • Tom, I too am extremely grateful for how President Obama is handling the Iran situation. Thus far, he's been quite politically astute, managing to thread the needle of striking a workable deal (so far) with Iran and sidelining Netanyahu's demands for a military strike. However, this does not excuse him backing down (for example) on opposing Israeli settlements, as he has done since the days of the Cairo speech. Put another way, one right does not right another wrong. If Obama's plan is to first complete a final diplomatic deal with Iran (to remove that from the global agenda, if not Israel's) and THEN focus on pressuring Israel as he appeared ready to do early in his term, then he'll be a more ingenious politician than I've given him credit for. However, I'm not holding my breath; I think in the wake of the Israel Lobby's full court press he's given up on taking any kind of righteous stance against Israel's colonial occupation/apartheid, if he ever intended to.

    • Annie - Yup, found that too, thanks! I'm doing some news archiving digging and will have more to report soon.

    • Hi Hostage, have you found/seen any corroborating sources? I paid and downloaded the article in Commentary, and the author fails to cite where he got that quote. Doesn't mean it's not true -- why would he fabricate such a quote, and it certainly is believable -- however, would be nice to get a second reference.

    • Dear Hostage,
      In researching this piece I looked around on the internet for a reliable resource indicating Mandela had specifically used the word "apartheid" to describe Israel policies, and was unable to find one, so instead I just quoted his remarks about injustice and human rights violations. Thank you so much for this link to Commentary piece. Unfortunately it's behind a firewall! I wish this important document was available freely to all.
      With gratitude,

  • Paul Ryan describes Israel as issue of 'Homeland Security'
    • "Real peace will require Palestinians to recognize that Israel has a right to exist, even as it will require two states for the two peoples. Introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on May 13, 2011, H. Res. 268 reaffirms the United States’ commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct negotiations."

      In this context, I'm pretty sure "two states for two peoples" = Israel and Jordan. The Revisionists say that "Jordan is Palestine."

  • Romney visits Western Wall, ignores question, Does Israel have a right to annex West Bank
  • By nearly 9-to-1, Americans believe our support for Israel could lead to terrorist attacks
    • "Could lead to terrorist attacks" is one thing, but what about recent history? Bin Laden repeatedly said U.S. support for Israeli oppression of Palestinians was his primary motivation for orchestrating the September 11, 2001 attacks. What percentage of Americans know this? What percentage of Americans know anything about the blowback U.S. support for Israeli apartheid has already caused? What would happen if all the data/tapes/files that the U.S. took possession of from Bin Laden's compound were to be released to the public?

  • The future of Zionism
    • Okay, I think I get it now: "you" being Ethan Bronner. Spiking the football a bit are we, Phil?

    • Phil, my apologies for possibly being thick, but what's your point? I don't really get what you're trying to say here.

      Glad to see Ethan Bronner covering an issue where his Zionist bias does not distort his reporting. If only the Times assigned unbiased reports to Israel/Palestine we'd be getting somewhere. Jodi Rudoren doesn't qualify as unbiased; her cultural background means there's a built-in bias. Why doesn't the Times send atheist Korean reporters with no cultural, religious, or ethnic ties to cover Israel/Palestine?

  • Circumcision deaths are a legalized non-scandal
    • Hophmi - It would be oppression if we banned consenting adults from choosing to be circumcised.

      However, it is oppression when children are circumcised, because children cannot consent. I and other men object to our circumcisions.

      We were oppressed by a knife, amputation, unnecessary surgery. Do our opinions and rights matter to you?

      Or is the only person who matters the one who holds the knife and performs the amputation?

    • Hophmi-
      Wow, you said it all:

      I’ve been to a bris as well. No one thought it was terrible.

      Watch the video of the bris circumcision that's linked to in the post above, and tell me: what does the baby think?
      Oh, wait: for you, the baby is no one.
      What about the men in this thread who have said we object to our circumcisions -- are we also no ones?

    • Phil -- Thank you as well. I appreciate you seeing the ambition.
      You say you are more conventional intellectually. Within the Jewish world, on Israel/Palestine, you are relatively unconventional to the point of being radical, and your intellectual barbs are fired by moral outrage and a passionate stand for equality.
      I'm asking you and others like you to come over to my side of the pool on a similar issue. Come on in man, the water's fine over here were there's equality between baby boys and baby girls.
      I want you to critically think about this: what would you say if someone strapped down a newborn girl and sliced off part of her genitalia? Would you be outraged? Would you say this is worthy of legal accountability? Well the law agrees with that response, it's illegal.
      So what do you think about the fact that ONLY a part of a baby boy's genitals may be legally amputated without his consent but a girl's may not be? Doesn't equality apply?
      Here's another way to look at it. When the social justice protests happened in Israel last year, didn't you (as I did) find it kind of ridiculous that there was this widespread outrage about apartment rental prices, which was primarily a concern of Israeli Jews, but nothing, to my recollection, about house demolitions, which primarily affects Palestinians and Bedouins?
      So reading you criticize the ultra-Orthodox sex abuse scandal is similar for me, how can someone get indignant about the one thing when there's this other thing going on that's at least as harmful and probably more harmful in broad daylight? And at least there are laws against the first form of abuse but it's perfectly legal to do the other form of abuse?
      For me circumcision is an emperor wears no clothes campaign, not meaning those who circumcise are emperors, but meaning it's something many people are unable/unwilling to see and criticize whereas a vocal and growing minority is speaking up and trying to change it and the majority is resistant to that voice and experiencing cognitive dissonance. (Really? The emperor wears no clothes? Screw you, you must be anti-emperor/self-hating!)

      The cognitive dissonance of the majority, I believe, is tied up in all sorts of identity issues, and confronting unacknowledged personal injury is unsettling, disturbing, and hard for most.

    • eejay -- what precisely is antisemitic about daylighting and criticizing a ritualized practice that results in the death of infants?

    • Phil,

      I understand entirely. I get that taking on Israel/Palestine is a huge task, and circumcision may be just too much for the basket to carry.

      My one tweak for you to keep in mind going forward, and where you might hear from me in the future, is if you start criticizing certain forms of sexual abuse of children within the Jewish community as you did previously, it's hard for me to hear that without *also* daylighting circ. I'd been meaning to write this piece since May when I saw your posts about the ultra-Orthodox sex abuse scandal.

      So, if you want your site's mandate to include criticism of sexual abuse of children within the Jewish world, then I believe this has to be part of it. Only talking about one form of child abuse and not another is a way of perpetuating the myth that abuse A is not okay but abuse B is okay/not to be questioned/morally righteous.

      Just food for thought for you.

      Maybe this won't be relevant again, but, I wanted you to know my position.

      Thanks for the generous words re: prophetic.

      Let's get back to rebuilding Jerusalem.

    • MJ - I'd like to respond to your criticisms....

      You rightly bring up the concern that those of us who make the case for peace and justice in the Middle East are frequently smeared as being anti-Semitic. I know it's happened to both of us many times over.

      So why do you do the same to me? In your previous comment, you said:

      The anti-circumcision movement is ugly, and suffused with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

      This clearly implies that my post is anti-Semitic. Can you point to anything specific in my post as being anti-Semitic?

      As you make clear in your comment above, being inappropriately smeared as anti-Semitic sucks.

      I previously addressed your concern (and others' concerns) that this post is off-topic. See this comment I wrote:

      To my understanding, Phil's mandate for this site is that it broadly engages with issues of concern to the American Jewish community, not only Israel/Palestine, for the purpose of bettering the community. If you have a bone to pick with that mandate, you should address it to Phil and Adam. However, my article fulfills Phil's mandate by criticizing a harmful practice for the sake of making our community better.

      Your most revealing comment:

      Right or wrong, the perception of anti-Semitism is created and to what end: to rail against a practice that is infinitely less dangerous than riding a bicycle.

      How can you possibly make a statement like that in the face of the evidence?

      When I ride a bicycle, part of my body is not amputated against my will and without my consent.

      Have you watched the video that's linked to in this article? Does it look like the infant baby is riding a bicycle?

      Are the deaths of infants irrelevant to you?

      Should not baby boys receive the same legal protections that baby girls enjoy in the United States?

    • ColinWright-
      You say the practice is 'weird and mildly disgusting.' Do you really find the death of baby boys as a result of these practices only weird and mildly disgusting? How do you feel about other forms of child abuse that result in the death of children?
      Currently, it is illegalto do any of the things described in this post to infant females, while it is legal to do these things to a male. You say the government should keep it snout out. Does that mean you think all forms of child abuse should be legalized? Do you think it should be legal to amputate part of a newborn female's genitalia and then use oral-genital contact to suck the blood out of the wound? Or do you think the status quo should remain: illegal to be done to females, and legal to be done to males? Why in your mind are male babies deserving of this kind of activity whereas females are not? Are females better than males? Does equality not apply when it comes to amputating male genitalia and then exposing them to death?
      What exactly would have to be done to a newborn baby for the act to rise to the level of "utter and complete outrage," if exposing the baby unnecessarily to death does not qualify?

    • To tokyobk, and others who question why I posted this piece:

      Co-editor Philip Weiss opened the door to critical commentary about the American Jewish community broadly, on topics other than just Israel/Palestine. For example, please see his post about the ultra-Orthodox sex scandal:

      Phil wrote:

      It struck me that night that because of the Catholic church scandal and its sequels, our society is experiencing an awakening. We are uncovering important new terrain of man's inhumanity to man. The truth is that sexual abuse has gone on everywhere, in countless institutions where children and power intersect. The discovery of these horrors is now widespread and imperative, and it will make society better. That is why I jumped on the Ultra Orthodox story yesterday.

      Couldn't have said it better. Discovering the horrors of circumcision, and outlawing this shameful and destructive practice, will benefit society.

      Why I'm focusing on the Jewish angle:
      As a Jew, I feel responsible to challenge Jewish practices that are harmful. As I wrote in the article - and as the Canadian Children Right's Council has stated - circumcision of non-consenting minors is wrong no matter what religious or cultural context. If I was a Muslim, I would be posting this article to a Muslim-originated blog, and I would link it to a video of a Muslim circumcision. But since I am a Jew, I am posting it here, on a site that criticizes aspects of the American Jewish community for the sake of bettering it!

      To all commenters
      As of 2:11AM PST on June 25th, not one of the seven comments thus far has expressed a drop of shock, moral outrage, or indignation at the practice of exposing infant males to death, as documented in my post. Again, the question: why is this obvious scandal such a non-scandal, not only in the American Jewish community and the mainstream media, but for readers of this blog? Are the lives of male babies truly that worthless? Why are the practices cited in this article legalized when performed on male infants, whereas these practices are illegal when performed on female infants? Shouldn't that change, so that both males and females are protected by the law?

  • Beinart's spiritual errors
  • 'NYT' exposes pattern of Ultra Orthodox community covering up sexual abuse, punishing accusers
    • Thank you Citizen for your several comments about circumcision. I appreciate knowing I'm not the only one on this thread who feels outrage about this.

    • Fredblogs,

      See the Doctors Opposing Circumcision website at -- they say that there is no clear evidence that circumcision prevents STDs, and in fact, there is evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, see the Canadian Children's Rights Council -- -- they say that circumcision of both males and females is an "assault" that should be outlawed.

      For sake of discussion, if cutting off part of a baby girl's genitals were *conclusively proven* to lower the risk of STDS, would we do it in this country? Heck no! Feminists would be up in arms about such an atrocity, and rightly demand that grown women be able to make such a choice for themselves. Why don't we protect baby boys too?

      It's in fact illegal to circumcise a newborn girl. Why should it be legal to circumcise a newborn boy (whose choice is taken away), when it's illegal to do the same to a girl? Don't boys deserve equal rights? Don't men of the age of consent deserve the right to make this choice for themselves?

      Condoms and responsible sexual choices prevent STDs, not cutting off body parts!

      My point is: circumcision is child abuse; it's in fact a form, arguably, of sexual child abuse; and why is there no outrage here on this discussion thread about this form of abuse? It's disgusting that this practice goes on in broad daylight and so few are speaking out against it. Yes, religious-shieled sexually molestation of children deserves condemnation, but so does cutting off body parts!

      A half century from now, most of humanity will see infant circumcision for what it is: barbaric, abusive genital mutilation, that must be stopped.

    • Sexual molestation of children is horrific. But cutting off parts of their genitals at birth *is* okay? We should be at least as outraged about the latter as the former. Genital mutilation is taking place in broad daylight in Jewish congregations, and in mainstream secular American medical settings. Where's the outrage, the accountability, the demand for justice? Why do parents and Rabbis think they have the "right" to take away this choice from infants who can't speak for themselves; infants who, if they were left intact, would be highly unlikely to get circumcised as adults? The overwhelming majority of intact men I know say circumcision is madness and they are very glad it wasn't done to them, as they enjoy having intact genitals and the natural sexual pleasure provided by the foreskin. It bothers me to see all this outrage over Rabbincal molesters but no outrage about forced genital cutting of infants!

  • Beinart's Blindspot: Israel has always been a non-democratic apartheid state
    • Kathleen, yes brave. The territory Beinart staked out was far to the left of the American Jewish Establishment. Good on him for pushing the envelope. I believe that Phil said Beinart's book won't ultimately make a difference and I agree. But even though his book is a decade and a half late (it might have made a difference during Netanyahu's first term) it's still brave. He knowingly exposed himself to a mountain of vitriol, and he got it.

  • 'Struggle is now for equal rights for everyone in Greater Israel' --Gideon Levy
  • With 'last ink,' Gunter Grass breaks silence on Israeli nuclear program threatening world peace
  • 'The Crisis of Zionism' and the contradictions of Israel as a liberal democratic fantasy
    • Austin -- you hit it out of the park. Thanks mucho! I was planning to write a similar riposte, and I am grateful that now I don't have to do so. Although, I have other parallel criticisms of Beinart's book to offer, maybe I'll chime in with those soon.

  • My spirit is American (a religious manifesto)
  • For Hanukkah this year, our chefs prepare a special dish: their own words
  • How to avoid war with Iran
    • kalithea - if your blanket condemnation of all zionism is true, than what do you make of Martin Buber and Judah Magnes? I think the problem is not *all zionism,* but rather, *forms of zionism* based on conquest, ethnic cleansing, racism, and colonization... we could sum all that up and call it *militarized zionism*. yes, the majority of zionism in some way or other is based on this - even much of "liberal zionism." however, i think the exceptions of Buber and Magnes are an important part of the historical legacy and should be remembered as a redeeming path forward.
      self identified zionists need not abandon their zionism, however, they should redefine their zionism it into an equality-embracing zionism based on the Buberian model. That would create real opportunities for Israeli-Palestinian equality. Go to Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, and tell me, do you believe that the "Zionists" who live there are part of the problem? I believe they are in fact part of the solution.

    • Lysias - irrelevant to the point of my story. Read Kinzer's book. The United States, as a sovereign state and as a nation, owes a huge debt of apology and reparations to the Iranian people (along with many other peoples around the world, including the Palestinians, who our foreign policy has oppressed).

    • thanx American. great contributions to this discussion! the historical context re: diplomacy is crucial.

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