Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 14 (since 2014-06-17 14:24:03)

Roland Nikles

Roland Nikles is a Bay Area writer and attorney. He blogs here: And you can follow him on twitter @RolandNikles

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  • Eisner and Greenblatt refuse to see Israel's face in Richard Spencer's mirror
    • In writing this article I re-read UN Res. 181. The vision of 181 was for two ethnic majority states--Jewish and Arab--each democratic, and each guaranteeing citizenship for all and protection of minority rights. Israel's declaration of Independence followed that model. *That* was not Richard Spencer ethno-nationalism. The creation of that (UN 181-style) Jewish majority state, it seems to me, was legitimized by the justification that Gentiles have always victimized Jews around the world in the long run and their only practical insurance policy is the Jewish controlled state of Israel. Spencer style ethno-nationalism in Israel has come to the fore since Likud came to power, and it strikes me a Spencer style ethno-nationalist state as lived today is *not* so justified.

  • The US and Israel: 'An integrated political system'
    • Thank you for noticing the typo. This should be fixed. Regarding White nationalism, I'm thinking of Richard Spencer and what he stands for--that America should be a country for those of white northern European descent and culture. You a fan of Richard Spencer?

    • Thank you. Regarding Netanyahu's citizenship, he was born in Tel Aviv. I've not seen his naturalization papers, but see Phil Weiss's article from 2015.

  • American Jewish identity: Moving beyond 'love for Israel' and the Holocaust
    • @Keith See my response to Ritzl, above, and the Kwall book. I play Old-Time music. It's a tribe of sorts. A sense of tribe and belonging to a tradition is part of Judaism.... and contrary to what you imply, tribal cohesion in tradition, is not all negative. We have a lot of tradition as Americans (constitutional, baseball, apple pie...) Traditions enriches us. And we all partake of lots of overlapping traditions. You seem to harbor some hostility against Jewish traditions. Judaism is a rich and old tradition. How to best carry it forward in a secular world is challenging. Zionism is a particular challenge for this tradition I think, for those who care about it. Obviously, if it's not a tradition you care about, it's not your problem.

    • @Ritzl I think Mooser is right, it's "tradition." There's a cultural tradition, a ritual tradition, and a Halakhic (legal) tradition. An interesting and clear book about the legal tradition is Roberta Kwall's "The Myth of the Cultural Jew." I did a review of it "HERE."

      The orthodox have the legal tradition figured out, they can claim God as the sovereign power behind that tradition. For those of us who don't believe in God relating to some of the details of the tradition is more difficult. I get the sense Mooser thinks about that. It may be obvious to him how this works. It's not obvious to me.

  • An apologia for Ken Livingstone (What would Buber say?)
    • Hello YF. Thank you for reading and following up with this information. A couple of points in response to your comments on the supernatural and Talmud: 1) I find learning a bit about Talmud interesting to get a sense for what Talmud is, and what the rabbis who wrote the Talmud were thinking; it may contain some history and historical references, but surely one does not read Talmud in order to learn history as such. I think Talmud like history is a manmade tradition. Learning about Jewish presence and practices at Elephantine and other places is also interesting… although I’d say Talmud has had a greater influence on what Judaism has become today than whatever sacrifices may have happened at Elephantine, in Transjordan, or other places. I’ve not attended Yeshiva, Israeli secular schools, or Hebrew Day School, so I have no opinion on what is taught there. If you attended all those places and had a bad experience, I’m sorry about that. 2) I’m not sure of the relevance of your assertion that many Jews at the time of Jesus, or the Kitos war were probably converts. The question the essay suggests (for thinking about) is what did Judaism become after Talmud, what stories did it tell itself, and what impact does the creation of modern Israel have on those stories. I understand this is not of interest to everyone.

  • Cultural Zionism good, political Zionism bad
    • Thanks, Sibriak. Interesting articles. You might reread my post above. I think steps should be taken to strengthen Palestinian culture.

    • @ W. Jones and Mooser: Right. I'm not troubled by cultural conquest. It doesn't bother me that Hollywood movies have a 60%+ share of world market, and it doesn't bother me that 40 percent of Californians speak a language other than English at home. Palestinian culture and Hebrew culture obviously influence each other. I care not which culture has more influence. Contrary to Mooser (apparently) I do care about liberal democratic values, equal rights, equal representation, equitable distribution of the economic pie, equality of opportunity, separation of church and state. I see liberal democratic values as the only way towards justice in that land. If you think that is an imposition on Palestinians, or somehow unfair..... I don't get that. If you think equal rights, and equal opportunity, and equal protection, and equality before the law today are not "fair" to Palestinians because of past transgressions in the Nakba (is that what you are suggesting??) I think that is seriously misguided because it implies there really is no alternative to Thrasymachus rules. And you think that's going to work out well for the Palestinians?

    • @Mooser re asking Palestinians to become Zionists. Not me. I'm asking them to become post-Enlightenment liberal democrats... which is the same thing I'm suggesting to the Israelis. A strong Palestinian culture and a strong Hebrew culture with state structure(s) that don't play favorites between them and that don't discriminate to favor one over the other.

    • diaspOra: Neither. Read the Avishai article. The hope is for all the people who live between the river and the sea to move forward to form a just society.

    • Annie: What Jabotinsky is expressing is a strong Political Zionism in the terminology used in the article. It's what I believe everyone here agrees cannot be squared with a just society.

    • Mooser: "Buy in" here refers to shared values for a democratic society. But you knew that, yes?

    • Keith:

      Regarding your assertion that Israel’s economy is “centered around high tech militarism and the security apparatus….”: military spending is less than 6% of GDP. That’s a lot, but not so much more than the U.S. I think there’s more to the story than military spending and security apparatus.

      You suggest that Avishai’s observation that the early Zionists assumed the nature of the state would be naturally liberal is mythmaking. That may be, but it’s a myth the early Zionists bought into from Herzel "Alt Neuland" to the Declaration of Independence, which (as you know) said: “[The state] will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

      Dismissing Liberal Zionism as an oxymoron is too simplistic. Any stripe of Zionism can be more or less liberal. Liberal is better. Liberal may not be enough with political Zionism; a liberal cultural Zionism along a strong Palestinian culture? It’s a vision. You may call it fantasy. Ultimately it’s the vision of people living there that counts, Jews and Palestinians, not ours.

      I said I don’t believe anti-Semitism is an eternal law of nature, and suggested that even if it were it would not justify the occupation. I’m not following you in your Kool-Aid comment.

      You are not clear in your last paragraph. I agree with you that separating cultural Zionism from political Zionism would change Israeli society. I think that’s the point.

  • Congress needs to stand up for American people's interest over Netanyahu's
    • Thanks, Amar. Annie--would you please reverse "America's" and "Netanyahu's" in the last clause of this sentence. [Third para. after video] Much obliged.

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