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Total number of comments: 7437 (since 2009-08-04 05:43:29)


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  • Shaking the campus from the US to Palestine
    • Annie,

      I wouldn't necessarily take the word "colonisation" in its modern sense. It was used at the time, for the agricultural settlement of impoverished Eastern European Jews in Palestine, South America and even Europe (e.g. in Crimea) -- not always characterised by the types of relationships with the indigenous population we would associate with colonialism.

      A certain kind of settlement in Palestine (and elsewhere) was also supported by those who opposed Herzlian Zionism and Jewish nationalism in general, such as the Protestrabbiner and other religious leaders (see e.g. the Orthodox anti-Zionist anthology Or layeshorim).

      Part of our confusion stems from the fact that Zionist historiography has "Zionised" each and every attempt by Jews to settle in the Holy Land, from Judah Halevi (12th century) to the students of the Gaon of Vilna (early 19th century), to the philanthrophy of Moses Montefiore.

      Modern definitions of settler colonialism would certainly apply to some of the 19th century Jewish settlements in Palestine (as described e.g. by Ahad Ha'am, following his visit to Palestine in 1881), if not in original intention, then in the attitudes and behaviour they eventually adopted. As the nationalist, "self-emancipatory" approach came to dominate such settlement and immigration, a settler-colonialist project clearly emerged -- due to its nature, rather than the use of words such as "colonies" and "colonisation".

  • Israeli president's diagnosis -- 'Israel is a sick society' -- doesn't go viral in the U.S.
    • The article presents the motivation as purely materialistic: to escape the high cost of living in Israel and benefit from the low costs of Berlin. But Max Blumenthal’s Goliath says that many Israelis who go are seeking to escape the sick Israeli society.

      I think the two are connected -- especially since such emigrants must contend with numerous ideological taboos and barriers (both internal and external), just to do what's "normal": seek a better life for yourself and your family.

      "Normality" was the promise Zionism originally held out, but these mostly second and third generation Israelis have rejected the collective psychoses and sense of guilt imposed by the ideology in which they were raised. They just want to be "normal". Perhaps challenging the biggest psychosis/taboo of all -- moving to "the former Nazi capital" -- is the surest way to recovery.

  • The rabbi's fridge
    • Forgive mistakes, edit function, blah blah blah.

    • On the blue and white card in the centre that says "Tel Aviv" in Hebrew* is another card, also in Hebrew, advertising a café: "Café Almah", which, according its website website was "founded in 2004 on the ruins of an abandoned bakery in Jaffa". The site also boasts that the bakery employs "Jewish, Muslim and Christian residents of the Jaffa neighbourhood".

      link to (Hebrew)

      Does "Free Palestine" also include the tens of thousands of Palestinians ethnically cleansed from the thriving Arab city of Jaffa (including the owners of the "abandoned" bakery) and a condemnation of the faux "co-existence" in the ethnically cleansed and rapidly gentrifying (and further Judaising) city of Jaffa?

      Jaffa: link to

      *"Tel Aviv" is printed in biblical font, citing the verse in Ezekiel that inspired the modern name -- as a Hebrew rendition of Herzl's Altneuland and the name of "The First Hebrew City"). The biblical fantasy surrounding Israeli toponyms is part and parcel of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and erasure of Palestinian memory.

  • The ice floe
    • On the day that Phil makes aliyah, he’ll be issued his own ID card and will be able to see for himself.

      How lucky for him he's not a Palestinian like bintbiba, even though she was actually born there.

    • noting that it was issued in 2012

      Mine's from '95, so no help there.

      And this line from Wiki (I know, I know) -- בשנת 2011 הורה השר אלי ישי להחזיר את סעיף הלאום -- didn't help either.

    • I did a little more research, and it seems that Jon is right (I also mistakenly wrote that the nationality article was removed in 2005, but the year was in fact 2002). The amendment proposed by Eli Yishai in 2011 (which may or may not have been approved in the end - all of the articles I found, with the exception of Hebrew Wiki treated it as a proposal), concerned the right of those registered as Jews prior to 2002 to have that information appear on future documents (e.g. in case of loss or theft). T

      This would be more in keeping with Yishai's original motivation for cancelling the article - a 2002 High Court decision requiring the Interior Ministry to list non-Orthodox converts as Jews in the Population Registry and on ID cards. The amendment would thus not have applied to those registered after the High Court decision.

      The nationality article remains in the Population Registry, and thus in the Population Authority database. It also continues to appear even on the new application forms for a new or replacement ID.

    • Oh, and “Jewish” and “Arab” nationality on id cards in Israel is a thing of the past.

      It was never removed from the population registry and, to the best of my knowledge, the nationality article on ID cards was restored by the same Eli Yishai (who had it removed in 2005) in 2011. That would mean that it still appears on all ID cards except those issued between 2005 and 2011.

  • Indian Summer: An Open Letter to Sayed Kashua on the occasion of his piece in the New Yorker
    • Thank you, Dr. I wonder how many Zionist Israelis (and non-Israeli Zionists*) really understand Kashua's writing. If they did, I doubt they'd be quite so fond of him or get shocked every time he tries to drive home a truth in a way that even they can't ignore.

      *I was a little surprised (but not very) to see Kashua's books in translation, in a local institutional Jewish bookshop.

      I was just reading a review of Oz' "Gospel According to Judas" today, and was wondering whether it would be worth reading or not. I am fed up with the man (and the particular kind of danger he poses), but was intrigued by the idea of the "redemptive power of betrayal" specifically in the context of Zionist history.

  • 'Settlement endorsement should be put on a par with racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism' --British pol
  • Anti-semitism charge is increasingly being leveled against Israel's mainstream critics
    • Walid,

      First of all, welcome back :-)

      There are real "comrades" ("compagni", as they say in these parts) and there are allies of various kinds -- those with multiple agendas that include your own and those with agendas you wouldn't touch with a barge pole, but who aren't actually harmful to the cause. Then there are those who really couldn't give a damn about Palestinians and actually harm them by espousing (or pretending to espouse) their cause. That goes for all allies and potential allies, not just Jews.

      As for the group I linked to (J-BIG), I know them, and they are the real deal -- real "compagni", whose concern is first and foremost for the Palestinians.

  • Does 'the thief of Jerusalem' deserve US aid? (Update)
    • Thanks, peterfeld. Interesting twitter exchange. I would add the following observations:

      1. Rabbi Jacobs shifts the conversation to Iron Dome – an ostensibly defensive system (although a number of analysts have suggested that Iron Dome may, in itself, be defensive, but allows Israel to take offensive action without fear of repercussions) – which does not account for the bulk of US military aid to Israel.

      2. Rabbi Jacobs asserts that “If you care about human rights [you] have to care abt everyone's human rights”, yet defends US aid to only one side, as if the Palestinians had no “legitimate security needs”. Yes, “Hamas lobs rockets at a civilian population”, but Israel has done far worse, both during its large-scale operations (e.g. imprecise mortar fire at a crowded market, targeting protected areas, unilateral definitions of what constitutes a military target, “consciousness-searing” measures, etc.) and as a matter of routine, even during periods of cease fire (at farmers and others within its self-declared “buffer zone”, at fishermen, in extra-judicial killings that take few if any precautions against harming innocent civilians – see e,g. the case of Saleh Shehade). So where is the massive U.S. aid for the "legitimate security needs" of Palestinians?

  • Europe wearies of Netanyahu's diversions
    • SEE: “Spanish lawmakers reportedly to vote on Palestinian state”

      A motion to recognise the Palestinian state was also submitted to the Italian Senate on Thursday.

  • 'NYT' can't keep its story straight on anti-Semitism in Germany
    • By the way, the site you linked to (the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism) is an Israeli state forum, and as such, pursues Israeli state interests.

      link to

      As a European Jew, I often feel that I am being held hostage to Israel's political and ideological interests.

    • You may be in a better position than other commenters here to assess the anti-Semitic threat in Europe, as long as you don’t engage in wishful thinking.

      I'm not a wishful thinking type of guy, but how can I take screaming headlines and "statistics" seriously when "Insulting video: On 17th July protesters published a short film on YouTube in which they erased the State of Israel. Four suspects were arrested. The leader of the gang was identified" (from your link) is listed under the heading "Sharp Rise in Jew-Hatred"?

      How can I tell whether there is a rise or not, when anti-Semitism is spotlighted more than ever before (almost certainly for political reasons -- including dismissal of criticism of Israel, and dwindling "aliyah" ), and reporting of incidents is now actively solicited (e.g. I saw an ad for an anti-Semitism hotline in a local Jewish paper -- in a country with one of the lowest incidences of anti-Semitism in Europe)?

      How can I take Jewish leaders seriously when they say things like "Within ten years we will see a return to Auschwitz -- and all Jews in this country must therefore make aliyah as soon as possible" (statement by the president of the Rome Jewish community after the last general election, due to the rise of a "post-political" party with some right-wing tendencies -- although said president has openly supported the actual far right, based on its pro-Israel positions)?

      Yes, I live in Europe (as noted, in a country with a very low incidence of anti-Semitism), and have a feel for wider European trends and issues (particularly within the EU), but there is so much confusion and manipulation of this issue, that I find it very hard to take any of the reports (including an extremely shameful one by the Italian parliament -- chaired by an Italian-Israeli who has declared that she was only in parliament to serve Israel's interests) or statistics at face value.

      Another aspect of the current focus on anti-Semitism that I find particularly disturbing is that it often entails anti-Arab, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim insinuations, fanning the flames of racism and prejudice -- supposedly in the name of fighting racism and prejudice. When I hear French Jews in Israel say that they left France because it was "full of Arabs", with no further explanation or qualification, it really makes me wonder about the source of their unease and fears. Once again, this is not to say that some fears are not justified or that anti-Semitism is not on the rise, but it makes it really hard to get to the bottom of things.

      The first step to understanding and combating the phenomenon is a clear distinction between criticism of Israel and prejudice against Jews. As long as the nonsense about the "new anti-Semitism" continues, real anti-Semitism will go unnoticed and unchecked. It's also high time to start taking European criticism of Israeli policies seriously, instead of just dismissing it as "traditional European" or "Muslim" "anti-Semitism" -- an attitude that is not merely politically self-serving (albeit self-harming, in the long run), but is also, in itself, tainted with racism.

    • The truth ... is almost exactly the opposite of what Mondoweiss reports here.

      So what is the truth about "European anti-Semitism" (implying some sort of equivalence between Dublin and Budapest, Paris and Milan, Copenhagen and Brussels, Prague and Barcelona, Amsterdam and Kiev and so on)? What is the truth about anti-Semitism in Berlin?

      Time Magazine has admitted it exaggerated with its "Exodus" story, the FRA survey is so subjective and confused as to tell us hardly anything, and some of the recent incidents repeatedly cited in the media have been partially or completely misreported (including one in my city).

      Yes, there are places (such as Hungary) in which anti-Semitism -- along with anti-Ziganism and other forms of racism and discrimination -- is a matter of great concern. There have been a few violent incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions in Sweden, Germany, France and Belgium (definitely not to be minimised), and demonstrations against Israel during the Gaza massacre have, in places slid into or legitimised anti-Semitism -- but I very much doubt that the adjectives attached to such incidents ("common", "frequent", "widespread") are accurate. In Italy, strong and vocal positions against anti-Semitism were taken by Palestinian and Palestinian solidarity groups, at the height of the Gaza massacre, declaring zero tolerance for anti-Semitism -- not as a tactic, but as a matter of principle.

      The climate in Europe's weaker economies is not pretty right now, and populists are certainly trying to fan the flames of racism and hatred, but only rarely against Jews. In most European societies, Jews are no longer acceptable or satisfying scapegoats, with so many minority groups to choose from: immigrants in general, E. Europeans, Roma, blacks, Arabs, Muslims, etc. There was a large demonstration in Milano today, uniting neo-Fascist groups such as Forza Nuova and Casa Pound, under the leadership of the Northern League, and Jews were not even mentioned, nor could such a demonstration against Jews have taken place. The target was, of course, immigrants -- particularly Africans, Arabs and Muslims.

      Wearing a kippah may be an issue in some places, but wearing a kippah in public is a relatively recent phenomenon in most parts of Europe -- and mostly where large Jewish communities exist. When I was a child in Canada I was always told to wear a hat rather than a kippah in areas where Jews are few and far between -- partly out of fear of anti-Semitism (more imagined than real at the time, although I did have some unpleasant encounters), but mostly because kippot are strange, out of the ordinary, make you stick out when you have absolutely no desire to so. Try wearing an Islamic head-covering and see what happens.

      So yes, there is anti-Semitism in Europe and it must be taken seriously. There is also a lot of mystification and exploitation of anti-Semitism that has little to do with actually keeping Jews safe.

  • 'Progressive' rabbi ascribes Roger Waters's concern with 500 Palestinian child victims to rocker's alleged drug use
    • Well, it all started like this: link to

    • I am still anticipating that interview! Hope I get it today.

      You'll love it :-)

    • Did Israelis killed 500 children (recently!), and did Waters say so publicly? Then say he is/was/associated with druggies (or criminals or wife beaters of republicans or democrats — whatever will move your audience). And ignore what he says..

      As Remi Kanazi said in his interview with Katie Miranda, yesterday (in response to the "singling Israel out" argument): "Why do you single Israel out for protection?"

  • Israeli settlers set West Bank mosque aflame in 'price tag' arson attack
    • Why is racist graffiti always full of mistakes?

      Dear thug,

      The top of a script gimel begins on the left, while the top of a script zayin begins on the right. Learn the difference (it's in the first word of your "trademark", for God's sake).

      Meir Kahane was certainly all that you admire and more, but he was also literate. Learn to spell his name correctly -- with a final alef, not a he'.

  • The Center for Jewish Life is stifling free speech at Princeton University
    • Based on the above information, it seems that 2 pro-Israel groups ("CJIL-affiliated", whatever that means) tried to organise an event about Gaza, together with the Princeton Committee on Palestine. Someone proposed Prof. Weiss' name (perhaps the Committee on Palestine). The "CGIL-afiliated" students ran the proposals by CGIL and were told that Weiss is a no-go (red lines, etc.).

      In other words, it was a pro-Israel event that sought an aura of even-handedness through a co-sponsorship with the Committee on Palestine, but would not give up control -- barring someone for supporting a non-violent campaign in favour of Palestinian rights. Presumably, no one was barred for having, in the past, taken any action in support of Israel and its policies.

      Does the Committee on Palestine support BDS (as things stand today, if it doesn't, it's hardly a supporter of Palestinian rights), and if so, why was it OK to co-sponsor events with them, but not to allow Prof. Weiss to speak at one of these events? I would also like to know how the Princeton Committee on Palestine responded to this attempt to veto the participation of someone who represents their point of view at an event they were supposed to be co-sponsoring.

      What Hillel International will not do, Fingerhut wrote, is “partner with organizations that espouse anti-Semitism, apply a double standard to Israel, spout racism or promote Islamophobia.”

      Arguably, Fingerhut's own organisation is guilty of all of those things (most notably applying a double standard to Israel) -- even anti-Semitism, in its insistence that racism, nationalism and crimes against humanity are inherent to Judaism and are supported by all "good" Jews.

  • Clintonite turns on Netanyahu for trying to bend US 'to his will'
    • Those who have settled or are planning on settling in Berlin are, of course, at the centre of the debate -- for obvious reasons. The Shmemel clip ("Berlin, Berlin") featured at MW a little while ago -- link to -- is filled with Zionist and religious imagery similar to the "aliyah" idea -- transferred to Berlin ("If I forget thee, O Berlin ..." etc.).

    • You are out of your mind if you think jewish israeli’s are leaving israel due to a lack of liberal democracy.

      Certainly not all, Dan, but more than a few. Ever since Rogel Alpher's piece (and a little before), Haaretz has been running articles on Israelis who have left and are leaving. Initially, The Marker (Haaretz' semi-independent economic supplement) ran a whole series of articles featuring Israelis who had left ( for Europe or the US) focusing solely on economics and self-fulfilment -- to which there have been quite a few responses (most recently this morning), saying it's not about careers or affordable housing or the price of "milky" (a kind of chocolate pudding), but because the racist, illiberal, warmongering air in Israel is unbreathable and denies any hope of change. There have also been numerous responses from the entire range of the mainstream in Israel, accusing such political exiles of defeatism, "anti-Zionism" and unwillingness to come to terms with the fact that their views are simply unpopular in Israel.

      A couple of interesting articles also appeared (before Alpher's) by an Israeli prof. in the UK, by the name of Yossi Nehushtan, explaining why there is no liberal democracy in Israel and why there never will be, and encouraging all Israelis who care about such things to cut their losses and save their kids.

  • Hamas is Nazi Germany and Israel is valiant and desperate England -- explains Canadian Jewish leader
    • It must be extremely frustrating for someone with Frederick Krantz' Churchillian sense of moral clarity to see just how many people don't "get" it. Good and evil, black and white, Nazis and Allies. Why oh why can't the many see how very much they owe to the few?

      CIJR Director Prof. Frederick Krantz, from an Address to the Jewish People, Montreal, August 20, 2014

      Address to the Jewish People? I wasn't there. I didn't even get an invitation.

    • Duncan's talk was really excellent. Mr. Arkush has, apparently, worked himself into the very muddle that Duncan refers to (beginning a little after 27 minutes).

  • British Parliament sends a message to Obama: the people see Israel as a 'bully'
    • I’m hugely surprised that Louise Ellman isn’t on the list of nays!

      She's Labour and it was a whipped vote.

    • I notice Ian Paisley’s son in that list.

      Like father like son: link to

      I'll bet the other four are also members/supporters of NIFI.

    • Sir Alan Beith – Liberal Democrat, Berwick-Upon-Tweed

      Bob Blackman – Conservative, Harrow East

      Jonathan Djanogly – Conservative, Huntingdon

      Nigel Dodds – Democratic Unionist, Belfast North

      Mike Freer – Conservative, Finchley and Golders Green

      Dr William McCrea – Democratic Unionist, South Antrim

      Nigel Mills – Conservative, Amber Valley

      Dr Matthew Offord – Conservative, Hendon

      Ian Paisley Jr – Democratic Unionist, North Antrim

      Jim Shannon – Democratic Unionist, Strangford

      David Simpson – Democratic Unionist, Upper Bann

      Robert Syms – Conservative, Pool

      link to

  • Help break the blockade and clothe Gaza’s children this winter
    • The JPost headline/caption reads: "Truckloads of cement and steal [sic] roll into coastal enclave for the first time in a year."

      If that's what the Israelis are allowing through, the Gazans had better steel themselves.

  • Katie Miranda's 'tele-summit' for Palestinian freedom
  • Deconstructing John Kerry's address to the Gaza Donors Conference
    • I don’t understand why the Israelis signed up to Oslo

      Short list: Yom Kippur, Camp David and return of Sinai, Lebanon, Intifada, Gulf War, botched London initiative, Jordanian detachment from West Bank, growing settler movement -- all with repercussions on multiple levels for Israelis and Palestinians, internally and internationally. Ambiguity was no longer an option.

      Because the minute they signed up to Oslo they created expectations outside Israel and that is why the House of Commons voted against them this week. Diplomacy is serious.

      Exactly. And Netanyahu, along with Israeli society and economy, have been coasting on that credit and even pro forma recognition of the 2ss. Netanyahu's entire career since Oslo has been based on opposing and blocking the accords, while paying some sort of lip service to them. That might be over, and yesterday's vote at Westminster might have a hand in that.

      Why did they internationalise the Palestinian issue ?

      Because they had no choice. Israel of the early 90s was not the Israel of today. Most Israelis don't realise it now, but the peace process is not optional, to the extent that it ever was, and the time to pay the piper may be approaching.

    • From what I have read the Isr peace or rational group has been beat down into a hole by the frothing fanatics.

      What I meant was that if Labour, under Herzog's leadership, can get off its ass and start talking about international isolation directly resulting from the words and deeds of Netanyahu and his government (and Herzog gave us a taste today, following the British vote), instead of the price of cottage cheese and chocolate pudding, it stands a chance of shifting the "floating votes" that were never in the Likud's pocket to begin with. One of the democratic features that the Israeli ethnocracy does possess is the periodic shift of power. That can happen if Labour wakes up and Netanyahu keeps scoring own-goals.

    • That seems to be where the Netanyahu government is headed (he will have to come up with an "appropriate Zionist response" to Palestinian diplomatic moves, and more settlements won't cut it, although he'll certainly do that as well) -- far more likely than the annexation of Area C that Bennett and co. have been yammering about. Such a move would suit both the government's right wing and Netanyahu's nostalgia for the pre-Oslo days when "the whole world was against us" -- except that he probably thinks he can have his cake and eat it too, preserving the international benefits to Israel brought about by the Oslo process, while suspending the process itself indefinitely. Livni might walk out, but who cares?

      Electorally, this might prove to be Netanyahu's worst mistake -- in effect self-BDSing Israel (the ultimate Boycott from Within), thereby causing a shift back to the more diplomatic "centre-left". It is also possible, in such an eventuality, that international opinion, having sobered up a little from Oslo euphoria, would finally start demanding that Israel (with a new, self-declared "pro-peace" government) pursue a real peace process, with real sticks and no more free carrots.

  • British Parliament votes overwhelmingly to recognize Palestinian state
    • MRW,

      I wouldn't overly idolise those Sephardim or demonise their Ashkenazi counterparts. The former certainly did believe in the Other -- like most Americans of their class and skin-colour at the time -- and the latter introduced the ethical universalism of German Reform to American shores (including remarkable spiritual leaders such as Rabbi David Einhorn). Furthermore, the 18th and 19th centuries saw a revolution in Ashkenazi Jewish scholarship itself, including (but not limited to) the rediscovery and embracing of Sephardic philosophical and literary traditions.

      I didn't accuse American of anything. I was just reinforcing a point I believe is often overlooked.

    • On this side of the pond, we call it satire .

      Evidently you don’t appreciate sarcasm

      You mean you aren't really establishing the World Wide Others Committee? ;-)

    • Page: 74
    • The world will need strong, articulate and credible voices to counter the perception campaign now underway.

      We heard some of those in the House of Commons last night, and I think they are only the tip of the iceberg -- currently and even more so in the future, thanks, at least in part to their efforts and the wonderful debate initiated by the very Honourable Grahame Morris.

    • American,

      I see the frustration and the logic, but fighting racism with racism is counter-productive. It is only Jewish supremacists and anti-Semites who divide the world into "Jews and others", and both groups feed off each other.

    • t has always appeared to me that Zionism requires as a cornerstone a firm conclusion that everybody except “the Jews” is indecent. And it seems to count very heavily on them not being so decent either.

      Right. The "need" for a state is based on the belief in "eternal anti-Semitism"; the source of the "conflict" -- the unwillingness of the Palestinians to allow Jews to "live in their midst"; and the reason behind international support for Palestinian claims -- "eternal anti-Semitism" again.

      All of this presumed indecency leads to the conclusion that Jews don't need to be decent either, hence "it seems to count very heavily on them not being so decent either" -- but don't forget that "they [the non-Jews] started it".

    • Decent people supporting decent people. Why is it so hard for so many Zionist Jews to access this part of themselves ?

      Because the belief in Palestinian indecency is the cornerstone of the entire edifice. The moment that belief is undermined, everything comes crashing down -- a very scary prospect, best avoided at all costs. Better to focus on "tzidkat darkeinu" ( the righteousness of our path), and its flipside, the wickedness of their path. No decency in Ramallah, Gaza or, for that matter, in Westminster -- because that would mean ...

  • In the last days of 'Operation Protective Edge' Israel focused on its final goal -- the destruction of Gaza's professional class
  • British Parliament to vote on recognition of Palestinian state on Monday
    • Thank you, Mr. Netanyahu. They couldn't have done it without you.

    • Of course Cameron is a sycophantic ar**h*le but it did seem to me that beneath the absurd rhetoric, massaging Israeli egos, there was an underlying and undeniable argument that embracing a two-state solution would be invaluable

      Embracing a two-state solution is meaningless in and of itself (as we have seen in tonight's debate in the House of Commons). In including all of Netanyahu's caveats, Cameron in effect excludes the possibility of ever achieving a viable two-state agreement.

    • Seems like the usual rubbish to me:

      1. Condition: recognition as nation state of the Jewish People.
      2. Israel singled out for “unfair” and “abnormal” treatment.
      3. Anti-Israel bias (particularly at the UN – for which the lack of peace serves as an “excuse”).
      4. Determining who will lead the Palestinians (“strong moderate Palestinian government”) – out of fear of a “failed state” on Israel's borders.
      5. Condition: end of conflict.
      6. Start-up nation – Peres-style “new Middle East”.
      7. Vague chatter about “justice and dignity” (“yes, for the Palestinians too” – fancy that).
      8. Israeli victimhood – heroic sacrifices and “tragedies of the past” (Holocaust).
      9. Israel's “rightful moral position”.
      10. Israelis need to be safe (“fear of terror”, security) – Palestinians need a state (but have no security needs or “fear of terror” to worry about).

      The same speech could have (and has) been made by Peres, Barak and even Netanyahu. It's filled with excuses and enough "no-partner" escape clauses to ensure that Israel will never have to take a single significant step in the direction of "justice and dignity".

  • Shlomo Sand resigns from being Jewish. Totally. Mostly. Almost
    • Would not the death threats he has received be considered “informal discrimination?”

      Those are for his opinions, not his ethnic or religious affiliation. That is not the same as the informal discrimination suffered by those who are recognisably Arab.

    • Here’s the conundrum. As soon as we identify as *anything,* we logically differentiate ourselves from others who are NOT that.

      Gender, language, profession, religious beliefs, political convictions, education, ethnic background, family background, sexual orientation, marital status, children, interests, income, nationality ... and I've barely gotten started.

      We all identify as many somethings. No one is just "people" -- although everyone is "people".

    • Like Mooser I consider myself a nobody as well. Perhaps we should get together, identify as a people, and do nothing.

      That's awfully exclusive of you. You must think being worse than everybody else makes you better than them. And what's this doing nothing stuff? Are you suggesting that people who do something are not part of your little tribe? :-P

    • Thanks much. If Sand did change (“conceivably”) to one of those other designations, would that effect his life? Would he keep his job, his house, all that? Have the same rights?

      At his age and status, and considering the fact that he lives within the privileged Jewish sector, it would probably make no difference whatsoever. He would probably not be subject to informal discrimination either, as he would still be identified as a Jew.

    • Could an Israeli “yehudi” (and one well-known) change his identification to “Arab”, and be considered, from then on, an “Arab Israeli”?

      Sand could never be registered as an Arab, but he could conceivably change his designation to "Muslim" or "Christian" or "Druse" (assuming they accept converts), were he to undergo religious conversion -- a rather unlikely scenario that would hardly solve his problem. I presume Uri Davis, for example, could change his listing (if he hasn't already done so) to "Muslim", following his conversion.

    • It’s a short book, Schmuel, my lips didn’t even get tired. And you could read it in the original Hebrew (or French?, my copy isn’t clear) and the translation to English. That might be interesting.

      I plan on reading it in Hebrew (the French edition seems to have come out first, but is a translation from the Hebrew). I don't think I'll bother to read it twice though.

    • I am so glad I don’t have Sand’s problems. If my driver’s license said “Jew” on it I don’t know what I would do, but I can’t imagine, conceive in any way, of liking it.

      I've still got my Israeli ID, and it disgusts me to see "yehudi" printed there, next to gender and date of birth. Fortunately I don't need to carry it around with me any more.

    • Sands sums that up as mostly “Slavic” (in a general way, especially the humor).

      It goes without saying that there is no such thing as "pure" culture, and I was delighted to find I had so much in common with Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Serbian and Slovenian friends (food, humour, folk sayings, history, and even language, although the only "Slavic" language spoken in my family was Yiddish). One could also say that much of the Jewish religion and mythology is Egyptian, Mesopotamian or Zoroastrian, Jewish philosophy and poetry are Arabic, Jewish mysticism is Gnostic, etc. Sand has a political and ethical reason for his either/or approach. It doesn't have to be that way.

    • Like Sand, I also decided that I no longer wished to be a member of a privileged ethnicity in a racist society. So I left that society, moving to a place where the authorities neither register nor care about my ethnic or religious background (not counting my privileges as a white male, of course, but that's another story).

      Sand also has an "advantage" over non-Israeli Jews, in that anything in his culture, personal or family history that someone in New York or Paris might identify as Jewish, he can simply call "Israeli". But what kind of Israeli? Certainly not the "Israeli" of a Palestinian from Taybeh or Umm al-Fahm. When Sand was growing up, "Hebrew" was often used as a euphemism for "Jewish" (to distinguish the new Zionist man from his despised diaspora counterpart/predecessor). I guess "Hebrew-Israeli" would work.

    • Strictly as a clarification, the dividing line between old-style (if you will) and modern Judaism occurred when other people stopped telling us we are Jewish, and we started telling everybody else, insisting, in fact, that we are Jewish.

      A development that Zionism and the State of Israel (like other ethnic-nationalist ideologies and regimes before it) have actively sought to reverse. Sand may feel that he needs to affirm that he is not Jewish, precisely because someone else (his country) has the nerve to tell him what he is and what he is not. Had he been completely free to determine and define his own identity, he might have made a different choice -- or it might simply have been of no importance to him.

    • Mooser,

      As far as I know, both of his parents were Jews (and communists). What I meant to say was that his primary identity and culture are Israeli -- regardless of where he was born and regardless of the other cultures with which he identifies (French, academic, secular, western, etc.).

      I have not yet read the book, but from what I have gathered based on articles and interviews on the subject, he views Jewish identity as the ethnocentric component of Israeli culture/identity. This goes without saying, but I tend to look at things the other way around -- Israel and Zionism (Jewish nationalism) are the ethnocentric component of modern Judaism (which was taking a number of very different tracks, before nationalism became the dominant one).

    • Shlomo is a sabra. He is native to the land(as in, he was born there.

      Actually, he was born in Austria, but his culture is certainly Israeli (Jewish-Israeli or Hebrew-Israeli, but that's a separate issue).

      Maybe it’s a side effect of living in a country where basically no Jew is an anti-Zionist and everyone who says no goes to jail or worse.

      Nevertheless, the logic of his argument has little to no bearing on the reality of the diaspora

      He very clearly explains that his observations regarding his own identity are directly linked to being an Israeli. As a matter of fact, the original Hebrew title of the book is "When and How I Stopped Being a Jew -- An Israeli perspective".

      I would further suggest that Sand's positions should be understood within the context of the "I am an Israeli" (ani yisre'eli) movement, which has, for the past 15 years or so, been seeking legal recognition from the Israeli state of the existence of an Israeli "nationality" (a petition recently rejected by the High Court) and, going back a little more, within the intellectual and ideological tradition of the "Canaanite" movement.

  • Wiesel lauds settlers for 'strengthening the Jewish presence in Jerusalem' -- and expelling Palestinians
    • I agree that his concern is not with the Palestinians, that does not make him a racist, in my book, that makes him someone who has primary concerns and secondary concerns and his primary concerns are not for the other but for his nation and its essence.

      Meir Kahane used to say the same thing about himself ("I don't hate Arabs; I love Jews"), as do American white supremacists and European nativists.

      to read his name misspelled like the name of a lowly animal makes me wince

      Me too. Dehumanisation is dangerous.

  • Israel and the g-word
  • NY rabbi implores those in her congregation who are joining Israel's enemies to love the country
    • Israel as the “beating heart” of Judaism

      It is not a heart, beating or otherwise, but a modern polity rooted in a modern ethno-nationalist ideology. Rabbi Buchdahl's misrepresentation of Zionism not only as equivalent to Judaism, but as its "beating heart" is the crux of the debate within the Jewish community that she has sought to shut down with her rallying-round-flag rhetoric. We will not rally round the flag of racism, torture, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and apartheid, and we refuse to believe that these things are part and parcel of the "beating heart" of Judaism.

      she urges Jews to put aside their criticisms of Israel and love the country, as they would have loved the U.S. during the time of slavery.

      Judaism is not a country, and were I a US citizen at the time of slavery I would by no means have "put aside my criticism" for love of country -- quite the contrary.

      I live with questions of Jewish identity and texts and history, in which Israel is central to everything.

      Precisely because you are a scholar and are familiar with questions of Jewish identity and texts and history, I would expect you to recognise the differences between myth, history, eschatology and modern political ideology (including religious ideology) and constructs.

  • Pogroms rage in Europe? Kidnaped Israeli teens were Freedom Riders? Liberal Zionists' desperate slogans
    • You wrote “ask me again tomorrow”

      I meant that my assessment at that moment was coloured by recent experience. A couple of days on, I am feeling encouraged by some very healthy antibodies within the movement that have come to the fore.

    • Nothing that serious, jon, and it's not myself I'm worried about. Hag sameah.

    • Thanks, eljay and annie.

    • Israel is the touchstone issue of our time because it’s something we in the U.S. have a great deal of agency over. Especially American Jews. I don’t have much agency in Syria.

      It is also a litmus test because it is indicative of a choice of conviction over convention. Other battles are not contested and denigrated in the public sphere with such fervour. If you support Palestinian rights, you must really mean it.

      I’m not willing to admit the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the BDS movement because I don’t think it’s a current in the movement. Yes it rears its ugly head, and must be attacked; but it’s not the motivation.

      No, it's not the motivation and it's not a current, but I've just had a pretty bad day on that score, and I'm not so sure about prevalence right now. Ask me again tomorrow. Regardless, it's still the right thing to do.

  • White House is now in open spat with Netanyahu over his 'American values' lecture
    • Well at least he avoided the “Jewish state” formulation.

      And at least Netanyahu only treated the president like an idiot, using cheap hasbara parlour tricks, but didn't actually call him one. Ah, for small mercies.

  • Netanyahu lectures Americans on open housing and 'ethnic purification'
    • What they didn’t tell you is that 700 of those units are designated for the Arab residents of Jerusalem.

      Sure, sure. Like those 800 housing units promised in Walajeh, and 200 in Beit Haninah, and 1800 in Issawiyyeh, and 1,000 in A-Tur. Whatever happened to them, by the way?

      The land in Givat Hamatos was not declared state land in order to build housing for Palestinians (most Palestinians in Jerusalem are not even allowed to buy homes built on state land, administered by the Israel Land Authority -- although non-Israeli Jews may do so). That is not what state land is used for in Israel or the territories it occupies, including East Jerusalem -- unless it is to ethnically cleanse the area by concentrating Palestinians in designated townships.

      This is why Netanyahu is building at Givat Hamatos -- lies about housing for Palestinians notwithstanding: link to

      And another lie:
      What we’re being criticized for is that some Jewish residents of Jerusalem bought apartments legally from Arabs in a predominantly Arab neighborhood. And this is seen as as terrible thing... If I said to you some place in the United States, Jews cannot buy apartments here. There’d be an uproar.

      The properties in Silwan were not bought by "Jewish residents of Jerusalem", but by a settlement association by the name of Elad, which has to pay people to live there (NIS 500/day, according to Haretz). It is not about people buying homes, but about a hostile takeover of the village by an ideologically-motivated (and state-subsidised) organisation that actively seeks to displace Palestinian residents in occupied Palestinian territory and replace them -- in violation of international law -- with Jews (any Jews will do, as long as they know how to fire a weapon -- again, according to Haaretz). To pretend that opposition to Elad's actions amounts to racism against Jews is simply obscene.

  • Read the genocidal sermon a notable Atlanta rabbi gave this Rosh Hashanah
    • So, how did that all work out for those Israelites, back then?

      The line "And they all lived happily ever after" is nowhere to be found in the Bible or Rabbinic Literature. That speaks volumes.

      don’t worry about the “guys in the black hats”. They’re getting theirs, the revisionist phonies!

      Haredim are always a legitimate target in Israel -- the only place in the world where Jews are safe.

      And I thank you for your patience and forbearance in the discussion, Schmuel. Even tho I lost some bliss in the process.

      You're welcome.

    • One of the things that bugs me about Zionism (way down the list) is the fact that it claims both exclusivity and authenticity -- in the sense of "returning" to political independence (biblical and Hasmonean fantasies) and the way Jews were "intended" to live -- denying, ignoring, deriding or simply eliminating every form of Judaism that doesn't feed into its own, narrow, ethnic-nationalist paradigm.

    • the story is one of change, not religious stasis

      Absolutely. Change and diversity. Claims to "authentic Judaism" are thus ridiculous, not only because nothing (not even the guys in the black hats) is "as it always was", but because there has never, at any time, been a single form of Judaism.

      stuff from the Bible or other writings, is often presented without context. It was the lack of context which bothers me.

      I see what you mean.

    • One thing I noticed about Lewis’s lengthy sermon was that to him it was perfectly self-evident that everything wrong in the world was somebody else’s fault. He is in his own mind a perfectly-idealized victim-aggressor, and because he’s so incredibly perfect has no need for introspection of any kind, whether personal or regarding the sins of those in his own community. He doesn’t need to make any changes, or do anything. He’s already arrived in the nirvana of the victim-aggressor, which in his case, apparently, consists of the opportunity to preach eternal incitement against the Other.

      That struck me too. Interestingly, the passage he quotes from Isaiah (ch. 5) refers to Israel's own sins (specifically injustice and causing others to cry out) and complete lack of self-awareness. It seems to me that Isaiah had Rabbi Lewis' number (see also Isaiah 48, one of today's synagogue readings).*

      *Sorry, Mooser. Can't help myself. Maybe when the holidays are over.

    • I was commenting on Lewis' 'at least they liked Mozart' European fantasy. Diversity and recognition of diversity (not "integration" or playground neighbourhoods for "normal" people) are modern Europe's strength and safeguard for its minorities. The danger lies precisely in those who bemoan the loss of "our civilisation" and wax poetic on how great things were before "they" (fill in the blank) showed up.

      I find it ironic that an imam was recently deported from my European country, for delivering a sermon not that different from Lewis', except that it was about Jews (or so our xenophobic interior minister said).

    • It is not our grandfather’s Europe

      My grandfather's Europe murdered every last member of his family .

  • Ilan Pappé on Israel’s 'post-Zionist moment' and the triumph of 'neo-Zionism'
    • Thanks, Stephen.

      I considered myself a post-Zionist for a while, in the 90s -- at first because I wasn't willing to give up all of the myths, and then because I was uncomfortable calling myself an anti-Zionist. It certainly eased my own transition, at the time, but I have a lot of trouble understanding post--Zionists today (there are still a few of them around).

  • Liberal Zionist group Zonszein once worked for paints her as a 'radical' because she likes democracy
    • I've probably left a lot of things out of my summary of Israeli "democracy", but another crucial point is:

      1a (although it actually predates the establishment of the state). Institute a discriminatory immigration policy that will help ensure political support for the state ideology and maintain the privileges and electoral majority of the charter ethnic group.

    • On second thought, Mr. Efron is right: "we need to figure out how to speak to other Israelis so that they will listen".

      The answer is BDS.

      And thanks Mairav, for everything you do.

    • But we haven’t been silenced. We’ve just failed to make our case. For a dozen years, we have failed to win a majority in the Knesset. We have failed to convince other Israelis that the cost of holding onto the occupied territories is greater than the dangers of relinquishing them.
      . . . Rather than whine in the New York Times about how we’ve been silenced, we need to figure out how to speak to other Israelis so that they will listen.

      So Efron knows how to play the democratic game, by the rules, and Zonszein is a spoiled crybaby.

      Let's take a look at Efron's version of "democracy":

      1. Ethnically cleanse 2/3 of the people who don't agree with you.
      2. Establish an ethnocratic regime - that is a regime with a privileged charter ethnic group (including more non-citizens than citizens) -- allow only parties with platforms that accept that ethnocratic regime, and put those who disagree with you under martial law.
      3. Adopt a state ideology, tightly control education and socialisation and segregate society.
      4. Keep a population roughly equal to that of the entire country under indefinite (47 years and counting) military rule, without political, civil or human rights.
      5. Maintain a regime of legalised discrimination against citizens who do not belong to the charter ethnic group, with a weak and often racist body of constitutional law and a mostly-supine (yet hotly contested and pressured) supreme court as the sole arbiter of human and civil rights.
      6. Intimidate and vilify those who question the state ideology (if members of the charter ethnic group), while treating and portraying those who are not members of the charter ethnic group as if they were an external enemy.
      8. Maintain a constant state of emergency and fear, and place "security" (as you choose to define it) above all else.
      9. Roll eyes to the heavens and say: 'Well that's democracy for you. We'll just have to make a better case, if we want anything to change. Anything else would be undemocratic.'

  • 'Ethnic cleansing for a better world' -- Richard Cohen says Palestinians brought the Nakba on themselves
    • England didn’t and England did much better in the 17th century.

      Not that I disagree with your premise, but England actually did expel its Jews in 1290, and there were hardly any Jews to speak of in England in the 17th century.

    • Amira Hass ‘ethnically cleansed’ from Bir Zeit University.

      Why the restrained language, Jackdaw? Why not come right out and say Hass was 'genocided' or 'holocausted' from Birzeit?

      As much fun as all of this has been for The Jewish Press and Commentary, Hass' own comments on the affair are the most appropriate response.

    • I've yet to come across the "realist" who argues: 'It was either us or them, and they had the numbers and were better organised -- and, to be perfectly honest, had they not done it to us, we would have done it to them. Sure it was ugly, but they didn't really have a choice, and it worked.'

  • Netanyahu at the United Nations: Hamas, Iran, ISIS and 100 cheering Israelis
    • Lets be fair Horizontal the US only supply 98% of Israel’s arms.

      No need to let Israel's other accomplices off so easily. Italy alone (by far the largest European exporter of arms to Israel) issued licences for the sale of nearly half a billion euros worth of arms and military systems in 2012.

      link to (see table at the end)

      That's what the upcoming joint manoeuvres in Sardinia are about:
      link to

  • The name games
    • But in all fairness-its hardly a topic worthy of more then a features column and light entertainment to the Israeli public.

      Funny choice of words, "in all fairness", because there is absolutely nothing fair about the reality reflected in the Population and Immigration Authority's "slip", post-factum justification or the suggestion that it's nothing more than a cute animal story for the viewing pleasure of "the Israeli public" (another funny choice of words, particularly in this context). A biblical quote is begging to come out, but I wouldn't want to scare Mooser, so I'll leave it at that.

    • To avoid misunderstandings: My previous comment was meant in the same vein as Dr. Kanaaneh's post.

    • Anything but the ‘A’ word because that would imply the presence within our borders, holy and inviolable even if still undetermined, of a non-Jewish contaminant of the same ethnic substance like the sea of undesirables surrounding us on all sides (except, of course, for our Mediterranean escape route to our former cradle of civilized bliss for which we have never stopped longing.)

      As a matter of fact, the 'A' word can be very useful -- in avoiding the 'P' word for example, or in arguing that the 'A's have already got 22 or 37 or 193.666 states and why don't these 'A's just move in with those 'A's and leave us alone or, better yet, "go back where they came from" (the 'A' Peninsula, of course)? It's also convenient shorthand for graffitti ("A good 'A' is a ...") or bumper-stickers ("No 'A's -- No ...).

  • Abbas calls on UN Security Council to end the occupation
    • Genocide is a term that shouldn’t be bandied about frivolously,” wrote Nahum Barnea in the mass circulation Yediot Ahronot daily. “In diplomatic and legal terms, it is on par with a declaration of war.”

      And what was Barnea expecting for Gaza? A thank you note and a box of Ramallah's finest chocolates?

  • Rosh Hashanah After Gaza
    • If you google the phrase you see that it’s primarily used by anti-Israel writers.

      It is so shocking, it's no wonder that those who oppose Israel's actions would pick it up (not invent it, but pick it up), and see it as an accurate description of Israel's ongoing strategy (as defined by Israeli strategists). It goes without saying that those who support Israel's actions generally prefer euphemisms like "Protective Edge" or "Summer Rains".

      Try it in Hebrew: link to

    • Mooser, so I see that phrase has been used numerous times, mostly by anti-Israel writers like you. I don’t use it.


      The phrase "mowing the lawn" has been used by a number of Israeli officials and strategists to describe Israel's operations in Gaza in recent years, most notably Eitan Shamir (former head of the National Security Doctrine Department at the Ministry of Strategic Affairs) and Ephraim Inbar, in their paper "Mowing the Grass: Israel's Strategy for Protracted Intractable Conflict", published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

      It is a revolting phrase and an even more revolting strategy, but it wasn't made up by "anti-Israeli" writers. It is what Israel does and what its strategists call it.

    • I’m sorry Schmuel, all you do is confuse me. What “we” are both of us in? Neither of us is religious, you just told me you aren’t attending schul or practicing Hai-karate (God, I hate buzz-words!),

      None whatsoever, Mooser. My mistake. Won't happen again.

    • Mooser,

      Are you really suggesting that we should just pack it in and let Zionism have the lot?

    • Apparently my misunderstanding is greater than even I could have imagined.

      I couldn't have put it better myself.

    • Well gosh, Schmuel, I’m sure you can see why it scares me so. I mean, it’s all the same stuff the Zionists use. Naturally, when I hear it, I think, “uh-oh, here we go again”.

      You mean Judaism=Zionism? If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a Zionist yourself.

    • So it does bug you, Mooser. Either I don't understand why or you don't. In any case, I'll try to keep it in mind. In the meantime, feel free to skip anything with my name over it. You never know when I might be trying to hustle some scary Torah shit (I'm afraid I don't have a quote for that, off the cuff).

    • And I’m always wondering about all those people (there must be, literally millions, who have ‘left’ Judaism, voted with their feet. Are their votes counted?

      On the one hand, those who've left have left, but if they want their "vote" to be counted (or someone else thinks there is any sense in doing so), they haven't really left, have they? Unlike being pregnant, however, I do think it is possible to be "a little bit Jewish".

    • No, I was just trying to figure out, as I have been lately, what is Jewish.

      Since my Jewish upbringing was religious and centred on ritual and study, my Jewish consciousness and context revolve around and have developed from that, although I no longer go to shul or observe Halakhah. Saadya Gaon said that we have only the Torah in common, and Mordecai Kaplan called Judaism "the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people". Admittedly, the logic of the latter definition seems a bit circular.

      Jewish religious practice is easy to identify as Jewish. Study and thought get a little complicated, as studying clearly Jewish texts does not necessarily make you Jewish, and what is a clearly Jewish text? Is the philosophy of Levinas, for example, Jewish? Similar things can be said about art, music, language, food, comedy, etc.

      Tragically, many of our co-religionists (a term I still find appropriate) have opted for ethnic nationalism as the core element of their identity as Jews. Obviously, that doesn't work for you or me. For others, the struggle against Jewish nationalism stands at the heart of their Jewishness -- often combined with a broader commitment to social justice. But what makes those struggles specifically Jewish? Usually, some sort of link to Jews who did or said similar things in the past (whether Heschel and civil rights, the Bund and labour rights, or a selective reading of the ancient Jewish prophets). In the end, however, the Jewish "connection", whether direct or indirect, always seems to come back to religious traditions -- whether as a source of inspiration or the means by which ideas and ideals are expressed.

      "Ethical Judaism" is not a new idea, but without the idiom and the ritual (retained by the early Reformers), it is a somewhat nebulous feeling or link that is personal and difficult to convey to others (assuming the idea of "continuity" has any significance). The same would be true of family ties or memories/nostalgia.

      I don't feel that I have some sort of mission, to spread ("hustle") the Good News. It's just who I am and the way I speak and express myself. Bible and Rabbinic literature and Jewish liturgy float around in my head, are an inevitable part of my thought processes (including my convictions about Palestine) and are meaningful to me. I sometimes use them to convey my ideas, both because that is what comes naturally to me, and because I think others might be able to relate to them (at least as much as any of us can get into anybody else's head).

    • Your “culturasl” idiom? Sounded like a religious text to me

      Religious texts are part of my cultural background, and it was on topic - in reply to Yonah's thoughts on the shofar and Citizen's selectively negative interpretation of the religious symbol.

      You still haven't told me if it bugs you, and if so, why?

      But what kind of “cultural idiom” is it?

      In this case, liturgical poetry -- a particularly moving and important part of the high holiday prayers: link to

      You do Borscht Belt; I do liturgy. I probably just set you up for a joke. Go for it.

    • I almost forgot to wish you a gut, gezunt un zis yor, Mooser.

    • Shmuel, what fraction, what percentage of Jewish people get a religious education, and what does it consist of?

      I don't know, but Beinart seems to.

      And if we extend the question to all Jews, not just those identifying as Jews, what is the percentage?

      I would guess that few people who don't identify as Jews would give their kids (or themselves) a Jewish religious education.

      Why are you always hustling Torah?

      Just expressing myself in my cultural idiom. Does it bug you?

    • Or to proclaim freedom throughout the land (Lev. 25:10), or to arouse the hearts of men to repentance:

      Unesaneh tokef kedushas hayom --
      Let us speak of the power of the day’s holiness.
      For it is fearsome and terrifying. ...
      And a great shofar will be blown and then a faint voice of silence will be heard. ...
      Like a shepherd gathering his flock, passing the sheep under his staff. ...
      Man comes from earth and will come to earth.
      A broken shard. Dry grass. A withering flower.
      A passing shadow. A dissipating cloud.
      A flowing breeze. Floating dust. A flying dream. ...
      And the holy seraphim whisper in secret: it is judgement day.

      (From the High Holiday liturgy)

  • Russell Tribunal finds evidence of incitement to genocide, crimes against humanity in Gaza
    • Palestinians seem to get a more rounded education, Shmuel. They are less likely to think the world hates them. That must have an impact on behavior.

      Don't worry, seafoid. Palestinians have plenty of their own complexes -- some of them remarkably similar to those of Israeli Jews.

      I heard a Palestinian speaker the other day, who painted a particularly rosy picture of Palestinian culture and society. The moderator asked him, but tell me, after all you've been through, don't some Palestinians, at least, feel hatred toward their oppressors? He replied that Palestinians don't know the meaning of hatred. They want justice, but bear no ill-will to anyone and, what is more, have no prejudices whatsoever and treat all human beings as brothers -- always have and always will.

      Speaking for myself, my solidarity goes out to imperfect humans, not otherworldly saints.

    • In any event, alleged Palestinian violations of international law in no way justify Israel's attacks against civilians.

    • it was Mads Gilbert who gave testimony yesterday that it was IMPOSSIBLE for any Palestinian to use another as a ‘human shield’ because of their culture and their care for each other.

      There's a lot to be said about the Israeli use and abuse of the "human shields" argument, but this is no better than drawing conclusions about Palestinians because theirs is "a culture of death" or because "they don't love their children". Palestinians are human and capable of the entire range of human behaviour -- including using civilian (even protected) structures to hide and safeguard military activity. What remains to be seen is whether such things were actually done (and not by Israel's self-serving standards and definitions).

  • US elites are vulnerable to donor pressure on Israel question
  • No Surprise Dep't: David Brooks's son is in Israeli army
    • Thought experiment:

      Civilian fear and suffering was part of Netanyahu's strategy: If Israel could emerge as the innocent victim in a conflagration with Hamas, if western TV screens were filled with Israelis huddling in shelters, damaged buildings and even a few funerals, then public sympathy would relieve pressure to stop building settlements and to negotiate concessions, and would cement the Hamas=IS equivalence and Israel's standing as an invaluable ally against the advancing Islamic hordes. Terrorising the the Israeli public was part of the point.

  • Rabbis want to criticize Israel but fear donors (and 'NYT' buries the news)
    • Mooser,

      Israel is structurally racist against non-Jews in general and Palestinians in particular. It also has a history of popular and institutional racism against non-European Jews. The latter type of racism is no longer as blatant as it once was and is probably more a matter of class discrimination today (with ethnic overlap and some exceptions for the worse). I wouldn't say that there is a strategy of dividing Israeli Jews along ethnic lines, although pitting the poor against each other is always in vogue.

      My point in noting that the woman who made the statement about "their breeding" may very well have been a Yemenite (or other Mizrahit -- not unlikely in south Tel Aviv) was that not all racism in Israel can or should be attributed to the big bad Ashkenazim, and that being a victim of racism (past or present) doesn't mean that you can't also be a racist yourself. To come back to the strategy of control, those in power would much rather have the mostly-Mizrahi residents of poor neighbourhoods in TA venting their anger and frustration at asylum seekers than at the government or power structure that keeps both groups poor and oppressed. Nothing particularly Israeli about that.

    • I would bet any amount of money that these people said the same thing with the yemenite immigration

      Or maybe she was a Yemenite herself.

  • What Max Blumenthal saw in Gaza
    • Max was filled with despair. Not that I had a hopeful view of the outcome before this, he said. But when you see the destruction, the utter scale and the breadth of it, and all the families destroyed, just wiped out, it’s mindboggling. Then you see that the world does nothing. It’s goes on as if nothing happened.

      And people think (those who think about it at all), "Hey, it's over. There's a ceasefire." And individuals afraid of "taking sides" insist that aid must be collected for Israelis (I kid you not) as well as Palestinians, or not at all.

  • Israel carries out extrajudicial killing of two Palestinians suspected in Israeli youths kidnapping
    • The rest of B. Michael's article is also worth reading.

    • What is your point, Schmuel?

      My point is that "resisted arrest" and "tried to escape" are the oldest excuses in the book for extrajudicial executions. Sometimes they're even true, but the fact that an Israeli official tells us so (particularly in this lie-filled and manipulated affair) means very little.

    • “At a certain stage, they came out and opened fire,” said Brigade General Tamir Yadai speaking to the Jerusalem Post, “one was killed on the spot, and one fell into a pit and I assume he was killed,” he continued.

      It might have happened like that, or it might have happened as B. Michael described the capture of Lehi leader Avraham (Yair) Stern, in Tel Aviv, in February 1942:

      "Come out with your hands up, Mr. Stern", the inspector rasped, in the direction of the wardrobe. From the wardrobe emerged Lehi commander Avraham Yair Stern.

      "We meet at last", taunted [CID Inspector Geoffrey] Morton, "and now you will undoubtedly try to escape, will you not, Mr. Stern?"

      Even before the Lehi commander could grasp the significance of this odd question, Morton raised his revolver and shot Stern twice. Once in the head and once in the heart.

      Hebrew: link to

      French translation: link to

  • Russell Tribunal on Palestine: Delegitmisation of Israeli apartheid has to happen in the courtroom too
    • the dead, who would turn in their graves at the thought of her disgusting opportunism.

      And you would know this how? It sounds to me like you are engaging in your own kind of opportunism.

  • Goldberg tries to police view that Israel's actions fuel anti-Semitism
    • Thousands of Germans, many wrapped in Israeli flags ...

      If there's no connection, why the flags? It seems to me that the flags were actually wrapped in the protesters -- in order to defend Israel. Now why would they do that at a demonstration that was supposed to be about anti-Semitism.

  • Palestinian babies not included on Israel gov't list of most popular names
    • Relax guys, this is just a list of names.

      So is this: link to

      But it got banned anyway (a decision upheld by the High Court).

    • I must have missed this intro to the published stats: "In light of numerous requests for the most popular Hebrew names this past year, the Authority has decided to issue the following information ..."

      Contrary to the assumptions of the Haaretz newspaper, there is no plot to deliberately hide information

      No, not a deliberate plot; just complete disregard for 20% of the country's population, not considered part of society. I'm sure the idea of publishing obviously Arab names never even occurred to anyone at the Authority. Frankly, with all those "inflitrators" to lock up and deport (the reason the Authority was created in the first place), who has the time for such trivial matters?

    • De facto if not de jure,

      De facto, Israel has no need of rabbis to dehumanise Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. The secular-dominated state has done just fine on that score. If anything, rabbis spouting rabbinic law to suit their fascist beliefs are actually latecomers to the dehumanisation game, and just the garish window dressing.

    • t is by no means trivial

      It is an integral part of the mindset that allows police (see Oct. 2000) to open fire on the country's own citizens, as if they were an external enemy.

    • Muslims do not count as fully human under rabbinic law.

      Neither relevant nor true.

  • Israeli attack on Gaza damaged 75 kindergartens and day-care centers
    • 8. Any violation of these prohibitions [including the use of civilians to shield military operations] shall not release the Parties to the conflict from their legal obligations with respect to the civilian population and civilians

      link to

  • Naive? At a Jewish spiritual retreat center, I insist on talking about Gaza
    • There's a good article by Amira Hass, in today's Haaretz, about the difficulty in getting the Palestinian message across -- when they are "polite", they are ignored, and when they shout (as she characterises Abbas' speech at the UN), the discussion becomes all about the fact that they are shouting.

    • Lynne,

      Thank you for your reply. To clarify, my reference to "raising hackles" was not about your own difficulties or safety (an issue you confronted with great courage), but about the communicative approach you took to this audience. In my experience, Holocaust analogies (I too am from a family deeply affected by the Holocaust) are mind-closers that make communication all but impossible. That is not to say that there was necessarily any kind of receptiveness to the message itself, but if there was, perhaps another approach would have been more effective.

      I know this sounds presumptuous. I wasn't there, and probably wouldn't have had your courage, but have been thinking a lot lately about effective approaches to different kinds of audiences on the subject of I/P in general and Gaza in particular, and having been reflecting on the concept of "Right Speech" in that context. Of course, if we only speak to those we know will be receptive to our messages, we will accomplish very little indeed.

    • And Israeli culture is Jewish culture? Is that what you are saying Schmuel? I sure as hell hope not. If Israel is Jewish culture, what have Jews all over the world been indulging in for a couple of thousand years, an inferior “diaspora” culture.

      There is no single, definitive Jewish culture, nor has there ever been. Jewish Israeli cultures are Jewish Israeli cultures -- no more, no less. They have no special standing or authority or "authenticity", and some aspects of those cultures turn my stomach -- and not necessarily the "shallowest" bits.

    • Thank goodness she didn’t end up sitting next to a German on the plane home, she said. Or worse, an Arab! Her face grew hard and dark at the thought.

      This reminds me of Avrum Burg's discussion, in The Holocaust is Over of the displacement of anger and revenge from the Germans to the Arabs (restoring relations with Germany while "reincarnating the Nazi spirit into the Arab body").

    • Hi Lynne,

      Thanks for your thought-provoking article.

      A friend recently introduced me Thich Nhat Hanh's "Art of Communicating", and particularly the concept of "Right Speech", which she (my friend) has been trying to employ in talking about Palestine.

      Thich Nhat Hanh lists four parts of Right Speech: 1. Tell the truth; 2. Don't exaggerate; 3. Be consistent; 4. Use peaceful language.

      I certainly don't mean to criticise and I'm still working on these things myself. I know next to nothing about about Buddhism, and until a couple of weeks ago, had never even heard of Thich Nhat Hanh. I wonder though, whether your opening statement ("the very people who had once been segregated, starved, demonized and murdered were now doing the same to the Palestinians"), which set the tone for the entire discussion might not have fallen into the category of Wrong Speech.

      Is the "very people" an appropriate label, and are those who are oppressing the Palestinians really "doing the same" as was done to Jews (and others) during the Holocaust? Is this statement a true reflection of reality, or is it an exaggeration and/or a distraction that may have emotional impact, but may also close minds and raise hackles - especially among those likely to oppose the message you are trying to convey?

      I'd really like to hear your thoughts on Right Speech and human rights advocacy in Israel/Palestine.

    • Seafoid,

      You're confusing a lot of different (albeit related) issues -- education, culture, society, insularity, continuity, identity etc. -- and making vague judgements such as "shallow" or "deep".

      Israel is a militaristic ethnocracy, rooted in a romantic-nationalist ideology and born out of extreme trauma (both experienced and inflicted). It has serious problems -- objective, perceived and manufactured. Issues of continuity are interesting (and debatable) but, in and of themselves, do not make a culture shallow or profound. Modern Hebrew today is a language like any other, with "high" and "low" speakers, jingoistic fetishists and those for whom it is simply a mother tongue.

      There's a lot of nasty stuff going on in Israel, but not everything about it is worthy of condemnation or dismissal.

    • Israel has a particularly shallow culture- they ensured that when they dropped everything in favour of a dead language and moved to a land virtually none of them had any familiarity with.

      What a strange thing to say and even stranger reasoning. Like most cultures, Israeli culture has both shallow and profound aspects, and I have no idea why the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language (or immigration to/colonisation of a foreign land) would have given rise to "a particularly shallow culture".

      The purpose of the comparison to India and China also eludes me.

  • The rabbi at the shitshow
    • Do your contributions get impounded at the border by the Israelis and go bad, or are all the medicines purchased through Israeli middlemen businesses, which then are mysteriously allowed to enter Gaza?

      I'm not up on the details, but our activists are smart and experienced, with people and projects on the ground. These are not "feel good" exercises for the donors.

    • D. Leshaw: Instead of a BDS campaign, I’d rather a tzedakah [charity] campaign for Gaza. Let’s actually do something.

      Why are the two mutually exclusive, and why is political pressure to change unjust policies not "actually do[ing] something"?

      Our local Palestinian solidarity groups have raised tens of thousands of euros and collected medicines to send to Gaza -- while conducting numerous campaigns, including protests against the current violence, against the ongoing siege and in favour of BDS. Tzedakah (charity) is complementary to tzedek (justice), not an alternative to it.

    • On the "cost" side, Hillel rabbis who write "We need to meet about BDS" -- against the specific directives of their employers - don't grown on trees. Maybe there is something there that could have been pursued. Maybe it will still be there when things calm down a little, or maybe not. Megan made her call.

    • what is wrong with it affecting people who are emotionally invested in israel?


      Phil asked me to explain why I thought Megan had hurt people, not whether she was right or wrong to have done so. BDS also hurts people, but I support it wholeheartedly. I write and say things about Israel, knowing full well that they will hurt people (including my own family).

      Rabbi Leshaw cited Megan's responsibility, once elected, to all students and to campus life (and to personal relationships). That's certainly something for a student leader to consider -- and perhaps reject -- but at least consider. Another consideration is efficacy. Did she achieve the desired result (raising awareness of the massacre in Gaza and drumming up support for BDS)? Could she have achieved the same thing or more in another way? What does the cost/benefit analysis of her action look like? If Megan is the smart politician/activist she seems to be, I'm sure all of these things went through her mind and continue to do so.

    • you say ... that Megan hurt people, can you elaborate?

      Megan chose to express her views by means of a provocation, employing a powerful symbol -- perhaps the most powerful symbol there is: (human) blood. In so doing, she obviously hoped to elicit strong emotions. How could that not affect people who are emotionally invested in Israel (whether you or I think they should be or not)? Also, you don't need to be a professor of semiotics to realise that such a powerful symbol can lead human psyches to a lot of different and very dark places. The Bible didn't say that "blood is the soul/life-force" for nothing.

    • I don't know whether either of these two women would appreciate the comparison, but the respective accusations against them strike me as rather similar - with the difference that Megan Marzec is a student and a politician, while Danielle Leshaw is a religious/cultural/spiritual leader and role model on campus. Rabbi Leshaw accuses Ms. Marzec of having marginalised and isolated students, but isn't that precisely what Rabbi Leshaw herself has done -- by leading a political club on a very divisive issue, and by taking such an active role in adversarial student politics? I'm sure Ms. Marzec has hurt some students (although presumably not all Jews on campus, as Rabbi Leshaw suggests, and not exclusively Jews), but so has Rabbi Leshaw, and that is definitely not part of her job.

      And once again, isn't automatically assigning a particular political view to "an estimated 800 students" (ostensibly for no other reason than the fact that they happen to be Jewish) also a kind of marginalisation and isolation?

      In her open letter, to Ms. Marzec, Rabbi Leshaw hints that she's under a lot of external pressure. Is that why she published her letter in the newspaper rather than sending it privately (to someone who "has a relationship with the campus rabbi"), or better yet, meeting face to face? Is that why she cheered on the Bobcats for Israel "filibuster" and instead of trying to restore the sense of "safety" of all students by toning things down and trying to work through them? Wouldn't an educator see an opportunity here to teach conflict resolution and compassionate listening, rather than increasing the divide?

      As Phil points out, Rabbi Leshaw is a compelling individual, but what does all of this say about Hillel, wherever it is present on campus?

      I wish Rabbi Leshaw could get over the "assholes and douchebags" stage and have a real conversation about all of this.

  • Yale official barred discussion of Israeli settlements and apartheid at monthly meeting
    • Chaplain Sharon Kugler rebuked me after the meeting and said that this subject must never again be raised at meetings of the whole.

      Apart from justice in the Holy Land (to most of the Yale chaplains), are there any other subjects that "must never be raised"?

  • Israeli Supreme Court upholds law allowing housing discrimination against Palestinians
    • in any event the law concerns homes on kibbutz “extensions”

      To the extent that it does involve kibbutzim.

    • Interesting theory, Naftush. However, not only does "kibbutz ideology" (assuming such a thing still exists) have nothing to do with it (in any event the law concerns homes on kibbutz "extensions", not membership in the kibbutzim themselves), but all of the representatives of the kibbutz movement in Knesset (from Labour and Meretz) as well as the Kibbutz Movement itself have rejected the law -- sponsored by members of Kadimah and Yisrael Beiteinu -- as racist (Hebrew): link to

    • A freakin’ falsehood is what it is. Israeli ID cards haven’t mentioned nationality since 2005.

      I think you mean 2002 (following the HCJ ruling on registering non-Orthodox converts as Jews), and the nationality article was restored in 2011. Eli Yishai giveth and Eli Yishai taketh away.

    • Ms. Johnson, I am absolutely shocked by your allegations. Of course you weren't fired from the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Corporation because you got pregnant. Gasp! That would be against the law. By the way, are you recording this? You simply no longer suited the lifestyle and social fabric of our community.

    • The Old Fuddy-Duddy Misogynist White Christian MEN'S! Club reserves the right to bar membership candidates who do not suit the lifestyle and social fabric of the community.*

      *The membership committee does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion or age.

      Funny how everybody seems to skip the disclaimer.

  • Rabbi in Ohio U. controversy leads group that denies there's an occupation
    • Rabbi,

      Unlike Philip Weiss, I'm not particularly disturbed by the symbolic silhouette of Israel/Palestine in the “Bobcats for Israel” masthead. There is a long tradition of the use of such icons to represent political entities – including Israel – without necessarily reflecting revanchist or expansionist ideologies.

      What I do wonder about, however, is why a Hillel rabbi is an administrator of and active participant in a political club on campus. In the case of Israel, this serves to reinforce the widespread confusion between Judaism and Zionism that contributes directly to the sense of “unsafeness” you say some Jewish students experience when Israel is criticised (certainly harshly in the case of Student Senate President Megan Marzec's, recent actions and statements). Furthermore, openly taking such a political position would presumably alienate non-Zionist Jewish students, who should not be denied Jewish religious, cultural and communal ties and services (particularly on a campus where there are few Jewish alternatives), simply on the basis of their political beliefs.

      Among your inspiring words to the J Street panel on Birthright last year, I was particularly struck by your reference to the separation barrier as “our new wall”. This turn of phrase perfectly expresses the idolatry of security and nationalism and self that is so much a part of Israeli and Zionist reality. Although you certainly did not mean to extend this expression to Jewish (particularly institutional) attitudes to Israel in general and its place in Jewish life today, I will take the liberty (a somewhat violent liberty, I know) of doing so.

      May the coming year see the fulfilment of the words of Isaiah, “For the work of righteousness shall be peace. And the effect of righteousness, calm and confidence forever”.

      Shanah tovah umetukah,

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