Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 7519 (since 2009-08-04 05:43:29)


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  • My journey from Zionism to Palestine solidarity
    • each year at Halloween the teachers at my elementary school handed out boxes for kids to collect pennies for UNICEF as they went trick-or-treating, but I was not allowed to because my father said the money would support Palestinians.

      My upbringing was Orthodox and we didn't celebrate Halloween, but we sometimes gave (kosher) candy to the kids who came to the door. We did not put money in the UNICEF boxes, however, because (so we were told) "UNICEF teaches Arab kids to hate Jews".

      Looking back I find that shocking, but at the time it felt like common sense in the community I grew up in.

      Even at the time, it seemed kind of odd to me that 1) the United Nations Children's Fund (the UN! kids!) would actually be teaching anti-Semitism; and 2) everyone in the whole world (even the parents of the Jewish kids doing the collecting in our neighbourhood) except us seemed to be OK with that. Was that really how the world worked? It did not feel at all like common sense in the community or family I grew up in, but if people I respected said it was so, it must have been so.

  • Oren's criticism of US Jews earns his book five thumbs down: 'slinky,' 'self-aggrandizing,' 'twists reality'
    • Acceptable reasons for disagreeing with Michael Oren:
      1. You don't understand.
      2. You are prejudiced.
      3. You are nuts.

      Breakfast at the Orens' must be a joy.

  • 'Jewish cow' is udderly superior to all other cows in the world, Netanyahu says
    • ‘Jewish cow’ is udderly superior to all other cows in the world, Netanyahu says

      Which just goes to show (as every Yiddishe cow knows) that alts iz nisht buter vos komt arois fun der ku.

    • Well, why, everyone knows the best, happiest and most productive cowes belong to the Massaai tribe.

      Netanyahu never said "Jewish" cows were happy.

    • Since when is making a cow give inordinate amounts of milk a good thing? Kolkhoz meets market economy meets chauvinism meets dairy hasbara (whitewashing?).

  • Israeli President Reuven Rivlin calls for removal of Israeli flag
    • Phil and Adam don’t seem to have a problem with the Christian symbol on many European flags, or with Muslim symbols on the flags of Arab and Muslim countries.

      I thought I had covered that. The problem is not the religious symbol per se, but what it stands for. In Israel (at least in the eyes of its Palestinian citizens), it stands for exclusion, discrimination and violence. Saudi Arabia too.

      I understand the desire to consider Palestinian sensitivities, but I think that the answer is not in lowering the Magen David, but in ensuring that the Palestinian flag can be raised alongside it.

      A Palestinian state will not, in and of itself, resolve the problem of exclusion, discrimination and violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel, although it may address some elements of it.

      the lesson of those days should be that both peoples should be able to fly their flags and make use of the symbols that are dear to so many.

      I don't think Phil and Adam were talking about banning the Israeli flag, but about a voluntary gesture to address what the flag means to the quarter of the country's population for whom it is not "dear" at all but, on the contrary, is a constant reminder of injustice and suffering.

      But let’s not pretend that it’s just the matter of the flag. If there’s a Jewish state, there are going to be Jewish symbols: the magen david flag, the menorah emblem, the ” “Hatikva “anthem . It’s not the symbol, it’s the concept of a Jewish state that bugs Phil and Adam.

      Who ever said it was about the flag itself? I may be going out on a limb here, but I don't think Phil or Adam have a problem with superimposed, blue triangles. Of course the problem is the fact that Israel has a charter ethnicity/religion. Of course it's the ethnocratic Jewish state that bugs Phil and Adam (and me). Were that the case in Sweden or Switzerland, their flags (as symbols, not yellow or red intersecting lines), would be worthy of similar thought experiments.

    • Jon,

      I think the idea was a symbolic gesture that a symbolic leader might make -- where the symbol itself is one of exclusion, discrimination and worse. In Finland or the UK, the crosses on the flag simply don't have that symbolic value. One could arguably say the same for Turkey or Malaysia. As for countries like Saudi Arabia, they make no claim to democracy or equality. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think you would consider Saudi Arabia "good company" for Israel.

    • Rivlin is exactly the right man to choose, because he’s made a few such symbolic gestures in the last year to address inequality

      Like eulogising the racist murderer Moshe Levinger? Or insulting the intelligence of Palestinian Israelis while "apologising" to them ("I hereby swear, in my name and that of all our descendants, we will never act against the principle of equal rights, and we will never try and force someone from our land") and insinuating that they were all terrorists or terrorist sympathisers? Chauvinism with a smile.

    • Interesting choice of Rivlin rather than Netanyahu for this thought experiment. Rivlin is much more unpredictable and capable of occasionally saying something in this spirit, though this gesture would be far too “outrageous.”

      Actually, I think Rivlin was a poor choice -- precisely because of his false liberal image. The experiment gives credence to his "Betar-majesty" Herrenvolk sham. Better Netanyahu.

  • Oren pushed Random House to hurry his book so American Jews will 'intercede' to stop Iran deal and save millions of Jews
    • I think it’s very important to understand his sheer animosity towards Obama, for I view Oren as a bellweather. Why does he and the lobby distrust Obama so much? I don’t think they are mad or irrational, I think they are rational, highly rational in fact.

      Oren reflects the fact that on the Israeli right (current Jewish-Israeli mainstream) Obama is an enemy (this is probably part of what he thinks many American Jews -- particularly those who are "not Orthodox" and serve in the administration -- don't get). Judy Shalom-Nir-Mozes' tweet reflects the same mood -- albeit somewhat less "diplomatically".
      link to

      Mr. "White", clueless (if not downright anti-Semitic) foreign correspondent is also an enemy.
      link to

      Europeans and left-wing Israeli Jews are also enemies:
      link to
      link to

      I guess you could say that the Jewish-Israeli mainstream (some of the links above refer to more extreme individuals/groups,, but the views they express in terms of "who is an enemy" are certainly widespread) is both rational and irrational. Paranoia is at fever-pitch (the closest I can remember is the period leading up to Rabin's assassination) and there are no half-measures: either you are 100% behind Netanyahu (or to his right), or you are an enemy -- to be fought, undermined and made a fool of (at least half of what Netanyahu's last performance before Congress was about). There's definitely method in the madness.

  • 'Obama coffee' is black and weak -- racist tweet from wife of Israel's vice premier
    • My dear "Mooser". Even Moses got his "Who the hell are you?" from Korah and his gang, teaching us that if they can't make the earth swallow you when you challenge them (and even then -- see Deuteronomy 13:1-6), they should be considered "officially" self-appointed.

    • In fact, when I’m eating charoset I even forget to wonder if the mythical subjugation we were redeemed from is simply an excuse for the subjugation to Jewish leaders.

      Yes, charoset has that effect. Tamares had it covered though (in a sermon cleverly delivered a week before Passover, when charoset levels in the blood are at their lowest). Using his personal/professional idiom, he says that's precisely why the Exodus preceded the Sinaitic Revelation, to teach us that freedom comes before Torah and don''t let any self-appointed "religious" leaders tell you otherwise, ostensibly in the name of the Law itself.

    • Do we really need a rule or piece of ancient text to remind us ‘not to oppress a stranger’? or even a familiar? How very very sad.

      Just before Passover this year (a calendar prompt to thought -- also unnecessary for pure thought, but mighty helpful), I was reading a sermon on freedom by an early-20th-century anti-Zionist rabbi by the name of Ahron Shmuel Tamares. In his introduction to his published sermons, Tamares begs indulgence of those who would prefer pure reasoning without recourse to ancient stories and texts, but asserts both that it is his personal/professional mode of expression and that, in his experience, it can be very helpful in illustrating and driving home lofty (sometimes too-lofty) ideas and ideals.

      The sermon in question deals with the ultimate evil of human subjugation, justified and rationalised by "pure reason"--making it all the more insidious.

      If it were that simple (obvious without myths and stories and texts and sancta), it wouldn't still need saying that empathy with the Other is a good thing.

    • I agree that there is no evidence outside the Bible for Hebrew slavery in Egypt but there is an ethical principle ‘not to oppress a stranger’ in Exodus, explained by empathy with strangers in Egypt.

      It is more than that. It is part of a founding myth of liberation/redemption (or revolution, if you prefer). The concept of freedom is meaningless without the concept of subjugation. As such the Egyptian slavery-liberation story is a paradigm for all redemption (say the Rabbis, correctly). The historical kernel of the myth (to the extent that there is any) is very much beside the point.

  • Does Israel have a toxic personality? Ask Michael Oren
    • Shmuel- Let me answer you in my own way.

      I'll follow your lead. This isn't really all that much about specific questions anyway.

      You're a little older than I am, but other than that, our backgrounds are remarkably similar.

      If I were to think in terms of enemies and friends, on the whole, I would have to consider Barghouti a friend and you an enemy -- but that is not how I want to view the world. There is a kind of cold, "logical" rigidity to your emotional defence that even my supposedly "Vulcan/Litvishe" brain can't accept. It is the ultimate mind game, because you never have to leave your own brain (or heart, if you prefer -- but that's also the traditional seat of the intellect) in order to confront the real world. The real world is not made up of colour-coded friends and foes or perfect causes. "Righteousness" (ultimately the righteousness of one guy with a sign) is your bag, not mine.

    • I am agnostic vis a vis BDS. There is little question in my mind that when someone like Zeev Sternhell says that Israel will only change through outside pressure that I tend to agree with him. But when I hear Omar Barghouti speak I feel in my bones that he is my enemy and when I hear Peter Beinart speak I feel in my bones that I am on his side.

      Stream of consciousness: What sort of pressure would you be OK with? Wouldn't you be an "enemy", if you were in Barghouti's shoes? But, as "enemies" go.... But Beinart isn't really proposing pressure -- so how do you reconcile Beinart with Sternhell? And what about someone like Charles Manekin? Do you feel like you are on his side?

      at some point in time dialogue will be necessary between those on the ground in Israel-Palestine and there will be a need for people like me who can talk to the side of the Zionists

      Who's to say you won't be agnostic then as well? There is no absolute moral/emotional clarity here and never will be, just moral/emotional arithmetic. At some point you need to add the numbers up. And if not now when?

  • Israeli leader turns on US Jewish journalists Friedman, Wieseltier, Remnick and Silvers for disloyalty and anti-semitism!
    • Bintbiba,

      I speak from a position of privilege. I have never lost my home, been a refugee or suffered the consequences of war. It is Palestinian voices like yours that are a beacon of humanity.

    • Beinart will not renounce Zionism, because Beinart is not a self-hating bigot who would deny to his own people what everyone else enjoys

      First of all, thanks for the compliment, hophmi.

      Zionism is just nationalism. Not everyone is a nationalist, and not everyone who is not a nationalist is a self-hating, bigot, traitor, pinko, public enemy, "knife in the nation's back", etc.

      Beinart has come to the conclusion that his people's nationalism has some very big ethical (and practical) problems. For the moment, he thinks a reasonable compromise between these conflicting values can be achieved. He can go 3 basic ways from here:
      1) Continue to believe he (and his people) can hold on to both.
      2) Decide that the two cannot be reconciled and, with or without a heavy heart, renounce nationalism.
      3) Decide that the two cannot be reconciled and, with or without a heavy heart, decide to renounce (at least where Israel is concerned) values such as equality and democracy.

      I've been there and chosen my path. Beinart will choose his. I've seen all three. It's hard to predict. Even you may become an anti-Zionist some day. As the Rabbis said: "Don't be sure of yourself until your dying day and don't judge your fellow until you are in his place."

    • “The antagonism sparked by Netanyahu,” he continues, “resembled that traditionally triggered by Jews. We were always the ultimate Other – communists in the view of capitalists and capitalists in communist eyes, nationalists for the cosmopolitans and, for jingoists, the International Jew.

      So Netanyahu regularly gets criticised for being a communist and a rootless cosmopolitan? I must have missed those op-eds in the NYT.

      Oh, I get it now. It was just an analogy. What Oren really meant is that Netanyahu gets criticised no matter what he does: whether he builds illegal settlements and bombs innocent civilians, or conducts peace negotiations in good faith and cracks down on human rights violations in the Occupied Territories. No, wait ...

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  • Jewish community must 'welcome' anti-Zionist, pro-BDS Jews, Beinart says-- but Shavit says, Excommunicate them
    • “I’ve been there. I’ve been listening to them,” he said of the BDS supporters. “I’m for free discussion… but BDS in so many places has serious anti-Semitic dimensions….I’ve seen young liberal Jews in such a state because they are aware of that.

      Really? So how did you (Shavit) come up with the next bit?

      Shavit said what was needed was a new partnership between American Jews and Israeli Jews that would change Israel’s image in the world. He called it the David challenge: “We have to convince ourselves and others that we are the David. We cannot be perceived as the Goliath.”

      Bible lesson time (Beinart's excused -- extra credit for his understanding of the Sinaitic Revelation).

      1 Samuel 17 (trans. Robert Alter):


      And the champion sallied forth from the Philistine camps, Goliath was his name, from Gath, his height was six cubits and a span. A bronze helmet he had on his head, and in armor of mail he was dressed, and the weight of the armor was five thousand bronze shekels. And greaves of bronze were on his legs and a spear of bronze between his shoulder blades. The shaft of his spear like a weaver's beam, and the blade of his spear six hundred iron shekels. And his shield bearer went before him.


      And Saul clothed David in his own battle garb and put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him in armor. And David girded his sword over his garments, but he was unable to walk, for he was unused to it, and David said to Saul, “I cannot walk in these, for I am unused to it.” And David removed them. And he took his stick in his hand, and he chose five smooth stones from the creek and put them in the shepherd's pouch he had, the satchel, and his slingshot was in his hand, and he came forward toward the Philistine.

      Granted, the former is a Philistine from Gath (although the latter is a shepherd from Bethlehem), but convincing people that Israel is the ruddy, good-looking lad with a stick and a satchel, while its enemies are over eight feet tall, battle-seasoned and armed with the latest defensive and offensive weapons is a really really long shot -- even for "an excellent writer who composes ideas in an elegant compelling manner" (at least according to Phil).

  • BDS could cost Israel $4.7 billion a year
    • I've always pooh-poohed the potential economic impact of BDS, counting more on the psychological impact, especially among Israel's Eurocentric elite, but the report in the "Israeli financial paper" (Haaretz/The Marker) this week pointed out that even a relatively small direct impact could mean the difference between growth and recession, with far-reaching implications for the Israeli economy.

  • A banner day for BDS -- though you'd have to read the Jewish press to know it
    • Pick an Israeli policy you oppose, and defend it

      Interesting idea, but no thanks.

    • Inside the American Jewish establishment, the first response to the BDS movement’s challenge to Zionism has been to cry anti-Semitism. But that response conceals a dirty little secret: that many “pro-Israel” activists haven’t thought much about the tension between Jewish statehood and liberal democracy, and thus don’t really know how to justify Zionism to an audience of skeptical, progressive non-Jews.

      I agree, but that just means that these spokesmen are inept, not that the task itself is difficult. I often feel that I could do a much better job of defending Israeli policies I strongly oppose than some of these guys.

    • I say it [justifying Zionism to liberals] is impossible. ... [I]t doesn't resonate for young liberal American Jews. They want a movement that reflects their experience, of enlarging the communities that are able to have human rights.

      I disagree on both counts. The occupation, building of settlements and, to a lesser extent, Israel's belligerence in Gaza may be impossible to justify to liberals, but not the core idea of Zionism, the right of the Jewish people to an ethnic Jewish nation state in Israel/Palestine. I'd go even further than Beinart and say it actually is "morally and intellectually simple" -- wrong, but not at all hard to do.

      As for young, liberal, American Jews, Beinart himself has pointed out that American Jewish establishments have put all their identity eggs in the Israel basket. That has and will cause some young (and not so young) Jews to chuck the whole thing or fight for different Jewish identities but, for others (including Beinart himself), a certain kind of identity tips the scale. Some may disagree with this analogy, but how many young liberal Americans of all faiths and ethnicities have supported, at least in part, US military interventions, on the basis of their American identity and an "us and them" mentality? A commitment to "enlarging the communities that are able to have human rights" is fine and dandy, but how "morally and intellectually" objective are we in general and when it comes to "our own"?

  • 'NYT' obit turns the murderous settler rabbi into a 'contentious firebrand'
    • Not to mention that his role in the "Jewish Underground" (not a West Bank subway but a terrorist organization) was never fully clarified -- neither his nor that of his Kiryat Arba cohorts, Rabbis Lior and Waldman. At least one of the leaders of the "Underground", Menahem Livni (sentenced to life in prison, reduced to 7 years thanks to Yitzhak Herzog's dad) was a disciple of Levinger's.

      I wasn't particularly disturbed by "firebrand" or "contentious", but Kershner could certainly have spared a few words on the abomination that is the Jewish settlement in Hebron, for which Levinger was largely responsible -- both physically and "spiritually", establishing patterns of violence (petty to extreme) and hatred that have shocked even the most hardened Zionists.

      Things like this: link to

      A word or two on the settler terrorism and culture of impunity he inspired (at the very least) wouldn't have hurt either.

  • Congress and state legislatures are on the warpath against BDS
    • ... are fuming that boycotts are being implemented against boycotters

      Boycott is a legitimate form of political expression. When legislators "boycott the boycotters", they are using the power of the state to restrict political expression. The accusation that BDS, in and of itself, somehow constitutes "hate speech" (Canada) or "anti-Semitism" is a shameless excuse for what is, essentially, a shameless abuse of power.

    • The Palestinian “right of return” spells the end of the Jewish people’s recognized right to a national homeland.

      So at the very best, we have conflicting rights. Jewish nationalists favouring Jewish national rights is not, by definition, anti-Arab; and Palestinians favouring the rights of individual Palestinians is not, by definition, anti-Semitic.

      A few Jews symbolically claiming citizenship doesn’t change anything for the people of Europe.

      So how many Jews would be too many for Europe (or Poland or Germany or Hungary), and how many Palestinians would be too many for Israel?

    • Politicians in the U.S. care about votes.

      And campaign financing (not necessarily in that order). How many divisions of voters and heavy donors does the pope have in the US?

    • I think this is an important political attitude the pope choose

      I agree, eGuard, but not in the sense that lysias was referring to. I don't think being in opposition to the pope is a "scary position for a politician to be in" -- not even an Italian politician, let alone an American politician (if I'm not mistaken, dismissal of the steps taken by the pope with regard to Palestine have already been denounced on the US right as "papism"). Being in opposition to Netanyahu, now there's a scary position for a politician to be in!

    • “Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.” This goal in effect would eliminate the state of Israel and as such is not only anti-Zionist but anti-Semitic.

      Are requests by Jews of Polish descent for Polish/EU citizenship anti-Polish or anti-European? Are requests for compensation for nationalised property in Egypt, Iraq, Serbia or Russia anti-Arab or anti-Slavic? You can say such demands are unrealistic, ultimately unfair or just plain wrong, but to define the struggle of Palestinians for their own rights as some sort of nefarious plot against Jews would be silly if it weren't so offensive.

    • These guys may soon be in opposition to the Pope, surely a scary position for a politician to be in.

      Not really. First of all, the pope is, how shall I put this ... well, a PAPIST.

      Second, although it's not that easy to call Papa Bergoglio an anti-Semite, "If you will it, it is no legend" (as Herzl said).

      And if all else fails, one can always say, 'He means well, but he's woefully uninformed and has been misled by his cardinals (and THEY'RE definitely anti-Semites!)."

      Besides, as a nasty man with a spectacular moustache once said: "How many divisions does the pope have?"

  • Netanyahu: Jerusalem was always the capital 'of the Jewish people alone'
    • All excommunicated Jews are hereby re-incorporated

      With full honours?

    • Talk to “JeffyB”

      Why on earth would I want to do that?

    • Okay, okay Rabbi Levinger is a sociopathic thug. But he’s no “apostate”!

      Right about now his heavenly-court-appointed defence counsel is asking him: 'So what part of YOU SHALL NOT MURDER didn't you understand? If the Holy One had wanted to say "You shall not murder JEWS", there was plenty of room left on the tablets!'

    • “Levinger openly praised the perpetrator of the Hebron massacre of 1994, Baruch Goldestein, calling him a great saint."

      Levinger not only praised murderers, but was a murderer himself. He was a violent thug of a man, backed up by all Israeli governments, the Israeli army and the Israeli "justice" system -- even when they were slapping him on the wrist.

      Someone should remind "moderate" President Rivlin of his warm words for this racist criminal who once bemoaned not having had the "privilege" of killing an Arab (referring to a man he actually had murdered), next time he goes for a photo-op in Tamra or Umm al-Fahm.

  • The burden of remembering
  • What if the Times had sent Rudoren to Selma in 1965?
    • Who knows …had it been possible then , we could have been neighbours…. and my family and people would have been all the better for that !

      Gracious and kind as always, bintbiba. The privilege would have been all ours.

    • the Orange’s Clockwork , by Eyal Sivan, was such a powerful documentary on Al Jazeera a few years ago , I must have watched it 3 times!

      One of the things that struck me most about The Clockwork's Orange is the "what might have been" aspect -- the joint economy and de facto coexistence between Arabs and Jews in Palestine at the time. This "might have been" is doubly poignant, because it shows both that the Nakba was not inevitable and that had the refugees been allowed to return after the fact, the country's social and economic fabric could still have been repaired and strengthened.

      Such an outcome becomes harder and harder to envision with each passing year, but it still offers an ideal -- one of mutual respect and equal humanity -- that may serve as the basis for the pursuit of any number of different solutions on the ground. Goodwill. So simple, yet so hard.

    • Thanks, tree. A good documentary on the subject -- focusing on the citrus industry, but also on the self-serving colonialist/orientalist myths surrounding-justifying Zionism -- is Eyal Sivan's The Orange's Clockwork.

  • The 'New York Times' is now a pro-Israel weapon. Who decided that, I don't know
    • The ‘New York Times’ is now a pro-Israel weapon

      Haaretz editors seem to read (and imitate!) MW. The current main headline in the Haaretz online edition (Hebrew) is: "Israel's Secret Weapon in its Struggle against Hezbollah: The New York Times".

  • It’s time to boycott Ben & Jerry’s
  • 'Forward' reports what 'NYT' covers up: Jews for BDS
    • There's also this article by Chemi Shalev (Hebrew): link to

      Shalev refers to the cognitive dissonance in "feeling" like a liberal and a "persecuted minority", but finding oneself on the side of right-wingers and bigots, with all the minorities on the other side.

      He also talks about the excuses used by opponents of BDS ("large numbers of minorities, including muslims, on campus", "atmosphere created by Obama"), rather than recognising the direct connection between BDS and Israel's actions.

  • Reconstructionist Jewish site censors rabbi's essay because he supports BDS and one state
    • PS It’s not the Jews or Judaism that is at stake, it’s conquest, war crimes,apartheid & open air prisons.

      It's both, although not in that order (obviously, "conquest, war crimes,apartheid & open air prisons" come first).

      PPS Why should Jews seek allowance to support BDS? Allowance from whom?

      No allowance from anyone. Wider acceptance, like any movement or idea -- especially at the source (or source of inspiration) of the greatest opposition to that idea.

      Is there any hidden totalitarian agency that a Jew must be concerned about?

      Yes. God.

    • Thanks, bintbiba and eljay :-)


      Meretz leaders were saying the same things (maybe even Tzaban himself) when I was active in the '90s.

      By the way, I think the Reconstructionist movement itself (and its founder) has had an impact on North American Jewish life in general, far beyond its membership or the number of its Rabbinical College graduates. I think it also has an important role to play in extricating Judaism from the "avodah zarah" (idolatry) of Zionism, if not from Zionism itself. A little ironic for a historically Zionist movement (unlike the much larger Reform movement), but not so ironic for a movement that has been at the forefront of ethical (and non-idolatrous) Judaism, since its inception.

      Rabbi Jack Cohen once told me that when he was living in Palestine in 1947, he was opposed to partition, hoping for a bi-national state in which Arabs and Jews could live as equals. He also told me that (Reconstructionist founder) Mordecai Kaplan agreed with him. That is an important legacy.

    • Krauss,

      Generally-speaking, I share your pessimism, but I do see importance in gaining legitimacy for views like ours -- even as they are condemned -- within the Jewish community. That will involve challenging the prevailing censorship and shunning. Yes, Open Hillel and the Reconstructionist movements are small, but they are a place to start, a way of gaining a place at the table, even if no one else will sit next to us.

      I see two reasons why this is important:

      1) It is true that BDS is and should be Palestinian-led, but it is largely Jewish voices (or the voices of those who consider themselves "friends of the Jews") that are seeking to undermine and misrepresent BDS. Therefore, Jewish voices in favour of BDS and in support of human rights and equality in I/P, and especially Jewishly-committed voices like that of Shai Gluskin, may have an impact far beyond their numbers -- if only in convincing anti-racist non-Jews that supporting BDS is not tantamount to showing hostility to Jews.

      2. The future of Judaism may be less important than current and ongoing Palestinian suffering, but that does not mean that it is a trivial matter. Creating non- and anti-Zionist Jewish spaces, however small, is an essential part of ensuring that future. Concern for the future of Israeli Jews is also a part of that.

  • AIPAC-backed legislation targeting BDS movement advances in Congress
    • But just look what that lead to ...

      Maimonides had some good things to say about Islam and some bad things, but he was certainly a product of Islamic culture (no surprise there). His son Avraham, on the other hand, was apparently a great admirer of Sufism (and hence loath to say a bad word about Islam), who probably incorporated Sufi practices into his Jewish observance -- and he wasn't the only one (Bahya Ibn Paquda, the "Jewish Sufi" comes to mind).

      Tangentially related anecdote: I had someone listen to a liturgical poem sung in the tradition of the Jews of Aleppo the other day, and he said "but that sounds just like the music my Muslim Syrian greengrocer has on all the time in his shop". Surprise surprise.

    • The wording "in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories" is straight out of Israel's own anti-boycott law.

      I suggest "occupying" that phrase to highlight the apartheid practised in an area that is treated by Israel (and apparently by the US Congress) as a single entity.

  • Israeli racism takes center stage at Manhattan JCC
    • It's all right there in the JCC Manhattan mission statement:

      ... DIVERSE ... ENGAGES ... VALUES ... IDEAS ... redefining what Jewish life means today ... diverse ... innovative ... everyone ... broad and inclusive ... a better, fairer world ... accessibility .... inclusive and accommodating ... different backgrounds ...

      AND ...

      We are deeply connected to Israel.
      Our community connects to Israel through its sights, sounds, history, and complexity. We embrace the challenge of weaving our relationships with Israel into our diverse Jewish identities.

      To paraphrase a certain US auto-maker who wasn't particularly fond of Jews: They can have any kind of Judaism they like, as long as it is "deeply connected to Israel".

      It is noteworthy that no other doctrinal demands are made in JCC Manhattan's "vision".

      Former Jewish Home (Habayit Hayehudi) candidate and champion of (some) women's rights Ms. Kahana-Dror was in exactly the right place, and Ethan Bronner and Rabbi Cohen were only defending JCC Manhattan's "core value(s)".

  • Understanding the Jewish National Home
    • There you go again, attacking the messenger when you have no argument against the message. Can you prove that the events described in Kerry Bolton’s article did not take place? He gives sources for everything he says.

      I'm with Hophmi on this one. Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer also give sources. I'm still not going to take anything they have to say about Arabs or Muslims seriously -- much less cite them.

    • There isn’t anything about Zionism that conflicts with providential plan to bring the Jews back into the land.

      There is actually (the covenant -- like the Jordan, in that old Beitar song -- has two sides, and a number of prophets had a bunch of stuff to say about the conditionality of the promise), but even if there weren't that still wouldn't make them one and the same thing.

    • Jews have longed to return to the “Promised Land” for a rcouple of thousand of years of exile. It is part of the Jewish prayer. It is in the Psalms and the prophets.

      There's longing for Zion and redemption, and there's modern political Zionism. One longs for the Kingdom of Heaven and the other for Hebrew-speaking thieves and prostitutes (as DBG so aptly put it). Not the same thing.

  • Love letter to a Zionist: NYU project seeks to bridge Israel divide within Jewish families
    • True enough, echinococcus, but the fact remains that we still need support, belonging and approval. In that sense, we have not changed all that much since the days of the woolly mammoth. We find surrogates for our "tribe" but, as a rule, we don't go it alone.

    • People with no religious belief who don’t subscribe to a nationhood nonsense will develop a diverse network.... So I suppose tribe solidarity in that sense belongs to the times of the woolly mammoth.

      We won't get rid of our need of a pack that easily. As you say, people who are less ghettoised develop other networks. Palestine solidarity is also a tribe.

    • Hi echinococcus,

      It's not just parents, of course, but a far broader social environment (more so in Orthodox communities or in Israel -- my own experience). Evolution has taught humans group cohesion as a survival strategy. That's a pretty tough instinct to mess with (although what was good for hunting woolly mammoths may be bad for geopolitics).

      Tzvia Thier (Phil's done a series of posts on/by her) mentions "following my daughters" and the fact that her husband is behind her 100%. I've also noticed, in my local Jewish anti-Zionist group, that members seem to come in pairs (couples or siblings). I guess we need that kind of support.

      I actually feel that I took what I was taught at home, school and synagogue to its logical conclusion -- even if it was not quite what parents, teachers and rabbis had in mind. My siblings drew other conclusions -- perhaps no closer than mine to our parents' intentions, but without crossing dichotomous religious and nationalist lines ("with us or against us"), which seems to make all the difference.

    • Every relationship is different, but mine would simply be devastated by such open confrontation. Then again, we're a rather reserved lot. Nuance, silence, and compartmentalisation are the best we've managed to come up with so far.

  • Israel could reduce anti-Semitic violence by not calling itself the Jewish state, Finkelstein says
    • Walid, Yonah,

      I wasn't offended by the greeting, but am very offended by the day, by its political and ideological exploitation of Holocaust memory (for ends I consider immoral and entirely at odds with the experience and lessons of the Holocaust itself), and by its redemptive, teleological narrative of genocide.

    • Yonah,

      My remark about violence against Palestinians/solidarity/perceived-solidarity (some of the people attacked were not actually expressing political opinions at the time) was not the focus of my comment. It got a little more attention than the rest of what I had said, because it seems to have bugged Hophmi. Nor is it uncommon for people to be attacked in Italy for their ethnic/linguistic/religious identity -- although the victims are far more likely to be Roma, black or Muslim than Jews.

      My point about anti--Semitism (slightly different from Finkelstein's) is that the key to fighting it is building bridges -- the opposite of which necessarily increases alienation, prejudice and animosity. Since Israel/Palestine is the greatest single source of tension between Jews and non-Jews today, a constructive approach would be to put some daylight between European Jews and Israel.

      Does the Great Synagogue really need to have a giant photo of Ron Arad on its gate? Did a rally in support of Israel during "Pillar of Defence" really need to be held in the synagogue sanctuary (with 2 Israeli ambassadors in attendance and mocking, anti-Palestinian placards in the pews)? Did the Jewish community of Turin really need to demand the closure of an UNRWA photo exhibit on Palestinian refugees (with no overt political messages)? Does the Jewish community of Rome really need to join the Israeli embassy in pressing for the cancellation of every academic conference on Palestine at local universities?

      I'm not talking about not supporting Israel, if that is what some Jews and their elected representatives believe, nor am I talking about "blaming the victim". What I am talking about is patiently and constantly fighting a central element of animosity against Jews, and trying to foster a climate of tolerance and understanding. Israel's interests (as perceived by Israel's elected leaders) may require this kind of adversariality and zero-sum strategy, but that is definitely not what European Jews or European societies as a whole need. We need to build alliances and defuse tensions, not fight Israel's wars by proxy.

      There is still a lot of good will toward Jews and Judaism on the left here -- essential to combating real anti-Semitism when it arises -- and Italian Muslims are neither monolithic (that should go without saying) or particularly extremist. I have seen this good will undermined by the unwise and unkind behaviour of Jewish leaders, often by confusing criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and using the stigma of anti-Semitism as a stick with which to beat Israel's legitimate critics.

      In the 90s, there were wonderful alliances between Jews and Muslims in France to combat prejudice and racism of all kinds. Where have these alliances gone? It would be foolish and unfair to lay all the blame on CRIF, but it would be equally foolish to say they bear no responsibility whatsoever.

    • Thank you very much, bintbiba and everyone else.

    • Hi Jon,

      My references were to local and relatively recent events, not to the murders in France or Belgium or to the murder of Stefano Gaj Taché (33 years ago).

      No Palestinians or activists have been murdered in the events I described, but one young man from Gaza (taking part in a candlelight vigil for Palestinian prisoners) was put in hospital with serious injuries that have caused him years of suffering. It's not a contest. Take my remarks for whatever they're worth.

    • Substantiate the claim that “most” of the violence between “Jews” and “Palestianian/Palestinian solidarity” activists has been committed by the “Jews.”

      The words "committed by the Jews" are yours (as are the scare quotes around "Jews"), not mine.

      Hard data, please, and relative to size of respective said groups. No anecdotes.

      I'll leave the legwork and the statistical analysis to you. I've lived in this city for 12 years and am pretty aware of what goes on both in the Jewish community and in the Palestinian/solidarity community. I can think of at least 5 physical attacks by Jews against Palestinians, activists for Palestinian rights or those perceived as such, in the past 4-5 years (for which I can provide links in Italian, if you are interested). There have been no analogous attacks against Jews by Palestinians or activists for Palestinian rights.

      There is a small group of pretty violent right-wing, pro-Israel Jewish thugs in this city that plays turf wars, "punishes" pro-Palestinian demonstrators, and even tries to enforce "consensus" on Israel within the Jewish community (I have a friend with the bruises to prove it). The chief rabbi has tried (on one occasion) to deal with it, but only where internal violence was concerned. There is no Palestinian or pro-Palestinian counterpart. I'm sorry if that's hard for you to accept. Feel free to do all of analysis you like of the "hard data ... relative to size of respective said groups".

    • Can you substantiate that claim, Shmuel?


    • Hi Yonah.

      Actual violence and fear of violence don't seem to be all that related, and the distance between Paris and Rome would appear to depend on one's perspective. In most of the actual violence between Jews and Palestinians/Palestinian solidarity in these parts in recent years, it's the Palestinians/solidarity who have been on the receiving end, but you wouldn't know it to hear some people.

      Some "diaspora" Jews are supporters of Israel and some aren't. Some are supporters of Bennett and Lieberman and some aren't. I'm talking about an atmosphere conducive to combating anti-Semitism rather than fostering it. Confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    • As someone who lives in one of those Europe places everybody is talking about, most of the hostility I have encountered against Jews is directly related to pro-Israel (and anti-Palestinian) positions taken and energetically promoted by Jewish institutions and elected officials in the city/country (often in tandem with resident Israeli diplomats and legations). In other words, it is not so much the fact that Netanyahu or the State of Israel claims to represent Jews everywhere (although that is undoubtedly a component), but that local Jewish communities speak and act as if that were actually true. The resulting adversarial situations only serve to reinforce pre-existing prejudice and foster further alienation and ill will. If our Jewish leaders and/or their Israeli allies were actually interested in combating anti-Semitism, this is exactly the kind of thing they would try to avoid rather than encourage.

  • Italian BDS activists call on Unicef to pull out of cartoon festival honoring Israel
    • Hi Walid,

      I was in the old part of Givat Shaul (the Jewish village you refer to) a couple of weeks ago, to visit my niece and her husband who just moved into what appears to be one of the neighbourhood's original buildings, and couldn't help thinking that it's one of the few areas of West Jerusalem that feels "right" to me. It is still an Orthodox neighbourhood, as it was in '48. I also felt a duty to remember Deir Yassin in my conversations there.

  • Homes of Palestinians accused of ramming pedestrians to be demolished
    • Since such home demolitions are not effective as deterrents (although they would still be illegal, even if the were), they serve two main purposes:

      1. To brutalise the Palestinians, as part of the ongoing strategy of occupation ('boot-on-neck' method).
      2. To curry favour with an electorate that likes its politicians "tough", when it comes to the Palestinians.

  • In and out of love with Israel: Tzvia Thier's story
  • Root cause of current crisis is Israeli government effort since 1967 to transform East Jerusalem into a Jewish city
    • It enobles and “normalizes” a religion to be part of a State campaign of conquest or colonization!

      Or degrades and drags it into the gutter.

      It shows how religion and politics should be combined.

      Or precisely why they shouldn't.

      Besides, it’s in the Bible.

      So is stoning adulterers. They don't seem to be pushing that one too much (although it's certainly in Hillel Weiss' programme). I don't see the Stoning Adulturers Faithful (or Institute) hand-crafting stones and training executioners.

    • Or where She will be most likely to be, or was last reported, and is more likely to feel and respond to our presence?

      For the biblically fixated, these people are rather thick about where and how to find God and God's favour. The general idea is expressed in all three parts of the Tanakh (Torah, Prophets, Writings), but the Psalmist summed it up nicely in chapter 131 (trans. Robert Alter):

      A song of ascents for David.
      Lord, my heart has not been haughty,
      nor have my eyes looked too high,
      nor have I striven for great things,
      nor for things too wondrous for me.

      But I have calmed and contented myself
      like a weaned babe on its mother--
      like a weaned babe I am with myself.
      Wait, O Israel, for the Lord,
      now and forevermore.

    • But then I’m not sure that Uri Ariel is saying ‘we must do this because God wills it’ or ‘we must do this because, even in the absence of religious belief, it’s part of our self-assertion as a nation – and the forms of our self-assertion can’t be up to others to determine’

      I'm pretty sure it's the latter. The movement for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount has far more to do with the idols of sovereignty, domination and national pride than a desire to commune with the divine in the place where Her presence is most felt (a somewhat dodgy theological concept in the first place). As for "God's will", to borrow a phrase from Aaron the Priest: "These are your gods, O Israel" (Ex. 34:4).

  • On Balfour anniversary, Jerusalem boils
    • Kate,

      You're obviously made of stern stuff if you can handle compiling these digests (three times a week!) that are so hard, emotionally, to even read. May you have a speedy and complete recovery.

  • Israel's Knesset upholds longest suspension in state's history against Haneen Zoabi
    • I said: would likely affect settlers and Haredim at least as much as Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem

      That's not quite true, because there is a world of difference in enforcement and application, but right-wing law-makers don't usually like to leave such things to chance.

    • wonder if the ‘law’ will apply to settlers as well– (don’t laugh too hard now!)

      That's exactly what makes me doubt the bill will go through (or that its sponsors ever intended it to). It pertains to Israeli civil law and would likely affect settlers and Haredim at least as much as Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem (probably the PR target Regev and Azulay were aiming at, in light of the current situation in Jerusalem). West Bank Palestinians are under military law anyway.

    • Knesset just passed law authorizing 20 yr jail term

      No, Regev and Azulay's proposed bill hasn't even had a preliminary reading yet.

  • 'We are in a violent fight with extreme Islam' -- Feiglin leads rightists to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque
    • Good article by Lynette Nusbacher. I would add that the retaining wall fetish presents many of the same problems as that of the Mount itself, characterised by various forms of idolatry -- first and foremost the idolatry of nationalism.

  • Update: Why did Netanyahu respond to chickenshit with 'grassy knoll' remark?
    • Thanks, Annie. Ravid writes in Hebrew and his articles are translated by the English edition staff, but he might take some interest in how his article was translated, especially if the translation gave rise to a misunderstanding -- picked up by other outlets (assuming Haaretz English edition was the source).

    • It would be interesting to see if discussions of the Kennedy assassination, in Hebrew, used the same phrasing.

      The word means lawn, the context was a place in which ME peace treaties are signed. As important as the US is to Israel, the Kennedy assassination is really not a topic of discussion in Israel, and to the extent that it is (say on Hebrew Wiki), the US English expression "grassy knoll" is translated something like "mound of grass" (תלולית דשא, as just pointed out), not lawn (מדשאה/ות).

      I don't know what the translator was thinking (although my money's on an honest mistake), but there is no doubt whatsoever that that is not what Netanyahu said or meant. This entire story is based on nothing but a mistranslation that happened to have made the rounds.

      I don't like to quote Ari Shavit, but he wants to know what they (Netanyahu and his government) are smoking in Jerusalem. So would I.

    • Can someone else who can read Hebrew confirm/deny the translation of the printed Hebrew?

      You mean besides Sol Salbe and myself? Don't you trust us? ;-)

    • Annie,

      Since this is such a weird translation of what Netanyahu said, it obviously all comes from a single source. I don't know whether Guardian Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont speaks Hebrew, but I'm guessing he took the translated quote from Haaretz (I didn't find any official translation or press release) and, not being an American or a JFK conspiracy theory aficionado, paid no attention to the expression (I had never heard of it either).

      As for the translator, it might have been as simple as opening the popular online dictionary Morfix, seeing that one of the translations offered for מדשאה is "grassy area" and deciding that "grassy knoll" sounds more idiomatic.

    • The Hebrew word Netanyahu used was מדשאות - lawn(s) - a clear reference to the White House lawn (called מדשאות הבית הלבן in Hebrew).

      link to

  • 'Exalted anti-Zionists' are now driving the conversation
    • What's an "exalted anti-Zionist"? (Could he have meant "exalté", which is not quite the same as "exalted"?)

      Bachman: defending Israel’s borders by fighting in Gaza

      A more precise characterisation would have been 'taking part in a "war" of choice and possibly committing war crimes'. How these soldiers or their parents vote is entirely irrelevant.

      More Bachman: defending their right to live as Jews

      Melodramatic nonsense. That is not what Bib's massacre and the long and short-term events that led up to it were about -- not even close.

      And more: working for peace, on the ground

      I'm not sure what kind of "working for peace on the ground" Bachman is referring to specifically, but it seems rather futile if you are then going to shell civilian neighbourhoods and bomb hospitals and schools sheltering the displaced.

  • Al Aqsa mosque is closed off for first time in 47 years as tensions flare
    • We do need to remember the difficult and disputed nature of ancient history but in the end this should remind us that very little in the way of here-and-now right and wrong springs from events way back then.

      Well said. Nor more recent prayers and longings -- whether for the land as a whole or its specific shrines and holy places.

  • Sh*tstirring Jeffrey Goldberg dumps diplomatic sh*tstorm with 'chickensh*t' quote
  • Normalizing occupation, NYT runs whimsical story on time zones
    • But by ignoring that reality this article is an unconscious effort to make injustice seem normal.

      It is also one of those things that gives the mistaken impression that the PA actually exercises some sort of jurisdiction over the areas "ceded" by Israel (hey, they get to decide what time it is!).

  • Blockade continues: Gaza fishing boats are targeted with gunfire inside six-mile zone
  • Rivlin commemorates Kfar Qassem massacre and speaks of 'equality'
    • Quite right, tree. All of these things diminish and even sour Rivlin's gesture, but what gets me most of all is Rivlin's unquestioning support (even at the Kafr Qassem memorial ceremony itself!) for the series of massacres perpetrated by Israel in Gaza this past summer.

      Supposedly the lesson of Kafr Qassem (from a Zionist-Israeli perspective - what I was taught in an Israeli high school) is that illegal orders (orders with a "black flag flying over them", as the court put it, at the time) must not be obeyed, that each and every soldier bears responsibility for his actions, before the law and his conscience. How many illegal orders were given and obeyed during Protective Edge?! How many black flags fly over orders given and obeyed every day in the West Bank and East Jerusalem?!

      As an Israeli citizen I say to President Rivlin, if you cannot stop or even condemn today's massacres, spare Palestinian and Jewish Israelis the shame of empty apologies for past massacres. If you cannot ensure justice for today's victims -- when they are Palestinian and their murderers are Jews, spare us the shame of empty solidarity with Palestinians whose murderers were pardoned within a year or fined 10 prutot, over half a century ago! Spare us your Jabotinskyite "statefullness" (did you really quote Jabotinsky to Palestinian citizens of Israel?!) and spare us your fake Jabotinskyite utopian visions of "the son of Arab, the son of Nazareth and my son".

  • US-Israel relationship is still 'strong and formidable,' says State Dep't
    • Netanyahu's strategy all along has been to treat what he views (or likes to portray) as a hostile administration with disdain, counting on his bipartisan power in Congress and holding out for a "friendlier" White House. The chickenshitting "senior Obama administration officials" who confide in Jeffrey Goldberg merely help to fulfil Netanyahu's prophecies and shore up the settlement-building, tough-guy image he's working so hard on right now. Of course he said that he's being criticised for "looking out for Israel's interests". Thanks, Jeff.

  • Israeli committee to consider plans to build first city for Palestinian citizens in country's history
    • Spot on Walid. Like the "plans" for Palestinian housing in Jerusalem, periodically announced with much fanfare, as a fig leaf for settlement construction -- but which never seem to materialise, for some reason (although the Jews-only settlements do, and how).

      Since actual equality in the allocation of resources (especially land -- stolen from Palestinians in the first place) is the furthest thing from the Israeli policy-makers' minds, such announcements offer all the PR benefits without any of the drawbacks, from the perspective of the Jewish ethnocracy.

      Wake me up when they allow the residents of Iqrit and Bir'am to go home, start returning some of the land stolen from Sakhnin and 'Arraba, remove the housing chokehold on existing Palestinian towns and villages in Israel and stop trying to "Judaise" the Galilee and the Naqab.

  • UCLA Hillel partners with PR firm to fight BDS movement
    • Nationwide Agenda ... Student Life

      Whose idea was it to hit 'em with Spooky Capital Letters? Is that the secret part of Poleg's message, Blacked Out, or did Lerner come up with that All By Himself?

  • 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'

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