Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 7357 (since 2009-08-04 05:43:29)


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  • 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
    • 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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