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Total number of comments: 7739 (since 2009-08-04 05:43:29)

Shmuel

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  • It is time to stop celebrating Jewish dissent in the Palestine solidarity movement
    • people have danced themselves in to exhaustion, they are trembling leaning on the pillars ... we weren’t ready for stuff at this level of intensity

      Probably out looking for sparks of holiness. Sounds like they found them too.

      we assumed they must be Rabbis at least

      At least.

  • Norman Finkelstein on Sanders, the first intifada, BDS, and ten years of unemployment
    • Hi LeaNder,

      Good to see you again. I hope all is well.

      Funny you should mention yeshivah. That's exactly what I've been thinking about Finkelstein. He reminds me of a few of my old yeshivah mates (OK, including me), who were extremely textual and painfully consistent. I think he makes far too much of the BDS document, and far too little of the actual movement, what it has accomplished and where it is going. To cite another, sort of reverse analogy, a nephew of mine is a Lubavitcher rabbi, and he belongs to the group that believes the old Rebbe is still alive (long story, near split within the movement). He explained that he doesn't actually believe the Rebbe is alive, but the group that does is the most dynamic, vital and effective within the movement, so that's where he wants to be.

      I am not a 1-stater (or a 2-stater for that matter). I think the minimum requirements for a reasonable settlement can be achieved through either modality, once Israel decides to take the Palestinians seriously.

    • At present, no. For the future, yes. Finkelstein argues that Israel can be pressured into accepting a settlement based on the international consensus. I think that’s a realistic goal. Nothing guaranteed, of course. But realistic enough.

      At present, for the future, obviously. I know what Finkelstein argues, and I disagree. I think it is not a realistic goal, and if it is not, there is no reason to adhere to a consensus that is, in itself unjust (as you have mentioned) and insufficient. Realistic enough is an assessment, not gospel.

      Ending the occupation– requires a political agreement. RoR and /or compensation– requires a political agreement. Full equality for all Israeli citizens– requires political changes within Israel. So, outside of BDS’s three stated goals, all of which require political solutions, what goals are you suggesting?

      I am suggesting treating the goals as just goals that are at present and for the foreseeable future, unrealistic; something to strive for, principles for a political solution and for any interim shift in that direction. I am not the one claiming pragmatic end-goals, Finkelstein is.

      What significant improvements in Palestinian life can be made without, at a minimum, ending the occupation? Do you mean BDS /the Palestinian solidarity movement should aim for something less? Aim for a “kindler, gentler occupation” not an end to it?

      BDS should strive to achieve its goals, including of course ending the occupation. The pressure it brings to bear on Israel, the tactical focus on the occupation (on which there is also an international consensus), the focus on the rights that are violated by the occupation, lack of equality, the siege, etc., may (remember, no guarantees) push Israel to take different decisions in the present, regarding settlement construction, treatment of minors, freedom of movement, house demolitions, the siege on Gaza, and so forth. If there is a perceived price, things like the siege and demolitions will be the first to go, as they are primarily a matter of satisfying Jewish-Israeli public opinion anyway. In any event, this is what a shift toward willingness to accept “the minimum requirements for dignity, humanity and self-determination” (as suggested e.g. by Magnes Zionist) for the Palestinians will look like. Small steps toward recognising their humanity and treating them as equal negotiating partners, not Palestinians choosing which unrealistic political solution Abbas or his successor will discuss at non-existent talks with Israeli leaders with no will or reason to reach a solution of any kind.

      You can dismiss it as a “kinder, gentler occupation”, but the alternative, speaking realistically, is not an independent Palestinian state with rights and protection for all. The alternative is nothing.

    • Finkelstein is open about that, and he claims a two state solution is the only realistic one

      And that is precisely where I disagree. I don't think Finkelstein's strategy is any more realistic than BDS'.

      -- End goals will require a political solution.
      -- Political solutions are, at present, not realistic.
      -- End goals are not realistic.

      -- Let's shift focus and try to accomplish other, more realistic things and, hopefully lay the groundwork for a viable solution in the future (which could, indeed, take many different forms).

      There my be a tactical element to the "agnosticism" but, for the most part, it's simply not a relevant question at this point in time. Finkelstein thinks he has a realistic plan, but what if it's no more realistic than any other political solution (i.e. wholly unrealistic)?

    • Good for Shmuel that he considers a political solution a pragmatic goal.

      Except that I don't (nor do I consider ending the occupation a pragmatic goal). It is worth striving for, but it is no more pragmatic than BDS. Finkelstein's entire argument is based on the fact that he's a hard-nosed realist and everyone else is chasing dreams and thereby prolonging Palestinian suffering. I disagree. He's no less of a dreamer if he thinks that a political solution of any kind is somehow reasonable or practical.

    • “Ending the occupation” requires a political solution.

      No doubt. Good for Finkelstein that he considers ending the occupation a pragmatic goal.

    • If you say so. They seem perfectly clear to me. Absolutely clear: no effective right of return, (perhaps a symbolic number) +compensation. Absolutely clear: large settlement blocs annexed to Israel. Absolutely clear: East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine. We are talking about a framework for a settlement, not a final text of a settlement.

      What is a symbolic number? Is there a consensus on compensation? Mutually-agreed just means the sides will work it out, not that anyone actually has a position. Is there a consensus on what constitutes a settlement bloc? How many are there? What is East Jerusalem and how will it be the capital of Palestine if the Jewish neighbourhoods in and around East Jerusalem are to be annexed to Israel? Is there a consensus on the holy places? Even a framework needs to have some clarity - especially if one is arguing that it is supported be a broad consensus and is therefore a practical basis for a solution. A consensus that cannot get beyond or cannot be counted on to get beyond this very rough outline is hardly a consensus at all, in pragmatic terms.

    • The only problem with that idea is that stateless persons’ effective rights will be severely llimited as long as they remain stateless, and ending statelessness requires a political solution.

      Agreed, but that doesn't mean that they cannot be improved significantly until such time as a political solution becomes feasible, or that their rights even after statehood will not be severely limited. To borrow Finkelstein's argument, focusing on a political solution of any kind is, at present, not practical. Focusing on specific violations of human rights and international law (collective punishment, settlement construction, administrative detention, abuse of minors, etc.), on the other hand, on the basis of broader issues such as occupation, equality and the rights of refugees (the principles of BDS), may stand a chance of being at least partially successful (if only because it is not an all-or-nothing proposition).

      I would also disagree with the notion that the international consensus is vague. What’s vague about it? Two states; pre-1967 borders; mutually agreed land swaps; West/East Jerusalem the capitals; limited implementation of right of return w/ compensation etc.

      The last three articles are indeed vague, and the second and third (and to some extent the fourth) make the first vague as well. There is no consensus on the details of such a plan (everything and nothing) or what it means in political terms to support those basic guidelines (well maybe there is a sort of consensus on that: it means virtually nothing).

    • I really don't see Finkelstein's pragmatism -- apart from declaring he's got it and those he disagrees with don't.

      A 2ss is pragmatic? Why? Because an agreement seemed close at some point (except for some minor details like refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, etc.)? That agreement never actually materialised, and the combination of factors (e.g. coordinated violence, economic opportunity, strong leadership) that brought even that about are highly unlikely to recur.

      That something vaguely resembling that vague idea has become "international consensus" (primarily because it means everything and nothing at the same time) is hardly a solid basis for a political plan. So, in the end, it's just another flavour of pie-in-the-sky.

      Of course the BDS end-game is unrealistic, but BDS has at least 2 things going for it that I fail to see in Finkelstein's pragmatism: 1) Rights-based means not waiting for a political solution to make things better: 2) It is a concrete plan to bring some kind of pressure to bear on Israel and, as every pragmatist knows, no pressure no change.

  • Sanders 'put everything on the line' for Palestine because BDS movement has changed US conversation -- Peled
    • Give her your fucking guns Shmuel. You expect ... you are not just coward but a racist one to boot ... you scared of the settlers, have you no self respect.

      Shmuel? Would that be some sort of generic Shmuel?

  • 'NYT' manages to make childhood detention story work for Israel
  • Another interview on Israeli TV
    • Hi Stephen,

      Yes, I am a Jewish Israeli, and although I no longer live in Israel, my family is still there, I visit often and follow the country very closely.

      What exactly is it that they cannot comprehend and why? Might it perhaps have something to do with their division of the world into friends and foes?

      I think it is a combination of a "for us or agin' us" attitude and a deep-seated (inculcated) belief that on the whole, despite our small or big faults, we are right and well-intentioned and they (Palestinians, Arabs, etc.) are simply wrong -- wrong in their narrative, wrong in their attitudes toward us, wrong in their suspicions and wrong in their methods. I think this also contributes to the "generous offers" approach to peacemaking (i.e. they don't really deserve it, but we will give them more than they deserve, for the sake of peace, because that's just who we are),

      We are eminently good and even lovable, and it pisses us off no end when we are painted in any way that conflicts too strongly with our own self-perception (speaking of being human). Hence the necessary preambles to any "acceptable" criticism of Israel: "I love Israel, but ..."; "I say this as a friend of Israel ..."; or the red line of "denying Israel's right to exist" (which may be rather pathos-laden, but boils down to accepting our narrative over theirs -- because it is the right thing to do). Anything else means that you do not recognise "the justness of our cause" and you are ill-intentioned. I won't go into the Holocaust or anti-Semitism (in classical Zionist thought or in the later doctrine of "the new anti-Semitism" ), but these are, of course, part and parcel of the above arguments.

      Also: what forms of effective action to change the situation for the better, apart from talk, would they not consider to be offensive and “violent”?

      BDS is hostile, both in deed (seeking to inflict economic and other damage) and in intent (seeking to "wipe Israel off the map", as it were), and is therefore perceived as violent. I don't believe there are any forms of effective action that would not be perceived as offensive and violent (including talk), because any opposition to the Israeli narrative is seen as posing an "existential threat". To quote a relative who once asked me to tone down my public opposition to Israeli policies, "for us, it is a matter of life and death"; and another relative (about BDS): "These people hate us and want to destroy us."

      And what do the inverted commas mean?

      Perhaps misused. I just find it hard to characterise BDS as violent.

    • For Jewish Israelis, BDS crosses a red line. It is not only considered highly offensive (and yes, "violent"); it is beyond comprehension. It separates friend (even highly critical friend) from foe.

      Channel 10 is therefore to be commended for a pretty fair piece that could, at the very least, have been edited or editorialised to twist the words and characters of those interviewed, but it wasn't.

  • Anti-BDS legislation faces crucial hearing tomorrow in California Judiciary Committee
    • Curiousity question. The song refers to the scent of pine trees. It is my understanding that the pine tree was not native to Israel. Is this the case or not?

      Although the word used for pine in the song (oren, pl. oranim) does not mean pine in Biblical Hebrew, a number of varieties of pine are native to Palestine. The best known is probably the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) -- known in Israeli Hebrew as Oren yerushalayim (Jerusalem pine).

  • 'Anti-Zionism = anti-semitism' is a formal logical fallacy
    • I would not called them “tainted” at all. That seems to be the mantra of the zionists who want to stifle criticism bringing world focus to their endless crimes.

      No, the IHR actually is a racist organisation, and citing what they say about themselves doesn't change that.

  • Note to Progressive Jews: The right of return is not the 'i'm-doing-you-a-favor' of return
    • “The mixture of halachic (Jewish legal) and government immigration policy concerns is not healthy. The Exceptions Committee must transfer its authority to the Interior Ministry,"

      Welcome to the confessional state of Israel. It's not a matter of jurisdiction, but of the criteria established in the Law of Return and the very concept of a "Jewish" state. That is precisely the elephant in the room that Elharar and her party (Yesh Atid) refuse to acknowledge when they pretend to be liberal on matters of religion and state. If Palestinians are now (uniquely and sweepingly) denied the possibility of naturalisation and even residency based on the Law of Return (as relatives of Jews) or the principle of family unity, leaving only the (theoretical) route of conversion, it is in any case the Rabbinate that is given the power by the state to ultimately decide matters of citizenship.

    • Sibiriak,

      You're making a lot of assumptions, based on a rather terse statement, about residency about policy toward other non-Jewish non-citizens (e.g. the whole "Russian" issue, where the Rabbinate has in fact been extremely rigid, concerns non-Jewish citizens ["relatives of Jews"]) -- and about "traditional religious considerations". Rabbi Peretz' statement is neither Written nor Oral Torah, to have "crowns tied to every letter". The religious legal principle of sincerity/ulterior motives is there and, to me, seems pretty obvious, but feel free to presume racism and non-conformity to tradition if you like.

    • Sibiriak,

      We could examine Rabbi Peretz' statement from every angle and try to infer whether he meant residents or non-residents, what is the policy toward non-Palestinian, non-citizen residents, and what about E. Jerusalem Palestinians (who have other paths to Israeli citizenship), but based on the information at hand, and my own rabbinical training, it is my opinion that such a policy is consistent with Jewish religious law and tradition -- without having recourse to racist motives (although those may certainly exist as well). See Occam.

      As for policies regarding a group rather than individuals, if all members of the group (Palestinian non-citizens of Israel), without exception, stand to gain significantly by conversion, individual investigation is, from a legal perspective, pointless. In matters of conversion, tradition demands stringency. There is no recognised "right" to convert. If a convert is suspect, they are turned away. The Chief Rabbinate has, in recent years, been the target of considerable criticism for the general stringency it exercises with regard to conversion, and yes, factors such as entitlement to citizenship according to the Law of Return are a prime consideration when judging possible ulterior motives of potential converts (all converts).

      I am not defending the practice, but I see no reason (without further information) to ascribe it to racism or assert that it is inconsistent with "traditional religious considerations".

    • The article states (quoting Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz): "The threshold requirements” to be considered by the special cases panel, he said, “are that applicants be sincere and that they are not foreign workers; infiltrators; Palestinian or illegally in the country.”

      The sincerity of those who stand to gain significantly from conversion -- such as foreign workers, infiltrators [i.e. asylum-seekers], Palestinians or those illegally in the country -- is doubted a priori. Yonah is right that the context clearly implies that "Palestinian" is a reference to residents of the PA, rather than an ethnic designation. Beyond the context, Israeli officials rarely refer to Palestinian citizens of Israel as Palestinians. They are simply "Arabs". Although Palestinian citizens of Israel would certainly stand to gain by conversion to Judaism, I doubt the benefits (again, in the eyes of Israeli officialdom) would be considered an ulterior motive, a priori, without further investigation.

      The paragraph I cited from the Shulhan Arukh (Joseph Caro's authoritative code of Jewish law) begins as follows:

      כשיבא הגר להתגייר בודקים אחריו, שמא בגלל ממון שיטול, או בשביל שררה שיזכה לה, או מפני הפחד בא ליכנס לדת.

      When a [potential] convert comes to convert, he is investigated to see whether he seeks to join the [Jewish] religion for the sake of money he will receive, or for a position of authority he will be given, or out of fear. ... If no reason is found, then they are informed of the burden of the Torah and the difficulty in its observance....

      In the case of a Palestinian, asylum seeker, etc., the benefits are manifest, and would require no investigation.

    • It’s remarkable but unsurprising that in the practice of Zionism, undisguised racism decisively trumps even traditional religious considerations.

      Actually, it would be completely in keeping with traditional religious considerations regarding conversion for ulterior motives (see Shulhan Arukh 268,12).

  • Advice to North Carolina
    • I'm sure his home state (New Jersy?) will soon pass appropriate legislation, making it illegal for him not to play Greensboro -- say something prohibiting "engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of North Carolina or companies based in the State of North Carolina or in territories controlled by the State of North Carolina."

      Other states will surely follow suit, and Le Boss had better watch his step on any future French tours. They really hate boycotts there, and Caroline de Nord is always in their hearts.

  • Israeli journalist Derfner succinctly analyzes the anti-Semitism vs. anti-Zionism debate
    • I don’t think its the far-right with which most Zionists associate anti-Semitism these days, its the far-left.

      How could it be otherwise, when the very definition of anti-Semitism has been changed to suit a Zionist/pro-Israel agenda? The only criterion that really seems to matter is support for Israel. This has not escaped those on the far-right seeking "respectability". All they need to do is visit Israel and make a few pro-Israel statements and they get the coveted Jewish stamp of approval (see e.g. Gianfranco Fini, the BNP, Heinz-Christian Strache [work in progress], not to mention some of the most unsavoury characters on the Christian right in the US). For some reason, the idea of Jewish approval (as undeserved as it may be) opening the doors to political power doesn't seem to dispel their anti-Semitic prejudices.

      When BDS is the bogeyman and Islamophobia is the ticket to acceptance, the far-right will always get a pass to hate Jews, and the far-left (even when staunchly anti-racist) will be put in the stocks.

  • Zionism is not really secular
    • You actually break this argument by asserting that the Bible, however true, very much does not imply Z. That’s a really important point!

      Which is very much where Rabbinic Judaism comes in -- all the more reason to pretend that nothing of importance happened between the fall of Beitar and the founding of Hovevei Zion (with the exception of a few posthumous conversions to "proto-Zionism": Judah ha-Levi, Judah he-Hasid, the Perushim, etc. ). Better the prophetic visions of physical national redemption than the chimerical eschatology (and supranational ethos) of the Rabbis.

    • Ben-Gurion had a Bible fetish – not as a religious book, but as national epos and the founding work of Jewish national culture. He had little use for the Talmud and Rabbinic Judaism, created after the loss of Jewish independence and largely in the diaspora. Assuming the Peel story is correct (it feels rather apocryphal), he would have meant that the Bible expressed the ancient Jewish tie to the Land, and its central place in the creation and identity of the Jewish nation – not that he believed that the Jews' right to the land was actually God-given (except as a metaphor and perhaps to impress Christians).

      This is accurately reflected in the opening sentence of Israel's “Scroll of Independence”:

      ERETZ-ISRAEL [(Hebrew) - the Land of Israel, Palestine] was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

      Gods need not apply.

  • Attachment to Israel is 'central part of Jewish identity,' Forward editor says
    • And the nationalism of Adam Sandler? Or those for whom nationalism is "the only way they feel Jewish"? What continuity and distinctiveness do they offer? They are also assimilationists -- both individually and nationally. If we are going to compare, let us compare like to like.

      I also think you are too quick to dismiss collective assimilation (disappearance is perhaps a better word). Hermann Cohen, for example, was all in favour of "distinctiveness" (see his chapter on "the Law"), but only as a means to an (ethical) end, never as an end in itself. I think his approach is consistent with what the Rabbis have to say about idolatry and the concept of "holiness" (qedushah).

      What good is the shell, if the essence is gutted? I don't mean ritual conservatism, which may easily end up (and in the case of religious Zionism today often does) the province of "evildoers within the letter of the Law" (nevalim birshut ha-torah), although ritual traditions certainly have their place (again, see Cohen).

      As many of the early Jewish anti-Zionist thinkers asserted, trying to replace Judaism as a whole with "Jewish nationalism" is far worse than simply abandoning Judaism. It is the ultimate apostasy; it is "repudiation of the essence" (kefirah ba'iqqar) and "chopping down the saplings" (qitzutz ba-neti'ot).

    • I put a greater burdens of proof on antizionists. If Adam Sandler is a superficial jew but also a (superficial) Zionist , this is acceptable to me. If Phil Weiss is a superficial jew and a fervent antizionist I question his superficial Jewishness. I recognize this discrepancy.

      I'm glad you don't go in for the “typical anti-Zionist Jews are ...” approach, and glad that you recognise the “two measures” (eifah ve-eifah) you apply, but why is nationalism any less suspect as a nail on which to hang one's Judaism than universalism. Because the object of that nationalism happens to be a “Jewish” state? The ideology itself is at least as “foreign” (or as “native”) as universalism. So why is the onus on the anti-Zionists?

    • Assuming Eisner is right about “most American Jews” and the jump from “some attachment” to “a central part of Jewish identity” (I'll take her word for it; she's the editor of the Forward), it stands to reason that “any Jew, particularly a susceptible college student, would be offended by an attack on Zionism that felt like an attack on his or her Jewish identity”. It is all about subjective feelings (that Israel is a central part of their identity, and that an attack “feels” like an attack on that identity). It says nothing about the actual “attack”, but only the way in which it is perceived.

      Eisner then goes on to talk about the “attacks” themselves, cautiously saying they “can smack of anti-Semitism” (still in the realm of the subjective), but slides into the two classic arguments of the “new anti-Semitism”: “singling Israel out” and “challenging Israel's existence” – neither of which makes sense, unless one insists that Israel should be treated differently from every other human rights issue under the sun, i.e. that Israel should be “singled out”. Human rights campaigns cannot simply be dismissed because they appear to be more prominent or successful than others (the charge becomes even more ridiculous, of course, when levelled at the victims themselves). As for the argument about “challenging Israel's existence” rather than trying to “reform Israeli behavior”, the behaviour in question happens to include the “existence” of a discriminatory system, based on ethnicity, kinship and religion. If Ms. Eisner did not “single Israel out”, I doubt that she would find such a system even remotely acceptable, or any challenge to it remotely objectionable.

      Eisner is very cautious. Every statement is ambiguous (including the suggestion that “singling Israel out” “can smack of anti-Semitism” if it “challenge[s] Israel's existence altogether”), but her message, as summed up by Phil Weiss (“Eisner says that BDS … is pretty much anti-semitic too”) is clear.

      Or when Jewish organizations are stigmatized unless they disavow their ties to Israel.

      Eisner is right that there is a potential problem here (although the example she cites is no less problematic in itself), but it is inbuilt, by Eisner's own characterisation. If “attachment [to Israel] has become a central part of Jewish identity” and is “the only way [some Jews] feel Jewish”, then those who reject and object to that political ideology (first and foremost its victims) cannot but oppose organisations (whether Jewish or not) that support it. Eisner seems to see that anomaly as a kind of shield, rather than a serious problem with contemporary American Jewish identity (again, assuming her analysis of that identity is correct). I would hope the editor of the Forward would at least be able to see how alarming that is for the future of Judaism.

      On the subject of “attachment to Israel”, I don't believe it naturally translates into support for Israel. Jewish supporters of Palestinian rights are also “attached to Israel”, whether they merely wish to “reform Israeli behavior”, or oppose its discriminatory state ideology. That is also a part of our Jewish identity.

  • Palestinian reflections on Israel's hysterical attack on BDS
  • Pulitzer winners Junot Díaz, Richard Ford, Alice Walker join over 100 writers in calling for PEN American Center to reject Israeli sponsorship
    • Of course not partnering is not the same as boycotting. I find it hard to believe that PEN would not reject offers of sponsorship from the embassy of Russia or China (to cite 2 countries that feature heavily in PEN campaigns). The pat explanation offered by PEN to its members that it is against subscribing to "cultural boycotts of any kind" is thus rather insulting. PETA events are not sponsored by National Beef, and Greenpeace campaigns aren't "brought to you by Shell".

      Does anyone know if PEN has ever supported cultural boycotts in the past -- e.g. of Apartheid South Africa?

      I was also wondering exactly how the logic of the PEN explanation works. I understand how barring participants from Israel would constitute cultural boycott, but what's "cultural" about taking money from an embassy?

  • Shocker: 'NYT' forum on anti-Zionism tilts toward equating Zionism with racism
    • Sand doesn't say there were no pilgrimages before, but that Jewish interest in pilgrimages to the Holy Land was certainly spurred and heightened by Christian and Muslim attitudes (as others have asserted, particularly by the Crusades, Saladin's conquests, and the Muslim practice of ziyāra). This is historical fact, confirmed by historians even Hophmi wouldn't call "polemicists", such as Joshua Prawer, Elchanan Reiner and I. J. Yuval.

      Jews never lived in a self-referential vacuum, and (as Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin has written) there is no such thing as "pure" culture.

  • Sanders is in Jewish tradition that rejected exceptionalist nationalism of Zionism
    • Hophmi,

      The vast majority of Jews are not religiously observant. This is as true of anti-Zionist Jews as of non- pro- and I-don't-give-a-damn-about-Zionism Jews.

      The "Finkler" stereotype of anti-Zionist Jews is nothing more than an attempt to impugn Jewish criticism of Zionism as stemming from estrangement, lack of concern or worse (with the "worse" definitely implied).

    • This is a balancing act that asks too much of most of us.

      Zionists included. Which is why the above stereotype of the "typical anti-Zionist Jew" is so ridiculous and mean-spirited. As another Shmuel once put it (Kiddushin 70b): "One tends to find his own flaw in others".

    • that’s the typical anti-Zionist Jew; a leftist who cares little for the religion at all and perhaps, would rather see it disappear into history.

      The same could easily be said (assuming one goes in for such silly generalisations) of "the typical Zionist Jew". How many Jews of any stripe actually care for "the religion"? In the case of Zionism, there has always been an element of supplanting religion with nationalism (or in the case of the religious-Zionist minority of replacing one religion with another, or hybridising "the religion" out of existence).

  • Refugee in Gaza thought life was terrific until Facebook incited him
    • Well done, Eamon and Samih.

      I have a question for Samih, though. Where's the Islamic element in your radicalisation? Is it really all about fish and fences and bombs and stuff? Are you sure someone in a hennaed beard didn't tell you al-Aqsa was in danger or something? I hear that's the real reason Palestinians have been getting all incited lately. Thanks in advance.

  • A 'longtime activist for social justice,' Booker worries his anti-BDS stance will 'rankle' and 'upset' people
    • Yes, BDS activists are definitely a nasty bunch, and they’ll harass those who don’t agree with their perspective by smearing them as racist

      Isn't that exactly what Booker does when he associates BDS with "the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe" and calls it an "anti-Jewish movement"?

  • Top Israeli officials who issued directive to execute Palestinians hang Hebron killer out to dry
  • Finding 1 'Arab' in Israeli basketball, NY Times espouses Zionist racial theory
    • Jon,

      Myth and fairy tale
      What I called a “myth and a fairy tale” is the idea that 2,000 years of history mean nothing, that Jews can somehow pick up where they left off, around 70 CE, and the actual inhabitants of Palestine (including the Jews of the Old Yishuv) had better like it or lump it. It's romantic – epic even – but it does not confer legal or a moral rights. Christian Zionists (who may actually have come up with the idea in the first place) don't know the difference either, and mainstream Western society in general has also been caught up in this idea that fires the imagination but is, on closer scrutiny (which few bother to do), profoundly wrong.

      Inavders, pilgrims, idealists and refugees
      What you've done next is to distort history on a number of levels. You conjure up an extreme image of invasion, and arbitrarily decide that anything that does not look exactly like the Rape of Nanking doesn't count. You anachronistically “Zionise” the followers of Yehudah he-Hasid, ignore the colonial aspect of the Second Aliyah, and de-contextualise the post-Churban, Yemenite and Ethiopian “aliyot” – creating an image of innocence that is somehow meant to colour the whole of the Zionist project. It is a very partial image that teaches very little about the whole. It is another kind of myth-making.

      Rights and equality
      On the subject of equal rights, you'll get no argument from me, although judging by your previous comments at MW, your understanding of the concept of equality is very different from mine. To my mind, equality precludes the existence of an ethnocratic state; in fact precludes discrimination of any kind, whether in terms of civil rights, the rights of refugees or the right to security.

      Legitimacy
      I don't expect Israelis to put on “Ashamed to be a colonialist” t-shirts, but there's a whole range of possibilities between that and “Jews are not illegal invaders in their historic homeland”. I would expect a self-declared leftist and peace-activist to be closer to the former than the latter – which remains the ideological basis for the denial of Palestinian legitimacy and entitlement to equality, on the ground and at the negotiating table.

      Land Day is not a past injustice but current reality, perhaps nowhere more (within Israel) than in the Negev. Can Jews be expropriators and oppressors and ethnic cleansers in their “historic homeland”?

    • A viable settlement–not a solution–to the Israeli/Palestine conflict must be forced on an unreconstructed Zionist Israeli majority.

      And the chances of that happening would be?

      It's a trajectory, and even a settlement (brought about by any means) seems highly unlikely. It also seems highly unlikely that anything at all will change without an ideological shift within a minority, even a small minority of Israeli Jews -- those like jon, whose self-image is grounded in democratic and even humanistic ideals. That image (somehow extended to Israel as a whole) is a crucial part of the reason why a forced settlement is so improbable. So there's a cycle that needs to be broken, without any illusions about "reconstructing" an Israeli majority.

    • Jon,

      Land Day today -- 40th anniversary of the protests against the expropriation (by the first Rabin gov.) of 20,000 dunam of Palestinian land within the State of Israel, for the exclusive use of Israeli Jews (expropriation in Israel somehow always seems to go only in that direction); protests that left 6 Palestinians dead.

      What was the rationale behind that and every other expropriation and act of discrimination against Palestinians in Israel and the OT, if not the belief that Eretz Yisrael is the "historic homeland" of the Jews, and the Jews are there not as colonists or invaders but as the historic owners of the land, simply taking back what's theirs?

      Yours is a somewhat gentler version of that (but so was Rabin's, no?), which magnanimously admits that Palestinians also have a legitimate claim to the land, but the principle is the same, and the consequences are the same. The current state of affairs in Israel is not an aberration, but the natural outcome of the "historic homeland" ideology, although some might like Israel to be (and imagine it once was) more enlightened, without ever considering the root causes of its brutality and oppression. "Jewish and democratic" is a lie (I'm always amazed to see people like Uzi Baram [e.g. in today's Haaretz] still clinging to the "justness of Israel's cause" -- if only it would return to the "original" values of Zionism).

      Getting Israel and Israelis to understand that they are indeed colonialist invaders is not about making them say "uncle". It really is a necessary step to reaching any kind of viable solution, because a peace process based on the arrogance of "generous offers" will always find that there is "no partner". What else did you expect?

    • Page: 77
    • Jon,

      It's not about differing "on the significance of the historic part" or about how much "weight" you or I ascribe to it. It is about what is, in effect, a preposterous claim that I find hard to believe you would give the time of day to under any other circumstances. It is a myth, a fairy tale, entirely devoid of any legal or moral substance.

      As Zeev Sternhell says, Israel exists and Israeli Jews exist, and as such must be contended with, but that's about it. So yes, European and non-European Jews definitely did invade Palestine -- no matter how much they may have carried visions of it in their religious and cultural baggage. Necessity for some, at certain points, may also mitigate their actions, but cannot undo them.

      Recognising that and trying to go forward from there is the kind of humility I'm talking about, not tone or turn of phrase. How can anyone who still believes that Jews and Palestinians have equal rights in all of Palestine, because it is "our historic homeland", possibly even envision anything remotely resembling "a reasonable peace agreement for the good of both sides"?

    • Jon,

      If I understand you correctly, you are saying that there are two equally valid claims to all of Palestine/EY, but in the name of peace and fairness, one side should keep nearly 4/5 of it, and the other side a little over 1/5.

      I'm with you so far, and understand the basic workings of the 2ss (not perfect, best chance, etc.). Where you lose me is on the "historical homeland" part, and how that makes a claim that is in any way similar to that of the people whose land it actually was -- not in prayers or dreams or hopes or memories or books, but in the real world.

      You might say that it doesn't really matter, as long as the "bottom line" is peace and compromise, but it has to have an effect on the way you envision peace and compromise. The Palestinians have been (and continue to be) incredibly wronged by the Zionist movement and the State of Israel (mostly on the basis of the very same "historical homeland" argument). I would think the first step to reconciliation would be a little humility.

    • International law: the first invasion, up to the pre-1967 borders, however illegal and immoral, has been legalized after the fact; the second invasion has not. Yet.

      That was not jon's argument. His argument was "Jews are not illegal invaders in their historic homeland" (and not say "Israeli Jews are not illegal invaders in territory internationally recognised as Israeli"). If "historical homeland" is a valid argument, why not in "Judea and Samaria"?

    • I would say that the most obvious and acceptable basis of political right is being set aside for one for which there is no shred of moral argument.

      Thus, even if one accepts all of jon's other premises (including the concept of "historic homeland"), it remains a claim without moral basis -- although it may resonate on other levels (mythological, romantic, religious, poetic etc.). It is, in effect, an attempt to confer the validity of reality on a dream.

    • Jews are not illegal invaders in their historic homeland.

      Jon,

      Without arguing definitions, the question remains: Why not? Bennett made the very same argument regarding the West Bank. I know you disagree with him. What's the difference?

    • In the 19th century, Arabs in Palestine who happened to be Jewish by religion, were known as Arabs.

      "Arabs ... were known as Arabs." That makes sense, of course. How could it not? But according to whom? Themselves? (Other) Arabs? Europeans?

  • Young liberal Zionists, it's time to let go and move on
    • Yes, hophmi, it's exactly the same. Robert Cohen, an apostate Zionist has become part of the powerful order of BDS, and on the authority of the queen, the prime minister and the archbishop of Canterbury, has ordered all of the Zionists in the kingdom to attend anti-Zionist sermons at all of the Zionist houses of worship (members of ISM will check for earplugs at the doors). The works of Herzl and Jabotinsky will be examined by the brothers of BDS for blasphemy against the doctrines of Palestinian rights. Censorship will be imposed on all Zionist works (ultimately to be consigned to the flames), and British Zionists will be forced to sing Biladi Biladi, on the pain of death. I hear that Alex Chalmers fears for his life, and is already planning his escape from the terrible persecution he has suffered in the British Isles. If only Zionists weren't so powerless. If only the world weren't full of mumarim (apostates), mosrim (traitors) and rodfim (pursuers), twisting Zionist literature and traditions to serve their evil solidarity and human rights masters.

  • Israeli soldier filmed executing wounded Palestinian man
    • So which is it?

      Was he "not fully neutralized ... wearing a heavy coat on a blistering hot day and hadn’t been checked by sappers before it was suspected he would detonate his explosive";

      or

      "Every single terrorist that attacks an Israeli settler, soldier, civilian, mother, or father will be executed on the spot"?

      The former, should it prove to be true, may be a legitimate defence. The latter is a war crime, and would be considered murder according to Israeli law.

      In terms of speculation, if I were going to attack soldiers and had a knife AND a bomb, I hardly think I'd go for the knife -- which means that no one seriously expects a knife attacker to be wired with explosives (that he would probably never get a chance to use).

    • 32 years ago, Israeli society was shaken by the "bus 300 affair". Today, (Jewish) Israeli society has trouble understanding what all the fuss is about.

  • Zionism is finally in the news, as officials seek to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
    • I have to face the fact that though we Christians do not celebrate Purim we do regard Esther as a sacred book. I have a thought that Ms. Clinton, feminist and Christian as she is, has spoken warmly of it.

      MHghes,

      According to a passage in the Talmud (BT, Megillah 7a; see also gloss by S. E. Edels [Maharsha]), there was some doubt about Esther's inclusion in the Jewish canon -- although more likely simply an expression of Rabbinic ambivalence toward the book, because it "arouses hatred among the nations".

      As you well know, there are many ways of approaching Scripture (as well as Scripture-based ritual), and learning what not to do and why not, is certainly one of them.

      Regarding the "feminist" angle, I know there are feminist readings of Esther, but the "plain meaning" of the text would seem to be about as far away from feminism as one can get -- except, again, in the "do not do" sense. It is certainly offers a good basis for a discussion of patriarchy and the exploitation of women.

    • the real logival chain that we should all be pondering: if zionism = racism, and if Judaism = zionism, then does Judaism = Racism?

      That was the point of my comment, in the sense that if someone believes that Zionism and Judaism are equivalent, when you assert that "Zionism is racism", they will hear "Judaism is racism". And working backwards (because all of these equivalences work both ways), since they know that anti-Semitism is bad, they will conclude that anti-Zionism is bad.

    • Yonah, neither the trauma of the Churban nor the impact of modernity on “traditional” ideas of Jewish identity are lost on me. Both have deeply influenced my own life. Of course I've heard the “only two successful strategies of Jewish survival in the 20th centuries” argument many times. Apart from its extreme simplification of modern Jewish history, thought and life, it also fails to examine the strategies themselves, their respective benefits and costs, advantages and disadvantages, or even prospects for the future – beyond the simple fact of having “survived” so far. Such an argument is about as valid as an argument in favour of capitalism based on the fact that it's the only economic system “still standing”.

      what i’m saying is that the paucity of alternatives to zionism, the poverty of jewish content in the lives of the great grandchildren of those jews who threw their tefilin into the bay in front of the statue of liberty, the emptiness of their judaism does not create any alternative to zionism as a viable part of their lives, to make judaism into something real rather than trivial.

      What you're saying is crucial, but continuing to support Zionism cannot be the answer, for two interrelated reasons: 1) It is wrong. It causes injustice and inflicts suffering; 2) It has created and perpetuates a profoundly unethical Judaism – a Judaism of cruelty and indifference to suffering; a Judaism that has sacrificed its universal values on the altar of nationalism and chauvinism.

      Such an argument in favour of continued support for Zionism also brings to mind the famous line about the parricide who begs for the court's mercy because he is an orphan. Zionism, throughout its history has actively and aggressively opposed every possible Jewish alternative to itself. To come now and claim that there is simply no other way of being Jewish can only be described as chutzpe.

      At this point, I would say the Jewish way forward is סור מרע ועשה טוב (Ps. 34:15), which roughly translates (according to Rabbinic homiletic tradition) "First stop doing evil; then strive to do good."

    • Racism, according to the usage consensus in civilized countries, is wholesale prejudice against a group because of perceived characteristics acquired at birth, like mother tongue, place of birth, supposed religion of ancestors, etc. Not religion, which is acquired and can be reasoned against, or any political affiliations.

      Echinococcus,

      In the real world, things are not so clear cut. For example, you may oppose the construction of minarets in your country on aesthetic grounds, ritual slaughter (Jewish or Muslim) for reasons of cruelty to animals, the treatment of women (in ultra-Orthodox Judaism or Islam) on the basis of gender equality -- but you may just be acting (to one degree or another) on prejudices that have nothing to do with the specific issues at hand.

      The argument that certain people or groups are suddenly interested in women's rights (especially when they don't seem to give a damn about them in any other context) merely to further an Islamophobic or anti-immigrant agenda is very easily extended to criticism of Israel and Zionism (how many times have we heard "You don't really care about human rights or Palestinians; you just hate Jews"). The "singling out" argument is essential to such attempts to undermine support for Palestinians, just as pointing out that opposing ritual slaughter but not factory farming, or focusing on "honour killings" or FGM while ignoring rampant "normal" violence against women in our own societies may be indications of ulterior (and not so noble) motives.

    • I think that the zionists had a pretty good idea this would be the end result and from the get go formulated a plan to confront opponents of the zionist movement.

      Marnie,

      The conflation of Zionism and Judaism (and anti-Zionism with anti-Judaism) was a part of the battle between Jewish Zionists and anti-Zionists from the very beginning. It is reflected in the very choice of the name "Zion" -- including the fact that anti-Semitism, in Yiddish, was often referred to (long before "Zionism") as "sinas tsiyon" -- "hatred of Zion".

      As Aharon Shmuel Tamares wrote, in the early days of the Zionist movement:

      "We must first liberate ourselves from the censorship that weighs on the mouths of your critics, by your wonderful ploy … calling yourselves 'Zionists'.... Thus, anyone who dares to criticise your movement in the slightest is immediately branded a Hater of Zion [=anti-Semite] – vilified and forever disgraced. Who, then, will risk confronting you?"

      --Aharon Shmuel Tamares, Yahadut ve-herut [Judaism and Freedom], Odessa, 1905

    • Ahh, poor little Zionists, falling into such an easy error. You’re going to make it “little harder”, when it’s working for them every day?

      Mooser, you're acting like a troll.

      The conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism makes Palestinians suffer. That the two are distinct (and when rooted in a fundamental opposition to racism and discrimination, antithetical) should be a no-brainer, but it's not. Why not? Why do so many people who should know better not know better? And most importantly, how can that be changed?

      How can Obama get away with the kind of statements cited above? What are the premises that make such unreasonable statements sound so reasonable to so many people? Concerted PR is only a part of the answer. Why does the PR resonate?

    • MHughes,

      I certainly don't think that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism (in part because that would make me a "self-hating self-hater", and I'm not sure that's even possible) or that Zionism is Judaism, but was explaining why the trap is so easy to fall into -- and understanding why it's so easy might help us make it a little harder.

    • i think the primary reason anyone would equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism (and most people don’t)is because there’s a major pr campaign to convince everyone it’s true.

      It goes far deeper than that. Zionism practically is Judaism, today (Jewish anti-Zionism is, at best, a heresy). From there, it's just a matter of getting the logic straight:
      If Zionism = Judaism, anti-Zionism = anti-Judaism.

      On a more practical level, opposing Zionism really does mean opposing an awful lot of Jews "as Jews" -- in the sense of opposing a core element of their individual and collective Jewish identities. Not hard to see why that would be perceived by so many (Jews and non-Jews) as anti-Semitism.

  • Zionism's long and rich history of delegitimizing Palestinians
    • Points well taken, ritzl. I jumped into this whole discussion because of a comment the author of the post made about "fair minded people". No matter how we approach trying to change minds, any assumptions about "fair-mindedness" (as your anecdote shows), fly out the window.

    • Gamal and Mooser,

      Judging by your responses, I seem to be doing a very bad job of explaining what I mean.

      I am not talking about accepting Zionism or Jewish ethnocracy in any way shape or form. I am not talking about affording legitimacy or "being used" to perpetuate injustice.

      I am talking about trying to end oppression and ongoing violations of human rights . To do so, I believe it is necessary but not sufficient to protest and boycott and inform and expose. Changing Jewish Zionist opinion is crucial (without getting into the Chomsky wars) to the image and practical support Israel enjoys around the world -- without which the oppression of the Palestinians would be much harder, if not impossible.

      Thomas Harrington's post was about Zionist arguments. He is right that they need to be countered, but they need to be countered in such a way as to actually change minds -- by no means an easy task. How does one go about such a thing? What does it involve? Given the role that Zionist Jews play in defending and perpetuating their own ideology, which, in turn affects public discourse in general, changing those particular minds is of vital importance. In doing so, whether we like it or not, other Jews have an advantage, a greater chance of being trusted and listened to.

      Harrington is talking about engaging Zionist apologists, but it's not enough just to have the answers. To be heard, you need to listen -- not justify or compromise or negotiate your principles or your "humanity", but listen and try to understand.

      A while ago, Yonah Fredman chastised me for using a word he found inflammatory. I didn't agree about the specific word, but his point was an important one for me, because I am tired of speaking to people who agree with me, and making no difference. I belong to an anti-Zionist Jewish group, and the first thing non-Jewish activists inevitably ask us is "What's up with the Jewish community, and can't you do anything about it?" So I'm trying -- writing primarily for and speaking to Zionist Jews. I tell them I oppose Zionism and why. I talk to them about ethnocracy and occupation and human rights abuses, but I can't do that if I just call them fascists and walk away. It's not everybody's cup of tea, but I think it is an important part of the struggle.

      I hope I've done a better job of explaining myself this time.

    • Lots to oppose, but nothing to “engage”. Any reason why I can’t do that?

      Oppose and engage are not mutually exclusive, Mooser. Opposing without engaging amounts to just shouting at them in my book. Undoubtedly the most satisfying path, but not necessarily the most effective.

    • defeat them not on the list Shmuel, none of my humanity is up for “negotiation”

      Nor mine, gamal. But how do you defeat "them" -- or the terrible things "they" cause and might actually be able to stop? Is it about ceding one's humanity or about ceding one's ego? Where there's no one to get through to, move on. Where there is a chance, take it -- even if it means putting anger and righteousness aside in order to try to figure out what the hell is going on and how to effect change. Slim and slow, but doesn't exclude other courses of action, solidarity and protest. Is defeat really the goal? Zero sum? Only one "winner"? No wonder "they" don't want to change.

    • Again, I ask you, how would they know? And what motivates me to want “prove” I am a Jew to Israel

      Let's try this again, from the beginning. There are three basic ways in which you can deal with mainstream Zionist Jews (I'm assuming that that is who we were talking about):
      1. Engage them.
      2. Shout at them.
      3. Ignore them.
      If you chose 2 or 3, your own identity is not particularly relevant. If you chose 1, then you need to decide how you want to engage them:
      1. From the inside.
      2. From the outside.
      If you chose 1, they'll know you're a Jew, and you can expect preferential treatment. If you chose 2, they'll think you're not and treat you accordingly.

      You are making it clear that I am a Jew? Well, of course, you can do that here, but when the time comes, please don’t rat me out to the Israelis!

      Mum's the word.

    • Schmuel, buddy, would you like to tell me why the things which tilt the “odds” in your favor also apply to me?

      I thought I'd made that clear. You are a Jew, and Jews don't get treated like Palestinians.

    • Now, tell me why I am humiliating myself enough to produce, or have ‘produced’ those documents? Why would I be doing that?

      Obviously, you wouldn't. You asked why Zionists would treat you any better than a Palestinian. That's why -- with or without documents.

      So you feel an assurance the assaults will never go beyond verbal. Why is that?

      No assurances, just odds; see above.

    • Based on what? My cute way of speaking?

      No, not that.

      Why don’t you tell me what it is I would present the Israelis with which would confer upon me the automatic citizenship

      Generally a letter from a rabbi and/or your mother's religious marriage certificate (ketubah).

    • He sees education in the terms of ask easy questions, focus only on history that is Jewish and specifically of pograms against Jews in various countries, and very little else

      That's exactly the history I was taught in Israel, over 30 years ago.

    • nor have I ever seen any reason why they should treat me any better than they do a Palestinian.

      Just off the top of my head, they'll give you automatic citizenship, but have expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Dead wrong, but a fact.

      Why, do you have some assurance of their behavior towards you?

      None. I've been called some names, but sticks and stones....

    • And that just about exhausts our alternatives, doesn’t it? After all, in the last estimation, they are no threat to us.

      Exactly. What matters is ending the abuse, and if that means engaging rather than satisfying our own egos and sense of self-righteousness, I'm for engaging.

    • Yeah, yeah, it’s always our job to rescue Zionists from themselves. Our job to beg them to be better, like we would be lost without them. Little sheep that have lost their way.

      Alternatives:
      1) Shout and shake our fists at them;
      2) Ignore them and hope they'll go away.

    • Those issuing it understand all too well that, should such a detailed discussion ensue, Israel, with its ongoing record of ethnic-cleansing and deeply institutionalized racism, would not fare very well among most fair-minded people.

      I doubt it. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest flaws in pro-Israel propaganda is the presumption that there can be only two possible reasons for not supporting Israel: ignorance or malevolence. This is embodied in the very term "hasbarah", which means "explaining". If you are "fair-minded", the reasoning goes, once things have been explained to you properly, you will certainly agree with us; and if you still don't agree with us, you must be ill-intentioned.

      Another expression Israelis often use (which must be conveyed to the "fair-minded") is "tzidkat darkenu" -- the rightness/righteousness of our cause. How is it that two people can be utterly convinced of the "righteous of their (or someone else's) cause", when those causes are at odds with one another? It's too easy to simply assign bad faith to one of the sides.

      The possibility of changing minds is slim enough as it is. Condescension makes it virtually impossible.

  • Sayed Kashua doesn't want to write in Hebrew for 'Haaretz' anymore
    • Danaa,

      Glad to hear you are safe from Piketty for the time being, although I think I owe you an apology. The book I had meant to recommend was Aida, not Flight of the Swans (they were next to each other on the shelf, and I got confused). Sorry. Meanwhile, Michael has come out with a new and wonderful book, called Diamond in the Wilderness (יהלום מן הישימון), should you need protection from any future scary tomes.

      While looking for the English title of יהלום מן הישימון, I discovered why Mahfouz reads so "naturally" in Hebrew and why it came to mind when thinking of Michael's Arab-Hebrew. The Cairo Trilogy was translated by none other than S. Michael.

      To get back to the subject of this post, I've never seen "Arab Labour", and I don't think I want to.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Danaa. I get them so much it hurts. I was very political in Israel, so the political language is absolutely mine, but it stings and burns. It helps that I deal with many different layers of Hebrew every day, from the Bible to Kashua and everything in between.

      Last time I was in Israel, someone was sympathising with Kashua's not really feeling at home anywhere but Israel but not being able to live there, and I couldn't help but blurt out, "me too".

      A random thought: Sami Michael's Hebrew is so much more Arab than Sayed Kashua's, but I guess that stands to reason, as Kashua's Hebrew came much more naturally, and Michael was a writer in Arabic before he started writing in Hebrew.

      Another random thought: I can't read Mahfouz in Arabic, but he reads so naturally (that word again) in Hebrew.

    • Did anyone notice the reference to “the new Hebrew with this Ashkenazi accent”? The Israeili accent is well-known for being Sefardic.

      Yitzgood,

      The dominant modern Hebrew accent is decidedly Ashkenazi in the sense that the sounds are pronounced in a European, rather than Middle Eastern fashion (r, kh, ʻ, ḥ, q, etc.).

    • On a related note, there are a number of Mizrahi Israeli writers who are challenging Ashkenazi hegemony (in Israel) -- on the banks of the Spree!

    • Ira,

      The irony is the best part, on many different levels. Because mainstream Judaism has harnessed itself to Israel, Kashua is not only an Israeli writer, but a "Jewish" writer. His books feature prominently at my local Jewish bookshop (between Kafka and Kertész?). Because Jewish life has become so superficial -- putting all of its eggs in the nationalism basket -- Kashua knows more about virtually every aspect of Judaism (including Israel!) than the vast majority of Jews.

      He has not only appropriated the language and culture of the coloniser; he is colonising the "golah" (diaspora), while, at the same time, being more of a real exile ("goleh") than any of his students will ever be.

    • A few years ago, a Palestinian writer/commenter at Mondoweiss, Simone Daud, wrote:

      Now I am a citizen of the self defined state of the Jewish people. I am an Israeli intelectual. I have engaged that society, and come from a family that has been engaged in that society for generations. I grew up in the Jewish state, consuming Hebrew literature and Jewish religious writings. It is ridiculous to promote the perspective that I do not own and share Jewish culture and heritage. I own it as much as you do, despite the fact that Israel treats me as a second class citizen because I am not registered as a Jew in their population registry.

      link to mondoweiss.net

      In another piece, Simone Daud also referred to the "colonisation of the coloniser".

      Hebrew is (one of) Sayed Kashua's language(s) -- as a language-creator/owner and not merely a user/imitator -- and of course he teaches at a department of Jewish studies. Who better?

      Sayed Kashua is the avant-garde of Palestinian pre-post-colonialism ;-)

  • 'In every important way Israel has failed'-- leading American Zionist says No mas
    • The bottom line as I see it: The right has triumphed; the left has been defeated.

      This is a fallacy or, at the very least, a facile and comfortable explanation.

      As Gershom Gorenberg put it, recently:

      [I]t seems that for many left-leaning secular Israelis, it's so much more comfortable to identify the colossal mistake of the settlements with strange-looking hilltop youth than with a bare-headed prime minister - this one, or the others back to 1967.

      And the world looks simpler if you can believe that there's a line on one side of which are people who agree with you on everything - and on the other, those who disagree on everything.

      That picture, though, is factually mistaken and politically self-defeating. It leads you to underestimate opponents and alienate potential allies. It evades the need to rethink what Zionism means. Along with international pressure, we need some intellectual pressure to look with clear eyes at how we've gotten into the quagmire we're in now. [emphasis mine]

      Of course this goes far beyond the settlements, as Rabbi Gordis himself notes.

      What happened? We can debate the reasons

      Can we? Far too slowly, and still only on the edges of Jewish life. This is the primary Jewish issue of our time. Why is the "spiritual culture" in Israel -- and, by extension, in all of the Jewish communities and institutions that support Israel -- "rotten"? What exactly is rotten about it and how can we fix it? If Rabbi Gordis is prepared to participate in, or even lead this conversation, say at the next meeting of the Rabbinical Assembly, in which he is a leading member (who also commands respect as the son of Robert Gordis, former president of the RA and eminent Conservative rabbi and scholar), we may be onto something.

  • Israel's ethnic cleansing of its parliament
    • Hi ritzl,

      I don't see the seeds for any truly democratic shift among Israeli Jews at the moment, and certainly not in the form of support for or even cooperation with the Palestinian MKs (assuming any are left). At best, considering the overtly anti-democratic tendencies of the current government, Israeli Jews might -- if left to their own devices -- try to roll back some of the worst excesses, to restore the old delusion of democracy, but I don't see even that happening any time soon.

    • The thing (well, one of the things) about actions like holding onto the bodies of presumed terrorists, banning the northern Islamic Movement, punitive house demolitions, the economic stranglehold on Gaza, etc. -- all ostensibly in the name of "security" -- is that Israel's own experts doubt or entirely reject their efficacy. In other words, the government is motivated by ideological and/or electoral rather than security concerns.

      The Palestinian MKs have the temerity to point such things out, as well as the illegality and inhumanity of such measures. Finding practical solutions to political-ideological problems (as in the case of the Palestinian MKs' mediation between the government/police and Palestinian families, for the return of the bodies) can also be very annoying (or at least offer an excuse to act annoyed) -- even when such efforts have been given a ministerial green light.

    • Benjamin Netanyhu’s government is drafting legislation that ought to resolve in observers’ minds the question of whether Israel is the democracy it proudly claims to be.

      See, for example, the recent article by Rabbi David M. Gordis (a leader of the Conservative/Masorti Movement; brief bio below), published in Tikkun: link to tikkun.org

      Here's an excerpt:

      Present day Israel has discarded the rational, the universal and the visionary. These values have been subordinated to a cruel and oppressive occupation, an emphatic materialism, severe inequalities rivaling the worst in the western world and distorted by a fanatic, obscurantist and fundamentalist religion which encourages the worst behaviors rather than the best.

      And most depressing of all for me, is that I see no way out, no way forward which will reverse the current reality. Right wing control in Israel is stronger and more entrenched than ever. The establishment leadership in the American Jewish community is silent in the face of this dismal situation, and there are no recognizable trends that can move Israel out of this quagmire. So, sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in every important way Israel has failed to realize its promise for me. A noble experiment, but a failure. [emphasis in the original]

      David Gordis has served as vice-president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles (now American Jewish University). He also served as Executive Vice President of the American Jewish Committee and was the founding director of the Foundation for Masorti Judaism in Israel. He founded and directed the Wilstein Institute for Jewish Policy Studies which became the National Center for Jewish Policy Studies.

      David Gordis is President Emeritus of Hebrew College where he served as President and Professor of Rabbinics for fifteen years. He is currently Visiting Senior Scholar at the University at Albany of the State University of New York.

      There's no need to agree with Rabbi Gordis that Israel was a "noble experiment" (I don't) to see the significance of his admission of failure (following in the footsteps of his friend and colleague Henry Siegman). Gordis doesn't go into the reasons why Israel "failed", but that's the logical, next step -- crucial to deciding what to do about it..

  • Viral video says BDS supporters want to shoot the bible and Dannon yogurt
    • Every good fable needs a moral. This one seems to have two:
      1. If you don't like something, shoot it.
      2. Israel invented God.

  • Resisting anti-Semitism does not contradict resisting the Israeli state
    • Chabad, which wants its members to “apply the timeless Jewish principle of Ahavat [the love of] Israel”

      Not that Chabad (in general, or Chabad McGill/Concordia specifically) doesn't have a pro-[State of] Israel agenda, but the "Israel" in the "principle of Ahavat Israel" does not refer the State of Israel but rather to the Jewish people and its individual members. It is one of the central principles of Chabad ideology, as developed by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

  • Israel detains Washington Post bureau chief in Jerusalem accusing him of ‘incitement’ --updated
    • You wouldn’t need all that apparatus, would you, unless there was something significant to control?

      The war on BDS is part of the greater war for sympathy, perception and alignment. The view that Israel is "the good guy" and a natural ally above all others is a supreme strategic asset. In and of itself, BDS may not amount to much, but anything that questions Israel's privileged status and perceived moral superiority is dangerous.

      In a way, I think it's also just a reaction (possibly an over-reaction) to the focus of pro-Palestinian activism. If that's what they're focusing on, that's what AIPAC, ADL, Hillel International etc. will focus on. It's the current "battleground".

  • Six Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the weekend
    • DaBakr,

      The thrust of my comment here, on Kate's always-troubling "Today in Palestine" feature, was that the accusation of "incitement" is part of a broader campaign and framing of Palestinian actions as being senseless, with no visible cause other than "incitement". Is that your belief?

    • This kind of harassment of the foreign press in Israel and the OT has been going on for a long time and deserves a more thorough "unpacking", but one aspect that has gained even greater currency in recent months is the idea that Palestinian protests and attacks lack real causes and are thus somehow artificial -- the product of "incitement" (whether by the PA, Palestinian members of Knesset, the Islamic Movement, foreign journalists, Israeli and foreign human rights groups, foreign governments etc.)

    • In the Hebrew edition, there's a statement from the Jerusalem police, explaining that "a passerby" complained that the two (and others) had been planning to stage a provocation and disturbances by "young Arab men" against the police on duty there -- "for propaganda purposes".

      link to haaretz.co.il

  • Obama to sign AIPAC-promoted trade bill that legitimizes Israeli occupation and fights BDS
    • introduces new U.S. policy language by including all “Israeli-controlled territories” as part of Israel

      OK, so it's not occupied. It is a single territorial unit, in which the only relevant frame of reference is "control". Within that territorial unit, different rights and freedoms are accorded to different groups on the basis of ethnicity or religion. It is apartheid. Can we boycott it now? I believe there's a precedent.

  • 'Let the one-state era begin'-- Tom Friedman explains there will never be a Palestinian state
    • ‘Sterilised, circumcised, castrated…’ You equate of lack of strength or willpower with lack of male potency. As a woman I am uncomfortable with that.

      Well said, Elisabeth (not to mention a couple of other disturbing tropes).

  • Islamophobia and the Election: It's not just Trump
    • On a related note, Richard Silverstein tweeted this yesterday:

      Boston's msg to Muslims: if you want to live here, don't die coz we won't let u be buried. link to buff.ly

      It reminded me of this:

      "About one half mile from Lengnau, in the direction of Endingen, is the old Jewish cemetery. It is recognized by a cluster of trees, on the right side of the road, and is surrounded by a stone wall. During the first years of settlement in Lengnau, the Jews were forbidden to bury their dead in Switzerland. They had to travel north to the Rhine River, and bury their dead on an island in the middle of the river, known as Juden Insle, Jews' Island." (Israelowitz, Oscar. Guide to Jewish Europe. Brooklyn, NY: Israelowitz Publishing, 1995, p. 322)

  • To my fellow Israelis: We can stop this
  • Bernie Sanders' spirituality is resonating with young religious 'None's
    • I don’t understand why anyone secular clings to bogus “Jewish” identity.

      Different strokes.

      It is time to get over it and move on.

      Sounds like good advice.

  • Generational sea change within the Democratic party will also include policy towards Israel
    • Yonah,

      Thanks for the lesson in communication, although it seems to have taken quite a lot of "heat" to get to that "light".

      As to the substance of your argument, yes "paranoid" is a harsh word (albeit not quite "100 in toxicity", even after adjusting for hyperbole), but one I feel accurately expresses reality in this case. Effective communication is also about getting ideas across. Too much watering down and there is nothing left to communicate.

      I have used this word and harsher with people who disagree with me, and generally manage to get my messages across and keep lines of communication open. I will think about what you've said.

    • Yonah,

      I'm sorry if I touched a nerve, but you'll have to do better than calling me names and giving me orders. If you think my characterisation is wrong, please explain why.

    • Yonah,

      I was not referring to the complaints themselves as a new phenomenon, but to the expectation that US administrations [insert crude SNL characterisation] when it comes to Israel. That expectation has, in some people's minds become "traditional bi-partisan support for Israel", which Obama has supposedly "challenged" -- although nothing substantive in US support for Israel has changed (and certainly not for the worse).

      Those who make such complaints had been spoiled by 3 or 4 terms of unquestioning backing for virtually any Israeli actions and demonstrations of "love" for the country itself. At the same time, mainstream Jewish institutions (to some extent mirroring changes in Israeli society, but with unique dynamics as well) became radicalised in their own support for Israel and Israeli policies and far more sensitive to any criticism of Israel. The concept of "the new anti-Semitism", for example, although not entirely new, has only really gained currency in recent years. I think it is perfectly reasonable to characterise a state of mind that has resulted from a combination of these factors (which I believe -- and have argued -- are not rooted in actual fact) as paranoia. Is it "absolutely necessary"? Nothing we write here is absolutely necessary. It's just my opinion.

    • Thanks annie, but you are reinforcing my question. When Shalom or others go on about how bad Obama is for Israel, they are not referring to anything substantive (Obama has been at least as supportive if not more so than his predecessors on every issue that really counts), but to the fawning attitude (which SNL didn't even need to parody, as it is a parody of itself) adopted by both parties in relatively recent years. When Shalom talks about "bi-partisan support for Israel" he is doing a "from time immemorial" on a fad that has little to do with actual support, and didn't really become entrenched until the Clinton and Bush Jr. administrations.

      You are "on the ground" (albeit very much among activists), but I don't get the feeling that there has been any real change, and to the extent that there has, I am not convinced that it has much, if anything, to do with Obama. He has been just another super-pro-Israel president, whose actual record has been distorted by Teabaggers and spoiled, radicalised, paranoid Zionists.

    • There was a time when support for Israel was bi-partisan. Obama challenged that as much in his way as has Netanyahu

      How so? If you are referring to the Iran deal, disagreeing with the Israeli PM, in and of itself, does not constitute withdrawing support. Do the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission and head of the Israeli space agency (both of whom praised the deal) not "support" Israel? Netanyahu and his Republican allies decided to make it some sort of test (each for their own reasons), and Obama refused to play. Was there any other area in which you think Obama "challenged" bi-partisan support for Israel? Did he withdraw funding? Withdraw support in international institutions? Express harsh criticism of any of Israel's actions?

      It seems to be some sort of article of faith with right and even centre Zionists that Obama has been terrible for Israel, but when asked to explain, they never seem to come up with anything more than wacky conspiracy theories, expectations that even an Israeli-leader (let alone a US president) would be hard-pressed to meet, or flimsy innuendo.

  • Israeli designer eroticizes the Palestinian keffiyeh
    • Thanks gamal.

    • For another Japanese connection, see Eric Bokobza's "Sukajan Project", which alludes to the jackets occupying US troops had embroidered by local artisans in Japan.

      No keffiyehs, but some pyramids, lebanese cedars and even a piece of a Hezbollah flag.

    • Not quite the same when the expropriator is not a colonial occupier, but it's interesting to see an affirmation of cultural ownership sung/performed in the idiom of another (oppressed and historically misappropriated) culture.

  • 'I cannot support Israel as long as Netanyahu is in office'-- many American Jews are saying
  • Jewish West Bank settlers are as smug as white South Africans in 1980
    • I heard that about half of Israelis have (or are eligible for) at least one other passport (not neccessarily Western) though I don’t know if this is actually true.

      Half of Israeli Jews, I presume. It sounds to me like a lazy estimate based on the assumption that all Israeli Ashkenazim have or are entitled to European citizenship of some sort. Of course there is a huge difference between having and being entitled to (without considering legal, financial and other obstacles), but even in terms of eligibility the assertion sounds fishy. There are over six million Jews in Israel, and even the most sensationalist reports (and brokers who hope to make some money out of such requests) talk about "hundreds of thousands", not millions -- even including the relatively recent Spanish option.

    • MDM,

      James North's article is written in the negative -- identifying the smugness of those secure in the knowledge that "no one was going to taken any serious actions to disturb their lives". The question Yonah raised was whether the withdrawal of western backing from Israel would have a similar impact to the withdrawal of western backing from SA. I don't think James, Yonah or anyone here thinks such a scenario is likely any time in the foreseeable future.

      The anti-Semitism card is useful only up to a point. You may curse "those anti-Semitic frogs/limeys/etc." when you find out Israelis are not eligible for that grant, fellowship, tender, etc., but you would still very much like to have gotten it. You know that Prime Minister Bennett's declarations of Jewish pride and Foreign Minister Hotovely's "list of countries that hate us" have not exactly made things any easier (nor have Defence Minister Lieberman's annexation and expulsion programmes), and you remember when the world was Israel's oyster, after Oslo. You remember how you used to be invited to conferences and how friendly all your European colleagues used to be. You get the message, no matter what excuse you may latch onto to console yourself.

      Most Israelis don't have western passports, and even those who do would be identified with the institutions, companies, projects, etc. they represent -- officially and unofficially. Their counterparts would still relate to them as Israelis.

      But I'm afraid I've gotten a little carried away with hypothetical situations today. Does BDS stand a chance of making a difference? I think so.

    • First of all, last time I looked you advocated a single state solution, so this is news, that you are only advocating a change of attitude.

      Look again.

      For example: link to mondoweiss.net or link to mondoweiss.net

      Recently, you’ll excuse me if I don’t specify with a link, there was a suggestion here on mw, that South Africa gave up apartheid because of rugby and cricket. Just from my knowledge of human nature, I doubt it, but if that is the case, then there is nothing that can be learned from the South African experience to help us undo the current Palestine versus Israel conflict, because nothing less than real pressure is going to change the situation and this fear of being treated like a pariah, “the world is no longer behind us” is not going to change anything.

      The "rugby-cricket" theory was not invented at MW, and the idea is that the actual impact of sanctions on South Africa (undoubtedly "real pressure") was not sufficient, in and of itself, to convince white South Africans to give up their privileges. No one suggests that simply being barred from international sporting events, in and of itself, would have been sufficient either, but the psychological impact of international isolation, combined with the feeling that impunity ("Because America will never stop supporting us") was no longer an option, may very well have been what brought the self-assurance on which Apartheid relied crashing down.

      The theory may or may not be correct (there are indeed those who reject it), or its significance may be exaggerated, but not because it is somehow inconsistent with human nature.

      Transfer rugby-cricket to academia-culture-business-tourism -- not necessarily impacting Israeli GDP in any significant way, but making it more difficult for Israeli academics, students, artists, athletes and just ordinary tourists to interact with their western peers and be accepted by them. Large parts of Israeli society are very "international", and being a part of the "enlightened" west is a central part of Israeli identity.

      Israel and its supporters often complain about Israel being negatively "singled out", while obsessively engaging in trying to get Israel singled out in a positive sense. Israel doesn't want to be treated just like any other country. It wants to be loved -- and not by Djibouti or Vanatu. How could a withdrawal of moral support (obviously combined with real pressure) from Europe and the Anglosphere not deeply affect Jewish Israelis?

    • His anecdote didn’t even mention the woman being ‘prohibit(ed) … from entering Western Europe.’

      She was not denied entry to any European country, but merely complained about being treated like a pariah. She was particularly upset by her treatment in the UK (where she was also granted entry), presumably because South Africans feel a particular connection to that country, or because the disdain she encountered there was even greater than on the continent.

    • Yonah,

      We are entirely in the realm of the vague and the amorphous, because there are no indications that anything like SA-style sanctions are on the horizon -- in Europe or elsewhere. The question is where does the impediment lie? James has suggested that it lies in the will (and dynamics) of western politics, while you have argued that even if that obstacle were somehow overcome, the consequences would not have the desired effect -- due to differences between Jewish-Israeli and white-SA societies.

      There are no guarantees, and none of us are prophets, but I think James has a point, and I think that a sense of isolation (well beyond current paranoid fantasies) would have an impact on crucial sectors within Israeli society. The precise electoral dynamics -- whether shifting power from party to party or changing the parties themselves -- would remain to be seen, as would other forms of internal pressure to effect significant changes in policy.

      I'm not talking about the removal of hundreds of thousands of settlers, but of a decision to stop treating the Palestinians like idiots or beggars.

      As for a real shift in European policy, the Netanyahu government seems to be working very hard on bringing it about.

    • i do not think that this really would work in Israel, where eroding the morale will not work. The civil (Jew versus Jew) unrest that would result from the removal of the settlers from the West Bank is a far greater and more immediate danger to most Jewish Israelis than “realizing that the world was no longer going to stand behind them”.

      James will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think South Africa, at the time, was far more isolated and self-sufficient than Israel is. In that sense, the bravado of those Israelis who have been calling for a "counter-boycott" of Europe (Israel's largest trading partner, scientific and cultural partner, and general frame of reference), or even "punishing" the EU and individual European countries is as ludicrous as it is insane..

      When I was travelling in Europe in the '80s, I met a white South African who told me that it was absolute hell to visit Europe (before the days of Schengen and open borders) on a South African passport. She described being detained, harassed and harangued at every single border. Do you think something even remotely like that would not have an effect on Israelis, so many of whom consider Europe their stomping ground? Israel can already be a very claustrophobic place. What would happen if it were to become even more so?

  • Can there be poetry after Netanyahu?
    • A number of Israeli journalists have likened the current situation in Israel to that in Greece in the 1960's where "private patriotic" groups did the work of the right-wing regime -- often in close coordination with the regime itself, but with sufficient deniability to allow the regime to continue to claim that it was democratic and respected civil liberties.

      The recent work of groups like Im Tirzu, Ad Kan, Regavim and others (with direct or indirect government funding and/or support) closely complemented the government's own legislative, propaganda and "security" initiatives (condemning and barring Break the Silence, the "Loyalty in Culture" bill, the harassment of Ta'ayush and B'tselem activists, the banning of books and performances in the Educational system, the promotion of the new civics curriculum, etc.). The willing participation of the mainstream media (channel 2 and Ilana Dayan, Yediot Aharonot on the Alon Liel "exposé") also points to the coordinated manipulation of information -- again with sufficient deniability.

  • Israeli group Ad Kan continues attacks on anti-occupation activists with 'expose' of Anarchists Against the Wall
    • I was thinking more in terms of "Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?", but yours works too.

    • “At the end of the day, the activities of AATW hurts first and foremost the Palestinians. When the activists return to the[ir] comfortable and quiet homes, the IDF continues its presence in the villages as a result of the violence and the friction only enflames hatred between the sides”

      Reminds me of the threats I used to hear settlers make to Palestinians when Israeli groups came to help them against settler attacks and vandalism: "In a few hours, they'll go back to Tel Aviv, and you'll have to deal with me."

    • Thanks Allison. Don't forget Ad Kan's amazing undercover recording of (former director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, and retired ambassador) Alon Liel, in which they "revealed" things he says quite openly and publicly.

      Meanwhile Im Tirzu has published a blacklist of "cultural moles" (i.e. Israeli artists who are members of or have ever participated in events sponsored by "disloyal" organisations "funded by foreign governments"), evidently in support of Culture Minister Miri Regev's "Loyalty in Culture" bill. All in the name of "transparency" and "democracy" and "freedom of information", of course.

  • How many more orgasms will be had for Zionism?
    • Is anything analogous to such moralistic Christian camps uncommon in the Jewish community? Or are such things as in Liz Rose’s essay and in the MW “Birthright trip” essays the main option?

      I'd never heard about "co-ed" sleeping arrangements at any Jewish summer camp. They don't even have that at the real kibbutzim any more, but then again, The whole experience Liz describes smacks of revolutionary nostalgia (after which kids and staff go back to their magnificently bourgeois lives).

      I went to 2 Orthodox Jewish camps (one in Canada and one in the US), where there was strict segregation between the sexes (with only a brief possibility of meeting members of the opposite sex [mostly used to see siblings and cousins], for an hour or so on Shabbat afternoon). Something like a "dance" is unthinkable in such camps. Then there are single-sex camps, and others with varying degrees of segregation.

  • Updated: Former French Justice Minister should face questions in NY about law barring BDS speech
    • how about going one step further and a group of BDS activists outside a French store with banners saying ” Do NOT boycott Israeli goods or any goods produced in illegally occupied Palestine or the French state will put you in jail”

      Brilliant! Protesting against Israeli occupation, French repression of free speech and political expression, and taking the piss -- all at the same time.

      « Ceci n’est pas un boycott! » ;-)

  • Among the settlers
    • YBI, hope the responses to your “great” comment made you feel welcome.

      But it went over so well at the last Women in Green demo ;-)

    • Congratulations YBI. You just invented the right to ethnically cleanse indigenous populations. Shall I notify Amnesty or will you?

    • is that leaflet by Abdul Hadi Palazzi ?

      One would assume.

    • The historical honesty of some of the settlers (as opposed to nice Tel-Aviv or Na'aran "leftists") can be refreshing (almost to the point of hypothermia), but there's something to be said for the "decency" of self-deception. Ari Shavit has come up with an interesting (i.e. particularly disturbing) hybrid approach, which seems to combine the worst of both.

      Yehoud Shenhav-Shaharabani found some hope in settler honesty (again, as opposed to the hypocrisy of the so-called peace movement). He's certainly right about the hypocrisy, but I'm not convinced about the settlers.

  • The world the settlers made
    • I’ve always thought it must be nice to be Jewish. Nothing is ever your fault

      Nothing or everything. Depends on who you ask.

    • I think the Hilberg-Arendt analogy is apt, although Arendt's criticism was aimed at the leaders and Judenräte, rather than ordinary Jews, arguing that although passive resistance was not without cost, it was a viable strategy (in terms of overall lives saved) and the leaders would/could have known that.

      Colonialism has mechanisms of its own (some shared with the Nazi process of dehumanisation of "inferior races") that serve to exploit native labour, create dependence on the colonisers, reduce resistance and generally "colonise the mind".

  • Israeli mayors initiate boycott of Sweden over foreign minister's criticism
    • In light of this, it has been decided to change the travel destination of the mayors to Germany and Denmark.

      Wimps. If they really wanted to teach those shvedim a lesson, they'd cancel the junket altogether! While they're at it, why not cancel all freebies to countries with a cross on their national flag?

  • 'This is a totally political arrest, they will not thwart human rights!' Guy Butavia tells the courthouse
    • Thanks Annie.

      The police are working for Ad-Kan

      And the courts seem to be working for the police. The court initially sought to release Butavia altogether and Nawi to house arrest, but the police requested that they be held in custody, The court agreed but warned the police not to request another extension. When the extension was up, the court ordered their release (or at least Nawi's, I'm also getting confused), but the police said they were going to appeal, so the court gave the police until the end of the day to submit their appeal. The police failed to do so, but said they would be doing so the following day. The court then agreed to another extension until Sunday!

      Nawajah's case is even stranger. The court actually ordered his immediate release on Thursday, as whatever he had been accused of was not a security offence and was therefore out of their jurisdiction. Rather than releasing Nawajah, he was brought before a West Bank military judge, who approved the police's request that he be held in custody until Sunday (this time in a military facility). When a petition was filed against the police for contempt of court, the (civilian) court ruled that it had not been contempt, because the police had "acted in good faith".

      But why had the police brought Nawajah before an Israeli court in the first place, rather than to a WB military court (Nawajah lives in Susiya, which is in area C)? Once again, Butavia's got the answer: it's an Israeli political affair that has nothing to do with what one Palestinian may or may not have done to another Palestinian. The Israeli government -- Samaria Regional Council -- Ad Kan -- Israeli TV -- police -- courts don't give a damn about Nawajah or the Palestinian who died a natural death in the South Hebron Hills (Haaretz ran a story showing just how much Israel "cares" about Palestinian land dealers). It's B'tselem (and Ta'ayush and Breaking the Silence and others) they're after.

  • Adelson newspaper suggests Swedish foreign minister deserves assassination for questioning Israeli policy
    • All we need to know now is what role Bernadotte (and Wallström, on one of those Ikea time-travel thingies) played at that infamous meeting at which al-Husseini turned Hitler against the Jews, and Netanyahu (Israel invented time travel) was an undercover stenographer.

  • Clinton baits Sanders over 'destruction of Israel'
    • Even though it’s clear that the major jewish organisations like AIPAC will support Hillary against Bernie he can get her down on this.

      He can always be "Jew-boyed", but that's a double-edged sword, because it implies that as a Jew, Sanders' (or Shapiro's) first loyalty should be to Israel. It basically implies that a Jew can never be president.

  • Israel arrests human rights campaigner Ezra Nawi and puts gag order on case as part of growing 'witch hunt' against activists
    • An interesting article by Dmitry Shumsky links all of the things described above and more -- in a seemingly concerted governmental-judicial-mediatic-public campaign against anti-occupation groups -- to Israel's recent diplomatic woes with the EU and Brazil or, more broadly to the erosion of Israel's international standing.

      Shumsky suggests that Israeli leaders -- who face virtually no significant internal dissent -- now fear that external pressure may sway many ordinary Israelis, not ideologically-opposed to the occupation or settlements, to begin to weigh their international cost. The orchestrated campaign against the anti-occupation groups is thus intended to paint such international pressure as devoid of any real basis, but rather instigated by "disloyal" elements within Jewish-Israeli society. Punishing the "disloyal" elements and preventing them from doing "further damage" thus serves the dual purpose of providing potentially dissatisfied voters with both a scapegoat (one that is, like all good scapegoats, already widely despised) and a solution to supposedly unjust and unjustified international pressure.

      link to haaretz.co.il (Hebrew)

  • Pope Francis's missed opportunity to speak the truth
    • If there’ll never be a good time, why cut anyone any slack?

      I didn't say there would never be a good time, but that Pope Francis was unlikely to "preach" to Jews on this subject.

      Israel has had almost 68 years of slack!<

      This was not Israel, but the Jewish community of Rome. There were good reasons for Sunday's gesture, Had he used the opportunity to take his hosts to task for their support for Israel, he would not have changed any minds and, on the contrary, would have severely damaged the relations he was trying to bolster. He managed to create a lot of goodwill and win considerable admiration. Ideally, he will put that credibility and those channels to good use.

      Apparently, his next interfaith step will be to visit Rome's great mosque. I presume he will not take that opportunity to "rebuke" Christianity's "younger brothers" either.

    • I agree with Marc Ellis that the pope has a duty to "rebuke" his elder brothers (following Lev. 19:17), but yesterday at Rome's great synagogue was neither the time nor the place. I very much doubt that Pope Francis will ever do so, but I think he can be cut some slack for not having used yesterday's symbolic gesture of goodwill to that end.

  • Extremists vandalize Jerusalem church with Hebrew threats: 'Death to heathen Christians'
    • Do Christian Zionists ever hear of these stories? Do their news sources never cover any of this?

      Christian Zionism isn't exactly interfaith. More like 'See you at Armageddon. May the best saviour win!"

      If the Israelis are OK with Hagee, I guess Christian Zionists can handle some vandalism -- especially of Catholic institutions.

    • The cultural and intellectual level of these houligans ...

      I'm not so sure. One of the scrawls is half a verse from Isaiah 34:8. "the year of vindication for Zion's cause". The half of the verse that is not quoted is "For [it is] the Lord's day of revenge" (matching the message in the upper panel of the door -- taken from Num. 31:2). Beyond the specific reference to "Zion" (the Dormition Abbey is on Mount Zion), the entire chapter (Isaiah 34) describes, in rather ghoulish terms, "the Lord's fury against all the nations" -- but against Edom in particular (identified in later exegesis with Rome and ultimately with Christendom). The "cartoon" in the upper panel of the door, certainly fits the imagery in verses 5-6: "For My sword has drunk its fill in heaven; behold, it shall come down upon Edom. ... The sword of the Lord is filled with blood".

      There is a clear ideology behind this, and apparently teachers. I can think of a few places to start looking, but I'm sure the Shin Bet can too -- assuming it gets the orders to do so. They can always balance things out by claiming that B'tselem and Ta'ayush are "exactly the same".

  • Are Palestinian citizens of Israel banned from New York Times headlines?
    • i agree Aharish is no more of a “traitor” than any Jewish Israeli who shares her views. maybe the word i should have used is collaborator. she collaborates in a system that denies her own equality.

      On a personal level, she seems to have done OK within that system. Is there some sort of higher group loyalty (as defined and understood by others) she is supposed to have? Do women who support systems that discriminate against women, but within which they have found success, owe some higher group loyalty to their gender? Are they somehow more guilty or worthy of censure than the men who established and perpetuate those systems (who are "merely" sexist, but at least show solidarity with their own gender)?

    • she’s a zionist palestinian in my eyes

      But not in her own eyes. There are more discussions on this blog about "who is a Jew" than there are in the Knesset. I see a parallel. If Lucy Aharish does not consider herself a Palestinian, who are we to "educate" her about her own identity? The same goes for those who believe that their own understanding of what does and does not constitute a Jew (assuming that Jews even exist, of course) is what counts, and everyone else had better just adapt.

      she embraces not only her lesser status in society but the lessor status of all palestinians, whether they define as arab or whomever.

      She is a citizen of an ethnocracy (or ethnic democracy), who happens to belong to the "wrong" ethnicity, She was raised in an all-Jewish town and, despite the racism she experienced from her peers, internalised the democratic apologetics she was taught -- from the Declaration of Independence's "irrespective of religion, race or sex" to the all-pervasive "if only the Arabs would ....", and decided that she was going to be the Arab who would.

      Like so many Israelis and non-Israeli supporters of Israel, she is an apologist for institutional racism and war crimes. Calling her a traitor implies a basic "tribal" (to use a popular MW word) loyalty, but also lends credence to the idea that Israelis who do not support their country (Palestinian Israelis first and foremost, but not only) are traitors of a different sort. That is the current atmosphere in Israel. Wait for the purges.

      whereas, as an anti zionist, you do not accept the lessor status/reduced or no rights of anyone. so you are not a traitor to humanity, she is.

      Were we discussing "treason" to humanity (that is to the idea of common humanity and equality), Aharish would be no more of a "traitor" than any Jewish Israeli who shares her views. Aharish is not called a "traitor" because she is human, but because she is a Muslim Arab.

    • Neither of you.

      Thanks oldgeezer. That was my point.

    • she’s a friggin traitor!

      She's a Zionist Israeli. I'm an anti-Zionist Israeli. Which of us is the traitor?

  • African asylum seekers fear for safety with racism on the rise in Israeli society
    • "We’ve always been at war with Eastasia"

      Exactly, eljay. And for an explanation of how the mechanisms work, maybe some Fromm or Arendt.

    • Philemon,

      "Forever" is a long time. I don't know if you've read Michael Sfard's latest column in Haaretz (posted at MW in one of the comments). I don't share Sfard's optimism that Israeli apartheid will suddenly collapse, but I think he's right that (if and) when it does happen, everyone will have "been in the resistance".

      A while ago, we had a couple of friends over, both Italian university professors (history and geopolitics), and they were discussing the oath of loyalty to the Fascist regime, required of all Italian university professors beginning in 1931. The question was: Do you think you would have signed (of some 1200 professors, at the time, only 15 refused -- and lost their jobs)? Both profs were pretty sure they would have (although both are leftists, one a very convinced and politically-active communist).

      Back to Sfard. I don't know whether his assertion regarding the "rhinoceros not being in danger of extinction" came through in English, but the common Hebrew expression "lehitkarnef" (to become a rhinoceros) refers to Ionesco's play, in which all of society, with the exception of one man (and not a particularly brave or deep one at that) eventually "joins the herd". There is nothing easier, and nothing more "natural". The current dynamics in Israel (bad to worse) shows exactly how it happens (e.g. the Council for Higher Education's catering to and anticipation of Education Minister Bennett's every whim) . I don't see a swing in the other direction on the horizon, but if and when it happens, it will be hard to imagine that things were ever different.

      link to haaretz.com

    • I see one of the contributors is Bencheikh, Grand Mufti of Marseilles

      Thanks for the link, gamal. The Muslim co-author of the book on land and power (La vocation de la Terre sainte) is Tareq Oubrou, Grand Imam of Bordeaux.

    • I remain concerned about some of the texts which as a Christian I am supposed to regard as sacred.

      MHughes,

      You may find this book interesting. It deals precisely with the subject of these "painful verses", from (in chronological order) Jewish, Christian and Muslim perspectives:

      Les Versets douloureux : Bible, Evangile et Coran entre conflit et dialogue

      I haven't read it yet, but am currently reading another excellent book co-authored by Meyer on Jewish, Christian and Muslim attitudes to land (especially "holy" land) and power.

    • What are we, fairly and without prejudice, to say of ‘Judaeochristian’ or ‘Abrahamic’ ethics if they are influenced by this passage or poem and by others like it?

      Or if they actively seek out such passages in order to justify their own hatred and violence. Who cares whether it's from Isaiah 34 or Judges 16, a past war or a future apocalypse? The important thing is that it contains the word neqamah -- "revenge".

  • Video: Israeli sniper praised for shooting Palestinian protestors
    • I agree, Abern, which is why I put "non-lethal" in quotation marks. Many have been killed or maimed by these "non-lethal" weapons. I have seen rubber-coated steel bullets (which Israeli authorities misleadingly refer to simply as "rubber bullets") used from up-close. The boy who was hit, "only" lost a kidney.

    • does it sound like perhaps a training exercise on live people? one would think a trained sniper would already know this stuff.

      It's not about informing the shooter, but about giving explicit command permission. The word used is rashai -- "allowed" (in the sense of "permission granted" or "go ahead"). For example, at one point, the commander says, "Preparing a slingshot. I've seen it. Rashai." It sounds like going by the book -- which brings me to your second question:

      it seems very contrary to the idea of imminent danger.

      It seems apparent from this video that "imminent danger", or danger of any kind are not part of the instructions given to commanders in the field (as I said, this guy really seems professional and by-the-book). The instructions, judging by this video, seem to be to shoot (with whatever "non-lethal" weapon they are using) anyone who is 1) engaging in some sort of hostile action (throwing a stone or using a slingshot); 2) standing in an upright position; and only on explicit command.

      The other rule of engagement that seems to emerge is that the shooter must aim for the lower body (probably what is behind the condition that the target must be upright). This is evident both from the actual hits in the footage, and the fact that, near the beginning, when the commander says, "hit", the shooter or someone else says, "but not in the lower body". To which the commander replies, "It was in the ass. right in the ass."

      Maybe someone from Breaking the Silence can offer a more informed explanation. My military knowledge is indirect and from the days of the first Intifada, when the "non-lethal" weapon of choice in the OT was a rubber-coated steel bullet, fired from a canister fit on the end of an M-16, and the rules of engagement were somewhat different.

    • The video strikes me as authentic, and appears to be part of the operation, as it is perfectly coordinated with the commander's orders, filming exactly what he is talking about at any given moment.

      There is a constant voice, evidently that of the commander, and a number of other voices, apparently of other soldiers and perhaps the shooter himself.

      The commander's tone is professional -- telling the shooter (or shooters?) when it is permissible to fire (although it seems clear that it is not live ammunition) and when it is not. The 2 criteria seem to be whether the target is standing (permissible) or crouching (not permissible) and whether the target is attempting to throw a stone/use a slingshot. When it is permissible he points it out and encourages the shooter and commends him for a job well done when he succeeds in hitting the target. It's the kind of tone a boss or supervisor would use, overseeing any task.

      The cheering that is heard at one point ("What a hit!", etc.) is not the commander but, apparently other soldiers.

      Aḥi (translated "bro" in the article) is just the way soldiers (and young men in general, in Israel) refer to each other.

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