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Total number of comments: 4350 (since 2009-08-04 05:43:29)

Shmuel

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  • 'NYT' editors twist themselves into knots not to say the word 'Jewish'
    • And also blunt and racist in a way that’s just different from America… It’s blunter there, but it is also more rooted in experience. It’s not based on some stereotype. It’s based on, “Every Israeli I know has acted in this way.” Or, “My cousin was killed by a suicide bomber.” It’s not based on kind of an idea, it’s based on experience.

      Classic apology for racism.

      I was also intrigued by Rudoren's "huge amount of Palestinian-American money" (somehow comparable to "[Jewish-]American money" in Israel, as "such an important part of life there"), with an assist from Bennet. Fake balance is par for the course, but this is a real whopper.

  • Israeli rabbi who advocated rape of 'comely gentile women' during war becomes chief army rabbi
    • Thanks, Michael. I'm far from sanguine. As I intimated, I was on the verge of Haredi society for quite some time, and have more Haredi relatives (Hasidic, Mitnagdic and Sephardic) than I can count on the fingers of both hands. Haredi society is rife with problems -- including a shocking level of racism and, increasingly, nationalism. At this point in time, however, I find the National-Religious ideology far more dangerous, for the reasons I touched on and others that are, indeed, beyond the "brief" of this site.

      No, I hadn't heard of your book. Thanks for the email. I'll drop you a line.

    • Michael,

      I think the ultra-nationalist (or neo-fascist or whatever you want to call it) turn taken by Religious Zionism (and it's offspring "Hardal") is particularly grave, because it is precisely the stream of Judaism that had begun to work through things like misogyny in Jewish tradition (and to some extent still does). Ultra-Orthodoxy has its inbuilt mechanisms to prevent some of the worst things from reaching halakhic practice, despite (or because of) its ostensible literalism and extreme conservatism. Paradoxically, "Modern Orthodoxy" that did not forbid "anything new", as per the famous dictum of Moses Schreiber (Hatam Sofer) , has been far more susceptible to romantic national-idolatry (although it is making inroads into Haredi society as well, for various reasons I won't get into here).

      I attended National-Religious yeshivot (in Israel) and personally had Haredi "leanings", but managed to study things like the chapter of the "comely woman", balancing belief in the divine origin of the Torah with modern abhorrence for such a practice. Our teachers (Haredi and otherwise) gave us the tools to do so, with such mechanisms as "the Torah spoke in human language", as explained, for example, by Maimonides. The possibility existed and exists within the tradition, to study and understand both the acceptable and the unacceptable without losing one's moral compass. I would even say that doing so has advantages over simply dismissing, rejecting, or sweeping under the rug. Part of the secret actually lies in the multiplicity of opinion and interpretation.

      I believe the real slippery slope lies in the fetishisation (sorry, Yonah) of Land and People, which has created a new "morality". Have a look at the quotes from Karim in the original article in Haaretz that broke this story -- at how many times he mentions "the Nation" and "the People" and "the Collective". Or at the shocking "morality" found in the chapter on "ethics" in Min Hahar's classic Dinei tzava u-milhamah ([Religious] laws of army and war). I can't believe I ever bought and studied that book, let alone had any respect for its author. It is no coincidence that Karim headed the pre-military academy at Shlomo Aviner's odious "Ateret Kohanim", in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem (or that he was a combat officer). Nor it is it a coincidence that he was appointed chief military rabbi, at a time when the role of the military rabbinate is being redefined.

    • Thanks, Jonathan, for the article and the clarifications.

      I disagree with Lesher about what "the real point" is, although he's absolutely right about the "methodological dishonesty" of certain orthodox rabbis in such cases (Ovadiah Yosef and his spokesmen made it an art form).

      The "real point", in my opinion, is that Religious Zionism has taken topics that were, for millennia, the object of purely theoretical study,* and decided to apply them to contemporary political and military life, in a modern nation state.

      Is Karim's statement about "comely women" (eventually withdrawn/explained/contradicted and unlikely to have any significant impact in and of itself) really worse than his statements about killing "injured terrorists" (whom he calls "animals") or, on a somewhat more theoretical level but not without practical consequences, his constant, almost mystical glorification of "the people" and "the nation", above the needs and rights of individuals?

      *A classic method of dealing with some of the worst parts of Scripture and other sacred texts, without denying that they are the word of God, is to treat them as no longer applicable. The wisdom of this approach seems to have been lost on much of Religious Zionism.

    • Haaretz has some more gems from Qarim: "Terrorists should not be treated like human beings, because they are 'animals'"; "Injured suicide terrorists should be killed"; "The duty to take revenge against the enemy rests exclusively with the IDF, the Israel Police and Border Police, the Shin Bet and the Mossad ... and indeed they do their best, although they are sometimes prevented by the government from acting with full force"; "It is not racism to encourage, promote and advertise 'Jewish labour'"; "[Not allowing women to testify in religious courts] is discrimination in their favour, since they are unable to withstand cross examination in the courtroom, due to their emotional nature"; "Our attitude to the [homosexual] individual is as to one who is ill or handicapped ... to support him and help him out of his situation, with great sensitivity and patience"; "Relationships of the kind you have mentioned [i.e. homosexual relationships] are the opposite of nature and the destruction of nature. Homosexuals and lesbians remain such ... only if they choose to do so, but man has the freedom of choice to live according to nature."

      link to haaretz.co.il (Hebrew)

  • BDS is a war Israel can't win
    • there is a thin line between virulent anti-zionism and anti-judaism

      Is there a fine line between using the adjective "virulent" to describe anti-Zionism and advocating/condoning racism against Palestinians?

  • Life as Israel's hostage (or when will Palestinian dispossession be reckoned in the Diaspora?)
    • Among the mayors listed for Italy is Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi -- one of the most openly racist and homophobic politicians in the country; a man who has actually been convicted of hate crime.

      Might say something about what this ad is worth.

  • Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi: A study in contrasts
    • Levi identified as Piedmontese (btw, the Luzzatis originate in northern Italy, with possible German roots, not in Rome). In the first chapter of The Periodic Table ("Argon"), Levi explores his family's origins, postulating a distant connection to Spain, via Provence. And indeed, Piedmontese Jewry traces its roots back to the Jewish communities of Provence, which did have strong ties to Spain (particularly Aragon) but had developed an independent Provençal identity, often at odds with that of their Spanish coreligionists.

      Piedmontese Jews do not identify as Sefardim, but as Italians and Piedmontese. There is far more to Jewish identity and culture than the "Ashkenazi-Sephardi split".

  • Brooklyn Muslims mark July 4th protesting attack on teens leaving Ramadan prayers
    • Sorry Brooklyn, but I've heard the same kind of generalisations about nearly every immigrant group I've ever come across -- and many non-immigrant groups . I've never lived in Brooklyn (although some of my nearest and dearest have), but have lived in three different countries -- in two of them as an immigrant myself (albeit a "cleverly" disguised and privileged one). Words like "invasion" and "occupation" tend to come up a lot.

    • Funny you should mention Rivash and expanding consciousness. He was, apparently, a rather passionate pipe-smoker, and legend has it that the bowl did not always contain tobacco.

    • that is 1921 BC? ... alcohol is excellent for expanding the Pranja

      I'm not sure, but if you hop by Ocean Parkway, I'm sure you'll find some Halabim who would be more than happy to discuss it over a bottle of arak.

    • Syrian/Lebanese/Israeli Jewish influx/occupation

      Brooklyn,

      Do you consider all immigrants "occupiers", or only these particular groups? Btw, I believe the Syrian Jewish presence in Brooklyn is a lot older than you suggest (e.g. the Magen David Synagogue on 67th Street was built in 1921).

  • Israeli officers permitted to open fire on boys with slingshots
  • Elie Wiesel is Dead
    • Yonah,

      There have been a couple of articles in Haaretz on the Yiddish (published in Argentina, in the '50s) and Hebrew (never published) versions of "Night", citing differences between his testimony to fellow Jews and his testimony to the world (first published in French, and subsequently translated into many languages, including Hebrew). His "realism", as you put it, may have been appropriate for Yiddish and Hebrew-speaking audiences, but without "idealism", the universal message that became his life's work and earned him a Nobel prize would have had little if any value. In fact, the negative impact that he had (as described by Marc Ellis) was due to a sort of inverse or misguided "idealism" of "we owe it to the Jews", rather than we owe it to all of humanity, that has been at the heart of so much pain and injustice in Israel/Palestine.

  • Israeli defense minister Lieberman calls Palestinian lawmaker a 'terrorist'
    • It is a bit ironical to call Haneen Zoabi a ‘lawmaker’ as I am sure she was never able to make any laws.

      I count 3, including two for the dissolution of the Knesset (the last Knesset and the one before that). The third concerns raising the legal age for marriage (together with Orit Zoaretz, Jamal Zahalka, Dov Khenin, Yariv Levin, Nitzan Horovitz and Einat Wilf). In other words, point taken.

  • Media accusations of blood libels -- against Abbas and Sanders -- amplify a Jewish tribal fantasy
  • Israel should be deeply disturbed by the Brexit vote
    • Meanwhile, I think you cives Romani have just elected a mayor from what some say is the UKIP of Italy?

      Hi MHughes,

      Responding a little late, and this is really way off topic for this site, but if you're interested in parallels with Italy, and the recent municipal elections (Rome, Turin, etc.) in particular, feel free to write to me privately. Let me just say that the 5 Star Movement is hardly "the UKIP of Italy", despite some disturbing elements, including its relationship with Farage/UKIP and a number of other unsavoury "Eurosceptics" in Strasbourg.

    • the relentless flood of Eastern Europeans coming into the UK and the impact on under resourced health services,social services,schools and housing and thinking someone has got to pull the plug on this

      Actually, the "flood" is not relentless but seems to have slowed and stabilised (see Guardian article I linked to above), and immigrants do pay taxes (according to the aforementioned article, more than they receive in benefits and services) and generate wealth with their labour. So if British governments decide not to invest in schools, public housing, social services or the NHS, that's hardly the fault of immigrants. If the British want more of these services, they should elect governments that will prioritise them over say military spending and bank bailouts.

      Of course BHL is still an ass.

    • Bumblebye,

      Certainly a problem for some, but far from the whole picture -- without even mentioning all the jobs moved overseas (hint: not by immigrants), but "immigrants steal our jobs" seems to have a lot more zing to it than globalisation and greedy capitalists steal our jobs.

      See, e.g. link to theguardian.com

      So, many are, I'm sure, actually convinced that immigration has increased British unemployment, based on the argument's merits (although they might want to re-check their facts); some readily embrace the idea, because it confirms and reinforces their suspicion and dislike of foreigners; while others have simply fallen prey to the propaganda of actual racists and unscrupulous populists.

      It would be silly to claim that all who voted "leave" are racists, but it would be equally silly to claim that nativism and racism have played no part in the "leave" campaign, or that the "leave" victory has not strengthened racist forces and lent legitimacy to nativist and racist sentiment -- whether that is what a majority of "leave" voters had in mind or not (likely not).

    • The questions of ‘taking control of one’s country’ and of immigration are closely linked.

      Or, to paraphrase the other blondish mophead, "Make Britain great again."

  • Brexit vote leaves progressives suspended between nativists and neoliberals
    • So that’s the basis on which we campaigned for exit of the U.K. from the EU. It was on the basis of an internationalist, anti-racist and progressive vote against neoliberalism.

      And who will provide this internationalism, anti-racism, progressivism and anti-neoliberalism? Johnson and Gove? Or will this vote miraculously strengthen Jeremy Corbyn and sweep labour at its (socialist) best into power?

      People are angry and fed up and rightly so, but how exactly is a Brexit going to stick it to the capitalists and the bosses? Tories will still be Tories and Blairites will still be Blairites and Ukip will still be Ukip whether the British flag flies at Brussels and Strasbourg or not. The EU is hugely problematic (far more so for countries like the one I live in [one of the "I"s in "PIGIS"] than for the UK), but in this case it has merely been used as a scapegoat for the policies of homegrown "capitalists and bosses" -- who will continue as before, without risking a hair on their chinny-chin-chins -- and not an actual vote for jobs and workers' rights and healthcare and education.

      So no, the vote was not "between nativists and neoliberals", but between bolstering nativism and economic "conservatism" (cf. "Thatcher milk-snatcher") and muddling on as before. And yes, it will make things more difficult for the rest of us poor slobs on the "continent" (as opposed to the Brussels crowd), but "Britain first", right?

  • Israel's 'mistaken identity' embarrassments
  • Marching in the spirit of Nakba
    • I see your point, ABC (and share your peeve).

    • ABC,

      I once had an argument with a particularly arrogant Israel-apologist (he made a big deal out of the fact that he was a "professor"), and I finally got him to admit that his facts were wrong. He didn't miss a beat, and justified the misinformation he had been spreading with the arguments that: 1) it could have been true, because "our enemies are like that"; and 2) the other side lies all the time, so we have no choice but to do the same. Needless to say, these arguments were no more valid than the original ones I had disproved.

    • I have no bones to pick with Dan Cohen or David Sheen. I too am appalled by the casual and not-so-casual racism in Israeli society in general, and at events such as the “Jerusalem Day Flag March” in particular. I also deplore the tone of Avi Mayer's TOI article.

      Mayer is right, however, about the three subtitling errors he cites ("any autonomy or rights" for "any autonomy"; "hasbarah" for "hasbarat panim" [kindness, openness, pleasantness]; and "Nakba", for "???"). The most serious error, is of course, the last one, addressed in the above clarification.

      I listened to and watched the section in question numerous times. The sound quality is not great, but the visual of the chant leader helps a little. What I hear (and see) is "baraba or beraba", which means nothing. A final "k" is definitely possible, and the meaning and context would certainly fit with the slang (especially military slang) usage of "berabak", that is "with unbridled enthusiasm / with all one's might" (believed by some to be an acronym, meaning "banging one's head against the wall"). This is not the same usage as the "come on, man" (as in "bihyat rabak" or simply "bihyat") noted in the above article. It also fits with the popular religious enthusiasm that's all the rage in Israel these days ("God, we love you"), also reflected in popular music, and the ubiquitousness of (army) slang among younger Israelis.

      By no stretch of the imagination could I hear the word "Nakba", even setting aside all other considerations.

      Whether or not it somehow reflects the spirit of the march, it is an explosive phrase, which the authors were clearly aware of, giving it the prominence they did. Could they not have had their panel of experts listen to it before publication, just to make absolutely sure, go with "[unclear]" for the sake of credibility, and find another title? That it was in the spirit of the march or could have been said is not good enough. I say this not to discredit the authors, but because I have every interest in Cohen and Sheen's credibility and in that of MW.

  • The naked racism of 'Save Jewish Jerusalem'
    • can someone tell me what the hebrew says under the star of david graphic (w/the lion of judah inside) at the end of the video beginning at 2:26?

      "The Movement to Save Jewish Jerusalem"

  • 'Boycott' Israel over J'lem prayer rules, but 'work' against occupation -- Forward's double standard
    • EI said they had a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack a few weeks ago. Now masses of comments missing here.

      The first "targeted civil eliminations" (in the words of Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz)?

      link to bdsmovement.net

    • Thanks for the thought, Mooser, but I'm afraid your credit doesn't stretch that far any more. You're almost as comment poor as the rest of us:

      Commenter Profile
      Search Mooser's comments
      Total number of comments: 14796 (since 2009-08-14 22:39:41)

    • I don't remember exactly, but it should be more like 10,000.

    • Well, at least “Shmuel’s” archive is all there, anyway.

      Nope. Many thousands of comments missing.

    • Yonah,

      Only the second sentence reflects my own views on the subject. In the first sentence I merely meant to point out the vast discrepancy between present-day Reform Jews and the founders of their movement, as reflected in attitudes toward the Kotel (including re-embracing "the priestly blessing", in egalitarian garb). I don't agree with the extreme de-nationalisation of Judaism that was an essential part of "Classical Reform" (although I don't believe that even its proponents were as extreme as some of their declarations would seem to imply).

      My own aversion to the Kotel (for both ethical and religious reasons) does not affect my ability to understand how it could be meaningful to some people -- in both good and bad ways. My main objection to the "Women of the Wall" issue pertains to the hypocrisy of claiming one's own rights, in the name of equality, while denying rights to others. This is apparent in the case of the Kotel, as it is in the case of demands for Israeli state recognition of the non-Orthodox movements, which merely seek to benefit from a discriminatory (and corrupt) system rather than striving for true equality.

      So, chocolate or not, the ice cream is treif, but I know some Jews will eat it anyway -- and I get why (after all, I used to eat it myself).

      I've written about the Kotel before at MW, but it seems most of my archive has disappeared.

    • How ironic that the spiritual heirs of Kaufmann Kohler and Emil Hirsch (founders of the Reform movement in the United States), who viewed the destruction of the Temple, virtual abolition of the priestly caste and Jewish dispersal as necessary stages in the evolution of the Jewish people and the Jewish concept of messianism toward universal justice and love of all mankind, have joined the Orthodox in sanctifying the site on which the ancient Temples stood. What is more, they do so in a context of political strife, violence, nationalism, occupation, repression and discrimination -- not to mention the war crimes involved in creating the very site at which they wish to pray. And this is supposed to be a blow for "equality"?

  • 'Conquerors of Jerusalem’: March celebrates Israeli occupation with messianic fervor
    • Talkback,

      I doubt that Sheen and Cohen "fabricated" the incorrect translations in their video. More likely they were sloppy or overconfident of their own level of Hebrew comprehension. Definitely not good for them or for Mondoweiss, but not quite as bad as outright fabrication. Either way, Mondoweiss should double-check their material in the future.

  • Dennis Ross tells American Jews, 'We need to be advocates for Israel' -- and not for Palestinians
    • MRW,

      With all due respect to Col. Lang, he would do well to leave "the Arab mind" talk to the likes of Daniel Pipes and Martin Kramer.

    • Read this Colonel Lang anecdote about Dennis Ross: And the scales fell from his eyes …

      "Arab psychology"?

  • Michael Lerner brings down the house at Muhammad Ali funeral by standing up for Palestinians and against Netanyahu
    • Gut yontef, Yonah. I think you're being a little cynical about Lerner's intentions ("playing to the crowd"), but yes, HC has a lot of support in the black community, so it comes as no surprise that such a statement would have garnered applause. You're also right (and cynical) about the difficulty that many activists (of all stripes) have in recognising and accepting differences and making alliances rather than demanding/expecting ideological purity and agreement on everything.

  • To the Holocaust survivor I interviewed, in regards to Palestine
    • Thanks, George. Before the days of slickly-marketed, spineless sabras (brand name: "Lady Sabra"), Palestinian villagers would sell the fruit -- peeled on the spot with deft movements of calloused hands -- on Israeli street-corners. Hiking around the country as a kid, I had just assumed they grew wild, until I was told that their presence was a pretty good indication of pre-'48 Palestinian habitation. That realisation had a profound effect on my conscience and political consciousness.

    • Meron Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land since 1948 (Berkeley, 2000), pp. 204-217:

      About 200 souls, among them the families of several of the village notables, returned to their homes immediately following the conquest and were counted as local residents in the first Israeli census, conducted in November 1948. Safuriyya's population doubled in the course of 1949, as former inhabitants who had been living in nearby villages returned home. The Israeli authorities worried that this "infiltration" would result in all the houses in the village being occupied once again, making it impossible to house Jewish immigrants there or to confiscate the land. The authorities thus decided to evict all the remaining residents of the village, and, on 7 January 1949 everyone in Safuriyya was loaded onto trucks and expelled to surrounding villages, literally bordering their own fields. In November 1951 the High Court of Justice rejected the villagers' petition to return home—having accepted the Defense Ministry's position that Safuriyya was located in "a closed military area." At the time a moshav already existed there (established in 1949), populated by eighty-five immigrant families, who had come from Rumania and Bulgaria.

      The Zippori immigrant moshav was built right beside the houses of the destroyed village, "and stones from the demolished houses are piled in heaps. Walls are on the verge of collapse and the dust of generations and pulverized manure rises in the air. Among the ruins of the abandoned houses, small, shapeless cinder-block structures were put up, as usual with no conveniences [bathrooms]." Later a large forest was planted on the remains of the Arab houses, to adorn the tourist site of ancient Sepphoris, with its magnificent mosaic floors.

      The dense pomegranate orchards that had been the pride of Arab Safuriyya were an annoyance. "Pomegranates from the ancient trees are not fit for marketing," writes Shmuel Dayan, one of the founders of the Moshav Nahalal, a leader of the Moshav Movement, and father of Moshe Dayan. "We shall have to lay out tens of thousands of pounds [old Israeli currency] to uproot them. The residents expect the trees to be uprooted, and will afterwards use the land for growing cattle fodder." To Dayan, the only tried-and-true method of agriculture was that of the classic moshav, and the glorious pomegranate trees interfered with the production of fodder. Before long it became clear that agricultural planning based entirely on dairy cattle and chickens was wasteful. Large surpluses of produce (eggs, milk and dairy products, certain fruits and vegetables) occurred; the agricultural settlements needed to be heavily subsidized, and when subsidies were cut, the immigrant moshavim were thrown into a state of crisis. But the olive and pomegranate trees of the "primitive" Arab village were no more.

      The push to eradicate the Arab landscape, houses and orchards and all, led to the demolition of most abandoned villages, "which weren't suitable for a Jewish settlement." Hence the vision of Levi Eshkol, that hour of grace at twilight in the abandoned village of Bariyya, was not realized. Settlement of immigrants in the houses of the Arab villages was but a passing episode—a kind of bad dream—and the settlers neglected and wrecked them like some "unloved hand-me-down garment." The ancient orchards were uprooted to make room for chicken runs and fields of cattle fodder—but primarily to create "clean land." In this context, Shmuel Dayan tells a story with an allegorical flavor:

      One summer day at dusk, a man and his wife sat on the tiny porch of an ancient stone house in Zippori . . . surrounded by dense thickets of sabra bushes. . . . "It was hard," said the man. "Every day when I opened my eyes I encountered that detestable sabra. I kept on digging it up, because I couldn't stand to look at it. And even at night in my bed, when I closed my eyes I saw the sabra falling under my saw and hoe. Every bit of additional land it was cleared from made me feel better—until I saw before my eyes in my dream 'clean land' and I fell into a deep sleep."
      The "detested" Arab sabra gave way to the Jewish "garden, orchard, and greenery"; "houses arranged according to plan. . . . The old ruins of Zippori stand to one side, as a reminder of bygone days."

  • Irish and Dutch governments join Sweden in speaking out for right to call for BDS
    • The Israeli state comptroller was just saying that anti-BDS hasbara is underfunded, and here comes the Italian government to the rescue -- with my tax euros. How comforting, especially at a time of drastic, across-the-board cuts to universities and research in Italy (departments closed, scientists laid off, young researchers forced to emigrate, lab materials rationed or simply unavailable, etc.).

      If the minister and rectors are truly concerned with "free and open ... dialogue and exchange", they would do well to concern themselves with the pitiful state of research in Italy, rather than spending public funds to support Israeli efforts to suppress freedom of speech and political action in Italy and around the world.

  • Giving up on political propaganda, Israeli consulate turns to Ted-style inspirational conference
    • “Highlighting dismal propaganda performance during 2014 war, comptroller cites lack of overall strategy, absent funding, divisions between ministries, failure to coordinate with IDF”

      In other words, it approves of the government's overall approach, but has some bones to pick over its implementation. That is to say that BDS appeared out of nowhere, for no real reason (except anti-Semitism and "incitement", of course), and must therefore be countered exclusively with propaganda. Instead of saying that expenditure on PR will have only a limited effect until the government decides to actually deal with the root causes of the growing popularity of BDS (such as the siege on Gaza, repeated bombings and incursions, settlement policy, repression and collective punishment), the report recommends simply cranking up the "hasbara", by streamlining it and throwing more money at it.

      Definitely a report worthy of this cowardly comptroller (Yosef Shapira). Netanyahu chose well.

    • Also, what’s with this desire/tendency to infantilize the “Other”?

      Using kids makes the fuzziness go further. Can you imagine him saying, "And I saw a group of young men in their twenties or thirties, sipping coffee and laughing, and I thought to myself, hey they're just like me, what's this bad ol' fence here for anyway?"

      Presumably, such young men would be on the other side of the fence in Bar's "utopian" vision, over there with "all the other guys".

  • 'My country right or wrong' -- indoctrination in defense of Israel
    • When I lived in Israel and was active in the Zionist left and, eventually, in the non-Zionist left, I always felt uncomfortable with the argument that what we were doing was no less or even more "patriotic" than the views and actions of the right. Establishing some sort of loyalty, nationalism or love of country as the acceptable parameters of discourse inevitably put our basic positions of universal rights and justice at a disadvantage, and was often used to exclude us from the conversation altogether.

      When I moved to Europe, I discovered a similar dynamic at play, in general society (where being a "friend of Israel" seemed to be a sine qua non for any form of public and even not-so-public life), but especially within the local Jewish community, where critical voices were silenced by setting the boundaries of legitimacy at "we all love Israel".

      Must we be stuck in a perpetual Scholem-Arendt Ahabath Israel (love of the Jewish people) loop? When such a framework for discourse is established, love of higher ideals, such as justice and equality, gets sidelined or discounted altogether. Let's not play that game. Justice is justice for all, not the zero sum game of who we love best.

  • Front-page play for Israel battle shows that Israel has lost the Democratic Party base
    • Because Israel has not annexed the territory and certainly not annexed it with the approval of the protected peoples, and because Israel has never offered citizenship to those protected peoples, I think occupied, as in reference to resolution 242: territories to be withdrawn from in the context of negotiations and mutual recognitions, I think that occupied is an accurate term and needs no quotation marks.

      That seems to be the position taken by the Israeli supreme court in the Alfei Menashe case:
      link to mondoweiss.net

  • 'Why should we give Israeli investigators a gun to shoot the victims again?': B'Tselem ends cooperation with Israeli military citing total lack of accountability
    • Felicia Langer, 26 years ago (almost to the day):

      "I want my quitting to be a sort of demonstration and expression of my despair and disgust with the system, and maybe as a proof that something must be done to grant protection to the Palestinians in the occupied territories," she said, speaking smoothly in accented but precise English. "Because for the Palestinians, unfortunately, we can't obtain justice."

      ...

      "I realized that all this time, by bringing Palestinians to the courts, I had been legitimizing the system, but the system had not brought the Palestinians any justice," she said with glistening eyes. "And I decided I couldn't be a fig leaf for this system anymore. It was very painful for me to see this, but I couldn't avoid it."

      For full interview, see: link to washingtonpost.com

      Note the similarity to the title of B'tselem's report: "The Occupation's Fig Leaf: Israel's Military Law Enforcement System as a Whitewash Mechanism" link to btselem.org

  • French premier says 'loathing of Jews' is behind BDS
    • Valls: "Behind this boycott we well know what there is: not only an opposition, but also a loathing of the State of Israel, the loathing of a Jewish home, and therefore of Jews as a whole."

      Behind this boycott we well know what there is: not only an opposition, but also the uncivilised and un-French principles of liberté, égalité and fraternité. When one supports these principles, one of course attacks France and attacks civilisation.

      So now that we well know what is behind BDS, what is behind Valls' false accusations and undemocratic stance?

  • Video: Gaza family mourns children who burned to death
    • gaza is no prison.no matter where your sympathies lie it is advisable to stick to the facts

      Fact (one of so many): A Gazan academic I know has received a scholarship to participate in a programme at a European university. She has credentials, a passport, a visa, the means to travel, no particular reason why she should be detained, yet she cannot get out of Gaza. Her request has not even been denied; it has simply been ignored, and she is likely to miss the cutoff date. Why? Because she is not free, because she is being held prisoner. She does not live in a cell, and does not get her meals shoved through bars on a metal tray, but she is in prison—possibly for life, with no “time off for good behaviour”, because her own actions have nothing to do with her incarceration. They did not get her thrown in, and they will not get her out.

  • Thank you, Chief Rabbi. Now I know: Judaism is to blame for the Nakba
    • Although the "new settlements" argument itself is fallacious (see e.g. link to mondoweiss.net ), Netanyahu governments have established those as well (see e.g. link to peacenow.org.il ).

    • The primary problem with zionism is not its distortion of torah or god, but simply its harsh treatment of the Palestinians.

      Absolutely, but the two are inexorably linked. Ever since Herzl, rebuffed by Western Jews, looked eastward to traditional, Eastern European Jews, ever since Palestine won out over East Africa, Zionism has been anchored to Torah and God -- by believers and non-believers alike.

      BDS is all about the "harsh" treatment of Palestinians, yet it is met with the argument that Zionism=Judaism and to oppose one is to oppose the other. Rabbi Mirvis makes precisely this argument, employing religious language of prayer and belief. Judaism thus becomes a shield for oppression; a distortion of the concept of anti-Semitism a weapon.

      It is not enough to say that Jews will not be free until Palestinians are free (a nice sentiment, but convincing only to those who already believe it and consider it a viable option), when Palestinian freedom cannot even be openly discussed because it is a perceived as an attack on Judaism and Jews and therefore forbidden (a courtesy obviously not extended to the Palestinians). Rabbi Mirvis' "leaps", religious and historical, are not marginal, but lie at the core of what enables and perpetuates oppression. Secondary to Palestinian suffering of course, is the tragedy that these are our leaders and this is what they have done with our heritage. Furthermore, for those who fear real anti-Semitism, this is the road to self-fulfilling prophecy.

    • Personally I am to the left of the fifty or so relatives and friends I know in israel and reading the polls on certain issues I belong to the 18% who wish to prosecute azaria and the 5% who opposed the gaza war of 2014.

      Yet you sound like Naftali Bennett, who said “No one can preach morality to this [the Jewish/Israeli] people” (or Korah, if you prefer, who said “For all the community, they are all holy, and in their midst is the Lord” [Num 16:3]).

      But communicating with zionists is not your thang, azoy.

      On the contrary, but there is no point in communicating if you have nothing to say.

      Mirvis will not wake up tomorrow with Norman finkelstein’s soul replacing his own. To pick on him for fetishizing the Jewish people and land is to use language that might promote the bds agenda, but IMHO is borrowed from books of leftists skeptics and haters of the Jewish tribal tendency.

      So you be the communicator this time. Help me out. How do I express my anguish and urgency (without borrowing from forbidden books) at an ideology that is destroying lives every moment of every day and is being presented as the essence of Judaism, “given to Moses at Sinai” – in order to shield it from the sharp criticism it rightfully deserves? How can I discuss the profound moral failing of Jewish leaders on the most important Jewish issue of the day? Can I use theological language to talk to a rabbi? Can I talk about “avoydo zoro beshituf” (idolatry combined with God-worship)? “Bal toysif” (“you shall not add [to the Torah]”)? How about the more generic, but no-less crucial “Scholars, be careful with your words!”? Can I use the language of history to talk to those who constantly speak in its name? Should I be quoting more Israeli generals? Please help, instead of hiding behind your pintele yid.

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