Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 85 (since 2009-08-29 23:06:30)

sydnestel

Website: http://www.syds-blog.blogspot.com/

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  • Reconstructionist Jewish site censors rabbi's essay because he supports BDS and one state
    • Shmuel - when I lived in Israel, in the mid 1970s, I was active in the small (and long defunct) left wing party Sheli, one of the leaders - Yair Tzaban (ex of the Israeli Communist Party) - told us young activists that we were unlikely ever to win an election and unlikely to ever convince a majority of Israeli Jews of our position. We asked, incredulously: why then should we be working so hard to spread our ideas.?He said, peace and justice would only come when imposed from the outside - our job was to soften the resistance to that.

      The same can be same can be said for work within the American Jewish community.

      ... and of course, I identify with your second point as well.

      Kol Tuv.

  • As US media awake to a 'nightmare' Israel, NYT brings Blumenthal in from the cold
  • The Minds of Others: An interview with Max Blumenthal
    • "my Jewish identity can be negated, simply because I’ve defined it outside the frontiers of Israeli nationalism and to some extent, against Zionism. "

      "to some extent" ???

      Max is getting soft in his old age.

  • Houston stadium security detains soccer fan for waving Palestinian flag as 'racial slur'
    • I bet that if she had waved an AK47 painted with Palestinian colours, she would have been allowed. Or at least the NRA would have come to her defence.

  • Beinart predicts J Streeters will tackle immigration before thinking critically about Israel
    • Matthew - " I think these sorts of slogans will evolve into more inclusive chants like: “From the river to the sea, we demand equality!”"

      You think, or you hope?

      And, even if SJP adopted this, don't you think that Palestinian institutions would have to do so too? As its stands now, most Palestinian institutions - including most that back BDS - support a 2SS.

  • 'Al Jazeera' examines Jewish constellation of lobby elites, and marginalized 'universalists'
  • Breaking: Students rise up against NY Jewish school's 'prohibition' of Rashid Khalidi
    • It may amuse some (it does, me) to know that Paul Shaviv, the Head of School at Ramaz - who apparently is responsible for the prohibition on Khalidi from speaking at Ramaz - did his graduate work at Oxford, on the life and death of Jacob Israël de Haan, and anti-Zionism in Palestinian Aguda of the 1920s.

  • Oppression by consensus in Israeli 'democracy'
    • Well - after all that - we do get shades of Atzmon.

      Too, bad ...

    • irishmoses - three thoughts

      (1) the difference between economic migrants and those fleeing violence, persecution and discrimination isn't always so clear, and people motives are not mutually exclusive. Suffice it to say that the waves of millions of Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe started in 1881 - the year of major anti-Jewish pogroms. And the percentage of Jews who migrated from these lands in those years was MUCH higher than Russians, Ukrainians, Poles or Romanians.

      (2) it is true that most Jews who emigrated chose to go elsewhere than Palestine - at least until 1924 when America severely restricted immigration. That does not speak one way or the other as to how much antisemitism was the motivator. There can be no doubt that "the west" in general and America in particular were much much less antisemitic than Eastern Europe.

      (3) I think a Jewish State in Uganada would have been a TERRIBLE idea. The Jews would have be fighting the Mau Mau instead of the PLO. But the fact that the Zionist movement rejected the Uganda plan speaks to the conflicted nature of Zionism. It wanted to "save Jews" but also be a romantic pseudo-messianic revival of Jewish culture in its biblical homeland. Interestingly, the first religious Zionists under Reines (most Jewish religious leaders still opposed Zionism in 1904) agreed to the Uganda plan. They saw statist Zionism's ONLY justification as saving Jews. They viewed the secular pseudo-messianic romanticism of Ahad Haam and others as sacrilege. Only later did the messianic land based tendency of Rav Kook take over religious Zionism.

    • Woody - you are right.

      What I should have written was “The irony is that a Jewish State - and a victory of Herzian/Jabotinskian statist Zionsim - may have indeed saved much of European Jewry had they existed in 1933.”

      Zionism was as much about creating a revolution in Jewish consciouness as it was about a State. And as much as I despise them, in the 1930s the statist/right wing Zionist were the most concerned about the dangers of European antisemitism and the most committed to both getting a state at all costs and in encouraging European Jews to emigrate as soon as possible. The fact that their dire warning turned out to be more or less true, has helped them sway the rest of the Zionist movement to their viewpoint - antisemitism is inevitable, Jews can only count on Jews, violence in the name of self preservation is not only permitted, it is commanded. It a Hobbsian world view. But the holocaust can lead one to Hobbian conclusions. Combine that with guilt for NOT having foreseen and mitigated the holocaust, and you begin to understand mainstream Zionism post 1942. This is not a justification. I don't believe another Holocaust is imminent (though many Jews do.) And there are other lessons one can learn about preventing a Holocaust other than the one of armed Jewish power. But it is an explanation.

    • Shmuel - my intention was not to justify - adarabah - it was to point out that Israel was 'the solution to the last war' (so to speak). Unless you believe that another Holocaust is imminent (and some of my Israeli relatives do) there is no justification for Israel's militant and oppressive posture - and even then it is probably a poor strategy.

    • Irishmoses - Pre holocaust Zionism was also - in large part - motivated by European anti-Semitism, by pogroms, and by fear of even greater pogroms (though its unlikely anyone predicted the full horror of the Holocaust, at least until the 1938/9/40) Herzl was spurred to invent political Zionism by anti-semitism. Bialik's seminal Zionist poems where a direct result of anti-semitism in general (see Al Hatzipor/To The Bird) and pogroms in particular (see Ir HaHaragah/ City of Slaughter). To be sure there was an older "cultural Zionist" stream that emphasized cultural renewal and autonomy as motivators for Zionism, but they soon became overwhelmed by the statist Zionism of Herzl (and later Jabotinsky). And Labour Zionism, which was torn on the issue of statehood in its early days, moved steadily to the statists conclusion only in the 1930's - after the assassination of Arlozorov, but also under the pressure of Naziism's rise in Europe.

      One could imagine an alternate history were the Nazi's never came to power, Arlozolov was never assassinated, and the cultural Zionists and bi-national Labour Zionists won. But that did not happen. For better or worse - and mostly worse - antisemitism and fear of pogroms and the holocaust inextricably shaped Zionism as it is today.

      The irony is that a Jewish State may have indeed saved much of European Jewry had it existed in 1933. (Though obviously at some considerable expense of the Palestinians.) But by the time Israel came into being in 1948, it was too late.

    • The phrase in question in Hebrew is:

      ותוך ...
      הטמעת תוכניות של זהות יהודית ושורשי ישראל לאוכלוסייה היהודית והעצמת המורשות לאוכלוסיית המיעוטים

      I wold translate this as "... and through the customization of programs of Jewish identity and the the roots of Israel for the Jewish population, and the empowerment of the heritages for minority populations."

      I left this deliberately in its somewhat vague bureaucratic jargon original.

    • Its not so different than the U.S. under McCarthyism? Could a teacher in Kansas have questioned the morality of the U.S. atomic bomb program and not been threatened with losing his job? Could someone have been openly an anti-capitalist and not been shunned? Did U.S. schools teach Marxist critiques the the U.S. system? (Do they do that today?)

    • "Like many well-meaning people on the Israeli Left, he sees Zionism as fundamentally a good ideology that has been corrupted and betrayed, not as an ideology that is fundamentally unethical and immoral. "

      So the liberal Zionists are like the Trotskyist who thought the Soviet Union was a "degenerate workers state" - still salvageable and worth defending against capitalism.

      By that standard - the rights wing Zionists are the Communist Party, and the author is presumably a member of the Shachtmanites - who split from the Trotskyist Social Workers Party, declaring the Soviet Union "bureaucratic state capitalism" that should be opposed just as much as the the Capitalists. (BTW the Shachmenites eventually gave rise to - on the one hand IS, and on the other hand the beginnings of the neo conservatives. They opposed the war in Vietnam - but only tentatively because they couldn't support the idea of the North Vietnamese communists winning.)

  • Shaking up Zionism: A review of 'Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide'
  • 'Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you' -- Premier's biblical promise in Jerusalem
  • On the death of Nelson Mandela: a dissenting opinion
    • It is not a coincidence that Mandela was freed from prison and the ANC legalized only after the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the Soviet Union. Turns out that South African whites were really more afraid of losing their class privilege than having to share swimming pools with blacks. Once the South African Communist Party could be effectively neutered, Mandela and the ANC didn't seem so scary.

      That was the basis for freeing Mandela, legalizing the ANC and ending apartheid.

      Did Mandela explicitly agree to this? I don't know. Did he understand the nature of the deal. I'm pretty sure he did.

      Does that make him less great? Maybe a bit. But a good leader knows when to take what is possible, and hope for more to come later.

  • Preaching to the choir: reflections on Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • Allison - If "everyone is missing the point", then the point wasn't made very effectively. That is what Slater is saying.

    • tombishop - Actually, Lincoln and most of the people who voted him into office "wanted [slavery's] gradual abolition over decades" They were the center-left you decry and whom Slater - rightly - claims are essential to win over if you are to actually win real influence on a progressive issue.

      If the southern states hadn't been so foolish as to secede, we would have had slavery in the U.S for many decades after 1865 - maybe still !

      Maybe Israel will do something so foolish as to force America's hand against its racists policies. But if not, persuasion is the only tool you have, and its the mushy middle you have to persuade.

  • 'It is Zionist to think that American Jews have any connection to Israel'
    • Shmuel - you hit the nail on the head, as usual.

      It is virtually impossible to be an active committed Jewtoday (unless you are a Satmar Hasid) without being bombarded by Israeli jingoism and boosterism within every Jewish institution and at almost every Jewish activity. So I would have to assume that this kid is simply not very involved in any Jewish activities - including religious services.

      For myself, I am often tempted to stop focusing on I/P, and be exclusively active on other issues, and to just enjoy the many parts of Jewish life I enjoy. But then - boom! Some chauvinistic, racist or just plain blind-to-reality speech, lecture, fund raiser or other such activity gets thrown in my face at some Jewish institution/event. Its impossible (for me at least) to be quiet in the face of such immoral (or at best amoral) behavior.

      And, yes its a burden. But being burdened/responsible is an essential feature of the Jewish religion. "עס ס 'שווער צו זייַן אַ איד"

  • Chas Freeman on Israel's self-inflicted existential crisis
    • @seafoid - Personally I never have heard that as a criticism of Islam. (I would have thought flexibility is a good thing in a religion or a movement. )The only religions I can think of with strong central authority's are Catholicism and Moromonism.

    • @MRW - And why is that obvious?

    • "Successive externally-supported crusader kingdoms, having failed to achieve the acceptance of their Muslim neighbors, were eventually overrun by these neighbors. "

      1) History doesn't necessarily repeat itself.

      2) The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted 197 years. Longer than present day: Canada, Italy, Germany, Greece, ... That would give Israel another 132 years.

      Injustice doesn't always fail. Look what America has got away with.

  • Syria wrap: Grumbling This won't be easy, NYT's Bill Keller suits up for another Mid-East war
    • So, reading the Robert Hunter quote above, isn't this a good argument against a "one state solution" in Palestine/Israel. Seems like multi-ethnic states in the ME end up as having one ethnic group unfairly lording it over the others, or else bloody civil war.

      Just askin'.

      --
      Sydney

  • Reality check-- John Kerry prepares to stick fork in two-state solution
    • The 2 state solution might be dead, but that doesn't mean that the one state solution is alive. The logic that says that 2 states can't work because Israel won't allow it to, and has established too many facts on the ground, would also dictate that a one - egalitarian - state solution is dead for the same reasons.

      I also don't see a Palestinian majority for a single multi-cultural, multi-national, egalitarian state. Fatah and the PA still officially support a two state solution (they want to see a Palestinian Arab team at the Olympics and hear a Palestinian Arab national anthem at the UN), and Hamas supports a one - non egalitarian Islamic - state solution.

      I suspect that it is true that a 2 state solution is dead. But that is no reason to rejoice, in my opinion. The practical alternative is probably worse.

    • Yes

      61 % of Israeli Jews say they want a 2 state solution.

      On another question:
      7% wanted one state with Jews and Palestinians as equals
      23% wanted one state without giving Palestinians citizenship (aka apartheid)
      13% wanted the status quo (aka defacto apartheid)
      57% wanted a 2 state solution along the line of the current barrier

      see: http://972mag.com/poll-23-of-jewish-israelis-support-apartheid-13-support-status-quo/69244/

  • Amina Tyler's naked activism
  • Yair Lapid, centrist star and Finance Minister, plans 16,000 new settlement units in West Bank
    • " Yair Lapid, centrist star and Finance Minister, plans 16,000 new settlement units in West Bank ...

      The first phase will see 7,000 new homes in Kiryat Gat settlement, 1,600 in the Tel HaShomer area, as well as 1,000 in the settlement of Modi'in, west of Ramallah."

      ???!!!

      Kiryat Gat and Tel Hashomer are in pre 1967 Israel, not in the West Bank. Modi'in is mostly in pre-1967 Israel, with about a third built in what used to be the "no-mans-land" between Israel and the West Bank.

  • Zionists thrill that Obama will recognize ancient Jewish connection to 'homeland' (undoing his Cairo error)
    • Does no one see the irony of labeling "President’s decision to lay a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the father of political Zionism" as supporting "the Jewish people’s roots in the land of Israel."

      Herzl could have cared less about the Jewish peoples roots. He supported establishing a Jewish state in Uganda (or anywhere else if it had been on offer.) He wanted the language of the Jewish state to be German. Herzl was 100% motivated by European antisemitism. (Not the Holocaust, obviously, he died 35 years before it.)

      As for the symbolic value of the Dead Sea Scrolls in proving the Jewish people’s roots in the land of Israel - most of them were looted from the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem in direct contravention of the Geneva conventions regarding removing cultural artifacts from occupied territories. Furthermore, these documents pre-date the split of Judaism and Christianity, so they are at least as relevant to establish Christian roots in the holy land as Jewish ones. And finally, when one considers that many Palestinians are in fact genealogically descendant from the ancient Jews who wrote and read those texts, and that many Jews are descendants of converts over the centuries, the whole thing becomes absurd. Except, or course, that it makes good propaganda to claim the scrolls as proof of an exclusive historical Jewish tie the land.

  • Vivian Gornick stashed book critical of Israel lest she 'commit literary suicide'
    • The full quote is

      "Jews are barely 2% of the US population, but their influence far exceeds even the likes of Heritage Foundation and other similar right-wing ideological repositories. I call them intellectual suppositories because they all have their heads up their arses."

      which is what I meant to include in the above comment.

    • "Heritage Foundation and other similar right-wing ideological repositories. I call them intellectual suppositories because they all have their heads up their arses."

      Maybe you get a pass from other people, but not me. That's just fucking antisemitism - straight up.

  • 'NYT' runs op-ed by Israel lobbyist in human rights garb, saying Palestinians are too corrupt to deserve a state
    • "A good indicator of how committed a government is to upholding peace with its neighbors is its commitment to protecting the human rights of its own citizens. Nations that disregard the freedoms of their own people are not likely to care much about maintaining peace with their historic enemies."

      What nonsense. Iran - under both the Shaw and the Ayatollahs was and is hardly a paragon of protecting the human rights of its own citizens, but has never been involved in a war, other than the war started against it by Saddam Hussein. Other similar examples - post Soviet Russia, China (no wars since the end of the Korean war), Egypt (no wars since 1973), Saudi Arabia, ...

      The U.S. - which relatively speaking does protect the human rights of its citizens - has been involved in dozens of wars - many (most?) of which it started.

  • Forget the Palestinian Mandela, where is the Israeli Branch Rickey?
    • Just to be clear, many other Israeli football clubs do have Arab Muslim players, including the Israeli National Team.

      This is not to say that racism is not a problem in Israel, nor that it is specifically not a problem for Israeli Arab footballers. Its is.

      But Beitar Jerusalem fans have always had a reputation of of being particularly racist right wing and thuggish. Up to now Beitar Jerusalem has never had a non-Jewish player on the team.

      So this Branch Rickey thing really doesn't apply.

  • 'Time' embarrasses Hagel's Senate questioners for Israel focus
  • Video: Naftali Bennett stands by party member who raised idea of destroying the Dome of the Rock
    • I agree with Shmuel's take - but as he said, neither he nor I are Bennet's target audience. The fact is, if the polls are correct, he is reaching way beyond the traditional National Religious base, and stealing votes from "non religious" rightist and centrists. A friend, who just returned from a month in Israel tells me that, young secular kids in Tel Aviv are saying they will vote for him - because he's 'cool': rich, young, and can use facebook!

  • Rightwing Israeli group accuses human-rights orgs of 'emasculation' of soldiers
  • 'Lincoln' is an argument for equality in Israel and Palestine
    • "Spielberg and Kushner want us to take Lincoln's ideas to Jerusalem, and explain that their way of life is premised on inequality, and Israelis must let go of it, without forcing a massive bloodletting."

      Kushner - maybe.

      Speilberg, I don't thing so.

  • Exile and the prophetic: Rabbi Gordis's 'innermost circle' of caring
    • Gordis says:
      Especially this week, I wanted to tell her to love my family and my neighbors more than they love the people who elected Hamas and who celebrate each time a suicide bomber kills Jews. Is that really too much to ask?’

      Well, I love my kids, more than other peoples kids. But when they beat up other kids, even mean ones, in the school yard I make them apologize and make proper amends.

      More to the point, what do you do with a beloved relative who is an addict - who is harmful to himself and steals, robs and assaults others. Family loyalty only goes so far. You don't have to stop loving them, but you do have to reign them in, or failing that at least stop enabling them.

  • 'A vision seen in a dream': A leading religious Zionist's 1956 call for the Palestinian refugees to return
  • When it’s quiet in Jerusalem the settler security cameras are still rolling
    • @Roha

      Nationality is all in the head ... Nationality is about common cultural touch points, common symbols, a common SENSE of history (aka – mythology).

      Are the Scots a nation? If enough of then think so they are. Otherwise their British. They are going to have a referendum soon to decide if they should have separate state. These things are fluid.

    • Well whoopdi-do! Jews aren't ethnically pure!

      So what? Nationality is all in the head anyway? Are Americans ethnically pure? Are Brits? Are Checks or the Slovaks - who mostly think they are ethnically pure, really ethnically pure. Nationality is about common cultural touch points, common symbols, a common SENSE of history (aka - mythology). Washington did not really cut down the cherry tree: does that make the American nation a sham?

      The debate about whether being Jewish is about blood-lines, belief, or just plain self-identification has been going on (in the Jewish community) for hundreds of years - or more. In the Bible, Ezra is aghast that his fellow Judans ("Jews" would be an anachronism) have intermarried, and orders them to divorce their non-Jewish wives. King David - on the other hand - is, according to the Bible, the grandson of a "convert" (actually she never converts, she just self-identifies as a Judean.) Maimonides (circa 1200) points out that Jews are not literally "descendants of Abraham" as the Bible itself says that they were joint by a "mixed multitude" when they left Egypt. But that didn't stop Maimonides from believing that the Jews where a nation (aka People.) Ben Gurion (ptu ptu ptu) himself believed that the "Arabs of Palestine" where mostly descendants of Jews who had converted, and early on, he held out hope that they would join their "cousins" in supporting a Jewish State.

      Nation is not the same as State, and they should not be identified one-to-one with each other. Nations often cross state borders. States can (and often do) contain many nations, but should nevertheless treat all their citizens (and significant nations) equally. That is Israel's sin. That it privileges Jews and discriminates against Palestinians. But that does not mean Jews are not a nation (People).

  • Meet the donors who likely attended Romney's Florida fundraiser
    • I don't doubt that most of these guys are probably supporters of Zionism, and are right wing. But you can't prove they are right wing Zionists by just showing that they contributed to the UJA or Jewish Federation. Thousands of Jews who have a variety of ideological positions (or none) contribute to those charities. It would be like concluding that giving to Federated Catholic Charities means the donor is virulently anti-choice.

  • The conversion of Joel Kovel (Part 1)
    • Communism is (was?) universal, but you still had to join the Communist Party to be really trusted.

      The point is that Christianity - like Islam and (l'havdil) Communism - aspires to be universal. Judaism doesn't. In that sense Christianity - in theory - is as totalitarian (ala Hannah Arendt's usage) as Communism. Pluralism is tolerated only for the practical reasons and only to the extent that the total adherence to doctrine cannot be enforced without unacceptable costs. But, if the cost is acceptable - go for it! (Hence the Christian evangelicals in America who never tire trying of getting the government to impose their views on everyone.) I have yet to hear of a Christian denomination that would officially admit that a Hindu could enjoy "everlasting life." (correct me if I am wrong.)

      Judaism - again in theory - allows that there will always be multiple religions, and that people of other religions can also be good and can get into "heaven" (aka "olam habah".) This traditional Jewish acceptance of pluralism - perhaps forced in it by Jews weak status in diaspora - is one of traditional Judaism's more positive features. (This feature is, admittedly, eroding under the impact of right wing religious Zionism.)

      I recognize that many Jews and many Christians don't act or believe as per the mainstream tenants of their faith, but nevertheless ...

  • Discussing life 'after zionism' in Israel/Palestine
    • Antony

      Re "More essentially, I argue that Zionism itself is the issue. It can’t be reformed, re-defined or re-imagined. From its beginning, it was about subjugation of the Arab, a desire to colonise as much land as possible in the name of Jewish liberation. "

      Did you read the last chapter in your own book? - the one by Jeremiah Haber? It challenges the above statement. It is, IMO, both a factually accurate and strategically wise position.

  • Brian Williams is justly outraged by Mormon bar on intermarriage
    • Nonsense. A Jew can marry a convert to Judaism and 99.9% of Jews wouldn't say anything about it.

      As a Nevada Ned pointed out 50% of US Jews intermarry, so at least those 50% don't seem to feel its a "closed" - by bloodlines or by faith.

      As for Jews who do take their faith seriously - believe me, most Haredi or Orthodox Jews would be aghast if their child married a Reform Jew, and many liberal Jews would be aghast of their child married a Haredi or Orthodox Jew. (I personally know people in both categories.)

  • B'nai B'rith and World Jewish Congress defend settlements as 'Israel'
    • Frank Dimant - who has ruled Bnai Brith Canada for decades - has long been a supporter of the settlements and on the right wing of the Canadian Jewish Community. Now that the Canadian Jewish Community has moved to the right, he is just a tad right of center - so he can be more vocal about what he always believed.

      BTW when I write Canadian Jewish Community - I mean the official agencies and organizations that claim to speak for the community. Canadian Jews are a diverse group, and I would say most of them - even those who are affiliated with some group or another - are to the somewhat to the left of the "Leadership".

  • Geller's 'savage' bus ad meets strong resistance from the Bay Area
    • Geller's ad is paraphrasing her loony hero Ayn Rand

      “[W]hen you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the
      civilized men, no matter what.”

      But Rand's idea of "Civilized" and "Savage" are distinctly objectivist. Not what most of us think of when we use these words.

      "Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men." (see http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aynrand147957.html#AEleBwiJe8IFLoTv.99)

      Also, as far as I can tell, the NY court case did not unequivocally side with Geller. It merely granted her an injunction, ordering the MTA to run the ads until a full hearing is held and a decision could be rendered. The next court session is Aug 29. You can read the judge's logic [sic] at

      http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2011cv06774/385298/29/0.pdf

      IMO, if the U.S first amendment enshrines the right to use racial and religious hate speech, then the first amendment needs to be amended. At the very least the word "Jihad" - which is a normative Muslim concept meaning struggle (and is not at all typically associated with violence) should be ordered removed.

  • Paul Ryan's foreign policy: Spinning straw into gold
    • "Romney's paltry net worth of $250 million is only a tad over 10% of Adelson's nearly $24.5 billion"

      Actually, that's a tad over 1% of Adelson's worth. Adelson is worth 100 times what Romney is.

      So if Romney is part of the 1%, Adelson is simply another species entirely. Adelson could give $100 million to the Republican campaign - as he has threatened to do - and then do that again for the next 240 election cycles!

      Money talks. Adelson's money commands.

  • Ancient olive trees, stolen from Palestinian lands, now decorate Israeli settlement
  • Are the Jews a nation? And more importantly, can they hit a curveball breaking low and away?
    • The issue of are Jews a nation is not so clear cut as this article suggests.

      1) Jews are a nation, at least according to the self understanding of most Jews. (That is an empirical fact despite the atypical views of the most writers on this web site.) That's how virtually all Jews thought of themselves (and thats how non-Jews thought of them too) until the 1830s. Only then - with the establishment of Reform Judaism - did the idea of Jews as primarily a religious designation get any traction. And Reform Judaism, though big in the U.S. was never a majority of world Jewry, and in any case over the last 40-50 years Reform Judaism has reversed itself completely on this issue and now are officially Zionists.

      2) "Jewish is a religious designation, not a national one." It is certainly not exclusively or even primarily a religious designation. Otherwise how do you explain Phil Weiss's self affiliation, or so many others who hang around this web site. Not to mention, dozens of secular Jewish organisations, from "The Workman's Circle" to "Humanistic Judaism".

      3) In general there seems to be confusion over the difference between the terms Nation and State. Often there is a tight correlation, but not always. China, Russia, Canada, Belgium, and the UK are all officially multi-national states. The UK even sends separate sports teams to world cup football (soccer) from its constituent nations (England, Scotland, ...) Even the U.S, it could be argued, is a defacto multi-national state. (There are a lot of American citizens who celebrate Cinco de Mayo.) Sometimes, in my more optimistic moments, I dream that Israel/Palestine could evolve into a multi-national federated state.

      4) Nations often have diasporas. These people often have a degree of dual loyalty to both the state they live in and their "original" nation. (Hence all those Italian-Americans who played for Italy in the 2009 WBC.) There is nothing wrong or unusual about that.

      5) On the other hand the WBC is set up as a competition between States, not nations. But clearly they too are confused about the differences between states and nations, and their eligibility rules just highlight that.

      6) Why are Ryan Braun "dual loyalties" in this regard more problematic that Mike Piazza's?

  • Ben-Ami says divestment will alienate Christians from 'American Jewish community'
    • Phil

      You wrote: "Excuse me but tens of thousands of Jews are in JVP"

      And how do you know that to be true? I looked (briefly I admit) on the JVP site and couldn't find any membership numbers?

  • Saving Illinois from Senator Kirk
  • Affirming a Judaism and Jewish identity without Zionism
    • I didn't see anything in the comments above that indicated that the writers " still swallow the teachings and textes in the Torah and Talmud as the whole truth, nothing, but the truth."

      Quotation doesn't imply agreement in part or in whole, and in any case there is no one fixed meaning to most of these texts.

      As for the 10 commandments - I hope you haven't done any work on the Sabbath recently! Or have any engravings of sculptures in your home of office.

    • Proverbs 24:26

      "He kisses the lips that give a true answer." or more colloquially "An honest reply is like a kiss on the lips"

    • "The line was tacked on to a liturgical poem to that effect (Hassal siddur pesah), composed in 11th-century France."

      I am not sure that "tacked on" is the right phrase. It fits very well in context. The last stanza of the 11th century poem is:

      "Splendid One residing on high
      Raise up your people, a congregation who can count,
      Soon bring your offshoots
      Freed to Zion in song."

      The return to Jerusalem, in traditional Judaism, was always associated with messianic redemption.

    • Shmuel

      At my seder, we end with "Next Year in Jerusalem: a city of peace and justice for all its inhabitants" and then we play the song Jerusalem by Steve Earle (see http://youtu.be/8rI40bBKuVc ).

      This year we added a small glass of Palestinian olive oil to our seder plate as well. And we usually expand the 10 plagues to include and additional 10 plagues of the nakba/occupation.

  • Shmully and guilt
    • Phil,

      Chabad is racist and anti-rational. But they suck-in many Jews with their charm and their commitment and frankly with their subterfuge. If Eliezer is co-sponsored by a Chabad Rabbi, you can be assured that it is committed to the same racist and anti-rational agenda, even if not all its members realize that.

      The rabbi and his wife gave voice to two of Chabad's central themes.

      "Shmully said that Jewishness was in someone’s soul and it would always reassert itself in a Jew’s life."

      For Chabad, this is not a metaphor. For Chabad, souls are real - and Jews have qualitatively (better) and quantitatively (more of) different souls than non-Jews. This is just a hairsbreadth away of saying that Judaism is "in the blood" (or DNA.) This is why they spend a huge effort on saving "lost Jews" and not a sliver of effort in general good-works in the non-Jewish community. And I won't even get into the worst kind of stuff they say about the souls (or lack thereof) of non-Jews. (BTW there are parts of religious Judaism that absolutely reject the idea of Jews having special/different souls. So this Chabad belief is not universal - but they are very good salespeople, so it is sadly growing in parts of the Jewish community.)

      "The rebbitzin was also tough on me. ... She told me about her grandmothers escaping the Holocaust. But their parents died, and many of their relatives died. This was not that long ago. You are not sensitive to this. This is an emotional issue. It’s not something that you can be rational about. "

      This highlights Chabad's explicitly anti-rational (i.e. anti evidence based) system. So what if she is emotional about it. It still begs rational analysis and thought. (Full disclosure, my parents were holocaust survivors and all my grandparents and most of my aunts and uncles were killed by the Nazis.)

      When you ask the Rabbi why many years of good relations between Jews and Mulism have ended, he does not mention Zionism, or the Muslim experience with European colonialism, or any other actual historical factor. Rather,

      "Shmully said that when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob there had been a quarrel. That quarrel was reasserting itself now thousands of years later."

      This is typical of Chabad thinking. Chabad thinks in terms of (imagined) timeless metaphysical categories. Jacob is the People of Israel. Esau is the eternal anti-Semite: in Talmudic times Esau was Rome; in the Middle Ages Esau was the Catholic Church; today he is the Muslims. Anti-Semitism itself is a unique metaphysical phenomenon and not subject to normal historical cause and effect i.e. rational analysis, which is why ending the occupation would do nothing to end the Jewish Palestinian conflict in Israel/Palestine - their opinion.

      When you let Shmuli get away with this comment about Jacob and Esau in the forth paragraph, I knew the story was not going to end well for you.

      But, good for trying. The real audience for this drama were those silent J-street types at the end of the table. Better they heard the arguments between you and Chabad than only the Chabad point of view.

  • Sheizaf shreds Oren Op-Ed touting Israeli democracy
    • Fredblogs: “State for all its citizens”... calls for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to be made citizens"

      That is simply not true. "State for all its citizens" is a very specific term in Israeli political discourse and it refers to providing equal privileges and obligations for both Jews and non Jews within Israel, and de-entangling Jewish symbols and state symbols. Things that are sometimes mentioned in this regard include: equal distribution of funds to Jewish and non-Jewish municipalities and schools, equal allocation of land to Jewish and non Jewish municipalities, stopping such government initiatives like "Judaising the Galilee", changing the words to the Israeli national anthem to remove references to "the yearning of the Jewish heart", and instituting mandatory national service for all citizens. It has nothing to do (one way or the other) with the Palestinian right of return.

  • How important is it to the Times (and us) that Greg Smith is Jewish?
    • I agree with Elliot.

      But it only pushes Jews into false solidarity with the undemocratic Jewish leadership when sweeping statements about the dangers of Jewish power are being made.

    • yourstruly - yes the high road would be nice.

      Cliff - Zionism is a Jewish movement, yes - but not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists understand the word as it is used by the mainstream (see e.g. http://www.jeremiahhaber.com/ ) It seem that both the Zionist establishment and the anti-semitic anti-Zionists have an interest in conflating the two. And in America it is Christian-Zionists (and they are NOT merely Christian supporters of Zionism. They have their own reasons and agenda, not always so Jew friendly) that have as much, or more, power than Jewish Zionists

      Tom - Mearsheimer and Walt, as far as I can recall, were careful to critique"The Israel Lobby" and not "Jewish Power". The distinction is crucial in a discussion of American foreign policy (and that is what this is about isn't it?) As for Atzmon - you discredit yourself and your argument by quoting him. (see http://jfjfp.com/?tag=gilad-atzmon).

      Tree - it is not a critique of the Israel Lobby or Aipec or Zionism - or their influence in America - that I object to. That is fare game. It is the phrase "Jewish power". It is not legitimate and it is dangerous. As for the argument that we have no problem using the phrase "Christian Power" - well that is just not true. The MSM rarely use that term - because they understand that Christians (even politically engaged Christians) involves everyone from Daniel Berrigan, Jeremiah White and Jimmy Carter to John Haggee, Pat Roberston and David Duke. They talk of Evangelicals or Born Again. (And perhaps that too is to much of a generalization.) On Monodoweiss the phrase "Jewish power"appears 99 times (if I counted correctly) while the phrase "Christian power" appears 7 times (3 of those in this thread). "Christian Zionist" appears here many dozens of times. So it appears that on Mondoweiss people are careful to be nuanced when it comes to Christians but show no nuance at all re Jews.

      The dangerous meme being promoted on this site is: Zionism is evil, all Jews are Zionists, therefore ....
      Or, Zionism has too much influence in America, therefore Jews have too much influence in America, therefore ...

      If some people on Mondoweiss don't get it, well I can only say its similar to many whites not getting it (or pretending to not get it) when white politicians talk of the problems of "black crime" and the danger that poses for "us".

    • Not all Jews support the Israel lobby and not all (or eve most) of those that support the Israel lobby are Jews. So how is it accurate to call it "Jewish power". Its Israeli and/or Zionist power.

    • Re Tree's comment above.

      Well if it is OK to ask about Christian power, why is that the Christian half of the Israel lobby so little discussed on this list. I bet there are more Christian Zionists in congress then Jewish ones.

      And I haven't read anyone on this list citing "Jewish power" re Jon Stewart's sometimes scathing critiques of Israel or American foreign policy re the ME.

      George Soros and Sheldon Adelson are both rich powerful Jews, but they don't conspire together to achieve joint policy goals. To speak about "Jewish power" (as if it were a coherent thing) influencing American policy is precisely the type of thinking that underlies much racism and certainly historic anti-semitism.

      So yes, I do think, that talking about the negative influence of "Jewish power" is antisemitic. Talking about the negative influence of "the Israel lobby" or of Zionism is not. And it dismays (and worries me) that Mondoweiss - which in many ways is so good - seems to be an incubator of an antisemitic trope.

    • And this is as a result of "Jewish power", in your opinion?

    • What do you mean by "a Jewish stump"?

    • First the very phrase "Jewish power" implies that Jews act and think monolithicly. Second, it assumes that Jews have significantly different interests and/or ideals than other people.

      Would you ask if "Christian power" is good for us?

      And who is "us" in your question. It seems to imply a them. Do you see this as an us vs them issue?

      Finally, you are not asking an innocent question. You clearly believe that "Jewish power" is a significant problem. So asking you what you have in mind as a cure seems reasonable.

    • 1) "American Jews flaunt contempt for this natural antipathy at their own collective peril." - is that a threat, wishful thinking, or just a dispassionate opinion?

      2) What would you suggest? Ethnic/religious quotas (upper limits) in government, in the media, in the universities? Would it apply to Christians or just Jews?

  • Chair of DNC says: 'Israel is our rightful place... a place for us to go'
    • "Debbie Wasserman Schultz as well as being the DNC chairman, helped found the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) — is also on the board of the American Jewish Congress, Southeast Region."

      OMG!

      And Rep. Emanuel Cleaver is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and keynote speaker at the 2010 NAACP convention, an organization dedicated to advancing the interests of African Americans.

      As for the AJC being involved with Bernie Madoff - yes, he stole their money and bankrupted them. Which should be obvious if you read the article at the link you cited.

    • Wait!

      "But Judaism is a religion, not a culture."

      I defined Judaism as a culture and you come back and say that somehow that excludes secular non-religious Jews. Then you come back that Judaism is not a culture, it a religion! So who is excluding secular Jews?

      You seem not capable of making a rational argument. Or perhaps you aren't interested in one: just in winning a point for your pre-conceived opinions. And you are not very honest either. Since you claim to know so much about Quebec you obviously do know that in 1995 49.42% of Quebecers voted that "that Quebec should become sovereign ..." (for those not familiar see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec_referendum,_1995 ) and yet you write"Polls also show ... that separatists are regarded as an extremist minority, so your argument is irrelevant."

      No, it is you who are irrelevant by deliberately misleading and dissembling. I will try to just ignore your comments from now on.

    • So now you are using Israeli laws and policies and an example of proper behaviour and attitudes. Clearly you will use any seemingly clever argument to win a point. There is a name for that: "sophistry"

    • "two sovereigns" ? "upper and lower status in human affairs."???

      And what exactly was the American Revolution about?

      that way to antediluvian for me.

    • Shingo - with all due respect you obviously don't know much about Quebecois: who all surveys show overwhelmingly feel loyalty to Quebec, and somewhat fewer (minus the separatists presumably) also feel loyalty to Canada.

      And defining Judaism as the culture of the Jewish people, certainly does not exclude "secular non religious" (isn't that redundant?) Jews.

    • I has reacting to LanceThurster's example given re "Sophie's Choice" where a mother had to choose life or death between two children. The example had to do with a mothers "dual" loyalties to her children and how impossible it is to choose. Presumable LanceThurster was saying that just as Sophie had an impossible choice, so to would any American with dual citizenship.

      I was responding that, most of life is not that dramatic and people navigate these dual loyalties everyday. Most parents with more than one child manage to balance these loyalties to all their children, and no one would advocate having one child just to avoid the rare horrible choices that might have to be made. Similarly no one should advocate against dual citizenship (or dual loyalty) because rarely one might have to choose between these two loyalties.

      I hope that is clear.

    • There is no "Jewish Race" and I don't believes DWS believes there is. Certainly very few Jewish thinkers do (some of the ultra-orthodox certainly do, but they are not a majority.) Most Jews believe that Jews are a People and that Judaism is a religion and/or culture they share. Sort of like the Quebecois -eh? So can a person living in Montreal have loyalties and both Quebec and to Canada? How about a Francophone living in northern Ontario? Or would that make them a violent racist?

    • People with more than one child manage multiple loyalties every day. Mostly it works out. "Sophie's Choice" is a once in a very long time occurance, and is not a reason for a "one child policy".

    • Well I guess one shouldn't expect a different answer from someone whose handle is "American". Your identity seems to be your state. Count me as an old "lefty hippy child."

      Seriously, is what people on this list care about American state interests, or is it human interests and ideals? They are not the same.

      There is nothing wrong, and much right, with having multiple and even conflicting loyalties. The conflicts get worked out as best we can - hopefully based on human values, not state interests.

    • Well thanks for the apology re the word "vile", but its my wife who deserves it not me. I don't have American citizenship at all, I'm Canadian.

      More seriously though, I find your comment below (and I assume you are not alone on Mondoweiss) disturbing.

      "Love another state enough to become a citizen there? Fine. Go there and leave your American citizenship at the door. If you are not 100% into the “American citizenship” thing, then I’d just as soon kick you out and reserve it for those to whom it is special."

      Why, in a world were people move around a lot, and have relatives and friends all over the world, should citizenship (or more importantly "love" and "loyalty") be restricted to one (or any) state. Why can't you have attachments (even "love" if you want) to more than one place and one people. I find that attitude you express narrow minded.

      In Canada several major political figures have dual citizenship - with France. The redneck right tried to make an issue of it. It didn't get much traction. Americans, on the other hand, are so Americentric! Many on this list rail against Jewish exceptionalism (and they should) but fail to see their own American execptionalism.

      Jews should be allowed "dual loyalties". As should Mexicans, Chinese, French or whomever. As long as you don't break any laws. Life, and loyalty (as well as love) is messy.

    • But America recognizes dual citizenship. (Even triple citizenship. My wife has an American, Canadian, and an Israeli passport.) And there is no American law (as far as I know) that says dual citizens can't hold office. So there is should be nothing wrong with dual loyalty - as long as people are upfront about it.

      Its a multi-cultural world. Get used to it.

  • '60 Minutes' goes in for casual racism about 'Arabs'
    • Its amazing. Stahl, the supposed enlightened journalist, is spouting sophomoric chauvinism and faux tough-guy lingo like some sort of character out of Dr Stangelove ("How many Ruskies did e get today?") , while Dagan comes across as rational.

  • Notes on Purim: The affirmation of the diaspora
    • If people are interested in another take on Purim and its "message" you can read my talk on this subject at: Purim Lessons

      The conclusion states:

      "And historically, Purim has been the more important of our two post Biblical holidays. [The other being Hannukah.] It is Mardi Gras and Christmas rolled into one: Wild parties and gifts. It has a communal ritual – the reading of the Meggillah . And it has a holy sanctified text that we can study and try to learn from.

      And what can we learn?

      To recap from our Talmud text:

      that quite often we sanctify what we ritualize, and not vice-versa;
      that human sensitivity and insight into the hearts of our fellows is a Godly characteristic, one which is attainable by all of us;

      that multi ethnic and multi religious tolerance and harmony are Godly blessings that are now, and have been in the past, achievable by humankind;

      that curiosity, political intelligence and calm strategic thinking are Godly traits we should expect from our leaders – and that we are blessed when, in fact, we have such leaders;

      that even when fighting our most vicious enemies we can limit collateral damage and refrain from taking material advantage – and that we are blessed when we do so;
      that we can achieve security and thrive without resort to ongoing violence or an ethnocentric polity;

      and that all our struggles for survival must be motivated only by peace and truth, that we must avoid revenge and bitterness, and that the ends we seek be rooted in peace and in truth."

  • Just in time for Netanyahu visit, neocon ad in 'NYT' attacks MJ Rosenberg and CAP
    • Yes ! I just made donations to several of these organizations. Since the point of the ad is to pressure these philanthropies to cut off their support for MM and CAP, I thought it important for them to know that the controversy cuts both ways. I hope others do the same.

  • Video: Settlers claim olive oil as 'Israeli'
    • The commercial is objectionable, and the olive oil company is racist.

      And it is also no doubt true that:

      "Zionism’s cultural appropriation [sic] of indigenous Palestinian folklore and cuisine – such as hummus, falafel and maftoul – as 'Israeli' has long irked Palestinians"

      But that does not mean the feelings - or more importantly the implications of viewing the Jews as temporary foreign implants - is justified. About 50% of Israeli Jews are from (or are descendant from parents or grandparents who are from) Middle Eastern lands where hummus, falafel, etc were always staples in their diets. Furthermore, after after 100+ years of Jewish settlement, even originally Ashkenazi Israeli Jews have become localized. To say that hummus etc is not an Jewish Israeli food, is akin to saying that corn on the cob is not quintessentially American (another settler society that adopted indigenous people's food while suppressing the indigenous people)

      The point here is to acknowledge that though many Jewish Israelis came from somewhere else, at this point they are as much part of the local land and cuisine as the Palestinians. Both sides should stop making exclusive claims to possession of the land (and is foods.) Neither the Jews nor the Palestinians are going to leave. So fighting about who is more authentic is counter-productive.

  • "Didn't we learn anything from 1938?' Wasserman Schultz's opposition says Palestinians belong in Jordan

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