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  • Yes, Virginia, there is a liberal Zionist
    • Jon S,

      You are right that Moses didn't enter Canaan. I may have been thinking of the attack on the Midianite villages:
      link to

      However, the defenses I made would often work in a similar way other times when the Tanakh mentions God supposedly commanding such attacks.

      Here is one website that discusses different Apologetics about the genocide topic:
      link to

    • Mooser,

      If you are in a humorous, creative mode, can you please write a 5-6 line debate between Hophmi and Sean on this subject?

    • American,

      In Christianity, you can belong to the church and belong to the church regardless of nationality. One could be a bishop in Constantine's time whether you were African, Jewish (in nationality), Greek, Roman, or Arab.

      Check out this prayer by Constantine:

      "AND now I beseech thee, most mighty God, to be merciful and gracious to thine Eastern nations, to thy people in these provinces [that would include the Jewish nation and the province of Palestine, by the way]

      My own desire is, for the common good of the world and the advantage of all mankind, that thy people should enjoy a life of peace and undisturbed concord. Let those, therefore, who still delight in error, be made welcome to the same degree of peace and tranquillity which they have who believe. For it may be that this restoration of equal privileges to all will prevail to lead them into the straight path."

    • <<” but someone who dismisses the entirety of the Bible as merely a nationalist document, well such a person obviously is either ignorant or has an ax to grind?”
      Yonah, I couldn’t agree more. Those right-wing, Judea and Sumaria God-said-we-could-steal-this-land types disturb me, too, and I wonder about their motivations, just like you do.>>

      Quick on the draw there.

    • In that case, maybe they should have let you include a section yourself too, since I feel good humor is one thing it (and Uris' writings?) occasionally has in deficit.


    • Although Sean is getting into a worthwhile topic, one need not agree totally with what he is saying. Sean is getting into a sensitive area, especially considering the current context, IP Land. In my opinion, the best way to address this challenge is in a sympathetic way to the religions involved, even though it's worth making criticisms.

      To give an area I don't agree with Sean on- and this may be because he sometimes has a provocative, or sharp/pointed style, he wrote:

      The Old Testament is certainly not a universalist document — it is a tale of endless bloody battles between one nation and all the other nations. It is a nationalist document — a Zionist document.

      I disagree- the Old Testament is, I believe, a universalist document in that it describes God's relationship with mankind. Since the era of Patriarch Jacob, it became especially focused on the close relationship with one nation that had the correct monotheist faith, but even then it contained predictions of a universalist future like I described below (waiting moderation), eg. Isaiah's prediction that God's Temple would be for prayer by all nations, not just one nation anymore. The Bible predicted that the other nations would accept belief in Jehovah too and thus the Temple would belong to them.

      Nor were the battles with other nations endless, as Persia protected the Israelites under Cyrus. The Bible includes nationalism like you said, but it's questionable whether it is "Zionist", because although the Bible, like that secular movement, includes concepts of the nation's return, this return was seen in the Bible as contingent on close spiritual unity with God.

      Sean, here you are making a strong religious criticism, but that is not racist. You are asking pointed questions about a sensitive, but relevant topic. So since MW is a Jewish blog, my main advice then for improvement would be that you also include in your discussions either things that you see as positive in Jewish culture or religion or at least include things about which you agree with your conversants like Jon or Mooser.

    • Dear Mooser,

      I like your sense of humor here (eg. God telling His "henchman"). And yes, I think you are making a good argument or point that God knew what He was saying:

      W Jones, you know as well as I do that the God of the Old Testament (Praised be his Holy Name!) had no trouble making Himself understood in His Divine Will! Are you saying God stutters? Lisps?
      Has speech defect? That’s some God, a guy who can’t give a simple order to one of his trusted henchman without screwing it up and causing a bloodbath?
      Wouldn’t it be much simpler, and make a lot more sense, to believe God knew what He was saying, and meant it?

      For the sake of argument, the Torah actually does say that Moses had a speech problem and thus spoke "through" Aaron. But yes, the Bible does put it in a straightforward way sometimes, eg. "God said '________'." The challenge though I am foundering on is one that modern theologians sometimes struggle with - How to reconcile harsh quotes (eg. attacking villages) with our beliefs and teachings about morality? And one method to deal with those quotes is by saying that God's statements through Moses were not dictations. Moses was not forced by a Spirit to make exact quotes like a robot or "possessed" person, but rather Moses was speaking based on "inspiration", ie. the Spirit spoke through the prophets, but not like a ventriloquist. Spirits, like wisdom, knowledge, and God might act on people, but due to human freedom and orderly independence God's spirit does not "take them over" like a ventriloquist. In any case, this is one reasonable way to deal with those harsh quotes that traditional theologians have made.

    • Dear Annie,

      You, Sean, and others are getting into an important topic about the true nature of the religion, a topic that has been debated for thousands of years, involving the balance between nationalism and egalitarianism/internationalism, a debate that goes beyond IP and involves modern politics in totally different settings too. So Sean is asking worthwhile questions and others like you, and those who may disagree with him, are part of a worthwhile discussion.

      You asked Sean about an important quote:

      For universalist values you can start here:

      “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

      I believe that this is part of a prediction Isaiah is making about a universalist future. This is because in Isaiah 56, Isaiah has God say: "my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations". In this future vision, the nations are still existing, they are not fighting, and God's Temple belongs no longer just to one people but to all nations. Naim Ateek of Sabeel has written about this inner universalism in the ancient prophecies.

      The challenge however, and the reason there is debate is because:
      1. Isaiah wrote in a poetic style and poetry can be interpreted differently. For example, a key passage of Isaiah (52:15) that I read as talking about the nations' future holiness have been translated (incorrectly) by other scholars as predicting the nations as being crushed or "cast down". (link to
      2. Isaiah was also making a prediction. But he was not saying that under his own conditions all nations were equal. In fact, from Isaiah's perspective, they weren't totally equal - certainly pagan cultures did not have the same spiritual strength that his own faith did. An apologetic, defensive argument could be made that the prophets did not, nor did they need to, see the nations' spirituality as universal in that ancient time period, unlike today, when indeed very many nations do accept Israel's God.

      Fast forwarding to today and I/P Land, one could argue, in defense of Jehovah's prophets, that they were writing in, and often about, an ancient time when the nations did not worship Him, but now we are living a very different era, in which much of the world- and in fact most of the other people in the region, do worship Him, and thus the rationale behind ancient political and national hierarchies of separation and power are no longer religiously necessary for worshiping Him.

    • Seafoid,

      Regarding the analogy with the Bible that you brought up, Leon Uris' story has a grain of truth in the Biblical title of the novel/movie Exodus. One can find in it a repetition of elements of the Biblical story counterposed on new and different religious communities centuries later, and those elements, like Moses' Exodus from Europe/Egypt and Moses' Conquest of Canaan include inspiration, tragedy, hope, and also brutality. I wouldn't equate the two experiences since there are major differences, and nor should belonging to one religion demand that you must analogize and internalize the two experiences.

    • Seafoid, you wrote to Sean:

      Zionism is strongly grounded in insanity.
      Very little to do with Judaism. I don’t recall Moses telling the people to rifle butt dissenters in the face but maybe my Hebrew isn’t up to scratch.

      I find beautiful parts in the Torah, and God's relationship with Moses is also very appealing, as God, an almighty creator, interacts directly with Moses, a mere man. However, it should be recognized that in the course of state-building in Canaan/the Promised Land, Moses ordered his forces to attack many Canaanite villagers, including women. One way to deal with the moral challenge of those stories is to say that those methods were not God's command, but rather Moses' interpretation of God's command, and as such could have been incorrect. I do think some passages of the Exodus story demand attention by modern progressive theologians, while I also have a natural sympathy for Moses' books along with that demand.

  • Collective punishment of 1.8 million human shields in a prison -- Newsweek dares publish the truth of Gaza
    • There's a scene in a Robin Williams movie where an annoyed antagonist uses a pistol to kill an annoying fly. The Israelis used the "gun vs fly" approach in Gaza,

      Some militants were using a rocket launcher near or in the plaza of a Church (I think Catholic) in Gaza, so the Israelis called up the church and told them they were going to bomb it- one of the Israeli safety warnings. So then the Israelis massively bombed the church's vicinity, hitting the church.

      This is simply excessive. It's kind of like a gunman moving into a crowd, so then some military force announces that the crowd is a human shield and then attacking it.

  • Resisting hope - prophetically
    • Dear Marc,

      You wrote:
      Kairos/the prophetic isn’t hope for things unknown and unseen, or things that aren’t going to happen.

      I disagree. Isaiah is a prophet, and his prophecy included a prediction of the resurrection. (Isaiah 26). Yet this "prophetic" future event was yet not "known" to have occurred, in the same way we know material, current facts. Rather, it is a hoped-for expectation.

      Kairos Palestine includes hope. But hope does not even have to be our expectation for hope to exist. We can expect failure and yet still hope for success. I think that this contradiction better explains Kairos Palestine. It does not necessarily mean all the Christian authors optimistically expect the situation to correct itself, but they "hope" and spiritually "seek" for it to occur.

      By the way, I think that your underlying message is OK. What you are saying when you are talking about resisting hope, I think, is actually that you reject what you call "pie in the sky" optimism about a bleak situation. I don't think that you actually mean "resisting hope" is by nature a definition. Otherwise, an _absolute_ sense of hopelessness could be a virtue. Such absolute hopelessness would not even see light or a positive hope for one's own cothinkers' spirituality.

      And with less and less room to breathe and with time running out, if it hasn’t already, political and religious institutions, including the friends of Palestine – the churches, NGOs and the United Nations for example – lack commitment. They continue to repeat rhetorical, mantra-like ethical and political positions that go nowhere.

      I call these mantras “ritualized solidarity,” a solidarity we call on but don’t deepen through self-sacrifice.

      It depends on the church and the NGO. the UNESCO sacrificed major US funds by recognizing Palestine as member. Palestinian churches are making sacrifices too.

  • Why Israel's Jewish nationality bill is a big deal
    • (Or were the Israeli state to base itself strongly on rabbinical Halakha and rule a majority of Muslims and Christians in Palestine/Israel, there would be a big problem too.)

    • Orryia,

      I think that simply using shariah or Halakha as a consideration or factor in making laws is not necessarily very bad. Even in the US we use them to see if a marriage occurred.

      If you have a state based strictly on religious law, and it rules over a mass of people, the majority of whom are a different religion, there is a problem. Were Palestine to rule a majority Jewish population using strict Shariah law there would be a big problem. However, fortunately neither the Israeli state nor the Muslim states of the Levant enforce strict religious law.

      BTW the Israeli/Saudi-assisted ISIS actually violates Shariah law by being harsher and more strict than Shariah law.

    • Hebrew law must be broader and more liberal than its subset, Jewish law. Israel, the Jews, and the Hebrews are often confused in modern parlance, and the Knesset is apparently no exception.

      In fact, Abraham belonged to the Hebrews, and thus Muslim Arab tradition theoretically could be traced to him and "Hebrew Law", were Islam's claims of Abrahamic lineage correct.

  • 'Racist, fascist bullshit'-- Marcel Ophuls exposes Islamophobia in Israel
  • Are pro-Israel groups afraid of the US public?
  • Promoting regime change in Iraq paved the way to regime change at the New Republic
    • "Okay, okay, so Marc Ellis is a little late to the party, but can’t we just let it go?"

      I am not blaming Ellis for being late to the anti-Constantine party.



    • Wieseltier is in the movie "Constantine's Sword", which you can see on Netflix and portrays Christian culture in the US as fundamentally anti-semitic. As an example, it spends the beginning of the movie talking about how there were posters for Passion of the Christ when it came out at an army barracks. I think that this movie may play a role in Marc Ellis' label of Christianity as "Constantinian".

  • Salaita firing has 'crippled' U of Illinois's ability to hire excellent scholars
    • UIUC is a very well ranked school. I wanted to go there for their language program years ago. They must be taking a real hit.

  • Saban confronts Bennett: 'Are you willing to cut commercial ties with Europe?'
    • The Quran says "There is no compulsion in religion." This passage has been used by Muslim scholars to say that forced conversions do not count as real conversions, and in history, it is one of the cases when reversion to Christianity was allowed, around the period of Caliph Hakim in Palestine.

      Granted, conversion to Christianity from Islam was banned normally under Sharia custom. But in any case, this is another example of how ISIS is not practicing real "traditional" Islam.

  • From Hillel to Sabeel: The path to unlearning Zionism
    • What I was getting at, Larry, is that you described a real life situation of discrimination, and she had known it previously from books and ideas, but then living in the situation you described led to a resulting change in perspective that was different from others in that same situation.

    • Larry, Was that you who wrote the reporting on attacks on Palestinian drivers:
      link to

      It sounds like what happened with the author of the essay is that she visited the broader situation in Jerusalem and it was her real life experience that totally changed her perspective. It is easy to explain one thing in theory, but then when a person goes and experiences it, the results can be harder to predict, as in her case.

  • Mamdani's 'holistic' challenge: Anti-Zionists must persuade Jews they can only be safe by dismantling the Jewish state
    • Walid,

      In the ideal democratic one state covering both the West Bank, Gaza, and the rest of Israel/Palestine, the make-up would be similar to Lebanon or other mixed states with two or more religions with a comparable number of adherents. Palestinians would be the majority simply for the natural reason that they would outnumber Israelis in that same territory. The state would be secular and wouldn't favor one of the two or three main groups over the other.

      We would be looking at comparably equal roles in the state, such as its legislature, ministries, and presidency. The Palestinians' role would be one of full political equality in the state that they would share with Israelis.

      The main issue of contention I see, if my ideal was implemented would be economic. That is, in S.A., the gap between rich and poor has worsened since the end of Apartheid. How would we keep from repeating a similar situation of "economic Apartheid" in a united Israel/Palestine, unless we were to adopt Social Democratic policies? Such policies go beyond the vision of political equality and a politically democratic and equal one state, and then go into the realm of economic equality, which is something most of the world still struggles with, due to Neo-Liberalism.

    • Isn't the point of Netanyahu's bill to make the state a Jewish state? If so, then doesn't that mean that technically Israel is not already a Jewish state? If not, then what Mamdani proposes is already partly in force. The necessary domestic steps then are only to erase the discriminatory laws the SOI has for its Arab minority. That should not put the state into jeopardy. A two state solution that leaves two states each with their respective majorities but does not make either state officially operate as an ethnic state would not bring in security risks.

      <b.My own proposal would be to have a 2SS and also the Right of Return, which would mean that for the Jewish state to continue its borders would have to be more restricted to accommodate the ROR in practice. In other words, the refugees would return to their homes, like in Galilee, and Galilee would, as the UN said in 1947, belong to a Palestinian state. For security purposes, an international UN or NATO force would have to oversee the area.

      As for Mamdani's thesis, sure, I agree that a factor in encouraging a one state solution would be Israelis' security. However, I don't think it's the main factor, and I do think it would be a serious problem, due in part to the Israelis' own actions (eg. in their favoritism for Hamas over the PLO), but also due to preexisting factors (the history of religious conflicts in the Mideast in some of the previous centuries).

      I think it's just a fact that if there was no transition period and the Israelis said that the borders with the WB and Gaza are gone literally tomorrow and everyone gets citizenship, that it would be a big security problem. It would be IN SOME WAYS like unlocking all the doors in a modern US prison and having the prisoners mingle with the guards. -I don't mean to equate Palestinians with convicts, but rather to think about how the relations between humans change after decades of one group being confined by another one.

      Just face reality- South Africans have said that what Palestinians go through is worse than Apartheid. The latest slaughter in Gaza illustrated that. I also think that the ethos of Christianity, with concepts like forgiveness - not just the ANC's radical politics, played a role in the success of ending Apartheid. At the present moment, I question how well Hamas and at least a minority of Palestinians would react if they achieved political parity with Israelis. And as a result of all these factors, I think that security is a bigger obstacle than in S.A.

      In any case, my main criticism would be that Mamdani is not wrong, but if it's his main thesis, then it is missing the point. Security is not really the main obstacles- even if Arabs were as peaceful, secular or Christian, and orderly as Armenians and Ethiopians, it would still take a massive effort to reverse the order of power there.

      Israelis are in control, they don't plan on an egalitarian one state solution, probably Israeli culture and politics are even more predetermined against it than the Boers' were, and their actions over the last 5 decades have transformed the region (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not) into one that was on the path to a secular, reformed, pan-Arab political ideology (eg. Nasser's Egypt), into one a region that is now suffering more from sectarianism, eg. ISIS, and religious politics (eg. Hamas). It would probably take a massive effort by any "side" or key international "player" to transform that reality and make an equal, safe, one state solution practical.

      And then you have to ask, what is going to motivate millions of Palestinians, in the midst of suffering devastating campaign after campaign like Cast Lead, to turn to the kind of model of the ANC on their own? Or, instead of putting the burden on Palestinians, what is going to motivate the international community to put in the intense effort needed to transform the situation like it has the right to do under international law? Since the US is one of the key players, the US would have to change too in its position.

      I see my own proposal as much simpler and practical, and while Mamdani makes a good point about Israeli security regarding the one state solution, the underlying question of the factors necessary for a 1SS go beyond security and would demand whole changes in political (and perhaps religious) culture on both "sides".

    • Sure, both sides of the conflict suffered trauma, but since the brunt of it has been suffered by palestinians in terms of occupation and casualties, why are Israelis becoming more right wing, if it is down to trauma?

  • AIPAC seeks to blow up negotiations between Iran and US
    • So they are threatening Taiwan, Korea, or Japan? I think only Taiwan and maybe Nepal are seriously threatened, and in the case of Nepal we are only talking proxy forces. Those are relatively small countries, and I don't see a war with Taiwan as likely.

      In contrast, the situation in the Middle East, egged on by major outside forces, is right now in the midst of hot conflicts. China, on the other hand, is relatively peaceful, although I know that it is powerful too.

    • How does China get on that list? Who did they bomb in the last 10 years?

  • Israel's proposed Jewish nationality law is a flop on Broadway
    • "Of course, a natural extension of this was Golda Meir’s dreadful dictum– or was it Peres?"


  • A defensive Netanyahu announces elections hours after firing opposition members Lapid and Livni
    • So first he will try to do a coalition. Then if the right won't "coalesce" with him, then he has to call elections.

      If he has to call elections early, he is solidly training behind in the polls after at least two other politicians, one of whom is an ex-finance minister, I think. Are those winning contenders from right wing parties?

    • Right. East Jerusalem is considered by the SOI to be in the SOI, but the SOI does not give Palestinian East Jerusalemites automatic citizenship.

  • Israel has always been crazy
    • Dear Annie,

      You are right when you say:

      i have never made a statement that could be construed as “secular Jews were much less likely to have nationalist militancy” nor has the thought ever occurred to me. whoops! somebody putting words in my mouth out of context to buttress their ideas. -

      I misunderstood what you were implying in your conversation with me here:
      link to

      There, I wrote: "PEPs are more often secular or nonreligious and do not usually profess a divine land mandate like Christian Zionists do."

      You responded:

      "? source? or is this just your hypothesis? because i suspect there are many reform jews who consider themselves progressive who are peps, like that rabbi in st louis marching with mike brown supporters in ferguson...

      i just asked for your source and if this was your theory given that i happen to know there are many many many reform american jews who support israel and consider themselves progressive."

      In the course of that conversation, it was CITIZEN (not you) who pointed out: "Despite the heavy influence of AIPAC matrix, the Pew Poll of last January appears to show America’s secular Jews are more critical of Israeli settlements & more in favor of the two-state solution" link to

      By the way, Crumb's comic book on Genesis looks good.


    • Annie,

      When Marc Ellis talks about Constantinian Judaism a lot, an allusion to the Israelis' relationship between nationalism and religion, my claim is by labeling it "Constantinian", Ellis sees the roots of the nationalism in Christianity or in Christian empires.

      To explain, when I talk about "nationalism" I really mean nationalism in the Israeli context. Lots of times I could go through a writer's comments and pick out things that should be said better or I might disagree with. But I do not really find what others say on these topics offensive, either. I think that ancient Judaism is broad enough to include many concepts. One of them is a kind of nationalism that Sean focuses on. I think Mark Braverman does a fine job talking about this topic in his writings. I like what Braverman has to say on the topic of religion and the conflict. I don't see Ellis as trying to address the problems of nationalism in ancient Biblical stories nearly to the same extent Braverman does.

      And ANNIE, I thought you did a good job in one of your comments to me here, pointing out that secular Jews were much less likely to have nationalist militancy. And I think that secular folks' comparative lack of militancy reflects the religious aspect of the conflict.

      Additionally, I want to make a distinction. I see ancient Judaism as holding an inner Messianic prophecy of universalism. As Hostage said, in the Messianic era, Judaism would cover all nations, and would be a religion of them all. As God promised to Abraham that he would be a father of many nations. This is also what St Paul wrote.

      BUT, regarding the roots of modern nationalism, it's worth noting that the ancient Israelite religious community also had an intolerant side in practice. The community saw themselves as having a special relationship with God and as special nation. And although I don't see that as necessarily bad or problematic, that thinking could create a problem when you address other nations based on that perspective, if it leads to thinking that they are less special. This potential problem of evaluating nations' worth as unequal is a theme that Mark Braverman discusses. I think that this nationalistic side of the religion is a relevant issue, one that Mondoweiss does occasionally address, and one that Sean sees as important too.

      To give a few examples of the topic's importance, Danaa grew up reading the Old Testament in Israeli schools. I myself was seriously "pro-Israeli" growing up in the way many militant pro-Israelis are, as I associated ancient Israel with the modern state. A third example is the Exodus story. The book and movie interpreted modern Israel history as a repetition of the ancient Biblical story. Yet that ancient story was not merely one of the ancient nation's political redemption, but also one of conquest of the other communities already in the land. By envisioning modern history through that ancient story with its positives and negatives, the ancient story's own aspects become relevant for today. A major problem, as far as the supposed Biblical justifications for the conflict are concerned, is that the ancients dealt with/conquered pagan societies and aimed at having a society for Abraham's God in the land. Yet now in that land, the other two societies are already worshiping that deity, while the Israeli state is not a theocracy.

    • "That is, if you’re not busy having a navel engagement with a cop. " Mooser to Sean.

      What is that supposed to refer to?

  • Palestinian flag is an 'enemy' flag-- Netanyahu's latest crackdown
    • Piotr,

      Sorry to hear that you were on the receiving end of "anti-Zionism." May i ask what happened, eg. denied a job opportunity because seen as a potential Zionist?

      Also, I was not asking a sarcastic or trick question- I wanted to ask you what Gomulka was saying on the topic, since I don't know Polish, and you may have some insights too.

    • Piotr,

      Is Gomulka, Poland's postwar president, saying anything noteworthy in his speech on antiZionism?

  • Thanksgiving: The perfect holiday to ruin with politics
    • The Orthodox argue that they do not see Christ as having two "separate" natures, although the book claims to the contrary.

    • 2001 was not very long ago.

      Arabs and Israel looks like an interesting book. In chapter 11, it says that the Monophysites (that's Egypt's Coptic Christians) saw Christ as having a "wholly divine" nature, but that the Orthodox bishops (almost all Palestinian Christians today) said Christ has two separate natures (perfect God and perfect man).

      The book makes a misreading here. The Copts say that Christ has a divine and human nature, and the Orthodox (almost all Palestinian Christians) say that Christ had a divine nature and a human nature. I believe that this is basically a semantic argument and not an actual difference in their beliefs. These two branches of Christianity often have positive dialogues about this topic today.

    • Kate, is that actually how you began to open up on IP?
      Because a Native American told you about Palestinians at Thanksgiving?

  • The Minds of Others: An interview with Max Blumenthal
    • Mooser, I think some more recent American immigrants to the Israeli state have had serious difficulties proving that they are Jewish because they lack certification that they or their family belonged to an Orthodox congregation. But I don't know of cases where these members of the Reformed community were denied either.

    • In this quote, Max is saying that conflating Judaism with Zionism allows him to be "de-Judaized", and this means that his "Jewish identity can be negated" because Max defined his Jewish identity outside Israeli nationalism and defined it to some extent against Zionism.

      That is, Max sees his own Jewish identity as to some extent being against Zionism. He sees his own Jewishness as going against Zionism. Perhaps he sees "true" Judaism or his Jewish values as in opposition to Zionism. I think Marc Ellis has a similar idea, whereby Marc Ellis' idea of Jewish morality and "Jewish Liberation Theology" contradicts the militancy of the Zionist movement.

    • Atzmon responded to Blumenthal's interview with a criticism not wholly different from CitizenC's. I think that if you go through Blumenthal's and Atzmon's essays there are some things you can agree and disagree with. For example, Max says:

      >Germany and its national pathology and its failure to really take the right lessons from its own history...
      ((Are you calling us pathological?))
      Max: Yes, this is a sick society that hasn’t addressed the core political and psychological and social trends that lead to the Holocaust.

      I think Max is overgeneralizing too harshly. I think that Germany did draw some good lessons from its history and addressing pre-WWII trends, namely modern Germany's rejection of rightwing fascism and Germany's toleration of its Jewish minority. To simply say Germany is "pathological" and white supremacist is a misportrayal because it is one of the less militaristic nations today- which is not to say Max is totally wrong about this either.

      In any case, overall Blumenthal's message is a progressive one about human rights and overcoming nationalism. He did not write anything offensive. So it was a good interview.

    • This was a remarkable point by Max when he writes:

      That must be why we see so much more uproar when a random neo-Nazi shouts something anti-Jewish at a protest in Berlin against the war on Gaza then when the German government passes a law to allow for the mass deportation of Roma to supposedly “safe” countries in the East.

      Why are the Germans so silent on Israeli abuses if they go and deport gypsies, whose people suffered in large numbers in the Holocaust?

    • Pabelmont,
      Obviously both. The Holocaust and WWII were major tragedies that affect the social climate in Germany to this day.

      Yet Max's mention of quotas on the Roma people in modern Germany was a really good point, since Romas suffered in very high numbers in the Holocaust too, suggesting that what is going on is not just benevolent self-compulsion toward compensation for WWII.

  • A handful of Wellesley students are trying to shut down discussion of Israel/Palestine
    • On one hand, the college and Hillel are in favor of the restructuring, but the organization's staff are not and some donors are withholding funds in objection, according to Haaretz:
      link to

      The Wellesley Report says that "we really don’t have any inside knowledge of the hot and sensitive story at Wellesley College over the past few days (the school has largely kept its communication on the Jewish staff ousters within the school)"
      link to

    • Unusual news item about Wellesley:
      link to

      David Eden, chief administrative officer for Hillel International, praised the move, saying few small colleges go to the lengths of hiring a full-time rabbi to oversee a Hillel group. “We see this as being a huge positive step going forward,” he said.

      About 8 percent of Wellesley students are Jewish, and about half of those are active in Jewish campus life, students and administrators say. The Hillel group provides a lounge for students, which includes a Kosher kitchen. David Bernat, the Jewish chaplain, said he was shocked by his removal, particularly in the middle of the school year, and expressed concern for students.

      I wonder what the background story is.

  • Some reflections on the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine
    • Just this November, Rev. Richard Leon, chairman of Kairos USA, died. It's sad.
      Please consider making even a very small donation in his memory:
      link to

    • "Does freedom of religion matter if the people and the religions are denied political freedom?" Yes, because freedom of religion is a component of political freedom.

      "Are the churches afraid of their personnel being denied entry, their property being confiscated, their religious services being shut down?"
      Yes. The Latin Patriarchate's property was recently demolished with no announcement because it did not have an Israeli permit. It was built before 1967 in Jordanian territory.

      the Left-wing of the Constantinian Jewish establishment in Israel and America.
      The combination of religion and state goes back way before Constantine's toleration/preference for Christianity, all the way back to Moses' control of the land. Blaming Constantine ignores the underlying religious roots of religious nationalism that are important to address.

      Kairos Palestine’s emphasis on the tenets of Christian Zionist fundamentalism as misguided and a wrongful interpretation of scripture and Christian witness is important but to what effect? While correctly addressing a Christianity that is spiritually and politically offensive to Palestinian Christians, it can also stigmatize movements in Western Christianity with close ties to Jews as similarly on the wrong path.

      I don't see that potential as a problem for opposing religious nationalism like Hagee's. Anyway, to the extent that those close ties were fully uncritical and led to religious nationalism, weren't those ties problematic? Rosemary Ruether whom you support has totally revised her views on religious nationalism.

      the solidarity of Western Christians may be inhibited by Kairos Palestine’s stark and, in the Western Christian sense, sometimes retrograde Christian theology that features elements of Christology they no longer affirm.
      Like what? Kairos USA represents western Christianity, was formulated partly by Mark Braverman, and openly affirmed Kairos Palestine.

      On the Western Christian scene, Jews offer much more than Palestinian Christians.

      If Palestinians are the ones who now need "liberation", doesn't engagement with them offer more?

      The idea that Christian faith trumps culture is mistaken.
      The idea is also sometimes correct. Otherwise you would not be writing about Kairos as a leading document that "trumps" mainstream inertia. If culture always trumped faith, this faith document would not be very remarkable.

    • On Christian love and witness, I am an agnostic listener. With Christian history in mind but as well the present reality, I believe politics is a better bedfellow. -

      Didn't the Civil Rights movement of MLK Jr and the South African anti-Apartheid movement, with Desmond Tutu, have a major Christian side? Why is the Christian peace and equality movement "worse" than politics?

      If you are talking about the Holocaust, weren't the Christian movements in Germany (like the Catholic Church there) "better" than the Germans' politics?

      Have any of these nations, organizations or entities actually sacrificed anything for Palestinian freedom?
      Good question. The US withdrew from UNESCO because it recognized Palestine. I think what your question implies is that those churches could sacrifice more if they haven't sacrificed much already, and I think that it's true. Some of those churches are concerned that if they speak out too much, then the Israelis will cut them off from providing vital material assistance to Palestinians. That's a reason the Red Cross doesn't speak out much politically when it comes across political issues. Do you think that this policy is a good idea?

    • After all, the ground in Israel-Palestine is always changing and I haven’t traveled there for some years. Unfortunately, the changes are mostly for the worse.
      Ok, so where are things headed?

      The main Israeli goal has always been to take as much of Palestine as practical, because it sees it as its homeland. Palestinians don’t figure into it except to the extent that they are a “demographic problem”. The trend of its policies would point in the direction of ethnic cleansing, but whether it would be through expulsion like in 1948 or something far more brutal than the attack on Gaza is unclear. But ethnic cleansing isn’t the only outcome, since the EU and global anti-racist movements could build enough to create a peaceful one state solution like in South Africa. Either one could occur, as well as the possibilities in between.

      Most likely we are looking at long term continuation of increasing Israeli settlement expansion and the “status quo”, and beyond that, a shift in global power balances that will seriously reverse the balance of Israeli power itself.

  • First they came for the Palestinians . . .
    • "First they came for the Palestinians" - this idea has truth behind it, since weapons tested on Palestinians are later used elsewhere in the world.

  • Israel sows despair and senseless violence
  • Kahanists attack school after synagogue killings
  • Europe is a weenie on Palestine
    • Marc,

      This was a good article by you. A lot of your articles are good. Even your articles about Churches have a good side when they bring to light work in the churches. I am also glad that you are pro-peace and spent time interacting positively with other religions.

      My main constructive criticism is to suggest you take an understanding approach toward Christianity rather than equating it with persecution. The importance of a tolerant approach is highlighted by the reality in the Holy Land. Namely, one religious group claims the land, while designates those from the two other religions as "Palestinian", and the conflict ensues. The problem is that if your and others start from the premise that those other religious communities and their religious philosophies are inherently "colonial", persecutory, responsible for the Holocaust, bad, etc. then it paves the way for conflict.

    • "Not discussed, the EU and individual European countries buying security and military technologies from Israel"
      Good point, Marc.

  • Caltech prof says Israeli scientist passed NASA rocket secrets to his government
  • US Jewish voters have more favorable feelings about Netanyahu than Obama
    • Phil,

      I appreciate your work trying to bring the abuse of Palestinians to people's attention. Your blog, as you know, has turned out to be one of the best sources of information on it.

      For a long time I simply assumed that the conflict was between Israel and Muslims, who were terrorists. What totally surprised me though was that Christian villages were being ruined. The Israelis would not have any reason to hurt them if it was just about "bad Muslims". But to learn about Christians' ruination cast the conflict in a totally new light, as one where an army was ruining people simply for being another group.

      It made no sense to me why the US was supporting this, especially the measures against Christians. What groups or forces in the US would support the state's measures against Christian villages? Is that something pro-Israeli Christians support? I would not expect it's something that liberal Christians, Jews, or Muslims would support, so why is a "Christian" America supporting that?

    • B.O. is not wearing a Wall Street pin but a US flag, which became fashionable among politicians after 911. Minus of course the fact that the US is a democracy and North Korea has a personality cult, the intense compulsion to wear political pins in both countries seems that it stems from the same psychological motives.

    • I am glad to hear that you were against the onslaught on Gaza, bu am not sure how your explanation that peace and borders are not on the horizon explains why younger generations would also support the onslaught.

    • Yes, Phil, it's scary, since people who should be progressive are Neoconservative when it omes to this major human rights issue.

      A reason Netanyahu could have better ratings is because those Republicans and Democrats who are nationalists might both rate him well, but Obama's popularity can be a partisan issue, with Democrats supporting him more than Republicans.

    • I understand that you are talking about older generations. But why was it that so many of the younger generation supported the Gaza war? You mentioned 80% across all ages, so the younger group must be somewhere in that range, maybe 70%.

  • Pittsburgh's 'Conflict Kitchen' is latest battleground over Palestine, free speech and criticism of Israel
    • This furor seems to amount to "how dare Palestinians have opinions that differ from the generally-accepted pro-Israel philosophy regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, and how dare you share those opinions with Americans who may not have been exposed to them."


  • Rather than exhibit real solidarity, church leaders appeal to Israel's occupation to protect Al Aqsa
    • I think it's more than 32% Orthodox, right? I thought Orthodox were the biggest church there. (44%). It also can't be 67 - 32 because there are more than 1% Protestants, like Ateek, I think.

    • The fact that Christians see themselves as next in line doesnt make them lame. It means they are sincere that they dont want the temple mount disturbed. But yes, Christians there are intimidated.

    • The title is: "Rather than exhibit real solidarity, church leaders appeal to Israel’s occupation to protect Al Aqsa". But if you check the announcement by the Churches, it says that they made a visit in "Solidarity".

      Further, isn't it true that the Israeli military, having chosen occupation, should at least protet Al Aqsa, instead of closing it?

      In that case, why is it "Rather than solidarity", when the church leaders did show solidarity and protecting Al Aqsa instead of closing it reflects Solidarity?

    • I am glad Marc brought this to our attention. Is this a positive development or not?

      In a previous message, he said that the Christians weren't speaking out about the Temple Mount. Now they speak out about it, but he criticizes them for saying that the closing was preceded by acts of extremism. However, if you go on their previous action on the closing, you will see that the extremism included Israeli settlers. The Latin Church press explained:

      "On September 12, 2013, the Israeli Minister of Housing, escorted by tens of extremist settlers, and under Israeli police protection, entered the courtyard of the mosques in Jerusalem, including Al Aqsa Mosque, a holy place for Muslims."

      link to

  • Al Jazeera investigates the USS Liberty attack in 'The Day Israel Attacked America'
    • OK, I saw the backup version in the comments section here. I suggest updating the original MW article to link that.

    • Since Israel was the only power capable of launching and sustaining this attack, the notion of a false flag operation to stage an attack and blaming it on Egypt (which was obviously incapable of doing it) is, in my view, utterly preposterous.

      Finally, subsequently, on another occasion, Dayan threatened to shoot down US reconnaissance planes and the flights were halted.

      1. How do you know that Egypt could not be confused with the attackers?
      2. Dayan threatened the planes but didn't attack.
      3. How likely is it that the Israelis would attack a US ship without telling the US?
      4. Why did LBJ recall the rescue planes?
      5. Planes were ready to go with nukes soon before the attack occurred. Whom were the nukes intended to be dropped on?

    • Why incontestable? Because Jack Ruby said so and because of this?

    • Is there a full version of this story?

  • In and out of love with Israel: Tzvia Thier's story
    • If she is going to be "anti-Zionist" (or not), then it would be helpful for her to reconsider why they left.

    • MRW,

      I think the "Why did they leave" question is key if one is going to better understand Israeli nationalism. Depending on what her family's reasons are, it casts different (and not necessarily bad) lights on the state's system.

      The reason she gave in the interview was basically that other people were doing it, so her family did too.

    • That's true, Mooser.
      Chomsky talked about how he was on a Left Socialist Kibbutz, with a mix of Stalinists and Trotskyists.

    • Right.

      I am thinking though that if you are Left Socialist or Communist like Tarachansky or Thiers, then when Communist forces in Romania defeat the Nazis, why leave for the US or Palestine?

    • Why did they leave Romania?

      Most Jews left Romania. Most went to the U.S., some went to Israel.

      So why did they go? They were Communist or Socialist, right? And Romania had become Communist and there wasn't the threat of the Nazis again, but there was a conflict starting in Palestine. So was it for security, or what?

    • "I absolutely believed that in 1948 when Ben Gurion declared the state of Israel, the seven countries attacked Israel,"
      Isn't that what happened? What happened instead?

  • A reverend sermonizes justice in Jerusalem
    • Walid,

      Definitely the Germans are the worst. After that, wouldn't it be Christians because he considers them responsible for the Holocaust?

      One question is why he doesn't write more about the famous rabbis and traditions and try to interpret them in the way he wants when it comes to IP. I think it would be one of the most constructive, positive things he could bring as a religious scholar to the discourse. Maybe the reason is that they actually bug him too.

      Too bad. Overall Ellis is good and has a humanitarian approach he brings to the discussion, except when it comes to Christian religion, in which case it is "colonialism" because its Jewish Christian expounders based it on Jewish ideas.

    • I definitely don't like that Pope Benedict was pressed into the Wehrmacht But he was not a camp guard or wore a papal garb at Treblinka either. Meanwhile, the future Pope John Paul II really was saving thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. Why doesn't that deserve mention?

      I like that Marc takes the side of the oppressed in the IP conflict, and I want to see interfaith tolerance between both religions. I find many of Ellis' characterizations of Christianity to be incorrect. Marc's strong point is as a Jewish theologian - I've said repeatedly that one of the best contributions he could make would be to explain an egalitarian or non-nationalist theology based on the centuries of rabbinical and Biblical writings in the Jewish tradition and then relate it to the land of Zion as well as to things in the news. For example, how do policies compare with moral teachings that we read in the Tanach or other sacred writings?

    • He was speaking at a church, and the churches there are more aware of what is happening than the ones in America, on average. So it's unlikely that his parish will fire him. not that it would happen in America for sure, though.

      Sure, there is more respect for Christians in America than over there. I could be wrong, but I don't think that the churches there have the same level of enforcing PC-ness that ours often do about the conflict.

    • Don't forget that there is more openness allowed when you are in Israel. Don't try to make sense of it.

    • if we see the New Testament as I do, stretching more or less the same number of years as the Hebrew Bible does. If so noted, the New Testament stretches from Jesus to Auschwitz.

      (1) The Church fathers and the canonical Churches have not made a doctrine saying to kill Jews.

      (2) The Nazis were occultists and anti-Christian in reality.

      (3) 5 million gentiles, typically Christian, were genocided by the Nazis.

      (4) Other "Christian" societies fought the Nazis and stopped the Holocaust.

      Conclusion: the "Gospel of Treblinka" is not part of the New Testament.

      Israelis are becoming more and more prejudiced against Christianity. Increasingly a significant minority in the younger generations think there is no right to practice Christianity there. Is it really a surprise that, having divided the population based on religious lines they would mistreat the "Arabs" with this kind of thinking that blames Christianity for the Holocaust?

    • The log in the Christian eye becomes larger, especially if we name the Gospels that are carried forth by Christians in the world. I think especially of the Gospel of Treblinka but there are many, many more.

      I missed the "Gospel of Treblinka" in Sunday School, but then at Catholic Middle school we all took a half year course on the Holocaust and went to the Holocaust museum.

    • With a sense of Christian triumphalism shadowing almost every Christian sermon
      "What's Christian triumphalism?" The belief that Christ "triumphed" over death?

      And why use a negative term like "shadowing?" Why not "shining"?

      Reverend Réamonn adds: “For our Gospel reading is no better than our reading from what we call the Old Testament.” So right!

      I tend to think that the New Testament is "better". Ancient Israel believed that the Messiah would come. If the Messiah came and brought God's grace directly to people, wouldn't His book be in any way "better" than the books that preceded it? If the Messiah comes and does all kinds of amazing things, isn't that "better" than what happened before?

  • Is Israel the wallpaper in US culture?

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