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  • Netanyahu speech scandal blows up, and 'soiled' Dermer looks like the fall guy
    • So why didn't Netanyahu or Boehner choose to tell Obama? Did they think he wouldn't find out? Or because it would mean initiating a dialogue over whether it would be OK? I think the latter. Boehner or Net. would call up Obama and say that Net. is coming over and Obama would say it's not a good idea, and then they would have an uncomfortable argument.

    • David,

      You can look at Netanyahu's past actions as well as this one to suggest that he will probably come. About a month ago, when the strange Hebdo incident occurred and there was a public march by France's and Germany's leaders, France's president Hollande asked Netanyahu not to come to avoid controversy. Netanyahu not only came, but pushed his way to the front of the march, one or two spaces from Hollande.

      Likewise, this time Netanyahu did not care about Obama's response so he came anyway without telling Obama, knowing full well that it would rock the boats with Obama.

      The only thing perhaps unexpected for Netanyahu could be the mixed public response from other key players in the US. Would that be enough to discourage his speech?

      At this point, probably not. One of the main things is that Netanyahu's electorate is very right wing and getting more so, and that is who Netanyahu cares about, along with his key, well-funded pro-settler donors and Neocon supporters in the US establishment. Netanyahu wants to be a savy politician, and he is aware that his electoral base is shifting to the right, which explains his coalition partners. Netanyahu going forward with the speech would look to them like a rallying move, while giving in would look to them like weakness on his part.

      I don't think that Netanyahu feels personally totally compelled to see Iran broken or hold onto the West Bank, but they are things that he wants, along with making the speech to Congress. Were some other major factors, or his key supporters, to push on him against those things, he would be able to change his policies and plans.

      In other words, you would need the Israeli right or his strong US supporters to tell him to change his mind about the speech, or you would need US liberals to send a strong enough message for him to do so. At this point, I don't see those things in the cards, except for some possible action by the Obama administration. However Obama has been typically weak for the last six years with Netanyahu, and Obama's back is not put up against a wall because of the speech, so he probably won't fight back big time. I think that Netanyahu has probably game planned all of this ahead of time.

    • My guess is that Stalin and Teheran would just use their security guards to drag the person out and then continue on with their speech, maybe talking about "threats" from opponents. Bear in mind however that Netanyahu was visiting a foreign country, the US. Stalin and Teheran would not be able to control the response of US legislators and the public, so they would certainly not openly call US dissentors a "threat".

      Netanyahu however watched a severe beat down by his supporters, got a full US legislative ovation for that, and then talked about how the US allows protestors in the legislature because it is a democracy, unlike his opponent, Iran.

    • "and to get his usual Stalinist hundred standing ovations/who will stop applauding first response from that legislature (as well as from the media and from the public)"

      Check it out. I don't know who this "Stalin" guy is, but he looks amazing. His hair is like a mane. he looks like a lion.

      Meanwhile, compare this with Netanyahu's speech to our whole legislature:

      A heckler gets up, interrupts, and yells something about Palestinian rights and democracy. The AIPAC people in the back injure her so badly right there in the packed legislative hall that she gets hospitalized and needs a neck brace.

      First, what does the whole legislature do? It immediately gives Netanyahu an ovation just for that.

      Second, what does Netanyahu do? He says that the protestor is a sign of "democracy" because Iran would not allow a protestor in their parliament. Well guess what? The protestor was not allowed in this parliament either because she was beaten up right in front of him.

      Third, what would the "great" Stalin do in his speech if that happened? I am not sure, but I can guarantee you that he would not say that the protestor's right to heckle him was a "sign of democracy", especially when the protestor got beat up in front of hundreds of people. Stalin at least wanted the outward appearance of consistency when it came to public events, which would be contradicted by the heckler's public beat down. And Stalin did not want to even pretend to encourage disruptive protestors by falsely saying that they had such "rights".

    • Phil,
      You do realize that Netanyahu's speech encouraging tensions with Iran for its alleged desire to destroy Israel is scheduled for Shushan Purim, which commemorates a "preventive" attack on Iranians?

      As you may know, I love the stories of the Old Testament, but the book of Esther is one I have a harder time with, as do some theologians.

  • Finkelstein on Joan Peters's legacy (and Dershowitz's legal troubles)
    • Seafoid,

      About Finkelstein. I think he may have inside knowledge. Perhaps a few months before the Arab Spring, he predicted that the US would launch a new, large scale campaign to take over the Arab world. Up to that point, "regime change" efforts had been devoted to invading Iraq and Afghanistan, with perhaps some "color revolution" in Iran.

      However, Finkelstein said about the new campaign he predicted: It will start in Tunisia. He didn't give more of an explanation, and I remember thinking that it was strange, because Tunisia wasn't in conflict with the US like Iraq was. It didn't make sense to me that Tunisia would be targeted. But then a few months later (perhaps just a month), the "Spring" started in Tunisia. I wish that I could find where Finkelstein said this, but haven't been able to retrace it.

  • Tell your congressperson: Don't attend Netanyahu's speech
  • Virulent, violent verbal tactics reveal Dershowitz as a bully, says fellow Israel advocate
  • Netanyahu's Parisian follies
    • How did Abbas get to the front of the line after Netanyahu did? Did someone notice that Netanyahu was in front and then invite him for the sake of parity?

  • Why do Muslims object to depictions of their prophet?
    • Muslims accept the concept of drawing their prophet, but of the period before he became a prophet. Thus, drawings of him can be found of that time in his life.

  • A tale of two tests
    • I think there are two ways of reading the question. Tragedy has two meanings: either as an event that causes distress, or as a form of drama involving suffering. Certainly if one uses the first meaning, the Iraq war was a far greater tragedy in terms of scale.

      However, I was initially also thinking in terms of the second meaning. As a form of drama, I think that the Breivik attack was on a greater scale because of the elements of the story involved. To give an analogy, I think that in this sense Rabin's assassination was a tragedy far beyond the scale of his own number.

      Anyway, David agrees with you, so he probably meant the first meaning, a distressing event, in which case Yes, Iraq's casualties were on a far greater scale of distress.

    • I am confused how it is supposed to be a "liberal" democracy when it's under Likud. Doesn't that make it a nationalist democracy or a theocratic secular democracy?

    • Hophmi,

      You wrote that I failed.

      My two answers for the most tragic event were the attacks on Iraqis and the attack by Breivik in Norway. None of those were rocket attacks on a liberal democracy, unless that is what you consider pre-war Iraq.

      Do you disagree with my answer for the most tragic event listed? If so, which do you consider the most tragic, the attack on Gaza?

    • That would have worked. Or the person who was filming the killings from the helicopter could have intervened.

    • I think that this is the most tragic:

      Deaths of 77 Norwegians, the vast majority of them children, at the hands of a perpetrator motivated by hatred of Muslims and the “leftists” who tolerate their presence in Norway, July 2011

      For me, tragedy is not just scale, but also a catharsis from elements of the story. The stories of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, for example, could be more tragic than events than caused greater casualties, like a hurricane.

      Here, the victims are children, they are in a very large number, it's the highest massacre in Norway for a long time, they were peacenik children, and their society voluntarily practically disarmed its citizens because of opposition to gun violence (which I believe is a huge mistake). I heard that the killer intentionally used some kinds of bullets so that the victims would suffer more. Besides that, the killer was a racist who was slaughtering his own race and state security forces were negligent or complicit in this mass self-slaughter. I am against the death penalty, but the killer will not just get out of jail after far too short a time due to Norway's mercy on prisoners, he also gets jail perks. On top of that, some of the same people who are trumpeting barbarity against Muslims at least indirectly encouraged what happened and were in contact with the killer, who appeared connected to powerful groups in Europe.

      The 120,000 deaths of Iraqis is by far the worst in terms of scale, but it lacks that combination of perverse elements. It is a more straightforward act of barbarity and was callous. The US was perhaps not aiming for civilians but rather ignoring them recklessly and intentionally.

  • Hillel exec likens Open Hillel to biblical rebel against Moses who was swallowed up by the earth
    • Didn't the Cushite convert?

    • The part where she associates Korach with Open Hillel I found amusing:

      Despite all of this, I actually think Korach’s rebellion is precisely the lens through which we should understand Open Hillel. Consider what Korach actually says: “The entire congregation are all holy, and the Lord is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” Note that Korach does not condemn the idea of Jewish leadership, but merely charges that Moses has gone too far in his exercise of power. The holiness of am Yisrael, Korach suggests, comes from our covenant with God, not from the authority of our leaders.

      It's amusing because the Tanakh portrays Koarch as bad but she portrays him as saying something positive about intra-religious equality.

      On another note, the underlying premise in the speech in question is that the director is saying that to oppose the Israeli state over human rights violations cannot be part of a discussion for the sake of heaven. This is incorrect as there were times when the prophets also opposed their governments over abuses.

    • Korach's argument was one of religious roles rather than nationalism. He claimed everyone could be a priest, not, like Open Hillel, that a nation state was questionable.

      Israeli secularism and Reform Judaism have far more to do with Korach than Open Hillel does. Israeli secularism and Reform Judaism teach that obedience to Moses' law is unneeded, for example it says that work is not banned on the Sabbath, although it may be discouraged.

  • 'NYT' reporter says Palestinians must make 'concessions... they have long avoided'
    • The NY Times is pushing this line in reaction to the Palestinians' joining the ICC that Palestinians can *now* being charged by the ICC"

      But the path forward may be slow and bumpy. International Criminal Court investigations take years, and the court’s involvement also opens Palestinians to war-crimes charges for, among other things, firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Shurat HaDin, an Israeli legal group, filed complaints with the Hague-based court on Monday against three Palestinian officials, including the prime minister and security chief, after earlier doing so against Mr. Abbas and Khaled Meshal of Hamas.
      ~From Rudoren's article

      Palestinians Set to Seek Redress in a World Court

      But the step could have major repercussions, not least because Palestinian officials could also be charged by the court. “It is the Palestinian Authority — which is in a unity government with Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization that, like ISIS, perpetrates war crimes — that needs to be concerned about the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement after the signing.

      Shurat HaDin, an Israeli legal group, has already filed war-crimes complaints at The Hague against Hamas. Mr. Abbas said Wednesday night that the Palestinian move meant that other Palestinian officials “will be able to be sued as well.” Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economy minister, said that Mr. Abbas, too, could find himself charged. He warned in a statement, “Someone who has terrorism smeared all over his head should not stand in the sun.”
      link to

      If the ICC wants to stay credible among people, including its cosmopolitan intellectual base, in the rest of the world the ICC would not focus on detaining Abbas or Palestinian officials, because people, particularly those intellectuals, in the rest of the world see the Israeli state as the aggressor and abuser. I understand that the argument could be made that Abbas or others were involved in terrorism at some point, but the rest of the world is looking at Israeli abuses as the main aggression. Besides that, if the ICC wanted to detain Palestinians, I don't see why they wouldn't have already just because their country wasn't a member. After all, I don't think Serbia needed to have joined the ICC for the ICC to charge Milosevic.

      I see the NY Times as needlessly trumpeting a claim that the beneficial step of joining the ICC would be inherently adverse. But this is mistaken, since the Palestinians, not the Israelis, see it as beneficial. So why would Rudoren and the NY Times want to portray joining the ICC as inherently threatening to Palestinians?

    • The "pro-Israeli" position is that the Palestinians must agree to Israeli demands that Palestinians mus have no army, and since Palestinians don't agree and Israelis have no compulsion to make peace, then negotiations are deadlocked.

      If Palestinians do accept Israeli demands, what is to say that the settler movement will stop and so will other abuses? The Israeli government and the international community has done such a good job blocking the settlers and protecting Palestinians' rights so far, that when Palestinians take the step of agreeing that the Israeli government can have total military control, block the refugees, and everything else, that there will be no question of stopping the settler movement and protecting Palestinian rights. Right?

      The "pro-Israeli"/Dennis Ross/Rudoren position is at best naive about Palestinians' rights. But they already downplay abuses of Palestinians and the NAKBA, so it's not surprising.

  • State Dep't threatens aid to Palestinians over ICC, but holds out no consequences for Israel's settlements
    • The question for Psaki and co should be , If you keep punishing the Palestinians and they eventually throw Israel the keys who will then annex the WB /EJ and refuse equal rights to non Jews in the so called Greater Israel , what will you at the state dept have to say. Will we get more of this double talk and quite honestly insulting hogwash.

      At this point, you are asking a rhetorical question.

    • You could be right: If this happens and the trappings of a false transition are stripped away, and a gussied-up occupation becomes once again a naked occupation, it may turn out to be the most useful thing Abbas has ever done.

      Such a development may stir the international pot just enough, and get enough more Israelis to think hard about the costs and consequences to their nation of continuing the occupation, to save the possibility of, in the words of the failed Security Council resolution, “two independent, democratic and prosperous states, Israel and a sovereign, contiguous and viable State of Palestine.”
      Maybe, but who in the "international community" would effectively play this role? Western Europeans? Maybe. Liberal non-Zionists in the US? Maybe. It looks like a weak hand, but still not a totally bad one. If Palestinians survive and resist long enough (and not necessarily violently), i think they will have freedom eventually.

  • Gun used to assassinate Rabin is featured in show-and-tell by Israel's chief archivist
  • Israeli settlers attack US consulate convoy in the West Bank (Updated)
  • Dershowitz named in lawsuit alleging abuse of underage sex slave
    • Cloak,
      Wow, you are right. We are now at 691 comments. This article just missed the MW list of most popular articles for the year.

    • Has this article comment section been hacked? I remember posting at least three comments here which have since vanished. The section page on Mondoweiss says this has 601 comments, which is far far more than any normal MW article, which would otherwise generate 50-150 comments.

    • That's the film.

    • Pixel, I did a quick google search of the URL you gave and didn't find any "Master Ken".

    • It has previously been reported that at varying times... former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, New Mexico’s ex-governor Bill Richardson and the former US treasury secretary Larry Summers had all been passengers on Epstein’s fleet of private jets.

      Read more: link to
      There are people
      I am not surprised about the Hollywood allegations, though. You can watch the Goonies' actor Corey Feldman's interview on how he was abused by people in Hollywood and how it is pervasive there. The movie X Men is an allegory about people "coming out."

    • Dershowitz was a writer for Penthouse and was captivated by a Japanese movie on rape that proposed that objective truth was impossible to find. See: Randy Roberts, "Heavy Justice: The Trial of Mike Tyson"

    • Speaking of abuse, what is the game "BDSM Israel", and why does it share its name with the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement?
      link to

      Why do they have a cross in the game if it's a taboo in their society, and what is the lady saying in it?
      link to

    • This is crazy. ส็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็(ಠ益ಠส็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็็

      Dershowitz helped negotiate the plea deal Epstein made with federal authorities that allowed him to serve 13 months of an 18-month state sentence and gave him immunity from prosecution on the more serious federal charges.

      link to

      In Epstein's case, federal prosecutors dropped their investigation into allegations made by roughly 35 young women. He served 13 months of an 18-month jail sentence.
      link to
      What's the likelihood Epstein shared at least 1 of the 35 girls with his associates as claimed?

      Dershowitz helped negotiate an agreement that provided immunity from federal prosecution in the Southern District of Florida not only to Epstein, but also to “any potential co-conspirators of Epstein.”
      Why would Dershowitz have an agreement to protect people who weren't his clients?

  • David Brooks says 'people from around the world' can serve in Israeli military
    • I think to join the IDF you either have to be an Israeli citizen or a Jewish foreigner. Weiss cited something saying you have to make Aliyah or be in the Mahal. And the Mahal requires the same thing, except that it includes non-Jewish Israelis. See the end of the Wiki article:
      link to

  • Fireworks in Ramallah, as Abbas signs treaty to join International Criminal Court
    • Hostage was complaining though that the Palestinians weren't going to the ICC or trying to seek UN membership. and he blamed that partly on people who supported a 1SS, if I recall correctly.

      So it would be nice for Hostage to take notice of this latest news item.

    • Hostage, are you there?

      I believe we had some discussions about the PA and the ICC.

  • Campus movement against Israel is largest since anti-Vietnam war movement, Cary Nelson says
  • Dissecting 'The Jewish Voices on Campus': a predictable but necessary endeavor
  • Meet the Falics: West Bank settlement funders, Netanyahu backers, and owners of Duty Free America
  • 'Peace Now' plays the Borscht Belt
    • It reflects the problems of someone from the liberal nationalistic position, like Beinart or others, who have liberal beliefs, accept the Israeli political system and its justifications and basic narrative viz a viz Palestinians, but oppose its militaristic brutality.

      That is, the author opposes putting negative measures like BDS on the Israeli system she likes to dissuade the system from its violations. But her position is difficult for her because the state acts brutally in its onslaught of Gaza's population, for example. And that makes it hard for her to oppose dissuasive measures.

      So her main point is that she wants to see some realistic way for the state to change its policies or to persuade the state to do so. But she does not come up with what she sees (or is) a strong effective response against BDS, because she sees Israeli policies as basically supporting BDS' arguments against the system. Her desire is for the state to recognize violations and reform itself, but that is made harder by the intense support that establishment institutions and its uncritical advocates give it.

      Her letter is basically a plea for the establishment institutions and state's intense supporters to change tack, recognize the seriousness of the violations, and make the state reform radically. However, for such a plea to be successful, her audience would have to radically change their own views to come to her own, and while that would be good, I think that it would take far more than a letter in Haaretz or what J Street has put out, unfortunately.

    • The opening of the article basically agrees with what BDS says in its criticisms of the occupation. Here is the ending of the article:
      Progressives notice [right wing pro-Israelis' attacks on liberal pro-israelis.]. Why take a nuanced, moderate stance, if you will still be smeared and attacked? Balancing Zionism and progressivism is hard enough without Jewish institutions declaring war on liberal Zionists. After years of right-wing gatekeeping within the Jewish community, we should not be surprised that progressives think the choice is BDS or Bibi.

      If Jews want to avoid future BDS victories, we have to offer an alternative plan for ending the occupation. We should do so on our own, Zionist terms, insisting on a two-state solution and a secure Israel. As an American Jew, I favor selective divestments aimed at the West Bank, investing in progressive elements in Israeli society, and political lobbying in Washington D.C. – but I am open to better ideas.

      Alternatively, you can write off progressive America, claim we are a bunch of anti-Semites who know nothing about the conflict, and demonize anyone who talks about the occupation. You can smear J Street and the New Israel Fund, and you can go to war with Jon Stewart, The New York Times, and the Presbyterians. Just don’t be surprised when the next union votes for BDS.

      Raphael Magarik is a graduate student in English and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

    • Looks like a good article. Too bad for the paywall blocking it, Citizen.

    • Page: 39
    • More from the interview on Peace Now and Friedman:

      CHOMSKY: Thomas Friedman, I should say, has by now revealed himself, in the Israeli press, as the astonishing racist and megalomaniac that he is.

      QUESTION: Which is why he won the Pulitzer prize?

      CHOMSKY: He won two Pulitzer prizes. He won for balanced and informed coverage. You may have noticed that it was announced on April Fools' Day, which was not by accident. For years the guy has been covering up for Israel, falsifying facts. When the Israeli press comes out with headlines saying "Arafat Calls for Negotiations, Peres Refuses," as they did in December of 1986, Tom Friedman will choose that occasion to write one of his many articles saying that Peace Now is losing credibility because there is no counterpart in the Arab World.

    • OK, now I get it.

    • Annie,
      I think APN is serious about the Friedman reference.
      APN has a Facebook page that begins:
      "Tom Friedman: "Israelis are right to suspect some boycotters of using this cause as a cover for anti-Semitism, given how Israel’s misdeeds are singled out. But that doesn’t mean that implanting 350,000 settlers in the West Bank and turning a blind eye to dozens of wildcat settlements — that even Israel deems “illegal” — is in Israel’s interest..."
      link to

      The problem with this quote is that Friedman admits the settlements are illegal, yet he wrongly assumes that some of those who especially focus on this crime and others must be motivated by racism, rather than by moral objections to those violations themselves."

    • Chomsky in 1988:

      QUESTION: Is there protest in Israel against the current policies?

      CHOMSKY: One good thing that has happened in Israel is that for the first time, a significant, authentic peace movement has developed. I don't mean Peace Now, which is largely there in order to convince American liberals that they should continue to support Israel. In part th[e newer peace movement] is around Yesh Gvul, which has been around for a couple of years. But there are a couple of new groups... I don't know what appeal they have in the population. Polls would indicate maybe 10% or 15%.

      link to

  • Chris Hedges is blackballed by Penn after likening ISIS to Israel
  • Report from Bethlehem: An American moment
    • Zionists could have had a secular and democratic but “culturally Jewish” Israel.
      I think such an outcome would be fine, but I question whether local Arabs living in it would have resisted even that. Imagine if Native Americans in part of the Midwest decided to make the regions that they make up a majority into a culturally Indian democratic state. I think that the local non-Native Americans might resist creating such a state, because they would not want to suddenly live as a minority in a new state dedicated to a different culture. A more feasible option would have been something like Lebanon, Canada, or other binational states.

      Nonetheless, I do think that what you are proposing would be more realistic and would get along better with its neighbors than what we have now.

  • Yes, Virginia, there is a liberal Zionist
    • So Annie and Mooser, are you coming down on my side of my mini-debate with Danaa and Keith?
      Or are we seeing a line-up of Danaa and Sean vs. W.Jones on this topic?

    • Danaa,

      My opinion is that the Tanakh is fundamentally universalist in its beginnings and in its prophecy, but I do understand that its religion was not practiced in an internationalist way for many centuries in its narrative.

      It was universalist when talking about its opening stages, eg. about Adam and Eve, Noah and his family, and others who preceded the Israelites. Noah was loyal to God and his children repopulated the earth. It was also universalist in prophecy, saying that Abraham would be the father of many nations and be blessed in him. That suggests that many nations of the earth, not just the Israelites, would have a special Abrahamic place of blessing. And it was Abraham to whom the promises of blessings were made.
      Israeli nationalists often focus on special promises to Abraham's children, however if you look at the promises together with the designation of "many nations", it suggests that the promises are not really just to one physical nation after all.

      I do admit also that others have looked at the promises along with the separation of Israelite society and reached conclusions like yours though. On the other hand, the underlying religious justification for discriminating against gentiles was that they did not believe in God. Were that to change and all nations did believe in Him, that premise would suggest that the nations should accordingly be treated differently.

      Nor were the gentiles always thought of badly. The pharaoh who was good to Joseph was seen highly. And Cyrus was even described in Messianic terms as he redeemed the Israelites from Babylon.

      So on one hand, the Israelites' practices were to sometimes compare gentiles to animals, but on the other, the prophecies had a universalist side.

    • 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?
    • Probably gays and Satanists are the ones who are frequently "hated", not really usually the others.

    • Proverbs 15;1 That's nice, Mooser. i think you are a real trooper for sticking with us for all this time. I often look forward to your humor.

      So often I notice that intense nationalists cannot enter discussions without writing harshly and causing bad reactions when they discuss this topic, even if your own point is just to try to get them to make reconciliation.

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