Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 5085 (since 2009-08-12 22:27:08)

yonah fredman

"i am a zionist who believes in a two state solution." This was my profile sentence for the last three years. Here is my update: The two state solution is striking in its simplicity and its legal basis on the 1947 partition resolution and UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967. A US president should certainly pursue this direction. But unelected to the US presidency, I am not so limited. Recent calls from various parts of the Israeli political spectrum to grant the right to vote (in Israeli elections) to West Bank Palestinians appeals to me. The trick is to turn this idea into a policy of the state. Granted this would not solve Gaza or the refugees, but it would be a giant step, if not a leap. Another addendum: Shlomo Sand is the last person I thought would "buck me up" in my Zionism, but he has. The attempt to dismantle Israel in the one state plans offered will not result in a solution, and I think that at some point the situation will clarify itself into forcing israel to turn itself into a nation of its citizens and to get Israel to withdraw from the West Bank. As Sand says things don't look good from here.

Showing comments 5085 - 5001

  • Oren's memoir reveals Israel's elite is hyper-sensitive to U.S. criticism
    • Moslem New York driver (paid by the Mossad) caused the accident.

    • Mooser- Two men who love the same woman are inextricably linked. the Palestinians love the land. Now the next temptation is to write "the Jews love the land", which is obviously untrue, because you're a Jew and you don't love the land. thus let me put it this way: it is easy to look at the key texts and see how a philosophy of judaism would have a special place in its heart for jerusalem. it is also easy to note that a large percentage of the world's jewish population lives in israel at this point in time. the combination of the two leads to hyperbole of "the jewish and Palestinian peoples are inextricably linked together forever." why hyperbole? forever is a long time. but i would say that many jews feel a keen connection at this point in time to jerusalem and the love of the palestinians for al quds and falestin are self evident.

  • Activists call on Oprah Winfrey to distance herself from Leviev over human rights abuses
    • why the reticence. I'm saying that it didn't happen. I'm saying that maybe 25 pamphlets were handed to Israeli soldiers, maybe and they were asked to distribute them, but not one gazan received such a pamphlet. but this statement: distributed pamphlets to the people of gaza with its inference of 10's of thousands of pamphlets. i'm saying it didn't happen.

  • In Gaza, the ultimate humiliation
    • The disturbing slogan on the sweatshirt says, "Wherever we want, which ever path (or means) that we choose". Your translation is a mistranslation.

  • Oren's criticism of US Jews earns his book five thumbs down: 'slinky,' 'self-aggrandizing,' 'twists reality'
    • Okay, MRW, for you: outside of Palestine, but to correct an anachronism: outside of Eretz Israel rather than outside of the state of Israel.

    • Elliot- Israel is not my birthplace, nor my birthright, but the displacement created by the tumult in Europe should not be minimized.
      Americans who have a distant relationship with their origins, roots, be they place, ethnicity or religion are certainly lucky in one way. There is only one direction: Forward.
      Not everyone was raised with the amnesia favored by America's founding fathers. Since I live in Brooklyn, where so many are more recent immigrants to America's shores, I am practically a Mayflower American (having arrived in the bodies of my grandparents in 1923, '25, 41 and 41) and thus my inclination towards roots is not against the grain of most of my Brooklyn neighbors. And when I think of roots, I think of those roots as tattered and uprooted by hate. And thus when confronted with where do I come from, the most recent past presents a rejection rather than a homecoming. Granted that replacing the killing forests on the edge of town that present no welcome with a land in the Middle East at constant war is not a dynamic that you endorse. But to casually mention ancient homelands in Europe without some historic context is to speak unwisely (without the relevant facts).

    • Krauss- Traditionally world Jewry outside of Israel was referred to as the Golus, or the Galut, meaning the exile. (True believers would not exempt Israel from the term, insofar as the world is unredeemed and the idea is that this lack of redemption stems from God or the world being in exile from its truer state.) I think the world view that separates Israel from world Jewry outside of Israel is certainly apt at this time of Jewish sovereignty in Israel and the resulting actions of militarism, conflict and occupation. In other words I get your point regarding home versus diaspora as being denigrating to nonIsraeli Jews, but differentiating the two groups requires some term and Diaspora or Golus are the two traditional terms for those outside of Israel. If you want to unseat these terms you'll have to offer some new word or be satisfied to be merely a critic.

  • 'A traumatized society is dangerous'
    • I seem to have omitted the main point that to a layman like me spells cult- belief in the imminent end of the world. this was a primary early Christian belief and in recent times cults with belief in the imminent end of the world have been the most irrational and the most dangerous both to adherents and to outsiders.

      I wonder what kind of combination of pressures and attempts to ease the trauma would be necessary to cajole the Jews into letting go of their security mindedness. I do not think that someone who rejects almost everything about Judaism and Jewishness can be the one to assure them that the trauma is over.

    • Avigail- Your defense of early Christianity, as if it were an improvement on Judaism, seems misplaced. It was a Messianic movement with a specific goal far beyond the change of emphasis that you feel was its basis. It moved a person into the prime position rather than law. And for some reason it turned that person into a godlike figure. That the universal aspects of Christianity were superior to the particularist aspects of Judaism is an acceptable concept, but that was not the only difference or even the primary difference between Judaism and Christianity. The major difference was that the Jews believed that the Messiah had not come and the Christians believed that he had come and that he had sacrificed his life and changed the nature of the relationship of God and man. To consider early Christians as an improvement over Judaism in terms of their belief in Jesus the man, dead and raised from the dead, sacrificed to forgive mankind's sins is to confront an extremely irrational form of belief. And let us not neglect the scapegoat aspect of developing an anti Christian community in the form of the Jews, who rejected and crucified the intended savior. Do not let your belief in the universalism of Christianity blind you to the cult like beliefs involved in early Christianity. Your keen ability to condemn Judaism throughout the ages, fails you in your glittering and false presentation of the greatness of early Christianity.

    • Avigail Abarbanel- You use the word cult, a negative term, quite freely. Would you care to define it. Is it a sociological term, a psychological term?

      I was raised modern orthodox (which in israel is generally termed national religious, dati leumi, and indeed there was a heavy emphasis on Zionism in the way I was raised.) I left the fold, so to speak, but remain in close contact with the fold. I am not on the planet, but I orbit the planet. I have an older brother who left modern orthodox and became haredi, ultra orthodox. My three younger sisters have all remained modern orthodox. In terms of using the word cult, i have often thought of my brother as a bit of a cult member, having exchanged the relative freedom of his upbringing for the stricter rules of the haredi community. I have never attempted to define the word cult, and so consulted mister google and came up with andy nasseli's six sociological characteristics of cults link to If it really interested me in fitting my brother into this specific pigeonhole I would delineate in what ways his religion is cultlike, whereas my sister's religion is not cultlike. But this is a term that I don't use often, and when I use it, I use it casually. Is your usage casual as well? Or are you serious with this term and therefore willing to guide me to the list of attributes that you consider as cult like and willing to tell us which groups fit into this definition other than Judaism/Jewishness?

    • Avigail, Thank you for clarifying your position. You seem much more compassionate towards those Jews who feel a need or an inclination for identity than you did in your previous statement.

      when I read your first and last names I react Jewishly: Avigail conjures thoughts of David: his machismo, womanizing and warmaking. Abravanel- I know as the Abarbanel, whose name I have to google to realize it is Don Isaac Abrabanel and the specifics of his career, birthplace and exile (?). The Abarbanel, where I come from, is mostly known for his commentary on the Bible and the famous joke: If you study the Abarbanel on the Pentateuch you will end up a heretic (apikoros), because all his questions are up front and his answers all come at the end, and therefore with the tendency to fall asleep while studying on Friday nights, one will only read the questions and not the answers, and end up questioning and leaving the fold. This joke is told with a wink. These Jewish associations to your name can be organized into a paranoid structure and there are those (too many) who teach Judaism in such a way. But I value these little facts and I mourn that so few are raised with the consciousness of reading the Bible and knowing who Avigail or the Abarbanel is and what it's like to study the Abarbanel on a Friday night. It is not as universal a value as compassion, but I value Jewish knowledge and I mourn its disappearance among vast landscapes of current Jewish ignorance. But I agree that compassion is the highest value and the first step.

    • Certainly as a Jew reflecting upon the Jewish WWII experience, I feel more in common with an Armenian reflecting upon the events of 1915 than I feel with the Russian reflecting on the Great War. Ukranians reflecting on the starvation imposed by Stalin are more similar to the Jewish WWII experience than the Russian experience of WWII. Russia is a nation of such wide boundaries that has suffered more in recent years from Communism, capitalism and backwardness, that WWII is indeed ancient history.
      In fact to the Jewish young, WWII would also be largely attributed to history, if not for the demands of support for Israel. Israel's constant conflict requires militarism to support its efforts and as such requires a rationale for its constant effort and the history lesson provides that rationale.
      134 years ago the primary Jewish population was in Eastern and Central Europe and scattered elsewhere. Today the primary Jewish population is in America and Israel. America with its amnesia regarding yesterday as its motto and Israel with its obsession with memory. To compare the experience of today's Jews trying to build a perspective on the past and compare it to the Russian experience is to compare vastly differing circumstances.

    • lysias- I am assuming that the survival of the Jews (as a group) and of their religion is a positive. There are many who believe that that survival is a negative. Abarbanel is one who believes that Jewish survival was/is a negative.

    • Kris- Here is the quote from Abarbanel: What is missing from my interview with Hazel is my view that Jewish culture is organised like a cult. The exclusivist, insular mentality based in a fearful, mistrustful, inward focused view of the world, self preoccupation and self centrelines and what I call a ‘specialness complex’, are all part and parcel of Jewish religion and by extension of Jewish identity. This predates Israel and the holocaust. - See more at: link to
      How have I misunderstood this quote? I have not. She is opposed to Jewish culture, the Jewish religion and Jewish identity.

    • Annie- The totality of the illustrations is my objection, particularly the last three cartoon/photographs (not including the keys). They add up to a visual presentations that is what i would term propaganda. Did you ever see the movie within the movie of Parallax View? that's what it reminded me of.

    • Avigail Abarbanel- You are opposed to Jews and Judaism. You aspire to a day that this cult is broken apart, so that the individuals can join the universalist religions of modernism or Christianity or Islam. You are not against individual Jews only against Jewish identity. If only there were a baptism fount that we could all march to, you would favor it, so that we could join the rest of humanity. In what way are you different from a 14th century Jewish convert to Christianity in Spain who seeks to convert the other Jews to his newfound belief?

    • The illustrations that accompany this post are propaganda.

  • 'Jewish cow' is udderly superior to all other cows in the world, Netanyahu says
  • When will justice's 'thunderbolt' come for Palestine?
    • michtom- We Jews should think of ourselves as having personally come out of slavery, as understanding that no one is free until everyone is free and that, as Jews, we have an obligation to work for that freedom. - See more at: link to

      I don't disagree with the sentiment expressed herein, but it is not part of the traditional Haggadah. It is fine and great to update the Haggadah. But don't expect that the new Haggadah written in the last hundred or so years has now become the accepted Haggadah by all.

  • We must break out of the paranoid survival myth
    • Lillian is certainly welcome to reject the concept of chosen people and it is certainly a troublesome concept. But it is in the Bible. For example Deuteronomy 4:37 "And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt."

  • Leading NY writer likens Edward Said to monster in a horror movie
    • Here is the wikipedia article which includes the controversies still surrounding Said's book.
      link to

    • I am sure that there are many here among you who have read "Orientalism" plus the critiques of it and have reached the conclusion that Said is totally accurate in his assessment of Orientalism and all those who criticized him were off base and biased conservatives. Maybe all progressives who have their priorities straight recognize immediately without any hesitation the righteousness of Said and the regression of the critics. Unfortunately I have only read excerpts from the book and from the critique by Bernard Lewis and thus do not consider myself an expert.

      Still I think comparing a book about academia and research done by westerners studying the Levant to W. E. B. Dubois's "The Souls of Black Folks", seems to be totally off base. It is as if any criticism of Said's book is prima facie racist and that seems to be totally blind to the controversies still surrounding Said's book.

  • Interview with a suicide bomber
    • Also one should note that this proposal was publicized only after the release of the UNSCOP report, a report that was compiled without the collaboration of the Arab Higher Committee. The boycott of the committee by the AHC gives some context to the general atmosphere of noncooperation and to omit the fact of that boycott is to report what occurred incompletely.

    • Let's be clear: As of 1942 the Biltmore Program of Zionism was one whose explicit goal was statehood. This was new as of that conference and one can mark Hannah Arendt's exception to Zionism with the statement of that goal. But the idea of unlimited Jewish immigration to the land was something that did not involve any novelty, that was the essence of Zionism moreso even (on a gut level and on a here-are-some-photographs level) than statehood. Any proposal that stopped immigration was a nonstarter. The goals of the Palestinians and the goals of the Zionists were at loggerheads. (By Zionists I mean the leadership in particular: Ben Gurion in particular. But I also mean the Zionist spirit of the times: as in unlimited immigration. That was a mainstream sentimental essential demand.)

    • Roha- Please link to the Palestinian offer that you cite (previous to Israel's establishment.)

  • When a police officer is actually a soldier
    • talknic- See this link: link to Dan Cohen's article was clearly propaganda. Provide an alternate description for that article and its photographs. He is allowed into Hamas territory and unless you feel that Hamas does not know about his presence in Gaza, he is Hamas approved.

      On what basis should I continue to communicate with you, when you make false accusations against me. I am not paid for the "service" I provide. If this assertion is insufficient for you, on what basis should I communicate with you?

    • Avi Mayer is wrong to make a distinction between police and soldiers in this instance certainly. And Dan Cohen is right to object to the distinction. In regards to the labels imposed by the arguers, in fact Avi Mayer is a practitioner of hasbara. And Dan Cohen is a “Hamas approved propagandist.”

    • "patrolling Israel's ever changing borders". Yes, we get the point. More accurate: "patrolling Israel's undeclared borders".

  • Oren pushed Random House to hurry his book so American Jews will 'intercede' to stop Iran deal and save millions of Jews
    • The goals that Oren has in mind: stopping the Iranian bomb and stopping the French UN Security Council Resolution are not irrational. (On the West Bank issue: The lack of a proposed Israeli policy by Oren beyond that of limiting construction to the settlement blocs is IMO shortsighted, but stopping the French initiative or shall we call it the Obama-French initiative is short term very rational.)

      I question the means that Oren is using to accomplish these goals: Firing up the Fox Republican Likud crowd. I don't think there is any purpose to trying to fire up the common Jewish voter on the issue of Iran. I think the votes in the Congress won't change one iota even if all Jews were to oppose the coming deal. And polls indicate that most American Jews support the coming Iran deal. The only ones who are potential advocates for Israel are in fact the Fox Republican crowd, because Iran is a major issue and a major accomplishment that Obama hopes to achieve and the 70% or so of American Jews who voted for Obama are against a war and thus in favor of the treaty.

      On the issue of the resolution in the UN, there it's an entirely different ballgame. On that issue there is only one vote: Obama's, no Congressional vote. If Obama backs the resolution, the Democratic party will be split: with the rank and file backing Obama and a majority of elected officials opposing Obama and with a minority of senators and congressmen backing Obama. (It will be interesting to see if the Democrats backing Obama will gather more than 20% of their congressmen to back Obama in that case.) Would a campaign against the UN resolution make a difference with Obama? No. Would a campaign to alert your Democratic congressman of the danger that Obama is posing to Israel with this resolution make the split between the elected Democrats and Obama so severe as to cause Obama to back down? Doubtful. But that happens to be the best hope for anti resolution supporters of Israel to try to stop the UN resolution. And for that they will need wide support from people just to the right of J Street types. And Oren is doing nothing to get those American Jews on his side and so whereas his goal is rational, the means for accomplishing that goal are being worsened by the obvious Republican Fox News bent of his rhetoric.

      My own opinion towards the French resolution: Resolution 242 has failed and it is natural if an organization takes itself seriously to try to remedy the failure of Resolution 242. Should the UN security council take itself seriously? In recent years (since the first Gulf war) it has not, but it might decide to do so now. Netanyahu is against change of any kind (unlike Sharon who was a doer, Netanyahu is primarily a sitter. ) and as such his credibility in opposing the UN resolution is weak, as in: just give us another 48 years and I assure you we will be close to an agreement. Do I think the UN will adopt the Geneva Initiative formula as its imposed peace plan? Or might the eventual UN plan be even worse for Israel than the Geneva Initiative? Because details of the UN plan would definitely cause pain and worry I prefer to observe the UN resolution rather than root for it.

  • 'Obama coffee' is black and weak -- racist tweet from wife of Israel's vice premier
    • ritzl- Indeed there is not much common between the two. But it is the most famous quote dealing with blackness and coffee and any learned discussion of a quote involving blackness and coffee should include the quote.

    • Malcolm X spoke about the reason for keeping whites out of the civil rights movement.

      “It's just like when you've got some coffee that's too black, which means it's too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won't even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.”

      The fact that this quote of Malcolm's exists, does this change the dynamic of the Suzan Mozes quote? Not really, because Malcolm is allowed to talk about color in a way that white people cannot.

  • State Dep't report on latest Gaza onslaught itemizes children's deaths for first time
    • Kris- There is nothing wrong with a policy against dual citizenship in the state department. There is something wrong with inferring that this is a real problem without any evidence.

    • To me it sounds like a senator from Wisconsin waving a piece of paper, "I have a list of 57 Zionists with dual citizenship working at the state department."

    • rensanceman writes, "I believe the State department is heavily represented by Zionist sympathizers and some with dual citizenships."
      - See more at: link to

      I would think that this is similar to internet rumors about bernie sanders which this web site eschewed. I assume that this rumor mongering passage got past the gatekeepers here by mistake.

  • Does Israel have a toxic personality? Ask Michael Oren
    • Shmuel- Let me answer you in my own way.

      First, I have to tell you, that when you finish off with that "if not now, when?" thing that you did, you really got my goat. I was a believer and follower of Torah til a very late age (23, 24) and pulling away from Torah at that age is actually really too late and I was arguing left and right with people who believed in Torah and who would finish their spiels with some variation of "if not now, when?" and the part of my brain that is stimulated by your "if not now, when?" spells trouble and not tranquility.

      How did I know for whom to vote in the US presidential race of 2004? I watched the debates and found myself rooting for Kerry, so I voted for Kerry. You see, not logic, but emotion. I am the opposite of a Vulcan.

      Great! Omar Barghouti is logically the best enemy I can hope for, is that what you're saying? well that says nothing to my emotions. I do not believe in giving my emotions carte blanche, but I do not override my emotions, when it comes to enmity and pretend that an enemy is a friend and hold hands and sing we shall overcome with someone for whom i feel enmity. maybe you vulcans have no such feelings or only have to press the override button and it's all taken care of but as for this minus vulcan here, it doesn't work that way. if barghouti is an enemy, he's an enemy and that effects me and effects my stance.

      on this post, not as bad as the passover antisemitic post, but on this post, phil weiss is an enemy and it is in this context that i responded to this post.

      when i read magnes i accept his logic, but my emotion is with beinart. and by the way, the wheel is in spin this summer: will the french offer a resolution in the UNSC and what will obama do? and that's assuming that the US will sign something with Iran before September. Beinart would tell obama to vote for the new UN security council resolution or wouldn't he? and compared to obama's choice your protests are at least at the moment a detail of history compared to obama's choice. so to us do-nothing observers of the situation, this is a summer to observe.

      I was born in a specific year with specific relatives who lost family in the Hitler catastrophe and the Zionist rebirth is all mixed up in that wound. I was raised by specific people who had a specific relationship to Torah. I arrived the first time in Israel in 72 and was in Israel during the Yom Kippur War, so i have been imbibing the daily news from israel and environs for over 40 years. I am to the left of everyone I grew up with. in order to deal with this dissonance I have turned myself into an observer rather than a doer.

      the drunk's prayer the serenity prayer goes, god grant me the courage to change the things I can and the serenity to accept the things I can't change and the wisdom to know the difference. to billy pilgrim (kurt vonnegut's slaughterhouse five) the past present and future were included in the things that he could not change.

      Politics is the art of the possible.

      you and other people were born with different personalities to different families to different realities and therefore your righteous positions fit into your personalities and saint peter will let you in to the pearly gates when that time comes and i'll be burning down below, or when the history is written the zionists will be viewed as a stumbling block on the road to a better world and the truth will be written that i was associated with an evil cause. this is not important to me. what is important to me is to be true to myself.

      And I wish I had the certitude, the time and the strength to sit in kikar tziyon with a sign that says, "Gideon Saar where are you?" Or "Do you believe in democracy?" that's what the activist yonah thirty years ago would have done, not join with bds but stand out there with a sign of my own in order to drink in the reaction of the masses. but i don't have the equanimity to play with such a public role and the role that you suggest that of holding hands with someone holding hands with omar barghouti causes me to pull away from the circle you propose and let go of the hand and stand aside and watch. and that's my stance.

    • bryan- Thank you for your comment. It is of course true that to view Jim Crow in isolation, as if it were not related to the violence of the 19th century, is to obscure the truth.

      Note the context here was this post by Phil Weiss using the toxicity of Bibi Netanyahu watching "Breaking Bad" to declare Israel toxic. As such this was not the place for rhetorical nuance and thus the context for the "nonviolent war" statement.

      I am agnostic vis a vis BDS. There is little question in my mind that when someone like Zeev Sternhell says that Israel will only change through outside pressure that I tend to agree with him. But when I hear Omar Barghouti speak I feel in my bones that he is my enemy and when I hear Peter Beinart speak I feel in my bones that I am on his side. So I respect my own reactions and thus guide my comments that they should be true to the emotions that I feel at any given moment.

      Others may have a more objective view of the morality of the situation including a view of those like myself. I personally do not feel that one can divorce one's politics from one's personality and my personality was formed by specific events and milieus and I am not in the business of denying myself to be who I am on the issue of Israel-Palestine.

      I don't know what the future holds and I don't know if I will be there in the future to really make any difference, but my vision of the future does include this: at some point in time dialogue will be necessary between those on the ground in Israel-Palestine and there will be a need for people like me who can talk to the side of the Zionists and the inability of some to dialogue with me is a sign that they will be useless at that moment. Until then they serve the purpose of putting pressure against Zionism. God bless them, as Zeev Sternhell says. But at some point it's going to take more than pressure against Zionism, it's going to require dialogue and the attitude of this (Walter White toxicity Bibi)= Israel post, plus some of the comments here is evidence that these people (or those of similar mindset that will come after them) will be useless when the time comes to parley and smoke the peace pipe. These are nonviolent warmakers, not dialoguers. they will be useless at that time.

    • Much thanks talknic- My hasbara keeper has a special thing about getting you to swear (he has this thing about you because of that marvelous eye icon you use to represent yourself) and each time I succeed in getting you to swear I get a $100 bonus (that's dollars and not shekels). if only you would have used an "u" instead of an asterisk I'd have gotten a $250 bonus, but i'm not greedy.

    • Donald- Your experience might teach us something, but I must emphasize: The southern united states was not subject to wars against Black countries, not subject to bombs in restaurants, not subject to wanton shelling from adjacent territories, was not subject to rhetoric of expulsion. Maybe the frame of mind can teach us something nonetheless, but ceding the west bank is certainly more dangerous than granting blacks the vote. Thus pressuring the south to let black kids into schools was one thing, pressuring Israel to ceding the West Bank (the very least that the BDS movement is advocating) is of a different category.

    • The BDS movement is a declaration of nonviolent war against Israel. It is a declaration that we must treat you as a pariah in order to change your behavior. When Israel reacts defensively, then it's PTSD or toxicity or watching too much "Breaking Bad" by a prime minister as the metaphor for Israel. It is another form of warfare to accompany the BDS warfare. It is not analysis. It is anti Hasbara, spin with a specific purpose.

      In fact holding onto the West Bank (specifically) for 48 years and to hold it in this particular way of a settler movement without giving the Palestinians the vote is in fact behavior that cannot be accepted, and the adjustment of most Israelis to accepting the occupation as normal, that is something that deserves analysis and I accept the world's reaction of nonviolent warfare. But this analysis of Israeli reactions to BDS is unenlightening. (euphemism)

  • Israeli leader turns on US Jewish journalists Friedman, Wieseltier, Remnick and Silvers for disloyalty and anti-semitism!
    • piotr- On the topic of the peace process: any serious peace process has been dead since Netanyahu took office in 2009. Olmert's efforts should not be denied. But he didn't have enough time. This was not only due to his corruption scandal, but also because his peace process was out ahead of the Israeli public. The Israeli public wants peace, but at a good price. and it's just not available at the price that most of the Israeli public is willing to pay. Add this to the vehemence, rhetoric and lack of doubt of the settler movement, there is just too much wishy-washy-ness about Israel's desire for peace and the leaders: Rabin, Barak and Olmert who have made efforts in that direction were way out ahead of the public and still were a distance away.

    • amigo- I'm glad you misunderstood me so that I could be reminded of your particularly brand of negativity towards me. Nonetheless you misunderstood me.

      I was not talking about the election of Netanyahu this year or even in 2013 or 2009, but rather his rise in the Likud party during the 90's. I assume he had more Israeli-ness to his resume than Michael Oren, but still I find his rise in the Likud party to be the leader in the aftermath of Shamir to be a historical anomaly and that term "leader", which this headline attaches to Michael Oren, would have to be someone with somewhat of a chance to rise in the party ranks in a way similar to Netanyahu's rise in the 90's, which I do not believe that he has. Telling me his appeal to the voters in 2015 is irrelevant to what I was discussing.

    • Allow me to start with a nitpick focused on mw:

      Is Michael Oren an Israeli leader? Is every member of the house or the senate an american leader? Oren was ambassador, he is an MK, but leadership means more than this, I think. I suppose when writing a headline it's easier to write leader rather than power holder.

      If Ari Shavit's primary audience was David Remnick, Michael Oren's primary audience is Sean Hannity (I don't watch Fox, so I might have picked the wrong name to focus upon.) I find the ability of an outsider like Bibi to take over Likud so completely to be amazing and an anomaly. Oren has his eyes set on higher office, but the Bibi phenomenon is not going to be repeated with him. He has no political draw in Israel, near zero and as such I don't consider him an Israeli leader.

      This is an attack on Obama and Obama is not very popular among Israel supporting Jews right now, slightly swelling the Fox part of the Jewish pie chart. Who has the patience to study the Iran pact that is about to be signed? For what, in order to prove to myself the virtue of the claim that it's dangerous for Israel? But no matter, I do not have the patience to study the issue in depth and I find it just easier to assume that it will indeed put Iran in the position of a threshold state in 15 years or so and that's okay with Obama and I understand that people who support Israel more than just nominally, might be a bit uncomfortable with the coming treaty.

      There is another Obama issue: Will he sign on to the French UNSC resolution this fall. (Assuming that Iran is behind him and this would not confuse the Iran issue in any way.) If he signs onto it, Oren's claim is that Obama wanted this outcome of his time in office, he wanted a new resolution because the peace process was busted. Oren doesn't use those terms, but that's what he's saying. And indeed if Obama signs onto the SC resolution, the right wing Zionists will argue that it was Obama's original intent to end up with such an outcome.

      I think Obama has been a weak president and I think his policy starting with the Cairo speech showed an unrealistic bent. The Arab Spring resulted more as a ripple effect of the downturn in the economy and the havoc created as an offshoot of the collapse of Iraq after the defeat of Saddam Hussein. It didn't result from Obama's Cairo speech. But as positive as those students in Cairo felt towards Obama, he did not deliver for them. A speech is but a speech and Cairo is under the boot of Sisi with Muslim Brotherhood banned and what precisely about that outcome today in 2015 sheds a complimentary light on Obama's policy: Nothing. Obama is feckless regarding the middle east.

      The peace process was in fact busted when he came in and it wasn't Obama who busted it. It was Bibi or maybe more precisely those who elected Bibi. The opportunity created by Ariel Sharon for a peacemaking effort to come from his wing of the Likud lasted only a few months after his collapse into a coma, as in it was able to win only one election without Sharon as its leader, as an echo of Sharon. Bibi was there to put an end to that. That's why he was elected and even those who might have been optimistic that Bibi sees exactly what Olmert sees, it turns out not to be true or even if Bibi also sees it, he's willing to ignore it, just to keep the status quo going a little bit longer. So I don't blame Obama for the bust of the peace process and I really don't blame him for the turmoil in the middle east, but i certainly consider him feckless.

  • Jewish community must 'welcome' anti-Zionist, pro-BDS Jews, Beinart says-- but Shavit says, Excommunicate them
    • MHughes- Permit me to just relate to a sentence of yours rather than the essence of your comments. the suggestion that King should have said, "Jew and Palestinian" rather than "Jews and Gentiles" is anachronistic, for the Palestinians were not widely known as such (and it's not quite clear that most of them knew themselves as such). but that's semantics. there's no question that King was seeking a New testament ring with his Jews and gentiles and saying "Jews and Arabs" would have lacked that Pauline ring.

    • Phil- A number of reactions to your comment, even though they are not linear, I hope they move the conversation forward.

      I watched a video clip of some Israeli panel show where Yeshaya Leibowitz posed the question of whether the Jews had evolved out of something called a nation into something else. (I think he was referring particularly to those Jews who did not speak Hebrew or Yiddish as their first language, that is Jews of the Diaspora.)

      And then there's the famous Groucho Marx line:
      When one club offered to waive its no-Jews rule for Groucho, provided he abstained from using the swimming pool, he remarked, "My daughter's only half Jewish, can she wade in up to her knees?"

      Thus the Jews are evolving and the Pew survey shows that those devoted to Jewish belief (rather than in the generally accepted beliefs in goodness and working for a better world) are barely 20% of the population and as such the other 80% will continue to evolve towards assimilation and "disappearance".

      The identity of Jews with the Lower East Side and the immigrant experience has shriveled to nearly nothing over the last 40 years. How many Jews wax nostalgic when they see Mandy Patinkin in the Jewish subplot from "Ragtime". To younger Jews the Holocaust too will fade as an organizing principle.

      I don't think Zionism is akin to MLK's philosophy, but I do think it has many parallels to Malcolm X's philosophy. The name changes of the black Muslims is paralleled by the name changes of Zionism. But my point is this quote from the eulogy by Ossie Davis: "Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood!" And in the aftermath of the helplessness and catastrophe of the Hitler destruction, to many Jews (I'm thinking of Saul Bellow link to Israel was their manhood. But as time goes on and the yoke of the goyim becomes a memory of ancient history, we see Israel not as an expression of manhood, but more like a grown man acting like an adolescent. The machismo that we tolerate from a fifteen year old male as a necessary part of growing into adulthood, we consider to be stunted in a thirty year old. (Although we still celebrate such machismo in the movies, this is more a question of art as wish fulfillment rather than an evolved attitude towards adulthood.)

      And as the number of those who have the Holocaust at the center of their Jewish identity will drop, so will the number of those who have "caring for Israel" at the center of their Jewish identity, because there is no longer a need to react to the humiliation of the destruction, when it is past tense rather than present in our blood cells*.

      ( * blood cells. I was reading the letters of Norman Mailer and in his correspondence with Jack Henry Abbot (I suppose philosemitism is not a prominent attitude in the prisons), defended Israel with a statement: "You don’t know the profound and fundamental stunting of existence that got into the blood cells of every Jew after Hitler had done his work.") link to

    • Keith- Among Orthodox Jews the study of all holy Jewish subjects is called Torah.

    • Further Tony Greenstein- Gershom Sholem did not detest her for her universalism. He did not detest her period. Neither did he detest universalism. His protectiveness towards the Judenrat's reputations on the basis of "love of Israel" does not really qualify as a rejection of universalism. Unless you have some quotes that would back up "Gershom Sholem detested her for her universalism" you are really off base with this assertion.

    • Tony Greenstein- Regarding Hannah Arendt. She definitely opposed Ben Gurion Zionism and the 1942 (?) Biltmore program. But your referencing her deserves to be balanced by this quote of hers. After she started getting pilloried by the mainstream Jewish community after the Eichmann articles, she was offered a type of protection by the anti Zionist American Council for Judaism. She rejected their offer with the following: "“You know that I was a Zionist and that my reason for breaking with the Zionist organization was very different from the anti-Zionist stand of the Council: I am not against Israel on principle, I am against certain important Israeli policies. I know, or believe I know, that should catastrophe overtake this Jewish state, for whatever reasons (even reasons of their own foolishness) this would be the perhaps final catastrophe for the whole Jewish people, no matter what opinions every one of us might hold at the moment.”

      The quote is from 50 years ago, and who knows what a 120 year old Arendt would tell us if she were still alive, but her tone of catastrophe at the prospect of Israel's disappearance is certainly not harmonious with your own attitude.

    • jon s. - Off topic, too lazy to find your question. You asked why I called Daniel Pearl a shahid. The word means martyr. and Pearl was a martyr, as in killed because he was witness to the Jewish faith. (shahid comes from the same word, i believe as sahaduta, which is aramaic for witness.) It was an affectation I was using to praise Pearl and his sacrifice of his life.

    • You are right that caring about Israel can mean more than one thing. I believe that Magnes Zionist cares about Israel. I believe Phil cares about America and the Palestinians. If the region lucks into letting the Jews stay, fine, but otherwise I think Phil feels it would be justice for most of the Jews to leave Palestine back the way it was before the Zionist invasion. Let them move elsewhere and let the Jewish languages disappear. Phil is fine with that.

      Yes, for sure the numbers are not what one would think if one listens to Abe Foxman.

    • The key to Shavit's philosophy or outlook is concern for Jewish continuity. Childless intermarried Jews with Christmas trees count as Jews to me, if we need to make a minyan to daven, I'd count you Phil. (Although I'd have to wince at counting you when I think of that Passover post that makes me gag and rebel.) But to survival continuity oriented Jewishness, you'll be gone after this generation and therefore you don't count.

      But 43% of American Jews view support for Israel as essential to one's Jewishness and you seem to be calling them crazy.

      As Richard Dawson used to say, "Survey says..."

      Let's go to THE survey. Pew poll of 2013.

      Let's try to keep the discussion moving forward, not reverting to sloppy habits of barbershop conversation, but instead attempt to define our terms. Let's define something and then continue the discussion from point A and then to point B and so on.

      For example on the issue of who is a Jew I would refer to the Pew poll immediately after citing the Halacha.

      And also to our discussion here which is regarding what is essential to being Jewish.

      link to Pew poll: link to

      On page 55 of the Pew poll pdf, the following alternatives were offered to those polled as to what is essential to being Jewish and the percentages are those that considered the alternatives as essential.

      Remembering the Holocaust 73 76 60
      Leading an ethical and moral life 69 73 55
      Working for justice/equality 56 60 46
      Being intellectually curious 49 51 42
      Caring about Israel 43 49 23
      Having good sense of humor 42 43 40
      Being part of a Jewish community 28 33 10
      Observing Jewish law 19 23 7
      Eating traditional Jewish foods 14 16 9

      (The three numbers are those who thought it essential among all Jews and then dividing the responses between those who consider themselves Jewish as a religion and those who consider themselves Jewish, but of no religion.)
      Some of the alternatives seem to ridicule the effort. Eating traditional Jewish foods is essential to being Jewish? (matzo, i can understand, but knishes, not really. ) It kind of mocks the whole enterprise of trying to determine the essential. But nonetheless. Lets look at some of the numbers.

      Remembering the Holocaust scores real big, whereas observing Jewish law is under 20%.

      The be a good person and build a better world score 69% and 56%.

      But now let's return to the issue at hand. Support for Israel is essential to 43% of those questioned. Are you, Phil Weiss, saying that those 43% are crazy? In essence you are.

  • Video: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs ridicules foreign press in cartoon defending Gaza attack
  • After a hard week in the news, Israeli gets valentines all weekend from NPR
    • a blah chick- Here is a link to an exchange of letters between Keret and Kashua. I believe your summary of Keret's stance with its implications of disdain for Kashua's reactions to be totally off base. You owe your fellow mondoweiss readers an apology for being misleading, unless you can come up with some link that casts his reputation in the shadow that you were shining upon him.

      link to

  • The 'Forward''s apprehension about sending a reporter to Gaza -- a further response
    • Well, color me embarrassed. I'm sorry. Don't trust what I say about certain topics where my knowledge is only as deep as the headlines. I saw the movie with Angelina Jolie and I thought that if such a serious accusation had been made by credible people it would have reached the headlines, but apparently not. There are journalists who are spies. This I knew. I really am unwilling to spend seven minutes to see who this group is and if this is widely believed or what. I was speaking out of ignorance.

      I should have limited myself to the ridiculousness of Dan Cohen's posture given his status as a Hamas equivalent of Jodi Rudoren. Dan Cohen: Hamas:: Jodi Rudoren: IDF. So don't tell us Dan Cohen who should worry and who shouldn't worry, when you are protected by the slant of your reporting.

    • Did those who murdered the shahid Daniel Pearl ever say that he was a spy? No. But those who believe any conspiracy that gets tossed around in the suq are willing to posit that it's a good probability. Rumors and probabilities are the stuff that some people thrive on. A pity that a good mind believes or propagates such stuff. But that's a reflection on certain people and not on Daniel Pearl.

  • Munayyer-Beinart debate revealed toothless sentimentalism of liberal Zionism
    • I don't have the inclination to find the definition of bizarre at this moment and it's not that important, but here we go

      very strange or unusual, especially so as to cause interest or amusement.
      "her bizarre dresses and outrageous hairdos"
      synonyms: strange, peculiar, odd, funny, curious, outlandish, outré, abnormal, eccentric, unconventional, unusual, unorthodox, queer, extraordinary;

      bizarre to me means out of left field, totally unexpected, this is not bizarre. it is totally expected. the use of the word says more about the writer than it does about beinart. the use of the word bizarre is bizarre.

    • Beinart’s preoccupation with the distinction between the settlements and Israel proper is bizarre. - See more at: link to
      Bizarre is certainly the wrong word here, you seem to mean logically inconsistent. There is certainly nothing bizarre about it.

  • Untold Stories: First-ever US Nakba Museum opens in Washington DC
    • Ellen- "which is robbing a people of its history and identity." - See more at: link to

      which people is that? The Palestinians? The American Jews? The Americans? The blacks? Or all of the above?

  • 'You have dual citizenship with Israel' -- NPR host hits Sanders with internet canard
    • Suppose she had said, "I understand that you're black." Back in 1977 and I assume today, you could get sued for asserting someone as black (in the USA). Of course a question of dual citizenship gets to the essence of citizenship, whereas the racist history of the United States is a blemish near the soul of America but no longer truly relevant to the concept of citizenship.

      What if she said, I understand you're homosexual. well that's private and citizenship is a very public matter. but nonetheless "not that there's anything wrong with that", this is a sensitive topic as well.

      Thousands of Jews spent a few months on kibbutz. When they run for president it would be not wrong to ask them, did you take out citizenship while you were there? To assume something on the internet as fact shows that Diane Rehm should retire. She's old and over the hill and this was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

    • MRW- Nothing wrong with bringing it up. Something wrong or inefficient presenting it as a fact. Sloppy journalism or malicious journalism. I don't blame Rehm. Someone on her staff's head should roll. And what about that list of all those who are dual citizens that she asked about? Who else is on the list? This was malicious sloppy mierde.

  • Schumer says Jewish and American interests on Iran deal differ but he has 'to do what's right for U.S.'
  • Response to Dan Cohen's Gaza article from a 'Forward' editor
    • James:

      Okay. I'll retract "ridiculous".

      But here's my take away.

      Look at me taking pictures of a Palestinian with a submachine gun. I'm safe. And you'll be safe too. And if you think you won't be safe, you must be a racist. (i'd call it juvenile rather than ridiculous.)

      It's preaching to the choir. It's self satisfied, let me use the Forward as a foil and call them racists. Not nearly an attempt to communicate. Certainly not useful.

      Communication with Zionists is really frowned upon here at mw, or haven't you noticed? This is in keeping with mw's tendency to scoff at Zionists and call them racists. Never communication. Always scorn.

    • The original piece by Dan Cohen was ridiculous and reflected the preaching to the choir prevalent here at mw. now it is a topic for whataboutery by the denizens and moderators of this web site.

      but back to the fact: the original post by dan cohen was ridiculous.

  • Israel can handle any threat in the Middle East, but it will go down without young American Jews -- Shavit
    • I would be interested in a debate or a dialogue between Peter Beinart and Ari Shavit to suss out their differences. From what I read I think beinart would favor a US non-veto on a new UNSC resolution and Shavit would oppose such a resolution. (On Iran their differences are more marked, Shavit is still trying to get Obama to put the brakes on the Iran deal and Beinart considers that a fait accompli.)

    • Kris- A jew is someone born to a Jewish mother. (If someone is born of a Jewish father and considers him/herself Jewish, I personally would be split on the issue, realizing that the Orthodox Jews that I come from will not accept that person as Jewish, but realizing that identity in 2015 is not determined by standards of the Talmud or Jewish law, but is a bit more complicated than that.)

      If a person is born Jewish but accepts Jesus as the son of God, or accepts Jesus as the Messiah or accepts the New Testament as replacing the Torah, or accepts the Koran as replacing the Torah as the ultimate word of God, by their beliefs they have removed themselves from the category of Jewish, until such time that they discard those beliefs. Once they discard those beliefs they are again Jewish and do not require conversion. If a child is born from a mother who is Jewish by birth but Christian in belief, if that child does not accept the mother's beliefs then the child is Jewish.

      If someone converts to Judaism, I am split. If they are converted by an Orthodox rabbi I accept their conversion. If they are converted by a Reform rabbi, I will be split, realizing that the community that I come from will not accept them as Jewish, but again accepting the idea that identity in 2015 is not as cut and dried as Jewish law and some recognition of a person's self definition must be included into the considerations of a person's identity.

      The self absorption was merely in the term "so-called" that HRE placed before Jews. Because HRE feels that supporters of Israel are immoral he feels that they can no longer call themselves Jews. This is a creation in his own mind. He is absorbed by his own mind.

      (As far as I can tell Meyer Lansky was an immoral person, but he was Jewish and did not forfeit his Jewishness as a result of his immorality. I feel that Zionism is not immoral, but those like HRE who consider it immoral should grant Zionists the same status as Meyer Lansky.)

    • HRE- Again with the "so called Jews". This rhetoric displays a self absorption that will make you fit right in here at mw.

    • Balfour- Shavit is referring to the destruction of the 2nd temple which is blamed on the zealotry of those who figured on defeating Rome.

  • Is BDS practicing a double standard with respect to Arab countries?
    • Actually Annie I was predicting in this hypothetical future that the living standard will plummet for everybody, Jew and Arab together due to the dysfunction of the two Palestinian parties Hamas and Fatah, both of which couldn't run a government to save their lives. if they put a Salem Fayad in charge he could, there are talented individuals, but in order to run an economy you have to have democracy and transparency and are you expecting democracy and transparency from Fatah and Hamas?! Don't make me laugh. They will run Isratine straight into the dirt. These people would make Netanyahu look competent. In south africa's case the collapse of the life expectancy is due to the plague of Aids, but the collapse of the economy that i am predicting for this alternate history is due to the weakness (allergy to democracy and transparency) of the two Palestinian parties. The incremental changes that you're talking about would not make much of a difference. i'm not talking about the emigration of a few percent. I'm talking about 10 to 20%, because the economy will tank, not reapportion the privileges, genius, but the economy will tank, because these guys from Fatah and Hamas are the three stooges when it comes to politics. and if you knew anything about politics (you know the facts when Israel is wrong, but if you knew anything about Palestinian politics), you'd admit that it won't be Barghouti or Abunima or their ilk in charge it will be people like Dahlan and Abbas who know nepotism and not much else and they will run the machine into the dirt.

      But as Steve Forbert used to say, "it isn't going to be that way."

      I don't know how it will play out, I don't see things continuing the way they are, but you folks who discovered the Middle East on 9/11 are amateurs at analyzing this and your predictions are amateurish. and anyone with any sense would know that this thin slice of society that you are focused on : barghouti and abunimah, are not going to be the ones in charge. just like you couldn't make heads or tails out of morsi and the brotherhood, out of assad and his weakness, you don't really know squat about palestine politics or anything about the middle east, except to point out how the west and Israel are wrong. The dysfunction of the Arab political currents, you know nothing about.

      Bibi is leading the players: Palestinians and israelis into a cul de sac, a dead end, a blind alley and something will happen, but not what you imagine. and certainly it won't have abunimah and omar barghouti in charge. and the sooner that you admit that you are a novice at the prediction game the better. stick to the morality issue. Israel's policy is wrong. on that you're right. but your predictions about what's going to happen, you're just like a fifteen year old.

    • Annie Robbins- Regarding the PLO charter. If you think there was no inference regarding expulsion I will remind you of the real gun in Arafat's holster and the illusion of an olive branch in his hand when he spoke to the UN in 74. If you think the PLO charter was a peaceful kumbaya document, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that's looking for a new owner. Interested?

      Regarding one state, my own personal view is that the vision of Omar Barghouti and Ali Abunimah will not come true in the next 30 years and if it were to come true it would be awfully bloody and it would be the death of hundreds of thousands that would make Jews flee. It would have nothing to do with Jews leaving because they can't stand equality. You swallow the one state nonsense of your heroes and tell us that it tastes like cotton candy. their nonsense is nonsense. ask the other barghouti marwan barghouti and he'll tell you that the one state solution is a mess waiting to happen.

      But aside from the bloody mess of the one state solution that your heroes endorse ("friend of this website" is how i think you referred to Omar Barghouti), if somehow God's angels were in charge and not a drop of blood was spilled, the living standard would plummet as fast as the life expectancy has plummeted in South Africa since the end of apartheid. A lower living standard would cause people to leave. So there you have it: blood will cause Jewish people to leave or even best case scenario: lower living standard would cause Jewish people to leave. That nonsense of your heroes: the Jews would leave because they wouldn't be able to tolerate equality is just some more of their malicious lies which you swallow and then regurgitate as truth.

    • Article 6: The Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion will be considered Palestinians.

      This is the article to which I was referring. In fact there is no statement of compulsory expulsion, but it is implied. Also "the Zionist invasion" although sometimes interpreted as beginning in 1917 with the capture of Jerusalem by Allenby of the Brits (with the mandate heading down the avenue), could very well also include Jews with Zionist intentions who arrived far earlier than 1917. (David Ben Gurion nee Grun, arrived in 1906 and was expelled by the Turks when WWI began.)

      Referring to the desire of the PLO to kick out the Zionist invaders is only odious to those who value peace. The factual (rather than merely a stated desire) expulsion of the Palestinians is seen as odious by Palestinians (and who can blame them?)

    • Annie- Correct, the BDS movement is not interested in exiling the Jews, and my statement was confusing. I merely wished to say, that the broad outline of a one state solution has existed in the PLO charter since 1965. (that charter included the odious expulsion that I cited. BDS leaders expect many Jews to leave, but expulsion, as policy rather than as a predictable effect, is not part of the BDS program.)

    • oldgeezer- there was no exile from the land of israel. there was definitely an exile from Jerusalem, a rule from the new owners of Jerusalem that kicked Jews out and then allowed them back only on sufferance.

    • Elliot- Please.
      The one state solution (including the exile of all Jews who moved to Palestine after 1917, but nonetheless a one state solution) was the position of the PLO from 1965 until 1988. It is not BDS that invented this idea.

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