Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 5474 (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 5474 - 5401

  • Nobody cares that Bernie Sanders is Jewish
    • lysias- when Jews converted for the specific purpose of gaining entrance into Christian society, one can certainly question their Jewishness and leave it open to question. I believe Heine wrote admiringly/sympathetically about the people of his roots whereas Marx wrote disparagingly. Heine, I believe, clearly saw his conversion as merely a ticket to enter society and did not believe in either Judaism or Christianity per se. I never heard that Mendelssohn converted out of conviction but merely to gain entrance into society. sometimes people on here claim that there is no Jewishness outside of religion and to them obviously once you convert you stop being Jewish. Obviously to Hitler conversion did not change a person from a Jew into a nonJew.

      Oh, yes. and Jesus. never converted and in fact considered himself the continuity (and possibly the culmination) of Judaism. He never considered himself anything other than a Jew.

    • When Shmuel who i respect uses the word paranoid, I object. particularly because as someone who writes about Judaism I feel that he has an opportunity to communicate with Jews who disagree with him. Phil has written antisemitic drivel at least on one occasion and uses the word paranoid from time to time. I respect Phil's general integrity, but i have learnt not to worry about Phil's use of the English language.

  • Maya Angelou stood with Palestinians, but Israeli military uses her for Black History Month hasbara
    • annie robbins- The Jews did not arrive in palestine at a whim or because some rabbi read a verse and they decided to move. neither did they discover oil in palestine and say, hey we can make a lot of money if we colonize that joint. they moved there out of a very solid need. and a jewish army is one of the first expressions of this need.

      you want history to begin in 1948. it doesn't. neither is it stuck in 1945. I get it. i do not pray to the cannon. but neither do i deny the history that led to the creation of Israel.

    • To most people here the IDF stands for the occupying army, but to me the IDF also stands for Jews taking a stand in the history of the world and saying, "no more powerlessness." Thus relating to the need for the IDF and its lack in the years immediately prior to the birth of the IDF.

      The use of the Maya Angelou quote needs the corrective of Maya Angelou's stance on the Palestine versus Israel issue.

      Palestinians are courageous and Zionists are occupiers adds Adam Horowitz.

  • 'New York Times' picks up Bernie Sanders's 'socialist' kibbutz but leaves out the ethnic cleansing
    • The axioms are as follows: 1. Survival is a valid goal. 2. Jews were doomed to be slaughtered in Europe, so all actions that were mass movements to move Jews out of Europe were inherently survival oriented. 3. One such movement was the Zionist movement. 4. The Palestinian Arabs were opposed to Zionism.
      5. Strengthening the Jewish settlements in Palestine were a promotion of Zionism. In a way that opening a candy store in Tel Aviv did not strengthen Zionism, the setting up of nonurban communities throughout the land strengthened the Zionist movement.

      The limited moral failing of evicting longtime tenants after a purchase from absentee owners is acceptable for the goal of survival. the nakba with guns and killing after the danger of Hitler was gone is a different story both because of the historical moment that had already passed and the type of eviction involved.

    • To clarify: When I read the headline I was sure that Bernie Sanders' kibbutz would be like some other kibbutzim established on land of people who were exiled (expelled or fled) during the nakba period. (47-49). That fits my definition of ethnic cleansing (and also as far as I can tell the UN's definition as well). Instead I read that the removal of Palestinians was of tainted morality but not ethnic cleansing of the warfare of the nakba. Thus the use of this term to me reads as propaganda. To those who are of the choir and agree with the propaganda the term fits. i think the use of this term fits in with propaganda rather than history.

      The history of the pre nakba Zionists is full of flawed wishes and deeds which are justifiable (in my view) based upon the Jewish desire to survive rather than die in Europe. Whereas the nakba having occurred in the aftermath of WWII has no external basis for it, the attempt to settle the land before WWII, so as to strengthen the size and strength of the Jewish community in Palestine was justified by the history of what occurred to those left in Europe. I accept those who reject Ari Shavit's justification for the exile of Lydda, for that occurred after WWII was over. But in the case of Sha'ar Ha'amakim: The Zionist Jews sought to help the survival of the Jews through building a community in Palestine. The tainted morality of purchasing from absentee landlords is far from perfect, but in the 1930's the urge to survive suffices for me to justify the building of this kibbutz at that point in history.

    • Here's one definition of ethnic cleansing:
      Ethnic cleansing is the systematic forced removal of ethnic or religious groups from a given territory by a more powerful ethnic group, with the intent of making it ethnically homogeneous.[1] The forces applied may be various forms of forced migration (deportation, population transfer), intimidation, as well as mass murder and rape.

      if you agree with this definition,
      To use the phrase ethnic cleansing to describe a legal purchase of land and a legal eviction of tenants is a misuse of the term.
      Journalists of what sort would use this term in this context?

  • Bernie Sanders' spirituality is resonating with young religious 'None's
    • In his comment under the post Phil writes: My wife doesnt care if Protestantism comes to an end, assuming better norms emerge.

      - See more at: link to

      On what basis is this assumption: that better norms will emerge. None. wisp of the wind optimism. What in the history of mankind shows this belief in the linear improvement of mankind as a result of the loss of religious beliefs. It's not as if Voltaire (rationalism, "erase the infamy" and Nietzsche "God is dead") are recent. They are in fact hundreds of years old and the results are mixed. Religion as an organizing principle may be abandoned, but what has replaced it is individualism, (read: atomization, everyone against everyone, instead of the all for one and one for all of Bernie Sanders), social darwinism, (as exemplified by Trump) survival of the fittest and not giving a shit. to pretend that there is a straight line between answering "none" to a poll on religions and the improvement of society is nothing but optimism based on nothing.

      Who knows where the future inspirations that will aid mankind will come from? They may come from atheists, but then again they may come from those who value ancient traditions and texts. If you truly feel that society is getting better, and that the crumbling of religion is the key to this improvement, then I think you ought to open your eyes. From what I see the progress of mankind is a haphazard zig zag unpredictable process of starts and stops and to suggest that the key is the dissolution of faith communities or the dissolution of identity with traditional values or traditional communities is pie in the sky nonsense. I do not endorse religion as the cure to our problems. But lackadaisical endorsement of the disappearance of organized religion is an unproven path for a diverse society such as this world and the United States. Let a thousand flowers bloom: let a thousand experiments in belief and tradition and disbelief and innovation take place and maybe through sheer diversity some help may come to us through the richness of the human experience. Advocating the dissolution of faith communities is praying for the impoverishment of the human spirit. Yes, rationality is the most important feature that we need to face the future. But rationality alone does not begin to describe the human condition and this prescription of amnesia is possibly a way of signing over our future to the corporations and the consumer materialism that is the source of much of our sad state of affairs. True i do not have a prescription for our human condition, but this advocacy of "none" seems to me to be myopic in the extreme.

  • Define 'establishment candidate': Rubio and Clinton both love Netanyahu
    • Avraham Stern was the leader of the Lehi until his violent death by British guns in 1942. Shamir became a leader of Lehi in 1943.

  • Generational sea change within the Democratic party will also include policy towards Israel
    • annie robbins- I treat Shmuel as if he were a beis midrash Litvak opponent. Beis medrash- house of study or study hall. Litvak- the equivalent of Vulcans- all cerebral no heart. In the beis medrash, one shouts (in order to be heard over the din of the crowd) and in order to give free rein to one's opinions. Maybe I shouldn't treat him as if he were invulnerable to name calling and insults, and if so, I apologize for hurting his feelings. I betcha he's gotten over it already. if not i ask for his indulgence.

      I am impressed by the intellect of quite a few of the commentators on this web site, including some who I consider blatantly antisemitic. I do not consider Shmuel antisemitic and I consider him to be of quite an intellect. When he backs a position that i disagree with I quite often give it at least a couple seconds or minutes of added thought. His use of toxic language does not increase my respect for his opinion and just adds to the din of the rabble.

      I think a keen assessment of the dangers to the Jews and to Zionism is important to all Jewish intellectuals and thinkers. I think exaggerating dangers is foolhardy and dangerous as well. i think the toxic term paranoid is not helpful.

      Too many times I have encountered those who advocate alliances with Jew haters as helpful to the anti Zionist movement who at the same time wish to use the phrase paranoid to describe the Jews or israel. Give me a break. I feel that combining the palling around with Jew haters and the use of the term paranoid to be particularly obnoxious.

    • annie robbins- Shmuel is someone whom I respect and thus I object to his use of that toxic word. Shmuel has the potential to communicate with those who disagree with him and thus I feel his use of this type of rhetoric is beneath him, for the purposes of talking to someone other than the choir.

      I have never had any feeling that you value communication with those who disagree with you. Use whatever words you feel like, cuz you're only talking to the choir anyway.

    • Shmuel- a misapprehension of reality is really insufficient to label a person or a reaction as paranoid. It is a loaded word and don't pretend that it's some innocuous word to be looked up in a dictionary. The word is 100 in toxicity, whereas you want a word (if you are seeking light rather than heat, accuracy rather than fervor) that measures between 37 and 50. overly fearful, misplacing their fears from the future on the present, as I explained.

      it is a word that reflects a desire to communicate with those who agree with your perception rather than those who might disagree. It is a word used to cut off communication rather than to encourage communication.

      You can use any words you wish to use, but if you are attempting to communicate with those who disagree with you, you might kindly consider the avoidance of certain words. if your goal is currying favor with the choir, go right ahead and use it.

    • Shmuel- Go get a degree from uncle ziggy (or is he cousin ziggy to you) before you use the word paranoid, in my humble opinion. I won't mince words: You want to hold hands and yuk it up with Charles Lindbergh apologists and even worse and then turn around and use the word paranoid, you have a lot of chutzpah. Can the "paranoid". find a different word. It's the word used by lazy people. Radicalised, okay. Spoiled definitely. But paranoid. Don't use it. if you're a vulcan don't use it and if you're half human, don't use it either. Capeesh?

    • Shmuel-

      Hardcore supporters of Israel have never been satisfied with a president in my lifetime, so that is not really radicalised, it's more like the same old same old. Hardcore supporters of Israel did not like Clinton's wife's kowtowing to Suha Arafat, they didn't like Clinton backing Barak against netanyahu and they certainly didn't like the content of the Clinton parameters. So this is not radicalised, it's the same old same old.

      The future of the democratic party is in fact in the direction of a collision with Israel and its dominance by its Likud party (and worse) and Obama if not exactly a symptom of this collision, is a portent of that clash and that is keen vision and real.

      And don't use the word paranoid unless it's absolutely necessary which it is not in this context.

    • rugal- I'll bet you five dollars. i think anyone who would bet their life savings on a sanders victory is out to lunch or someone who should visit gamblers anonymous.

    • Keith- I do not think Sanders will be elected president so we will never get to see how different he would have been from Obama. That being said, I think your advocacy for third party candidates exemplifies the far out nature of your attitude. Yes, some day a third party may arise and change the fabric of America to include a permanent third party, but today is hardly that day. Advocating change is one thing; waiting for a third party to arise is another thing. Maybe you have the vision to think 20 to 40 years ahead and see the emergence of an american social democratic party (you can name it something different if you wish to clarify) but the history of the last 100 years if not longer would indicate that this vision is a long shot and advocating third party candidates as if they are viable as the more solid alternative to backing Sanders as "establishment" really marks you as an outlier in your vision.

  • Israeli designer eroticizes the Palestinian keffiyeh
    • I recall being told in '72 that the red kafiya meant support for King Hussein, while the black kafiya meant support for the PLO. Was this ever true? Are there political implications to kafiya wearers today and colors?

  • Parody New York Times 'supplement' criticizing paper's coverage of Israel/Palestine distributed on streets of NYC
    • Talking about web sites. are the editors aware that to get the most recent comments one needs to sign in. when i don't sign in the most recent comment is from 3 hours ago. after i sign in, the most recent comment is from a few minutes ago.

  • Park Slope Food Coop puts up firewall against boycott of Israeli goods
    • again to substance, talknic, you can not cite jerusalem which kind of belonged to the UN under the partition agreement to the parts of palestine that were captured in 48. to make this equation and say that since there is no embassy in Jerusalem therefore all the territory not included in the partition agreement is occupied territory is a leap that i do not think is justified by the law or the positions of the countries of the world and your willlingness to take this leap shows that you are on thin ice legally. you are one lawyer saying that you know the law when all the lawyers at the UN (of countries that recognize Israel) would tell us something different.

      i accept the validity of trying to hold onto the partition agreement until such time as a negotiated settlement is reached. the PLO made the decision in 1988 not to go in that direction. nothing in its statements signed with Israel since 1993 have indicated any objection to the armistice lines of 1949, with the possible exception of jerusalem, again.

      talknic, i'm sorry if i let my agita vis a vis annie robbins, kris and mooser, taint my rhetoric with unnecessary animus.

    • and back to the discussion which was substantive until mooser's arrival: sibiriak has shown that talknic's talking points belong on the street corner and have no validity. "why should they?" that's 7th grade too.

    • and tell me kris: why did you bring up my name when i hadn't commented and played the fredman feldman game. that's obnoxious.

    • let kris defend mooser. let mooser talk like an idiot. let annie robbins run her 7th grade members only clubhouse.

    • kris- I was talking to mooser. Cool hand luke is a great movie and contains all the wisdom of the cosmos (if properly interpreted). and what business is it to you, what i say to mooser?

    • mooser- what we have here is a failure to excommunicate. get your hole out of my yard.

    • I consider Sibiriak's response to be my response as well. Name one nation that recognizes Israel that tells Israel that it needs to withdraw from territory of the June 4, 1967 armistice line/ border.

    • eljay- Name one country that recognizes Israel but considers past the partition line to be occupied territory. This is the talk of internet purists, but not international lawyers. Call all of Israel occupied and join all those who do not recognize Israel. Call past 67 Israel occupied and join all the nations who recognize Israel. Call past the partition lines occupied and join talknic.

  • 'I cannot support Israel as long as Netanyahu is in office'-- many American Jews are saying
    • a person who lives on a kibbutz is called a kibbutznik. a person who tells you where to move your bishop while watching your chess game is a kibbitzer. I have never heard the term kibbutzer before.

  • Cultural Zionism good, political Zionism bad
    • mooser- I would tell you what to do, or where to go, but annie robbins would not allow it. so instead i will repeat, "what we have here is a failure to communicate".

    • Donald, it is not really a link. it is a quote from the paragraph above.

      Echo- the statement is that they hold passports and not they have a right to a passport. Facts are facts whereas mathematically probable suppositions are not facts. if you or yourstruly have links to facts, then link, otherwise, assert the facts as suppositions and not as facts, write, "since more than half of all Israelis probably have the right to second passports". that would be good enough to turn a lie/supposition into an assertion.

    • Hebrew culture- is Jewish culture, as in Shabbat Shalom, instead of have a nice weekend, as in Purim, instead of Halloween, as in Chanuka instead of Christmas, as in Passover. As in Tu bishvat, instead of Arbor day. As in New Year's in September and not January. as in Sukkot and Shvuot.

    • Modern Hebrew preceded Zionism. Here's from wikipedia on the Haskala.
      link to

      "Language played a key role in the haskalah movement, as Mendelssohn and others called for a revival in Hebrew and a reduction in the use of Yiddish. The result was an outpouring of new, secular literature, as well as critical studies of religious texts. Julius Fürst along with other German-Jewish scholars compiled Hebrew and Aramaic dictionaries and grammars. Jews also began to study and communicate in the languages of the countries in which they settled, providing another gateway for integration."

    • "Since over half of Jewish Israelis carry two passports," - See more at: link to this is a lie that you read on the internet and you took it for truth.

  • Jewish West Bank settlers are as smug as white South Africans in 1980
    • Shmuel- Your linked articles emphasize a rights based approach rather than a solution based approach, which is interesting but in fact difficult to grasp, but certainly not something that is near. On paper it looks far less tumultuous than carrying Jewish settlers out of Efrat or Shiloh or Tapuach, but in fact would be a rather revolutionary approach. Meanwhile since neither Hamas nor Fatah agrees with your approach, it is mostly useful as a thought experiment rather than something practical.

      I wonder what percentage of Israelis travel constantly to Europe and what their voting patterns are compared to those who travel infrequently or never. Since Orthodox and Mizrachi voters are poorer than the secular Ashkenazi and the Ortho's and Mizrachis vote right wing, it would indicate that those who travel less are in fact less likely to be moved by the "if only the Europeans loved us" attitude that you feel might play a key role in the change of mindset.

    • Shmuel- First of all, last time I looked you advocated a single state solution, so this is news, that you are only advocating a change of attitude.

      Recently, you'll excuse me if I don't specify with a link, there was a suggestion here on mw, that South Africa gave up apartheid because of rugby and cricket. Just from my knowledge of human nature, I doubt it, but if that is the case, then there is nothing that can be learned from the South African experience to help us undo the current Palestine versus Israel conflict, because nothing less than real pressure is going to change the situation and this fear of being treated like a pariah, "the world is no longer behind us" is not going to change anything.

    • Shmuel- A specific proposal to prohibit Israelis from entering Western Europe is that what you are proposing? Is that something that has been proposed by the EU? Is that something that you see on the horizon?

      James North posited something quite amorphous: "realize that the world is no longer behind them", rather than your very specific proposal. (I assume you are proposing passport control. what other "remotely like that", do you have in mind?)

      But even if Europe passes such a law, which is not on the horizon, please explain to me the dynamics that this increased claustrophobia is going to exert on the Israeli voting public? Do you think it will move the votes from Likud to Meretz? Surely not. Then you think that it will move Bibi or Gideon Sa'ar or Naftali Bennet? Surely not Bibi or Bennett. Do you think Saar is going to evacuate the settlers as a result of this EU law that is not even on the horizon?

      I'm not sure how much better Sa'ar will be than Bibi, but the type of deep change that would require either a unilateral withdrawal of settlers or the negotiated withdrawal of Israeli troops will require some very serious consequences for the post Bibi Likud to respond to the increased claustrophobia as you fantasize.

      But I would be interested in hearing how you think this will change either the voters or Likud and if you see such a move on the horizon by the EU?

      You have a keener insight into European politics and maybe there is such a move on the horizon there. There is certainly no passport controls on the horizon in the US.

    • James North- Are there one or two books or magazine articles that one could read to determine what were the primary factors in de Klerk's thinking?

      When you write, "But sanctions were vastly more important because they eroded the morale of white South Africans, who realized that the rest of the world was no longer going to stand behind them. " i do not think that this really would work in Israel, where eroding the morale will not work. The civil (Jew versus Jew) unrest that would result from the removal of the settlers from the West Bank is a far greater and more immediate danger to most Jewish Israelis than "realizing that the world was no longer going to stand behind them". If and when the United States , specifically the Democratic party, listens to its grass roots, and decides to remove all support from Israel unless Israel leaves the West Bank (or removes its settlers from the West Bank) then it will be a question of survival and then the civil unrest of Jew versus Jew will seem worthwhile so as to continue to survive. But merely realization that the world is against them will not work. (The world is always against us no matter what we do, is the retort.)

  • After 'tepid' welcome at Israeli Embassy, Obama's pro-Israel speech brought down the house
    • I think that the chances of Obama approving (not vetoing) any meaningful UNSC resolution is now nearly zero. Whether this is out of concern for Hillary or the Democratic party or his post presidency is a cause for speculation, but I really cannot see any meaningful UNSC resolution receiving even tacit Obama support.

      I don't know if a strong UN resolution would really change the reality on the ground, but given my opposition to the (settler nature of the) occupation, it is hard to see what moves the world can take to change the nature of the occupation or put it to an end.

      btw, i accept that there are more urgent forms of hatred in the world than antisemitism, but I certainly do not think that it is a danger that is totally anachronistic. the use of the conflation of anti zionism and antisemitism is objectionable certainly, but any true student of history would be remiss in dismissing this problem as if it is totally in the past. I understand that people here have higher priorities, but that does not excuse intellectual laziness, which is what a dismissal of antisemitism is, very lazy intellectually.

  • Iraq war hangover is fueling anti-establishment candidates
    • I think that the economy: better than most of the western world but still really stagnant wages and thus a lukewarm recovery, is the primary mover of the anti establishment candidates. The war against Iraq is a factor, but I would put it behind the economy as the primary factor.

  • Did Obama blunder in Haiti because he has to pay so much attention to Israel?
    • James North is way off base with this contribution to the ether sphere. Hophmi is right on target. North has established: Nation magazine: journalism. mondoweiss: sometimes journalism, sometimes drek. in this case: dreck.

  • The world the settlers made
    • mooser- Groucho- "that's irrelevant". Chico- "right. an elephant." Duck soup.

    • Avi's assessment of the labor Zionist dominance of Israeli politics (or Palestinian pre 1948 politics is ignorant:

      The Ashkenazi socialist founders of the society threw their tefillin (prayer wrappings) off the boat when they sighted the new country in the 1930s. They were done with rabbinic Judaism. They founded the parties that later made up Labour. - See more at: link to

      Throwing tefilin into the harbor near Ellis Island, maybe. Throwing tefilin off the boat when they got to Israel, well, first off, most Jews who came to Israel came by land routes, and the socialists stopped putting on tefilin when they were back in Plonsk and their rebellion against the rabbis certainly preceded their emigration to Palestine. And the leaders arrived between 1905 and 1914 and not in the 1930's. the massive migration to Israel between 1920 and 1939 when the Jewish population increased from 85,000 to 400,000 was not socialist in nature it was primarily bourgeois escaping antisemitic Poland and Germany. The Socialist founders tried to pick and choose only those Jews who would fit into their preconception of a rural agrarian society, but in fact the vast numbers were artisans and middle class city dwellers. (who would have gone to America if America had not imposed strict rules limiting immigration from nonNordic Europe. )

    • Left wing, anti Zionist journalists, have two favorite subjects for their interviews: far right wing Jews and far left wing Jews. With the evaporation of the Israeli center, it is now much easier to find far right wing Jews, making it all so simple (simplistic).

      If the Middle East was as calm and peaceful as the American Middle West, then the dastardly nature of the existence of Israel, (meaning: Israel's refusal to assimilate into the Middle East) would ring truer. but face it: the Arab middle east is clearly dysfunctional. Maybe the blame should be spread (Israel's strategy of dependence on great power politics, certainly adds to the general dysfunction. And the great powers from the time of the Brits and French before WWII all the way to the time of the Americans and the Russians in the aftermath of WWII, have hardly been interested in long term progress in the vital areas of democracy, prosperity and education.) But here we are five years after the dawn of the Arab Spring and the overwhelming thrust of opinion is that the Arab world would have been better off if only there had been no spring (and no American war against Iraq) and Saddam Hussein still ruled Iraq and Basher Assad's cruel dictatorship had never been challenged. Maybe most of the world is still mired in the economic, educational and political backwardness that possessed the world in 1914, but certainly the Arab world has taken few steps to indicate that it has benefited from a century of nonTurkish rule. The Arab countries are one hell of a mess and to tout assimilation into the Middle East as a cure for the future of the Jews and Arabs of Palestine-Israel is just nonsense at this point of time.

      It is this dynamic, a sea of turmoil, that is the key factor that determines the relationship of Israel to the West Bank. It would certainly be better if there had never been a settler movement, if it had remained the small movement that it was back in 1972 when I first visited israel. The justification for not handing the west bank to the PLO or to the general chaos of the region or to whoever emerges victorious in Iraq and Syria would be far simpler if there had been no settler aspect to the military occupation that followed the 67 war. If there were fewer than ten thousand settlers (as there were in 1972), then the Zionist movement could justify their presence in the West Bank as a military necessity, but the settler movement takes a justifiable military occupation and turns it into an impossible to justify settler occupation.

  • Are Palestinian citizens of Israel banned from New York Times headlines?
    • mariapalestina. There is something called the Arab League of which the PLO (or the PA) is a member, do you advocate the Arab League kick out the Palestinians because they are not Arab or that the PA quit because they are not Arabs? I didn't think so. Palestinians are Arabs, are they not? Yes, changing headlines to replace Palestinians with the term Arabs is an attempt to suppress Palestinian nationalism and the majority self identification of most Palestinian citizens of Israel. But your formulation of the issue is confusing.

  • Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia (Updated)
    • "What we have here is a failure to communicate." 45 years after cool hand luke and you are still using a literal interpretation for the word "communicate"?

    • mooser- i wish it was possible to communicate with you. but it does not seem so.

    • kris- I would not call your comment "cause and effect", I would call your comment moralizing and a tad blood thirsty. If you cannot tell the difference, then read what old geezer wrote here. did he deny cause and effect, yet he was not exalting with moralistic school teacher wagging finger, "you deserved to die, stupid guilty settler." your moralism doesn't abandon you, yet your common sense and humanity does.

    • kris- It is a good cautionary tale, in which we are reminded that we must not steal or covet, that the greedy bring disaster upon their households, and that crime does not always pay, but everyone except Jewish “settlers” seems to know this already, so what would be the point? - See more at: link to

      hardened heart, anyone? very nice. very christian of you.

  • The sons of Sa'ir
    • probably the term used by the Palestinian Arab was ikht'lal, which translates to kibush in hebrew, which means conquest, as in conquering territory. the translation of "occupation" is merely a device of trying to harmonize the words of the locals with the rhetoric of the globals.

    • annie- It seems to me that occupation is a legal term which can be applied to territory occupied by military forces in the course of a war, so the West bank occupied in the 6 day war would fit into the legal terminology of occupied. the territory of the state of Israel recognized by the United Nations as part of the nation state of Israel (particularly that territory that was allocated to be part of the Jewish state under the partition plan of Nov. 1947) cannot be considered to be legally occupied. If you wish to use the term outside its legal definition I suppose you are allowed, but "colonized" would be a term that would not confuse the reader, whereas "occupied" has legal connotations that you are ignoring.

  • Sick of Zionism’s stranglehold on Jewish culture? There is an alternative.
    • Shmuel- I was not there when the gaonim wrote this passage, but if a Zionist had been whispering in their ears, they could not have written a more Zionistic passage than the one they actually wrote.

    • annie- I think the key word in ivri's comment is anchor: religion or nationality are anchors, as in central tenets of weight that promise continuity. The secular Jewish identity is something that can last two or three generations, but one can see from various polls that in the long range it does not seem to promise continuity.

    • Shmuel- Sorry I don't have a Hebrew font, but tell me the year on the intro to the Haggada: hashata hakha, l'shana haba'a b'ar'a d'yisroel. hashata avdei l'shana haba'a, bnei khorin. (The tale of the haggada begins with a passage in Aramaic: that includes the line: This year here, next year in the land of Israel. This year slaves, next year free men.)

    • Shmuel and ivri- Here is the gist of it. CLOSEUP of Yehudi in Jerusalem. Yehudi: Our people have prayed "next year in Jerusalem for thousands of years". Subscript: This year in Jerusalem. ZOOM OUT: Yehudi with boot on Palestinian neck. Subscript: "Caught in a dream, where everything goes wrong."

    • Maimonides had to flee Cordoba when Berber Almohads (Muslims but intolerant Muslims) conquered the city from Almoravids (tolerant Muslims). And of course after the Christians took over Spain, the Jews were kicked out. How this choice of a location for Birthwrong demonstrates the viability of the Jewish diaspora is beyond me.

  • Knesset anti-BDS meeting reveals Israeli fear of isolation
    • It's hard to believe that de Klerk was really motivated by football or rugby or sports to give up power to Mandela. It seems like a gross over simplification. Maybe someone can suggest a book or a magazine article that really gets into the real reason that de Klerk ceded power.

  • Sophisticated Orientalism in the New York Times
    • Donald- I cannot deny that too often, including here, I allow my emotions to color my comments and those emotions include my reaction to my general treatment by other commenters on this site.

      But let me emphasize that I also have very mixed feelings regarding the overuse of the Orientalist accusation. Aside from my mixed feelings towards Edward Said, let me say that Orientalism is just one aspect of light being shined onto the white man's attitude towards nonwhites, which is both an important innovation and perspective, but also potentially an overused tool. It can become a crutch and an excuse.

      It is difficult for an amateur like myself to assess precisely the line when this overuse occurs, but it seems to me to be a danger that needs to be acknowledged.

      I feel that the NY Times's historical background piece on Shiite versus Sunni could have used more information (rather than less) in order to achieve a balanced contribution to reader knowledge. Particularly in regards to Persian versus Arab enmity or competition, such information would add to the readers' understanding of the conflict between Sunni Arabs and Shiite Persians. The Times might also have benefited from a less pedagogic and a more conversational style if it had added the following to its article as its closing paragraph:
      To view the religious history of the Sunni -Shiite conflict without the context of other more immediate factors unrelated or tangential to this religious history is to obscure the "real" causes of this clash and it may lead one to view something incidental as if it were essential. That is not our intention. Our intention: Merely to define our historical terms.

    • How many times have you seen the terms Shiite Sunni split in the newspapers? I'll answer for you, enough times that these terms deserve a definition. Now James North informs us that these terms don't need a definition and if someone does define them then Mister North has his own definition for them: orientalists.

      Let us assume that Mister North is correct that the Saudi Iranian tensions have very little to do with the definitions of these terms. Even so, these terms Sunni and Shiite will continue to be used to describe the tensions and the terms deserve definition. And to toss the term Orientalism on this and the German France analogy to boot shows a type of adolescent tendentiousness to Mister North's reporting.

      Just to be clear: in a newspaper article describing the 30 years war it would be totally appropriate to define the terms catholics and protestants if those terms were constantly used in articles to describe the war, even if the war had little to do with Martin Luther.

  • Goodbye to all that (my Jewish-WASP shtik)
    • This post is thought provoking for me and as a person who aspires to rationalism it provides a cogent antithesis to my usual train of thought and as such is useful to me.

      But it also provokes emotions and what follows is my first emotional response.

      (One other note of equivocation before I continue: I use the phrase "brown not white" and "browning of america" as mimicry of Phil's kicking Judaism into the ash bin of history. The changing color of American elites is of no concern to me, particularly when the prison rates of American incarceration exceed the free world's and the population of the prisons and the state of the schools are better measures of equality than the elites that are Phil's primary concern. so I mean no animus in that phrase. it is an attempt to attack Phil and his abandonment of the old Jew rather than an attack on a more just society.)

      and without further ado:

      Reading from the Norton Anthology of Jewish American literature I came across a snippet of a poem by Charles Reznikoff, which allows me to highlight Phil Weiss's contribution to Jewish wisdom.
      From Reznikoff's 'Early History of a Writer'

      I went to my grandfather to say goodbye
      I was going away to a school out west
      as I came in
      my grandfather turned from the window at which he sat
      (sick, skin yellow, eyes bleary
      but his hair still dark
      for my grandfather had hardly any grey hair in his beard or on his head
      he would sit at the window reading a Hebrew book.)
      He rose with difficulty
      he had been expecting me, it seemed
      stretched out his hands and blessed me in a loud voice
      in Hebrew of course
      and I did not know what he was saying.
      When he had blessed me
      my grandfather turned aside and burst into tears.
      It is only for a little while, Grandpa, I said
      in my broken Yiddish. I'll be back in June.
      (By June my grandfather was dead.)
      He did not answer.
      Perhaps my grandfather was in tears for other reasons,
      perhaps, because, in spite of all the learning I had acquired in high school
      I knew not a word of the sacred text of the Torah
      and was going into the world
      with none of the accumulated wisdom of my people to guide me,
      with no prayers with which to talk to the God of my people,
      a soul-
      for it is not easy to be a Jew or, perhaps a man-
      doomed by his ignorance to stumble and blunder.

      But Phil Weiss might amend/emend this poem as follows:

      Good riddance, old man.
      The future is brown, not white like you, old man.
      I know literature, the elites, the zeitgeists and the future
      and you know
      those crumbling pages of religious nonsense.
      I'm glad you're gone, old man.
      Count yourself lucky that I didn't stomp you to death while I had the chance
      and merely allowed nature to carry you away.
      I dance on your grave, old man.
      The browning of America is the future.
      I've already forgotten you.

  • US spying on Israel reveals cynical heart of the 'special relationship'
    • The Senate voted 58-42 in an attempt to stop the democratic filibuster. Falling two votes shy of the 60 votes needed for cloture, which would have forced a vote.

  • Israeli ambassador flings Nazi label at Israeli leaders, after latest authoritarian step
    • First- You will not get all Jews to agree on a definition of what being a Jew is. You will not get all Jews to agree on anything, but certainly not on a self definition.

      Second- You can go to the spanish inquisition and you will find that there was a racial element to the persecution of conversos after the exile of 1492.

      Third- Certainly the insistence by certain European nationalists from the latter part of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th century and their assertion that the Jews were part of a separate nation, has to be considered. (Does Russia still list nationality on its identity cards? When the USSR was in existence, the USSR listed Jew as a nationality.)

      Fourth- Yeshaya Leibowitz in a debate I saw on youtube, posed the question, "Maybe it's possible for a nation to stop being a nation." The right wing woman who argued with him demanded to know what were the consequences of his question and he asserted that sometimes a question is just a question. 140 years ago with the preponderance of Ashkenazi Jews speaking Yiddish, being treated by the Czar with special laws that would be deemed racial or ethnic or tribal, was certainly a different situation than the Jews outside of Israel today who hardly share any language and whose attachment to the rituals are certainly weaker than they were 140 years ago. Just like a nation can be a recent creation: (examples: US, Canada) a people can cease to be a nation as well. That is one of the differences between Jews of the diaspora and the Jews of Israel, the Jews of Israel share a language and a destiny (or less melodramatically a dire situation), whereas the Jews of the diaspora do not share a language and (for simplicity sake) do not share a destiny.

      Five: The primary Jewish ethnic experience in America was the immigrant experience which for most American Jews was in its prime time about a hundred years ago. (1880 to 1920). Any study of the American Jews of that period would include a survey of their religious experiences, but would not limit themselves to that aspect of their acculturation to their new homeland. Those who assert that Judaism and Jewishness are one and the same would have a tough time adjusting to the sociological surveys for the first seventy years of the last century. As we move further away from that primary American Jewish experience, the commonalty of American Jews dwindles into a discussion of delicatessen foods and nostalgia. But just witness the rejection that Philip Roth receives for his book about Lindbergh by Phil Weiss and the rejection of him by most of those who comment about him in this comment section. This hatred that he conjures which has really zilch to do with Zionism is further testimony of the hatred for the secular Jew that one finds in this comments section. Roth is over 80 and of the past and maybe the hatred he conjures here is also of the past.

  • Merry Christmas and get out of Israel, you blood-drinking Christian vampires
    • talknic- Is your stability so tenuous, is your knowledge of history so poor that the only analogy you can come up with is Hitler? and great phrase: on a par with Hitler. Gopstein is sick and bad news and in fact mediocre and forgettable. The movement that he represents of sicko right wing Yehudim is very dispiriting and discouraging. It indicates deep trouble in his psyche and the psyche of too many just like him. But really, Hitler?

  • Will Israel's policies fail of their own accord?
    • The Amira Hass post in particular deserves to be read. It is behind a paywall. Here it is.

      I should warn you. Amira Hass is a Zionist,” a pro-Palestinian activist in South Africa wrote about me two months ago. When she left the room, her fuming eyes already conveyed that what I had said in my conversation with her and her colleagues had gone beyond the party line. For example, I didn’t come out in favor of the magic, one-state solution and didn’t define the wars against Gaza as genocide.
      I also told that same audience that it is not enough to analyze the colonial roots of Israel. The historical context must also include the Nazi industry of murder and the fact that most countries refused to take in large numbers of Jewish refugees.
      The thing that apparently angered them most was that I dared claim that the use of weapons does not advance the Palestinians’ cause today. It was not because of my Israeli identity that I was critical of the worship of the armed struggle and wars, I clarified, but rather out of a feminist and socialist worldview. I disparaged the lethal male mimicry (whether among soldiers or between Palestinians and soldiers) of competing over “whose is bigger.” The Israelis’ is bigger. Their capacity for destructive revenge is bigger so other means need to be found in the struggle. After all, there is also revolutionary responsibility for preventing more devastation and destruction, and not just understanding the human need of the oppressed for revenge.

      I tell every audience also what it doesn’t want to hear. I tell Zionists how surprising it is that Palestinian acts of violence are so few compared to the systematic and humiliating violence that Israelis authorities employ against them. At a pro-Palestinian conference in the Netherlands about two years ago, I said that the Jewish linkage to the Holy Land cannot be ignored, which also prompted fuming eyes, as if I had never written against the dispossession and expulsion of Palestinians.
      In meetings with socialist Zionist youth in South Africa I told them they should not immigrate to Israel. As the other Whites, they still benefited from past privilege of criminal proportions in South Africa, so they should stay in their country and fight to genuinely curb the crimes of apartheid. Fully consciously exploiting additional privilege and moving to Israel would be choosing to participate in another crime.
      I said something similar on a panel that I moderated at the HaaretzQ conference in New York last week that dealt with struggles for equality. The audience comprised mostly liberal Zionists. The newspaper’s representatives made it clear that Haaretz is a Zionist publication, that its opposition to the occupation stems from Zionist principles. I found it appropriate to distinguish myself from this stance.

      Zionism preaches in favor of the immigration of Diaspora Jews to Israel. Every liberal Zionist Jew living well in the Diaspora needed to know that even without “making aliyah,” Israel was granting them rights denied to Palestinians who were born in the country or whose parents were. Diaspora Jews have the right to visit Israel, to acquire Israeli citizenship, to live and work on either side of Israel’s pre-1967 border with the West Bank, to marry an Israeli, travel between Israel and the United States and not lose their rights in either country.
      Everything Israel provides Diaspora Jews, it denies the Palestinians. Most of the Palestinians who live abroad are not even entitled to visit the land of their mothers and grandmothers (their real ones; not imaginary ones from thousands of years ago). Those who are allowed to visit are subject to restrictions: Some can’t leave the West Bank, others are not allowed to enter the West Bank, most are barred from going to Gaza.
      Israel is not only barring them from returning to their country. It is also preventing them from settling down in the enclaves of the West Bank. Palestinians who have fled or are trying to flee the nightmare of the Syrian slaughterhouse can’t even dream about the most rational of options: taking refuge in their country of origin.
      As a rule, Israel bars Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from traveling abroad, to Israel or to the West Bank. It bars them from living in the West Bank and bars West Bank Palestinians from living in about 60 percent of West Bank territory. Jews from Brooklyn or Tel Aviv can settle tomorrow in the Jewish settlement of Ofra. Residents of the Palestinian village of Silwad, whose land was stolen for Ofra, are not entitled to settle in Jaffa or to establish a community on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Palestinian citizens of Israel lose their social rights if they dare live in the West Bank.
      People born in Jerusalem are expelled from the country and lose their residency status if they dare marry and work in the U.S. By the way, Israel also prohibits them from living in Kafr Qasem inside Israel, or in Be’er Sheva. They are only allowed to live in the ghettos that we created for them in the united city.
      Israel uses Jewish immigration to excuse and deepen the dispossession. Immigrants to Israel become conscious collaborators with the increasingly extreme apartheid policy. Apartheid is considered a crime. We who were born in this country are collaborators against our will. All that remains for us is to use our privileges to fight the regime of privileges and, as much as possible, reduce the level of our collaboration with the dispossession. This course of action is not unique to us. Israel is not the only evil regime in the world creating rights for some groups and depriving others of them. But Israel, by default, is our home.
      read more: link to

    • I happen to have read both pieces by Hass and Burg before reading this post by Marc Ellis. Hass is an exemplar of a journalist who remains steady in her principles. Burg is a man who found the truth after many unprincipled years in government, freed from the realities of politics and the voting booth, now he can tell us what he really feels. Which is fine, because reality and practical politics are primary facts of life on this planet and if only that path might have yielded progress we would not be here today in this Bibi = Zionism reality. So it is kosher to have gone from Knesset Speaker to heretic in his post Knesset career. Burg's despair is appropriate and the future is grim. Left Zionists who are more devoted to the evils of the occupation than they are to the evils of BDS have yet to find enough leaders to show the way and Burg is one of the voices that we are counting on.

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