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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.

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  • 'NYT' columnist says killing Palestinian civilians is... good for Palestinians
    • OSSinev, free flow of marketable goods out of Gaza to Israel and elsewhere. Free flow of people out of Gaza to world destinations. Third party inspections of goods brought into Gaza, with limitations to avoid a repeat of hezbollah's rockets. Some have suggested creating man made islands where these items would be inspected. Others have suggested such a place (for inspections) can be set up on already existing territory.

    • The Israeli (Jewish Zionist) strategy as expressed by the various governments since Hamas seized power in 2007 has been to squeeze Gaza in order to squeeze Hamas. Since the nature of Hamas is not to give up power, they are basically betting on regime change, which seems to me to be a long shot. To call this "kind to be cruel" is itself a form of cruelty.

      To compare the Great March of Return to Black Lives Matter is a type of facile analogy that is useful for those who are appealing to left leaning Democrats. You support Black Lives Matter, you should also support the right to demonstrate by Great March of Return.

      This is a pretense that Gaza is a normal place. It is not. Gaza's abnormalcy was born when Israel was born and thus those who support Israel's birth and the strict means of exile entailed in that birth automatically, at the same time, support the brutal abnormalcy of Gaza. (The abnormalcy of Gaza has an aspect of playing to the cameras as well: The tactic of keeping the refugees in camp for 70 years is artificial when compared to the rest of the history of the world particularly recent history. I think it is a tactic that has "worked", but it is not a normal development, it is artificial.)

      Gaza is a prison. America is not a prison.

      Comparing Haifa demonstrators to Black Lives Matter would be valid. The violence of the cops and the system against Arab Israelis aka Palestinian Israelis is a scandal and seems to shed light on the attitude of callousness and cruelty of the police/military of Israel towards all Arabs. But Gaza is not Haifa and it is pretense to compare it to Black Lives Matter.

      The bias of this post by Johnson and Weiss is shown in the next to last paragraph when dealing with the reportage of Declan Walsh. Did Johnson and Weiss offer us alternative links to people in the street interviews in Gaza, or people in the hospital at Gaza? No. Based upon their bias they assume that the NYT has skewed this article. Based upon the assumption that since all their other NYT coverage has been tilted against Palestinians, Walsh's is as well. This is not criticism, this is playing a guessing game. Bring proof that the presentation is tilted or that the NYT mishandled Walsh's copy or else maintain a little journalistic decorum and remain mum.

      This Great March of Return has shown Israel's cruelty. It has also shown that Gaza is still occupied. I favor arranging a modus vivendi with Hamas, because of the suffering inflicted upon the Gazan Palestinians as a result of the siege and attempt to pressure Hamas through its population. This has not been the policy of Bibi and will not be so soon. Because of the general context: particularly Hezbollah's rockets, the policy is: No more. we will not allow gaza turn into another southern lebanon. To those who dream of Israel's demise or of a sudden turnaround of American or Israeli policy that sees the undoing of 1948, turning gaza into another southern lebanon is a lofty goal. but it is clear vision to see that to Israel replicating Hezbollah in Gaza is a bad move. Despite this I favor a modus vivendi with Hamas, but it is easy to see that in context of the region the tendency to think NO! is understandable.

      But it should not be termed as "kind to be cruel".

  • Holding Gaza close this Ramadan season and beyond
    • I'll give you my perspective as of this hour:
      Unlike the West Bank where there is the complication of settlers, now that Sharon removed the settlers, Gaza's "solution" is relatively easy: a hudna between Gaza and Israel and a relatively free flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza, passing through a third party inspection regime. Israel is instead set on getting Hamas to hand over the keys of Gaza to Fatah. I understand the desirability of this goal, but do not believe it is attainable in the short run, partially because of the negative press of tactics such as the sniper response to "March of Return" and the lack of ability or will by the IDF or political echelons to create a strategy or find a weaponry to protect the fence with lower casualties. I think the wars against Gaza and the siege of Gaza have been harmful and negative and I do not foresee a handing over of the keys to Fatah in the next while, so I prefer the creation of a modus vivendi with Gaza, despite its Hamas rulers.

      As far as a deeper view of the history and the Zionist enterprise, I defer that to another day and possibly another venue.

    • When one achieves martyrdom, which might be called ritual suicide, it is the context of Gaza's despair that is the essential fact, rather than this "peaceful demonstration" rhetoric. Israel is at war against Gaza and Gaza is at war against Israel and this "peaceful demonstration" is a form of propaganda.

      my view says that the suffocation of Gaza will not achieve the goal of surrender by Hamas without the wars and the fence picnic riots, and so the siege should be lifted. but this was not a march against the siege, it was a march of return. not a peaceful demonstration.

      there is no level of communication between Israel and the Palestinians of Gaza and one is allowed to blame Israel for this situation. Personally I think the movement towards Jewish statehood was a natural occurrence given the historical context and the harmful exile of the Palestinians follows from the event quite harmfully and naturally. (a contradiction: both harmful and natural. imagine that? a contradiction.) but it is the role of the rejuvenated yehudi people to be resilient and move on to the next stage and undo the harm or ameliorate the harm or fess up to the harm, and that has not been the next stage. (it is not realistic to expect such a stage, but it is befitting to be disappointed by the retarded progress rather than a desired progress.)

      Palestinians who have suffered by the natural Jewish land oriented movement are naturally angry and so a demonstration is perfectly understandable. but yes. gaza is a prison. don't go near the wall and think it's a picnic. call it a picnic riot. call it the fence suicide martyr movement.

      now that we have got that out of the way, ramadan karim.

  • Peace begins with Israel ending the Nakba
    • In essence Israeli Zionists when they are optimistic regarding the future reconciliation, see the first step one of negotiating a peace treaty, a cease fire under the name of mutual recognition. (reconciliation will follow, but first comes negotiation.)
      this peace treaty will make somewhere between zero and meager concessions to the losses the Palestinians suffered in 1948 and will make somewhere between 93 to 96% of the concessions regarding the conquest of 1967.

      Ilan Pappe is proposing a real reconciliation. But the time is not near for real reconciliation, so he is in fact telling the "optimistic" Israeli Zionists- your way won't work, only reconciliation and not negotiation is the essence.

      A word or two about Gaza. If I was a Gazan Palestinian I would yearn for my hometown barely 30 miles away. I would not consider Gaza my hometown, but whatever town is on the list in the photo. There are two ways to accomplish that: Ilan Pappe's way or some kind of a war, some change in balance of forces that goes to war and defeats Israel (not on television, but on the tarmac of Lod Airport ). Ilan Pappe's way is not near and the other way, well I was surprised by the sudden change of mind of deKlerk, I was surprised by the fall of the Berlin Wall, so maybe I'll be surprised again.

      Since Israel's withdrawal in 05, there have been two major attacks by Israel killing somewhere near five thousand. Israel is trying to squeeze Hamas and get it to yell "Uncle!" I can't believe that will happen. Therefore I favor Israel dealing with Hamas. This is not the thought of Bibi and Lieberman. I think for Lieberman it is heartfelt. I think Bibi is too addicted to getting reelected to ever attempt anything revolutionary, even if in his heart he sees the lack of strategy as harmful in the long run, but he is a short run kind of guy, from here to the next election.

      The alienation of the Democratic Party from Zionism is something that I've been predicting since Jesse Jackson in 88. we have passed through a bit of history since then, both in America and in Israel. I think the grass roots of the democratic party will be naturally opposed to Israel and there will be a struggle between the older generation of donors and the new generation of activists and the activists will win. how long that will take is anyone's guess.

      i assume nasrallah will not attack israel this summer, but i wonder what iran will do in reaction to Israel's assertion of the long arm of tzahal kicks iran out of syria. seems to me from my corner of america/brooklyn, that the pressure on iran will cause a bifurcation between practicality and emotional self satisfaction in the regime and if emotional self satisfaction wins the day, there could be a war, but it seems that the imams are quite practical so i am betting on practicality.

      i think hamas is under tremendous pressure, but they would go underground before giving up their weapons to fatah and that's why i am in favor of dealing with them, rather than pressing the population like is happening. I feel there is a demand for a next act (from Hamas or from the anti Zionist front) and I don't see what it could be.

  • For we are God's special victims (an ode to the state of Israel)
  • Ending seventy years of exile for Palestinian refugees
    • Particularly as the winds of war are threatening us, it feels unwise to express optimistic thoughts about the rainbow that will come after the deluge that has not yet shown its worst. Nonetheless... If there is to be a real reconciliation between Jewish Zionists and Palestinians it will involve a coming to terms by Jewish zionists of the damage they (we) have done to the Palestinians and a mere intellectual concession will be insufficient if there is not a move in the direction of righting those wrongs, if not as complete as envisioned here. But focusing on the wrongs when we are not at the point of reconciliation seems to take our focus off of what needs to be the immediate concern: returning the Gaza strip to a degree of normalcy. Bibi and Lieberman are dedicated to the overthrow of Hamas: the disarming of Hamas. I have nothing against this goal, but I do not see it happening within the next 6 years, so I prefer a policy of reaching a modus vivendi with Hamas. I view the Gaza demonstrations/riots in that context, rather than in the context of solving the big problem.

  • By wrecking Iran deal, Trump politicized Israel
    • You people who voted for Trump or gave him half a vote by not voting for Hillary have a lot of gall to be upset when trump fulfills a campaign promise.

    • LHunter- It is a knee-jerk response to tell me how Israel is worse. Great.

      I don't think that a long term view of iran, say 200 years from now will look kindly on the subversion and repression and troublemakers who rule iran, the imams and their madrasas. Maybe your view is that the imams will bury America like khruschev promised. I don't think so.

    • I voted for Hillary who would have continued the treaty. This move is dangerous.

      I do not view Iran as an innocent player. It is ruled by imams and that doesn't impress me. But iran is far ahead of the arab world. The Arabs led the world til the mongol invasion. Their downward slide is what, 700 years old? Farsi is a foreign language to me compared to arabic, which is a first cousin to hebrew, which has been hibernating until recently reawakened.

      The Arab spring stalled. Sisi in egypt. Iraq struggling. Syria ceded to hezbollah and Iran and russia. The Gulf states, what to make of Obama bowing to the head of Saudi Arabia.

      I don't blame Judah magnes. That is the way to avoid this mess, opt against statehood.

      Geopolitics uses the term existential when they mean: this is the business that we have chosen: power. Iran stepping into Syria is a major chess move. Israel's army opposes this move. How nukes, trump and Europe plus economic problems will effect Iran's revolutionary guard and iran's rural versus urban population, it could take some time to play out.

      ( separate question: is long range US policy undercut by breaking a promise?)

  • Philadelphia Jewish groups try to stop publication of article critical of Israel, insist on BDS training for Inquirer editors
    • A yehudi from the Soviet Union contemplating a visit back to the motherland and various fears.

      "As they say, "they don't punch you in your American passport, but in your Jewish face."

      Ignoring the idea/reality of the Jewish facial type is for purists, who get upset when you refer to ashkenazi Jews and pretend a monolithic community.

      This is not the place for a deep conversation regarding Jewish physical types, but that does not mean there is nothing to discuss. Culinary habits and facial types are really separate issues, although I can see the confusion.

  • Las Vegas print shop refuses to print JVP banner over Israel politics
    • I cannot imagine that a printer can be forced to print something against their wishes. If someone is more aware of the law than I am, enlighten me. (a cake maker is not in the message business, but in the food business. that's why they can be coerced into providing a food service no matter their feelings on the reason why the people are gathering to eat food. but a print shop, can you force them to print what they find objectionable? can you force them to print: "down with straight people." i don't think so. you can't force them to print against their will. that's my thinking. i could be wrong.)

  • Portman's move puts pressure on liberal Zionists to take a stand
    • annie- Yeshayahu Leibowitz was a Zionist, and I've seen nothing written or spoken by him condemning the nakba. but after the state was established he spoke strongly and morally to oppose actions that were wrong. his opposition to the occupation after 67 is famous. the upshot of his opinion seemed to be: the occupation will destroy Israel's moral compass.

      His involvement in Israeli society as gadfly and rebel is conceded, and so it seems acceptance of zionism can be combined with attempts to rein in destructive impulses that we have seen since 67.

      i am not prime minister nor defense minister and i did not make this decision of how to handle the crisis of the picnics and kite flying in gaza. But the immediate crisis is merely the epiphenomenon and I choose to focus on the deeper gaza crisis. I share the mainstream (pro Israel) low opinion of hamas, i think their philosophy is tainted and negative, but nevertheless watching the situation in the 10 or 13 years since the partial withdrawal from gaza, i have reached the conclusion that practically speaking, israel should establish a modus vivendi regarding gaza through negotiations with hamas. the current bibi lieberman phase is marked by opposition to this idea. this opposition is expressed not through seeking a modus vivendi, but seeking regime change in gaza, to be achieved partially through pressure and isolation. and thus the crisis that has pushed us to this situation. i may be wrong, but i think israel should accept hamas and negotiate with hamas regarding gaza.

      meanwhile the "real" show is up north vis a vis hezbollah, lebanon, syria, iran and russia. (real- from a chessboard perspective that is the real game and gaza is just noise.)

      one cannot equate avigdor lieberman and yeshayahu leibowitz, though they are/were both zionists. the willingness to be an angry prophet condemning the occupation, that is the legacy of yeshayahu leibowitz. but let me just say that i do not choose lieberman either, but i choose Ephraim Halevy, quoted above. reading that article that would require seriousness.

    • Powerlessness- the inability to protect your children from rioters, marauders, oppressors and murderers, is a fault. It is natural, human and self respecting to overcome powerlessness.

      There are those here who propose disbanding as a means of self protection. This is a former of cowardice and this too is a fault.

      To seek power thus is natural.

      In a world of nations, nationalism is the most obvious means to eliminate powerlessness. And this is the basis of zionism.

      Nations, since time began, observe no morality, other than self interest. Nations do not forswear violence, rather violence and nationhood are inextricably tied together.

      With the victory of the allies in WWII, the winning armies decided to attempt to avoid a repetition of such blood shed, by imposing rules, particularly on nations smaller than themselves.

      Once the Jews rejected powerlessness, and chose nationalism as their means to self protection, the realm of morality became a lesser value than power.

      To impose moral values upon nations is an unnatural fit.

      Because Israel was established in a location where wars could be expected, the expectation of imposing morality on the project became an especially difficult fit.

      Liberal zionism attempts to accept the nationalist project in a specific place, but wishes to somehow combine morality with the project. As I said, it's an awkward fit.

      The conquest of the West Bank in 67 resulted from the abdication of King hussein to the forces that wanted to participate in nasser's folly and as a result he lost the west bank.

      How long can you rule a people against their will in our modern world. Mosher dayan's answer: 50 years.

      And that is why it is a practical question rather than a moral question. Once you have chosen power over powerlessness, you have chosen practicality.

      Those of you born in powerful nations, I doubt the sincerity of your espousal of powerlessness.

    • The mere fact of a military occupation is not immoral. The mere fact of a civilian occupation (where the occupied do not have the right to vote and other rights) is immoral. The practical facts of the occupation are immoral.

    • gamal- 1. i sometimes wonder what my zionism would be like if a branch of my family had not survived WWII being saved by zionism. i had four grandparents: one grandfather's family reached america intact. one grandmother lost everyone. a second grandmother lost only a mother and two half siblings, a second grandfather only lost one brother due to his other siblings and parents moving to palestine, which was made possible by zionism.

      2. I was raised very zionistic. i could have been a settler. missed it by about half a foot.

      3. some of my favorite moments have been in jerusalem and if someone told me i would never see jerusalem again it would be a real blow.

      4. i imagine if there had been no zionism that the jews would have been an excellent ally for the muslim arab diaspora. this might just be imagination and it can never be proven.

    • Ossinev- to be clear, the anthem of Jewish nationalism includes the line " to be a free nation (am) in our land." Leaving aside "our land", freedom for one while oppressing the other is not true freedom, so it is also a philosophical bind not just practical. But the primary mode of navigation, like a canoe in rocky waters, is avoiding capsizing, which is practicality, aside from the vision that lies quite a bit away.

    • In 2003 the geneva initiative was signed by yossi beilin and yasser abed rabbo, Palestinians who agree to this initiative are widely regarded as traitors. Jewish Zionists or israelis who agree to this are widely regarded as fools by the mainstream of Zionism.

      I accept the beilin abed rabbo pact. I accept the offer of ehud olmert as well. (i believe the beilin abed rabbo pact is slightly more generous to the palestinians than the olmert offer and the olmert offer was a take it or leave it kind of offer, whereas the beilin offer was offered by a nongovernment private citizen)

      i do not fault abu mazen for the failure of the peace process since 2008, but instead fault netanyahu.

      my zionism is practical and practically speaking the occupation is a major problem.

      since the status quo is opposed by yossi beilin, i assume backing the yossi beilin pact is a "new behavior".

      i favor talking to hamas so as to establish a modus vivendi regarding gaza. I see that as doable. I do not regard the west bank as easily solved as this modus vivendi with gaza that i favor. this is not the status quo. this would be a new behavior.

      I would add that when i talk openly to the right wing (and "centrists") of my family they regard me with suspicion and decide not to discuss politics with me because i am too dovish and they wish to avoid screaming at the friday night table. when i communicate with many of the characters here in the mw comments section, i do not reveal my dovish side, but reveal my support for traditional values: as in: the survival of Israel as a Jewish state.

    • To Donald Johnson and also Phil Weiss:
      Is Efraim Halevy a liberal Zionist? https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/MAGAZINE-a-former-spy-chief-is-calling-on-israelis-to-revolt-1.5444271
      He talks pragmatism, what i like to call game theory, not liberalism.

      I agree that attention to BDS as a battle to be waged rather than attention to the occupation as the struggle of our generation is as good as any an indication of what one's priorities are in their Zionism. But you seem a bit doctrinaire, regarding a doctrine that is not yours.

      I think that each liberal zionist expresses himself (herself) based upon a level of knowledge plus experience negotiating social circles of agreement and disagreement. You would condemn him because of his illiberal position, but in fact because he is to the left of his community, he has arrived at his point of view through thought and independence and even though much of his position still reflects his social circle, to the degree that he defies his social circle, this political stance has been hard won.
      Maybe he is of no use to your cause unless he speaks in the exact tone that you demand. But just in terms of curiosity if not in terms of communication, there is a lack in such a demand.

    • Liberal Zionist Americans are the particularly group that is under scrutiny. Apparently, if members of this group do not openly condemn Israel in the sharpest terms for its handling of the situation with Gaza, then people like Jerry Haber are going to confiscate from them the right to call themselves liberal Zionists. Which of course is "silly".

      Is Jane Eisner a liberal Zionist? Actually she's not, because of her position at the Forward she must play referee between various emotions and pulls and she is trying to satisfy as many people as possible at once.

      If one opposes the occupation but winces when they see "If not now" with its protests, does that make that person no longer a liberal zionist? Does the knowledge that the status quo has sunk its roots deep into the reality to the point where Abbie Hoffman tactics raise questions rather than seem to offer a path to the future, in other words conservativism regarding street theater, does that make them no longer allowed to call themselves by the name liberal?

      There are many in the liberal zionist camp who feel that BDS is a worse threat than the occupation, who see those who hold hands with Omar Barghouti as adversaries and enemies, does a worldview that includes pessimism regarding the utility of alliances with such people, does that mean they can't be called liberal?

  • Dear Natalie Portman: I too was once a liberal Zionist
    • The gap that exists between those who would undo Zionism versus those who seek to redo Zionism is a real one and although certain individuals pass from one concept to the other, this process is by no means assured and does not occur in all. The personality and social dynamics that are involved in changing one's attitude is ignored when the topic is "what is right?" rather than "why do people believe the way they do?"

      (for example trying to convince trump supporters to stop supporting him seems folly and much more interesting would be to study the very fact and mentality of trump suporters. although in america the balance between red and blue states is very near 50-50, whereas the balance in Israel, however you phrase it, has far different dynamics.)

      I find that since I moved back to Brooklyn from Israel over the last 7 years, with visits back to Jerusalem every summer, that my opinions vary from season to season, with different sorts of headlines leading to slight changes, but the primary changes occurring due to the changed environment both familial and societal. I spend much time with family when I'm there and Zionism is something that I discuss with family in America at passover and such, but the intensity with diaspora relatives is far different than discussions with people and hanging out a lot with people who embody aliya, Israel and Zionism, this creates a specific dynamic. And then there's the Jerusalem versus Brooklyn as my location: presence in the country and the type of calm and comfort I feel in Jerusalem and the combination of increased Hebrew and increased contact or proximity to Arabic, has its influence as well.

      Thus it is a very personal mixture of feelings that go into my politics. The politics is on the surface in a way and to assume that superficial political arguments about Herzl's comments about moving the indigenous to other locations, while also an element in the thoughts, is merely an outside face to the deeper dynamics going on.

      Thus when you write to Natalie Portman, you are writing about a topic that is very deep and dear to her. You raise ideas that are important, but in terms of communication with her as a person, you are in fact not doing so, because you are ignoring deeper emotions and ties.

      (She is not Howard Stern or Ed Koch or Roseanne Barr, whose politics are far to the right of Natalie, but whose connection to the land and people were/are far more superficial.)

  • Roger Cohen scares his readers: 'the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state'
    • If one wishes to undo the damage done by the nakba, objectively a worthy goal. If that is your goal all else is pragmatism. Pragmatically the zionist mindset, call it the 81 to 45 mindset, takes the lesson of powerlessness to heart and says a resolute, no. And here comes the post zionist mindset, call it the 48 to 18 mindset and says, Jewish power as in the nakba is the problem, Jewish powerlessness is irrelevant right now in comparison to the globe and the nakba. It may be impossible to communicate across this gap, but if that's what you are trying to do, then you might say so.

    • I suggest that those who think their proposal: opening up the gates of Israel to unlimited return of Palestinian exiles, what would that look like. Suggest- use south Africa as your model and follow event by event of deklerk' s revolution and fill in the Israeli corresponding part. Give some meat and bones to your vision. Unable to imagine an Israeli deklerk? Okay. Just a suggestion.

    • Gamal, I'm sure my zionism means my opinions don't count. But your endorsement of assad rings hollow and raises all sorts of question marks.

    • I thought mr. Levine was a journalist writing the first draft of history.

    • Joseph Levine informs us that before it was the IDF it was the Jewish Defense Forces: "(Jewish Defense Forces, precursor to the IDF, Israel Defense Forces) ".

      Could you please cite some link or book that refers to the Hagana as the Jewish Defense Forces. (Anything is possible, but this seems to be unlikely: The Zionist brigade that was part of the British army was referred to as G'dud Ha'ivri, the Hebrew Brigade, not the Jewish Brigade. The new man that Zionism was creating was a Hebrew man rather than a Jewish man and I find it unlikely that the organization referred to itself as Jewish Defense Forces. It seems likely that you made this up.)

  • Come in, Natalie, the water's fine
  • Leanne Gale's bold challenge to the Jewish community on BDS and anti-Zionism
    • interesting.
      Re: Bds's goal of "right of return", she seems to be saying, i (we progressive young jews) wish to make common cause with nonviolent palestinians and right of return is a reasonable attitude for them to have (as a position at this point in time), therefore it should not disrupt our desire to make common cause with them.

      in regards to the "demographic problem" she asserts that the desire to maintain a jewish majority stems from a wrong state of mind, that inevitably will lead to a clash between this desire and elimination of racism.

      these sentiments plus natalie portman's decision right on the day of the actual 5th of iyar, hit hard.

      I actually went on the "ir amim" tour of the wall around jerusalem when i lived in jerusalem.

      i'd be curious to hear what peter beinart's question was and what his take is.

      i think it is a reasonable response for supporters of israel to draw a red line against bds and view it as the act of an enemy. i think those who oppose the occupation need to find some means of expressing that opposition. and so far it is only "if not now" who has solid activist proposition. i cannot imagine myself observing the "if not now" street theater with anything other than mixed feelings, so i prefer not to watch up close.

      i watch warily, from middle distance.

  • Israel and its Democratic Party friends complain -- Trump gave Syria to Russia 'on a silver platter'
    • Israel does not want Iran to change the status quo in Syria, that is the essential point. those who hate israel take no offense at Iran's move to make a base for itself in Syria. Those who do not hate Israel accept the logic of taking such offense.

      meanwhile, iran's currency just tanked, so a little perspective on the "revolutionary" aspects of the land ruled by the ayatollah's is probably in order.

      i side with those who do not take offense at the obama iran nuke treaty, efraim halevy, a spy chief of some sort, is in favor of the treaty and he usually expresses a point of view that i can cite, "yeah, like he says."

      is it not sufficient for iran to turn hezbollah into an armed camp on israel's border, but iran must have its own foothold in syria? (I don't know what halevy has to say about the current crisis.)

  • The 'Jewish nation' is the central myth of Zionism. It needs to be dismantled.
    • The vast majority of 2018's Jews can trace their 1881 ancestors to one of two populations: Yiddish speaking Europe or Arabic speaking Jews of MENA (Middle East and North Africa). Closer to our day two events disturbed this neat formulation: Hitler's event and the mass emigration of Arabic speaking Jews out of the various countries of MENA. Today most Jews live in North America or Israel (with a much smaller number living in Europe and Argentina).

      But to return for a moment to 1881, most definitions of peoplehood or nationhood would not bridge the two 1881 communities.

      Nonetheless, the religion itself, would not inspect the word "am" to see if it matches any textbook definitions. But nonetheless the religion refers to an "am Yisroel" and prays for an ingathering of the dispersed and states "All Israel are responsible each to the other."

      Most Jews in the Diaspora no longer share the Yiddish language and have not acquired Hebrew. Their attachment to Jewish practices: specifically Sabbath and kosher are tenuous to nonexistent. The stigma attached to intermarriage is eroded and eroding.

      I once saw a video of Yeshayahu Leibowitz arguing with a young national religious Israeli female raising the question of whether a nation stops being a nation when it loses certain traits of commonality. (I think he was referring to language.) His question was delivered without an answer. He did not assert it as a statement, but proposed it as a question.

      When atheist Jews assert the non-nationhood of the Jews, they are usually stating- we have nothing that connects us to other Jews. They assert the disappearance of the religious connection (as a result of their beliefs) and deny the existence of any other connection. They do not propose the rejection of the nationalist bond in order to return to some other bond, they are asserting: "Don't think you have anything in common with other Jews. You don't."

  • Influential rabbi teaches would-be Israeli soldiers: Genocide is a mitzvah
    • I do not know how prominent wallas's interpretation of the texts and current events is among the national religious. I am not surprised, but certainly it should be said that not all national religious learned rabbis think like this.

      Unending wars and the power dynamics plus Jewish texts add up to a horrible mix, not in all cases but in this specific case.

      There really is no positive news and so now wallas has his 15 minutes of infamy.

  • Neocons and liberal interventionists are back in the saddle again -- though 'nobody wants a big war'!
  • The 'New York Times' stops being a stenographer for the Israeli army (today anyway)
    • With 5 million Syrians taking flight, how seriously should I take this denial that a mass movement of zionist Jews is a primary thought of those envisioning a post zionist Palestine.

  • Jews and trauma
    • I think Jewish trauma is an issue re: my generation (and older), born say in the first 25 years after hitler. and the primary fact as of 2018 is the identification with israel of these american jews over the age of 47, and that identification is a direct result of the trauma. whether this began in 1945, 1948, or 1967, there was/is for a large percentage of my generation, a knee jerk acceptance of the need for some sort of response to the holocaust that asserts the failure of nonviolence as a valid tactic.

      the younger jewish generation here in america is being raised without this trauma and that is for the good.

      the situation in israel by this point in time is primarily related to "colonialism" and constant war rather than the situation of Israel's birth. the rejection of nonviolence is practically automatic and labeling it as related to trauma will get you nowhere and saying let's talk it out, sounds touchy feely.

      i don't think there's anything that needs any psychoanalysis or singing kumbaya or hineh mah tov u'mah nai'm. i think there is a role to be played within the community as in: if not now. but they aren't about psychoanalysis and dissecting the role that the trauma played in the embrace of Israel by those older than them.

      Convincing the nontraumatised American Jewish young 'uns that they have little in common with Israel is the workable strategy. Convincing people who are attached to israel, that they should detach, because their attachment is a result of trauma and let's have a discussion about the trauma, that's not going to work, not here, not anywhere on this planet. certainly not when initiated by someone who often has espoused his basic apathy towards the disappearance of Jewish languages.

      Gaza is a mess, fer sure. It is for a true Israeli leader to decide that a modus vivendi has to be found with hamas. As long as the overall strategy is "put down your weapons and hand control over to fatah", there will be this siege continuing and the logic of the siege leads to a logic of a "no go" zone, leads to strangulation and this situation. I think that Bibi might have figured this out, but he is more intent in staying in power than fixing anything. In fact Gaza, as in modus vivendi (rather than real solution) is solvable. But not if there's no will to leave hamas in power. once you turn the policy into "get rid of hamas", this situation is the inevitable result. (obviously mindsets of Bennet and Lieberman leads to worse results than might be hoped for, but once there is the mindset of "get rid of hamas", rather than "fix the situation", then this is the result.)

    • Roman vishniac's photos seem to be of Jews in Warsaw before 1939. Warsaw ghetto refers to the Jews in Poland after the Nazi occupation. These photos were shot for the Jewish Distribution Committee between '35 and '38.

  • Killing Palestinian protesters turns into a PR debacle for Israel
    • Israel's biggest moral failing is regarding the West Bank, because regarding the West Bank, there is somewhat easy answer: withdrawal or ideological distancing from the settlement enterprise. But regarding Gaza there is no easy answer. Because a large majority of its population are refugees who consider their home in Israel '48, the challenge Gaza poses is difficult. There is a wide gap between what Gazans need for justice and what West Bankers need for something approaching a modus vivendi, so Gaza is difficult.
      I was never in Gaza, though I travel through the West Bank at least once a year and if you include East Jerusalem, I visit the West Bank for a month every year, so Gaza is distant in a way that Jerusalem and the West Bank are not, (though the distance is quite small.)
      The last major war against Gaza was in 2014, this is the most significant one day death toll since then.
      The economic and physical desperation of Gaza has been reported repeatedly in recent years and it seems that the relevant players: Fatah, Israel and Egypt have not figured out how to deal with Hamas and the result is worsening conditions. Israel shoots at its own people when a mentally unstable person runs into Gaza, so the use of lethal violence is no surprise. I do not feel sympatico with avigdor lieberman's cold heart, but since the challenge that Gaza poses is not nearly manageable I hesitate to comment beyond these limited phrases.

  • Israeli forces shoot unarmed protesters from across Gaza security fence, killing at least 15
    • The situation in Gaza has been getting more desperate recently. Attempts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas failed, when it became apparent that Hamas had no intention of submitting to the military rule of Gaza by Fatah.

      Of course the primary factors of the overcrowded nature of Gaza and the refugee nature of some 3/4 of their population should be restated. It should also be stated that Gaza shares a border with Egypt and that border is to the Sinai Peninsula which is a no man's land of violence from the Egyptian state's point of view. Israel controls the seas beyond 3 miles of Gaza's beaches and it controls the only nonEgyptian land exit from the territory.

      Israel occupied Gaza from 1967 until 2005, with a civilian settler population. it removed its settlers and its soldiers in 2005, but is considered to be the occupying army. It has established an area within Gaza that it considers to be a type of war zone/no man's land, and that is a valid symbol of the relationship. (Israel has also fought very destructive onslaughts against Gaza a few time since the 2005 withdrawal. These onslaughts were explained as resulting from rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel.) Plus the fact that Egypt is friendly with Israel these days and inimical to the Muslim Brotherhood, the philosophical comrades of Hamas.

      In recent months, or years, the electricity in Gaza has been limited. This is primarily the result of a decision by Abbas. For months Israel's military has been reporting that things are reaching a breaking point in Gaza. The poverty and desperation has grown and grown.

      Granted that Hamas wishes to change the status quo and the people of Gaza are in pain. But the dynamics of Fatah and Egypt should be included to give a little bit of a more complete picture.

      I am timid to assert precisely what Israel should do. I defer to Gershon Baskin, who knows something about Gaza and Hamas. After I've read what he's said, I will get back to you with a more complete opinion.

      The statements: that the people of Gaza should return to normalcy and not participate in provocations, is particularly galling, because normalcy in general in Gaza has been abnormal and in recent months we have been hearing of increasing desperation. When you pressure a political party in a way that pressures their population and it results in provocations, it seems to me that purely mechanically from a machine/energy point of view, that your cause has led to this effect.

  • Older Jews are officially terrified of young Jews' views of Israel
    • At some moment between the election of Ronald Reagan and the downing of the twin towers, the generations changed and the distance to WWII and Hitler changed from recent memory to not so recent memory. The connection that older Jewish Americans have to Israel was partially as a result of the glamorous Israel of "Exodus", the kibbutzim and 1967, but dig a little deeper and it was very connected to Hitler. To Jews born in '95 rather than '55 the connection to Hitler is far more distant. Thus new paradigms of connection to Israel are needed and they are lacking.

  • The problem with Passover
    • "Pour out thy wrath" can be read to only apply to those who have not called god's name. Christians, Muslims and others have called out god's name. It is not often read this way, but it can be read this way.
      Since that passage occurs after the meal, I consider it outside the core text of the haggada, which is before the meal.

      The concept of freedom versus slavery predominates the haggada. To apply these concepts beyond the tribe is not in the haggada, but once these concepts exist, they are perforce given a life of their own. Some limit these concepts to that which is specified: the tribe. Others take the concept global.

      Since you have cited a prayer that comes after the meal, let me cite THE prayer for after every meal, and not the tribal later paragraphs, but the universal first paragraph, blessed are you God who feeds the world with mercy, who gives food to all flesh, because he is kind and feeds all of his creations. Blessed is God who feeds all. (Paraphrase).

  • The barriers
    • Citizen- Truman wanted to recognize Israel before stalin. He was in a hurry to announce it. Convenience and speed explain why it was easier to rewrite the statement with a pen. Did he make one statement in the rest of his life which backs up your assertion regarding this statement? No.

    • Truman recognized the Jewish state of Israel. The state dept. was opposed, but his recognition was straightforward. The document was produced before Israel was named and therefore referred to it as the Jewish state. By the time he signed it, the state had a name, so he could call it by name, rather than a description. That was the reason for the cross out, not any philosophical compunctions. ( He opposed the Israeli refusal to allow the return of the refugees. His conception of a Jewish state did not recognize israeli concerns of demography.)

  • Trump appointed Bolton because Republicans desperately need Adelson's money
    • Yuri Slezkine uses the term "service nomads".

    • Hitler's challenge: the Jewish exile (in europe) is not working. What are you going to do about it? Jewish nonviolence is not working, what are you going to do about it? Jewish waiting for salvation by God is not working. What are you going to do about it?

    • Roha- you posed the question yourself any number of times: if being Jewish makes you into an object of hatred: why be jewish.
      ( an answer can be a response to a challenge, not necessarily a response to a question.)

    • First thought is how right Judah magnes was, that the Jewish presence in Palestine accomplished through the force of arms would lead to global complications and it required int'l oversight to prevent this. I don't know proper US policy on iran, let alone China, tarrifs and North Korea, yet I can see a photo of Donald with adelson and feel my stomach churn.

      The complications of the middle east are deeper than the zionist versus Palestinian struggle, but the deeper problem should not blind us to the hardening of the heart involved in the expulsions of 48 and in much of what has come since, particularly the civilian settler occupation of the West bank. When ehud barak , olmert, rabin or even Sharon were in power there was a hope for change, but bibi, since 92, has represented a hard line and a negation of hope.
      Zionism is an insufficient answer to Hitler. Yet since there is no sufficient Jewish community answer to Hitler, it has become the only answer to Hitler.

      Passover is about slavery, freedom, law, identity and hardening of hearts. It is about continuity in its traditions, but it is about radical change in its message. (One of its messages)

  • War-loving, Muslim-hating John Bolton wants to give 'pieces' of Palestine to Jordan and Egypt
    • Citizen- If you are pleased by the choice of Bolton, then you were right to vote for Donald Trump. If you are not pleased with the choice, then it seems that Trump's promises are not worth as much as his bankrupt casinos. So don't blame me or Adelson or something nefarious. Blame trump and the genius who voted for him.

    • Those of you who voted for Trump or gave him half a vote by voting 3rd party, "you irresponsible dopes, see what you have done. Your political intelligence wouldn't fill a thimble."

  • Criticism of Women’s March leaders reminiscent of attacks on Jesse Jackson 30 years ago
    • Roha- thanks for the kind words.

    • The chief rabbi sucks. Netanyahu sucks. Farrakhan sucks. Am I okay now, old geezer? Or do you have some more hoops I need to jump through before I'm allowed to comment?

    • Stephen- don't you think someone whose toxicity towards Jews was so loud and outrageous, doesn't he have a duty of being just as loud with his repentance?

    • Too bad mw can't afford an editor. Maybe you meant moral panic, rather than moral manic. Certainly you meant tenets rather than tenants.

      Malcom x was murdered because of the (true) gossip that he spread about the womanizing of "the honorable"elijah muhammad. Farrakhan, faithful disciple, called for malcolm's death.

      I always assumed that Andy young got a green light from Carter to talk to the plo, but once it came to light, young had to be fired. That's how the state dept. works. Break the rules and get caught, lose your job.

      Jesse jackson's 1984 campaign never got off the ground. It's difficult to tell what role farrakhan's threat to kill the reporter who reported "hymietown" played in that campaign. Death threats against reporters is low. (Understatement).

      Jesse Jackson's defeat by dukakis in the NY state primary was pivotal to his loss of the nomination in 88. It was not farrakhan who was key to his defeat, nor koch. It was jackson's stance on israel. ( ted Kennedy's defeat of Carter in the 1980 NY state primary was also due to Jewish voters and their support for israel.)

  • There are only two kinds of Jews, Schumers and Feinsteins
    • Politics is a strange game: sometimes it calls for purity, other times for compromise. Sometimes the wheels of history move slowly, other times with awesome and terrifying speed.

      Whose side are you on? A familiar phrase, sometimes useful, sometimes not.

      By including beinart and Roger Cohen on the right side of history Phil Weiss has earned a thumbs down from the choir here, which demands purity. How history will play out, is unclear. Will this liberal demarcation of the border between good and evil drawn in this way help? Unclear.

  • 'NYT' free speech advocate Bari Weiss reportedly helped bring down a Columbia dean over 'intellectual heresy'
    • How Columbia University should deal with a f***face like that guy, I don't know, but his holocaust denial statements were slime and scummy and would fit right in here in the mw comments.

  • Rabbi Cardozo: outlawing circumcision would 'end the state of Israel'
    • Ossinev- because of my lack of scholarship on the medical benefits or lack thereof, I do not feel competent to judge the utility to society of making this act prohibited. Such a law would be a game changer.

    • i am against post mila oral suction. if the rabbis announced that from now on jewish males would wait until 18 years to get mila, I would not object. if individual jews oppose mila and feel they will double down on sabbath in order to make up for their dereliction that strikes me as a commitment to continuity.

      Those who await the disappearance of the jews with glee are overrepresented in the mw comments section.

    • Waiting for messiah should have been included on the list. Zionism is a secular offshoot of waiting for messiah- as in "too much waiting, now let's do something instead of waiting."

      Survival- as in "continuity" should also be on the list. Zionism, from my point of view, is wrapped up in the urge to survive. The primary Jewish population of 1881 ( eastern European) has failed at survival (in place) has succeeded in physical survival through emigration. American jewry the primary location for that emigration has succeeded in physical survival, but not nearly as successful at cultural survival. One of the few cultural continuity successes has been mila. Zionism was an attempt at both physical survival and cultural transformation/continuity, exchanging Yiddish for hebrew, and exchanging tradition for nationalism.

      Yes, belief in one God should have led the list.

      Judaism did not give ethics to the world, but it did give and does give a set of books to the world that include some of the most memorable quotable passages extolling justice and ethics.

    • Tribal initiation rites are actually pretty foreign to the modern mind. "Why don't your rabbis decide to undo the rite?" I can't think of a deafer response.

      I would place mila in the top 10 Jewish traditions:
      1. Justice and ethics
      2. the sabbath
      3. the holidays
      4. kosher
      5. a set of books
      6. marriage laws
      7. oneness of god
      8. mila

      Can anyone name one significant Jewish theological thinker who has backed the intactness movement? I doubt it.

      Rabbi Cardozo overstates the importance, but top 8 is also important.

    • Phil, your decision to include this anti bris piece is your own choice. Cardozo's rhetoric is his rhetoric and your decision should not depend on his rhetoric. That's an excuse. You choose to say: this is an antizionist web site and one that also attacks Jewish practice. And from a certain perspective that's okay. (Antizionism is as valid as Isaac Deutscher and...)The Torah is not a perfect document and Jewish practice is not based on a tabula rasa inscribed with the recipe for humanity's perfection, but rather a mix of good and bad and criticizing Jewish practice is part and parcel of being Jewish, certainly in the modern era, so that's okay.

      Only, it's not 100% okay. I would prefer that the Palestine versus Israel issue could be discussed with a maximum of "cool, calm and collected". That is hardly the prevalent tone of the discourse, but it seems to me the ideal. Raising the issue of bris automatically pushes the discourse in the opposite direction.

      Anyone as far left as me who has spent as much time as me as the furthest left voice at every single shabbos table (overblown rhetoric but not far from the truth) is familiar with the accusation of antisemite. anyone who grew up orthodox and left the path is considered an enemy to Torah.

      I am curious regarding the future developments in the saga of Jews versus Palestinians on the land and Jews versus Jews regarding Torah.

      The flow of history has its reversions, but the movement against bris will continue, for a society protects its children. As world hygiene improves the life saving aspect of circumcision will seem an anachronism. (The life saving aspect of mila is not a factor in the west today, but it is a factor elsewhere on this globe. And as that fact changes, this aspect will seem an anachronism.) And thus the protection of the individual will eventually force governments in the direction of this prohibition. It will be interesting.

      But if one wishes to keep the discourse on the level of logic, waving red flags is no way to accomplish that.

      If there are two tribal aspects to Jewishness, they are bris and the Holocaust. Both very tribal and both very inflammatory.

    • Some thoughts: If only the tradition of the Jews was as anodyne as banjo playing on the porch or talking in tongues in church, but it's a far thornier ball of wax, including tribal initiation of our male infants.

      those who root for the disappearance of the Jews will have predictable opinions on this issue. those who are apathetic regarding the slow and inexorable disappearance of the Jews will have predictable opinions on this issue. If anyone feels strongly opposed to the disappearance of the Jews, yet still wants changes to the community's relationship to this tribal rite, those opinions are of interest to me. Haven't read one of those here yet.

      the idea of such laws being passed and mohels going to jail and brisses being held in secret certainly has an allure to my sense of adventure and intrigue.

      Rabbi cardozo was born from a jewish father and a nonjewish mother and converted as a result of a religious awakening as a teenager. i respect his opinion, yet i am uncomfortable with his vehemence on this issue. But his emphasis on commitment is appropriate and if one is not committed to jewish continuity, then one's opinions on this issue are predictable.

    • Jonathan Ofir-
      Are there any Jewish rituals you adhere to or admire?

    • I agree with Jon s., this post is distinctly inappropriate here. Anti judaic, rather than anti zionistic.

      Circumcision is far more dangerous for an 18 year old man than it is for an 8 day old infant. If not for that fact, I would be interested in fantasizing about modern Judaism investing the responsibility for mila in the individual when he turns 18, rather than in the parents or community when he is a week old.

      But it is a fantasy for this ritual is tribal rather than individualistic.

      I consider the medical evidence that circumcision saves lives of males who are snipped and of the females who have sex with these males to be proof that the ritual when first instituted was motivated (if only subconsciously ) by a desire for a strong, healthy tribe. (Even if modern hygiene suffices to eliminate the deaths caused by nonsurgery, the sane sensible origin of the practice is important to me.)

      It would be interesting if Jews who choose not to circumcise their sons instead took upon themselves some Jewish rituals that showed that their rejection of mila was not a rejection of Jewish ritual per se, but merely a rejection of this ritual because of its invasive nature. For example if Jews who reject mila (the 8th day commandment) vowed more adherence to the sabbath ( the 7th day commandment) I could see such a movement claiming, we want the Jewish rituals to continue, in a general sense, just not this specific ritual.

      I read, 45 years ago, about some blond jew, who had never been circumcised, who, because of this fact, was a very successful spy ( for israel). I wondered at the time whether mila should be skipped sometimes for such espionage purposes.

      When discussing the odds of survival of Jews who hid during the abyss one hears that blonde hair and light skin and non-Jewish facial features were a factor for women, but not as much for men, because of Bris mila.

      It is no surprise that voices here in the comments section who gleefully fantasize about the dissappearance of the Jews object to bris. Although objections to mila are understandable, when expressed by those who wish ill to the Jews, it should be understood in that context.

  • Nine reasons Israel is not a 'progressive paradise'
    • 38 to 26, the ratio of sympathy of liberal democrats favoring palestinians over Israel is only close to 2 to 1 if you suffer from innumeracy.

  • Identity as pathology
    • Abba solomon: "Because of the inherent instability of Jewish political identity, when it is expressed with the authority of a state it can only become cruel and frantic to fight its contradictions."

      I disagree. The cause of the cruelty is the war situation of expressing identity through and in a land with other claimants. The desire to express Jewish political identity was not the overriding Jewish zeitgeist in1897, three stronger currents: escape eastern Europe towards the west, America especially. Overthrow the czar and establish a better world. Escape the tyranny of the old: the shtetl and its suffocation. Probably fourth was reaction to that: rabbinical continuity and only fifth: zionism. It was not a strong movement in 1897. It got a boost from the pogroms of 1905 more so than from photos of herzl with world leaders. But really there is nothing to suggest anything momentous until WWI. Balfour. From out of left field. Really very little reason to expect Balfour out of the blue. If not for herzl there would have been no balfour, but still, totally unexpected.
      But this was not an overwhelming movement in1917.
      And its weak point was the need for bayonets.

      But to Abba solomon, the problem is not the need for bayonets, it's the contradictions of Jewish political identity.
      I disagree.

    • Abba solomon,
      Jew is a complex ball of wax especially when confronted with the heat of modernity and the durability of jew hatred. Reading about young bolshevik and menshevik Jews rebelling against religion, eventually taking part in the communist enterprise, a discredited enterprise, in terms of belief in freedom and human realities, but an enterprise that was a worthy opponent of western capitalism, certainly as an ideal.

      (Once we condemn communism, the only lasting diaspora contribution is American jewry. And then the metrics seem silly: Progress of Jews to be measured by the Americanization reflected by the tendency of the generations towards "disappearance".)

      But to refer to nazism and its trauma only back handedly seems intentionally blind.

      How I wish that zionism was more informed by the inherent confusion of a scattered people with an ancient text (a text viewed in the west as the seminal but incomplete text as the basis of society, a text that both fueled various rebellions and inspired "erase the infamy" rebellions against itself)... how the secularization of society would interact with the identity, yes, a thorny time was had by all.

      Whatever... indeed the inherent conflict is my daily bread.

      But the swastika. I know this only adds to the traumatic interpretation of post war Judaism and zionism, and normalcy is the course of life that is a human yearning, also by the millions of Israeli jews.

      Yes, daily viewing of the photo of the misshaped skull of the Palestinian youth, symbol of the occupation, causes one to scoff at the normalcy sought, but taking part even one month a year in Israeli society has the consequence of accepting Israeli Jewish humanity.

      Judah magnes predicted a long war and he was right. War is not conducive to normalcy. That the journey away from exile, dispersion, confusion, in the post faith era, led to a state at constant war, is thornier than one might wish.

      My viewpoint is not global geopolitical, nuclear small surrounded state, source of added global instability. It is cultural. Identity in and of itself is thorny, not pathology. But adding the swastika in history and constant war in the current scene, turns thorns even thornier.

  • Avraham Burg speaks at Temple Israel in Boston
    • If Larry Derfner or Gideon Levy had come to town, i think that the event would not have passed so peacefully. They are part of the current tense in a way that Burg is not.

  • 'Israel-related censorship' on Upper West Side is deplored by 40 Jews, including Beinart, Hirschmann, Peratis, Zellner
  • In calling for end of Jewish state, Avraham Burg is painted as 'troublemaker' at liberal NY synagogue
    • Show me one time that a United Nations statement or resolution referred to Beersheba as a settlement or occupied territory.

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