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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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  • What if your friend had to die to preserve a Jewish state?
    • BTW, Phil. I realize that you are under no obligation to reveal anything about your family that you choose not to, but I think it might be instructive sociologically to know: how many of your siblings married Jews, how many nieces and nephews you have. It would also be interesting to inform us, when your grandparents or great grandparents moved to America.

    • Phil, you write, "I don’t deny the presence of the Holocaust, but I emphasize the reality of genocide as a historical human condition that all peoples must deal with."

      This is a fine sentiment, but very detached and very third person. When my niece, whose parents moved to Israel 13 years ago, went to the camps in Poland as her senior trip, I was asked to send a note which she might read during her trip. I wrote, that I wished that she could be saved from this experience and I wish she would not have to confront such a history.

      I myself have never gone to the camps of Poland, nor to my grandparents' birthplaces in Byelorussia or the Ukraine, nor to my great grandparents' mass burial sites in those two places. Watching a documentary on the Khurban sets me back a week or so (and even a film like Hotel Rwanda sets me back a day or so) and so I do not imagine that a visit to the killing fields would do me much better. To that extent I envy your ability to view genocide as a historical human condition that all peoples must deal with, rather than as something that wounded my two grandmothers (of blessed memory) deeply and bruised me and continues to bruise my nieces and nephews.

      I think you should admit that your grandparents' or great grandparents' arrival in America took place early enough so that the only losses to genocide you suffered were quite distant from your immediate family. As Marc Ellis points out the Khurban should not be used to excuse the suffering (deaths and exile) of the Palestinians. But you should admit, that the Khurban is mostly third person to you and your experience of it is far different than that of many Israeli Jews.

      Now as far as your attitude towards Judaism: "I don’t want to remove or slight or diminish Jewish culture or Jewish religion, inasmuch as they are meaningful to many folks"– again this is third person. You have little stake in Jewish culture and Jewish religion, only insofar as you oppose Jewish nationalism. You have disparaged Talmud and you are distant from Jewish culture and religion. This is fine. This is what makes America great, that one can start anew with the blank slate that America provides. (That blank slate was/is not so blank for African Americans or native Americans or other Americans of color, but that is a separate point.) But you are not a defender of Jewish culture nor an advocate for Jewish culture.

      I do not think preserving Jewish culture is sufficient reason to excuse the exile of the Palestinians from their villages, but it is an issue that deserves serious attention. It is okay that it is not one of your priorities, but you usually don't pretend that it is.

      Kafka, by the way, is a great and essential writer and I am proud that he was Jewish.

      I understand that Jewish nationalism as expressed through Modern Zionism (as distinct from classical Zionism- as in the yearning for Jerusalem without a political prescription) and the state of Israel has produced much suffering and I do not have an exact recipe how to turn it into something more neutral or even positive. You wish to end Jewish nationalism and it is quite bracing to hear how unequivocal you are about that. I certainly do not wish to end Jewish nationalism, although as I wrote I have no formula for turning it into a nationalism that can coexist with Arab nationalism and Palestinian nationalism. Nationalism is not the greatest thing ever invented. But particularly in the middle east, nationalism or pan Arabism or pan Islamism are not movements that will disappear in the next 50 years and so Jewish nationalism has its place in the world as well. Certainly all the mentioned movements: nationalism, Arab nationalism, Islamism and Jewish nationalism, must be tamed and the arc of history indicates that clashes will take place before rationalism and concern for all humans tames any or all of those "ism"s, but I cannot sign on to the cause of wishing to end Jewish nationalism, outside of the context of the wider struggle to tame all of those "ism"s.

    • When Barack Obama placed the reason for Israel's existence as the Khurban (I prefer that to the "sacred" term Holocaust) many objected, because why should the Palestinians pay for the sins of Europe? There is a reason why the Jewish state exists in its historical spot rather than in Alaska (a la michael Chabon), but clearly the history of Europe between 1881 and 1945 (and to some extent America and its post WWI immigration policies) cannot be denied as a primary cause for the gathering of a sufficient number of Jews in Palestine to make the war of 47-48 practically inevitable.

      Currently Phil Weiss and his cohort is trying to undo the accomplishment of 47-48 and because so many people were hurt in 47-48, I too idealize a future in which the Palestinians (diaspora, west bank, gaza, Jerusalem and Israel) feel welcome in Israel. It is hard, given the current state of Syria and Egypt, for those who wish to see a better future to defend the practicality of such a future.

      Given the present tense, those young 'uns who have recently served in the Israeli army have thought about existential questions and the Khurban and the pre state fortunes of the Jews, are going to be near the front of the tongue when one is asked such questions.

      Also: please note that the young man referred to his grandfather who came to the country. As has been pointed out, the percentage of Jews whose grandparents were in Europe during 1939 to 1945, or escaped to Palestine by the skin of their teeth in the 30's is much higher than the percentage of American Jews whose grandparents or great grandparents suffered the Khurban in person or escaped it by a wisp of chance.

      I grant that the Khurban loses its raw heat as time goes on and if not for the need to convince Israelis to serve in the army, the Jewish people might be better off trying to live in the future and not in the past. Phil Weiss is trying to convince young American Jews that the Khurban is ancient history that happened to someone else or that is essentially irrelevant today. Onward to assimilation- onward to Christmas wreaths and readings of Kafka to make up for that ritualistic ethnocentric outmoded father in the sky worship which we can safely dump onto the trash heap of history.

      The mindset towards the future and towards the past are very different among American Jews than amongst Jews in Israel. Two different histories. (And so now is the time to convince American Jews that they are very different from those stupid yokels who won't let go of the past and we are the new Jews who are ready willing and able to toss anything Jewish (except Kafka) onto the trash heap.)

    • Danaa, thanks for giving me a taste of Israeli rudeness, something you can always be depended upon vis a vis me, so that i don't wax nostalgic for Israel.

      I did catch tremps when I was in Israel 72-74.

      Yes, it is preferable to catch a tremp with Phil Weiss and his "niece" rather than with the types who dispatched Nachshon Waxman. Small price to pay.

      By the way, Phil, now that you've faked one niece, how about telling us how many real nieces and nephews you actually do have.

    • Man, what a high price for a tremp. (tremp- hitchhike).

      Better to be harangued by a Moonie at the airport or a homeless man in a crowded subway car than to be harangued by Phil Weiss in the back seat of a friggin car in the West Bank. What if your friend is going to die? Hell, man. The kid just wanted to get from point A to point B and you start going existential on him. Gimme a break.

      And now the rest of you join in and pile on the kid. Gimme a break.

  • Violence works-- by ending complacency
    • It is fair enough for Phil Weiss to praise the 2nd intifada for its being a goad against complacency and towards political movement. But when he condemns the hawkish statements of young Israeli Jews and labels them North Koreans because of this, then he is ignoring another affect of the 2nd intifada: the traumatic effect on people who were young when it took place. Someone who is 19 years old today was 8 years old at the height of the 2nd intifada's violence (which was March of 2002.) For Jerusalemites, the intifada was a daily scare and left its scars. That 8 year old was scared to go on buses or to go to the pizzeria. He was warned to call his parents every time a bomb went off to assure them he was safe. Of course when that 8 year old turns 19, this experience colors his political opinions.

      But Phil Weiss only knows how to praise the good effects of the violence, not to recognize the ill effects of the violence. No, these 19 year olds are North Koreans, closed off to the world and therefore stupid in their politics. No, Phil Weiss, the intifada may prove that violence pays, but violence also costs and one of the costs is the scars it left on those who were young during the violence and now face the world with that knowledge as part of their personal history. That also is part and parcel of the violence of the past and it will be part and parcel of the violence of the future. It is much too easy to label those young adults as North Koreans rather than to remember that along with shattering the complacency of certain politicians, the intifadeh shattered the belief in peace or peaceful means in those who were very young at the time and still have not had the time to accrue countering experiences to develop a more nuanced politics. Meanwhile you might consider developing a more nuanced attitude towards young Israeli Jews. Scratch that. It won't happen. You're too busy being bored by American Jews and dissing the yokels over there.

  • 'It is Zionist to think that American Jews have any connection to Israel'
    • For Jews whose Yom Kippur doesn't involve reading Jewish texts or only select texts, but not those in the prayer book, the above makes sense. Certainly one can repent and fast in order to get closer to the creator and not care about Jews in Israel more than one cares about anyone else anywhere else on the globe. (There is a concept regarding poverty that explicitly states: The poor of your city have priority over the poor of other cities. So in that regard the kid is right and MJ's lack of an answer is right too.)

      But if one reads the prayer book and takes the words seriously, then the kid's apathy towards the fate of the Jews of Israel is wrong. Concern for peace for Israel, concern for fellow Jews, pervade the daily prayers of Jews and certainly are very present in the prayers of Yom Kippur as well. The final line of the Yom Kippur prayer is "Next Year in Jerusalem". Of course we can do the limbo and interpret the words as meaningless and Jerusalem as an idea rather than a place in the here and now, or in the here and soon (next year), but that does not change the facts. The Jewish religion is filled with constant impulses (commands and prayers) to concern oneself with the fate of one's fellow Jews. (Of course I am familiar with the prayer book used for thousands of years rather than the Reform prayer book of much shorter duration. Maybe the Reform skip the line "Next year in Jerusalem" or translate it into meaninglessness. Maybe the Reform have deracinated the Yom Kippur prayers. I doubt that the text of the Reform prayer book is as deracinated as this kid makes it out to be.) I think the kid really doesn't read the prayers of Yom Kippur, as written in the prayer book, with any degree of seriousness other than aloofness and apathy. I am proud that he is devoted to helping the poor of his city. That is great. And Isaiah and many of those other ancient Israelite holy men always said that morality is more important than ritual and to a degree, far away Jews are more a ritualistic "burden" "responsibility" "connection" rather than a moral one. But to pretend that Judaism says nothing about concern for other Jews who live far away, is to pretend that Judaism was invented 200 years ago in post Mendelssohn Germany. There is plenty in Judaism that can help the world or the individual even if it is denuded of its "national" (concern for fellow coreligionist) content. But I would argue that this is a form of post Judaism and not Judaism itself. Apathy towards the Jews of Israel is not a Jewish concept.

      Marc Ellis has the self regard or self confidence to label his rejection of Zionism and the Zionism of the mainstream (older) Judaisms, as Jews of Conscience. But now we have a new category: Jews of Apathy. Phil Weiss promotes it by his: hopefully soon the Jews in America will treat the Jews of Israel as they deserve to be treated: as foreign yokels and now we have MJ Rosenburg selling the same "Jews of Apathy" as the new paradigm that will save Judaism from Zionism.

  • 'J Street' is quick to pounce on NYT piece shrugging off end of Jewish state
    • Weiss writes, "Why do we need self-determination as a nation in a disputed land when we’re a religious group that’s doing just fine in the United States?"

      As I wrote above, my primary consideration today vis a vis Israel is the future vis a vis the Jews who live there (and the nonJews who live there.) (NonJews is a subclause rather than my first concern, as in, I want there to be peace and the mixing of people without animosity because such a future is what I idealize for the future generations of Jews.)

      But I wish to raise another point that Oleg has touched upon and that is the question of assimilation. Phil hides his assimilationism when he purports to celebrate the "religious group that is doing fine". As individuals we are doing fine, but as a religious group the dominant force is towards disappearance into the American mass of celebrating Christmas. (Sorry to pick on Christmas, might as well pick on Halloween. Unfortunately the Jewish equivalent of Halloween, Purim, is fraught with all kind of toxic issues, so Christmas gets the nod.) Jews for a variety of reasons are anti religion more than other groups and the religious affiliation of Jews is dwindling, something that is celebrated by Weiss and MW. America will benefit from the talent of Jews who shed their Jewish identity in the future, as America has in the past, but to blithely advocate assimilation in one moment and assert 'the religious group is dong fine' in the next moment (without comment) is to avoid an obvious issue.

    • "One basis for Zionism is the belief that Jews will be unsafe as tiny minorities in western societies," writes Phil Weiss.

      Well, maybe, but that's really taking liberties with what was the basis for Zionism. The basis for Zionism was (rather than is) the belief that trusting the emancipation offered by the promise of increasing liberalism of the west will always depend upon the good will of the western societies, which was not considered a safe bet. Pinsker, living in a decidedly nonWestern society, experienced the "progress" towards liberalism in Russia as something decidedly undependable and he was spot on. Yet, his experience in Russia thankfully seems irrelevant when assessing Jewry's success and acceptance in American society.

      I would contend that Zionism today is not based upon definitions from 19th century Russia, but rather simply, supporting the existence of Israel as a state that can protect the Jews who have chosen to live there. (How protecting those Jews and protecting the rights of all its citizens can coexist as ideas or as priorities is a valid question. How safe the Jews living in Israel will be as the present gives way to the future, is another valid question.) But it is the five or six million Jews living in Israel today that form the basis of Zionism today rather than the definitions from 130 years ago.

      It is true that many Zionists still view the world as a dangerous place and the world is still a dangerous place for Jews, meaning that Jews have seen fit to flee from Iran and the former Soviet Union in the last 35 years, and though I'm sure many of them fled due to economic opportunities available in the west, I am also sure that many of those who fled did so because they felt unwelcome by their neighbors or by their governments. To say that the Jews prosper in the west does not say that Jews can prosper everywhere in the world and the Jews have voted with their feet to leave certain places and find other places where they feel safer. But I did not believe in the nearness of the apocalypse for Jews in America in 1968, when I heard supporters of Kahane spouting this danger in the background of the teachers strike in the fall of 68 and I do not sense the nearness of the apocalypse (physical) for Jews in America today 45 years later.

      Zionism today is based upon the needs of those Jews who live in Israel today and the success of America's Jews does not undercut the fact that those Jews still need support from America's Jews. As America's Jews grow alienated from everything Jewish: whether it is the Sabbath, Yom Kippur, Passover, Sukkot, Hebrew or Yiddish, they will also grow to consider Jews living in Israel as foreigners, who are irrelevant to them.

  • Salon writer concludes that 'judeophobe' is just code for 'anti-Zionist'
    • Donald- My meaning would have been best conveyed by the phrase "patrician dreck". I used Wasp instead of patrician. Sorry, wasps. And all you patricians who are nice, sorry to you, too.

      By Mondoweiss, I didn't mean to include everyone. But Phil obviously wrote the headline and feels that except for Zionism, Vidal was a lover of all humans or some such something. And even a quick surf reveals this to be false.

      Vidal was a character with some iconic value and an excellent writer. I read "Myra Breckenridge" a long time ago and the first 200 or so pages of "Julian" about twenty years ago and "Lincoln" only recently. "Lincoln" was the most readable work on the Civil War that I have ever read and reading Vidal's "Lincoln" and E.L. Doctorow's "The March" helped me celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

      Even when I was a kid watching Buckley threatening to bop Vidal in the nose for calling him a fascist, I could tell that Vidal was a "character". But a character implies cuteness and in fact he wrote intemperate things, prejudicial things, hateful things and he wasn't cute. (And attributing his hate only to the topic of Zionism, well it doesn't look true to me.)

  • Was it 'jihad' when Henry Crown smuggled plane parts to Israel?
    • Phil Weiss writes regarding Crown’s father’s smuggling: “He did so because he thinks Jews are unsafe in the U.S.”

      Thus Phil Weiss has completed the trek from journalist to propagandist. Did Crown ever say that his father felt unsafe in the U.S.?

      No, he said that his father bled red white and blue, but felt powerless vis a vis American power when faced with the inability to influence America to open its arms to Jewish refugees (he mentions the St. Louis). In the aftermath of the refusal (inability) of the US to perform the purpose of safe haven for Jewish refugees, the idea of a safe haven for Jews (somewhere, anywhere) was a dream. That describes his devotion to Zionism, not the danger to US Jews, but his concern for nonUS Jews, since the US could not open its arms to all. The US was not that safe haven for the Jews who were on the St. Louis. It was a safe haven for Crown. He never said Jews were unsafe in the US.

      This is not even close to journalism. This is opposition to Zionism burning the truth right out of your writing.

    • Phil Weiss writes regarding Crown's father's smuggling: "He did so because he thinks Jews are unsafe in the U.S."

      Thus Phil Weiss has completed the trek from journalist to propagandist. Did Crown ever say that his father felt unsafe in the U.S.?

      No, he said that his father bled red white and blue, but felt powerless in the face of the Nazi onslaught vis a vis American power and that in the aftermath of that debacle, the idea of a safe haven for Jews was a dream. The US was not that safe haven for the Jews who died. It was a safe haven for Crown. He never said Jews were unsafe in the US.

  • Nakba is the root of the conflict and makes '67 negotiations meaningless -- 'NYRB'
    • Phil's take on the article was not similar to my own. The article contradicted some articles of faith here on mondoweiss, most glaringly its dismissal of the bds movement:

      "Claims of a peace within grasp have been as overstated as warnings that the perpetually closing window for a two-state-solution has nearly shut or that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank will make it an international pariah. In the countries in which the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (“BDS”) has made the largest gains—South Africa and the United Kingdom—Israeli exports have in fact sharply risen. Israelis are not overly worried that the European Union will go significantly beyond wringing its hands over the way its financial support of the Palestinian Authority effectively underwrites Israel’s occupation."

      And this from the footnotes:

      "In the near future the most one can imagine from Europe is a move to ensure that settlement products in its markets no longer bear "Made in Israel" stickers. At the beginning of 2014, new European Commission guidelines, which restrict European Commission—but not European Union member state—awards to Israeli entities operating in territories Israel conquered in 1967, are to take effect. When the guidelines were leaked to journalists in mid-July, European diplomats expressed surprise at what they viewed as hyperbolic reactions by much of the Israeli government and press. In fact, the guidelines change very little. The EU has had a longstanding policy of limiting the funding of Israeli entities located beyond Israel's pre-1967 borders. The guidelines are not binding on EU member states; they restrict European Commission support, in the form of grants, prizes, and financial instruments, to Israeli entities in the West Bank and Golan Heights, but such support was minimal to begin with; they do not affect trade between Israel and Europe; and they do not apply to Israeli government offices, such as the Ministry of Justice, that are located beyond Israel's pre-1967 borders."

      I advise reading the entire article.

      Here's the last paragraph: "If renewed talks break down, Israelis may begin asking themselves whether the time has come to abandon hopes of a full peace in order to achieve—perhaps through cease-fires or further unilateral withdrawals—a partial separation. They would thereby create something more than one state but less than two, which is, in fact, all that was ever on offer."

  • How Israel and Zionism penetrate my little corner of rural America
    • "It is drawn by Yaakov Kirschen, who in 1971 as a 33-year-old Brooklyn cartoonist named Jerry Kirschen, made aliyah, immigration to Israel. " Here a Mondoweiss contributor has contributed to the MW tradition of making a big to do about Jews using their Hebrew names when they move to Israel. I betcha Ira Glunts has a Hebrew name aside from Ira. But that's just a bet. Phil has revealed that his Hebrew name is Pinchas. In any case, if you don't get my point, Yaakov Kirschen, in all likelihood, was named on his birth certificate Jerry Kirschen, but was named by his parents at the time of the snipping of his genitals Yaakov and was called up to the Torah, in all likelihood at his bar mitzvah, by the name Yaakov. So in fact he was named (except for his birth certificate) Yaakov, besides Jerry.

  • Ben Rhodes says 'there’s no more difficult issue in the world' than Israel/Palestine conflict
    • Phil- You've put your finger on one essence: (modern) Zionism was born in Eastern Europe ca. 1900 and would never have been born in America ca. 1900 or ca. 2013.

      The situation of the Middle East ca. 2013 and forward should certainly be uppermost in the minds of those who want to build a future better than the present and past.

      Those who sacrifice their sons are hostage to the policies of the government and army. But many individual Israeli Jewish citizens believe that the army-less-ness of the Jews was a crime of negligence (of fathers against their children, of leaders against their followers) at various times in our past and therefore a Jewish army is the one certain demand of the Jewish present.

      The wide ranging change that you are proposing are not on the minds of the mainstream of Israeli Jewish society.

  • Egyptians lack 'basic mental ingredients' necessary for democracy, says 'NYT' columnist
    • just- the post implies that Mondoweiss is concerned about democracy and would use other analyses than Brook's racist ones to assess the Morsi "experiment" and the current "coup". But Mondoweiss is not concerned about democracy, or else it would have weighed in at the time of the constitution vote. Mondoweiss stood at the sidelines then and now weighs in against Brooks who is racist in his analysis.

      My analysis is superficial. I feel that the Arab world stopped its real progress at the time of the Mongol invasion and has never caught up since. Turkey and Iran are totally different than the Arab world and their progress seems to demolish the argument that Islam (as the sole factor) is the problem. Islam is not without its problems: and the prolonged role of the army in Turkey and the arrogance of Erdogan (not my analysis, but the analysis of masses of Turks) might have something to do with Islam. Iran's "experiment" with the Ayatollah's has not been a success and that seems more to do with US interference in 1954 and the Shah's cruelty, but Khomeini and his heirs are not a good proof of the democratic tendencies of Islamist peoples. But Iran is far advanced educationally and economically (or it certainly was in 1979) compared to the Arab countries.

      I have not studied enough to understand how economic improvement comes to some countries and not to others and how that interplays with democratic development. Japan was a one party nation for the longest time and South Korea was ruled by a dictator until a generation ago. Maybe the West's thirst for oil and the moneys that accrue to oil have held the Arab nations back. I know Edward Said scoffed at those who denigrated Arab culture. Easy to scoff when you live in New York. I do believe that there is great potential in the Arab world and educationally it is backward. I have not read the graphs put out by the UN recently, but how many books are translated into Arabic? This is the type of raw information that seems to be a good way to judge educational development. But I certainly do not consider myself an expert and it could be the entire fault is colonialism. But the problem could be that the Arabs were "occupied" by the Ottoman empire for the longest time and that might have influenced their lack of progress.

      But I picked this article by Phil on the subject of Brooks to talk about the fact that Phil did not engage with the issue of Egyptian democracy back in November and December and thus he is a member of the peanut gallery (observer rather than a participating thinker or journalist) on the issue of Egyptian democracy.

  • 'J Street' says Jewish state 'hangs in balance' of failed negotiations
    • "But is communication the goal of Mondoweiss?" was what I really want to talk about. About a thread from two days ago where Phil labeled Peace Now as in favor of segregation because of a press release that spoke of mainstream Israelis when the poll was only referring to Israeli Jews. In that case communication with the choir and the converted was what Phil's rhetoric was all about. No one picked up on it there and so I picked on Phil's link here regarding the numbers. I have no preconception what the numbers are, but certainly I wouldn't quote Naftali Bennett, but I understand that a blog references its own articles so that people stay on the website rather than go to the guardian.

      But I think that communication was sorely lacking in the line by Phil regarding Peace Now and if communication is not the goal of a journalist, then he stops being a journalist. Activism and journalism can coexist, except when they can't and the use of such rhetoric is for a poet or an activist and not for a journalist.

    • I do not have an estimate regarding the number of settlers living over the green line. I was merely commenting on the fact that as his link Phil Weiss did not use official Israeli figures or Yisrael Hayom, or the Guardian but the words of Naftali Bennett.

  • What Mohammed Assaf tells us about collective punishment and the one-state future
    • Phil- You have been preaching to the choir too long, that you don't realize or care about what your words mean to the casual reader. When you write regarding American friends of Peace Now "where segregation is the rule, and where even liberal Zionists affirm that segregation as just and proper", any casual reader would assume that your link would be to some liberal group that approves real segregation. But instead it refers to rhetoric regarding polling, the practice of polling Israeli Jews and the rhetoric of labeling those polled as being mainstream, even when Israeli Palestinians are not polled. Even if such polling is horrible, which it is not, and even if the language of "mainstream" plus such polling is horrible because it indicates a willingness to view the two separate communities with their separate views of the future as something that need not be tackled at this very moment, still the casual observer thinks you are referring to some real issue, rather than a polling issue and the rhetoric attached to that polling.

  • Fmr French foreign minister reportedly says Israel seeks to 'destroy' Syria (and any other neighbor it can't get along with)
  • Chris Matthews takes populist stance against another Establishment war on an Islamic country
    • Phil- Do you still support the rebels in their bid to oust Assad? That was your position the last time I asked. Is that still your position?

      (Obviously rooting for the rebels and having the US government arm the rebels are two different propositions. Also the situation on the ground has changed in the last two months. And so the rebels now look like losers and maybe now they are not worth rooting for.)

      Zvi Barel in Haaretz wrote a few days ago that the US has to make some choices and with a new president in Iran the US might be able to choose whether it wishes to make its stand vis a vis Iran's nuclear program or Assad's government and it might prefer assad to stay in government if that choice means (through negotiations with Iran) that Iran would give up its nuclear program. (I remain unconvinced that Iran would be willing to ever give up its nuclear program, but that's what Barel wrote.)

  • Kerry tells the lobby: I'm your boy, but you're radicalizing the world
    • Phil writes: "By implication: the conflict impelled the Tsarnaev brothers to the Boston Marathon."

      Well, in a round about way: Israeli attacks on Lebanon inspired Osama Bin Laden, who wished to be the ruler of Saudi Arabia, to express his chagrin at the lack of such a role in his life, by attacking the World Trade Center. The WTC attack led to an attack by the US on Afghanistan and Iraq. (The Afghanistan element of the US reaction to the WTC was rather automatic. Although now that the war seems to be a failure, some more limited goal short of nation building should have been conceived. The Iraq element of the US reaction was a result of the personnel chosen by Dick Cheney, who included those who viewed an attack on Iraq as something desirable, and these were people who supported Israel in their concept of a new Middle East or a New American Century.) And thus the Tsarneyev brothers, or let's be specific, Tamerlane Tsarneyev, had it in mind to attack the US who is at war against Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and still implicated in the continuing sectarian bloodletting in Iraq.)

      The only things left out of this cause and effect are the direct causes of Tamerlane's acts of random murder: The Russian war against Chechnya and Tamerlane's violence against a girlfriend which stopped him from getting a golden gloves chance due to his lack of citizenship which was impeded by his history of violence.

      Well, I think the Russians fighting Chechnya and Tamerlane's history of violence are sufficiently relevant to the cause and effect of Tamerlane and his little brother's violence in Boston, that to write: the conflict impelled the brothers to the marathon to be a statement of reckless and ridiculous falsehood emblematic of a blame Israel (first, last and only) prejudice.

  • Islamophobia is as widespread and acceptable as anti-Semitism used to be
    • Phil wrote: "Once anti-semitism was just this acceptable. Anyone got to express the ideas because you didn’t pay any price for them. Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Tolstoy, Ernest Hemingway, they all caricatured Jews. Henry Ford put out anti-Semitic literature and sold cars. Because Jews were different and had a different culture, different ways and values, and Jews were assuming a new role in western society. It’s no different with Muslims today. The anti-Muslim feelings are completely acceptable. The government acts on them, and so do the people. No one's paying a price for prejudice."

      First: Henry Ford was an A#1 Jew hater, the writers were in a different category.

      Second: There were and are political elements to anti Yehudi feelings: anti Bolshevik, anti capitalist (contradictory but true) and today anti Zionist. There was an element of the Jews are smarter and more clever (and more devious, have better connections with their fellow tribesmen) and therefore we cannot compete with them and therefore there must be a quota on them.

      The Islamic population of the world is about a billion and even if Shlomo Sand is right in attributing irrationality to the fear of Islam when Islamic countries are primarily powerless (a fear of China makes sense to Sand, whereas a fear of Islam seems irrational to Sand, and he's a historian, so I will accept this for the time being), the fear of a billion people compared to a fear of 18 million people (Jewish world population in 1939) are two totally different things.

      No matter what the underlying causes of Mohammed Ata and his crew and the Tsarnayev brothers, these were Muslims who saw their duty as Muslims to attack and murder en masse Americans qua Americans, even if Bolshevism and Judaism can be combined in the thoughts of the right wing, no attack by Jews qua Jews against Americans qua Americans comes to mind. So the irrationality of anti Yehudi feeling is much greater than the irrationality of anti Muslim feelings.

      Anti Muslim feelings are for the most part quite irrational. (For example, both the September 11th attacks and the Boston attacks could have been stopped if warnings about flight school students and Russian secret service tips had been adequately attended to. The net does not need to be cast wider. More money should be put in paying attention to those that are already fingered by the net.)

      There are commonalities between anti Yehudi feelings and anti Muslim feelings and it may be useful in pointing out these commonalities. But there are differences as well.

  • Beinart's challenge, Beinart's fear
    • Phil writes: "I would argue that at this point the only political path that will marginalize both the Palestinian religious extremists and the Jewish ones is democracy. It is obvious that the two societies are incapable of doing so on their own. Israel just gets more and more extreme. But if the secular portions of both societies work together and vote together, they can marginalize the religious. As we struggle to do in our society."

      I accept that rooting for Palestinian freedom means limiting criticism of Hamas to once a month articles on marathons. And I accept that rooting for Palestinian freedom means not worrying about what will happen to the Jews living in I/P. But please spare us this nonsense. the only hope is for the secularists from both sides to join together. In your dreams. Give me a break. Spare us the nonsense and stick to your cause, "freedom" (under Hamas rule) for the Palestinians.

  • US Jews are so 'polarized' over Israel they can't talk about it to each other, 'Jewish Chronicle' reports
    • Where I come from (modern Orthodox) the attitude towards those who replace the Torah with Zionism is that Zionism without Torah cannot last, it's an empty shell like a zombie, a body without a soul. (This modern Orthodoxy also represents the greatest mistake of Zionism- the settler movement. But leaving that aspect aside for a moment.) Thus one would say that Phil's critique of mainstream Judaism, replacing Torah with Zionism is spot on.

      The problem is, that Phil really rebelled and rebels against all things Jewish except that which meets his approval, those things that can be adapted and useful to the assimilationist. Phil really doesn't care about Torah, Judaism or Jewishness. He cares about his vision of America and his vision of justice. America and justice (not in that order, necessarily) are great objects to idealize. But to pretend that his concern is Judaism is really false.

  • Penny Pritzker's support for Israel played crucial role in Obama's rise
    • Shmuel- I think the story of Obama's: There must be a settlement freeze and then his backing down from it, which ostensibly occurred as a result of threats of loss of financial contributions from Zionist democrats is a major story. This part about Mike Froman belonged to BBYO as anodyne (I know I know, Zionism can never be called anodyne) a Zionist organization as ever was, 33 years ago at the age of 18, is relevant in a very broad context, but other than that is more a symptom of Phil's obsession against Zionist Jews of America..

      To me it seems that phil dreams of the day when Jews will be asked in front of congressional committees, (if not in front of citizen committees a la citoyen committees circa 1793 as some of the folks in this comments section salivate over) and asked, "are you now or have you ever been a zionist?" (this was a shortlived headline here at mw, for about 20 minutes, until phil changed the headline to something more anodyne). It is not clear if this is Phil's dream come true or nightmare, but he certainly dreams of it.

    • Phil writes: BBYO is a Zionist organization complete with link. Well, yes and no. True the BBYO proclaims its ties to Israel right in its mission statement. But Bnai Brith preceded Zionism by some 50 or so years and its Zionism is a result of the natural Zionism of identifying Jews.

      Natural Zionism as in natural to support fellow Jews elsewhere in the world, something that Bnai Brith pursued without a Zionist bent after the Kishinev pogrom. Maybe when Jews lobbied Teddy Roosevelt to protest to the Czar that allowing pogroms is a no-no, those Jews including Bnai Brith were involved in proto Zionism, a type of dual loyalty as well. But I think not, that concern for Jews elsewhere on the globe, particularly in 1905 with the recentness of the immigration and the natural ties to the lands that were subject to the Czar's winks vis a vis the pogroms, that this was merely a human response and not particularly ideological. Zionism does not flow as naturally as the lobbying in 1905. But it flows nonetheless. And it is obeying that flow of identity with Israel that BBYO is involved in rather than anything nefarious or political per se. The question of Jewish Zionism is one that could be raised, but labeling someone's background as Zionist based on association with BBYO seems to be perverse. Associating with any Jewish organization other than United Neturie Karta or Jews for Palestine would thus be forbidden on any Jew's resume, according to Phil's standards.

  • Rightwing Israel discourse makes even Dershowitz and Foxman look... moderate
    • Phil writes re: Caroline Glick, she's popular over there. Not. Caroline Glick is not popular in Israel. She writes in English. Her newspaper column is carried by Jerusalem Post which has a minor circulation. Is she translated into Hebrew and carried by any other newspapers? Only Makor Rishon, another minor paper. So, she is not popular over there. Her point of view is too popular over there: as evidenced by Naftali Bennett's party's 12 seats. But Caroline Glick herself? Not. The average Israeli never heard of her.

  • Fear of democracy in the Jewish community
    • tree- Many true and valid points that you raise and I began to look at the situation mathematically, geometrically, inside a circle, with the origin or center of the circle analogous to perfect democracy. (Democracy has its ups and its downs, like life it is a struggle rather than a static state of achievement. In America, leaving out gerrymandering, low voter turnout particular in nonpresidential election years, the electoral college, campaign finance influence, there is the rising gap between rich and poor, between uneducated and educated.)

      Israel was established with a specific ethnicity in mind in a territory where the "opposite" ethnicity was predominant a century or less before. Israel was established with a forced exile of a large population of the opposite ethnicity. Israel is surrounded by the opposite ethnicity. Israel tends to view the opposite ethnicity within its borders as a demographic threat and the opposite ethnicity beyond its borders as a military threat.

      Ultimately my point of view is that Israel should morph into a state of all its citizens. Immigration policy could be dealt with, but the history of the exile of the Palestinians (nakba) and the continuing demographic threat would complicate this idea. Of course instead of moving in this direction Israel is moving away from this idea. (Here's where the analogy to the center of the circle as democratic perfection and Israel moving away from the center rather than towards the center came to mind.)

      The struggles of the peoples of Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad and the current state of their journey towards self rule involves struggles between majority and minority groups that are not yet resolved nor is their resolution period predictable. It is particularly this aspect of democracy (tolerance for minority) that has yet to be proved. Certainly the predominance of Islamic parties is not encouraging to those who view issues of personal freedom to be aspects of democracy as well.

      The Jewish experience with independence has certainly involved militarization and inability to "get along with others". Although there are differences between the history of Zionism and colonialism there are commonalities as well and a democratic attitude towards the indigenous has certainly not been present in the mainstream of Zionism nor in the history of Israel.

      Phil stated that the debate is over. And in the USA the idea of a state devoted to an ethnic group is contrary to democracy and as long as Israel fears the idea of a state of all of its citizens then it fears democracy. But ideas without reality is only half the debate. Reality should enter into the argument as well and the opposite of Zionist rule is not a state of all its citizens and a group dedicated to a state of all its citizens, but an Islamic state. And the sectarian clashes of Baghdad, the civil war in Damascus and the sad state of affairs of Cairo, let alone the rule of Hamas in Gaza all do not bode well for those who idealize democracy and wish for immediate results. These facts must be included in the debate lest our debate be purely academic in nature, which it should not be. Reality must be factored in, both the reality of the rejection of the most Israelis of a state of all of its citizens and the reality that the democracy in the neighborhood is still in its early stages in regards to sectarian cooperation.

  • In 'NYT' lecture on intermarriage, Stanley Fish says religious difference is 'deep and immovable'
    • Citizen- Phil will not countenance anyone saying anything against intermarriage, because he is quite happy in his marriage. Okay, fine.

      This column by stanley fish was a reaction to a book written by a young person, Naomi Schaefer Riley. She writes about the difficulty of intermarriage. This difficulty is not a product of her imagination, nor even a projection of her own difficulties of her own intermarriage, it is backed up by statistics. More intermarriages end in divorce than non mixed religion marriages. NSR set out, based upon the basic divorce statistic to interview people who would explain the difficulty and she wrote a book on the subject and based upon the way she started out: divorce statistics prove that these marriages are difficult, let me research this, it was obvious that those who are intermarried and see it as the best thing that happened in their lives, are going to object to the slant of such a book.

      But Phil does not attack NSR, but the messenger, Fish and on the basis of a generational clash asserts that Fish is a lecturer and an old scold.

      "Well marriage is hard work; and he is lecturing my generation about something that many of us are working through in ways that he cannot imagine."

      He is turning this into a generational thing. Fish is an old fart and his imagination is stunted. But in fact Naomi Schaefer Riley is quite young based upon her publicity photos and Fish is merely echoing the lecture from Schaefer Riley, so to turn it into a generational clash is silly.

      This is Phil's blog and if he wants to cite the minority case of exceptions to the rule and say, My wife and I are charting new territory and we will build a brave new world. Fine. Good for him. But for his suggestion that it is Fish's age that makes the advice that Schaefer Riley gives a lecture from one generation to another, this is just silly.

    • Stanley Fish's column was an endorsement of a book: Naomi Schaefer Riley's "'Til Faith do us Part: How interfaith marriage is transforming america". Phil's anecdote from his own marriage apparently is sufficient to declare Naomi Riley's research and 248 pages obsolete, because it was endorsed by someone old.

  • Obama allowed Zionists to feel cool again
    • At times, Phil Weiss has expressed the opinion that liberal Zionists may/could/should play an important part in opening the door to the weakening of the pro Likud lobby.

      This is not the direction of my thinking and it could be that a gathering such as this web site personifies, should be dismissive towards liberal Zionists.

      I do not find the attitudes of the early Zionists relevant to my thinking beyond a point. the first real sin of the zionists in my book is the nakba, and that the refusal to allow the refugees back rather than the kicking out in the first place. Obviously actions have precedents in thoughts and the thought to kick them out occurred before the fact of the refusal to allow them to return. the simplification of life accomplished by the refusal to allow them to return is so manifest that it defies common sense to expect anything else. i come from people who watched the 1881 to 1948 saga largely on the sidelines vis a vis zionism but on the front lines vis a vis YKW (you know what) the khurban. I also come from the bourgeois thinkers/rabbis rather than from the working class preachers or the gangster doers. the gangsters created a fait accomplis, well not just the gangsters, but the nations of europe plus the gangsters presented the rabbi/thinkers with a fait accomplis.

      hanna arendt, detached from the jewish people before during and after the khurban saw things rather clearly. she ain't no rabbi and she wasn't reflecting from the point of view of the loyalist clerics, but the swing of history and she got that right and the tendency of israel is dependence on super power, on military power plus a few other prophecies she got right.

      it would have required real philosophical purity (yeshaya leibowitz comes to mind) to really see and speak about the danger of the occupation and the settlement enterprise.

      i was on the ground a mere five years after the occupation began and witnessed men of stature who made a serious error regarding the range of possibilities of the century ahead, but only considered the immediate emotional/religious satisfaction of playing with the ideas of god and history.

      by range of possibilities i mean that beyond peace and war (the only two possibilities the rabbis of the yeshiva in gush etzion considered) there is a third possibility and that is occupation and let me clarify that a military occupation is "kosher" in my book. it makes no sense today to give control over turf to people who will elect a morsi or worse to lead them. and if israel had had the foresight to nip the settlement enterprise in the bud, then there would have been israel where (the nakba goes unrequited) but arabs and jews vote and rule as citizens and a west bank where a jewish army fills the vacuum of power. but instead because of the settlements (besides the points of friction increasing manifold) the existence of citizen next door to those who have no vote creates an intolerable situation from the point of view of democracy and thus the settlement enterprise is a royal mess up.

      I accept the history of 1948. it contains too much pain inflicted on the palestinians, but i feel i must accept it. i accept the history of 1967 as well, including the kotel and the jewish quarter in the old city. I do not accept the history of the settlement enterprise.

      my lack of action vis a vis my rejection of the settlement enterprise makes me an observer rather than an activist and observers are vulnerable to the slings and arrows of activists.

  • Vivian Gornick stashed book critical of Israel lest she 'commit literary suicide'
    • "literary suicide" what could Vivian Gornick mean? 1. Everyone who writes a book writes it for a publisher or publishers in mind. Publishers want to sell books. Do travel books where the person was consistently negative about the land one traveled in sell a lot of books? One would guess not. Why would one want to write about Israel in the first place, because Jews buy a lot of books (30 years ago especially, someone can update me on the statistics post kindle and internet, but I used to hear 30% hardcover purchasers were Jews, 10% paperback were Jews.) Would such a negative book sell a lot of books? Not. She didn't go to Israel to do an expose which sells a lot in 2013, she went to Israel to write a book that would sell well on the Upper West Side, and she found she couldn't write a book that would sell well, so she realized it was stupid to write the book that she could write, for it wouldn't sell. Nothing nefarious about all this as implied by Phil Weiss.

  • In '62, Israel shunned MLK as 'militant' who had alienated 'moderate' blacks
    • This post should be included in a text book to illustrate bias as warping the vision of the writer. Read the Haaretz article. At worse Israel comes off as slightly bad. Let's say 25 on a scale of 100 of badness. Read Phil's article. Close to 70 on a scale of bad. Cherry pick, Israel bashing. Not as bad as the soy sauce, Israel only cares about its food and not the dead or suffering Japanese, which was Israel bashing par excellence, but really this is blog, I hate Israel, let me cherry pick an article in Haaretz, blog laziness. No wonder the basement denizens eat it up and throw their peanut gallery nonsense in as well. (That's for you, citizen). I accept that hophmi is off base in attempting to go tete a tete by introducing the mufti, but this is really bad stuff, Phil, not journalism at all, but just bias.

  • Two social critics who used Nazi analogy-- Mark Rudd, Betty Friedan
    • Words are tools. One doesn't use a sledgehammer to open up a nut, one uses a nutcracker. Sometimes in a play, a playwright might have a character use a sledgehammer to open up a nut, but not because it is useful in real life, but because he wants to make a point about the character or the world or the lack of a nutcracker.

      As kids when a person in authority would act dictatorial we kids would bring a finger under our nose to make a Hitler moustache and give a heil Hitler salute. The 10 year old within me can say, "Jawohl, herr kommandant," upon command.

      Is it useful? Sometimes an analogy is useful, sometimes it isn't.

      Hannah Arendt was a scholar and a thinker, if she made the analogy she did not do it frivolously or for effect, but because she felt some essence had to be uncovered or discussed or argued.

      Betty Friedan was using it to shock. You think you're being a good wife, but really you're being a good German. You think suburbia is the garden of eden, well it's really a concentration camp. These were/are attempts to shatter complacency.

      Mark Rudd was a revolutionary trying to get his peers to view their situation as dire. To stir them from their complacency, but more to inspire them about the world about right and wrong.

      What was useful in 1968 can be trite in 2013.

      Words are sometimes used to improve understanding, to shatter complacency, to stir thought and action.

      If you wish to remove a needle from your foot you will use a tweezer and not a sledgehammer. If you wish to scare someone into finding a tweezer you might threaten him with a sledgehammer.

      There are very few historians writing for this blog site or in its comments sections. A historian like Arendt can make good use of an analogy of this sort. Phil Weiss can say, it made me feel like I was in the Warsaw Ghetto, but this is as a journalist, or an activist, but not as a serious historian.

      The Nazis were defeated by total bombardment. If the cure for the middle east is to be found in bombarding the Israelis into submission, then the analogy will lead us in the right direction and it is a proper tool. If some less drastic or dramatic means is to be the direction that will eventually lead away from the current tendencies, then a sledgehammer is not useful and it is better to find a tweezer or a nutcracker.

  • Israel’s Identity Crisis: The practical difficulties of a Jewish and democratic state
    • Annie Robbins and others- Homeland is not a natural part of my conversation. I got deeper into the conversation because you said, "Why should I care?" which for someone who has the keys to the editing kingdom is a pretty sloppy thing to say. If you had said what you now say you really meant, "Why should that religious idea override other people's rights?" I most likely would have left it alone and avoided being called Richard Witty and a rapist once again by the beautiful people here in the Mondoweiss basement. But so it goes.

      Phil Weiss is correct. History does not stand still. It keeps on moving. And if Israel does not keep up with the times (meaning American democracy), it might very well find itself looking like Cairo under Morsi, or like Tehran under Ahmadinejad, ruled by a Paletinian equivalent of those nondemocrats. Those are the currents of history in Israel's neighborhood rather than the rights of minorities that are the higher values that exist in the good old US of A. But in this interdependent world and given Israel's dependence on the USA and on trade, Israel cannot be saved by the fact that it might be replaced by something equally bad. (Morsi and Ahmadinejad can be considered better than Sharon by the denizens of this basement, but ask Chas Freeman what he thinks of them and he'll tell you, that they, Morsi and Ahmadinejad are bad news. Read what he says not only about Israel but about the rest of the region as well.)

      Now what I said about interest in the other, doesn't apply to everyone here. Only to those people who are interested in dialogue, which I thought applied to you, Annie, but I'm not really sure. If you agree with the others around here with your talk of brainwashing and delusions, then maybe there really is nothing for you to understand. I think curiosity about the other side's attitudes are very important. Maybe because to me the other side is the Palestinians and they have legit grievances. And maybe the other side to you are the delusional brainwashed Zionists and there is nothing really to be curious about.

      But I disagree. I think there is something to be curious about and I think if someone is responsible in this conversation, then there is something about Zionism that deserves curiosity. Zionism is not flawless, by a very long shot. I wonder what Israel would have been like if the spirit of Ahad Ha'am had dominated rather than the spirit of Ben Gurion.

      I fear for my nephews' safety in the army, but I fear for their souls as well, but your cohorts here in the Mondoweiss basement will only hoot and jeer over that.

      Now as far as crying over someone who died long ago. Christians cry over the crucifixion of Jesus and maybe that's only because they think he was the son of God. Jews on Yom Kippur cry over the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva. Are they delusional? Napoleon was impressed by the Jewish memory of crying over Jerusalem on the 9th of Av. But to you it merely raises your hackles and you hoot and call it delusional. Sloppy language and sloppy thinking.

      As far as Jewish consciousness of Jerusalem and the return to Zion, not overriding the rights of Palestinians to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (to use an American expression), I grant that. If Zionism would be replaced by American style democracy you could count me as a supporter and eventually even if Zionism will be replaced by Zimbabwe style democracy, they are fighting a losing battle if they think they can keep the status quo merely on the merits of the fear of a Zimbabwe. I think some method of granting rights slowly can be found, some incremental way, if the will were there. but the will is not there. The will that dominates in Israel is to settle the land and treat the Palestinians poorly and hope the problem goes away and this will not work.

      The Jewish people (unlike "homeland" that's a phrase that comes to my mouth with great ease), is not a static phenomenon and has not been static at least since the first temple was destroyed in the time of Jeremiah. (Read Jeremiah. Read Lamentations supposedly written by Jeremiah. Oh that's right. Since it cannot override the rights of the Palestinians why should you be interested in that.) But the Jewish people have not been static neither in their gene pool, nor in their beliefs. The Jewish people involved in living in the state of Israel and the Jewish people involved in worrying about their fellow Jews who live in the state of Israel, must learn to change with the times. But if you wish to have any credibility with those who disagree with you, you need to educate yourself. True right wingers hate Larry Derfner and hate Yossi Gurvitz. But read Gurvitz sometimes and his deep appreciation of Jewish history. Then you might learn to stop being so sloppy and saying silly things like "Why should I care?"

  • When loving Israel is a social credential
    • Phil writes, I can't go there, It's hosted by Zionists.

      Is it the ownership of the building that Phil is objecting to. The JCC is Zionist therefore he can't go see this. Is there something about the Other Israel Film group that is Zionist?

      Don't you think there were people who attended the films who were not Zionists? Does Phil advocate that they too should avoid seeing these films?

  • They Can't Hide the Sun: An interview with Omar Barghouti
    • So far we have two people that think that Morsi is the best thing since sliced bread. If you really think Morsi is a poster boy for the great possibilities that democracy will bring the future one state of Israel/Palestine I suggest you keep right on with this line of thought.

      Personally I think that Morsi is a disaster so far. I think 2 years is too early to determine the efficacy of Egyptian democracy. When Phil Weiss said that the 17 days in Tahrir Square will shine as a beacon for the new day of freedom, I said, forget 17 days, how about 17 years. So in fact it is too early to judge how well democracy will play out in Egypt. This is a valid response.

      Those who think Morsi is good news are clearly biased. Egyptian civil society leaders have asked for the world to stand up against Morsi and the response of Mondoweiss readers is F U to Egypt civil society.

      My response was geared towards the possibility of seeing a bright future in Israel Palestine, what business people call Win-Win. But you people are quite satisfied to see a bleak future for Palestine. You have in mind Lose-Lose. Great.

  • Why I'm for boycott
    • Those who wish Israel to change its policies must propose steps that would pressure Israel to do this. I wish Israel to change its policies, not to the extent that Phil Weiss does, but I have no solid proposal that would lead to such a change.

      I think the issues of academic and cultural boycott are important. I think they are largely negative. If one believes in dialogue then I believe one must view the academic and cultural boycott with negativity.

      Similarly in one of the posts yesterday Phil pointedly stated that the Nazi analogy can not be eliminated from the discourse. Maybe so. But that does not mean that the Nazi analogy is useful. Please recall that Nazi Germany was defeated by force of arms and unconditional surrender. If that is your vision for the last act, then analogize away. If that is not your vision, if you believe in dialogue, which the Nazi analogy freezes in its tracks, then avoid the Nazi analogy.

      I have recently been called a Nazi here in the comments section in order to justify a commenter's refusal to respond to a question. ("abteilung commander" or something of the sort). The Nazi analogy can be studied, but the Nazi analogy leads to the Nazi epithet and to think that the Nazi analogy leads to dialogue is stupid. There are choices we must make if we believe in dialogue.

      I happen to think that Phil's dedication to dialogue is as yet unproved. His presentation at the Brech Center last September seemed to indicate that dialogue was not a very high priority of his. One had to use a magnifying glass and a fine comb to find glimmers of respect for the concept of dialogue.

  • 'Odious and wrong' -- politicians threaten to shut down Brooklyn College boycott debate
    • A comment about the community of Brooklyn College and near Brooklyn College.
      First of all, this web site, Phil and Adam, have nothing to do with the Jewish community near and in Brooklyn College. These are not Phil and Adam's type of Jews. One has to travel to Park Slope to find Phil and Adam's type of Jews. (Of course there are individual Jews in Flatbush and environs who support Phil and Adam's point of view towards Israel.)
      Brooklyn is a melange of ethnicities, the suppression of ethnic identification sometimes touted on this web site is a foreign language to most of Brooklyn.
      The ethnicities near Brooklyn College and in Brooklyn College include ultra Orthodox Jews (those who believe in a general education as a means towards an end). It is quite pleasing to see ultra Orthodox interacting with classmates on the trails of the university and in its classrooms and libraries. It is this multi culturalism that appeals to me compared to the feeling of "us and them" which I feel near Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

      There is a type of unspoken rule not to raise politics. As in: Muslim students and Jewish students both realize that their politics regarding the Middle East clashes violently elsewhere and so it is best, like a family fight, not to mention certain things, in order to promote: "Can't we all just get along?" Both Muslim students and Jewish students at the college are there to get an education in order to get a job. They are serious students, not those who can while away the hours, like those who go to Ivy League schools. I am rather sure that the day after the event with Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti, life will continue with the usual peace that reigns in Brooklyn and at the College. But there should be some comment regarding the community and not just regarding principles like academic freedom and free speech. Context might not change the bottom line, but context is important.

  • 'The Nation' publishes two critiques of Israel's escapist political culture
    • Most of Max Blumenthal's common was on target, but there was a doozy. Why would a reputable magazine like the nation publish this?

      "In a 2007 column for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonoth, Lapid insisted that ending the occupation would mean certain death for himself and fellow Israeli Jews. He wrote, “It may be true that the humane thing is to remove the roadblocks and checkpoints, to stop the occupation immediately, to enable the Palestinians freedom of movement in the territories, to tear down the bloody inhumane wall, to promise them the basic rights ensured to every individual. It’s just that I will end up paying for this with my life.… Call me a weakling; call me thickheaded—I don’t want to die.”

      Here Max leaves his reporter hat on the hat rack and dons his propagandist hat instead. Obviously Lapid does not mean it means certain death for Lapid and all Israelis. If Max really needs me to explain what Lapid meant, he can get my e mail address from Phil and I will explain it to him. But Max understands. And I am surprised that the Nation prints such propaganda, although I have read less than 100 articles in the Nation in my lifetime and so this type of Max nonsense might be part of their type of "reporting".

      As far as Gimpel goes, thank God, from my point of view, that he was not elected. The day he gets elected his atrocious rhetoric will get the attention it deserves. Until then he's just another guy who didn't make it into the Knesset. Bennett defended him and thus one may wish to paint Bennett with Gimpel, but in fact, Bennett can be painted with Bennett, so why bother painting him with Gimpel.

  • Israel's friends call on a man to save Israel who could never be elected there (Obama)
    • Phil uses the term: "the dangers of Jewish sovereignty" as if it is something endemic in Jewish sovereignty that led to the current situation. I think not. Jewish sovereignty in itself is not in essence dangerous. But the current situation is. Israel's dependence on American government largesse made possible by the combination of America in the Cold War and the American victory in the cold war and then the inertia of America as policeman of the world and the bloated defense budget, combined with the Israel lobby are the things that turned Jewish sovereignty into the danger that it has become.

      This is not to negate or dismiss the dangers of Jewish sovereignty in the specifics of the situation, as an immigrant group to the I/P geographic zone seeking to establish sovereignty through the exiling of the majority of indigenous in '48 and "iron wall" or permanent war and the dependence on big power imperial largesse. These are factors, that as Judah Magnes pointed out, were doomed to lead to danger.

      It is not Jewish sovereignty per se, but Jewish sovereignty of the specific sort that has developed.

      Another point: If Israel had exhibited self restraint regarding settling the West Bank, this danger would be of a different sort. If Israel had limited its occupation of the West Bank to a military occupation and minimized friction with the occupied population by minimizing the presence of Jewish/Israeli civilians needing protection from rebelling occupied peoples, then the occupation would be essentially different. The Palestinians would still lack the freedom of self government, but the situation would not be one of near apartheid (and the word "near" is only there out of habit. It certainly looks like apartheid.) The apartheid situation will not last forever and at some point the Palestinians will demand the vote rather than an independent state and that situation might last longer than Israel bashers wish, but it will not last as long as Israel right or wrong advocates wish.

      There are essential dangers in the establishment of a Jewish sovereignty in that area based upon exiling a large population and permanent war. But the nonessential settling of the West Bank is what "dooms" the enterprise in the short (35 to 75 year) range.

  • Don't believe the (liberal Zionist) hype: Israel's elections ratified the apartheid status quo
    • Although Phil Weiss's prediction of Netanyahu's political demise were premature, the resounding lowering of his status compared to the rising stars of Lapid and Bennett was the primary story of this election. Netanyahu's lame duck status has been declared by these results and by Larry Derfner. But don't count Netanyahu out yet. He has no heir apparent in the Likud and Lieberman's status is iffy and he has no heir either.

      Lapid is the most visible new entrant to the scene. To be upset that he speaks against Palestinians and Hannan Zoabi is an understandable reaction of those who love Palestinians and Hannan Zoabi, but to dismiss him as Donald Trump is very shallow.

      Lapid's father was Tommy Lapid, a politician who came from the tradition of journalism. Lapid is much better looking than his father and being a video journalist rather than a print journalist he is slicker. but to dismiss him as a Donald Trump is simplistic and unhelpful. It is not analysis. It is anti analysis.

  • Hagel looms -- will AIPAC dare to take him on?
    • sean mcbride- I am not sure how Martin Dempsey or people like him think. The idea that people think that an Iran with a nuke will probably stabilize the region seems preposterous, but one cannot stop people's brains from travelling in strange directions.

      Removing myself from the Zionist mindset to regards the Middle East as a chess problem of where do we go from here, is really what I meant when I used the phrase the Joint Chiefs. There is little question in my mind that from a chess point of view removing Israel from the board would make the equation more stable. But the tools of chess, and indeed reality, do not include the magic wand. Wishing Israel away or its nukes away will not make it so.

      The Middle East is a crucial area for the world because of its oil. If Israel existed on an island in the Pacific, then worrying about its survival would indeed be justifiable only on cultural grounds and thus not justifiable. but at this moment with the world's dependence on oil, the middle east is certainly an area that deserves the attention of the world's policeman. (Most Americans probably wish to disown this role, but as of the moment, it still is America's role.) Thus worrying about the interplay of the actors in the Middle East including Israel is automatically important to the US. (Indeed those, including Phil Weiss, who cite the fact that Iraq's oil contracts went to nonAmerican companies are missing the point. The US did not go to war for the US oil industry. The US went to war for the smooth flow of oil to the entire world. (at least according to those who believe that the US went to war for oil or partially for oil.))

      The idea that Iran getting the bomb will stabilize the region seems farfetched to me. The idea that the joint chiefs in their heart of hearts would like to see Israel disappear is not so distant. But given the current state of the Middle East I don't see how the Iranians getting a bomb can be seen as a positive from the US point of view. (From Syria's Assad's point of view or from Hezbollah's point of view an Iranian bomb is a plus.)

      I bet Morsi of Egypt does not think an Iranian bomb will stabilize the region.

  • The nonexistent 'Jewish lobby' sets out to destroy Chuck Hagel
    • Phil- This is the first time that you've admitted that Zionism was alien to your family. Good. A step forward in your openness.

  • Shlomo Sand on Zionism, post-Zionism, and the two-state solution
    • Cliff- Sand, as in the topic of Phil's post, proposes that Israel remain as a corporate existing body with the major/minor change of becoming a state of all its citizens. He also asserted that aiming to do away with Israel will cause a lot of bloodshed.

      Which part of this do you disagree with?

      Which assertion of mine did you disagree with?

      Seems you wanted to call me a colonialist and if that is your sole purpose, you have succeeded. You called me a colonist, which I assume is the same thing.

    • Cliff- can't newclench support what Sand says. Why must he support what you say. Sand is not in favor of a one state solution. He is in favor of Israel, with full rights to its citizens, within the 67 boundaries. Sand wrote a book actually 2 and he is the subject of Phil's interview. Why does newclench have to adjust to what you propose? Why can't you react to what Sand proposes?

  • 'Lincoln' is an argument for equality in Israel and Palestine
    • Annie Robbins- My assessment is superficial and based upon headlines and sound bites. It could be that the anti Morsi forces are terrible people who wish to return power to Mubarak or the army or the old order. It could be that Egypt needs a constitution that doesn't defend its minorities and gives unlimited power to its legislature and President. (I doubt both of these premises, but I certainly realize that superficial headlines and sound bites don't always reveal the truth.)

      But if Phil cites the drive towards democracy in Egypt as a symptom that happy days are coming to the world and the Middle East (and he has and does), then he owes his readers some reading of the situation on the ground in Egypt. The situation is 17 or so days old. Odds are he has an opinion. Why does he keep it to himself?

    • While "Lincoln", the movie by Tony Kushner, might assert a one state solution, I doubt Lincoln the man would have. He was a realist, who in fact wished to avoid a civil war rather than end slavery in the south. That war was brought on by the fact that the south wished to extend slavery elsewhere and insisted on secession and attacking Fort Sumter to assert its rights. He was also a creature of his times in terms of thinking that sending the blacks back to Africa was the best solution.

      Has Phil commented yet on the situation in Egypt? Whose side is he on in Egypt? The majority or the minority? The Muslim Brotherhood that wants to rule democratically or the minority that wants there to be limits on the will of the people reined in by rules in a constitution. Has Phil taken sides on this issue yet? Or is he waiting for the dust to settle? (He might have commented and I missed it. If so, sorry. If not, then he is a fair weather friend to minority rights, waiting for the winner to be revealed. I wonder how the liberal Egyptians feel about fair weather friends like Phi.)

  • Israel lost -- LRB
    • Woody- Let's remember that Phil considers the Arab spring to be the harbinger of Israel's demise. (0verstated of course, but you know what I mean.) I accept that given the unknown nature of Syria's rebel movement, plus the violent nature of that movement, that there is a disagreement between Phil and Annie Robbins regarding the news coming from Syria. The news coming from Egypt is not as troubling as some other types of news, but nonetheless, even if it all turns out as temporary problems on the route to a good constitution and a fair separation of powers and respect for minority rights (and we'll forget about women's rights because westerners are not allowed to comment on women's rights in Muslim countries or else be accused of Islamophobia.) But still, when the nonIslamic elements take to the streets of Egypt protesting a decree by Morsi, I think it is incumbent on someone who views Egypt as the symbol of the future to comment on the situation. Whereas in fact the knowledge regarding the Arab spring is superficial and fragmentary here at Mondoweiss, seeing 17 days as a sign of the future, I really don't expect any better, I only expect superficial comments and thus not up to the moment on any issue other than I/P, especially if the moment to moment puts the Muslim Brotherhood in a bad light, god forbid, we should find out what the thinking here is, until the wheel stops spinning. For real in depth knowledge or concern for Egypt, this is not the place.

  • Who is Goliath?
    • eljay- I first visited Israel over 40 years ago and I have been following the "story" ever since. Before that I went to Zionist camps and studied Hebrew and sang Hatikva. That's where I'm coming from.

      I think there is advantage in understanding one's opponents. There are opportunities in conflicts that present themselves that are not apparent to those who lack that understanding. I realize that here in Mondoweiss's basement the opportunities presented by understanding the Israeli society and the American Jewish society that supports them are really irrelevant. These are not the halls of power, but the internet equivalent of a street rally. So I accept that you view your role as moral cheerleader for your side. Rah! Rah!

      I don't think you are alone in demonizing Israeli Jews and American Zionists. I think Phil does it as well. I think that is one of the effects of the BDS movement.

      You and some others seem to dream of the day when you will be the new Nuremberg judges with Israel Jews and American Zionists in the docket. I react to your fantasy with disdain, but whatever gets you through the night.

      I think that demonizing the enemy hardens the heart. I think demonizing the enemy leads to cruelty, given the wrong circumstances.

      I will continue to attempt to explain the human side and the cause and effect of Israeli and American Zionism. I live in a community (despite my hermit tendencies) and I am not free to dismiss these people as demons or paranoids. Most of them are quite human. I know I won't convince you of that.

    • In the 14 or so months since I moved out of Israel, this has been the most significant battle/clash, with sirens sounding in Jerusalem, 5 Israelis killed and over 150 Palestinians killed. One of my nieces was in Beersheva and left the building a bit early and missed being struck by fragments from the Iron Dome defense by mere meters. One of my nephews would have been in Gaza, if there had been a ground invasion. I have "opposed" on some level many Israeli actions beginning in 1982 with the invasion of Lebanon, so I suppose my opposition this time was not so very different, only I had an increased "permanent war" reaction to the reports by Phil of genocidal attitudes of Jewish Israelis.

      I think when one dismisses Israeli fears as mere shadows on the wall, one has crossed over the line into- there is nothing to understand about the Israeli psyche- they are genocidal paranoiacs. I think the uncertainties of the Arab Spring, see the reaction of liberals to Mursa's announcements, are not mere shadows on the wall but very real reasons to fear. I think to label them shadows on the wall, is to engage in anti journalism. Of course there is a lyrical side to the David/Goliath imagery and the use of propaganda by Israel tempts those opposed to Israel to engage in propaganda as well. But Phil's journalism background lends his name some credence. But his current anti journalism depletes that credence.

  • Reflections from a San Francisco protest in solidarity with Gaza
    • I oppose Israel's current assault on Gaza. If I were Prime Minister I would be engaged in negotiations with Hamas as Gershon Baskin proposes. (Although my knowledge of Baskin's position is superficial, my position seems to be aligned with him.) My absence from counter demonstrations against demonstrations against Israel, is mostly a function of my priorities, but also a function of my Baskin-esque attitude.

      But, at some point this current battle will be over and the overall conflict will return to the fore. And at that time the one sided attitudes expressed by this writer and others here on Mondoweiss will be correctly categorized as obstacles to peace. I concede: the primary obstacles to peace are Netanyahu policies (and his future reelection as prime minister) rather than the musings of a leftist from San Francisco.
      Yet, if this web site cares about dialogue (which I seriously doubt, given Phil's speech at the Brecht society in September), there are words that lead to dialogue and words that don't. And this article is not dialogue conducive.

  • On the Jewish Israeli street, there's no solution to Palestinian issue but more violence
    • Phil, the current situation is certainly disheartening to those who favor Ben Gurion's actions of early 1948, including the declaration of independence and the nakba. I try to fine tune the past, trying to figure out where it went wrong, how it might have gone right instead of wrong. Currently it seems that Ben Gurion's combined acts resulted in permanent war and permanent war is bad.

  • Researcher: More than 75,000 Palestinians arrested by Israel since Sept. 2000
    • Regarding the headline story: Since September 2000...
      Although the oppression of Palestinians has been a factor since November 47 or before, it is useful from a historical perspective to divide the history into periods. Citing statistics from the time of the first intifada does not tell us enough about the current situation. The first intifada ended approximately the time of the death of Arafat. (There is no set date to establish the end of the intifada and I would be interested in hearing other defining moments as the line in the sand, so to speak, where the post second intifada period began: the election of Abbas, the election of a Hamas legislature, the mini war in Gaza when Hamas overthrew Fatah, the assassination of Sheikh Yassin or Rantisi.) Israelis are still in a state of mind derived from the first intifada- Gurvich when interviewed by Phil mentioned the need for Israel to get some distance from that period before he would expect a revival of the peace movement (or less chauvinistic voices speaking out, I don't remember his exact terminology). So I think it would be helpful to have statistics beginning not in September 2000 but at some other point of time, so that we can recognize what our/their current state of affairs looks like.

  • Brecht Forum event with Antony Loewenstein of 'After Zionism'
    • Phil devotes the gist of his presentation to the anecdote of the surprise Jew. But what is the moral of that story? Phil is making the point that he started with the goal of fixing the Arab Israel (aka Palestine Israel) conflict by getting involved in the Jewish conversation. Now after a long 6 years since his first visit to Palestine or Israel, he has realized via a hardcore Zionist showing up at a Gentile garden party, that the Jewish conversation is a sideshow. Seems kind of shallow to me to sum up Zionism with the surprise Jew.

      I suppose I am asserting that there are two types of Zionism, questioning Zionism and nonquestioning Zionism. Although conceivably two different personality types rather than ideologies, the nonquestioning accept the guilt of the Palestinians, the righteousness of the Zionist movement, and accept the status quo as either not so bad or else the least bad position at this moment. The questioning would cut across the ideological spectrum. There are right wingers who seek to turn the West Bank into a neighborly process. There are Beinart types who draw a strict border between Jerusalem and the West Bank and calls Jerusalem democratic and the West Bank nondemocratic.

      I don't think one can call oneself an advocate of dialogue and avoid questioning types no matter where they fall on the ideological chart. Phil seems to assert that if someone is close enough to me in their analysis of the conflict then we can talk, but otherwise there's nothing to say. Maybe Phil is not the one to dialogue with all questioning types, but that's more a question of division of labor and personal temperament rather than the definition of dialogue. If one is for dialogue, then questioning types need to be engaged. Phil cited a nonquestioning type at a garden party to assert the impossibility and the ridiculousness of engaging in dialogue with certain portions of the political spectrum, rather than to certain portions of the personality spectrum.

  • Bedtime for Bibi? He's running neck-in-neck with Obama among FL Jews
    • Phil's prediction that Netanyahu will be gone in 6 months would be music to my ears, if only I was foolish enough to believe him, which I'm not. There will be an Israeli election within a year. (By law there must be an election within the next 14 months, I believe.) Who will defeat Netanyahu in the Likud party? No one. Who will defeat the Likud party? No one.

      (Of course if Israel attacks Iran all bets are off. I think we can dismiss the possibility of an American attack against Iran in the next 14 months, although such a war would also stir things up to the point of all bets being off.)

      technical point: "Neck and neck" or "neck 'n neck", as in a horse race where the horses are right next to each other stretching out their necks. Neck in neck- never heard of it.

  • 'After Zionism' at the Brecht Forum next Tuesday night
    • Just came back from the event. Ahmed Moor was a no show, so it was just Phil and Lowenstein and a crowd of people to the left of Phil and Lowenstein. No one learned very much from the presentation unless they were utterly ignorant on the issue. Maybe if someone bought the book then they learnt something.

      The presentation was rather more like a church meeting, Zionists bad, Palestinians good, "Amen" and all that. Nothing on the current turmoil in the capitals of the Arab world. Unless democracy includes the current turmoil. Democracy according to Phil seems to include all forms of populism. as far as concern about minorities, that is not something covered by the term democracy apparently.

      Regarding Jewishness Phil made the assertion that it's time (for him) to leave the sideshow of Jewish identity alone, but the people in the audience were anxious to hear more about the issue of Jewish identity. Phil stepped forward to condemn the painting of the star of david on a garbage can in Gaza, a woman in the audience- How can you expect anything better when the Israelis have stars of David on their jets.

      But as I said, it was mostly people who agreed with each other and I left as soon as it was over.

      Oh yeah, of course the speakers (or people in the audience) like to elicit chuckles with the names Jeffrey Goldberg and Michael Oren.

      Phil announced that Netanyahu was going down, because Israelis don't like tension between Israel and the US. I hope he doesn't mean in the next elections, which Netanyahu will win.

      No solid ideas what a future after Zionism will look like, you have to buy the book to get those ideas and they didn't want to give away anything for free, except that it doesn't pay to talk to Zionists because they don't want to know the truth.

  • American Jews who choose 'humanitarian values' over Zionism are tempting another Holocaust --Gordis's blackmail
    • Phil writes: "I will certainly mourn it, but shrug and say that other traditional identities are also disappearing."

      Forgive me if I give more credence to the shrug than to the mourn. When your grandparents died, did you mourn and say, all old people die? The shrug is a form of stepping away from the mourning. I will mourn for a moment, and then shrug, and place it in the perspective of New Guinea.

  • 'Obama will be forced' to support Israeli strike -- because of his domestic 'political needs'
    • Danaa and other defenders of Mooser- Mooser is like your mascot, your pet. You invite people in to participate in this comments section. (Admittedly, you don't invite people in, it is Phil who invites people in. He is the one who believes in dialogue. You believe in Gilad Atzmon type hatred and disdain and rhetoric for anyone who dares hold a different opinion than you. Maybe you are more accurate than Phil, for the path towards a better future in the Holy Land probably will lead through bloodshed and thus dialogue is in fact not part of the path, or not part of the path at this point in time. nonetheless my analogy does not work unless I say that "you invite people in to participate in the comments section.") And then your little cute mascot, dog pisses on your guests and you giggle and laugh and think it so cute. And then when that same guest kicks your cute little dog, you get all up in arms and do your own type of pissing.

      And guess what for every masochist, there is a sadist. And Mooser (and your hero, Gilad Atzmon) certainly fit the score on sadism.

      (For Mooser's benefit. Dog in Yiddish is hunt, pronounced, hoont, rhyming with a quick shouldn't, and not c..., and in Hebrew is kelev. If you want more lessons on either Jewish language, I am helpless regarding Ladino, I'd be more than willing to help you. You can even borrow one of the Old Testament's from your audience at the church and I can direct you to the verses where the word "kelev" appears. So I was correct: you play for the Rangers, but in fact are a Chicago Black Hawks fan.)

  • The world according to Sheldon Adelson
    • Shingo- I have long noticed the journalistic custom of stating "20 years ago when Clinton first took the oath of office" , when in fact it occurred 19 and a half years ago and apparently it is considered bad form to use the 6 letters that make up the word "almost" to turn an almost true statement into a technically accurate statement. Okay, that's my problem. I'm too technical. But Phil has to say "more than 2000 years ago". Not 2000 years ago and certainly not almost 2000 years ago, but more than 2000 years ago. He has to add the four letters of the word "more" in order to make an "almost" true statement into a stupid statement. Is this called blog journalism? Just drop the word "more". No. Can't do it. Have to speak in broad terms, even if it's false. It's almost true. This is just sloppy crap. Just drop the word "more".

      As far as the conspicuous consumption of the American Jews, that crap was covered by Philip Roth more than 50 years ago in Goodbye Columbus (factual) and in the movie version more than 60 years ago (blog factual). We really need to have a rehash here? The politics of occupation is not enough, we really need a shot at the conspicuous consumption of the Jews? What's next? Another photo of mediocre sculpture and a theory about Jewish mothers? No, can't leave it alone. That's what blog journalism is about. Sloppy crap.

  • One apartheid state, with liberty and justice for Jews only
    • Avi G. - I understand your rejecting my line of thought because it resembles hasbara. I am trying to think what is the next step? Where could Israel head? Where is it headed? The West Bank Palestinians probably have a thousand good reasons not to apply for citizenship, that is not the question. The question is: what is the way forward? Obviously the way forward is being determined by Netanyahu and not by me and so my question is hypothetical. But what is the goal and what is the way to get there. Phil wrote in a recent post that Jewish sovereignty (on this spot on the globe) endangers Jews in America. Well, it's good to define one's goals. His goal is to take sovereignty away from the Jews and give it , I guess, to all the people living in the bounds of Mandate Palestine and to all who can claim roots in 1947. It seems to me that the strategy here is let the settlers and Netanyahu alienate the world to the point that the American public wakes up to the actions of its government and forces its government to set Israel straight. And setting Israel straight means what? Giving up sovereignty? Giving the vote to all the people in Israeli controlled territory? But you are now rejecting Israel giving the vote to all people in Israeli controlled territory, because it does not suffice or because it puts the occupied palestinians in a bad spot. So what do you propose to do. A UN resolution placing UN troops in area captured in 67? A UN resolution taking over sovereignty in the Palestinian Mandate? It is unfair to demand specifics from you, but I am trying to see where you wish the future to be headed, so that I can see it. I proposed something very tangible, a counter proposal would help me crystallize the gap between our positions.

  • The crisis of Jewish identity
    • A couple comments about Jewish identity. The Shoah or the churban to use a less unique word for destruction, I think continues to demand an answer. It could be only because I was born so soon after WWII to people who escaped Europe in 1941 and because I was raised Orthodox and Zionist. Maybe the Shoah is on my mind, but in fact it is best to move on.

      So where are we: With two large Jewish populations- America and Israel and a smattering of medium sized and small populations. Now that we have dismissed the past (other than traditions), but if you dismiss the European genocide, what becomes your model- disappearance or identity? Universalism is beautiful (sometimes, especially the desired ends expressed, if not as often the speculated means.) And face it, the Exodus plus the prayers and the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos) expressed some rather universal values. So good for universalism. But are you advocating disappearance? Of course the false dichotomy of disappearance or identity dismisses compromise. But an emphasis must be declared by the end of your sophomore year. Whose side are you on? Disappearance or identity.
      I'd say Phil is on the side of disappearance and I am on the side of identity. But disappearance also happens to be the fate of me, childless especially, but mortal so disappearance is part of the earthly experience. Besides it's not just disappearance into a Christmas tree, but disappearance into America and like the mortician who starts the narrative of "The Godfather", I love America, also like that song by Sondheim and Bernstein "I like to live in America", so assimilation into America is a holy myth to blaspheme as I bless.

  • Arthur Koestler's Zionist recruiters used anti-Semitic ideas
    • Shmuel- Actually I think the urge to assimilate is partly an urge to appear the same as everyone else. And as such it contains good and bad.

      Someone in the Village Voice some time ago wrote that his reaction to having a chasid sit next to him on the subway train was the same as his reaction to having a drag queen sit next to him. As a closeted Jew, or one who does not manifest his Jewishness at most moments, this chasid was loudly broadcasting Jewishness, just like the drag queen was loudly broadcasting his gayness while the subdued gay, trying to pass in certain situations, or at least not broadcast his orientation at all moments, does not want the drag queen sitting next to him.

      I of course exaggerated, but I think what I said contains a kernel of truth. It isn't as if the phenomenon of denying Jewishness doesn't exist and hasn't existed for some time. A friend on Long Island had a third grade teacher who asked all her students, what religion are you? Which obviously was acceptable to ask in 1960, but not today. and he answered, "I'm Jewish, but we're not religious." Nothing self hating per se, but do you think any of the Catholic kids, even those who didn't go to church, would have answered that way?

      I hate wearing a yarmulka and have hated it since being a kid. Is this self hate? Not strictly. It's a desire to fit in. When a kosher meal is ordered for me on a flight, I hate it. I don't want to stand out. I want to fit in. Okay, so it's not self hate. But the Jewish urge or command is to stand out, is to be different, so the urge to be the same contains a rejection of this command.

      Koestler's friends took this to an extreme on a national scale or a broad scale, and I think the phenomenon also exists on an individual basis. My use of terms: mask, hide, erase are clearly exaggerations and thus extreme ways of expressing the point, but I think it's a valid point.

      When Kirk Douglas told people he was half Jewish when he was in fact Jewish from both sides, what was that? That was masking and hiding. Today's American dream is an innocuous goal for the masses and happens to include the idea of not rejecting one's past. This was not so in the 20's at the time of Koestler's friends "self hate". Until the cultural revolution of the 60's the dominant culture of America demanded leaving the past behind. thus to confuse the possibly neutral process of assimilation today with the assimilation demanded in an earlier time, is an anachronism. The dominant culture that rejects the diversity of its citizens is not hateful per se, but it is not tolerant.

      I think the assimilation idea is a deep one and while my explanation is simplistic and resembles the superficial sound bite, the way to improve on my explanation would be to say, it is more complicated than that. To merely assert "Assimilation is." is to reject my simplicity and embrace shallowness in its stead.

      What did you think of the movie Zelig? Did you feel it had any relevance to the Jewish experience?

      How do you react when people wish you a Merry Christmas? Do you just wish the same back to them without any inner turmoil? When you read of Phil's Christmas tree, do you feel that is just an urge to be part of the
      American dream? Part of the dominant culture? If Judaism has been hollowed of all meaning (as it is for Woody Allen) then adoption of the dominant culture makes sense. But doesn't that add up to hating a Judaism or Jewishness that is hollow and offers nothing?

      When Tony Judt wrote that he was more comfortable in church than in synagogue (paraphrase) is that a totally innocuous statement without any negative aspects?
      As I wrote, I think the issue is very rich, both psychologically and anthropologically and politically as well.

      (What does Tariq Ramadan say about assimilation? Does he view it as a neutral phenomenon?)

    • The Zionist theory of attempting to solve the Jewish problem by changing the nature of the Jews, was lofty idealism of a sort. But let's face it, the urge to assimilate exists within most Jews, and is thoroughly espoused by Phil here on Mondoweiss. So once we accept the urge to assimilate (into the majority population by a member of the minority population), then we certainly have to accept that urge in people 90 years ago. Fact #2 is that the nations of Europe or the nationalists of Europe or a significant percentage of the elites of nationalist Europeans, would not accept the Jews as part of their nations. This was the experience of Herzl when he attempted to join a German nationalist fraternity, and I don't know if Pinsker had the same experience or if the pogroms, a historical event, were enough to serve the purpose of personal rejection, by having that rejection played out on a large scale. So now we have two facts: an urge to assimilate and rejection by the local nationalists. Voila- let's have our own nationalism.

      The urge to assimilate is partially an urge to wear the mask of the dominant culture and partially an urge to hide or erase the face of the minority culture that will be masked by the dominant culture. The urge to assimilate is a form of self hate.

      Since Woody Allen was mentioned here yesterday, his chameleon man in "Zelig" serves the purpose of a demonstration of the urge to fit as an expression of self hatred.

  • Jewish theologian says Christian discourse on divesting from occupation contains 'latent anti-Semitism'
    • annie- the celebration that this web site, phil, gave to shlomo sand and his theory of jews being the equivalent of gays, in terms that it was ridiculous to relate to either group as a people, was not based on any study that phil had done of the issue, but because Sand's in your face attitude fits into Phil's concept of Judaism as a religion and not a people. The people versus religion question is a deep one, that i feel deserves at least 100 pages and contemplation rather than haste and therefore to give it sound bite treatment is to set up to fail from the get go. I realize that the Zionists over emphasized the people aspect, and in fact not everybody deals with the issue of assimilation versus identification in the same way and the Zionist movement had an element of uniformity to it that did not allow for the diversity of opinion of those who wish to leave all that Jewishness behind and if that includes eating bacon and playing golf on sabbath it certainly includes the peoplehood thing and so one can give up on the peoplehood aspect of Jewishness and I am just dipping my toe into what I think a deep discussion of the issue would in fact entail.

      I have spent hours to your minutes, if not hours to your seconds, thinking about the religion and people aspects of Jews and Judaism and how this might have evolved without Herr Hitler and without the establishment of Israel and it is a very rich garden of thought. But when the off the cuff remarks by the crew here compare the Jews to stamp collectors regarding peoplehood, that's just plain junior high school shtick that in fact fits into the category of latent antisemitism, or kernel of jew hatred or whatever term i used.

      the fact is that the degree of ignorance regarding haredi versus national religious in recent days surprised me, but it shouldn't, because people here say the dumbest things and know very little about certain parts of the situation.

      and when Phil disses the Talmud and Citizen echoes the sentiment and attributes all the good of this world to the enlightenment and ignores Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos, this is more than ignorance, this is disdain for Jewish books and the Jewish religion.

      If you need the exact thread that contains the jovial to and fro between RoHa and Citizen dissing the Jewish tradition, I'll find it for you. And if you want the jovial to and fro between RoHa and Shmuel comparing the peoplehood of the Jews to the peoplehood of stamp collectors, I'll find that for you too.

    • annie- klaus boemker plays on the chosen people meme in Phil's answer to commentary on the elite issue.

      "The Jews are ‘the people of the book’. Nothing wrong with that. But being ‘the chosen people’ is a status ascribed by God, it’s not an achieved status."

      Actual this was a rather learned statement regarding why Jews are resented, it is when the chosen people idea is included gratuitously rather than analytically that i find it offensive.

    • hey Sumud,

      my comment was relevant to the topic raised re: langer's accusation of latent antisemitism. when phil attended the lubav thing with tokyobk up at yale or princeton (ivies know ivies, us lower class jews confuse them all) the wife of the lubav rabbi referred to the comments section here as vile. I feel vile and latent antisemitism overstate it. but certainly the attitude towards jews expressed here are discomfiting. if i was in the ecumenical business i'd get out of it, cuz i don't represent a church and i wouldn't really want to talk to an institution rather than to individuals, but that was the point that langer made, that her efforts at ecumenical peace will suffer from the divestment process because of latent antisemitism. that's the topic of the post. it's to the point and you, sir or miss, are closer to bait and switch than i am.

  • Exile and the Prophetic: Chosen/Kairos
    • Shmuel- A checkout girl in Brooklyn was slowly doing her job when a customer asked her if she could hurry, at which point she stopped and answered, "I have two speeds, slow and stop." I, too, have two speeds, slow and stop. Evolution as used as an opposite to revolution is by definition slow.

      I agree with Bradley Burston's suggestions of giving the West Bank Palestinians the vote (and citizenship also, but certainly as a first step, the vote). Is this going to happen soon? No. Will it happen any sooner if I go to the midr'chov with a placard or to Union Square with a placard when I get back to NYC? No.
      But would this change in my position without the accompanying placard in the public square be sufficient to consider myself having evolved sufficiently for your demands? I don't know.

      Let us take the Arab Spring. What if Israel had returned the Golan (minus 100 meters or plus 100 meters, depending on who had given in) when discussions occurred in 2000? Would that have turned the Assad regime into a democratic regime? No. So instead of killing people in all of Syria including the Golan, Assad only gets to kill people in Syria, minus the Golan. Such factors cause hesitation when considering how Israel should proceed.

      Let us proceed to Egypt, now that the Brotherhood has taken the parliament and the presidency (after promising not to run for the presidency). Granted that if the rebels win in Syria, they will make the
      Brotherhood look like the epitome of responsibility. How pleased are the Copts with the success of the Tahrir square revolution? I haven't polled them, but I bet they're uneasy. How pleased are the facebook liberals from Tahrir square with the fruits of their revolution? Unscientifically random interviews presented on NPR indicate that they have their qualms as well.
      (I favor moving Egypt towards democracy, a process which will take time and include setbacks and "immaturity", but I assert that realism must accompany this attitude as well. Phil's euphoria in the first 17 days after the revolution was certainly premature, but I am the one scolded for "wondering" rather than committing.)

      Hughley (I forget his first name- young black comedian) was on Bill Maher's old show "Politically Incorrect" together with Ralph Nader and he told Nader that when he listened to his words they made sense, but when he just listened to his tone of voice he sounded like the old crank down the street telling the kids to stay off of his lawn. The left is known for sounding like scolds. You too.

  • Burston calls for 'quiet revolution'-- give Palestinians the vote
    • Citizen- I am not denying the validity of the topic, but it was irrelevant to Burston's breakthrough article. It's just that Phil cannot resist. He mentions it not only when it's relevant, but when it's irrelevant as well.

      That is just plain stupid if you ask me, and it encourages people who wish to punish dual loyalists. Do you wish to punish dual loyalists? Do you support legislation to illegalize dual citizenship? Do you support punishing people who write letters to their senators that you feel reflected support for Israel but ignored the US's best interests. Recently you have expressed a desire to hang someone, although I think you meant Libby and Perle, rather than Joe Goldenbergsteinowitz from Skokie writing his senator. Your "hanging" rhetoric fits right in with Phil's mentioning this topic when it is irrelevant. Over the top rhetoric from commentators is encouraged by gratuitous remarks from the editor.

    • tree- That you prefer that I would be more exercised by your issues rather than other issues which tickle my unfunny bone, is not surprising. You prefer the echo chamber and when someone raises some other issues, even if you have zero logical argument you harass and heckle, for you prefer the echo chamber.

      But the issue of transnationalism or dual loyalty is more important than your guardian role of ideas expressed here on MW.

      Dual loyalty is a real issue. My own personal take on the issue is that of honesty. If one confesses to dual loyalty and questions whether this loyalty to the US interests undercuts Israel interests or whether this loyalty to Israel interests undercuts US interests, to my mind this is the way to deal with the issue. Too many people do not fess up to this clash of interests and it is that dishonesty that I find upsetting. Many here hate anybody who has split loyalties even if they are honest about it and Phil feeds into that hatred by tossing the issue around in this case.

      Burston has dual citizenship (as far as I know) and thus whatever he says can be attacked on this basis. Is it relevant to his calling for a quiet revolution in thought? Probably right wing Israelis will say, he can run away from the disaster his ideas will bring about, but why would Phil attack him for transnationalism? It is clear to me that it was gratuitous and Phil cannot control his uncivil tongue on the issue. And you the guardian of MW will now tell me what should occupy my thoughts in order to achieve a more perfect echo chamber without any dissenting voices.

    • tree- There are countries that do not allow dual citizenship. America does. Congress could remedy this fact. Unlike the hatred in the hearts of my fellow Americans (dual citizen that I am- I can say fellow Israelis and fellow Americans, although "fellow Americans" trips off my tongue much easier and rings much truer to me) which is not something that should be illegal although hatred is not good, citizenship is something by its very nature that is given to the government to legislate its parameters when confronted with transnationalism.

      Is dual loyalty an evil? Is it a flaw of character? I don't think Phil has specified what he objects to regarding dual citizenship, other than those that deny that there could be conflicts. I think Phil uses it as a chance to score points and has never gone into it in details other than- I phil weiss have only one loyalty to america and these guys- who knows where they stand. I think it seems more like a chance to score points than something that he has analyzed. Your analogy to Jew hatred (or anti semitism) is faulty. I think it is clear why Jew hatred is bad. If it's not, I'll discuss that further. Whereas Phil has not clarified precisely what there is that troubles him with honest, undenied, dual citizenship.

    • Phil focuses on Burston's transnationalism. What do you propose Phil? Illegalize double citizenship? Take away citizenship from any American who expresses feelings of loyalty towards any nonAmerican player? Or is it just innuendo and internet tit for tat when the other side plays dirty?

      (By the way, how many expatriate Americans are living abroad as we speak? Or is it only expats living abroad who feel loyalty to some nonAmerican player? Or is it even expats living abroad who feel affection for people whose lives depend on a nonAmerican player?)

      Do you have any specific legislation that you wish to be passed on this issue or is this just street style politics?

  • How do we make Zionism 101 an everyday reality? Yeah, how?
    • Moose,

      Here is the relevant aim from the about section.

      To publish a diversity of voices to promote dialogue on these important issues.

      Here's the gist. Does Mondo publish a diversity of voices? I don't think it does. Does it promote dialogue on these important issues? I don't think it does.

      It is feasible that my impression regarding the promotion of dialogue is related to the comments section (the Mondoweiss community) rather than the intentions of the editors.

      Regarding the editors: I think when one labels families of genius who hate Israel (paraphrase) this is decidedly not a promotion of dialogue but rather an exaltation of one's own emotions. I think that Phil gets carried away at times and while that may fit his personality and its passion, it does not fit the desire to promote dialogue.

      I think you, Mooser, do not share the editors' stated desire to promote dialogue or if you do, you have a very strange way of showing it.

    • Mooser- I suppose if we widen the definition of Zionism to include Buber Zionism and not just Ben Gurion Zionism, you might get a grunt of approval from Phil to the extent that he is agnostic regarding such a movement. There is a lot wrong with Ben Gurion Zionism and I think a blank check to Ben Gurion Zionism is certainly an insufficient strategy and a questionable world view, but I think the line: "And every home of courtesy, genius and conscience is educating haters of Israel and its misdeeds.” pretty much qualifies as anti Zionism. It is not really agnostic whatsoever, wouldn't you agree?

    • Citizen- the relevant quote that I was riffing on was Phil's quote from April 13th of this year in a post titled "Denial" in which he wrote, "And every home of courtesy, genius and conscience is educating haters of Israel and its misdeeds." He is trumpeting the virtue of hate.

      And according to you the only thing that qualifies as hate is when you say something false about the Jews, if you say something true about the Jews, that isn't hate. Which is bushwa, but that's what you claim.

  • Passive-aggressive George Bush namechecks neocons for getting us into that mess
    • Phil- One can question why Cheney took the step from realism to neo conservatism. (under Bush pere, Cheney was part of the realist team. By 1998 when he signed the PNAC, plan for a new american century, he became a front man or an insider man for the major neoconservative proclamation of the day). Blame Wolfowitz and Perle and Krauthammer all you want. But the vice president was the inside man. I don't have the time to read Bush's book, but certainly he mentions Cheney, doesn't he? But you sure don't.

  • 'Death of a Salesman' came out of an intermarriage
    • Phil- My attitudes about assimilation (and intermarriage) are primarily emotional.

      An image comes to mind: An emaciated Jew with his dying breath charges out of the gas chamber, stumbles and falls, but before dying, hands me a football stamped "Judaism" or "Jewishness". And I don't know what to do with this football, where to run with it, how to get it forward, (or even which way is forward).

      But your answer is to call the football tribalism, to label it as the opposite (and enemy?) of universalism and humanism, to drop the football- it is worse than a hot potato, it is poison. Your answer is nowhere near the answer that would fit my emotions, biography and personality.

      My more logical (or less hyper emotional) response is to argue the value of cultural diversity.

      In the second Star Trek series (New Generation about the Starship Enterprise with Picard) we have the embodiment of the deracinated future world in the Earthlings that are crew members. They are all boringly similar. If one wants variety in this future one must look to the representatives of other planets, for Earth has been thoroughly homogenized.

      Biological diversity is a proven value. I posit the value of cultural diversity. Let a thousand flowers bloom, with a thousand accents and a thousand cultural eccentricities. Who knows where the cultural cures for our spiritual woes might be conjured and/or mixed?

      Biological diversity advocates would never demand that a species justify itself in advance. Similarly advocates of cultural diversity would parallel that demurral. Some people have set themselves up as Commissars of the future, where cultures that seek to survive must submit their mission statements in order to receive permission. This attitude is offensive and if my analogy between biological and cultural diversity has any validity, their attitude is wrongheaded as well.

      (The issue of individual versus group deserves mention. Individuals should choose their ideologies based upon their inner compasses. The dynamic of group versus individuality is found in a multiplicity of choices that thinking humans encounter. Thus if the cultural diversity I am advocating implies an acceptance of coercive anti individual vectors of power, I must hedge my assertions. Beware of this aspect of cultural diversity. But let us not pretend that "our" modern situation of media inundation does not consist of another form of coercion and one must expect close knit societies to resist this form of coercion to assimilate. Coercion is all around the individual and it is not always easy to sense our inner compasses.)

      A secondary emotional element in my attitude towards assimilation has to do with the nostalgic streak in my personality. In a historical sense it is Warsaw of 1929 to 1939 that I yearn for, when Jews of varying ideologies came to the big city from their shtetls and mixed the Talmudic singsong logic of their rejected upbringing with the politics and art, individualism and utopian or group aspirations of the time. That era cannot be recreated, but I still yearn to go back to that time. Phil, you seek to go forward to a time when Jews will drown their particularism in the Nile of globalism, I wish to go back to a time when their/our particularism was still fresh and authentic and new to the world of ideas.)

  • Shmully and guilt
    • Phil- Job well done on going into the lions' den with the Lubavitch lion and lioness.
      (Yasher koach. Google it. It means job well done in this case, but with ethnic, particularistic, tribalistic echoes because of its Hebrew and Yiddish pronunciation. Btw- reading Yiddish literature gropingly recently I came across the term, Ivri-Teitch instead of Yiddish for the language the people spoke. Literally Hebrew/German. Yiddish is a more recent term for the language, viewing it as an outsider- the language of the Jews. Ivri/Teitch seems to be what insiders called it.)

      Aside from the I/P issue my ideal for the Jewish people is for secular Jews to talk to Torah Jews so that some oxygen reaches the brain of the Torah Jews and for Torah Jews to talk Torah to secular Jews so that some particles of Jewish nutrition reach the secular Jewish brain. Your visit to the lions' den was a good act in those terms.

      Oh, yeah, and regarding the dream. It reminded me of the Dick Van Dyke episode where Buddy Sorel (Morey Amsterdam) is getting secret late in life lessons to celebrate the bar mitzvah he never had and when he sees a 12 year old arrive after him (at the rabbi's house for the next lesson) carrying a football he tells the kid, "leave the pigskin at home."

  • Denial
    • Elliot- You are less obnoxious than most of the commentators who interact with me, but that does not mean that you are trying to be civil.

      I asserted the importance of continuity. Zionism is one path of continuity which this website rejects. I asserted that there is a need for a proposal of some alternate strategy of continuity in order to replace Zionism. That those who assert Zionism will probably still not be satisfied, but if one is proposing one's anti Zionism not merely as something which is good for America but somehow good for the Jews, one also has to replace Zionism with some other strategy of continuity.

      Now you assert that just because one has a strategy of continuity, that does not mean that the strategy will succeed.

      Of course. Just because you aim to shoot someone in the head, doesn't mean that you will succeed. You may miss and instead hit a pinata containing millions of dollars making the person a millionaire instead of dead. Certainly something as iffy as continuity is not a sure thing and no known strategy is foolproof.

      But the essence here is that you have set your mind on being obnoxious towards me.

      But I assert the follows. Today there are two (not foolproof, yet still proven) strategies of continuity: Zionism and observance. If one lights candles Friday night, even if one is married to a nonJew, this is both a way of expressing one's Jewish identity or one's belonging to a Jewish home and it is also a strategy of continuity.

      Phil rejects Zionism because it is bad for America. Fine. Nothing left to prove other than it is bad for America. But if he wishes to present his rejection as a rejection because Zionism is bad for the Jews, he has two choices. He can assert that Jewish continuity matters to him and Zionism is a bad choice for continuity because the continuity implied by Zionism involves too much militarism and chauvinism to be a worthwhile continuity and an alternate continuity is preferable.

      Or he can say he really doesn't give a damn about continuity. The replacement of Israel with the theoretical Palestine might eventually cause millions of Jews to move away from Israel to the Diaspora, where they will assimilate and that's no skin off his back because who cares if the Jews assimilate. (I don't see a third possibility. Either one is pro continuity or one is indifferent or anti continuity. I asserted that Phil is not pro continuity. Do you disagree?)

      An analogy. Herzl built the golem by writing "emet" ("truth") on its forehead. Phil wishes to undo the golem by erasing the aleph and turning it into "met" ("dead"). Fine. But that is not enough for him. He wishes to assert that he is aspiring to something equal to Herzl's accomplishment. Thus the destroyer of the golem is as important as the creator of the golem. Fine. Many people thought the golem got carried away and that it was better off dead than alive.

      But those who care about Jewish continuity will not be satisfied with you merely killing Zionism and proposing that the Jewish people disappear. Which is what Phil and you, his defender, are in fact proposing. Unless your obnoxiousness is merely to attack me, but doesn't represent your true position.

    • Elliot- First to mention another outstanding nonJewish Jew- Wallace Shawn, who has been quite vocal in recent times in his opposition to US foreign policy and Israel's policy as well. When he introduces the fact that he was Jewish he included the fact that he was born into a family that had a Christmas tree and never ever stepped into a synagogue. (If I have exaggerated, I hope Wallace will forgive me.) But he does not present himself as a Jew criticizing Israel, he presents himself as an American and a human criticizing Israel.

      On the subject of intermarriage- I am too lazy at the moment to look up the numbers but most kids raised in mixed marriages are not raised as Jewish, most are raised with no religion. Citing exceptions is really besides the point. I'm not saying that most people who marry Jews are hyper conscious of their Judaism, but their children are less confused regarding their identity than children of mixed marriages.

      But it could be that I am not understanding your point when you write, there is no clear distinction between Jewishness and Americanness. Maybe in regards to Israel, but in regards to Passover, Christmas, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Zohar, burial laws, circumcision and frying bacon, I cannot seem to see that the Jewish point of view and the American point of view are not distinct. I realize there are many Jews who view their primary religion as liberalism and all those silly holidays and forgoing a Christmas tree and snipping their sons' dicks are just silliness and then for them indeed there is no distinction between Jewishness and Americanness. That's because the only part of their Jewishness that matters to them is Abbie Hoffman and the Jewish lawyers of the NAACP. (I shep nachas from Abbie and the Jewish lawyers also, but the holidays are Jewish and Christmas is not Jewish and Easter is not Jewish and too many verses to mention of the New Testament are not Jewish and I don't see how you can say there is no distinction. It doesn't make sense to me.)

      Intermarrieds who raise their kids as Jews are great. Let a thousand flowers blossom. But Phil is not an intermarried who is raising his kids as Jews. So I see how my narrow (Israel and/or Orthodoxy) view does not incorporate all possibilities. But Phil is a dedicated assimilationist, so I don't see how intermarrieds who emphasize Torah and Torah consciousness is relevant to a discussion of those who have zero (or near zero) commitment to any form of continuity of Torah.

    • Phil- I was thinking about my Jewish heroes, not the Jew-y Jew heroes, but people like Dylan, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, the Marx Brothers. The only really Jewish things that Groucho ever said were the cracks about never joining a club that would have him as a member and whether his daughter who was only half Jewish might not wade in the pool in the exclusive club if only up to her waist.

      Dylan obviously is a bad example because of his contradictions, his appreciation and songs in salute of Jesus on the one hand and his "Neighborhood Bully" on the other. But when he speaks of himself in his early career he says, "i never looked back." and further he said that he felt such a kinship with the country music he listened to as a kid that he felt like he was adopted. if that's not a poetic rejection of one's Jewish roots, I don't know what is.

      Almost 25 years ago when this current stage of the conflict began with the first intifada in 1987, woody published an op ed in reaction to yitz rabin's "we will break their arms and legs". He wrote about the JNF boxes of his childhood and his reaction was "C'mon guys, can't you do better than we'll break their arms and legs."

      Mel Brooks of course was even less political than Groucho. But he deserves mention for when Mel brought Anne Bancroft home to meet his mother, his mother said, "I'll just be a minute, I have to put my head in the oven."

    • Phil- Whether a person is a good Jew or a bad Jew is to put it succinctly, between a person and the Creator. Nonetheless the category can be of some use to us creations as well.

      I don't think Herzl was a good Jew before he came to the Zionist idea. He dabbled in the idea of mass conversion to Christianity. (Herzl himself imagined himself at the head of the line of converts.) He at one time considered himself a German nationalist and it was only the reaction of the German fraternities ("You ain't no German, get lost, Jew!") which made him reconsider. So I really don't think divorcing Herzl from his Zionism and then citing him as your prototype does you much good as an argument.

      Will the Jews survive as a group? As individuals, Jews will survive.

      As individuals, as long as they didn't mind limitations on their culture, Jews could survive the Soviet Union. If they didn't mind the line on their (internal) passports telling them they were Jews and then when they asked for Jewish things (matzos, synagogues, books, opportunities to study) they were told to go to Hell (Siberia). So would one say that the Soviet Union was good for the Jews (as Jeffrey Blankfort once asserted) because they got into good universities? (leaving aside the fact that Jews were in fact limited in their options because of the line on their passports that labeled them as Jews.) I would say, definitely not. Jews who are deprived of their books (and I don't mean Kafka and I.B. Singer, although Isaac Babel and Vasily Grossman would be more appropriate to the Soviet Jews. I do mean Tanach, Talmud, Midrash, even Zohar, but especially Hagada and siddur as Jewish books.) If Jews are deprived of their books and deprived of the right to congregate to pray or assert their Jewishness without the presence of KGB, then they are not free as Jews.

      Jewish continuity is an iffy thing. I think the attraction that you feel for I.B. Singer and Franz Kafka is a nice thing, but I think that this is to put it simply, not enough to keep the Jewish people going.

      Granted, all humans should have the freedom to choose their mates. This does not make Jewish continuity any easier, but harder.

      But let's face it, when you wrote, I don't remember what my bar mitzvah portion was and when you guys were studying Hebrew I was studying Emily Dickinson, you were saying, I chose something other than Jewishness. Does that make you a bad Jew? No. But it certainly makes you an indifferent Jew. And indifference does not suffice to keep the Jewish people alive.

      To clarify: I believe that the major contribution of Judaism at this point in time, including the last 100 or so years in history and for the foreseeable future (unless Jews plan to get into the God game again, as they were in Jesus's time, looking for converts) is to promote ethical behavior and as such, since you are promoting ethical behavior (or at the very least that is your intention), you are contributing to the good of the world and partaking of the Jewish contribution to the world. But that is not Jewish continuity. Jewish continuity is an iffy thing, that requires study, and practices that differ quite often from the urges of the individual.

      Mearsheimer has already separated between righteous Jews and Apartheid Jews. If one instead wishes to leave the issue of I/P out of the equation, is there then no way to measure those who contribute to the continuity and those who do not. Yes, I grant you, calling someone a bad Jew is bad form. (As the subway ad says, New yorkers will tolerate all religions, but not ugly shoes) But isn't it too p.c. to say that everyone is a good Jew and no one is a bad Jew? Yep, to me that's too p.c. Those who wish to imagine some Jewish future 100 years from now usually demand some kind of imagination or action that will have the Jews survive as a group (and not as individuals playing instruments in churches). You are busy imagining the cessation of the oppression of Palestinians by Jews and if you (or even may I say "we") are successful in eliminating oppression, you will have done a damn big mitzvah. But you have no credentials in caring about the survival of the Jews as a group and that is what Jewish continuity means.

    • Phil, you're not just intermarried, you have revealed that in your heart of hearts you feel that intermarriage is the best path. You chose the big pond of America and left the fetid shtetl behind. You waved goodbye to Jewishness and Judaism in your rear view mirror and while you were yelling "So long, sucker!" up pops Judaism/Jewishness like a monster in a movie (Terminator II), up ahead in the road, not a bridge to the future but a wall that you crash against. (That is the neoconservatives and their war in Iraq). They forced you to deal with Jewishness. You didn't come to this issue as a Jew, but as an American first and foremost and as a world citizen second. Fine. All Americans and all world citizens should come and speak their minds. But don't pretend you come to this issue from your Jewishness. It rings phony to me. Maybe those who agree that hatred of Israel is the result of compassion and genius, feel that your Jewishness is relevant. But it rings phony to me.

  • CLM: Jeffrey Goldberg snits where he eats
    • my impression of shavit is far more positive than that expressed by mister rechavia berman although from the sound of it, mister berman has read more columns of shavit's than i have.

      I certainly depend more upon shavit's opinion than i do on goldberg's opinion, although i find phil weiss's harping on goldberg's career kind of annoying, but it doesn't interest me. goldberg has a better than average sense of humor (i confess that senses of humor differ from person to person) and goldberg got the interview from castro broadcasting castro's attitude towards the jews. that anointed goldberg as the messenger to the jews. hitchens talked to goldberg with amis in the room and though goldberg was clearly uncomfortable near the brains of hitchens and amis, that too was an anointment of sorts.

      these guys goldberg and shavit are "promising" an israel attack if US and iran don't reach an agreement this summer. if the attack comes, everything will be different, there will be before attack and after attack. if the attack doesn't come this fall, are they going to predict for the next summer and then the next fall? Sounds like a fatiguing process.

      i can't wrap my imagination around an attack on iran, it kind of does not compute and my machine turns off. it's come to the point of fatalism. if something is going to happen so sui generis I can't compute it.

  • My spirit is American (a religious manifesto)
    • Very interesting, Phil.

      Probably in 1967 there were more Jews similar to you, oblivious to the 6 day war rather than Jews who at the time wore yarmulkas on a daily basis and studied Torah three hours a day, which was my world.

      I think the urge to assimilate, especially into a great and improving country like the US was in the 1960's (in a way it really hasn't quite been as great since) is perfectly natural. There is also an urge to identify that exists in many people, but having grown up in an intensely identifying small segment of the American Jewish population it is difficult to assess how strong the urge to identify really is amongst Jews who were raised secular. (David Mamet comes to mind. Secular friends from Long Island who did identify with Israel in 67 also come to mind.)

      I can't resist some snide remarks.

      Taking the tour of the stations of the cross and seeing it as a lesson in heresy and excommunication, I think that's how you termed it. Spinoza was a case of heresy and excommunication. Jesus was the case of an occupation and a rabble rouser being handed over by Quislings, or being handed over by Sicarii zealots because of a preference for war over pacifism, but the New Testament story of the Sanhedrin and the blaming of Jesus's death on the Jews, to me that's a story as thorny as his crown of thorns and I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

      A Jew who seeks to assimilate is still a Jew. (in the good old days back in the old country, Jews would convert to Christianity in order to get a better job at the office. These days Jews convert to Christianity and still claim to be Jews, whereas in the old day they would be baptised in an attempt to rinse the stink of Jewishness off their resumes.) A Jew who seeks to assimilate should not use the term, "my brethren," (your question to Gurvitz at the tel aviv restaurant) unless he is referring to his brethren in the Dickinson, Melville, Morrison, Dylan, Kafka religion, rather than to his brethren in the religion he left behind in the rear view mirror so long ago.

      And finally, Hitler would consider you Jewish, and the state of Israel, (if you would decide to make aliya) might be forced to consider you Jewish, and any Orthodox rabbi would consider you Jewish, but I think Lenny Bruce would call you a goy.

  • Advice to Zionists from a fellow loser
    • The problem with Phil's analogy is that he considers New York City to be the capital of the world or of its future. Even if I were to admit that New York City is the capital of the US and reflects the reality in the West, in fact there are seven billion people on the globe and the vast majority of them are not changing their gender conceptions so quickly.

      Zionism is an anachronism vis a vis its place of birth Europe or at least vis a vis Tony Judt's place of birth and Phil's place of birth (and mine). Whether it is an anachronism for its current location (the eastern end of the Mediterranean) is an entirely different question. If burkas are the coming thing in that neighborhood then Zionism might be seen by the neighborhood as a foreign implant, but not because it lacks modernity or the ethic of equality, but because it belongs to the 19th century and the rest of the neighborhood belongs to the 8th century.

      In fact given the post Islamic attitude of the Iranian people (based upon the hypothesis that the 2009 election was stolen in Iran and the demonstrations of the Iranian public represented a majority) the evolution of the middle east will probably follow a path of Islamism, the failure of Islamism, the overthrow of Islamism, a process which will take somewhere between 40 to 100 years, based upon the 33 years of the Iranian revolution and the predicted period of time it will take to throw off the yoke of the imams. It is possible that the dictatorship of the imams can be side stepped if the Muslim Brotherhood have indeed learned humility during their time in prison, but if not, that is the trajectory of the evolution of the region.

      If Zionism is no more progressive than Iran's imams it is no less progressive than them either, and if a burka is to be tolerated on the upper west side and in Tehran, there is no reason that the desire of the Jews on the Eastern end of the Med. Sea to protect themselves from the burka is to be tolerated as well.

      Best to let Israel's Jewish majority rest up from the second intifada like Gurvitz suggested and to let them come up with some ideas rather than to draw analogies from sexually ambiguous New Yorkers.

  • The radicalization of Yossi Gurvitz
    • 1. Gurvitz cites the second intifada as a major trauma from which Israel needs to recover in order to get the majority of the society rested enough to deal with the situation rationally. This idea is never mentioned by Phil and it is good to hear it from Gurvitz.

      2. Even though Yeshaya Leibowitz turned out to be right with his basic contention vis a vis the moral dangers of the occupation, his usage of the "Judeo Nazi" rhetoric was one of the keys to his marginalization by Israeli society. I don't see this rhetoric as helpful and Gurvitz's citation of this rhetoric alienates me from him and pushes me in the direction of seeing him as "out of touch".

      3. James Baker, the secretary of state under Bush pere, was the one who said, here's our phone number, call us when you are serious.

  • Leading Zionist historian was first to say 'Israel Firster'-- in 1960
    • Annie- Please cite a discussion on this web site in which you participated, which you would label your participation as "dialogue" rather than "hooray for our side" and "boo for your side". That is not dialogue. Neither is it the war of ideas.

      The use of the term "israel firster" is basically analogous to the term "Israel basher". I would call Phil an Israel basher, particularly when he labels Israel money lovers because a journalist relates to the Japanese earthquake by wondering about the availability of soy sauce. But that's a specific instance and even though in general I would in my heart consider Phil an Israel basher I don't feel that constantly tossing around the term is conducive to discussion.

      The web site calls itself a "war of ideas". I suppose there are various ways to wage a war of ideas. Some of those in the trenches throw garbage and some throw labels. Others say "hooray for our side" and "your side sucks". This is war (mudwrestling, I'd call it), but it really is not ideas.

  • New additions to the Mondoweiss comments policy
    • seanmcbride- "For instance, I have been left with the impression that arguing that Zionism may have helped provoke anti-Semitism in Europe last century," is verboten.

      Whether it is verboten on this web site is the business of Adam and Phil. To assert it is simply ridiculous. Like blowing out the candles at a birthday party in New Orleans caused Hurricane Katrina. Like someone who ate beans and then farted in Bhopal in 1984 needs to accept some blame for creating the atmosphere that caused the deaths of 20,000 Indians by Union Carbide. It is simply stupid, assinine and deserving of condemnation from anyone with an I.Q. over 95 and a modicum of sanity.

  • What my God chip says about Jerusalem
    • The title was Phil's and I must agree it is much catchier than "Season's Greetings". Just looking at the photo that accompanies the post- the Mount of Olives seen from the old city, brings back the knowledge of the intensity of the emotion of being on that spot, plus the realization that attempting to describe the combination of political and religious and personal thoughts that attack me and also lift me when i am there, would be silly without serious time and effort, or better yet, i'll wait 7 months until the experience will be repeated and give you a report based on an immediate experience.

      A discussion of how I would propose sharing Jerusalem politically would be possible now, but describing the somersaults that my God brain chip override causes to my inner "being" will have to wait.

  • Game changer: Hillary says Israeli restrictions on women remind her of Rosa Parks and Iran
  • A Warsaw Ghetto with guns (my recent trip to Israel/Palestine)
    • Phil has confessed that he wishes to see things through the eyes of the Palestinians and not through Israeli eyes.

      But for a second an insertion about Israeli eyes: The second intifadeh killed the chance for peace vis a vis the middle of the road Israeli. That's what decided things in the direction of hafrada. Things were not positive beforehand and a more nuanced view of the second intifadeh is available to those who wish to immerse themselves in the narrative of the other side, but omitting the Israeli narrative, omitting the second intifadeh, this is just proof that you are only talking to one side.

  • Contextualizing the Holocaust
    • "Contextualizing the Holocaust" is a morally ambivalent (ambiguous?) headline. If the byline was David Irving, I'd be concerned. If the byline was by Timothy Snyder I would not be concerned. Since currently I dwell in this comments section where the attitude towards Jews may be closer to innocent than to David Irving, but certainly not always all that innocent, I consider it a questionable headline to use for this audience.

      I heard Timothy Snyder, who wrote "Bloodlands" at Yivo seven or so weeks ago. He felt that it was a significant and lamentable lapse by historians that the fact that a multitude of Ukranians were killed through starvation on the same turf that less than ten years later saw the genocidal effects of Operation Barbarossa went unmentioned and unstudied by most historians.

      He also said that comparing one genocide or mass murder to another is what historians do, although the nomenclature of genocide, he felt, did not begin to describe the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis.

      On a different note I wonder if it is out of line to ask Phil Weiss, "Who were your closest relatives murdered by the Nazis?" Sometimes I feel that Norman Finkelstein and Menachem Rosensaft, let alone Elie Weisel were too close to the "fire" to entirely earn my trust on the issue to be cool, calm and collected on the issue. On the other hand at least in this comments section, I feel that certain people are or were too far from the "fire" to really know what the fuck they are talking about and I was wondering whether you might share with us the closeness of the relatives who were lost in the genocide.

  • Jewish Feds General Assembly seems paranoid about 'who is on our side' inside Jewish community
    • annie and phil- I think and feel (and assert strongly but awkwardly) the word "paranoid" should be used sparingly and accurately rather than with a broad brush on this subject.

    • I think "paranoia" is the wrong word here.
      The Zionist organizations are afraid of delegitimization.
      They propose methods to stop this process.
      You (Phil) agree that they should be afraid of delegitimization. That if the Arab spring results in true freedom, the end of Israel is near. How to stop this danger? They think some superficial Public relations can make a difference. You feel that Israel needs to change drastically in order to survive.

      You both agree there is a danger, the Zionist proposals for change to meet this danger are superficial and your proposals for change are essential. There is agreement on the danger. Paranoia would mean that they see a danger when there is none. But you agree there is a danger. Paranoia is the wrong word.

  • Bellow: Diaspora Jews support Israel because it restored our 'manliness' after the Holocaust
    • The spiritual hole created by 1941-1945 in Europe will not disappear any time soon. Think of the spiritual hole created by 1492, filled by Luria and his mysticism, leading to Shabtai Zevi and his false messiah movement- that's 174 years from 1492 to 1666. Of course things are sped up in the 2010's, but still it will take some time to fill the spiritual hole.

      Question to Phil, How can a Christmas tree Jew help the Jews fill their spiritual hole? By convincing them to follow you down the path of assimilation? Doesn't sound like a spiritual hole being filled, sounds like a spiritual hole being avoided.

  • Leading progressive magazine gives Palestinian solidarity the Swastika stamp
    • Shmuel- A quick perusal of the Mondoweiss archives seems to indicate, I blew it. Apparently I conflated Stephen Walt with Phil Weiss and it was Walt who held Mearsheimer's hand and not Phil.

      People who try to scare others or pretend that they themselves are scared when they are not are using paranoia. People who are indeed scared even if an objective person could tell them that they shouldn't be scared are suffering from paranoia, which is a distortion of reality. It is not adulthood versus childishness in this case, it is health versus sickness.

    • This is the war of ideas? Ha!

      How is Jacobson paranoid?

      How is Jacobson a Likudnik?

      How is the book reactionary? Its treatment of females?

      The most interesting feature of the book (to me) is that it focuses not just on Finkler (the antiZionist Jew who discovers that his Jewish identity is not as dead as he assumed when his own son's antiZionism causes him to see red) and on Treslove's ambivalent desire to be a Jew and to be loved by a Jewish woman, but also on Libor, the old Jew who completes the trio of friends. It is not just a book about anti Zionism it is a book about the Jewish question.

      I accept that mj rosenberg and phil might have been bored by it and I suppose you might call it reactionary because of its attitude towards women, but please, enlighten me on the paranoia charge and on the Likudnik charge.

  • Fragile Egypt
    • I appreciate Phil's on the scene reporting, but I would feel comforted if he would take into account realistic reporting on the general tendencies of the counterrevolution described by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley in the Sept. 29, 2011 edition of the New York Review of Books.

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