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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.

Showing comments 138 - 101

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

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

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

  • Israel’s expulsion of African refugees - betrayal with a kiss
    • The overlap of antizionism and antisemitism has gotten a couple new samples in the last few days: first Phil Weiss ragging on the garishness of the rich jew in upstate new York at christmastime, (as if to say: not only are these people retrograde regarding marriage and colonialism, but they have bad taste too and their aesthetics of interior design certainly revoke any claims regarding nation state status) and now this gratuitous invocation of Christian antisemitism by invoking judas's kiss of betrayal.

      Btw, regarding judas, amos oz has written a novel about judas, intercutting the story of judas as studied by a young Israeli in a young Israel of 1959, with the story of a zionist who was called a judas because of his opposition to statehood in 1948 (reminiscent of Judah magnes''s attitudes).

      Of course mondoweiss is more concerned with the interior decorations of rich Jews and not the novels of amos oz. And it calls itself "the war of ideas"!

  • From Spinoza to Vilkomerson, Jewish voices for peace have long been banned-- by Jews
    • (I contend that) spinoza's excommunication was undertaken because of the vulnerability of the jewish community in the netherlands. they did not want their own place in society endangered by a heretical jew, whose philosophy was inevitably going to cut christianity to ribbons. the only way to protect themselves against this vulnerability was to be cruel to free thinkers. tolerance might have meant wholesale persecution. better to excommunicate the free thinkers.

  • Zionism didn't have to turn out so badly for Palestinians, says Roger Cohen
    • I've been following the Israel versus Palestine story since 67 and in a daily way since 73, so you experts who speak neither of the languages and have never lived there for more than 2 months at a time, I'm supposed to prefer your analysis, you who've been following the story only since 2001?

      i would estimate that it is about fifty years away, the one state solution that you are aiming for. that time might be shortened by a campaign of some practicality, for example: encourage Jerusalem Palestinians to seek Israeli citizenship. Israel has turned most applicants away and a real effort to achieve single state civil rights for all status would be to start: on the front lines for full citizenship for Jerusalem Palestinians. there are a few valid reasons to oppose the idea of this campaign, but the current "campaign" (rushing the gaza fence) is pretty stale.

      ben gurion founded israel with great ruthlessness and some effectiveness for the short range. arafat was a major figure in the palestinian struggle, but the face that will achieve the breakthrough for the palestinians might still be in the maternity ward today, y'know the ones that bezalel smotrich dislikes because of the integration.

      if the future belongs to the one state paradigm, the roger cohen perception, which belongs to the two state paradigm, will eventually be clarified as an idea that didn't happen. i don't understand what phil weiss is harping on regarding roger cohen coming clean about the openness of western society to jews. Israel is not located in the west, nor are most of its citizens jewish or not, from the west. maybe all you really want is for roger cohen to channel the olov hashalom tony judt and call it an anachronism. i don't think it's an anachronism, i think it's a solution to a problem that does not exist globally but only in parts at times. the openness of america does not change the fact of israel's existence or explain the facts in the immediate vicinity of israel. arab hatred for israel is understandable and one can hypothesize a nonzionist alternate history where the jews who were integrated in arab society might serve a function of a bridge to the jews in western society and the entire dynamic might have been if not 180 degrees different, certainly quite different. but it's in fact a fact that the arab societies have been largely emptied of their jewish populations and that the influence of islam is such that coptic populations and christian populations feel insecure and to call jewish identity politics anachronistic is to treat the islamic part of the world as if they don't exist. in fact identity politics is certainly a major part of the culture in that part of the world and anachronistic means that the arabs are part of the past too, so the term anachronistic has got to go.

      i still feel the appeal of the two state solution and so i know where roger cohen is coming from. just read gideon levy about a debate between abunimah and some fatah bigwig. interesting.

  • Anti-Christianism
    • The phenomena of Jews who become neonazis is known, as is in more medieval times Jews who converted to Christianity and persecuted the Jews for their religion. Thus the existence of a category of self hating jew. When one expands the category beyond these obvious examples one treads on thin ice rhetorically. The subject of assimilationism is far too interesting and complex to be simplified by a superficial use of the term. Antizionist Jews and assimilationist Jews largely overlap, but certainly assimilation circa America 2017 is different than in Vienna 1938, so at some point the categories lose meaning.

  • Newspaper ads offer employment help for new immigrants to Israel -- but only if you're Jewish
    • RoHa- regarding 7th grade, all i can say, is "duh."

      i think the path that i described, was quite specific, as in those who wish with equanimity to partake of two opposing ideas: assimilation and continuity, and somehow combine the push and pull of the two year round, during the run up to Christmas, a time of year that says, "Christian" in its name, is not a time of equanimity regarding the push and pull of assimilation and continuity. I cannot speak to nonJews, although I betcha Diaspora Muslims in America have a problem with Christmas, knowing that their allegiance to monotheism is. In fact, Islam, is precisely wise in regards to Jesus, regarding him in a nonhuman fashion, but nondivine, so any commemoration of Jesus is not in itself offensive to Islam. Christianity was birthed in a schism from Judaism and to combine any other religion's relationship with Christianity with Judaism's inherent relationship (mother and daughter) with Christianity is just sophomoric game playing.

      The diaspora existence was different in other ages, so i cannot be sure what was handed down to my grandparents, but in europe in the early 1900's, the jews, though living in a christian society were a people apart in regard to religion. maybe that was going on hundreds of years, i really don't know much about the parents of my grandparents let alone a couple generations back, that is historical speculation, but I come from a people that is used to being apart from the customs of the land in regards to god worship. particularly the jesus god worship.

      my attitude towards jesus is quite favorable. the new testament is nicht ahin and nicht aher, meaning just so-so, containing much wisdom and blaming the jews or not quite blaming all the jews for the primary death of the godlike figure, so the book is a mixed bag. but i can allow myself to imagine jesus in my own image and he is certainly quite different from the hollywood image and whatever "father, son," stuff that he spoke about, that doesn't discourage me from developing a jesus as hero, or shall we say, a flawed protagonist, i conjure him up over the years. and so jesus as thorn, as gadfly, as heckler, as radical, as otherworldly at times, of extreme presence in the moment at other times, as depressed, as knowing martyr, is a vexing personality that is worthy of contemplation.

      as regards paganism, my attitude is also far more liberal than once upon a time. humans seek the divine in nature, see it in nature, and paganism is a natural expression of the human experience. but i was raised that this is not my custom and the few times that i have attempted to participate in the christmas of others, i have felt the alienation, of "this is not my holiday, it's your holiday, not mine."

      when i walk down the street and see a fine display of christmas lights of the right color combination, some reptilian part of my brain, my childhood brain awakens, to the vicarious pleasure i allowed myself to take in christmas lights of particular light patterns when i was a kid, so just like looking at box scores (hockey box scores) stimulates a pleasant childhood memory part of my brain, a similar part of my brain is stimulated by christmas lights, and so there is vicarious participation in that sense.

      I get a big kick out of white christmas written by a yid. a big kick. and i have done a lot of thinking about the character of santa claus. just as i flesh out the historical jesus in my own image, i flesh out santa claus in my own image as well and consider him a major icon of my yearly cycle. i imagine a depressed santa, where the selfish elves have taken over the north pole and fired most of the workers in north pole, alaska and santa who has signed it over to the banks because of disorganization, now is a mere figurehead, whereas the place is run by selfish elves. so i've given much thought to santa.

      i find the ebb and flow of assimilation and continuity or attempts at continuity among american jews to be a fascinating dynamic.

  • 'We came to school and found the school destroyed': Israeli forces demolish West Bank school hours before children's first day
    • Roha- I posed the question regarding whiteness not because it is a perfect analogy, but firstly to get you to comment regarding yourself and your categories rather than myself and my categories.

      Upon further consideration I agree that being Jewish is a choice and the best way to prove this is regarding the extreme example of conversion to Christianity. Although Christians who were born Jewish sometimes cite their Christianity as the ultimate expression of their Judaism, Jews as a rule reject this idea and consider the conversion to be a choice to remove oneself from the category of Jews.

      There is a category of formerly religious Jews known as Off the Derech, which means literally off the path, and some of those who belong to that group refer to themselves as ex Jews or former Jews. When someone has the name Moshe Goldstein and refers to himself as a former Jew, I cannot help but laugh and suggest that if he considers himself an ex Jew he ought to change his name.

      I recently watched the documentary: "OJ, Made in America," and in it, OJ, many years before the murder of his ex wife and the Jewish bystander, reported attending a fancy sports dinner and OJ had been seated at an all black table and one of OJ's white acquaintances commented loudly, "what is OJ doing with all those n*****s?" and OJ was so proud to hear this question which implied that he was no longer black. He no longer considered himself black and Robert Lipsyte, a Jewish sports reporter, recalling OJ's telling of the story, said, "That's when I knew OJ was fucked." (Of course when trial time came OJ reupped with the black people and race was the key element of his exoneration by the mostly black jury.)

      When thinking about your assertion of choice, I thought of two people: Madeline Albright and Billy Joel. Madeline Albright's parents decided to shield her from the disadvantages of Jewishness by never informing her of the fact that they were born Jewish and thus Albright emerged into adulthood (and success) utterly ignorant of her roots. Billy Joel's mother, after divorcing Billy Joel's father, took Billy and his siblings to a nearby church and had Billy baptized and kept Billy ignorant of his roots. Recently in protest against Trump's outrageous "there are very nice people on both sides" (paraphrase), Billy Joel at one of the encores of a recent concert emerged wearing a Jewish yellow star sewn to his jacket.

      The upshot of the three examples: OJ, Albright and Joel, regarding identity and choice seems to be: One can choose one's self definition and change it according to one's whims. But the illusion that this choice is unaffected by history is illusory. Albright's parents choice was based upon their conviction that Jewishness was a curse and their daughter would best be spared that curse, so they deprived her of the knowledge of her roots, so as to spare her of the curse. They also spared her of the choice, taking it upon themselves to choose, but lying to her regarding where she came from. Billy Joel's mother chose to shelter Billy from his roots. OJ, when it was to his advantage considered himself above his roots, and when it was to his advantage embraced his roots.

      A choice made to deny one's Jewishness or to opt out of one's Jewishness based upon a world that makes Jewishness into a (potentially) fatal condition is a coerced choice. When a choice is made by parents to deny their child the knowledge of their roots, they are obviously denying the child the possibility of choosing for themselves.

      (I am reminded of Peter denying Jesus three times before the cock crowed. He was lying and knew he was lying and so the analogy is inexact.)

  • Jew and Israeli: Solomon Schechter and Shlomo Sand
    • If i wanted to say that assimilation is a negative I would have written, "assimilation is a negative, because..." instead I wrote, "assimilation is viewed as a negative, because...." Solomon
      Schechter, a man whose career is unfamiliar to me, other than the fact that he has Conservative (Jewish) Day Schools named after him, was the one cited in the article as choosing Zionism, not out of fear of pogroms, but out of fear of assimilation.

      Annie robbins seemed to suggest that the only possible reason for resisting assimilation, (by which i mean acculturation to the point of losing one's traditional culture and adopting a new culture as one's own), is if one hates the culture that one is resisting, and i was trying to assert that in fact, the culture one is resisting is besides the point, but the main point is the desire to maintain the traditional lifestyle.

      Two images come to mind. That of a young Native American male plucked out of his traditional society and garb and instead clothed like a white man in suit and tie. And the other is of an African American wearing white shirt and white pants in a room that is painted totally white. (this was a poster from the early 70's)

      If i would have to point to an act of assimilation that I find offensive it would be Madeline Albright's parents lying to her, covering up their Jewish background, pretending that they left Czechoslovakia for purely political reasons, whereas in fact they left for reasons of Jewish identity, not their own identity, but the fact that the Nazis identified them as such and that this was dangerous, in fact deadly, to their chances of survival and therefore they emigrated. She rose to the top of her field, and loved the religion that she was raised in, which was some brand of Christianity. It is offensive yet understandable. Offensive because amnesia is offensive and denying one's roots is offensive. But it is very understandable that Jewishness or Judaism was seen as a handicap, and why handicap their little daughter and their growing daughter, and their grown daughter with extraneous knowledge about her roots, better to begin anew and throw the liability into the ash heap. (or as Marty Feldman as igor said about his hump, what hump?)

      Those who fight assimilation (which is not just a governmental policy, but a sociological phenomenon) are fighting to maintain a tradition, that has its roots in a long history, even if it does not go back to the beginning of time, as in Father Abraham. My own impression is that in the case of the Jews in America, this is largely a losing battle, but only in the big picture, there are many individuals who are able to get in touch with the history and the traditions.

      If one dismisses Judaism as just one more silly worship of a man with a beard in the sky, then I suppose the sooner the better, onto the ash heap, at least from one perspective. Solomon Schechter was not of this school of thought. (I am assuming based upon my knowledge of Conservative Judaism, that...) He was devoted to the maintenance of the Jewish identity, particularly regarding the Torah, and its traditions: its food, (kosher) its holidays (on Saturdays and not Sundays, from sundown to sundown and not any other time demarcations) and its texts, and the language of the texts, and maybe also the language of the previous generations.

      Having read Irving Howe and his description of the disrespect with which his generation of Jewish leftists treated their Jewish roots, I feel that there was something skewed about how that between the wars generation related to their roots. It was only later, in the 60's when respect for traditions outside of the west began to infiltrate the consciousness of the left, that his generation came to realize that there was some sort of amnesia that was being forced on the Jews by themselves (and also by the expectation called the melting pot, and also the expectation of Americanism, which at that time, but not so much today, idealized treating the past as mere memory whereas the present and the future required a jettisoning of useless thoughts) and that there was something offensive about such a demand and something ignorant and immature about how the Jewish youth who came of age in the 1930's treated their parents and the world their parents came from and such a denial reminds me of another image, Peter denying Jesus three times before the cock crows.

      The Jews in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe under the czar, lived largely apart from the society at large, particularly those who lived in small towns, but mobility towards bigger towns and mobility towards destinations outside of Eastern Europe, which was one of the goals that the Czars advisers voiced (one third will emigrate, one third will convert and one third will be killed off). Well this mobility brought this community face to face with modernity and led to a crisis of loss of memory.

      Another image. "Seconds" starring Rock Hudson, about a middle aged man who wants to start over and in order to do so, his death has to be faked in order that his past life can be erased and he can start anew, but he grows nostalgic for the life that he has tossed away, a big no-no.
      Another failure for those that provided a second chance because the amnesia they advocated did not work.

      I cannot say that I agree regarding the idea that Jewishness describes anything about the true self of the young Jewish Americans of the '30's, children of immigrants, who wished to dismiss the past and embrace America and all that was new and modern with reckless abandon. I cannot say that they were tossing away anything essential or their true selves. But those who like Solomon Schechter, who decried assimilation, did feel that there was something essential that they were missing. Those like Rabbi Schechter who have spent their lives studying the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud, and the lore and the law and have enjoyed the Shabbat or Shabbos and the cycle of the year and the cycle of life contained in traditional Jewish observance, considered it an enriching experience, and were devoted to the maintenance of those traditions, those rabbis by the nature of their profession and calling, will consider that tradition to be the essence that those youngsters were tossing away, (like Al Jolson tossed away the traditions in order to embrace the Americanism of singing "Mammy" in black face.)

      When I see the Jewish faces thronging to hear and dance to the beat of Benny Goodman, in the 30's their love for America and for the new, that was the nearest thing to their essence and the fact that their parents wanted them to marry Jewish mates and the fact that most of them for sociological reasons did marry Jewish mates, was merely an accident of circumstance, that 80 years later is rectified by differing sociological circumstance and decrying assimilation is like decrying gravity.

      Still in a discussion of assimilation for someone to come along and say, "oh, if they are resisting assimilation, it must mean that they hate or disdain the host culture", frankly this is nonsense, because the essence is not the attitude towards Benny goodman, but rather the attitude towards Torah. The ebb and flow of globalization and modernization and the difficulties faced by second generation, that is the children of the immigrants, in immigrant societies today, with its frictions, as evidenced by various violent incidents, reminds us that assimilation is not always as simple and as smooth as certain people claim. It can be quite complicated. And to label the resistance to assimilation as a form of hatred or superiority is myopic, superficial and ignorant.

  • Israel's efforts to hide Palestinians from view no longer fools young American Jews
    • Anti Jewish propagandist Keith has a low opinion of the readers of the comments section of mw, unable to chew gum and walk at the same time.

      There are different types of ethnic relations aside from the role of proletariat taken up by blacks and people of color in North America. There is also the phenomenon of middleman minority, which describes the relations of Jews in previous times in various societies, plus a few other middleman minority historical phenomena.

      I believe that the discerning reader will be willing to open their minds up to the possibility of various tensions existing between ethnic groups not based upon the monochromatic viewpoint expressed by you.

      Between roughly the year 1000 until the year 1945, the most widespread ethnic tension in europe was Christian versus Jew. It did not resemble the tension between whites and blacks in america, but it was very deep in the culture and very widespread. because the oppressed Jews of the czarist empire moved en masse to america as a result of oppression, focusing on the particularly phenomenon of late 19th century Jew hatred is a natural outcome for those whose presence in america is due to a hatred movement in europe that resulted in emigration to america and our very identity as americans resulted from the fact that we were jews and oppressed.

      although the Shoah was not unique in history, it was rather intense and this aspect of Jewish history is naturally part of any conscious jew's concept of history. most jews wish to shed their jewishness, for a variety of reasons, and this complicates any effort to come to terms with the shoah.

      all we need is some jew haters to help us gain clarity that jews are not hated, by talking out of both sides of their mouths: you're not hated, yet your victim mentality means that you do deserve to be hated.

  • The '67 War called Tony Judt to Israel -- where he found an 'anachronism' he 'intensely disliked'
    • mhughes- just watched christopher hitchens on the word christendom and he declares that the term christendom stopped being used in the aftermath of world war I, that the fact that the war was fought between christian countries put an end to the use of the term christendom as it implies a type of unity that ceased to exist during the fighting of the war.

      world war II obviously had other causes and effects besides hitler's desire to exterminate the jews, but any discussion of the war that does not include the fact that before the war the predominant world jewish community was european and after the war, most of that community was dead, neglects the jewish perspective of the war.

  • US diplomats say Western Wall is in West Bank, and Nikki Haley backpedals
    • M Hughes- I meant anti christianity. And I meant roha.

    • Some anti Christians hate the Jews double, first for not accepting the new messiah and his new post judaism message and then a second time for producing jesus imposed on them to make them forget their natural pagan selves.

  • Wave of bomb threats renews charge that anti-Semitism is fueled by BDS
    • Antisemitism was basically dormant since 1945. In the west. Not in Russia and eastern europe, where it erupted at intervals, with antizionist trial of Slansky in Czechoslovakia in the 40's and systemic antisemitism in Poland 1968. *Also the white fight against desegregation in the South (of the US) involved a few bombings of synagogues, for "interloper" Jews were enemies to southern racists, and also the kkk emphasized whiteness but also Christianity. ( Christian identity rather than Christian ethics.)

  • Commemorating 75 years of advancing prophetic Judaism, free of nationalism and politicization
    • The idea that starting from scratch one would present torah and talmud as the purest thought, the thought which will bring peace to mankind, is preposterous. It is a highly faulty set of texts. Christianity is a little better on universalism vs particularism, as is islam. I think human nature is the key to getting the most out of texts.

      Google irwin kula judaism unbound if you are interested in modern rabbis.

  • 'Love thy neighbor as thyself' -- Really?
    • If american colonialism, that is white European Christian colonialism conquering the americas, had been markedly kinder than zionism, I might give credence to placing the blame on a combination of particularism plus Book of Joshua theory of Zionist cruelty, but it seems to be false. Despite the very limited texts of the new testament that encourage making war, the European conquest of the Americas were top tier cruelty.

      It is not clear what reaction a fair minded jew should have had to rationalism's rejection of judaism if the west's path had followed nonviolent rationalism rather than stalin's bloodthirsty rationalism in the east and central Europe's bloodthirsty anti rationalism romanticism. If the choices were not guided by historic coercion rather than by intellectual persuasion. But it was not to be. In the east uncle Joe consumed the kulaks and more and in central europe war as the highest ideal was extolled. Blood enough for many generations unaided by the books that were relegated to sundays.

      The crisis of russia, where the old order was about to die, caused one out of 3 yehudim under the rule of the czar to leave the country. Such turmoil leads to serious thought. Those who hate the outcome wish, if only those jews had been christians, it would've come out fine. I don't buy it. The crisis of 1881 to 1945 was real, not induced by texts or anything anti human. An urge to be free and to be one's true self. And thus the nationalist urge. The Zionists taught the supremacy of biblical conquests to talmudic negotiations in order for the inspired to measure up to the task. If the crisis had been false I would condemn the preference for a strong army rather than more hours studying talmud.

      I wish history had proven that the crisis was false.

      We are told that the way forward is only clear if we deny our texts and our relatives and our identity. We are told that if we refuse to do so we are a cult.

      Zionism's crisis is quite real and I have no answer. The taunting of these people who hate certain aspects of "Jew" to the point of equating judaism with the book of Joshua or with the narrow view of "neighbor", only add to the real turmoil with mental turmoil. They may think they preach peace, but I hear hatred, and hatred doesn't promise anything but more hatred.

  • Jews need to study the Torah in order to criticize Israel, Beinart says
    • old geezer- simply put - a Christian jew or a Muslim jew is a strange category to me and I must admit I am uncomfortable with these blurred lines, much moreso than the blurred lines of secular jew. Still my discomfort does not stop me from wondering about my fellow neighbor's sense of identity. I would be interested in asking the person how they define themselves and why they call themselves jewish? Here are some possible answers: 1. Christianity is an extension of judaism and my Christianity is how I best practice judaism. 2. Jewishness describes my social background, the culture I was raised in, the books I read, the movies I like, the foods I like, the politics I like, and Christianity is my belief system, totally independent from my culture. 3. Listen, to the nazis I still belong in the gas chambers, so even though I accept jesus as the son of god, they still want to exterminate me for being a jew, so screw them, I am a jew, hated by the nazis for my dna for the blood that flows in my veins, so if the nazi calls me a jew, then damn straight, I'm a jew.

      Having been raised in a Christian society, I m far more familiar with jews who have accepted jesus or jews who have mixed Jewish and Christian parents, so even though theologically islam is far more similar to judaism in terms of one god who has no body or physical offspring, I am far more practised in the attempts to decipher or imagine a Jewish Christian mixed identity rather than a Muslim Jewish identity, but I don't think my imagination would vary much from the Christian Jewish examples offered above.

    • Traditionally a place at the table for adults (which meant men in the eastern european jewish communities) was reserved for the men of means and the men of learning. For learning of texts to be an entrance ticket to the table today hearkens back to that earlier time.

      The survival of the Jews despite the persecutions, is an early indicator of the changing identity of the Jews, that is: it is no surprise that secular Jewishness and secular Jews, played a major role in the history of the world in the last century or so. The case of Karl Marx is not exemplary, i don't recall at what age Karl was dunked in the baptismal font, and his antisemitism that was expressed later, puts him in his own file of self hating Jew, (post baptism). The cases of Freud and Einstein on the other hand: 2 of the most famous personalities of the early twentieth century- and the persistence of Jewish identity in these two figures, although their place of origins: Germany and Austria and the eventual cataclysm of German Jewry might put them in a special file of their own, but nonetheless, all those who deny the existence of secular Jewishness who don't deal with Ziggy and Albert, sound like a bunch of know nothings.

      Einstein compared Jewishness to the snail and its shell. Even though the snail is known by its shell, even after it sheds its shell it still maintains its snail-ness. So the Jew and his religion, even after it sheds its shell, its religion, some basic Jew-ness remains (which Einstein defined in a tikkun way).

      Freud's secularism was self evident (establishing a new religion might not be a secularistic activity, but nonetheless) and his attachment to Jewishness can be denied if you wish, but is self evident to me.

      So spouters of the nonexistence of Jewish secularism are prima facie (?) spouting nonsense to me. Now, of course 2016 Brooklyn and 1938 Vienna are two different situations. The self evident need to define oneself in 1938 Vienna when a storm is approaching that made no difference between Torah knowledgeable Jews and Jews who converted to Christianity is self evident. (poorly constructed tautology, but still...) How is a Jew who has no affinity for religion in 2016 Chicago say, supposed to relate to the Jewish identity of his parents and grandparents and great grandparents. obviously the key phrase there is "supposed to", whereas in fact there is no "supposed to", there are different human reactions to different situations, different sets of parents, grandparents and great grandparents, different ways of relating to Christmas and Christianity and nonJews in a society that has been secularizing away from traditional Christianity to humanism as expressed by the culture in various forms. So there is no "supposed to". But those who dictate: if you don't believe in Torah, you may not call yourself a Jew and if you call yourself a Jew that means that you are a racist and ethnocentrist and partaking in the imperialistic urges of America and Israel, well, chill, guys, stop telling me what I can call myself or how I am allowed to relate to the history of the world as it effected a small corner of it: my siblings, my peers, my parents, their parents and their great grandparents. And the evolution of my knowledge of myself and Americans of my age group and the knowledge of the history of American Jews, certainly allows me a different perspective than the one limited by my immediate family, but certainly when someone comes along and says, "Thou shalt not call thyself a secular Jew!" I know that person is f***ed up and is part of the dark side.

  • Using Rep. Johnson's innocent comment to stain his reputation was the real crime
    • Jon S- regarding the Christian Jew. It depends on who is writing the definition. Hitler killed Jews who had converted to Christianity (for the sin of their Jewish "race"), so obviously he did not accept that one could not be both.
      Jews for Jesus obviously believe that one can be both.
      In theory belief that Jesus is/was the Messiah is no more contradictory to Judaism than the belief that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is/was the Messiah. (Which is not a compliment to Lubavitch, but you get my point.)
      I would say that the combined Jew-Christian identity is complicated by two factors: Are Christians monotheists? They seem to fudge the God is one and god is son and father (and holy spirit) question so that the unity of god factor seems to be too elastic for strictly monotheist Jews. The other factor is that the content of the New Testament sets up an opposition between Jews and Christians that is tough to swallow. (opposition is a euphemism). If the New Testament is holy to Christians, it is difficult to see how one can be a Christian and a Jew simultaneously.

      if Judaism becomes Jewishness- Jewish humor, bagels and lox and what have you, then why not be Christian and Jewish at the same time? No contradiction between Jesus and Don Rickles or between Paul's letters and bagels and lox.

  • Israeli rabbi who advocated rape of 'comely gentile women' during war becomes chief army rabbi
    • maria palestina,
      You, I assume, wish to kick the Jews out of Palestine, tell them to go back to where they came from. If you can prevail in the market place of ideas then it will be a formidable obstacle to Jewish survival in the region and Jewish sovereignty over any land in the region, understood.

      Ben Gurion pointed to the tanach (hebrew bible) as his title deed to the land and to go from Plonsk to Tel Aviv required a belief in the historical moment, that the Jewish existence to reach the 20th century meant something essential certainly to those born Jewish and that the moment of world turmoil and threats and change was a moment that required bold action regarding turning the Jews from a nomadic people to a landed people.

      Currently the status quo is very different from what it was a hundred years ago. The idea of kicking the Jews out persists, but lacks a certain seriousness or shall we say willingness to face the seriousness of your opponent. certainly clownish behavior from the prime minister and brutish behavior from the populace and the army, seems to demand a scoffing attitude.

      yet, in fact the jewish people are not worthy of scoff and even if the zionist movement is something that must undergo some sort of very basic change in order to survive the changing of the guard, there needs to be some sort of seriousness in regards to jewish history, and how we reached here. the fact that christian society is less religious now than it was 200 years ago and certainly than it was 500 years ago, versus the fact that muslim society is much more religious today than it was 50 years ago, this does not guide us how to deal with the bible, but it does suggest that history is a tangled ball and any attempt to merely dismiss religion is in fact dishonest. there were many causes that went into the creation of israel and they include european dynamics, global colonial dynamics and the long range survival of a group that adheres to jewish religious texts. I understand that you really don't wish to understand what went into the creation of israel, you merely wish it to disappear, but it seems to me that the odds are strong that its disappearance will not happen short range, so that gives you plenty of time to put yourself into zionist shoes. maybe if you had been born to another mother and father, you might have found yourself born in tel aviv, if i should imagine being born in Dheisheh and I should, then it is not wrong for you to imagine being born in tel aviv.
      the role that the biblio book has played in the creation of israel and how the book plays a role in the current war situation and how the book might play a role in a future peace situation are all questions. people who have studied the book if not day and night then at least year in and year out, certainly realize that it is not just as simple as tossing the book onto the bonfire or into the ash heap and the presence of pre geneva convention rules of war in the books represent going backwards instead of forwards and those who give too much credence to these verses in deuteronomy are part of the problem and not part of the solution, but if you want to take the book away from me, because the book was used to take the land away from you, then there will be a tug of war over the book and that is the path of conflict. certainly conflict is our bread and who am i to tell you how to fight your war against me, but imaging and imagining the future of peace is also part of the war and that will require deeper thought.

  • The naked racism of 'Save Jewish Jerusalem'
    • Judaism's devotion to one God and disdain for idol worship is at the core of halachic separation from those who worship the stars. In hebrew a worshipper of stars is an akum, (a shortened form for oved cochavim) and in the talmud the phrase used to refer to nonjews is akum. The birth of Judaism's two daughter religions changed the dynamic. Firstly both claim a belief in one god. In the case of islam, I believe this claim is accurate, in the case of Christianity less so. I consider the son is the father and the father is the son and throw in a holy ghost and sell you three for the price of one to be mysticism of the worst kind. But theology was only half of it. The enmity of Christianity for its Jewish mother is well documented and through the years, let's say from Constantine to Voltaire there have been exceptions to the rule, but no historian doubts what was the exception and what was the rule. Fast forward to 1881 when the majority of the world's jews were living under the reign of the czars and of the rabbis. Separation was a rule imposed from above and justified by the rabbis below. There was the ferment of the intellectual elite responding to Mendelssohn and napoleon's promises of emancipation and the secularism of the age. With 1881 the vast migration began. By 1920 four million or so jews had left czarist russia and found their way to America and other ports of entry. Whereas the desire to gain entrance into Russian society was largely rebuffed, unless accompanied by baptism, america and these other ports, were much more hospitable and thus began the process of shedding judaism and becoming true blue Yankee doodle americans. (The image that comes to mind is jolson in blackface abandoning his cantor father for the glamour and creativity and freedom of show biz.)the separatism declared by the law and the rabbis fell to the wayside and it was full steam ahead, American culture. Meanwhile Jewish history bifurcated, on one path this rejection of separatism and on the other hand auschwitz. It's 1943 I envision two 14 year old jewish males: one on line to buy a ticket to a Yankees or dodgers baseball game and the other on line to try to survive the initial selection at the concentration camp.)
      Skip ahead again to 2016. Most Jews are tossing aside torah and treating it as a vestige that will have to live or probably die in the marketplace of ideas. Very few relate to the separatism of 1881 as anything relevant to them. But then again let us bifurcate our vision and recognize that a substantial percentage of today's yehudim live in israel. Does the separatism of 1881 effect their thoughts, their inability to reach peace with their neighbors? Maybe.

    • I would guess that gentile entered the language through Paul who changed his name from saul. I would think that its inclusion in MLK'S I have a dream speech, ensured its presence til our day. (Some seek to pretend that til recently Christianity and the bible were not the cultural basis of Western society.)

      Jewish law creates mechanisms of separation. That is essential for the survival of a non sovereign wandering group. Sovereign majority nations have the luxury of experimenting with porousness. And certainly any fan of American culture appreciates the tremendous creativity of a porous diverse culture. It is feasible that Judaism can survive a similar porosity. Feasible, but unlikely and certainly unproven.
      And thus separation and a name for us versus outsiders.

  • Thank you, Chief Rabbi. Now I know: Judaism is to blame for the Nakba
    • This pretense that Americanism is what is written on a piece of paper, but has nothing to do with the prevailing winds of hatred, as existed in many precincts in America in the 20's and especially the '30's is just further historical ignorance. Since in 2016 Jews are in the mainstream without feeling excluded it must have always been so. This is the idiocy that is being expressed here. in fact the idea that America is a Christian country, now heard only in part of the country, was an attitude of much of the country before WWII, and as obstacles were placed in the way of further immigration from Europe of Jews, even when those would be immigrants were desperate, was partially justified based upon the economic needs of a country to keep out economic competition from its labor force, but was also culturally based and biased against certain immigrant groups. Those members of the group that had made it to america and been granted citizenship expressed their disdain for more recent immigrants in a variety of ways, and those who struggled to be accepted by mainstream society, quite often went far to deny their roots and consider those who wished to immigrate in the later years as foreigners. They are foreign Jews who are trying to mess things up for us good Americans. The desire to be accepted by the mainstream christian society involved an unconscious or a not so unconscious denial of roots and disdain for the culture that had birthed them.

      This pretense that immigration is a one time thing that happens by the stamp of some official is nonsense. It is a process that involves deep sociological and psychological changes and as such creates frictions in individuals regarding the society that they have immigrated to and the societies that they have immigrated from.

    • J Walters, it is useful to hear from those whose concept of god is untainted by church. I too believe in a distant god untainted by concerns of common humans. But intoxication is a precise term in its root word toxic, that's in the nature of much religious fervor. It's been a few years since I read William james, but he delineates the unhealthy religious impulse and it is the religious impulse rather than a pure impulse towards god that I am referring to. Most yehudim were in the midst of multiple generation skepticism and identity redefinition processes when the world went black. The specific content of traditional judaism is tribal and the daughters of judaism- Christianity and Islam testify that Judaism as their mother is... well, precisely what- now there's the rub.
      I think specifically of specific rabbis whose songs play chords that combine tribe and belief in a benevolent creator. I believe God's benevolence is an optical illusion, so I merely study Jewish sentimental popular religion among those who claim allegiance to what they call the ancient authentic ways.
      Compared to an ideal myth: God the Father of us all, the Jewish myth which includes a historical and indeed a very eccentric god does not measure up. But to deny the power of myths because they don't measure up to your rational standards- you are denying history and the psychology of religion and stating, this is the way and follow me or be called tribalists.

  • Saying Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state is not anti-Semitic
    • emory riddle, 100 years ago places us in 1916 and between 1914 and 1916 turkey might have kicked out Jews from palestine for reasons of citizenship in countries that were at war with turkey (including Russia where most recent immigrants had come from.) but in fact in 1914 the numbers were recorded as follows. 650,000 Muslim Arabs and 81,000 Christian Arabs and 59,000 Jews. Get out your calculator to find the precise percentage. It is about 7.5%.

  • In bid for Florida, Rubio says Trump is 'anti-Israeli' and a peace deal must wait 30 years
    • Moose, on the issue of spelling, antisemitism is spelled different ways, how come sometimes you spell shmuel and other times schmuel. I'd call you a twit but my vowels are all confused.

      I was thinking about jews and ethnicity, and considering that the vast majority of jews do not live in the same region as their great grandparents did (1880 was the start of the great migration) I would think that group consciousness, definitely, and ethnicity, probably are in flux. Although Israel has tried and succeeded in melding a mongrel nation, unpretty term the mixing of mizrachi and ashkenazi jews, certainly in 1881 and 1948, one could not include the yidden of Europe and the yehudim of the Levant (oscar, no) as one ethnic group, but maybe two. True when the ostjuden went west (as advised by hershel Gorelick) the acculturated hebrew mosaics, you know the kind, said, these smelly pushy superstitious kikes, I have nothing in common with them, kind of like what a certain Harvard educated blogger has to say abou who shirk ed the fount, could point to the new Christians and say, who does he think he's fooling. But america has been different and here history has been kind and I hope it will remain kind despite the rage brewing revealed by the Trump phenomenon.

      To get back to my point: read Nora efron and tell me that a Jewish ethnicity did not exist, watch abby and ilana on broad city and tell me that Jewish ethnicity does not exist. (Lena Dunham on the other hand does not strike me as very Jewish, although mathemical numerator and denominators get me in trouble.)

      Very few American jews born after wwII have a good Yiddish like you and as the lower east side is a page of history the ethnic identity which politicians (practical) and sociologists (academics) recognized without thinking twice as late as glaser in the 60's, is less relevant today a half a century later and an alternate history (other than Chabon's book about Yiddish alaska) of what Jewish America would have been like without a 1967 and an Israel, I guess we all would have been deracinated jews like a certain Harvard blogger with a smattering of Yiddish foul mouths like Howard stern, only ignorant in the language except for shmuck putz shlong and

      Tribalism is a dirty word. It conjures visions of genital mutilation (remember the film within a film from duddy kravitz, who according to you was no jew because there is no Jewish ethnicity), even worse it conjures insularity, xenophobia, expulsions, wars, discrimination, narrow mindedness. But the homogenized view of humanity presented on star trek is a bit bland to my taste buds and the authenticity and intensity of the lower east side is preferable to the visions of wonder bread and mayonaisse that deracination seems to offer.

      Personally my attachment to the land others call falestin and I call israel, is 3 fold. Jerusalem, Al quds, is one of my favorite spots on the globe. There are some five million plus hebrew speaking yehudim/yidden who live there and were planted there by the events of the first half of last century (as embodied by my cousins who would have never have been born if not for the Zionist refuge in the 30's)
      And third: my four siblings, their kids and grandkids (pooh, pooh, pooh) (and not winnie) live there. These three personal connections: my love for

  • Understanding the fundamental roots of conflict and suffering: An interview with Rich Forer
    • rosross- I hear you. My own relations to the three monotheistic religions is iffy, but that iffiness is not dependent upon the gender identity of god in those religions. (I would have to call Christianity the most feminine of the three religions: insofar as worship of Mary was a central part of much of the history of worship in many countries, and insofar as martyrdom or an act of death, passivity of Jesus, is a feminine quality.)

      Those who have found different religions from those of their grandfathers (and grandmothers) may be lucky, but I have met few of those. Most people I know are detached from the religion of their grandfathers and never made more than a superficial effort to attach to any new religious community. Many of these people are atheists and the spiritual pursuits that you speak of is certainly not something that they wear on their sleeves. What they think at 3 in the morning when they can't fall asleep, that I can't tell you and that's what makes the human species so interesting maybe moreso in this age of modern america particularly the big northern american cities, where the religions of old are losing their market share and no new products have really taken their place.

    • Actually both Christianity and Islam claim to believe in some version of the Jewish God. Christianity even believes in the Jewish Bible (with convoluted reasoning why it no longer applies) and Islam asserts that the Jewish scripture is flawed, but accepts and rejects specifics of that flawed scripture on a case by case basis.

  • Jews aren't special
    • Shallow. not deep.

      thus sayeth Jonathan Ofir : "Being “special” as an ethnicity, in our modern day and age, is something that we have collectively come to note as a potentially dangerous issue."

      Shallow people with a bias to push an agenda might find nothing wrong with this shallow statement.

      But let me pose the following question: Would the world be better off if indeed a hundred years before Zionism (1797, shall we say, 100 years before Herzl organized the first Zionist congress in Basel). the world's Jews had collectively crawled to the baptismal font like 4 out of 6 of the children of Moses Mendelson and kneeled before the cross and tossed the Torah onto the ash heap and endorsed the Christianity that centuries of their fathers and grandfathers and mothers and grandmothers had resisted.

      (First let me acknowledge that if a vote was taken by those participating in the comments section here, i predict that you would vote. Yes. Baptize yourself, you frigging Jews, the world would be better off without you. Certainly a majority would say, since you don't accept the Torah as God's given word, then you should not let a silly thing like identity hold you back.)

      What held the jews back from converting? (True in 1797 most of the world's Jews lived in a premodern world and had not been sufficiently exposed to the choices that Moses Mendelson's children were aware of.) They chose not to convert because they felt that there was/is something special about being Jewish. They might have felt that the wisdom of the monotheistic religions is not negligible and particularly the mother of the monotheistic religions, Judaism, was not worthy to be tossed into the garbage heap, that indeed the Torah and the customs and the values contained in the lifestyle and in the Talmud were something special, that is, worthy to draw sufficient loyalty to at least demand a few hours of study before tossing them aside rather than kowtow to the demands of modernism.)

      But Jonathan Ofir and his modern world tell us that to hold onto special is intrinsically dangerous.

      What about the fact that most of the world and certainly most of the Islamic Arab world that this web site is constantly telling us to be wary of offending, and that their culture is worthy of respect, well, most of that world considers their heritage as special that they are not willing to toss Islam or their cultures aside and that this advocacy of tossing away religion that Ofir is pushing here is in fact something that the vast majority of the nations in the Middle East would protest vigorously and tell Mister Ofir to go shove his anti specialness up his you know what. So mw is constantly preaching respect for the Arab Islamics of the region of the Middle east, but such respect for Judaism is called retrograde and dangerous.

      Again this article is shallow. dive into it and you will crack your back and wind up paralyzed.

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

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

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

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

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

  • 'New York Times' uncorks laughable Israeli propaganda
    • Just slightly off topic here's a quote extolling Hebrew literature if not the language:

      In the Jewish “Old Testament,” the book of divine justice, there are men, things, and speeches of such impressive style that the world of Greek and Indian literature has nothing to place beside them. If we stand with fear and reverence before these tremendous remnants of what human beings once were, we will in the process suffer melancholy thoughts about old Asia and its protruding peninsula of Europe, which, in contrast to Asia, wants to represent the “progress of man.”

      Naturally, whoever is, in himself, only a weak, tame domestic animal and who knows only the needs of domestic animals (like our educated people nowadays, including the Christians of “educated” Christianity), among these ruins such a man finds nothing astonishing or even anything to be sad about—-a taste for the Old Testament is a touchstone with respect to “great” and “small”—- perhaps he finds the New Testament, that book of grace, still preferable to his heart (in it there is a good deal of the really tender stifling smell of over-pious and small-souled people).

      To have glued together this New Testament, a sort of rococo of taste in all respects, with the Old Testament into one book, the book, the Bible - that is perhaps the greatest act of audacity and “sin against the spirit” which literary Europe has on its conscience.

      Who wrote this? A Zionist? No. Nietzsche.

  • Hectored by Zionist wannabe archaeologists, 'NYT' recasts article on Jewish temples
    • Kris- There are a number of trends in Christianity from the Gospels to our present day. One of the trends is against all the commandments. In fact there is a trend that wished to divorce Christianity entirely from the Old Testament (I call it Original Testament) and to deny any connection with the God of the Hebrews. There are those who value the fact that Jesus was born to Jewish parents and preached to Jews. There are those who only use the term Jews when referring to those who opposed Jesus.

      Paul spoke out against circumcision, but clearly the Jerusalem Christians led by Jesus's brother were not against circumcision, they favored full conversion before being accepted in the group. Paul's view predominated, but there are points of view that view the Jerusalem Christians with some sympathy.

      Not you obviously. Is it mere coincidence that your hatred for the Old Testament, for those Christians in Jerusalem who still circumcised after Jesus was dead, goes so well together with your antiZionism. There are many antizionists who have no antiJewish feelings mixed up in their weltanschaung. Not you, obviously.

  • Bon Jovi's Tel Aviv gig is upstaged by Roger Waters's incantation of Israeli victims, including Dawabshe boy
    • Bumblebye- Your automatic assumption that all religions are alike: that no religion has a homeland, is based on what? In fact religions are not identical.

      (One might say that taking Mecca away from the Muslims would prove to be a bit tricky, so in fact, Islam does have a home of sorts.)

      Christianity I would think is different and someone who is familiar with other religions can comment on Hinduism or Buddhism.

      In fact in traditional Judaism, Jerusalem and the land of Israel certainly have a different status than the rest of the world regarding certain commandments, certain laws and hopes and expectations regarding the future (which are shaped by the past). The evolution of the Jewish people or if you wish their devolution since the enlightenment caused many to lose their faith in the religion. This raises a different point, why would someone who denies their faith, still consider himself (or herself) the member of a people based upon that faith? In fact many do not, particularly at this point in time, but to consider the world of 2015 as the illustrative fact, but the facts of 1939 to 1945 Europe as mere anomaly is a type of cherry picking. But in fact to ignore the development of the history of Zionism and the strains and pressures that brought this movement to life is again to don the mask of ignorance.

      There are many Jews particularly in america 2015 who wish to be former Jews or Jews of no religion or Jews with very minor religious affiliation. But there are some Jews in America and elsewhere throughout the world and the vast majority of Jews in Israel circa 2015 who consider themselves either as Jews with an awakened national spirit (after a long slumber) while there are many others Jews who consider themselves a religion that puts an emphasis on am yisroel and on eretz yisroel and on Jerusalem. To pretend that this population does not exist because it doesn't exist in Buddhism is just pretense and wastes everyone's time. Maybe it's good propaganda, but it doesn't tell us anything about the history or the present tense of the worldwide Jewish ethnic/religious/national community.

  • Rightwing Israeli violence on the rise as leader calls for arson attacks on churches
    • Regarding Gopstein and his incitement to burn churches: The tension between the content of the Torah which is quite intolerant towards any religion that is not Judaism and certainly any religion that has icons, and the modern conception of tolerance of belief and freedom of religion is something that is a natural tension. (Reestablishing a Jewish "kingdom" after so long, trying to combine liberalism and Jewish traditions, will lead to the contradictions being laid bare.) The existence of uncertainty regarding Israel's borders, the existence of a large Jewish community in a territory where they (the Jews) have a right to vote and the others (the nonJews) have no right to vote, creates a lawlessness, a protected status for some and a powerless vulnerable status for others, a contradiction to democracy or at least the aspirations of western style democracy. The occupation and the settler movement accentuate the contradictions between old style Judaism (circa 1800) and liberalism. Old style Judaism was tolerant towards Christian icons when they were subjects in a state and worried only about themselves and not the worship of the predominant population. But with the establishment of a Jewish state, the temptation to impose a belief system on the population comes together with the desire to assert sovereignty. In other words: orthodox Judaism never went through a reformation or an adjustment to reality that occurred during the reformation in Europe and the separation of church and state that has evolved in the last few centuries. How to impress liberal values on the mind of a Gopstein, when his values are those of the intolerant Torah, there is no natural process to this adjustment that the western countries accomplished over centuries.

  • You be the judge
    • lysias- If you go to the settlers to find the truth of your bible, you are really hard up. that verse led to the spilling of much blood and it is a verse of which christians ought to be ashamed and not proud.

  • Christian Zionists expose their anti-Semitism at conservative summit in Iowa
    • in reaction to Giles and the semantics. in fact the regular term for opposition to the Jews is antisemitism. but we have been told that this term concocted in the minds of central europe to refer to jews, is not specific to jews and refers to others as well and to find a different phrase. as far as i can tell from reading a little yiddish and hanging out with adults who were closer to the pre american experience, the primary term for haters of jews was sonei yisroel or hater of israel. because of the goal of avoiding confusing hatred of jews with the hatred of the country israel, the traditional term would not work here. so the two terms: Wilhelm Marr's term and the traditional term are not really available for use.

      i prefer the term anti semitism to jew hatred because it is a phrase that avoids the loaded word "hatred" and can merely mean opposition to jewish interests. sometimes in certain situations the jews as an economic or demographic cultural entity have specific interests in a given society (or in the international scene). and the antisemite who is proud of the term announces: i am opposed to those interests. thus if jews want admissions tests in 1920's poland that admit them into schools without quota system and thus limit the number of places available to the nonjewish poles, then to oppose this policy is anti Jewish. (it also speaks to fairness, but in fact the opposition of jews to quotas and the jewish neoconservative opposition to affirmative action stemmed from anti jewish quotas in other countries in recent history.)

      religions have their own concepts of redemption and heaven and these concepts can be downright insulting some times. easter and christmas were times of the year when christian anti jewish hooliganism was a factor that jews considered when they went home late at night in eastern europe. thank god america is far more modern regarding openness to other religions. In a modern society the inherent tensions that exist between christianity and judaism can be discussed calmly or heatedly in the public square or on talk shows or podcasts. modern times are great.

      i wish to assert again: the need for israel to fix its relationship with the Palestinians is essential. the animus expressed towards the jewish religion and the jewish perspective that one finds in post nationalistic post religious western societies that nurture the anti zionist movement are in fact interesting and worthy of study or thought. but they are not of the essence. it is a distraction from the need of the zionists to look reality in the face and figure out how to fix their relationship with the Palestinians.

    • In response to Giles- the example of Goldhagen with its specifics of German extermination of Jews is totally non appropriate to my statement here. I do not think that annihilationist impulses are endemic to the new testament. I think there is a natural tension between believing Jews and believing Christians given the content of the new testament. Those believing Christians who are able to distance themselves from certain verses of the new testament are in my mind similar to those Jews who are able to distance themselves from certain verses of the old testament. (actually there are entire chapters and even books in the old testament that need distancing.)

      I think any attempt to understand European history between 1881 and 1945 without accepting the role played by Jew hatred is ignorant.

      And I think anyone who reads the comments section of MW without accepting the role played by Jew hatred is also ignorant.

      I think that the Jew hatred expressed by anti zionists is really besides the point. israel has to get itself set up with the Palestinians in some workable modus operandi different from its situation today and the Jew hatred expressed by anti zionists is really besides the point and a distraction from the work that needs to be accomplished. so to that extent the jew hatred in the comments section works against the zionists. it makes zionists think and say to themselves, "You see they hate us." well, in fact if this comments section is any reflection of the hard core of the anti zionist movement then in fact, there is a large percentage (more than 10%) of jew haters in the ranks of the anti zionists. but the fact is that despite that israel has got to get its game together and change things and focusing on the jew hatred of some of the anti zionists is besides the point. israel needs to get its game together.

    • Page: 1
    • Do not pretend that Christianity does not have a specific attitude towards Jews and Judaism beyond any other belief system? it was born out of Judaism and its attitude towards Judaism is thus special and in fact antagonistic. The recent (1965) popes have tried to rewrite this subtext of the New testament and refer to the Jews as elder brothers, but it isn't there in the text.

      If I approach you and you have a bible in your hand (not as a book to be studied but as a text to be revered), meaning a new testament and an old testament, odds are you harbor anti Jewish attitudes just from the text in your hand. you believe you know the messiah and you know that i come from the tradition that rejected the redeemer. this is a tension inherent in the birth of Christianity.

      The meeting place of American civil society is the best atmosphere for Jewish believers to meet Christian believers: the public square of America. The meeting place of support for Israel is a very confusing place for this meeting. I know why right wing supporters of Israel find some kind of solace in such support, but it seems very tangled to me. It is also unavoidable considering the current level of "Whose side are you on?" rhetoric. Allies will be found in all camps, wherever.

  • Michael Oren misrepresents 1971 synagogue bombing that changed his life
    • I'm going to close up my comment on my half jewish (dead) friend peter.

      i think jewish identity is a very complicated issue. sound bite internet commentary (in an antizionist milieu) seems not to be the best medium for me to attempt to communicate its complications, but this is the medium at hand.

      zionism makes jewish identity a front page story. if the jews were merely the dispersed as they were in 1881, jewish identity would be a features page story, like the amish only also in the religious section because though most of you are post christians we live in a society whose basic tenets have wrestled with christianity over the last 500 years and that wrestling is part of the culture and the jewish religion is a source of christianity and so we would have a features page story about jewish identity and a religious journalist writing something as well. but obviously zionism makes jewish identity a front page story.

      there are no half jews or full jews, there are only human beings.

      go down to the street corner and yell it at the top of your voice.

      but no, it doesn't really work that way except in the hothouse of the mw comments section. politics is as constant as commerce which is as constant as the desire to live and walk upright. you cannot cure jewish identity by yelling at me and calling judaism a cult. am yisroel chai! the jewish people live! and they must evolve and adjust and learn all knowledge and learn to get along with the palestinians and learn to view various texts in a new perspective and view history with a new perspective and evolve and assimilate to the ways of the world and a freer society than today's in terms of the rules of marriage and conversion and jewish identity and i am more from the past than from the future in terms of this evolution that will take place. but you guys, you really don't like jewish identity and you don't want to see it evolve, you want to see it smashed and turned into pulp. like ben franklin: america, the future is forward and not backward and jewish identity even of the evolving kind that i tried to sketch, is from the faulkner school of thought: the past is not dead, it is not even the past. and many of you are focused on the politics of zionism, and really don't give a damn about jewish identity. I'd say two things. read the first paragraph of the about section of mw and tell me how many times the word jewish appears. and second: i understand that you really don't care about jewish identity. if it were only on the features page (remember newspapers?) and on the religion page you would skip those sections. okay, i hear you.

      half jew is an ugly term. but i had a chance to think a lot about peter these last few days and even if the conditions were uncomfortable, it was good to think about peter. july 4th was his holiday much more than mine and july 4th brought thoughts of peter.

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

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

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

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

  • Israel can handle any threat in the Middle East, but it will go down without young American Jews -- Shavit
    • Kris- A jew is someone born to a Jewish mother. (If someone is born of a Jewish father and considers him/herself Jewish, I personally would be split on the issue, realizing that the Orthodox Jews that I come from will not accept that person as Jewish, but realizing that identity in 2015 is not determined by standards of the Talmud or Jewish law, but is a bit more complicated than that.)

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

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

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

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

  • 'Heart-wrenching, harrowing, transfixing' -- NYT needs to end blackout on Blumenthal
    • Mooser- I will focus on my supposed desire to exclude jews from being jews. Not so. Every time a jew lights a friday night candle and says the shma- "hear o' israel, the lord is our god, the lord is one" my heart is gladdened. even if when the camera zooms out and reveals he has a christmas wreath on his door and a christmas tree in the corner and then the audio adds his supercilious Harvard voice on: how the Jews are the Pharisees and the Christians know the truth. sorry, about the last part.

      You were born to specific Jewish parents, with specific histories and raised with a specific dosage of jewish words and rituals. I was born to other Jewish parents with other histories. and though we were both born in America our attitudes are very different just based on how we were raised.

      max preaches to the choir and if our topic is (as phil's was earlier this week) the jewish elements of the choir, we must say that his choir includes those jews who disavow jewish identity. the in-your-face Berlin denouement of max's book appeals to such subversives. subversion can sometimes add to the world and even add to the jewish story (who can imagine the jewish story without lenny bruce, abbie hoffman and trotsky and zinn) these are all jews.

      if phil weiss or max b wish to appeal merely to the subversive element, fine. if they wish to appeal to jews who also have jewish identity, their language would be closer to that of magnes zionist than to the mw comments section.

  • 'BirthWrong' in the Cradle of Jewish Culture: Jews gather in southern Spain for tour that aims to repudiate Zionism
    • Ironic that they would pick Spain as their destination. How many Jews live in Spain? More or less than lived there in 1492? Spain is certainly not a shining light for the Jewish Diaspora existence at least since the Christians took over and the last I looked, although post Christian might be more accurate, the Christians still control Spain. A strange place to assert the beauties of the Jewish Diaspora?

  • Video: Max Blumenthal on the ways Zionism exploits anti-Semitism
    • mooser asks- "Yonah, the greatest number of Jews, the largest proportion by far, are Reform, or secular, and not very observant, and intermarry Gentiles freely. Are they “anti-jewish”? - See more at:


      christian antijudaism that i reference comes in various forms: 1. the jews are those that rejected Jesus and therefore all the s*** that falls on them is punishment for that rejection. 2. the jews crucified Jesus, they are christ killers and insufficient s*** has fallen on them so far, just you wait, more good stuff to come, christ killers
      3. judaism is a parochial tribal religion that was meant to fall away once jesus came and opened belief in our one father in heaven to the world. judaism's refusal to accept its obsolescence is a fossil and an impediment harming the world and the jews relationship to god. if only they would embrace christ and christianity the world would be on a path to the better world.

      those are some examples of christian antijudaism. how that would impact my feelings towards reform Jews or intermarrying Jews, I don't know. i would think that an educated jew who marries a christian and attends church once in a while for shalom bayit (domestic peace) should realize that much of the history of that church is hateful and disdainful towards judaism. but today's church as a rule, although its text still contains antiJewish passages and sentiments, is not in that vein, so you might consider such realization a type of not living in the moment of being obsessed with the past.

    • w jones- you define antisemitism as racial opposition to the jews. thus cultural opposition to jewish culture fits into some different category, apparently. thus torquemada who wished to convert the jews by force was wrong only regarding his means, but his ends were A-OK. thus Americans who wanted no more Jews to come to america in the 20's and the 30's, (not for valid reasons of unemployment, but) because they objected to Judaism, Jewish clannishness, or Jewish nongenetic prevalent behaviors were not antiJewish.

      in fact I consider christian anti judaism to be in the category of antiJewish. (antisemitic was a racial term, and so therefore you may be right, but antiJewish covers more territory).

      as regards to the heated nature of advocates or opponents of zionism, i really don't know. i'm not much of a reader of comments on other web sites other than this one.

  • Jewish groups that blindly support Israel make US and European Jews potential victims of violence -- Avnery
    • Islam's basis is not anti Jewish in the same way that Christianity's basis is. Christianity blamed the Jews for the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, so there is a wide difference between Christian Jew hatred and Muslim Jew hatred.

      Citing circumstances 500 or more years ago at the time of the expulsions from Spain and the golden age of cooperation is relevant, not besides the point, but also not the point. Islam in its home town of the Arab speaking world is in deep trouble because those countries are in deep economic and cultural trouble in adjusting to the western world. Under such circumstances, acts of aggression towards those who "represent" the West: Christians and Jews would have been on the increase without the development of Zionism. But certainly ignoring the influence of Zionism on current Arab Islamic hatred for Jews is anti reality.

      Still the recent habit of kill a free speechnik and add on killing a few Jews as a sort of dessert, as a sort of buy one get one free, as a sort of "while I'm here already, might as well kill a few Jews", certainly casts these murders in a light of callousness and this aspect should at the very least be mentioned.

  • Boteach and Israeli ambassador say everything from BDS to Abbas places Jews under threat
    • bornajoo, the uri avnery piece contains much wisdom and also some foolishness. adolph hitler was not an antisemite. he was a Jew hater. that section is fatuous. (i've never used that word before and I will have to look up if that refers only to a person or can refer to an inanimate object like an op ed piece.)

      there is no question that antizionism is the basis of 50 to 88% of the Arab antisemitism on display in the world today. maybe even more. i have two alternate histories in the nonzionist parallel universe: in one the Jews act like middlemen between the west and the Arab world and the result is a smoother west/Arab relationship. the other, more likely is that the Arab world's lag behind the west plus the west's thirst for oil would have led to conflict and the Arab world (Islam) would have lashed out at Christianity and at Jews at the same time as representing the west. Jews as representatives of the west would still be a target, but not nearly as vicious a hatred as that aimed at zionism.

      but if you're a little old Jewish lady who goes to the deli and get shot by one of these demented jihadis, she's dead because she's a Jew circa 2015. being a Jew circa 2015 has different implications than a Jew circa 1942 and a realistic view of the global dynamics at this moment should help us rationally discuss what's happening.

      in my ideal world i can convince the right wingers of the righteousness of the two state solution and i am preparing my rhetoric to convince them and there is no way that i would go down the road of trying to explain to them that that "little old lady in the deli was killed for being Jewish" is false because she was killed because of Zionism. I would not go there and argue that, it's a losing argument and raises all kinds of emotions and smells of appeasement and in my soul I do not like this kind of appeasement. so yes, i want to discuss the reality and the dynamics. but i also need to keep your appeasing thoughts out of my mind.

  • Chair of Democratic National Committee opposes Jewish intermarriage and MSNBC showing Gaza carnage
    • philemon- There is a chance of them raising their kids Jewish: about 14% or so. 27% raised Christian and the majority raised with no religion. (these are from memory. i will look up the stats another time. i don't think i am way off.)

    • I do not advocate or plan to go to city hall and break up all marriages of jews with nonjews. and i am not going to put an ad in the paper saying, "Yehudi, keep the flame alive, kick your nonJewish girlfriend out into the street."

      but, I approve of the movement to emphasize jewish education certainly and i approve of the movement to maximize the potentiality of jews marrying jews. - jewish day schools and jewish summer camps and yes, trips to israel, that are all designed to get jews to hang out with jews and thus increase the odds of two jews marrying. two jews marrying are likely to raise their kids as jews. a jew marrying with a christian, not much chance of raising their kids as jews.

  • Living in Israel isn't the solution to antisemitism
    • Lowenstein states: Not all anti-Jewish hatred is about Israeli crimes in Palestine (though it is one of many causes) .

      It's hard to tell if the minimalism of this statement is honest. Israel's existence or the Israel Palestine conflict is certainly the first topic of discussion in any serious attempt to understand Islamic Arab hatred of Jews in the year 2015 in Europe. The leap involved in attempting an alternate history: ("What would Islamic Arabs in Europe feel towards Jews if Israel had never been born?") is quite daunting and so attempting to separate current physical threats posed to the Jewish communities of Western Europe without the question of Israel is frivolous.

      But Israel in fact is not the only cause of Jew hatred.

      Because of my personal familiarity with Jews who have been raised with the mixture of modernity and tradition and individuals who have rejected modernity and returned to "tradition" with a vengeance, I feel that I have special insight into the conflict within Islam today regarding the struggle between modernity and tradition. (By Islam I mean Islam global community rather than Islam the religion, Islam as a group rather than Islam as a belief system. Analogous to Christendom rather than Christianity.)

      Although I am sure there are individuals who feel no conflict between modernity and tradition, I feel that this conflict is natural. Modernity is focused on individualism (and though this atomization of the human race has its costs) and it seems natural to me that many individuals will feel the opposing pulls of individualism on the one hand and the group demands of faith on the other. That is the nature of a faith in modern times. There is nothing wrong with feeling pulled in different directions. Some though do not feel that they can keep both ideas (modernity and faith) in mind at the same time. Whereas some throw off faith as a result of the conflict, others reject modernity. There are large segments of the Islamic world whose ambivalence towards modernity is tinged with antipathy towards modernity. And those groups of Islam will end up hating Jews, independent of Zionism, because of the mere over representation of Jews in the culture of modernity of the late 19th and 20th centuries and also because people who hate modernity or are filled with resentment as a result of modernity somehow focus on Jews as part of their resentment.

  • Why do Muslims object to depictions of their prophet?
    • seafoid-- Having been raised a fervent believer in monotheism, the fact that Islam spread monotheism around the world is quite important and incredible. (From a Jewish point of view, Islam is much closer to Judaism in terms of monotheism, whereas Christianity is closer to Judaism in terms of its acceptance of the Hebrew scriptures.)

      Personally I don't believe that an angel spoke to Muhammad, although "divine inspiration" seems to be a way to accept his words as a cut above the average inspiration. I don't hold it against him that he copied Judaism. In music the Beatles always credited all the musicians from whom they drew their inspiration. and never stated, we have come to replace the originals. the problem with Islam is that it conceives itself as a replacement for Judaism.

  • Don't let's go to the war of civilizations again
    • First reaction: What a mouthful of mediocre predictable mush!

      On a side point, if you had asked Jesus, (I assume he's the dude regarding the mote), he would not have recognized 2 out of the 3 descriptors you chose. He would have recognized himself as a Jew and certainly not as a Christian nor as a Palestinian.

  • Jo Roberts on Jewish trauma, the Nakba, and the olive tree
    • On the topic of Arab antiSemitism raised in the interview, here's my theory regarding the big "what if?". what if there had been no zionism what would have been the state of relations between the Arabs and the Jews. and i think it would be fair to say that it would be far better than the state given zionism's existence, but it wouldn't be so great. the history of the christian communities in arab countries over the past 100 years has not been on the upswing, so there really is no reason to imagine that the relation with the jews would have been any better. Arab Muslim hospitality towards the peoples of the book(s) might have been the ideal, but this ideal was only suited to those time periods when Islam was on top. on the other hand in times of stress that tolerance was dumped in favor of the emotionally and the politically expedient. there is no question that the relation of the west between 1918 and 2015 with the Arab middle east would have been thorny given colonialism, resource of oil, and the predominance of the west and western values and western schools and western economies in the global world. the tension with the west was bound to create a tension in the societies of the Muslim Arab world and they would have responded with intolerance towards the Jewish population in their midst. In good times Islam was tolerant. In bad times, which the past century was bound to be in any case, Arab Islam is not so tolerant. (not regarding the hearts of the majority of Arab Muslims but the polities of those in political control.)

  • Leading rabbi tells Arab ambassador not to 'shlep' Kerry's view of Palestine into discussion of religion and terrorism
    • Fighting wars is not limited to the Abrahamic religions and in fact is not limited to religions. The wars fought in the name of Christianity seem to be very much against the gist of the New Testament, while its fervor can understandably been transformed into warrior fervor, its fervor in the text is certainly not oriented towards the sword. Judaism on the other hand has laws of war and conquering right there in the text. Islam's Koran is somewhere between the two, quite clearly influenced by the history of Muhammad, who fought wars.

      Christianity and Islam because of their universalist nature embarked on converting the world at the point of the sword. Judaism is oriented towards a specific land. demarcated quite explicitly in its text, whereas Christianity and Islam are oriented towards the entire globe.

      Judaism's texts also include the Talmud written after the beginning of the long period of powerlessness.

      The current wars that Israel have fought are not justified by the history of the last 140 years, but certainly a historian who would focus purely on the books and the laws and would ignore the history of the last 140 years would have to be something less than a competent historian.

  • Israel should pay 1.4 million Palestinians to leave Gaza, Moshe Feiglin says
    • RoHa- If one is referring to all the inhabitants of Palestine in 1948 then referring to them as Palestinians would be useful. Since they were in the midst of a civil war of sorts it would be useful to label the combatants as one side is x and the other side is y and therefore Jews versus Arabs or Jews versus Muslims or Jews versus christians might be more useful then saying Palestinians which would not be useful. Like referring to a New York baseball player as a Yankee rather than saying the ball players scored twice in the top of the 2nd and the score is ball players 2 ball players 1.

  • On eve of University of California honor, Bill Maher defends anti-Muslim hate speech in Vanity Fair interview
    • All 3 monotheistic religions have been used as an organizing principle and motivation to fight wars. The most surprising of the three was the use of Christianity to fight wars despite the nonbelligerent nature of most of the New Testament. Nonetheless Constantine and the glistening cross on his shield was used to conquer. The other two books: Hebrew Bible and Koran are less surprising sources for fighting wars. The Hebrew bible's physical wars (until 1917 shall we say) were quite ancient and circumscribed in locale compared to the Koran's recent wars and wide domain.

      I can safely say that a free spirit unencumbered by a morality can take the text of the Hebrew Bible and turn it into a very destructive force. (I think Zionism and its problems have a lot more to do with colonialism versus indigenous and a tiny Jewish nation versus a very large Arab/Muslim nation, without need for biblical reference to explain where we are, but there can be no discounting the Bible and its wars from the logic of the supporters of Naftali Bennett and it can be argued that the supporters of Ben Gurion derived their ferocity and single mindedness from the Bible as well.)

      My knowledge of the Koran is very sparse, but I have read enough to know that Muhammad's teachings combined with some latent power of the Arab peninsula leading to one of the great conquests and empires known to man and though monotheism is a powerful idea, monotheism plus the creed of the Koran conquered with a sword and not with a soapbox. To minimize the warmaking motivators included in the Koran seems to be anti historical.

      Comedy depends on brevity, think 140 characters, which is hardly ever calm and usually betrays a partial view. But that does not absolve us from attempting to understand history and where today's religions, including Judaism and Islam are leading us.

  • Wiesel lauds settlers for 'strengthening the Jewish presence in Jerusalem' -- and expelling Palestinians
    • Wiesel has always been a right winger regarding Israel and its borders. In fact a large percentage of Jewish people who care enough about Israel to visit there or to live there support the right wing position, so it is not a shock that this particular Jew with his particular life experience 14 or 15 in 1944 in Hungary turns out to be someone who supports the idea of Jewish sovereignty over as much of Jerusalem as possible.

      My life experience is quite different than the life experience of someone exposed to the raw ferocity of the camps. This does not mean that I must value his judgment over my own. I agree that his concern is not with the Palestinians, that does not make him a racist, in my book, that makes him someone who has primary concerns and secondary concerns and his primary concerns are not for the other but for his nation and its essence.

      one might argue regarding the nation of Israel, as in am yisroel, and what its essence is or ought to be. mark ellis has one concept and elie wiesel a different concept. and they are both humans with unique perspectives.

      my judgment: the boundaries of june 4, 1967 are approximately the path towards a peaceful future for the two peoples if things work out well. currently things are not working out well. this adds up to a tangled ball of yarn and i study it and discern no path to disentanglement.

      wiesel was not a nazi hunter and to read his name misspelled like the name of a lowly animal makes me wince (hate?) and does not help if the aim is communication.

      It is a "shame" that the foremost survivor does not share my political views, but so it goes.

      currently israel needs to encourage hamas fatah reconciliation in order to "pacify" gaza and the right wing Israeli politicians need to disrespect that reconciliation to gain favor with the hard core right wing in israel.

      judaism is a very richly textured text and religion, but most Jews who live in America live in a secular milieu and so the text and the religion will lose out in a few generations and dwindle away.

      to me stretching my imagination to think like someone looking for a market for my product: the most logical means for the survival of judaism in America would be searching for converts among the religious christians, pulling them away from christianity and towards the Torah. there are tens of millions of religious christians who are potential customers.

      currently instead of proposing means of survival of the American Jewish culture or of Judaism in America, there is a clinging to Israel, because it is very real and very Jewish. those who have given up totally on the Jewish thing, who leslie fiedler would refer to as ex-Jews, do not add enough to the issue, merely illuminate what the post Jewish (post zionist) reality will look like.

  • Maher lumps Islam with ISIS, and CNN's Cuomo says Aslan's 'primitive' tone proves Maher's point
    • The United States and Canada are not at war with each other. They are both predominantly Christian countries. But the two facts are not related. (Both the US and Canada are settler colonialist countries that achieved victory over the colonized peoples approximately 150 years ago and there is no border conflict between the two and the cultures are amazingly similar and this is the cause for the "peace" between US and Canada. The wars between France and England were fought 250 years ago and so the conflict between those two powers has faded as a cause of war.)

      Syria and Iraq are cauldrons of war: there are conflicts between ruling elites that have refused to adjust to modern times with democracy and instead are mired in nondemocracy. Iraq's relatively stable dictatorship was knocked off its pins by the US war of 2003 and the new government was capable of democracy but not of recognizing the needs of a pluralistic society. Thus the ruling elite of Sunnis saw itself as being oppressed by the Shiite majority and thus the fighting and the successes of ISIS. These problems are not inherent in Islam, they are inherent in the state of development of their societies, which are not up to the same speed as post WWII europe or post WWII North America.

      The Arab world's backwardness in terms of democracy when compared with the West, is due to its being ruled by Turkey for hundreds of years and only recently was thrown into the world of events by the collapse of Turkey's rule. The impetus for Western democracy which got its boost from Britain, France and the US, has not been duplicated in the Middle East and North Africa. There is nothing inherent in Islam that has slowed the progress of democracy. But nonetheless there may have been something involved in the Reformation that allowed for the development of democracy and such a Reformation was never duplicated in the Islamic world. But that is different than the claim to the inherent violence of Islam.

      Probably the worst of the three books: Old Testament, New Testament and Koran in terms of violence is the oldest: the old testament. God forbid (joke intended) that the Old testament, particularly the laws of Moses, are ever put into practice in Israel or in a larger area. It was only through accommodation with reality for a few hundred years and then exile for a few thousand years that allowed the book to exist as a separate entity from reality and that is how it is best to remain. If not a separation between synagogue and state then a separation between reality and synagogue. Islam never had the need to develop a reality principle outside of the bounds of their religion and is only now coming to terms with the end of the reality imposed by the Big Powers after WWI. There is a load of development that is necessary and certainly given the collapse of a geopolitical reality there will be violence and it will take a while (50 - 100 years) for Islamic society to put religion in its place.

  • Judaism's hijacking by Zionists drives 70% of secular Jews to marry non-Jews-- Koppman at Huffpo
    • Judaism has faced crises since the enlightenment. (I was thinking about Felix Mendelsohn the other day and how his conversion/baptism was always considered (where I came from) to be a sign that his grandfather's enlightenment was destructive: as in: Moses Mendelsohn was attempting to create a Judaism that could survive the enlightenment, but his own grandchildren converted to Christianity and thus his compromises with enlightenment accomplished nothing but retreat and defeat. But, though I am largely ignorant of classical music, I thought the other day: What venues did Felix have to express his musical tendencies: cantorial flourishes? Certainly there was nothing in traditional Judaism that could have satisfied his musical needs and talents and thus the world of classical music was in fact the best bet to reach his full potential. And the world of classical music was not open to Jews in his day and thus baptism was the means for him to reach his full potential.)

      But beyond the crisis of the enlightenment that attached itself to all religions the last few centuries, there was the crisis of Jew hatred and specifically after 1945, the Shoah. Israel was deemed to be some sort of cure to the demoralization produced by the Shoah.

      Even if one does not ascribe to the MW view towards Israel as in: it is the greatest betrayal of the message of the Shoah, one can still feel that it is highly insufficient to undo the demoralization that the Shoah entailed.

      The double whammy of modernism (enlightenment) plus history (Hitler) could not really expect to be handled by the existence or birth of a state, even if that renewed state had not entailed such cruelty to the indigenous. Simply put there was no way that Israel could answer all the questions raised by the Shoah and modernity and to expect it to do so was a result of the demoralization that modernity and the Shoah thrust upon the Jewish people in the current post Shoah era.

      A.J. Heschel with his wholehearted adoption of the civil rights' movements goals was hoping to reinvigorate Judaism by the type of tikkun paradigm that this dude Koppman seems to advocate.

      But certainly one should not dismiss the enormity of the task that Judaism faced in the aftermath of the abyss in Europe (39-45).

  • WATCH: Ultra-Zionists protest Muslim-Jewish wedding saying miscegenation is 'gravest threat to the Jewish people'
    • Mooser's sense of history begins and ends in America.

      (I think, marrying out in Czarist Russia for example in the 19th century was only possible if the Jew converted to Christianity. If there was no conversion there was no marrying out.)

      But Mooser included the word "history" because it made his sentence sound better, not because he has any interest in Jewish history pre 1945 in any country other than America.

  • 'NYT' op-ed calls on Jews to abandon liberal Zionism and push for equal rights
    • seanmcbride- Let me summarize the chronology of our discussion. Phil cited the words "aliya" and "yordim" to castigate Zionism. You wrote (essentially)- Why stop at condemning Zionism. You should condemn Judaism as well. Your comment was essentially anti-Judaic and pro Christian.

      Now when I reacted to your statement, you write me to Free my mind. Let me answer you by noting that Christians have been telling Jews to free their/our minds for hundreds of years. Fortunately your call for me to free my mind is not accompanied by the previous Christian threats of slaughter or exile or being burnt at the stake. This is a great improvement. But nonetheless, in a discussion of Old Testament versus New Testament, when the NT person comes up with "free your mind" I view you in the context of that history.

    • Walid- Christians have been distorting the old testament for thousands of years and thus you consider the christian reading of the old testament to be accurate. It is not. It is distorted.

    • seanmcbride- question. in the new testament. why does jesus go to jerusalem. why didn't he stay home? answer: because that's where jews went on passover. question: where do christians come off pretending that going up to jerusalem was not valued by jesus. answer: because once jesus was dead, the gig was up and judaism was recalibrated. the new calibration: whatever paul and the nicene creed crowd could come up with. this way: we are the truth and the old testament is darkness.

  • More Orientalist insinuations in the New York Times
    • If Mohammed would have continued praying towards Jerusalem and if there had been a major Jewish faction in early Islam, then one might be tempted to focus on the continuity between the faiths and to call Islam a descendant of Judaism. But unlike Christianity which was started by Jews, Islam was not started by a Jew and even if much of its lore and theology and practices were similar to Judaism, it is difficult to consider it a continuation of Judaism. The revelation of Mohammed and the laws of Islam were seen by Islam as replacing the laws of the Torah, that is not continuity. They were never near enough to each other for this to be called secession or innovation. It is related to Judaism and it is difficult to understand Islam and its place in history if one does not recognize the antecedent religion. But the two religions are not identical enough to really consider them one religion.

  • 'Forward' editor says Presbyterian vote was anti-Semitic
    • Betsy- Hello. The flattening of all experience with Christianity into its negative features is a simplification and a bad thing to do. It took me time to accept that one can never tell where the next good idea about God is going to come from and to accept the New Testament as containing positive and negative. Growing up the only positive attitude I had towards clergy resulted from the fame of Martin Luther King Jr. (I was more than 12 1/2 when he was murdered.) Today as a student of history I can see that his Christianity played a major part in his conception of the arc of his life and his belief in the Bible played a major part in his conception of the arc of the movement, but as a kid, he transcended the title of reverend and I did not revere clergy of a church that seemed spooky and scary.

      Fast forward 35 years, I'm seated in a church attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and though the crucifix is artistic and colorful, it is still a crucifix and not a symbol I like. But I have to give the punch line that lightens the load. I like composing down and across "magic square" crossword puzzles. Such as:

      So on that occasion I composed:

      Which was perfect for my alienation from the church and for the subject of the AA meeting.

      I was raised with a serious dosage of anti Christian bias, against the religion and even against the blasphemy of Jesus and the idea of anything other than God is One. Today with the history of war and the negative press on monotheism and its intolerance, though I am not tempted to incorporate a belief in the sonhood of Jesus into my concepts about God, I am no longer wedded to the anti Christian feelings of the strict monotheism of rabbinic teaching.

      Certainly when I said, Jews of my age, Jews of a certain age, I was referring to the recentness of the abyss (Hitler 1939 to 1945) and the belief that Christianity, although not the progenitor of Hitler's pagan philosophy, did allow people to see the slaughter as the Jews' just reward for killing Jesus and I was taught to see Christianity as the preparation phase for the genocide. It is great that scholars are trying to turn 'his blood on our selves and on our children" into something innocuous, but as long as that verse is in Matthew, there will be those who use it for evil.

      As such for this person of my age, namely me, I make efforts to respect people despite their association with Christianity rather than because of their association with Christianity. The god idea and much of the teaching of Jesus happen to be great organizing principles for doing good in this world and my alienation and defensiveness regarding Christianity is not necessarily one of the best features of my personality. But I think that honesty is the first step that must be handled before progressing from there.

    • I feel a need to emphasize how this moment is not an inspiring one to step forward and urge Israel to "join the middle east". Between Egypt and Syria and ISIS in Iraq, the moment does not belong to those who wish to rock the boat in Israel. Things are in real flux (we'll see how Iran's nukes and ISIS progresses in Iraq by the end of the year and certainly by the end of the Obama presidency) and the impulse to slow things down is influenced by the headlines of uncertainty. The Obama administration's fecklessness, granting that the overall point of view of turning inward is both popular and a sensible counter reaction to the Bush overreach in the time of a weak economy, does not help encourage rocking the boat.

      But on the other hand there is the blatant arrogance of Netanyahu that rubs the Eisner demographic very wrong and in the wings there is Lieberman and Bennett.

      As far as the Preb Church influencing this demographic, I have my doubts. Liberal Zionists of my age might scoff at the david duke smear, but they certainly do not scoff at the history of Christianity (negative) and I do not think any church associated with the Christian religion will have any effect on Jews of my age, with any boycott of Israel. (Although the effect of Roger Waters plus the Preb Church might have an effect on the youngster liberal Zionists.) (Presbyterians: Please let me know if my shorthand for your difficult to spell name is offensive.)

  • Dershowitz disqualifies an entire continent from supporting BDS, citing history of 'Jew hatred'
    • Jew hatred need not be eternal and incurable for it to still be a problem on the European continent or elsewhere on this planet. Certainly the change from a Christian society to a post Christian society is in play here. The world of rationalist philosophy has no place for religion, and though it might accept nations as inevitable, nations and national feeling are mostly in the realm of the irrational and against the spirit of rationalism. Thus the two prongs of Jewish identity- nation (culture, if the term nation is too ambitious a term to apply to the Jews circa 1881) and religion are both opposed by rationalism. Then we have rationalism's corrective: romanticism. Which accepts nationalism and religion, but without much discernment or prejudice, as in the romantic strain of the Nazi love of ritual and flags and torches, and thus if we attribute Nazism or tolerance for Nazism in the school of romanticism, given where Nazism reached, we must blame romanticism for the philosophical permission given to Nazism, since it seems that there is nothing that romanticism can oppose on philosophical grounds if it is sincere and heartfelt, and thus the abyss must be attributed to the romantic reaction to rationalism.

      One never knows what kind of a role Jew hatred would have played in the post 1945 era if not for the birth of Israel (through the violence of the Nakba). The relationship of Islam to Judaism is entirely different than Christianity's relationship to Judaism. And we are not yet in a post Islamic era. (Thus we have two factors regarding Islam's attitude towards the Jews. The tradition is not in a modernist phase yet and a war on the ground with consequences occurred on "Muslim" territory.) Thus the field of Jew hatred in that part of the world is of an entirely different nature.

      The dynamics of an Israel at constant war with her neighbors, possessing nukes, influencing superpower policy through campaign contributions, sets up a particular mix of problems, to put it mildly. One need not believe in the eternal nature of Jew hatred to remark that the given circumstances are not conducive towards a calm tolerant progression towards peace and coexistence.

  • Palestinian citizens of Israel protest draft in Tel Aviv as passersby tell them to die or emigrate
    • It is true that it is putting the cart before the horse.

      I would favor a universal draft in Israel. Drafting christians rather than Muslims reveals the divide and conquer aspect of the policy, which I am not denying. Even if this draft's designers are not set on the same better future that I have in mind, I think the discussion of the one state solution should at the least be mentioned in discussing this issue. It seems a little thin, a little skinny, a little skimpy, a little superficial, a tad too ethereal and other worldly, to talk about one state in theory and then to come to an issue like this and not discuss it at all.

  • Notice who is welcoming the Pope, and who is outraged
    • I realize the headlines come from the editors of MW and not from the writer. The enmity between Catholicism and Judaism is ancient and the reconciliation is recent.

      The extremist Jews who cannot accept that they live in the world and that Jerusalem and Israel are part of the world and not only part of Israel are a bunch of know nothings and those who threaten the pope are immature to put it mildly and symptoms of much that is wrong with the politics and political consciousness of too many Jews who live in Israel.

      Having said that and knowing little about the tomb of David and the history of prayer by Christians and others on the spot, in regard to that spot, the Pope is coming as an adversary to Jewish interests and even if I am of the "Can't we all just get along?" school of thought certainly vis a vis the Vatican, those who view the pope's visit as adversarial are in fact factually based.

      I think that the pope's visit shines a spotlight on the occupation and on the Jewish extremists, but to pretend that there is no natural tension between any pope and any segment of the Jewish religion/people (complicated by a truckload or a hundred of ugly history) and to pretend it is merely Jewish intransigence at the root of the tension is to blind oneself and one's readers to the history of the world and to pretend that history does not exist.

  • On the day two Palestinians are killed, 'NYT' reporter flashes snark
    • Cute, Walid. No, I don't think there is a hell. (not after death at least.) nor am I trying to get Phil and the christmas tree jews to come back home. i feel out of place in 2014 with 2014's american jewry and yearn for 1914 america's jewry. i actually think that judaism is not an easy sell. i think islam is an easier sell because it is simplified and universal. judaism is much more complicated and particular to a specific history of communities, the eastern european branch to which i trace my roots having recently (to my generation it was quite recent) suffered an abyss. Christianity is an easier sell, certainly in america than is either islam, which with its extensive laws is not suited to american or modern allergy to excessive rules and regulations. and of course Christianity is universal.

      i think america is great and the fact that phil can sing silent night and be given that choice is great. there has been a contentious battle between universalists and particularists within judaism since at least the time of mendelson and i understand the attraction of universalism and the big pond of the world and its christmas tree rather than the small pond of yom kippur and purim. I'm certainly not trying to convert phil, but i am asserting that politics is local. and my politics likes the universalists of 1914 who still spoke yiddish and knew a thing or two about torah to the universalists of 2014 who speak woody allen and love the new testament better than the old and better than the talmud. that's who i am. i was raised orthodox and the nostalgia for the world i abandoned still weighs heavy on me. but go ahead and mock. you're good at it. don't quit your day job, you're not that good at it, but here you're good enough at it. ouch, when you mock me, it hurts.

  • 'In every generation they rise up against us' -- Passover and the Jewish imagination
    • seanmcbride- As far as the line from the Hagadda- In recent times: meaning Europe 1881-1953 (extended from 1945 to include Stalin's end of life anti Jewish paroxysms) the persecution of the Jews by nations is a historical fact that needs no embellishment. The recent history of American Jews is utilized to prove that 1881-1953 was an aberrant period or an irrelevant period, but certainly from the aspect of history, the idea that I am supposed to dismiss the line from the hagadda or the facts of 1881-1953 in order to satisfy you and your silly lists, is ridiculous. I do not teach the children (my nieces and nephews) that Jew hatred is inevitable and the hagadda lines quoted here are not my favorite. But any real study of recent Jewish history would not dismiss the 1881-1953 period as irrelevant, aberrant or self fulfilling and would instead ask, what caused such a violent reaction to the existence/presence of the Jews during that period. What about the change of modernity led to a sick, virulent form of hate? What about nationality, Europe and religion brought up such a sick mix during that period? And why can't intelligent people discuss the issue without casting about for self fulfilling prophecies, when clearly such theories are insufficient and there was something about the emergence of Christian European societies into modernity that thrust them into a crisis that resulted in such sickness.

  • Israeli teens dressed as KKK and in 'black face' for mock lynching at school Purim party
    • I get it: Jewish holidays if they are for Jews only are therefore bad, regardless of the content. Judaism is only for Jews, therefore it is essentially bad too, regardless of content. I get it. Christianity good because it's universal. Islam is good because it's universal. Judaism is bad because it's not universal.

      I would note, that in the day of Jesus, Judaism was into finding converts and therefore was universal. But after the destruction of the temple the rabbis cut back on the outreach aspect and hunkered down. But history is bad, if it's not universal. So I apologize for introducing history.

  • Does Israel Have a Right to Exist as a Jewish State?: An excerpt from Ali Abunimah's 'The Battle for Justice in Palestine'
    • RoHa- You're right. I was referring to Islam and Christianity, not to any other monotheistic belief systems.

  • Evangelicals who dissent from Christian Zionism wear 'stain of indelible infamy,' Israel says
    • It should also be noted that another obstacle towards belief in Jesus as the Messiah being somehow consonant with Judaism is the New Testament. The specificity of the New Testament varies from book to book in its animus towards the Pharisees and the rabbis and the Jews and accepting Jesus as Messiah while keeping the New Testament's anti Jewish or anti Pharisee sentiments in perspective seems to be a work for a juggler rather than the simple belief in "Jesus was/is the Messiah". (The history in this case is not the actions of Christians, who can be dismissed as evil individuals or misguided lost souls, but the writers of the gospels cannot be dismissed with such calm, I would think.)

      (Let me just add that those who find the words of Lindy in Des Moines in 1941 to be without rancor, might use their pilpul talents to find all the books of the New Testament empty of rancor as well.)

  • Political Zionism is destroying a culture and a people, and intentionally so
    • Hostage- Christians are allowed to view Jews in whatever prism that they choose. In modern thinking, this is imposing a vision on another person or identity and is thus frowned upon. "I am praying for you, that you realize the error of your ways and see that the truth is as I know it to be, rather than the blindness that you were taught." You expect me to accept that as good hearted? No. You don't. You're just pretending. If you wish to discuss how a believing Jew is supposed to deal with the beliefs of a Christian who sees the Jew as a blind tribalist, in a way that is not offensive, then you will certainly have to present your ideas in a more open fashion than Kalithea does and in a more open fashion than you do.

      Further. For Kalithea to put her desire for the jews to disappear here and for you to back her up, in the context of the reverend's fervent combination of Christianity and anti Zionism is certainly to taint the reverend with her lack of empathy for the Jewish people and the faith that gave birth to Christianity.

      Jews, believing Jews, or Jews stubborn in their favoritism towards their former beliefs, consider the Torah and the law and Jewish identity as values that deserve attention. The Christians, whether they were born Jewish or not, whether they lived two thousand years ago or today, who consider the Torah and the law and Jewish identity as shells that need to be discarded are enemies to the belief that I delineated in the first sentence. I cannot see that the two ideas can coexist. There is something known as "can't we all just get along" and I believe in that, because civility in the street and laws in our courts are more important than my beliefs. But to try to pull the wool over my eyes and tell me that it's raining, when you're spitting at me (euphemism) and telling me I am blind and part of the past that needs to disappear and give way to the new, sorry, you are my enemy. And you cannot explain that away.

  • Jewish community commits intellectual suicide before our eyes
    • joer- I probably should not take your comments about Jesus any more seriously than I take Sarah Silverman's. But in case you think otherwise, let me know and I'll show you that "except for Jesus, whose interpretation of the Bible was at odds with the establishment…and look where it got him." can be interpreted as accepting the Christian interpretation of what happened to Jesus, i.e. that he was killed at the instigation of the rabbinical establishment, which is not the liberal Jewish interpretation, which is that he was killed because the quisling Herodians were not happy with messianic contenders. which has absolutely zero to do with his interpretation of the Bible. But til that time I will ignore your off the cuff reference as something worthy of glib off the cuff-ness.

  • 'NYT' reporter treats boycott as immoral and anti-Semitic, reminiscent of Nazis
    • American- "Judea declares war on Germany" is controversial, because there was not at that time any political entity, state or otherwise, that called itself Judea. This is a headline of provocation. The newspaper was a strong appeaser, later in the 30's and this headline fits in with the possible antisemitic inferences of appeasement.

      Further, American- the boycott was not called by Zio orgs. as you assert, unless all Jews are labeled as Zios, which would justify labeling all anti zios as anti Jews. None of the organizations listed in the following text from wikipedia were Zios in March 1933 and calling them Zio orgs shows your bias.

      Following Adolf Hitler's appointment as German Chancellor in January 1933, an organized campaign of violence was undertaken by Hitler's Nazi Party against the Jews of Germany. Jewish stores were picketed and shoppers at these stores were harassed. Protests by the Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (the Jewish communal organization) against these systematic tactics were ignored, with Hermann Göring stating that "I shall employ the police, and without mercy, wherever German people are hurt, but I refuse to turn the police into a guard for Jewish stores".[1]

      After seeing no improvement in the situation in the weeks following the first protests, representatives of the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress and B'nai B'rith met in New York City and established a joint committee to monitor the plight of German Jewry. At that point they were in agreement that any current public protests might well further harm the Jews of Germany.[1]

      The unrelenting Nazi abuse of Jews in Germany in the subsequent weeks led the American Jewish Congress to reconsider its opposition to public protests. In a contentious four-hour meeting held at the Hotel Astor in New York City on March 20, 1933, 1,500 representatives of various Jewish organizations met to consider a proposal by the AJCongress to hold a protest meeting at Madison Square Garden on March 27, 1933, as an additional 1,000 people attempting to enter the meeting were held back by police. New York Supreme Court Justice Joseph M. Proskauer and James N. Rosenberg spoke out against a proposed boycott of German goods that had been introduced by J. George Freedman of the Jewish War Veterans. Proskauer expressed his concerns against "causing more trouble for the Jews in Germany by unintelligent action", protesting against plans for mass meetings and reading a letter from Judge Irving Lehman that warned that "the meeting may add to the terrible dangers of the Jews in Germany". Honorary president Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise delivered a rejoinder to Proskauer and Rosenberg, criticizing their failure to attend previous AJCongress meetings and insisting that "no attention would be paid to the edict" if mass protests had been rejected by the group. Wise noted that "The time for prudence and caution is past. We must speak up like men. How can we ask our Christian friends to lift their voices in protest against the wrongs suffered by Jews if we keep silent? … What is happening in Germany today may happen tomorrow in any other land on earth unless its is challenged and rebuked. It is not the German Jews who are being attacked. It is the Jews." The group voted to go ahead with the meeting at Madison Square Garden.[1][2]

      End quote.

      I did not address the issue of boycotts. That was not my point.

      Your use of an artifact of antiJewish history as your reportage and then your equation of Jewish organizations with Zios demonstrate your bias.

  • I stayed away from Israel just as I stayed away from Nazi Germany -- Hugh Trevor-Roper
    • shingo- Nonsense. Adam Kirsch highlights Vidal's "much noted distaste for Jews and Judaism" and it is clear that it has nothing to do with imperialism. But that doesn't suit shingo's brand of propaganda:

      Vidal's much-noted distaste for Jews and Judaism comes through most clearly in three essays written from 1970 to 1981. It is rooted in a standard Nietzschean genealogy of morals -- Judaism was a slave-religion that, through Christianity, transmitted its ignoble principles to the whole West -- and flavored with an aristocratic contempt for Jews as arrivistes. Admittedly, when criticizing the outrageously stupid comments on homosexuality made by Jewish neoconservatives such as Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, and Joseph Epstein, Vidal is in the right. But he puts himself in the wrong when he refers to Jewish writers as "Rabbi" and calls attention to "the rabbinical mind" of one; when he mentions "[Alfred] Kazin and his kind," says that Hilton Kramer's criticism of Garry Wills and himself must be "because we are not Jewish," and calls Podhoretz "a publicist for Israel"; when he describes New York Jewish intellectuals as a "new class," and then says that "no matter how crowded and noisy a room, one can always detect the new-class person's nasal whine"; and when he repeatedly insinuates that it is "unwise" for Jews to criticize homosexuals because they "will be in the same gas chambers as the blacks and the faggots." Every individual remark can be extenuated -- at times it even seems that Vidal writes out of a disappointed love of Jews, whom he expects to be liberal on all issues -- but the cluster of hostile, sneering, scornful references leaves a very unpleasant taste. There seems no reason, other than anti-Semitic compulsion, for three of the 14 essays in a book ostensibly about sex to be, in reality, attacks on Judaism and on individual Jews.

  • 'Economist' pulls cartoon showing Obama shackled to Congress bearing Star of David
    • thetruthhurts- I've heard Mel Brooks explain the triumph of Christianity over Judaism by reason of the simplicity of making the motions to symbolize a cross (on top of one's upper body) before going into battle compared to the complications of making a star of david (over one's upper body), thus while the Jew is still making a symbol the christian is ready to kill.

      But I never heard the Start of David called contemptibly hideous and ugly. I find the shape of the Star of David, its geometric term is hexagram, to be quite intriguing. Are there any other geometric shapes that you find hideous and ugly?

  • JDate's mission of making 'JBabies' might provoke outrage, 'Atlantic' writer allows
    • Hostage- You are clear as glass about your opposition to circumcision and ritual slaughter. (Question: Is ritual slaughter so much more painful than modern slaughter that it rates up there with circumcision as something you oppose?) But a little more clarity on which parts of the Shulchan Aruch you oppose would be helpful. (And is that opposition only to a state that tries to enforce the Shulchan Aruch or is it also to parents who teach the Shulchan Aruch to their offspring?) And because Judaism is less mutable than say Christianity, does that mean that it is cruel to pass it on to one's children?

  • Christian Zionists help settler-farmers take over Palestinian lands
    • Inanna- Just a mention- "the radical philosophical changes from Old Testament to New" indicates a certain ignorance regarding the parts of the Old Testament that resemble the new- Jesus read from Isaiah at the synagogue, did he not?

      But you are pretending that this is the first time that the New Testament was used to justify war and smiting your enemies. Have you ever read any history of the conflict between Islam and Christendom and between sects in Christendom? Are you going to pretend that the Bible was never used by Christians as a tool in their wars until now.

  • Israel lobby group counters Palestinian dispossession with-- Jewish creationism
    • mrw- It's nice to have theories. I don't find it credible. I thought there were Christians in Rome when Rome burned in 68. So this means between 33 and 68 the Romans created this myth. (They created the myth and started the cult and recruited the members and this out of whole cloth.) James, the brother of Jesus was an early preacher in the Christian church in Jerusalem. James was also an invention?

      My knowledge of history is weak, but this sounds like a weak theory, even weaker than my knowledge of history.

  • 'J Street' is quick to pounce on NYT piece shrugging off end of Jewish state
    • Annie and shingo- You objected to my poor sourcing, so I was forced to declare google insufficient and go to the library (brick and mortar, horror of horror) and take Encyclopedia Judaica off the shelf. (I don't know if they have a copy in your branch library and if you insist I can go back and find their sources, but meanwhile the encyclopedia will have to suffice.)

      I edited with no intent on changing any meaning, but for the sake of saving time.

      Aftermath of the Temple destruction in 70 CE:
      Most of the people in the city had either been killed or had perished from hunger. The survivors were sold into slavery or executed. The city was destroyed except for three towers and the portion of a wall which were spared to protect the 10th Legion.
      Jerusalem remained in ruins for 61 years. Some inhabitants returned and settled around the 10th Legion's camp. As many as 7 synagogues were in existence when Hadrian visited and changed things in 130.
      Hadrian set up the plan to rebuild Jerusalem with the new name Aelia Capitalonia. Hadrian declared that no circumcised person should be allowed into Jerusalem and its territory under penalty of death.

      As we approach the year 300, the Christian community developed peacefully. One of its bishops died a centenarian. In his time Christian pilgrimages began. The Jews profited from a de facto relaxation of the prohibition against visiting Jerusalem as pilgrims.

      Constantine changed that. In 335 the church (of the sepulchre) was dedicated. The prohibition against the entrance of Jews into the city was renewed (with the exception of the 9th of Av.)

      In 438 the Empress Eudocia visited Jerusalem for the first time. Due to her intervention, Jews were again allowed to live in the city.

      Unless you wish to put your reputation on the line in opposing the Encyclopedia Judaica, I think you should concede that in the first 370 years after the destruction of the temple, Jewish inhabitation of Jerusalem suffered depending upon the mood of the authorities, some of whom threw the Jews out of Jerusalem and others who were more liberal.

      The exile from the land of Israel is a myth but the seizure of the capitol Jerusalem and the severe restrictions on Jews vis a vis living in Jerusalem and even visiting Jerusalem from the time of the temple's destruction until the Muslim Conquest, which included periodic exiling from the city (ethnic cleansing is the current term) is a historical fact.

    • Citizen and annie robbins- Here is the statistics regarding Jewish attendance at services: From April 30, 2012

      The American Jewish Committee poll administered mid March and released today at the end of April shows that only 14% U.S. Jews attend (non-Simcha) services in temples or synagogue once a week or more. 31% never go to Shul; 27% say they attend “a few times a year” and 16% say they attend services once a year or less.

      The stats for Americans:Gallup International indicates that 41%[1] of American citizens report they regularly attend religious services, compared to 15% of French citizens, 10% of UK citizens,[2] and 7.5% of Australian citizens.[3]
      However, Hadaway, Marler, and Chaves found during the early 1990s that church attendance was only about 20% on an average Sunday in one rural Ohio county, whereas self-reported church attendance was 36%. Many people over-report church attendance because of their self-perception and identity as churchgoing people; this indicates a certain psychological aspect to the overreporting of church attendance. Although questions of church attendance are intended by polling organizations to study Americans' religious behavior, many respondents view them as questions about their identity. This is especially true among those Americans who consider themselves "regular churchgoers." Despite many news outlets attempting to cash in on these findings by claiming that Americans "lie" about their church attendance, Hadaway et al. have been extremely wary of accusing these over-reporters of dishonesty; as they found in one study, those who over-report do so mainly to maintain perceptions of themselves as "churched" Americans, not because they are afraid to reveal to the interviewer that they are "bad Christians."[4]
      In a 2006 online Harris Poll (they stated that the magnitude of errors cannot be estimated due to sampling errors, non-response,etc.; 2,010 U.S. adults were surveyed)[5] found that only 26% of those surveyed attended religious services "every week or more often", 9% went "once or twice a month", 21% went "a few times a year", 3% went "once a year", 22% went "less than once a year", and 18% never attend religious services. An identical survey by Harris in 2003 found that only 26% of those surveyed attended religious services "every week or more often", 11% went "once or twice a month" 19% went "a few times a year", 4% went "once a year", 16% went "less than once a year", and 25% never attend religious services.

      to summarize:
      26% - 41% for Americans, with 14% for Jewish Americans. That is a substantial difference.

    • Fifth source:

      325 CE Constantine, who had adopted Christianity as the official Roman religion in 313, and his mother, decide to rebuild the places in Jerusalem that appeared in the New Testament. Jerusalem becomes a major Byzantine center. Constantine forbids Jews from entering the city.

    • First source: Jewish

      "The hostile attitude of the Christianized state, which later became more and more accentuated under Constantine's sons, thus owed its origin to Constantine himself; it is even probable that it was Constantine who renewed the law prohibiting the Jews from entering Jerusalem."

    • Shingo- Tell me the Jewish population of Jerusalem from 130 C.E. until 614 C.E. and the policy of the reigning authorities regarding Jews in Jerusalem. I'm using wikipedia. what's your source?

      "The Byzantine Emperor Constantine, however, rebuilt Jerusalem as a Christian center of worship, building the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. Jerusalem had received special recognition in Canon VII of the First Council of Nicaea in 325. Constantine's mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to the city and claimed to have recovered the cross of Christ. Jews were still banned from the city, except during a brief period of Persian rule from 614 to 629."

      Shingo writes: "Jews who lived there were left alone." Show me a link, anti hasbara fail.

    • annie robbins- (anti religious might have been the wrong word, but, nonetheless. Once I find a better formulation I will let you know.)
      Read a poll or visit the old confederacy or Latino neighborhood or a black neighborhood.. Christians attend church more often than Jews attend services in America. it's a fact. If I have to start linking, tell me so and over the weekend I'll do some research.

      Peter Beinart spoke at a Jewish venue last May in which he attempted to explain why Jews vote Democratic in America and along with his theories and history, he presented some polling on some basic issues and in terms of separation between church and state, Jews were far more committed to separation between church and state than other Americans and they were far less likely to attend services. But if you want links, I'll try to link later.

  • US Jews are so 'polarized' over Israel they can't talk about it to each other, 'Jewish Chronicle' reports
    • Citizen (and Hostage)- Judaism's closed attitude towards converts is unfortunate and it might take a few hundred years to undo tradition and trauma which are at the base of that attitude. If not for the fact that current prejudices against converting others to Judaism were part of my upbringing, my preferred attitude towards nonJews, whether in America or anywhere else where Jews live, would be marry our daughters and marry our sons, but first take on the laws and the Sabbath and the kosher rules and men, get a minor operation on your genitals, and men and women take a dip in a baptism pool (called a mikva) and then "sully the purity of our tribe" all you want. Judaism is a 52 Shabbos a year, a 365 day a year kosher, kind of thing and to imagine that Judaism can survive merely with being good, but without rituals, is a suspension of reality. What the Reform did was to imagine that Messiah had already come. That is, in my imagination of the days of Messiah, the laws will be suspended (or eased) because knowledge of God will surround us like waters. (Habakuk 2:14) And when that's the case, the laws of Sabbath and Kosher are not so key, because we will have graduated to a less rule oriented time. But though Reform announced the end of the law, (reminds me of the Pauline conception of Rabbi Yehoshua's undoing the law) when you declare the end of law, you declare the end of Judaism.

      I realize that in fact because Judaism is not as porous as it was before Judaism suffered the trauma of Constantine's Christian sword, the maintenance of the congregation of Sabbath keepers has the effect of shunning the nonJew. But Judaism can survive on the fumes of the past, but it cannot survive long without the Sabbath. Reform and the Pittsburgh platform turned the Sabbath into something that Reform rabbis keep (sometimes), but the reform laity don't keep and without the sabbath, Judaism withers. (There is great wisdom to be gathered from the writings of reform or Reform Jewish thinkers, but the practices that they initiated have failed to keep Judaism alive, if they are still around it is because of the echoes of the Sabbath and holidays and wisdom of the past, and not because of the wisdom of the content of the Pittsburgh platform.)

  • For backing '5 Broken Cameras,' 'Jewish Press' smears Dustin Hoffman as has-been 'figleaf' with 'Semitic nose'
    • The meeting of the minds between Mondoweiss and the Jewish Press does not exist, they are two lines in 3D space that do not intersect. It is relevant to underline all bigoted thinking of anyone Jewish regarding the Israel Palestine conflict, yet again, when the thrust of this web site is 1. Jewish continuity is a form of racism, acceptable only because marriage is difficult and therefore sometimes it's easiest for Jews to fall in love with Jews. and 2. Certain aspects of Jewish tradition are great: the seder when shared with nonJews, but for the most part: the talmud is bullshit and Christian or Islamic universalism is superior to Jewish particularism. The Jewish press (aside from its Zionism) is gung ho on continuity and in marriage, gung ho on the Talmud and Jewish particularism and favors the seder on Passover, especially when not shared with nonJews. There is no way that these two lines: Mondoweiss and the Jewish Press can ever intersect.

  • Vivian Gornick stashed book critical of Israel lest she 'commit literary suicide'
    • Jeff Klein- I don't belong to communities that invite or demand others to participate in their seders. Most of the seders that I have attended have been Jewish only and the only seders that involved nonJews were group seders that my friends hosted where their close nonJewish friends were invited to participate and there didn't seem anything coerced about their feasting and drinking, so maybe I am unfamiliar with the type of community seders that demand the participation of people in drinking wine and eating lots of food and putting up with a bit of "education" or "propaganda" in order to get to drink wine and eat food.

      On the other hand I always thought that all Christians (those who believe rather than those who don't) should all have the opportunity to experience a seder, for after all that was what the Last Supper assumedly was, a seder. And to participate in an actual seder would be a way to gain insight into the seder that Jesus participated in. Is this a demand? It seems like a logical gap in the knowledge of most Christians that can easily be filled if there is someone Jewish in the neighborhood who has an opened door on Passover.

  • 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?"

  • Friendly profile of Goldberg in 'Washingtonian' is a window on tribal power group
    • radii- "and less persecution (collectively) than they have ever known in all their history???"

      There is no question that Jews suffer less persecution than ever before in Christian dominated countries (or post Christian). But the only reason Jews suffer less persecution in Islamic dominated countries is because they left (fled) Islamic dominated countries 60 or so years ago. Based upon how persecuted Christians are in those countries, there is every reason to assume that without Israel, those Jews (had they stayed in their countries of birth) would be persecuted as well.

      (To contradict or argue with my statement you could either prove that Christians are in fact not persecuted in Islamic dominated countries or you could posit why Jews would be treated better than Christians in Islamic dominated countries.)

  • More on 'Israel and the nomination of Chuck Hagel'
    • Question to Mister Kovel: Do you think that the history of Jewish Christian relations, as in disastrously poor relations from the perspective of Jews, places any responsibility for present day Christians, to relate to that history in a responsible manner, or do you feel that since there is not much current tense tension between Jews and Christians that the days for attempting to defuse language are long past and there is no responsibility to deal with history.

      From your glib enjoyment "gratification" at the discussion of the use of the word "Satanic" and your ignoring its religious implications other than the one you specify, you seem to exhibit zero responsibility to deal with the history. Or am I wrong?

  • Israel and the nomination of Chuck Hagel
    • Annie- Next time a Jewish anti Zionist touts his conversion to Christianity on Mondoweiss by dissing Judaism and the next time he appears on the web site throws around the word Satanic, I will keep my powder dry and my opinion to myself.

    • Shmuel- Sorry for misrepresenting your judgment of Kovel.

      While I'm at it, let me offer a less immediate, less visceral reaction to Kovel.
      In his first appearance on this web site since the interview last spring revealing his conversion to Christianity (and his aversion to certain of Judaism's so called "essences"), Joel Kovel displays characteristic

      ivory tower/autistic/tone deaf/ "I am a genius Freudian therefore I need not be told how to choose my words, any more than Picasso needs to be told how to choose his colors"
      by choosing to toss the word "Satanic" into the mix when descrying his opponents on the other side of the Zionist divide.

      He is a stupid idiot for doing so.

      Regarding: conversion to Christianity by a Jew.

      In i.j. singer's "the brothers ashkenazi" a father treats his son as dead (sits shiva for him) when the son changes his garb from traditional to modern. Thus the "I would sit shiva for him" loses credence and is in fact essentially wrong.

      My cousin converted to Christianity. In the aftermath of a crisis, needing solace for his soul, surrounded by a Christian wife and two daughters who went to church, there was negligible chance to find group solace at a synagogue, so he took the cross.

      I accept that and I hate that. Torquemada tortured Jews and they still would not take the cross. Yet, on the other hand, God is not near, so find Him where you can.

      Kovel's use of "Satanic" was ridiculous and he is an a**hole.

    • Annie Robbins- If a person feels they can get closer to God or to their own true meaning by converting to Christianity, far be it from me to tell them not to. But I actually believe that the act of a Jew converting to Christianity carries with it a particular burden that requires an added dose of sensitivity to the religion they have left behind. (History is the source of this burden and the names Pablo Christiani and Johannes Pfeffercorn might guide one as to the reasons for the need for such sensitivity.) I haven't read the New testament recently, but the term synagogue of Satan is found in that book, an unfortunate formulation. To use the term "Satanic" in reference to Zionism and Judaism after one has converted to Christianity from Judaism reveals a type of insensitivity. Kovel was not in the habit of sensitivity to Jews and Judaism before his conversion and it would take a lot more effort to develop sensitivity at this point of his life, than it did to convert.

    • Ellen- Maybe you missed it. Kovel converted. He is a Christian.

    • Joel Kovel- Christians should avoid using the word Satanic in regards to Jews, no matter how bad the situation you are trying to describe. Try the word "dastardly" next time.

  • 'Beyond Tribal Loyalties' -- new volume spotlights awakenings of 25 Jewish activists
    • Walid- And the New Testament verses were used by the Christian masses against Jews as well. This does not prove the neutral nature of the verses. It shows that ambiguous verses can be used by those who wish to inspire hate.

  • Goldberg smears JVP after 'NYT' columnist mentions them for defending Hagel
    • Goldberg's glib use of "elimination" is wrong, but is it slander? It is shorthand used in this age of twitter.

      The just solution offered by JVP threatens some Jewish Israelis, or maybe even most Jewish Israelis and is not seen as this innocent offering of a world of peace and justice. The proposals of JVP are seen to them as offers of being Sunni in Iraq and Alawite in tomorrow's Syria and Christian in today's Egypt. And can you tell them why they are wrong and your vision is the more likely one?

  • Wiesenthal Center calls leading German journalist 'anti-Semite' for criticizing Israel, then refuses to debate him
    • pjdude- You are right. Not all christians are fundamentalists.

      I took the quote from Augstein and referenced it to a strain that has existed in Christianity and still exists.

      To illustrate my point:
      What is the number of Christians in South America today? What do they think when they read the book of John and see the word "jews" or Judeos and the ugly references to Judeos and their/our synagogues? I assume the average Sunday bible church goer is there to get close to God and will find the passages from Jesus and about Jesus which inspire and help humans navigate this world and see the God that is all around in nature and humans and in the self, if we are positive and see its light. But there are other people who go to church too and they have hatred. (All humans have anger and frustrations and hatred is one manifestation of these human traits.) And when these people open the Bible they can find verses that help them to hate.

      I think the picking and choosing of verses is important to all people who use the Bible as inspiration. Some sentiments in the Bible are negative. This is the heritage and part of the burden and responsibility to face up to our holy texts and to try to figure out the way forward. Merely labeling someone as fundamentalist is not solving the problem. It is dismissing the problem.

    • Woody- We'll talk on some other topic probably before I develop the needed stick to itiveness to start delving into Christian or Roman Catholic theology.

      To a Jew cognizant of the history of the interplay of Christianity and Jews in Europe, the idea that Christianity embodies forgiveness is a bad joke. That was my point. And the New Testament reads like a book that is in on the bad joke. That was my second point.

      The Jews who handed Jesus over to the Romans were Quislings, like Mahmoud Abbas handing over a Hamasnik to the Israelis to be crucified. (israelis don't crucify; they only torture. but i think my analogy should be clear, because I'm using the prevalent language here.)

    • “Israel is threatened by Islamic fundamentalists in its neighborhood. But the Jews also have their fundamentalists, the ultra-orthodox Hareidim. They are not a small splinter group. They make up 10% of the Israeli population. They are cut from the same cloth as their Islamic fundamentalist opponents. They follow the law of revenge.” This is Augstein's quote.

      Augstein did not say, "Christianity is the religion of forgiveness and Judaism is the religion of revenge."
      But let's take this second statement for a moment and analyze it. It is a statement that is not all that uncommon in anti Jewish analyses of the two religions. Christianity believes in "turn the other cheek", whereas Judaism believes in "an eye for an eye". Well, it is not exactly true, for the same Christianity that believes in "turn the other cheek" propagates the line from Matthew, "his blood be upon us and on our children", although placed in the mouths of Jews, it is Matthew which spread the word and the accusation that is still voiced in churches throughout Christendom (not all churches, but in many churches). And Judaism contains a sentiment or two in favor of forgiveness as well. But whether it is true or not, it has been used as an argument for the superiority of Christianity to Judaism for quite some time. Is that antisemitism? Not exactly. It is anti Judaism, which is not precisely the same. But it certainly isn't neutral either.

      Why do I offer this paraphrase of my own. It is because the Augstein reference to revenge is a surprising non sequitir- "They follow the law of revenge." That which came before that was essentially true. The ultra Orthodox ARE cut from the same cloth as the Islamic fundamentalists. But I would expect the examples to be other than "they follow the law of revenge". The commonality of the ultra Orthodox and the Islamic fundamentalists is their attitude towards nonbelievers, women and modernity. Those are the immediate subjects that come to my mind when I compare the two. "They follow the law of revenge". Nope that's a total non sequitir. So it stands out. And as such a stand out comment it begs for analysis and the readiest analysis is that it hearkens back to the obnoxious Christianity/forgiveness versus Judaism/vengeance comparison.

  • The Western Wall is as political as the Apartheid Wall
    • hello Marc Ellis-

      An initial response is : "The Yehudim are allowed to have an expansive space to come and pray in the Old City of Jerusalem. And if it takes a bunch of gung-ho soldiers to give them/us that space, then I'll take it."

      Soon I'll equivocate on that response, but first a few comments (Rashi).
      Yehudim- I don't like the word "Jew". I focus on its shortened form for Jude as in German, and slur means also to shorten one's words and Jew is a slurpy slurp of Jude. I realize that the German use of "jude" did not stop them from killing us by the millions and I realize that the russian zhid, which includes the "d" that I am so upset about is considered a slur as well and so maybe there is no solution. but I prefer "yehudim" to Jew.

      "Jews of Conscience". I suppose one can label oneself. See what the judge said about samuel goldfish who wanted to change his name to goldwyn- he's a self made man, he can make his own last name.

      Menachem Begin once saw Isaiah Berlin in the crowded lobby of the King David Hotel and he greeted him, "Reb Isaiah!" But Berlin recognized Begin as well and gave him the high hat. Later when he was out of the crowd in a room with his advisers, Begin recovered from the rebuff by referring to Berlin and his ilk as "JWWK" Jews with weak knees.

      I will have to think of something between Jews with Conscience and JWWK as an apt description of your position from my perspective.

      I wish I had never seen the Western Wall. I wish the 6 day war had never been fought and Levi Eshkol would have had sufficient standing with the Israeli public not to appoint Dayan as his defense minister and the crisis of May 67 would have resulted in a new understanding between Israel and her Arab neighbors, rather than the war of June. I imagine that new understanding to not include passage of Jews from West Jerusalem to East Jerusalem, so I would never have seen the Western Wall.

      But time travel does not exist and Moshe Dayan was appointed defense minister and Israel went to war on that Monday morning in June and Jerusalem was among the places that Israeli soldiers "captured". The thought of blowing up the mosques on Har Habayit, Temple Mount, Haram el Sharif, occurred to Rabbi Goren (I think) and indeed the generals questioned his sanity. Quite rightly. But the neighborhood that was built "on top" of the Kotel was in the way. A woman was killed in clearing out that neighborhood and that blood cannot be washed away by my chauvinistic whim. But the homes and the neighborhood were in the way.

      I recently studied three D calculus. With chutzpah the mathematicians reimagined the x and y axes. The z axis of course points up, but the positive x axis is placed to the left and the positive y axis is placed where the positive x axis used to be. I needed a corner in my mind where one wall meets another so that i could label one the y axis and one the x axis. And the Kotel, the wailing wall, the western wall, came to mind and the wall is the y axis and the wall to the left of it is the x axis. (y as in yahweh, x as in the christian holy places in that direction?) nonetheless that spot on the world is the one i used to give substance to the positive octant, where x, y and z meet from positive territory.

      on friday afternoons in Jerusalem when i lived there i would sometimes find myself in the center of town and observe the women in black demonstration. It is very different to attend such a demonstration in kikar paris near the kings' hotel rather than on east 14th street across from the best buy. from kikar paris one can see "occupied territory" and one is only fifteen minutes from east jerusalem on foot.

      so one of the demonstrators in Jerusalem was telling me the future vis a vis Jerusalem in her vision and I asked, "what about the kotel?" and she answered something to the effect that she doesn't hold by the kotel. (I realize "hold by" is a yeshiva kind of term. I try to find the translation: she doesn't consider the kotel to be of any import to her concept of life or Judaism.) To me this was as ridiculous as going to a rabbi and asking him if frozen yogurt is kosher and him answering that frozen yogurt tastes lousy. Her own opinions regarding the kotel's importance in her life was irrelevant to a political arrangement that would have to take into account those who "hold by" the kotel.

      One of the makhers of neturei karta being interviewed in his home in meah she'arim, confirmed his interviewer's surmise that he did not go to the Kotel. "And it is so near," he said. One could hear the longing in his soul to go to the Kotel. For him to avoid the Kotel was a real sacrifice. Is viewing the kotel as occupied apartheid territory a real sacrifice to you?

      I can imagine a political solution that does not include the Kotel being under Jewish/Israeli sovereignty and I would prefer that solution and its peace to the current war.

  • In 'Dissent' debate, Walzer hints that leftists who focus on Israel are anti-Semitic
    • Stephen- The original anti Semitism might have contained a tidbit of anti Arab racism in it, but to state. antisemitism was originally a coherent doctrine directed equally against Jews and Arabs is nonsense. Jew hatred had existed for centuries and because of the collapse of Christianity in various sectors of society there was a necessity to explain the continuation of Jew hatred without resorting to the Christian animus towards Jews, so they came up with a racial explanation of their attitude towards Jews and they titled it antisemitism. first came the hatred which was towards Jews and then came then name which contained a tidbit of animus towards Arabs who these Jew haters never ever saw. To call this a doctrine directed equally towards Arabs and Jews is pure poppycock.

  • 'Daily Beast' crank against intermarriage pushes regime change in Iran on the side
    • Various thoughts-
      I haven't done a thorough study of all "peoples" and all religions. The Jews have existed in the Western part of the world as a nation apart, as a minority religion, in a way that is, if not necessarily unique, certainly different. Catholics have been mentioned as a scattered group. But Catholicism was the majority religion in many countries for centuries before the dispersal of Catholics.

      There are certainly various Jewish identities, primarily Jews who lived in Christian lands versus Jews who lived in Islamic lands.

      One minute I read on this site how the Jews survived dispersal, and so they need not fear their proposed dispersal by those who wish to undo Zionism. To propose this and to ignore the difficulty of the survival of the Jews despite their dispersion and minority status is to see with one eye and be blind with the other. (or to speak out of both sides of your mouth and say different things.)

  • The conversion of Joel Kovel (Part 2)
    • Woody- Fred Nitchy's Zarathustra proposes that in the search for truth or how to live one must go through changes. He says, one begins as a camel, progresses to a lion and then must change into a child or baby. Thus at first one carries the load, bears the burden of the past of the texts of the past, like a camel bears the load. Then one must tear down these assumptions, fight against these texts, break the tablets and then one must then emerge with the always beginning, never tired, always curious ways of a child or baby.

      I began accepting the text of the Tanach as given and then tore apart that bearing of the burden. I have not emerged into a true beginning from scratch with a totally blank page, nor is that a literally realistic option. But I relate to the Tanach from a different perspective.

      There are those who relate to Job and Exodus as literally as you do. They are fundamentalist Orthodox Jews who emphasize only the aspects that you do "God's test of Job" "God hardening Pharoah's heart" and unlike you who sees these things as abominable, they see these things as great or essential to understand the nature of God. But I feel that those aspects of Job and Exodus deserve, if not to be torn as prey, like a lion would do, at least deserve heavy scrutiny. But the nature of Pharoah, the nature of slaves, the nature of Job, the nature of those who called themselves Job's friends, are all lessons that I feel are valuable even after the lion has gone to work on those aspects of the story that the fundamentalists and you consider their essence.
      Maybe you have a different history towards Tanach and therefore never experienced camel and only lion and therefore you never developed any connection to these books and therefore learn nothing from them. You are probably fortunate to not bear that burden and I'm sure there are other burdens that you have borne and let loose the lion on those. Or maybe you started from scratch and never bore any burden. I don't know you, so I don't know. I can only say from the perspective of someone who bore that burden that the end result of camel, lion and then attempt to look anew, I have an appreciation for the lessons of Exodus and Job, even if they differ from the fundamentalist view.

      I think there is sufficient substance in Tanach and in the monotheistic tradition of Judaism that it could never have remained a family affair, a book of only the tribe. I think it was inevitable that it would find a wider audience. Jesus, Paul and the success of Christianity and also Muhammad and the success of Islam ensured that the Tanach did not remain a private affair. Because the circumstance of this wider audience involved labeling the book as the superceded Old Testament, does not negate the fact that as a set of books the Old Testament makes the New Testament and Quran look like very thin books in comparison. I think Tanach beats New Testament and Quran by a wide margin in terms of substance. Even if one rejects the wrathful God or the chosen people or the law. even if one accepts "faith supercedes law" or "final prophecy supercedes all that came before", a clear eyed look at the weight, the substance of the three books, i feel one must tip one's cap to the Tanach even if you insist on calling it the Old T.

    • Woody- Job is a horrible book and life contains horror and therefore it is useful to read this horrible book. The punch line of Job, "I am God and don't question me," is not terribly helpful. What is helpful is Job himself, succumbing finally to the urge, and I would say need and positive need to question God. That God listens to the devil and tests Job, does not give us a positive aspect of God. But in fact the world is filled with suffering and many today have concluded therefore God doesn't exist (or an all powerful God does not exist) the history of this conclusion can begin with Job. Job is an important book and wrestling with God should include a look at the book of Job.

      God's actions in Exodus are not my main lessons from Exodus. Exodus is about the struggle for freedom. The fact that God punishes Pharoah and Egypt might lower your estimation of the Exodus concept of God, but what impresses me is the insight into the nature of Pharoah and the nature of the slaves (wanting to return to the sure meals of Egypt even if it includes slavery).

      There are many levels to study these books. I suppose someone raised with a jaundiced eye only sees them as negative. I see their danger (taken literally and taking God killing innocents as a positive thing) but there is much wisdom to be garnered, if one continues to reread them from varying perspectives throughout one's life.

      As far as if Jesus had not been a Jew and Paul had not succeeded in starting a successful religion and Constantine had not decided to adopt Christianity, then the Tanach would be minor, is almost like saying, if my mother had never given birth to me she would have been a stranger. In fact Jesus was a Jew and the early church was an offshoot of Judaism and though many have tried to divorce Judaism from Christianity for various motives, so your "if only", might be interesting as fiction, but in fact western history brought the Tanach with it and thus David and Goliath, Samson and the Garden of Eden are famous rather than obscure.

    • I'm glad Shmuel responded immediately and stated his disappointment, for his word is accepted here, as a rule.

      I would add that Kovel is not only superficial regarding Judaism, but also superficial regarding Jesus. To state that Jesus's essence was his opposition to Jewish tribalism is a flimsy assertion. You mean those Jerusalem disciples of Jesus who continued to circumcise, unlike Paul who was willing to toss the Torah on the ash heap, you mean that James and the Jerusalem Christians happened to miss the point somewhere and only Paul of Tarsus and Joel Kovel of Yale caught Jesus's essence?! I don't think so. Jesus's essence can be found in the content of the Sermon on the Mount, rules of life that apply universally. But nowhere in that sermon did he say: "Jews, give up your tribalism!" He said, Keep the Torah down to the last jot and tittle. One can reject Jewish tribalism, but to attribute it to Jesus (as presented in the synoptic gospels) is just plain fiction.

  • 'Obama will be forced' to support Israeli strike -- because of his domestic 'political needs'
    • MRW- You are correct. I have an utter lack of erudition. But fortunately I have a friend who does not lack erudition and I sent him David Shasha's articles and he responded. And though he did not use the word shmendrick, I think his words will suffice to deal with the great David Shasha.

      He wrote: Yonah,

      You have been privileged to hear shiurim from people such as Rav Lichtenstein, whose methodology was developed over many years of learning with Reb Yoshe Ber, who in turn was the product of intensive private tuition with his father Reb Moshe son of Reb Chaim etc., etc.. . Many adjectives have been applied to these figures, but "Irrational" is not one of them. ( About twenty years ago, a book was published by Norman Solomon : "The Analytic Movement: Rabbi Hayim Soloveitchik and his Circle," which details how meticulously rational and text based these people were. Reaching beyond Brisker pilpul, I would recommend Rav Shlomo Yosef Zevin's "Ishim v'Shitot" for chapters on the Rogatchover, Reb Meir Simcha of Dvinsk etc. A couple of years ago, Shai Wosner wrote an outstanding PhD dissertation for the law faculty at Hebrew U. on the legal reasoning of Rav Shimon Shkop within its' Lithuanian intellectual context. Reading it increased my pride in our people's genius for and dedication to reason and learning).

      These great teachers analyzed Gemara through pilpul and prided themselves on the notion that by so doing, they were following and developing a rigorously logical, scientific like approach to the text under analysis. J.B.'s "Halakhic Man" gives a very insightful look into the mind and soul of these masters of pilpul. Rav Soloveitchik compares the foundations of pilpul, i.e. the halachic principles and rules of Talmudic engagement binding upon all its' devotees, to mathematical axioms or platonic forms, eternal and immutable, existing in an absolute state of objective Truth. All this is already well known to you, so forgive me for going over such well trodden ground.

      I don't know if David Shasha is a good Jew, but I do know that he is not a learned Jew. His equating pilpul with irrationality evidences a lack of any familiarity with Talmudic learning or scholarship. Anyone who has first hand knowledge of what serious study of gemara or halacha involves ( the scrupulous sensitivity and attention to every nuance and detail, the necessary clarity of mind and intellectual probity etc.) would never think to describe that process which has developed such analysis to an art form, i.e. pilpul, as "irrational." ( By explaining pilpul to be a kind of " rhetoric," he totally misinterprets its' meaning. Pilpul is a type of dialectic, a sophisticated form of systematic reasoning and exposition having either moral, legal, literary or philosophical applications. Its' aim is to discover the greater reality and ultimate truth about things. Outside of Gemara, the closest thing to pilpul is Socratic dialectic. Socrates was a master pilpulist! The entire western philosophical tradition is built upon pilpul. Read any of the great philosophers of the middle ages, their arguments are all written in a pilpulistic form. The Summa of Thomas Aquinas is pure pilpul. Unfortunately, people blessed with sharp analytical skills and tools, often find themselves cursed and reviled by compatriots and kinsmen not so favored. It is terribly irritating, even humiliating, to find one's positions and policies constantly being challenged and overturned in debate with another, more skilled logician. The medieval church condemned the writings of St. Thomas. We all know what fate befell Socrates).

      Shasha's historical outline of the ashkenazic intellectual tradition of pilpul reveals even more deplorable ignorance and prejudice, e.g. his claims that Rashi insidiously rewrote the text of the Talmud or that the Tosaphot pilpulistically substituted an alternative reality to enforce the status quo, deny social equality and establish the rabbis as a privileged extralegal body to dominate the people.( Regarding the latter, it is woefully dishonest to use Dr. Hayim Soloveitchik's writings as evidence. Even in the quoted excerpt, Professor Soloveitchik describes the rabbis as "true leaders" looking out for "the needs of their people." One should add, with some irony, that Soloveitchik himself, the son of Reb Yoshe Ber, is a master pilpulist, and was offered the Chair in Talmud at YU upon his father's passing). In short, Shasha's condemnation of pilpul is based not in any objective knowledge, but in a personal animus against ashkenazic Jewish Zionist culture as expessed in his article "Losing the Jewish Soul," where he discusses how his people were persecuted by the Ashkenazim of the Zionist state .

      I have neither the time nor inclination to answer any more of the author's so called arguments. Railing against pilpul is just another variation on the already tired and vacuous Christian anti-Semitic screeds against what, in earlier, less tolerant and enlightened times, used to be termed "talmudic logic" or "rabbinic sophistry." I'm afraid even a long pilpul would be of no help for a Jew taking up such discredited positions today.

      End quote.

      I am a putz not in the league to judge Shasha, but I would pit my anonymous friend up against Shasha any day of the week. (not Shabbos or holidays, but any other day.)

  • Are the Jews a nation? And more importantly, can they hit a curveball breaking low and away?
    • Seems to me that Judaism was an elastic or permeable religion back in the day of Jesus and Paul, looking for converts just like Christianity and Islam did/do at their heights of confidence. Although conversion is part of Judaism, in the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple and the defeat of Bar Kochba, the acceptance of converts became the exception rather than the rule. (Certainly Khazar conversion is a major exception, although some maintain that it was only the ruling clique or class that converted rather than the masses.)

      In terms of having a geographical focus, the Jews always (since the inscription of their books) had that: whether religion or "people". A geographical focus does not mean statehood, necessarily.

      Reform Judaism was/is an attempt to get along in the world without the stringent rules of Halacha. Specifically in Germany and the United States, along with tossing Halacha out the window (sorry for rhetoric), for reasons of acceptance as full citizens of those two countries, they declared the prayers for Jerusalem or particularly regathering the exiles to be as relevant as animal sacrifices, that is of a previous age and not worthy of attention.

      The Zionists were dogmatic, that is the nature of a group attempting to change history through the power of will. That dogmatism served them well. The time for that dogmatism has passed. Part of Zionist dogmatism was overemphasis of nation over religion and of course the Jewish nation's rights over the rights of any other nation.

      To use a term like apostasy to describe Zionism from a Jewish point of view seems to me to be a new dogmatism rather than an escape from dogmatism.

  • Neocon pressure group's latest salvo: attacking Obama for not visiting Israel
    • Obama is Carter with darker skin. How do most israelis feel towards Carter?

      (But there is also some racism involved. The deference that about a third of the right wing would pay to a White Christian American President is absent and in its place an attitude towards black Barack Hussein Obama.)

  • 3 stories without legs
    • Colin Wright- I read the passages and indeed the easiest interpretation is to consider the vineyard to be taken away from those who kill the vineyard owner's son. I told you I assume you've read the new testament more carefully than me. So while we're here, which is the least Jew hating of the four gospels and which are the most Jew hating of the four gospels? And of what use is Jewish Christian dialogue when certain texts are in fact quite virulent in their Jew hatred? (Granted that the Talmud is also anti Gentile, but usually those involved in Jewish Christian dialogue are willing to consider those texts as historical reflections of an oppressed situation and to discount them as having true validity. Are Christian dialoguers willing to discount the anti Jewish verses of the New Testament?)

    • Ranjit- The desirability of the spread of monotheism (even in its diluted Christian version with its vestiges of polytheism) and the spread of the content of the Hebrew Bible requires a more positive attitude towards Paul than I enunciated in my first statement. Nonetheless there are negative aspects to Christianity and certainly to Christian history after Constantine and it is a convenient tool of dividing responsibility to attribute all the good to Jesus and all the not so good to Paul.

      I am not sure precisely what Jesus claimed to be and I daresay he wasn't really sure who he was either. ("Who do they say I am?" indicates an inordinate interest in what others had to say about him because he was not sure precisely who he was.) I am even less sure what Paul claimed Jesus to be. The streak of negativity in much of Paul's words towards the Jews is understandable given the conflicts between Paul and the Jerusalem followers of Jesus and also between Paul and the Jews in the various corners of the Empire. Nonetheless there is a streak of negativity there. There is a streak of negativity in the New Testament towards the Jews and it is more extreme in Matthew, Mark and John, than it is in Luke.

      So here we are approximately 2000 years later and the Jews are still around (though a small group with power issues) and the Christians are the reigning religion (although it might be more accurate to call those in power post Christians). And those of us who hold our books precious do not smile when others criticize. Nonetheless we need to learn to cooperate. Although the first step must be honesty and that is what I am trying to be: honest about my opinions.

    • ranjit- Although the Orthodox disdain both Jesus and Paul, I belong to those who respect Jesus and disdain Paul. (Read Paul on circumcision and you will find one possible definition for self hating Jew, although the theory that Paul was not a Jew, is one which appeals to me.) As far as the quote from Matthew, any quote of Jesus that came after he died on the cross is dubious and you are right to label it Pauline Christianity.

  • At 'Daily Kos,' a liberal Zionist calls for BDS
    • Keith- We started with David Gershon's "country that I love". You interpret his "country" as affirming the majority (green line majority) attitude of "Jewish state" rather than "state of all its citizens". I think that is a fair differentiation, if today you are willing for Israel to call itself a "state of all its citizens", and you are in love with Israel, you are merely in love with your tribe, but if you are unwilling, you are devoted to tribalism.

      There are some who are devoted to "Jewish state" rather than "state of all its citizens" not due to tribalism but rather due to the fact that they believe that "state of all its citizens" will lead to the Jews being as scared as Christians are currently in Syria with the advance of the rebels. I assume you dismiss this fear. I do not dismiss this fear.

  • Exile and the Prophetic: How deep is (y)our – colonial mentality?
    • Since Karl Marx talked about Jewish money this makes talking about Jewish money kosher? I don't think so. Marx was no Jew lover. Converts to Christianity sometimes have empathy with the group left behind. (Didn't Heinrich Heine convert, and wasn't he sympathetic to the Jews?) But Karl Marx hated the Jews. If it's helpful or necessary to talk about Jewish money in order to clarify or speak truth, fine. But don't go looking to Karl Marx to make it kosher. Really.

  • Exile and the Prophetic: Tighter than tight
    • Citizen- No, I haven't read it all, but I've probably read 100 to 300 times as much as you. You think because you've read 3 pages worth of quotes of the evil stuff you can diss it. You can diss it, as in freedom of speech. But you can't diss it, as in pretending to be knowledgeable, when in fact you ain't.

      And unlike Christianity that limits the world to come to people who are saved by their belief in Jesus, the Talmud grants the world to come to all good people. So there are pluses and minuses in all the top 3 monotheistic religions.

      I think the enlightenment is the cat's meow and it is the way forward, if indeed we head forward. but to ignore the social consciousness of the prophets and focus on the ugly Talmud and therefore there ain't nothing in that Jewish book and the Jewish practice that added to human consciousness is ignorant and biased.

  • How do we make Zionism 101 an everyday reality? Yeah, how?
    • American- Let me start with your first comment on this post.

      "Even going into AD times, Christian, Catholics, Muslims ,as well as Jews, all had their turn at being oppressed, discriminated against and victimized."

      I suppose this statement is strictly true, but also irrelevant. The primary motive for Zionism vis a vis "we aren't wanted here" was Europe circa 1880 to 1933 (thus excluding the Holocaust from said consideration). In this period in that place what other significant forms of discrimination existed? When the French Revolution broke out in 1789 it promised "freedom" to the Jews as individuals and not as a group and if Europe had followed in those footsteps, Zionism of its current variety, would not have been born. The Jew hatred of Germany in the late 19th century and of Czarist Russia from 1795 to 1917 were the most significant forms of hatred and deprivation of citizenship rights of the groups that you mentioned in your sweeping generalization.

      Humanity's tendency to discriminate against outsiders and foreigners is a well known fact. You seem to use it as a "so these other religions suffered too, so what makes you so special?" and that is an argument, but not a particularly useful one. Zionism was born under specific circumstances and sweeping generalizations do not help us understand those circumstances and increasing understanding should be the priority rather than winning an argument.

      (I use the term Jew hatred because the term anti semitism leads right into the semantic argument cul de sac. The Yiddish term was "sonay yisroel" literally haters of Israel, referring to the corporate body of the Jewish people rather than the nation born in 1948. Thus the term Jew haters is close enough to the original Yiddish, the Hebrew branch of Yiddish and not the German branch of Yiddish.)

  • Aharon Appelfeld's rage at the German language (and Arendt's need for it)
    • There are a number of possible reactions to the German Nazi genocide of the Jews between 1939 and 1945: 1. Convert to Christianity and don't tell your children that they were Jewish. (Madeline Albright's parents). 2. Marry a nonJewish woman that you fall in love with and claim that by doing so you are asserting that universalism (or Americanism) is the cure, antidote or answer to the genocidal nationalism of the Nazis. (Arthur Miller). Those reactions are acceptable to this web site.

      Along comes Aharon Appelfeld and says that there is another possible reaction- assertion of one's Jewish heritage. But on this web site this is labeled as nihilistic by the contributors and as pathetic by the commentators. Only universalism or hiding the past are acceptable answers to the Mondoweiss crew.

      If one is discussing languages and the German language, one should refer to Primo Levi's "Periodic Table" in which he asserts his advantage in the battle to survive because his science background required a study of German and the lack of a language barrier (or a reduced language barrier) when hearing the commands of the Nazis helped him to survive.

      As far as the harshness of the German language, that has to do with how it is enunciated. Yiddish is probably more than 80% German and the singsong, plaintive, shrugging, rounded shoulders of Yiddish are plainly detectable in its rendition. German is harsh because it is enunciated harshly. If the German speaking people want lessons in how to make their language sound less harsh, I'm sure that the surviving Yiddish speakers of the world would be willing to set them onto that path.

      I agree that Appelfeld's reaction to the language of his childhood was emotional. It's a funny thing when they murder your people (sorry, sorry, sorry, I know, "people" is a verboten word in reference to the Jews on this web site, I meant coreligionists), some tend to react emotionally, especially when you were a child when the war started and barely 13 when the war ended and your mother was killed in the genocide. Appelfeld is an artist, and he reacted emotionally. Arendt was a political theorist and a philosopher who was 37 when she heard of Auschwitz or 39 when the war was over, not 13. Her relationship to the genocide was of a completely different nature than that of a child's.

  • Denial
    • 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.

  • My spirit is American (a religious manifesto)
    • Woody Tanaka- "almost wholly a reaction to the actions taken by the self proclaimed "jewish state".

      Is it your hypothesis that there would be almost zero Jew hatred in the world today if not for the actions of Israel? Is there no hatred in Islam for the Jews? Is there no hatred in Christianity for the Jews? Is there no hatred in white supremacy towards the Jews? Is there no hatred amongst universalists for the particularism of Jewishness and Judaism? Is there no hatred amongst nationalists against the Jewish nation or the so called Jewish nation? In fact, in 1947 before the UN resolution to create Israel, Jew hatred existed in the world and it would exist today in some form. It is impossible to know what form it would have taken if the history of the Jews had not included Zionism.

    • 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.

  • 'J Street' review-- mixed, but positive
    • On the main stage, a rabbi named Donniel Hartman, says that Israel lives in a “difficult, crappy neighborhood” (sorry rabbi, that's racist).

      Critiquing Rabbi Hartman's statement on the basis of Israel's contributions to the difficulty or the crappiness of the neighborhood (or on the necessity of Israel adjusting to the neighborhood) seems to me more apt rather than the application of the "racist" label.

      Analogy time. Would calling the South Bronx a crappy difficult neighborhood similarly fit this accusation of racism. How would one judge a crappy neighborhood? Can you park your car there and have a reasonable expectation that it will not be broken into? If the answer is no, then it's a crappy neighborhood. Is it therefore racist? Does one have to cite the history of blacks in America and New York City and call it a high crime neighborhood rather than a low tech phrase like crappy neighborhood in order to avoid being called racist? There are other measures of neighborhoods other than crime rates. One would be: how are the public schools? If the answer is that all the schools score below the average of the rest of the city on statewide examinations, can one say that the schools are crappy without being called racist? What about median income? Can one call a neighborhood crappy if the percentage of citizens living on food stamps is above a certain level? Or is that also racist? Must one say instead, it is a poor neighborhood with little industry and with a teenage unemployment rate of 40% rather than calling it a crappy difficult neighborhood in order to avoid the label of racist?

      Regarding Israel's neighborhood, here are the measurements that would label it as crappy and difficult: 1. poverty. Egypt is one of the poorest countries in the world. Poverty is not a moral lacking but it certainly affects a neighborhood. Refugees from subSaharan Africa would far prefer to find their way to Israel rather than stop their journeys in Egypt for the very fact that Israel is far richer than Egypt. Egypt's poverty and sub Saharan Africa's wars and poverty make Israel a destination for poor non indigenous peoples. That certainly makes life difficult if you allow a free flow of refugees. Is it racist to mention that fact?

      2. Education. What is the level of education in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt? How many people go to those countries to attend all of those top level universities in those countries? Except for those who wish to study Koran, the answer is probably very low.

      3. Democracy. Because Israel is on the wrong side on the democracy question, preferring dictators (who cooperate) to democracies that won't, this becomes a thorny suggestion. But as of today, how do the international organizations measure the democracy levels of the neighborhood. Lebanon, where the Christians until recently had to kiss Assad's ring (euphemism), is a democratic country? Syria is spoken on, although one could not tell that reading Mondoweiss. And Egypt- How do the Copts feel regarding the zeitgeist in Egypt?

      Building up the economies, the education systems and the democracies of countries is no simple thing. Israel's economy can be attacked because of massive infusions of money from the US government and Diaspora Jews. Israel's democracy, we know, deserves criticism for its treatment of nonJews and its worsening treatment of "disagreeable" Jews. Thus criticizing the neighborhood is an inappropriate indulgence, for Israel should look in the mirror and aim its criticisms in that direction. These are appropriate criticisms. But though the term crappy neighborhood is far less sophisticated than underdeveloped and undemocratic neighborhood, its essence is not racist but factual.

  • Barghouthi and Erakat can reach young Americans
    • annie-

      If Barghouthi were discussing the issue in depth then many issues- the occupation of Bethlehem, the idea of the cartoon and the Israeli attempts to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims would all be appropriate, particularly if it was a discussion with give and take with people from both sides participating. But in a one man speech, which was essentially a superficial slide show (for a good purpose, freedom, but still a superficial slide show), I think the inclusion of the cartoon was/is a rather cheap decision by Barghouti, which is not meant to encourage thought but to discourage thought.

    • annie- Just a quick response to part of what you wrote.

      "Palestinian Christians had nothing to do with what Christians did in Europe."
      I grant that.

      The question I raise is whether Christianity had anything to do with what Christians did in Europe. If you feel that it was totally foreign to the spirit of Christianity, something imposed on the pristine pure loving New Testament, I disagree. I think there are plenty great things, wise words contained in the new testament. I feel that there are sufficient wise words in the New Testament that there is a future to Christianity in its relationship with Judaism and the Jewish people if loving people wish to come to the Jewish people with regret about certain verses and a commitment to emphasize the loving part of the New Testament rather than the not so loving part of the New Testament.

      But if you do not regret the hateful words of parts of the New Testament, then are you any different from those who accept the Hebrew Bible as pristine or the Talmud as pristine the Quran as pristine or the Hadiths as pristine. I am quite sure that those who accept the pristine nature of any of those books are a handicap if we wish to find peace in the future.

      Do you disagree?

    • seafoid- It is an interesting question what cognizance of the history of Christian antiSemitism should be "required/requested/expected" from non European Christians. But even if one answers that question in the negative- that nonEuropean Christians need have zero cognizance of the effects of Christian antiSemitism in Europe, you must realize that Jew hatred in Christianity did not begin in Europe. It began in the new testament and with the Church fathers.

      In any case the usage of religious imagery when attempting to achieve an act of unity wherein all the religions join as one and pretend that we all get along, is antithetical to the herein stated cause. So even if one were to say that Palestinian Christians should not be cognizant of the history of their religious civilization that includes recent "problems" in Europe, the stated goal of unity negates the use of religious imagery when other images would suffice.

      The "complications" of Zionism notwithstanding, the Zionist project was necessitated by a coming storm. The location in Zion rather than elsewhere was necessitated by the nature of Jewish history, which would have made a mockery out of any other piece of land other than Zion.

      As far as Iraqis and the 1940's in one sentence. I have no reason to doubt that they warned the US about this, if you say so. But note, my first reaction to seeing the words Iraqis and 1940's in one sentence is to recall the most notable anti Jewish riots in the Arab world prior to November 1947, the anti Jewish riots in Baghdad in 1941.

  • Wait-- do you like Israel? (Jeffrey Goldberg's ultimate test)
    • Here we have a sample of Citizen's disdain for the Jewish religion. If it is good and somehow exists in Christianity then its source must be paganism, but everything in Judaism can be defined in some minor mediocre regressive way.

      Well, as far as Heaven goes, whether it came from the Persians or the Greeks, by the time of Jesus, there was a concept of Heaven that had pervaded the Pharisees, (usually yet another derogatory term for the rabbis, but in this case referring to the philosophy of the group that Jesus belonged to). And guess what? Over the 1980 or so years since the execution of Jesus , the Jewish concepts have not been static and if a religion is defined by what the people believe, there were various times when the existence of Heaven was not greeted by a "Ha!" but became an essential part of the folk ways of the Jewish religion.

      Where Judaism or the Jewish people are located or heading at this date in 2012 I cannot reassure, but to echo those who call Judaism an earth religion reveals your animus and also your ignorance of the folk religion that Judaism was not so long ago.

  • Today in Pittsburgh, Jesse Lieberfeld, 17, will deliver a hammer blow to American Jewish support for Israel
    • Hostage- In Western Europe, in particular in Central Europe, the key into "Christian" society (in 1850 or 1930, let's say) was conversion and to pretend that this is merely a question of tolerance is again false. It is a question of the thrust of history, which most recently included the necessity to convert in order to move up in the ranks of society. When Madeline Albright's parents decided to convert, there may have been a rejection of the Jewish revelation, but there was no real acceptance of Christian revelation, other than a wish to disown or hide from the past or move on to the future unencumbered by the past.

      Jewish intolerance of various sorts is a serious problem, but the schism between Christianity and Judaism was and is quite real. Schism, with a capital S. Read about the reaction of Luther to those he labels Judaizers, and pretend that this is not a deep historical schism. All schisms can be reconciled alone in a room with a laptop. Not.

    • Believing that Jesus was the Messiah was the only thing that divided first century Christians from the Jews, but after the New Testament was written and canonized, there were other beliefs added, including the son's participation in the Godhead, the abrogation of the Law that made the rupture with Judaism more than just a Messianic movement rejected by the mainstream. The Lubav Rebbe died barely 17 years ago. The followers of Reb Nachman left the seat of their Rebbe empty also, with Messianic implications for Rabbi Nachman, so it is not just the Messiah hood of Jesus that took place in history. In fact Christianity and Judaism have been divided in two by various conversion campaigns, that involved more than leaflets, but the stake and other forms of death that are involved in the separation of those who called themselves Christians and those who refused to convert and in stead watched their loved ones be slaughtered. So it is ideas plus history meaning ideas plus blood and long enmity that are involved here. Let us not pretend that it is merely ideas and thus Lubav equals Jesus and therefore, Ha!

    • To be clear, the issues of war and peace, of expulsion and unequal rights, are questions of morality and thus Jewish questions as well. But I do not think that Judaism has a monopoly on morality or the lack of morality vis a vis its daughter religions Christianity and Islam (Christianity accepts its daughterhood but asserts that the daughter has surpassed the blind mother. Islam accepts Judaism, kind of, as submission to God, although Judaism's content is considered tainted, and thus Judaism is kind of a type of Islam or submission, when the chronological facts indicate Islam derived much from Judaism.) Morality is common to all the monotheistic faiths and is not a specifically Jewish concern. Jesse Lieberfeld has not one serious word to add to anything specifically Jewish, except for his condemnation of Judaism and its present relationship to Israel.

    • If a United States agency or the US Supreme Court recognizes a Jew for Jesus as a Jew for the purposes of US legal definition, that is one thing. Edith Stein, the Jewish nun, who died in Auschwitz was defined as a Jew by the law of the 3rd Reich. Not to equate US law with 3rd Reich law, but obviously external laws or logic is not the point here. When eee states that a Jew for Jesus is not a Jew he is trying to define the person from the standpoint of other Jews. For the thousand or so years that Judaism lived in Christian Europe, the definition of a Jew was someone who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, so even if Jewish law recognizes such a person as a Jew (which I believe is the case, certainly such a person does not need to convert to become Jewish but must merely quit believing Christian beliefs) there is some validity to attempting to define Jewishness to exclude someone who believes in the Messiah-hood of Jesus.

      The question of Israel and the attempt by eee to label all anti Zionists as nonJews is a different point. In the case of the kid here, Jesse Lieberfeld, I would say that he remains a Jew, but when he starts throwing around a phrase like "self chosen people" he reveals a certain intellectual and emotional unseriousness. Certainly the "chosen" aspect of Jews is a difficult concept at best and a negative concept in my opinion, it is not one that can be easily excised from Jewish tradition and texts and thinking and for Jesse Lieberfeld to throw the phrase around shows a lack of seriousness. Israel, Zionism, even the ethnic or tribal solidarity of the Jewish people/nation/collective are serious questions and Lieberfeld does not deal with any Jewish ideas seriously in his speech and deals with this idea in a very unserious way.

  • Game changer: Hillary says Israeli restrictions on women remind her of Rosa Parks and Iran
    • upsidedownism- I won't argue with you on the limitations of israeli democracy, but Egypt and Lebanon are not role models either. First Egypt. It has held an election. First step. But it takes more than one step to make a democracy. It is still a military dictatorship as of this date. And if the democracy takes shape and places limits on the ability of Muslims to convert to Christianity, then it will be a limited democracy. So it is way premature to declare Egypt a democracy. Second Lebanon- Lebanon has a number of militias- one called the Lebanese army and one called Hezbollah. When the state does not have a monopoly on power and in fact would lose a battle to a militia within its borders it is not just its democracy that is faulty- it is its essential statehood which is under a question mark.

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