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yonah fredman

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

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  • Changing the narrative, from BDS to antifa
    • Some thoughts:
      1. I am not sure what should have been taught in the west in the aftermath of WWII regarding the Holocaust and other WWII atrocities. If the goal was to teach people never to be bystanders, obviously that failed: for Cambodia and Rwanda and other atrocities occurred since then and certainly the hundreds of thousands murdered in Rwanda were not helped one whit by the study of history. Thus my focus is on what Jews were teaching themselves. And as such I assert that within that community (from anecdotal evidence) that the survivors were encouraged to shut up at least til the Eichmann trial and even until the 67 war. (The movie the Pawnbroker was a type of breakthrough as well.)

      2. It is likely that the US squelched anti Nazi propaganda after WWII, so as to encourage the alliance with West Germany without raising any resistance. Maybe Australia, a natural ally of Britain, had a different attitude towards West Germany, but I think you will find historians (think of Patton: the nazis are just a political party) will back me up that the US did not wish to emphasize war crimes after WWII and the attention was quickly moved to the cold war.

      3. Anyone who has read Meyer Levin on Anne Frank will be familiar with the deracination that was used by Anne Frank's father and the playwrights to pick Anne frank's words that fit their own concept of what should be learnt from the diaries.

      4. The US is a great destination for the yehudim to express themselves as much or as little as they choose regarding their yehudi religion and yehudi background. I don't think the culture was as open to yehudim before World War II or for that matter until the '60's, I think in that period the "melting pot" aspect, as in "forget the old, endorse the American new" or "don't rock the boat" were predominant aspects of American culture. I think since the '60's there is far more openness to cultural differences and the richness of diversity. But this was not all that true before the '60's, so when I refer to the "melting pot" I am referring also to the American pressures towards conformity and leaving the past behind.
      (Listen to Artie Shaw, in Ken Burns' Jazz on the pressures of anti semitism that pushed him to change his name. Of course compared to what was going on in Europe this was trivial, but this attempt to color any Jewish attempt to assimilate into mainstream America as if it was not accompanied by cultural pressures meaning cultural hatred is malarkey. Jew hatred helped shape the Jewish urge to disappear in the American mass. Again, since the 60's this is less prominent. For the most part any urge to throw off one's Judaism today is not colored by American hatreds, but in the period before the '60's, not true.)

      5. The German Nazi slaughter of the Jews between 1939 and 1945 may not be unique, but from a Jewish philosophical point of view it is/was devastating and the search for an "answer" is a natural reaction to hearing such bad news. American optimism in the aftermath of Obama's election in 2009 was such that slavery and Jim Crow and racism were a prologue to the diverse, one from many that will be the new America. (Obviously such an answer to American history was simplistic as well.) But it is natural for human beings to view history as some sort of a lesson: What can be learnt? How can we avoid those mistakes? Where do we go from here now that we know how we arrived here? Humans want a moral of a story and a path forward. Maybe all attempts at such "answers" are faulty. But we cannot undo the human habit for searching for such answers.

      And in the case of the Nazi slaughter of the Jews, there has been no such answer. Zionism is not an answer because of its constant wars and its repression of the Palestinians.

      And, America is a great place to be a Jew, but it does not answer the historical event, particularly because of America's closed door policy towards immigrants between 1920 and 1941. Such a policy may have been natural and in the American self interest and as such should be argued on its own merits. But America, which was of severely limited use to the Jews as a refuge when they needed it most, therefore cannot be the "answer" to the slaughter itself.

  • Israeli paper investigates 50-year-ago attack on 'USS Liberty,' while US papers leave it in the letters column
    • Here's my take on the USS Liberty.

      1. It was a sad day for the US and Israel and American Jews.

      2. There seems to be a case to be made that the Israeli navy attacked without knowledge of the American identity of the boat and that they were trigger happy, because the war had passed them by without participating.

      3. The behavior of the Israeli air force considering the clear vision of the American flag seems to indicate a deliberate attack. The motive for such an attack has yet to be offered. (we were sad witnesses to norm finkelstein telling us that the jews had a hard on to show the goyim who was boss. this is the level of speculation that we are dealing with here.)

      4. why was the liberty ordered to leave the vicinity and why had it defied its orders? is there some connection between the israeli attack and the liberty's defiance of its orders?

  • The Israelis
    • My yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem was earlier than usual due to a family celebration and has not yet ended. So I am inspired by phil's report to share some biographical notes.
      of course, i come from the other side of the tracks from phil. he was raised secular, even anti religious, with an emphasis on rationalism. my father was a rabbi (still is) and I was raised to believe in Torah and Zionism. phil never set foot in Israel until he was close to 50, I first moved here/ visited here at the age of 16 or so back in 72.
      I arrived in israel in 2017 the day that Trump left. The next day my first visit was to my aging parents. My mother was born in Europe, Western Europe, because there were quotas limiting Jewish opportunities of education in Poland and so her parents moved from Poland to France. When the Nazis invaded Belgium and France in May 1940, my mother was not yet 7. By the following April, my mother and her 9 year old brother were on a boat with their parents heading from Lisbon to New York City. My father was born in St. Louis to parents who were immigrants from Ukraine. My paternal grandparents arrived in the 1920's, after the great migration. My grandfather was very religious, more religious than his two brothers who came to America before him. And though they lived in small town Peoria Illinois, they raised their family to keep kosher and shabbos. Small town orthodox Jews in America, a rarity even then, is even rarer today.
      my parents are now in their 80's and ailing.
      My father taught 28 or so years at Queens College in Queens New York and retired to Jerusalem. They bought an apartment near my brother, who underwent a transformation in his late teens and early 20's from modern Orthodox Judaism to ultra Orthodox Judaism, so they live in a very religious neighborhood, which makes my visiting them a bit more difficult, because I stopped being religious (with some backsliding) in my mid 20's.
      After seeing my parents I headed to my uncle for a get together of my Israeli cousins, all first cousins of my mother's. This is the family that would have been wiped out (in all probability) had there been no Zionism in the 1930's. Their parents left Poland in that decade and came to Palestine. (One brother stayed in Europe and perished.) Most of these cousins of my mother's are religious, but a minority are not. The sons of my great grandparents (aside from the brother who was murdered in Europe) all remained religious and all their children remained religious. The two daughters of my great grandparents married secular husbands and thus the results have been mixed: half religious and half secular.
      This was Jerusalem Day and I had passed the crowds flying their flags and made my way not to the center of the action but to my uncle's for the family get together. Some recollection of the days of the 6 day war were recounted and some songs were sung. I asked the husband of one of my mother's cousins whether he celebrated Jerusalem Day and he said no. He ardently celebrates the 5th of Iyar, I am a zionist he proclaimed, but the occupation should not be celebrated. Another of my cousins reported about where some of her children live and proudly proclaimed, "they are settlers", a gathering of cousins is really no place for politics, laying religious and political differences aside are of the essence when a family is diverse and so the assertion of settlerism was not answered by anyone there.

      The kabbala group meets on thursday nights and the kabala is a book which encourages flights of fancy and although i wore a baseball cap and not a yarmulka i partook of the hostliness and the biblical commentary. because jerusalem day was recent when some selection in the text fortuitously referred to Jerusalem, this was given extra emphasis. no politics or should i say no contrary politics was mentioned.

      friday night i ate at my half uncle, who hosted the cousins' gathering two nights before. my half uncle is a year and a half younger than me and his eldest son and his family were the other featured guests. I got it into my head to explain to my uncle's son about my politics and told him about the Democratic convention in Chicago 1968, the week of my bar mitzvah. my uncle's parents moved to Israel when he was not yet 13 and he is thus ambidextrous in hebrew and english and he married an israeli woman. my uncle's politics are decidedly to the left of the primary thrust of the religious nationalist camp. but he teaches at a school in the territories and most of his kids are currently studying, teaching or living in the territories. (the most neutral term to refer to the west bank is to call them the territories rather than the west bank or judea and samaria.)
      my uncle's wife (whose politics is decidedly to the right of my uncle's) commented at one of the meals i ate at their house that she liked when i came over, because my presence causes her husband to reveal his right wing attitudes on certain issues (particularly he feels that the demand that the palestinians recognize the Jewish nature of Israel is natural).

      my uncle's daughter in law was present that friday night. Her father was one of the founders of one of the major settlements in the territories, ofra. and her grandfather was killed in a terrorist attack in the 2nd intifada, so my uncle explained why he resisted talking about politics as much as he would have preferred.

  • Terrorism: How the Israeli state was won
    • This piece is propaganda. The choir cheers. But it does not stand up to analysis.

      Try this paragraph:
      Indeed, most Jews and Jewish leaders dismissed Zionism as the latest anti-Semitic cult. They had fought for equality, and resented being told that they should now make a new ghetto—and worse yet, to do so on other people’s land. They resented being cast as a separate race of people as Zionism demanded. - See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/terrorism-israeli-state/#sthash.FG6A2UnR.dpuf

      Maybe this is true for British Jewry and maybe American Jewry. (Even regarding British Jews and American Jews, the language of antisemitic cult is certainly anachronistic.) But in 1897 the majority of Jews did not live in free societies, they lived under the rule of the Russian Czar. These Jews might have wished for equality rather than what most considered a quixotic quest for an opportunity to rule themselves, but they were still in a ghetto (the Pale of Settlement) and the opposition of most of their leaders (religious leaders) was based upon quietism, not rocking the boat, and had nothing to do with opposition to being viewed as a separate people, which indeed the majority of rabbis did view themselves. As far as "worse yet, on other people's land", this is clearly an anachronistic imagination by Mister Suarez, the idea of colonialism was still riding sufficiently high in 1897 that the concern for the rights of the indigenous certainly was not their first concern, even if we might wish to imagine their moral sensibilities being ahead of their time rather than of their time.

      No, Mister Suarez is basing these supposed thoughts upon an imagination of British Jewry, which was a small percentage of world Jewry and in fact putting his own thoughts in their minds and mouths.

      That the House of Lords would put up with listening to Mister Suarez is a testament either to the patience and politeness of the House of Lords or to their apathy and ignorance.

  • Trump and Clinton blast UNESCO statement on Jerusalem
    • The establishment of Israel by the United Nations, as defined in 3 acts: the partition plan of 47, the acceptance of Israel in 49 and the resolution that did not resolve, 242 of 1967 is certainly involved in the conflict. the jewish temple which i believe was on the temple mount, i suppose some here have done hours of research on the matter without ever having visited the spot, and i tip my hat to them and their expertise regarding evidence and history, was destroyed they say about 1946 years ago, but it certainly is still the focus of much jewish religious thoughts and feelings. the fact that it was destroyed and others have controlled jerusalem from 70 to 1967 is certainly quite relevant to the united nations, that is precedence is given to the status quo of 1917 rather than history way before or since, and that is the natural stance of the united nations.

      this bystander's view of islam is that they want things two ways, to accept moses and his torah and to deny that it is relevant in this world, though they base the prophecy of Muhammad, PBUH, as part of a chain that includes moses. because they are billion plus believers this attitude must play a role in practical life on the planet. further, because i feel my second home is jerusalem and this is part of the faith system of my fellow jerusalem neighbors, i accept that the status quo regarding the temple mount is preferable to me than those who wish to "rock the boat".

  • Yehuda Glick's meteoric rise from messianic margins to Israeli parliament
    • I went to school with yehuda etzion between 72 and 74.
      It was inevitable, given the content of the torah, specifically its animal sacrifice chapters, plus the religious Zionist emphasis of "b'yadeinu"- it is in our hands, that is the rejection of the passivism of traditional judaism and the assertion of activism, that a movement to rebuild the temple would find expression on the fringes.
      The current state of affairs vis a vis a permanent likud majority (rabin, Barack and post gaza withdrawal sharon being the primary exceptions to the 40 year rule), plus the current bds atmosphere with its right wing likud interpretation: they hate us no matter what we do, the net result of, so let us be our true selves, followers of the scripture, setting destiny by our actions, so let us rebuild the temple and turn leviticus into reality, this is the result.
      In fact there are millions of yehudim who pray for a rebuilt temple and a renewed service, but there are very few of them who back glick and etzion. Traditional orthodox reject this strain of activism, and most religious Zionists are pragmatic enough or modern enough to consider etzion and glick to be extremists. On the other hand the urge to pray on the temple mount is much more widespread among religious Zionists than this urge of glick to renew the animal sacrifices. The mode of worship has been prayer for quite a while, so the urge to pray persists and the place for that prayer is indeed everywhere, but also especially in the Holy spot of the temple mount.

      I pray upon occasion and cannot deny the pull of this specific spot on the globe in jerusalem, but in occupied territories. I can't tell you which specific prayers are near my heart, but I consider resolution 242 to be important and the mitzva to avoid the disturbance of the jerusalem status quo to be important as well. (Important as in: Don't rock the boat.) I trust the idf to assert the boundary line between permissible and forbidden on the temple mount, rather than ideologues like glick and etzion.

  • Jewish leaders' excommunication of Sanders aide over Israel will only alienate young Jews -- Open Hillel
    • Stephen Shenfield- roots. The TV show. The dyed hair's real color revealed by the roots. Be true to your school. Continuity. Anagram roost.

      The first two torah thoughts I have are sinai and the akeda. Sinai is complicated but the akeda is simple. Abraham was supposed to rebel against the command, but he was weak and succumbed. But this interpretation is a dissident interpretation a minority interpretation and the flow of Jewish history (We are not a tree but a boat in a river) is a history of fatalism and obedience and a dash or two of martyrdom too, so my rebellion interpretation is just one of many in the stream of history.
      If one separates the two main mitzvahs: love of God and love of man from all the wrapping and you are true to those two mitzvahs, who am I to criticize you.
      To most American jews hebrew is Greek to them. The torah was watered down to a fast and a meal and nothing to compare or compete with the incredible moment of history presented by Herr Hitler and modernity.
      In fact the historical moment is indigestible no matter how much or little torah.

  • Zionism is finally in the news, as officials seek to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism
    • annie robbins- some widen the definition of anti semitism and others narrow it.

      you wrote: "but either way there are many jews with no religion and anti semitism is hatred towards jews — regardless of politics or religion or anything, just for being jewish (as an ethnic qualifier). once you start imposing your way of thinking on others then it becomes your responsibility when they reject you or your religion or your politics." - See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/03/zionism-is-finally-in-the-news-as-officials-seek-to-conflate-anti-zionism-with-anti-semitism/#comment-163872

      (leaving aside the political point of the last half of that quote:)

      this means that anti semitism has nothing to do with judaism. that is: if you hate someone just because they are jewish, even though they don't believe in that vile antiquated stuff anymore, then you are an antisemite. but if you hate people because they believe in that vile antiquated stuff, then you aren't an antisemite.

      i think that antisemitism is a bit deeper than that and those who hate judaism are antisemites. which puts critics of judaism or those alienated from the strict observance of their parents wishing to water down judaism in the boat of being slightly antisemitic. this is reflected in the woody allen joke regarding his reform rabbi, "he was very reform. he was so reform he was nazi."

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

      The Ashkenazi socialist founders of the society threw their tefillin (prayer wrappings) off the boat when they sighted the new country in the 1930s. They were done with rabbinic Judaism. They founded the parties that later made up Labour. - See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/01/the-world-the-settlers-made#comment-160684.

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

  • Reform Jews offer no proposal to end occupation, says Jewish Voice for Peace
    • J street wants into the tent and it is being a good soldier in the current fight against BDS. Reform Judaism wishes to earn Ruby Rivlin's assent (despite derogatory things he has said about Reform Judaism). The only way they know how to do that is by being good soldiers in the fight against BDS. These days of the post kerry peace process will continue in this phase until the end of the Obama administration. To demand that J Street needs to define itself during this phase as being in the same boat as Larry Derfner is a bit much. That's not what J street was created for and right now it is on ideological life support until the next phase begins and clarifies what role it may play in the future. At this moment there is not a dime's worth of difference, but they hope that during the next phase they will discover their role and there will be a dime's worth of difference. (or a dollar's difference).

  • 'Forward' editor says Presbyterian vote was anti-Semitic
    • 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.)

    • There are those who wish to solidify the status quo and there are those who do not wish to weaken the status quo and it's difficult to tell them apart. Netanyahu wishes to solidify the status quo. Eisner has some other vision in mind, but she really does not wish to weaken the status quo, because it feels dangerous and as such she is willing to give Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt in strengthening the status quo.

      At this moment of June 2014 I can empathize with those who do not wish to weaken Israel at this moment given the general chaos of the Middle East. Yet I must take into account the period of 47 years since the occupation began and it turns out to have been a very serious error, that did not happen all at once, but developed over time, but between the moral error that Yeshaya Leibowitz foresaw and the strategic error that Tzipi Livni sees, there is a very serious error. And even though this specific moment of time is not auspicious to wave a flag and yell, "let us join the middle east" for it is a caldron of chaos, 47 years is too long to sit by and accept this error as something that should not be noted as a serious error.

      Eisner is not an individual, she is the editor of the most credible Jewish weekly today (maybe I misspeak, but I am in the ballpark of accuracy). I think she is representing the scared majority of liberal zionists. Unable to digest the consequences of the probable demise of the two state solution. unable to digest that Netanyahu and not Rabin is the face of Israel today. Unable to digest that the settlements are not just a problem, but a very serious existential problem. Therefore the attempt to not offend Netanyahu and the status quo. She is not about rocking the boat and as such, she defends against those that are devoted to rocking the boat.

  • 'NYT' scrubs 'analysis' that Hamas is 'seen in West as the devil'
    • This is Abunimah's own assessment of what will happen when his plan gets put into place, it is not my assessment. If I get on board with one state, it is first regarding the West Bank rather than Gaza or refugees. The reason, I think, South Africa did not right away tumble into the dysfunction similar to its region is that South Africa had a working polity and thus replacing white bureaucrats with black bureaucrats is not much of a change, thus if israel at first merely annexes the west bank then it could evolve into a working machine without the emphasis on jewishness as the essence of israeliness. the mentality of israelis is nowhere near this point. this is not the conception that we expect from Likud or Israel mainstream for that matter anything to the right of Gideon Levy.

      But I was quoting Ali Abunimah's assessment of how the Jews will react to his scenario.

      What is lacking is an imagination that sees the future in a good way. The South Africa model is insufficient because the demography was 6 to 1 blacks to whites, and Israel will be 1:1 particularly if the west bank is the step that Israel will digest out of will rather than out of decision of the new Arab ruling coalition that would develop over the first 25 years of the annexed west bank.

      But you guys are just playing gotcha, not really interested in musings about the future. the fact is that the immediate future is bleak. the Palestinians are not asking for the vote, their two main parties are still into the two state mode. and Netanyahu is conservative enough to prefer the status quo to rocking the boat with annexation of any sort, so I understand where you are coming from. But I am only echoing what Abunimah wrote. I am not yet fully ready to imagine what exactly can emerge if the West Bank Palestinians are given citizenship and a vote in Israel.

  • Jewish day school student first learned about 'occupation' when he got to college
    • Ellen- Imagine a boat that was used to save a family from a flood. If someone loved that boat, would that be a fetish? Pre state Zionism saved cousins of mine from a flood (an inferno). Is loving the means that saved their lives a fetish?

  • Liberal Zionism ends with a pinch
    • hello irishmoses,

      I have not had the patience to go through your response methodically, so I will react piecemeal now and maybe more later.

      1. The Jewish nationhood. Just writing those words, I know I will get the goat of RoHa, who also has responded to your response. I think that today when the vast grouping of nonIsraeli Jews is located in the west, where assimilation is a "problem" for the Jews rather than for the hosts, that the concept of Jewish separate status seems absurd in the context of the present tense. But Zionism was not born in 2013 Brooklyn, Australia or Los Angeles. It was born in Eastern and Central Europe in 1881 and 1897. To the Jews of Eastern Europe their separate status was self evident. (Herzl had to learn of his separate status the hard way- apply to a German fraternity and be informed that he was not German even though he spoke that language.) Any student of history would be hard pressed to find a modern day analogy that might define the status of the Jews under the rule of the Czar in 1881 in terms that are comprehensible without citing the Roma, which as an amateur I consider a nation.

      The groups you mentioned: Vietnamese boat people, Cambodian refugees, Ukranian kulaks all had a homeland and no element of separateness (think Roma) compared to those oppressing them.

      2. I specifically addressed why Palestine rather than Alaska (Michael Chabon's novel) or Argentina or Uganda? That is in order to raise funds and encourage noncoerced immigration (rather than coerced- avoiding a catastrophe- immigration) it was necessary to think in terms that would attract passion, funds and people. Nothing other than Jerusalem could have accomplished that.

      (The Uganda idea is beguiling to those of us who sadly try to imagine circumstances that might have forestalled the death of millions. Since Hitler's march into the Soviet Union in June of 41 was a surprise, a hypothetical Uganda that was accepting Jewish refugees would have done little to save certain populations which include some of my dead great grandparents and great aunts and uncles.)

      3. There were 100,000 Jews living in Jerusalem, in an area surrounded by territory that was given to the Arab state in the partition plan. After December of 47, this population was besieged, without sources of food and water. Your proposal that the soon to be born Israel, should have merely accepted its borders as under the partition plan, would have condemned those Jews in Jerusalem to starvation or exile. Fighting for the Jewish population of Jerusalem was natural and is not something you have seemed to consider. The partition boundaries were not a viable proposition for a situation of war and to pretend that they were is to ignore historical realities.

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