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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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  • Forget pinkwashing, it's brownwashing time: self-Orientalizing on the US campus
    • Yes, in its early days Israel encouraged discrimination. But it's not 1956 anymore and historic grievances are not the main story (except for obfuscaters and propagandists.) But let's try to deal with 2017 and "intermarriage" rates. Marriages between ashkenazi and mizrahim is sky high compared to marriage rates in America between African Americans and whites. There are many reasons for this: the army, the high ratio of mizrahim to ashkenazi (when compared to the low ratio of blacks to whites in America) and a sector: the modern orthodox, aka dati leumi, aka national religious where the intermarriage rates are so high that these marriages, once the stuff of cultural surprise (the 1972 movie Kazablan) are totally mundane by now. No one in America comments anymore on marriages between catholics and protestants and thus it is among the dati leumi in Israel concerning ashkenazi and mizrahi. (anecdotal: two of my dati leumi nephews are married to mizrahim. Whereas in my brother's haredi, aka, ultra ortho family such marriages have not been arranged.) In America such cross racial Marriages are far rarer. Maybe between Hispanic and whites in certain states there is high intermarriage, but between African Americans and whites, not so. Certainly america's toxic history is part of this equation, but also the low ratio of blacks to whites.

  • Jewless Holocaust. Israel first.
    • I really try to avoid the term holocaust, because of its religious connotation. Shoah, which means destruction and hurban (h as in hummus) which means destruction are far more preferable terms. If hitler had not been so meshuga with the jews the roma would've had a far easier time. In regards to Poland and Ukraine, the conquering of this Slavic territory for German lebensraum was murderous racist colonialism without crossing the sea or the color line. A different type of genocide than that suffered by the jews and the roma. People in France had a deluxe occupation. Poland and Ukraine, quite different.

  • Video: Israelis look forward to the Trump presidency
    • Zion square in jerusalem represents the right wing/religious sector of the jewish population. Polls before the vote indicated that Israeli jews supported clinton over trump 43-29. Obviously one would need to interview in tel aviv or better yet in northern tel aviv to get an accurate cross section of the centrist and left wing israeli Jewish public. This video reveals the thoughts of the right wing and in no way represents an accurate image of the totality of the israeli public. (Inaccuracy of this sort is also known as propaganda.)

  • Israeli rabbi who advocated rape of 'comely gentile women' during war becomes chief army rabbi
    • Shmuel- Thanks for the honorable mention. (a jewish gossip columnist in nyc used to end his columns praising in short sentences, the honorable menschen)

      Not particularly sensitive (at this particular moment) to the accusation of fetishization you have offered as an explanation of modern Orthodox attachment to land and people, but still wishing to participate in the discussion (since you alluded to me) here is a 6 by 6 down and across crossword puzzle that includes the words fetish and heresy.

      FETI SH
      EVINCE
      T ITTE R
      INTONE
      SCENES
      HERESY

  • 'We don’t want to find ourselves in a position like apartheid South Africa': A report from Israel's first national conference against BDS
    • To change or not to change that is the question.

      December 87 was the beginning of this phase of my consciousness of the Israel Palestine issue and already then the alternatives of "hang tough" versus "we must change" were quite apparent. Some changes have indeed occurred, but nothing sufficient to displace the dichotomy presented by those two positions.

      A couple further notes: the results of 67 with resolution 242 on the books but not implemented created a dynamic of flux or contradiction which seems quite different than the 49-67 period.

      To be or not to be, is inferred by many readers of the headlines and listeners to the talk shows, for the rhetoric if not the reality threatens the presence of Jews in the region, let alone their self determination.

      One of the columnists in the Forward wrote about 20 years since his friend perished on a bus blown up on jaffa road and it got me to thinking of time. 67, I was not yet 12, but I am glad I was old enough to read the papers, and that was the first time I became aware of the Palestinian refugee issue. The photo in life magazine of the refugees crossing the Allenby bridge (damaged in the war, but still passable on foot) mentioned that these west bank people fleeing Israeli military occupation were in addition to the refugees from 48.

      In 73 I was in Israel during the war studying in occupied territory and I knew a few of the Israeli soldiers who were killed in that war.

  • 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.

  • Sanders warns U.S. against 'quagmire' of 'perpetual warfare' in Mideast for 20, 30 years
    • I took a look at the democratic primary results of 2008. I think that Obama won the nomination due to a number of causes including: solid support among blacks and momentum created by victories in the early primaries, even in states where black votes were not a significant factor. He was a very inspiring candidate and once a certain threshold of success was crossed, the prospect of an Obama presidency became exciting, particularly because of the breakthrough nature of first black president. I think that a white candidate who had been similarly anti war in his position would not have beaten Hillary and that the excitement created by the prospect of the first black presidency was a greater factor than his anti war stance. (One should also mention that at least as a candidate he is an inspiring speaker and Hillary is better on policy than on inspiration, better with a small room than with a big crowd.)

  • Two establishment Jews (Harvard and Microsoft) endorse boycott of Israel and 'single state' in Washington Post
    • "I assume the authors’ professions of love for Zionism/Israel are purely tactical, I can’t imagine it ever crossed these guys’ minds that they needed a Jewish state when things got too hot in the U.S ."

      Poor logic.

      Phil Weiss assumes that the only possible reason American Jews might love Zionism/Israel is as a refuge in case things turn hot in the U.S. Jews might love Israel for many reasons: the cherry tomatoes for example. (This is a joke for the Israel bashers here. Israel offers an alternative culture to American Jewish culture, a Hebrew culture, a Saturday off rather than a Sunday off culture. There are many minor things about the existence of Israel that might inspire a wish for Israel to exist and not disappear.) Or they might think that America is sufficient for them, as having been born in America and are thus protected from anything except American heat, but is insufficient for the other half of the world's Jews, who have no guarantee of American protection.

  • Racism in Arad: Mayor declares southern Israeli town off-limits to Africans
    • As anyone familiar with the famous Chevy Chase Richard Pryor SNL routine can testify, the n word crosses a clearly delineated line between abhorrent and truly abhorrent. When Obama used the word in a Mark Maron interview recently it made headlines. When Mark Fuhrman in the OJ trial denied recent usage of the word and was proven a liar it was a major turning point. To claim that any word is not just equivalent to the n word, but in fact a translation of the word, strikes me as patently false and an exaggeration. To pretend that the word "cushi" or "cushim" is an innocuous term is also patently false.

  • Michael Oren misrepresents 1971 synagogue bombing that changed his life
    • Froggy- On the scale of reactions to the Hitler catastrophe: on one end of the spectrum there is Madeline Albright's parents, who crossed an ocean and baptised themselves and little Madeline and never told little Madeline where she came from. On the other end is the father who shows photos of the ovens to his son when his son comes home with scraped knuckles.

      I think the timing of the father's sharing of these photos with his son is the problem. I think the fact of the father sharing these photos with his son is in fact essential (not necessarily today, but in 1963, yes, it is not history, it's yesterday's story, the headline of Jewish identity, the dragon's breath burnt the eyebrows on half of the men in the shul and yes, it's necessary in 1963 to share that story with your son.) how to approach the subject. do you leave such a book just lying around or actually talk to your son and try to learn some lessons, i don't think it's an easy subject and to utilize these photos at the wrong moment and give the wrong message is indeed a form of abuse.
      how jewish fathers should raise their jewish sons in 2015, i don't know, ich veiss nicht, i don't know that there is such an immediate need. but how would you describe the 20th century to your son? tell him about abbie hoffman and bob dylan? tell him of the perfidy of menachem begin and golda meir? but you'll skip the death camps and the arbeit macht frei? no. if you're a jewish father teaching your son what it is to be a jew, you will have to figure out how to teach him about the death camps and the arbeit macht frei. it's a tricky duty.

    • just- the phrase "half Jew" is designed to provoke questions. (I don't use it to be provocative. I use it because it is part of my vocabulary and categorization tendencies.) I called peter a half jew to his face and he did not deny it. he had an "interesting" relationship to his father and so that contributed to a certain alienation from his jewish roots, but he warmly recalled his bubby (grandma) making him koogel.

      i grew up orthodox and these people are not considered jewish under the rules that i was brought up on. I met a half jew by the kotel back in 77 or 79, the wall, the wailing wall in occupied al quds, if you will, and his yearning for things jewish was quite apparent, but at the time i was still under the thrall of torah definitions and he wasn't jewish to me and that was that. i've met a son of a jewish man and a nonjewish woman who converted to judaism and became ultra orthodox. and to the orthodox someone half jewish is not jewish.

      i've met kids of a jewish woman whose father is not jewish and they really don't consider themselves jewish. would i call them half jews? i might. i'd call them half jews, but the right half and with peter i called him a half jew, but the wrong half. when his daughter heard me referring to her as a quarter jew she was quite offended. when i saw his daughter crossing herself when she passed a church i was taken aback.

      i'm sorry if the term half jew offends you. it's a term that i use, and until a half jew tells me how to rephrase myself in acceptable politically correct format i will use the phrase.

  • 'America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel' -- Allen Ginsberg
    • Why the beardless ugly photo of allen ginsberg on your front page looking like the joker and hard to identify as ginsberg? I read the letters between him and his father louis ginsberg, and my sensitivities particularly towards jewishness were far more similar to the father than to the famous son. i liked him getting teary in "no direction home" scorcese's documentary on dylan, when he talked about passing the torch, in reaction to "hard rain's gonna fall". I liked david cross's portrayal of him in "i'm not there". i like norman podhoretz recounting his relationship with ginsberg in "ex-friends". He's the most famous poet of my lifetime.

  • Israel should pay 1.4 million Palestinians to leave Gaza, Moshe Feiglin says
    • MHughes- Happy new year to you, too.

      The naturalness of Zion as the next home for the Jewish people fleeing from Eastern Europe is self evident given the traditions. Those who figured out logistics though had given us a heads up that there was going to be a crash with the indigenous.

      Yes, the “what if?” factor of Uganda is tantalizing in many ways. But despite the catastrophe that Zionism has been for the indigenous, it has created a state with a large Jewish population and with a Jewish calendar and a Jewish language. Of course if your interest is world peace or the rights of the indigenous these things don’t add up to much for you, but Uganda would not have been the same sort of accomplishment that a return to Zion created.

      The Biltmore program of 1942 is cited by Arendt as the crossing of the Rubicon vis a vis utter coercion vis a vis the indigenous.

      Again I appreciate the New Year’s wishes.

  • 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.

  • Children's lives in the balance (is one worth more than another?)
    • tree- It does not surprise me that you turn everything that I write into an issue. Good for you, grasshopper, I will teach you to be a good nitpicker yet. You are learning well, grasshopper.

      I will convene my editorial board and consider whether my original statement was true or false. Okay. Nof Ayalon is not in Israel. Most of Nof Ayalon is in Israel.

      The city in Israel where I have lived most of the time that I have spent in Israel has been Jerusalem. Large sections of Jerusalem are occupied territory. Must I leave Jerusalem because of these settlement activities? I assume the mechanics of Nof Ayalon are far different than the facts of Jerusalem. So when the founding fathers founded Nof Ayalon they might have had in mind expanding across the green line and people of good conscience might not wish to be associated with that, whereas the founding fathers of Jerusalem were in fact founding it in occupied territory and the western part of Jerusalem is in fact the latecomer to the deal, but I digress. Jerusalem exists as part of Israel as of the armistice of 1949 to include certain neighborhoods and not to include other neighborhoods and resolution 242 refers to specific territories as occupied territories and this is solely determined by the armistice lines drawn in 1949 and because Jerusalem is so special and the 67 lines are so special, even though they are two different kinds of special, then we understand living in Jerusalem despite the neighborhoods that cross the 67 lines, whereas the settlement of Nof Ayalon, which lacks Jerusalem's specialness, must not be lived in, even in the pre 67 lines, because it was established with the encroachment onto post 67 lands in mind, when it was established.

      If you consider people who live in Nof Ayalon settlers, no matter which part of the town they live in, just say so.

  • '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:
      CHIPS
      HAREM
      IRATE
      PETAL
      SMELL.

      So on that occasion I composed:
      GOD
      OUR
      DRY.

      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.

  • On the day two Palestinians are killed, 'NYT' reporter flashes snark
    • off topic i want to continue the line of thought from the rothkopf piece where comments are closed, but first, I am not a journalist, so I am not shocked by the lack of journalistic ethics, but rudoren is clearly not trying to make her mark for breakthrough journalism but rather appointed to be the arbiter of the cross complaints on Israel Palestine circa 2014. I don't think that now is the time for the times to get in front of the issue on their front page and I think she is a symptom of the times realizing that they cannot lead on this issue.

      donald pointed out that i should not focus on personalities that i react poorly to (bad english, huh?) but instead focus on the issues and find some personality that suits me among the vanguard and let those who are not guilty of atzmon like rhetoric, let them have their air time without comments from me.

      annie- you called my attacks on max b. ad hominem. i realize that this is a court of law in a way and therefore evidence needs to be offered, but let me sum up my impression of goliath- it is an impressive indictment of current day israel. It is written with exclamation points. Like an early teen girl, underlining and gushing with exclamation points. Why call something repression when you can call it: under the jackboot of repression. This is the journalism of exclamation points.

      i am adjusting to the new post john kerry reality that has been developing for the last 5 years under netanyahu. reading yeshaya leibowitz in goliath and watching battle of algiers a little less than 2 months ago gives me a new perspective on the issue when combined with the breakup of the kerry effort. I spend most of my time (face to face with real conversation time) with people who are to the right of me on I/P, who consider my ideas either disloyal or dangerous or both.

      Let me be frank, regarding Jews with Christmas trees whether they're Herzl or Phil Weiss, I think of them as cultural traitors that are signposts on the disappearance of an important sector of the Jewish people. Ah, to have lived 100 years ago on the lower east side with the people who birthed the Phil Weisses and wouldn't have ever given a first thought to the idea of bringing a Christmas tree into their house. They still spoke yiddish and if they scoffed at religion quite often they were quite knowledgeable and they weren't scoffing out of ignorance, but out of recognition. they were dreaming of new lives for themselves and dreaming of becoming full fledged yankee doodle dandies, filled with the energy of the ghetto unbound, but with the tune of the ghetto in their ears and hearts. but these 2014 sons and great grandsons of that ghetto and what's come since: let them sing silent night and boast about how they hate the pharisees in the jesus story and let them claim their jewish heritage as well, while scoffing at a talmud that they have never read in the original.

      but back to the point on hand. max b. and phil weiss are preaching to the choir and i am not of their choir. and you can call it ad hominem, but I admit my lack of empathy for them and their 2014 post judaism universalism. they are Jews who are working against zionism and pointing out its weakness. ( and it is weak and it seems headed towards a worse and worse condition.) so i focus on the aspect of personality and say about phil and max that they are jews of the universalist wing of the people. there were jewish universalists 100 years ago on the lower east side too and i love them too. but they had the tune of the ghetto in their heart and not silent night. and if that's ad hominem, it's also human politics.

  • New York Times assault on the BDS movement reinforces Israeli fears
    • tree- Your talent with words again impresses me (even when you are full of malarkey.)

      (outright malarkey:) If I say that Father Coughlin would be proud of you, (nothing you said here would make him proud, but in other comments on previous occasions there was indeed malarkey in your words that would have made him strut with pride), that isn't name calling, right?

      (diluted malarkey:) I think that a track record is important. And if the track record of the liberals of Egypt does not badly reflect on the future track record of liberals in Palestine, then certainly the track record of westerners who fell in love with the liberals of Tahrir Square certainly should be considered when those same westerners fall in love with the liberals of the future free Palestine. Those who utterly failed to reckon reality into their assessment of Tahrir Square should not be believed when they again toss reality to the side.

      If I have not made my preferences clear before, I side with Peter Beinart and not with Benjamin Netanyahu. This might not fit your requirements, as to what is an acceptable position, but at least don't use your broad brush to paint me as a Netanyahu supporter.

      There is a logical problem as to how to change the status quo if one recoils at the thought of joining forces with those like Omar Barghouti and Abunimah. If the net effect of my words is to protect Netanyahu and Bennett, then indeed I have not succeeded. In fact Naftali Bennett is a bigger threat to the Jewish people than Max Blumenthal, although my urge to vomit is greater in regards to Max and therefore my condemnations of Max roll off my tongue (typing fingers) much more easily than they do in condemning Bennett.

      There will be many rivers to cross and decades to endure before the Jews in Israel are condemned to minority status. Are you a prophet to know that the situation then will be a blessing to the Jews and their minority status?

      Yes, those who support the freedom of the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza and the refugee camps and the exiles have different priorities than I do. But the path from here to the future first and foremost must deal in honesty and truth. And presenting the words of Noura Erekat and treating them as gospel truth, as if not a drop of skepticism is required is certainly not truthful.

      I do not go back 100 years to condemn the Zionists, although there were things wished for and written by the Zionists before 1947 that deserve condemnation. I begin with the nakba and not really the beginning of the nakba, as in Plan Dalet, but in the aftermath of the nakba and the unwillingness of Israel to take the refugees back in.

      I know my musings won't suffice, but nonetheless here is my thought experiment. The day after the Israeli elections in 1949 (they weren't strictly speaking Knesset elections, but were supposedly elections to a constitutional convention, which never took place), Ben Gurion dies and Moshe Sharett takes his place. Then Sharett dreams that God (who resembles Ben Gurion in his voice and height) "commands" Sharett that he should take the refugees back into Israel and Sharett thus commanded must now present the new Knesset with this command. (Obviously the Jews of Israel would not agree and Sharett lacked the juice to force his opinion on the people and the thought experiment does not lead us out of the nakba and into the future.)

      Those who are thinking how to build a good free Palestine rather than a Hamas Palestine are great people in their hearts and I like to hear their thoughts if only to clarify where I think they are disregarding reality and if in fact there hearts are as pure as first glance. But those who write columns on web sites and accept those words without tempering them with reality are people who are dabbling in wishes and not facts. And those who write such columns and approve of such columns deserve scorn for dealing in fantasy.

  • Oppression by consensus in Israeli 'democracy'
    • Avigail- What you write is interesting and one sided. Your "extremist" attitude towards Israel reminds me of Atzmon, but I'll try to get specific, so that you'll understand where I'm coming from. As an American Jew born after the state of Israel was born the sins of the nakba only entered my knowledge with the 67 war and the Life magazine special on that war and a picture of Palestinians crossing the Allenby towards Jordan and a mention of refugees of 48. My nieces and nephews, children of Americans who made aliya, are experiencing an Israeli education, but I did not. I spent two and a half years in israel in yeshiva after high school at the time of the yom kippur war, in gush etzion.

      the furthest that i'm willing to go in imagining a right of return, an undoing of the nakba, is to imagine ben gurion dying the day after the elections of 49 and sharet dreaming of the "command" to invite the refugees back. This alternative history (which would have been quite messy) is really as close as I can get.

      The fact that they send my nieces and nephews to Auschwitz on their senior trip does not really please me and though I realize that the Shoah/Churban is inevitably going to be part of the consciousness of the people for a bit longer, this is really not where my head is at. My understanding of the Arab world and the Muslim world is pretty shallow, I admit, but how can Syria and Egypt encourage belief in democracy?

      Yes, I agree that the system in Israel is contused, but no, I don't agree that it's as simple as you present it.

  • '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?

  • Thug
    • Many people paid homage to Charles Lindbergh when he died, despite his racism. That doesn't make them racists, does it? It means they paid more attention to the early part of his career (flying solo across the Atlantic, suffering the kidnapping of a son) rather than the later part of his career (advocating defeatism in the face of the rising menace of Germany, giving the Des Moines speech with its threat against the Jews, speaking about the Asian race in racist terms.)

      Certainly Sharon's evil deeds were not the matter of mere words, but in fact the taking of lives and to ignore those parts of his career takes a certain apathy towards the blood that was spilled on his command. But in fact there were other aspects to his career- the crossing of the Suez Canal in '73 (myth or truth, may be beside the point to those paying homage) and the (partial) withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 that in fact deserve a degree of homage.

      There is another point. The wars fought since Sharon's death: both the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 and the war against Gaza in 2008-2009, can be attributed (not only to the militarism that Sharon was famous for, but also) to the military inexperience of people like Olmert. It is highly unlikely that the war on Lebanon would have taken the path it took had Sharon been Prime Minister at the time and even the war against Gaza would not have happened in the same form if Sharon had been Prime Minister. Thus Israel and those that support Israel miss the leadership that Sharon embodied, that his mere presence would have avoided and that his absence made "necessary".

      I think that many Jews in Israel and around the world are aware that Sharon had a "checkered" career and that he is a figure of controversy and that the path forward will have to involve a different attitude towards the Palestinians than the one that he expressed and evinced. I think those Jews are paying homage to Sharon not because they think he was an unmitigated hero, but because they view the future as uncertain and Israel's survival until now as an accomplishment that cannot be dismissed.

      (I also think that the figure of 95% of Jews world wide paying homage to Sharon is an exaggeration.)

  • Ariel Sharon, whose political career was unhindered by civilian massacres, dies at 85
    • Ariel Sharon's political career was definitely hindered by the Kahan Commission findings. He endured a long time out of power and it was only after Netanyahu had won and lost the prime minister's office that Sharon was able to rise in Likud and defeat Barak for that office.

      I appreciate that those who objected to the Sabra and Shatila massacres, and such objection is well placed, are offended that his career was not totally halted in its tracks by that indirect responsibility. But from 1983 (his resignation) until 2001, his career was sidetracked and put in the slow lane and this fits the definition of hindrance. (So the headline is false.)

      During the Yom Kippur War his crossing the canal is credited with turning the tide of that war (or at least with putting the Egyptians on the defensive and thus forcing the Soviet Union to threaten military involvement, thus forcing the involvement of a US alert in response.) I am not sufficiently versed to testify whether military historians credit his crossing of the canal as a turning point, but I do know that I had never heard of Sharon before the war and afterwards he was regarded as a hero.

      The withdrawal from Gaza was a bold move, no matter how it is interpreted. When it was announced many Israelis were skeptical. "The deeper the investigation, the deeper the withdrawal" was what people commented at the time. (He was in deep trouble for corruption until the withdrawal was announced and only after it was announced did those investigations abate.) I was not surprised by the withdrawal- whereas Shamir stated (I paraphrase) that he saw his role to hand things over exactly as he found them, Sharon was not someone who was going to sit in the prime minister's seat merely to warm it and be satisfied with handing it off to the next person in charge with the status quo unchanged. And this "bulldozer" move of his, making a U turn on his commitment to keep the settlements in Gaza, was his way of ensuring that the status quo was changed.

      I do not think that Israel should be alone in receiving the blame for ensuring that the Gaza withdrawal was a lonely step rather than a step towards peace. I am not sure what the world could have done and I am not blaming Hamas and PLO for not being perfect in adjusting to the new reality that Gaza faced the morning after the withdrawal, but certainly there was an opportunity created by Sharon's move and the response allowed Israeli citizens to feel: "We gave up the Gaza and all we got was the bombardment of Sderot." (This is not the complete truth, but the fecklessness of the Palestinian divided leadership, allowed this to be the take away from the withdrawal.)

  • 'J Street' is quick to pounce on NYT piece shrugging off end of Jewish state
    • 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? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Jerusalem

      "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.

  • Shared values?
    • Shmuel- I went to yeshiva with Hagi ben Artzi, back in the year of their lord 1973, and although he expresses himself in an extreme way (I myself do not care who's on the currency, as long as it ain't charles lindberg), I understand the impulse in opposition to intermarriage. Certainly if one believes in God and Torah like Hagi ben Artzi does, intermarriage is a catastrophe, in that belief in one God and Torah has diminished chance of growing in a house that has both a christmas tree and a menorah (although there are many Jewish homes without intermarriage that have a christmas tree just the same, see Wallace Shawn). When translating this religious impulse into nationalist Zionist terms, the religious is bound to sound racist, even though as most of the DNA experts here at Mondoweiss will tell you, Jews are not a race.

      Slowly as i have emerged from the shadows of my religious upbringing I have come to attempt to accept the inevitability of intermarriage, though i must tell you one fact. a good friend of mine, who has since died, was the son of a Jewish father and a nonJewish mother, and married a nonJew and I was very close with him and once I was on the bus with his daughter as the bus passed a church and she crossed herself, and though I was aware that she was raised Catholic, this obvious act of observance made me think: It would kill me to have a daughter or a granddaughter who would cross themselves.

  • If you were a Palestinian Israeli, and your polling place looked like this--
    • The United States has a separation of church and state written into its Constitution and thus its DNA. Thus it is the ideal on this issue and Israel is far from the ideal on this issue. But please, don't pretend that Israel is the only country that has a religious symbol on its flag. Google flags with crosses. Google flags with crescent and star. Many countries have religious icons on their flags.

  • Could the Israel lobby's unending battle to stop Hagel hurt the lobby?
    • Toivo s. - firstly, Dir Yassin was an atrocity and a massacre, but it was not an extermination. use whatever words you want, but cross from reporting to propaganda when you do so.

      i did not declare the death of the israel lobby. i assume hagel will be confirmed and the right wing of the lobby is flexing its muscles to keep obama on the straight and narrow. if you wish to describe this action/desire as reflecting the entire lobby flexing its muscles, then you are being accurate. my gut tells me that the lobby decided to let hagel through and to call it an unending battle implies the lobby wishes to win, which it does not. it wants to make obama sweat.

  • Israel and the nomination of Chuck Hagel
    • 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.

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

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

  • The blatancy of apartheid
    • Oleg- When I hear Israelis greeting each other with Ahlan I get a thrill. Partially, that my study of Arabic coincides with an Israeli trend and partially that Arabic has made inroads into Israeli culture. When Israelis use "yani" to mean "like" instead of "k'mo", I get a similar thrill.

      The future, which is by no means assured, contains the possibility of coexistence (friendship is a bit further past that horizon) and this implies the introduction of Israeli Jewish phrases into local Palestinian conversation and Palestinian phrases into Jewish conversation.

      Linguistic purity is not my cup of tea and in a globalized world where languages cross borders and immigrants arrive with hopes of a better life, linguistic mingling is a sign of accepting a path forward.

      Of course Brukhim Ha'ba'im (sorry no Hebrew on this computer) is perfectly fine, although maybe staid, like saying "how are you?" instead of "Whatz up?"

      Of course one must expect political comments here, so you and Shmuel can return to your yelling match now.

  • 3 stories without legs
    • 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.

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

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

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

      I can't resist some snide remarks.

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

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

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

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