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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 71 - 1

  • By wrecking Iran deal, Trump politicized Israel
    • I voted for Hillary who would have continued the treaty. This move is dangerous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Sex, lies and corruption: Israeli politics from Ben-Gurion to Netanyahu
    • Single-minded nationalism was Ben Gurion's guiding force. It was and is cruel to the competing nation. I do not consider it to be lacking in integrity. The ideal guiding force would create a system that does not involve cruelty. Was Lenin lacking in integrity because his system created the gulag? I don't think so. One must judge Lenin by the fruits of his system, but I think the concept of integrity is a separate issue.

  • Israeli publisher slams US ambassador for 'perpetuating apartheid' in West Bank
    • I am not sure where chuck Freilich stands on the issue of territorial compromise regarding the west bank, but there is little question that giving back the west bank would lead to extreme intra Jewish conflict. And regarding jerusalem, specifically the temple mount, aka Haram El sharif, the ceding of that spot to the Palestinians would be traumatic to large number of yehudim. Personally I favor ceding the temple mount, there cannot be a 2 state solution that can avoid such an outcome. A Palestinian state that allows Israeli soldiers to stand in the path of Muslims who wish to visit the Haram will never be accepted under foreseeable circumstances. But such a ceding would cause widespread turmoil, particularly for a peace that Israelis of all zionist gradations, and even nonzionist gradations would view as dangerous and far less than a sure thing. Giving up the temple mount would be a blow to many yehudim and would in all likelihood require unprecedented American pressure.

      A calm analysis of the Israeli voting public is important and given such an analysis, freilich's use of the term existential is close to the mark particularly in regards to the temple mount. Pessimism regarding a 2state solution is well placed, and partially because of the temple mount.

      How the US should handle the situation and how the assimilation of American Jews and their loss of vibrant Jewish identity play into this are separate questions. But using the term existential is accurate or certainly quite close to accurate in regards to the temple mount.

  • Democrats abandon the resist Trump movement when it comes to Jerusalem
    • The partition plan of 1947 declared that for 10 years Jerusalem would be a separate entity. At the end of which Jerusalem could choose its own fate. This 10 year period of separation was not meant to be permanent. This fact is misrepresented here.

  • The only certainty regarding Trump's Jerusalem declaration is that people will die
    • I choose to write my reaction to the statement by US president Donald Trump here, because currently my primary concern is regarding the violence which has followed the announcement. The wheel is still in spin, some have died, more may die and the immediate loss of life and fear of further loss expressed by Gurvitz in this post is uppermost on my mind.

      having said that, the fact of the world's refusal to recognize Israel's capital is in Jerusalem is both an insult and a reflection of historical reality. the insult is obvious: If a country has a capital, refusing to recognize it is an insult. The historical reality is both past, present and future oriented. Past: the Partition resolution of 1947 proposed a 10 year period of Jerusalem as a separate entity and that was based upon the realities of Jerusalem at the time. (I am still lacking knowledge of basic documents: Until a few days ago I thought that the international status of Jerusalem was meant to be a permanent feature of the partition, but in fact it was merely an interim prescription for 10 years. I haven't read the partition resolution until now and this fact was digested recently based upon a comment by one of the Zionists on Mondoweiss.) Present: Jerusalem is a city that is not united, as in: the vast majority of its Palestinian residents are powerless and deprived of Israeli citizenship and lacking political power such basics as infrastructure and education are sadly lacking in the Palestinian parts of town. Future: Though a two state solution seems as far away as ever, if that is to be the path, some modus operandi regarding Jerusalem being the capital of both Israel and Palestine will have to be found and though Trump's statement included some small recognition of the future, the statement offered almost nothing to the Palestinians.

      I am unsure of my following analogy, but I still offer it. If a man is a thousand miles away from his goal and he walks one mile in the wrong direction before discovering his mistake, the reaction should be mild. Oy vey, but not despair. Thus the Trump statement moves us further away from peace, but in fact we are far away and the added distance of a mile is really minor. The journey of a thousand and one miles also begins with a single step and Trump's step is in the wrong direction, but really the difference between how far away we were a week ago and how far away we are now is minor.

      I think that this is a boon to Palestinian propaganda insofar as Trump is vastly unpopular in the world and vastly unpopular with the Democratic party and major segments of the US population. Given that, Israel being associated with Trumpian pigheadedness is another blow against the cause of Zionism.

      My love for Jerusalem is partially based upon how I was raised and my beliefs of forty and fifty years ago when I still believed in the Torah and still looked askance at the need or possibility of reconciliation with the Palestinians. My love for Jerusalem is also based upon the joy I get when in Jerusalem of reading street signs in Arabic and hearing Arabic spoken. The Old City is the core of Jerusalem, without it, Jerusalem is minor and with it Jerusalem is great. Since my old self would be celebrating today and my new self feels the inequality and oppression involved in the occupation including the occupation of Jerusalem I am not of one mind on the issue.

      But I return to Gurvitz's worry about loss of life and thus based upon the immediate concern for safety of all humans in Jerusalem and indeed in the general vicinity, I am worried by the situation.

  • Israeli rightist Smotrich lays out the vision for apartheid
    • I am not herein trying to justify the harm done to the Palestinians. They were harmed and assert their refusal to accept that harm. It is only the Jewish urge to self protection that can justify measuring the harm done to to the Palestinians compared to the salvation (by circumstance) to the hundreds of thousands saved by zionism, and to choose self protection as worthwhile. This self protection was at the root of herzl and pinsker's political philosophies. It was not at the core of Ben gurion's efforts. He believed in the rebirth of the Jewish people. Defying assimilation, he asserted, the jews will assimilate or continue to decay in non-Jewish majority communities. Yes, jews in america can consider themselves part of the American state and other states open to immigration will be the states of the jews who live there ( which excludes most Jews alive in 1912 who resided in nonwelcoming states), but such a welcome will only lead to the disappearance of the jews, and such a disappearance (spiritual rather than physical) was not acceptable to Ben Gurion, he chose rejuvenation instead.

      The clash between this rejuvenation and damage done to the Palestinians was inevitable, and my attempt to posit the rejuvenation of the jews as something separate from the harm done to the Palestinians is logically weak, as in: positing cutting off a chicken's head without killing it. But I do not assert the validity of such a rejuvenation at the cost to the palestinians. I assert it as an independent good, as if its only harm was philosophical rather than oppressive to the palestinians. As such, I find the philosophical damage as acceptable. But given the damage to the Palestinians, the only justification was the saving of physical Jewish lives, which in fact it was. But I was trying to assert the validity of Jewish rejuvenation independent of its harm to the Palestinians, which was indeed not the way it took place as a historical event rather than as an idea.

  • Gideon Levy calls out Israel's fundamental, racist religion: Zionism
    • Righteous zionism is levy's phrase, not mine. To separate zionism from its historical context is to analyse some laboratory ideology in a white lab coat with available measuring tools. That's not the world I know. The yehudim did not arrive in falestin out of idle frivolity or sheer malice. In fact leaving europe is the prescription for survival that a time traveler might offer the average European jew in the time period 1881 to 1939. Once a migration of that magnitude turns into a historical tide of movement, even those who sit and think will think new thoughts and among those thoughts was bound to come: we must do for ourselves. We need an army and a state. This thought emerged from the tidal wave of emigration and that tidal wave in retrospect was an urge to survive and thrive.
      Zionism is not pure. But it came from a specific history.

  • Zionism is apartheid, and worse
    • Jonathan Ofir- I think condemnation of Zionism circa 1897, calling it racist, is anachronistic, applying 2017 standards to a different world. Of course there is the possibility of universalism, which was the emphasis of those who rejected all nationalism and all religions and all distinctions and maybe you are wedded to this idealism and as such anything that smacks of the other choices are rejected as primitive. Of course the Jewish nation circa 1897 is a bit different, for they in fact are not associated with a geographic territory (other than the ancient association which has led us into this vale of tears), but if one is rejected by mother russia and told that you are a separate nation, (not one of us), when in fact you speak a different language and live in separate neighborhoods and need special passes to be able to travel in the country at large, (thus the Pale was their geographic territory), then in fact you happen to have many of the attributes of a nation.

      The inclination towards assimilation was understandable and inexorable, except that it was interrupted by a major cataclysm that embodied the national aspect of the Jews, by an ideology which saw the Jews through a racial prism, and the murderers were aided in this murder campaign in many countries by collaborators of different sorts, who executed a plan that fulfilled their image of the Jew as a separate nation.

      To come along in 2017 and call the 1897 impulse towards preservation of a lifestyle and identity as racism, is valid, only in terms of trying to create a path forward in 2017. But if your interests extend towards an understanding of the sociology of zionism in minsk and pinsk, and basel, circa 1897, you are failing, obscuring the truth with your terminology, rather than enlightening the history that brought us to this point.

  • Sorry, American Jews, you don't have a birthright
    • rosross- The exclusion of the Jews from Russian society could indeed be alleviated by baptism, although my knowledge of the frequency of such baptism in the realm of the czars is pretty blank.
      I've heard you at least ten times asserting that religion and nation have nothing to do with each other. But in Russia, or to be more precise, in the realm of the czars, the Jews spoke a different language and were considered a people apart by most of their neighbors and by most of themselves. The religion itself speaks in terms of nation, and certainly the tradition of a separate society for centuries creates something beyond a commonalty of belief, it creates a community. Combine this with a language and a myth of nationhood, if you insist, then you have certainly almost enough ingredients to make a nation.

      it is wrong to consider the holocaust the epitome of the european jewish experience, but since it was its climax, it cannot be ignored and though one does not wish to hitch one's wagon on hitler's ideology, in the end, beliefs counted for naught or for little and jews were killed for their race. how does that jive with your denial of their nationhood? when they were being killed in what language did they write "revenge!" in which european language? no. Nekama.

      now 70 years later, both the revenge and the european jewish community are a faint echo compared to what they were in 1945 and yes, also in 1948. the predominant jewish community outside of israel (USA) speaks no distinct language (13% or so speak yiddish or hebrew or ladino) and their rise to the top of the American "meritocracy" has made Jewishness to be as American as apple pie (not quite, but certainly compared to the european experience it is quite different). i don't know how things are going in britain with its own tensions between muslims and more traditional english populations, so you can enlighten us, but certainly america 2017 raises questions about jews as a separate nation in a way that 1905 Minsk did not raise such questions. that jew in minsk was considered a foreign element by the ruling elite, was considered a separate entity by the peasant population, spoke a different language and lived a separate existence. (and even when the soviet union replaced the rule of the czars, "jew' was written in the soviet identity card, the only such designation that did not have a territory of its own and in fact the soviets tried to create a territory for the jews, in recognition of their separate status. so the realm of the czars even after it was gone continued to act in the fashion of separations.) so your statements reflect maybe some text book definitions, but not the history of the realm of the czars from catherine the great to gorbachev.

  • New York rabbi links Jewish Voice for Peace to Osama bin Laden and Assad
    • Magh- my Jewish hero (dead hero) these days is yeshayahu leibowitz. It took someone as cerebral intellectual devoid of sentimentality like him to stand up against all the Zionist rabbis and to assert the danger and folly and evil of the occupation. I don't think all of his rhetoric was useful, but iconoclasts are not usually moderate in their tone and they seldom fit the preferences the peanut gallery might seek to impose.
      Ben Gurion handed off to eshkol but in reality handed off to the generals. The rabbis and the rich successes led Europe's jews and the intellectuals placed a poor third. Zionism changed the politics, but it automatically led to the empowerment of the generals. The Zionist rabbis did not measure up to the challenge but yeshayahu leibowitz did.
      ( the haredi are separate, opposed to zionism in principle but anti intellectual and thus anti leftist peace. This is the masses. The truly antizionist I think are less than 20%. Maybe less than 10%.)

  • Passover has become little more than an act of communal hypocrisy
    • Roha- despite your tone, you raise some interesting issues.
      I think you are confusing pursuit of the ideal with the world we inhabit. The perspective of society at large towards smaller groups/ separate societies that have coexisted in proximity but with distance, is a phenomenon with historical precedent plus historical cause and effect. It is good to posit a society with full participation. It is relevant to notice that other trends exist in humanity in history in fact.

      Is the hermit immoral? Are the Amish immoral? Are the Maori immoral?

    • Roha- my education has been paltry and maybe I don't know your definition of morality. Where I come from there's "Do unto others as you'd have done unto you." Maintaining a separate society does not inherently offend anyone if laws are obeyed.

      Mooser- in fact politically the separatism implied in some religious Jewish practice will end up causing friction. This is an important political consideration. I do not consider it a moral consideration.

      Regarding my quote regarding rebellion against judaism as a form of antisemitism, I will not parse my words, but will react to the topic anew. Many jews go through phases of rejecting the religion of their parents in seeking autonomy and a separate identity. In many societies maintaining Jewish identity is a struggle for jews that requires some degree of stubbornness and when one casts off the holidays that will result in discontinuity. The attempt or wish to see some continuity to the Jewish enterprise can be seen as pro Jewish and apathy or animus towards that continuity can be seen as anti Jewish. Each jew when he/she chooses a path of conformity with tradition or instead chooses apathy towards tradition is choosing a direction. Human choices cannot be depicted purely by a set of vectors, but sometimes it simplifies matters to do so.

      There are many ways to express jewishness and so a vector that eats bacon and bread on the seder night may coincide with a personality that relishes studying and teaching torah or that combines a search for justice with a love of certain verses from amos, jeremiah and isaiah, and so there is a continuity lying beneath that contradicts the bacon and bread of the seder night. Nonetheless, the content of the frame of the shot of munching on that sandwich rather than matzo seemingly presents a vector opposed to Jewish continuity.

  • The emergence of the Just Jew
    • Keith's comment dismisses antisemitism asserting that since Rothschilds are rich antisemitism cannot exist. This is ridiculous.

      Roha's statement: "all the fault of the gentiles of course", is far less ridiculous. Yet offering a sentence of eight words and to feel that this suffices is superficial and dismissive of the topic rather than an attempt at analysis.

      Certainly roha's defense of citizen's recent ball point pen comment on anne frank gave me the specific context for viewing his comment. Giving citizen the benefit of the doubt in what to me was an obvious hit and run places roha deep in a pile of feces. We can discuss this if you wish .

      I agree that the topic of jew versus gentile in practice and rhetoric in the post religious phase of European history needs a book like lindenmann's " tears of esau" to lend some gravitas to the discussion . The friction between jews and gentiles in czarist russia needs to take into account a few facts, including the fact that unlike central europe which was attempting to move out of its religious past into a secular future, the czar was resisting modernization's dictates regarding religious tolerance. Further one must account for the fact that until Catherine the Great annexed poland and other nonrussian territories, there were almost no jews under russia's domain and the czars were shocked appalled and unprepared for the very idea of jews as their citizens or subjects.

      A throw away line whose meaning can vary from, judaism- contains -anti- gentile- sentiments ( which is accurate) but also sounds a teensy bit like, the-jews- only -got- what- they- deserved, might have deserved the benefit of the doubt, if only it had contained a reference to some scholarly work like lindenmann's, but as a throw away line it can be judged in the context of roha's general attitude- protecting ball point pen comments as acceptable skepticism, as rejecting any rights that Europeans jews had regarding maintaining cultural autonomy when power changed hands. (Polish oppression of jews in 1920's and 30's is accepted by roha as copacetic, despite the existence of jews as a separate entity on their territory when the Polish independence was declared. Respecting the culture of the indigenous only applies to cases not involving jews and shifting European sovereignty.)

      Roha opposes all small nationalities and languages and thus his attitude that the Jewish culture should be crushed is of a piece with his equanimity in accepting the crushing of other small nations and languages. Maybe that gives consistency to his position, but ultimately opposing the jews because they stand in the way of roha's concept of progress is still being against the jews no matter the overriding opposition to all small nations. Add in his defense of ball point pen comments, I think a throw away line regarding jew vs gentile in eastern europe can be fairly judged in the context of roha's consistent opposition to the jews.

  • New poll shows sharp partisan divide on UN settlements resolution, and between Jews and African-Americans
    • There are 2 separate issues: a Palestinian state on the west bank and settlements on the west bank. . I think the two issues overlap in many Jewish minds. I think retaining military occupation of the west bank, from a purely military point of view is safer than having a Palestinian state there. The settlers present themselves as being the obstacle to a dangerous military situation: the Palestinians control the mountain Ridge overlooking the narrow coast.

      Of course there is no such thing as purely militarily, the Palestinians are political beings, humans, with needs and demands that are festering wounds. The occupation is as corrupting as yeshayahu leibowitz asserted. His conclusion: the occupation is more dangerous or indeed toxic, than a Palestinian state.

      The lame duck out of the door, flipping of the bird on the way out, might not bother your average person of color democrat, but it certainly made an impression on Jews. Norm finkelstein's impression is widespread and not a cause for much Jewish cheer in the mainstream.

  • 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:

      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.

  • ADL is leading 'witch hunt' against Keith Ellison over Israel comments, J Street exec says
    • It is difficult to separate the two issues, but aside from israel palestine, there is the issue of liberal vs centrist.
      In 1960, the centrist third Eisenhower term nixon lost narrowly to jfk. The Republican party reacted in 64 by nominating a hardcore conservative, goldwater. He lost in a landslide, but 16 years later reagan took the white house as a goldwater republican.
      Is the Democratic party headed the same way, reacting to the narrow defeat of centrist 3rd term for obama that is hillary by veering to the left. Hillary's narrow victory over sanders in the primary, which was enabled only by the black vote, further pushes the tendency toward hard core liberal reaction to the hillary defeat. The centrists of the Democratic party appear dull and listless like Tim kaine, or over the hill like Joe Biden whereas liz warren, Keith Ellison and sanders, seem energetic. So the leftward trend rejecting the quarter century legacy of the Clinton's is strong.
      But, but, but...
      There are many levels of government in the US and the presidency is only one. The concentration of hillary voters in chicago, new York and california, is a weakness, with the federal system of states power. The number of democrats in state legislatures is at an all time low and while the revolution of strong coffee, rather than diluted by milk coffee seems attractive to purists, the clever reaction might indicate au contraire that the center is desirable in order to win elections.

  • Why was the Clinton campaign obsessed with fighting BDS?
    • Keith Ellison vs israel lobby. Schumer's ascendancy to the highest legislative office ever achieved by an American jew was accompanied by his endorsement of ellison. Schumer in the trenches would be fighting ellison, but schumer, minority leader, moves out of the way, tells israel supporters to fight ellison on their own.
      I would think that the party activists should control the dnc and it's healthy for the Democrats to reject the coming trump anti muslim measures with an american Muslim face. So the elevation of ellison is good for activating the grass roots. I think the center abandoned by the republicans is the place to be. That is: the presidential candidate need not be to the left of Elizabeth warren, even though the party needs the enthusiasm of the young whipper snappers, it's important for the Democratic party to go in the direction of Joe Biden and not bernie sanders. A polarized electorate is unstable and if/since the republicans have moved ever rightward, victory needs the ability to talk to the center. To win back the voters who went for obama, but then switched to trump.
      The smart way to defeat ellison is to insist that it is a full time job, which it is.
      The majority of hillary voters and of the Democratic party is still pro israel. The activist wing is not. But there are other issues which separate the majority of the anti trump voters from the more radical ideas of democratic activists.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg is Jewish
    • Well, so bryan of semi anonymity has come to protect the honor of Phil Weiss.
      You cite the c of e, but if you were armenian, rwandan, or even Cambodian you would be talking more to the point. There is the immigrant aspect as well, a tradition of survival and continuity, as a group separate, minority ethnic group, self segregating, and then came napoleon and declared freedom from identities other than the state or the conqueror and the winds of change hit the Jewish population of the Russian empire. Russia, the slumbering bear, staggering to and fro, til today, was led by backward Romanovs who had no inkling of the utility of the jews and their words and middlemanship, to an economy. It would be interesting to end the story there with the winds of change and the myopic romanovs. Unfortunately, a saga on one trajectory which involved massive emigration and the Soviet dictatorship in the name of the proletariat, was interrupted by a little kerfuffle that was a major shock comparable to Armenians and rwandans.
      Religion is important too, and modernity and revealed religion do not really mesh all that well. There was a massive loss of faith, but the faith was irrelevant to the Rwandan experience. (I like the wordplay fate vs faith.)
      On this Web site the Jewish "return"to zion against the will of the Palestinians is the primary issue and questions of Jewish identity are commonly raised by our host, Phil Weiss.
      I was watching margaret cho the other day and I realized the different strands of race, immigration, tradition, free will, really are an interesting combination that I shared with her and her fans.
      I consider Phil's post of April 2015 to be a shocking document. It is exhibit one.
      Phil was raised different than the way I was raised. He was raised by atheist secular jews with a heavy dose of "I had 6 children, for the six million". He hated the Jewish religion and resented the ethnic solidarity of the jews when he encountered opposition to his marriage to a nonjew. I was raised by modern orthodox jews who believed in God and three times a day prayers facing jerusalem, and also, the idf is the answer to hitler .

  • The politics of Jewish ethnocentrism
    • Annie robbins- in fact the concepts "destruction of the jews" and "disappearance of the jews" are considered twin ideas by the superficial people who call the assimilation of the jews (through intermarriage) a silent holocaust, which I consider a superficial and facile and morally questionable equation.

      All humans should be concerned re: the physical destruction of the jews. (There are some here who will react: they only got what they deserved, or alternately: If only they would have moved back to brooklyn poland and Germany, back where they came from, they could have avoided this physical destruction.) But for the most part even here in mw's coment section advocacy of or apathy towards the physical destruction of the jews is rejected.

      The question of the survival of the cultures and languages of the jews is an entirely different question and I can appreciate that uninvolved bystanders might feel apathetic: the world is changing and so it goes, if Jewish cultures cannot survive the onslaught or challenges of modernity:so be it. Survival of the fittest (in terms of culture and not in terms of physical destruction) should be the rule. (Of course those who long for the disappearance of small cultures and small languages are in a separate category of rooting against all non utilitarian cultures, and I find their attitude suspicious and amoral, but that's a separate category. I am referring to the apathetic rather than the antipathetic.)

      In fact the survival of the Jewish cultures is a difficult task. Given human nature, an open society of free association and secularism, modernity and the Christmas season, without effort, the Jewish cultures will slowly or quickly disappear. And I do not expect someone with no stake in the matter to shed many tears over this disappearance. Only if someone claims to care about the jews and in the next breath to express this apathy, only that person do I consider to be full of it.

  • Media accusations of blood libels -- against Abbas and Sanders -- amplify a Jewish tribal fantasy
    • So we are not on the same page:
      MrT believes that tragedy is a worthy measure. I do not. I think trauma can be measured, but not tragedy. I feel tragedy is useless when trying to determine the evil of an act. I think the term trauma can help us assess, but i find the term tragedy to be unscientific.
      Annie-you raise some relevant points. My reaction:
      Wars are organized murder for national goals. Some national goals are deemed worthy by some and not others. The dropping of bombs on London civilians for the purpose of world domination, combines a particularly odious combination of means and ends. In fact nazis viewed the brits as potential racial allies so there was no intrinsic "otherness" ideation, whereas colonialist versus indigenous where the phrase demographic problem dominates does involve a dehumanization based on otherness. So I hear the point.
      On a different point. I think the genocide functions of international courts in our time testifies to the seriousness with which the world reacted to the genocides of world War two. I find the story of Rwanda dramatic and maybe for emotional reasons I find it to be a separate category from the London blitz, but genocide is a specially heinous category in my conception.

    • Let's assess what we have hopefully established: the tragedy is irrelevant to assessing the evil of a crime. A driver kills five from one family, a shooter kills one, the death of the five is the bigger tragedy, despite the fact that the evil of the shooter is worse. ( This is to answer the rhetoric "they're both dead, aren't they " and the assessment based on the word "tragedy".)

      Next question: are the killings in Rwanda a greater sin than the London bombings by nazis in WWII? I believe they are and now I have heard from one Mr t, that they are not, based again on the tragedy assessment. I thought we had eliminated that assessment as logically weak. But now I have denigrated the dead in london, which is logically preposterous. So let me recap my logical moral assessment:The nazis wished for the brits to surrender. The means they were using were wrong, but the basic goal was valid as a war goal. Genocide has a goal of wiping out a nation which is primarily a post military goal. The territory had been won. The opposition's army has been defeated, and now either for reasons of extermination philosophy or the danger of an uprising or a fear of a post war political turnabout populations are hacked to death. No, this is a separate category of evil. My understanding is that genocide legally is considered a separate category by international courts of law. Is this assumption false?

    • On the word jews versus the word yehudim versus the word yidden, on the topic of national language.
      I use the word "jew", but it contains nothing of its origin. Its origin is yehuda son of leah (and Jacob) and its root word is the same as "todah", modern hebrew for thanks and omitting this "d" from the word jew, makes it in gantsen (totally) foreign and divorced from its root word, and thus the insufficiency of this translation is apparent.

      (In the movie clockwork orange, when droogie Alex reads the bible in prison, he loves it for its Battle scenes and he refers to the jews as yahoodis and that's better than jews.)

      The loss of Yiddish by the American Jewish masses is a tragedy and a symptom of dissolving and disappearing. Although a language is not a sufficient raison d'etre in my estimation it does add something to Jewish identity. Those dedicated to the disappearance of the jews might see things differently.

      Unlike biological organisms which are well defined, social organisms are fluid. They can slowly dissolve, as membership dues get too high and new groups or atomized individuality takes over. When the jews were treated as an entity (rhymes with enmity) separate from russia, by the czars and oppressed from above and controlled by the rabbis below, the existence of a distinct group was apparent and clear. When millions moved to America where citizenship was earned and granted and the rabbis became artifacts of a fading past, the dynamic for dissolution was set in motion.
      Used to be that jew meant he who observes the Judaic faith, and the first two texts for any semi literate jew were the five books of moses and the prayer book, both written in hebrew. The masses in eastern Europe needed translation into yiddish to understand these two basic texts, but the malice and mendacity of jew haters is quite apparent when they denigrate hebrew without acknowledging its centrality to these two basic texts.

  • Jewish leaders' excommunication of Sanders aide over Israel will only alienate young Jews -- Open Hillel
    • European history from 1897 to 1945 established Herzl as a prophet.

      Israeli history from 1948 to 2016 establishes Judah Magnes as a prophet.

      At this point in time there is a scant population that is tribal (strong Jewish identity) but anti or non Zionist. Tribal as in Simone Zimmerman, but not Phil Weiss. Simone Zimmerman who takes photos of young Jews with payess (sidecurls) and calls them sweet little yids, words that one could never imagine being used by Phil Weiss.

      Zionism at this point in time is in very deep moral trouble and Magnes saw that from the start. It is very difficult to separate a strong Jewish identity from Zionism, though Simone Zimmerman is an example of someone attempting that separation.

      (One cannot expect such a person to be appointed as coordinator of Jewish outreach without there being a reaction from those who support Israel's existence and disagree with Ms. Zimmerman's opinions or language.)

      Phil Weiss has no problem separating a strong Jewish identity from Zionism, because his hatred for Zionism measures 100 on a scale of 100, whereas his Jewish identity is in the single digits closer to 1 than to 10.

      Read Irving Howe and see how his generation disdained their Jewish roots. This is the core intellectual leftist position that existed before WWII and continued through the 60's and til today. The breakdown of Jewish identity has very little to do with Zionism's problems, unless one would say that neither American Jews nor Zionism is true to their Jewish roots.

  • Israel demands correction from Sanders: it killed only 532 Palestinian children in summer 2014
    • On topic: the acceptance of the status quo re: gaza, since sharon left the scene, with its periodic killing of thousands, is certainly a sign of the do-nothing phase embodied by Netanyahu and not a topic that should be so easy to gloss over by Michael oren and other apologists. Gaza has always been a vulnerability in Israel's self image: the inundation of refugees in 48 never solved, allowed to fester for quite some time. I would get gershon Baskin (he negotiated the gilad shalit prisoner exchange) to negotiate a separate modus operandi with gaza. (Baskin opposes such a separate peace because it would promote hamas violence rather than fatah.), but I am so impatient with the status quo, that I would try to tackle that problem immediately.

  • Zionism is not really secular
    • Keith- your economic view of politics is blinding you to political and religious realities. Because jews as an a economic class were as a rule better off than peasants the fact that the big cities were off limits to them deserves to be categorized as a minor inconvenience that deserves to be swept under the rug? Okay I get it. You think mother Russia sucked and rural backwardness and slavery which lasted til 1861 and the class role of the peasant is the primary historical fact of pre modern Russia and the political fact of the sudden inclusion of a large Jewish population for the first time with the conquest of Poland really does not measure up as one of the historic horror stories of the last two centuries, whereas the backwardness of Russia as embodied by the peasantry eventually became the true headline. But in fact the collapse of Russia included its inability to deal with various ethnic national clashes and one of those clashes was the clash with the Jews and the assertion that jews had limited rights and were not accepted as full Russians and not allowed to live in moscow, st. Petersburg and Kiev and your "oh, they did okay economically" somehow is supposed to make us blind to the real problem that was created by the inability of Russia to offer assimilation to its jews. This problem led to the great migration of jews to the US beginning in 1881, it contributed to the eventual downfall of the czar and the chaos of the bolshies and to the birth of zionism. But your bottom line is- what were these jews whining about? Because they had to convert to enter Russian society? Because they were not allowed into the big cities? Because they were considered separate and unequal. They ate better than the peasants, why are those jews always complaining?

      Maybe the word submission is not essential, but history is history no matter that the whining of those jews bugs you, but in fact whine they did and came by the millions to America and weakened the czar and became the primary audience for herzl and zionism. This population felt suffocated and asserted itself in various fashions and your strict "here is what they earned and it's better than the peasants" thus has to blame their rebellion against that suffocation as something artificial and in fact it was very real and if submission is too freighted a term, how about suffocation, or maybe it was just overdramatization.

  • Why I support a one state solution and still consider myself a Zionist
    • rosross- I take it that you agree with theo regarding ex post facto changing of the law. do you wish to take away the writer's citizenship as we speak, or merely to change the law from this time forward?

      i made no assertions whatsoever regarding the validity of the dual citizenship that seems to be the root of the problem here. so rosross- i must assume that you are making assumptions based upon reading my opinion elsewhere.

      some jews consider being jewish something other than "religious". this goes from the relatively innocent ethnic identification of someone like nora ephron (z'l) who in "heartburn" talks continually and comedically about Jewish identity with nary a religious element mentioned. to the issue at hand the zionism of jabotinsky. so do you feel that jabotinsky should have told the jews of poland. hey, dudes, stop being religious and it will solve your problems? you think that would solve the past.

      since 45 with most jews located in the lands of the west: england, US, australia and france, and only a minority in eastern europe. (leaving aside those who live in Israel). the assimilation of the Jews into the populations has proceeded entirely differently than the lack of assimilation or the "we're into nationalism and you are jews and do not fit into our nationalism" which dominated middle Europe and eastern europe between the 1873 economic depression in germany until the end of world war II. it is possible that the jews were one time a nation and no longer are a nation. it is also possible that the jews between 1873 and 1945 were a nation largely against their will and the present tense of most young jews in america demonstrates that the national identity problem of the jews between 1873 and 1945 was a coerced situation and not one of free will and self identity. but you are being anachronistic to apply today's facts to a century ago and if your facts only apply to today and not to a century ago i would consider that you need a few more paragraphs to your spiel to make yourself sound historically astute rather than dogmatic.

      the right of the Jews to a land is a different question and not what I am asserting. but in fact by self assertion or the rule of the peoples of the lands of Europe, the Jews were very much considered "a separate nation" that posed a question or a problem, just a hundred years ago and your blanket statements are really some construct of some Marxism or some theory of history or another and are not backed up by the facts of the period that I have mentioned.

  • Israeli ambassador flings Nazi label at Israeli leaders, after latest authoritarian step
    • First- You will not get all Jews to agree on a definition of what being a Jew is. You will not get all Jews to agree on anything, but certainly not on a self definition.

      Second- You can go to the spanish inquisition and you will find that there was a racial element to the persecution of conversos after the exile of 1492.

      Third- Certainly the insistence by certain European nationalists from the latter part of the 19th century until the middle of the 20th century and their assertion that the Jews were part of a separate nation, has to be considered. (Does Russia still list nationality on its identity cards? When the USSR was in existence, the USSR listed Jew as a nationality.)

      Fourth- Yeshaya Leibowitz in a debate I saw on youtube, posed the question, "Maybe it's possible for a nation to stop being a nation." The right wing woman who argued with him demanded to know what were the consequences of his question and he asserted that sometimes a question is just a question. 140 years ago with the preponderance of Ashkenazi Jews speaking Yiddish, being treated by the Czar with special laws that would be deemed racial or ethnic or tribal, was certainly a different situation than the Jews outside of Israel today who hardly share any language and whose attachment to the rituals are certainly weaker than they were 140 years ago. Just like a nation can be a recent creation: (examples: US, Canada) a people can cease to be a nation as well. That is one of the differences between Jews of the diaspora and the Jews of Israel, the Jews of Israel share a language and a destiny (or less melodramatically a dire situation), whereas the Jews of the diaspora do not share a language and (for simplicity sake) do not share a destiny.

      Five: The primary Jewish ethnic experience in America was the immigrant experience which for most American Jews was in its prime time about a hundred years ago. (1880 to 1920). Any study of the American Jews of that period would include a survey of their religious experiences, but would not limit themselves to that aspect of their acculturation to their new homeland. Those who assert that Judaism and Jewishness are one and the same would have a tough time adjusting to the sociological surveys for the first seventy years of the last century. As we move further away from that primary American Jewish experience, the commonalty of American Jews dwindles into a discussion of delicatessen foods and nostalgia. But just witness the rejection that Philip Roth receives for his book about Lindbergh by Phil Weiss and the rejection of him by most of those who comment about him in this comment section. This hatred that he conjures which has really zilch to do with Zionism is further testimony of the hatred for the secular Jew that one finds in this comments section. Roth is over 80 and of the past and maybe the hatred he conjures here is also of the past.

  • In the 'NYT,' fear of Trump's police state
    • MHughes- Assimilating to American values (as embodied in the constitution and MLK rather than in the 2015-2016 campaign of Donald Trump or the September 1941 Des Moines speech of Charles Lindbergh) is a good thing. The term assimilated Jew usually refers to Jews who have tossed their Jewish identity into the dumpster (sounds a little messier than the ash heap of history). When someone Jewish writes: I came from a very assimilated family, it usually means they celebrated Christmas and not Passover and they certainly never stepped into a synagogue or learned to study Hebrew or Yiddish. There are certainly values that are much higher than the observance of Jewish ritual or the preservation of traditions or languages: democracy and equality and freedom are a few of those. Yet if one is careful (or choosy) one can assimilate the good values of America or modernism and still observe the Jewish laws with sufficient care to have the best of both worlds. There certainly is a richness involved in being culturally aware and educated in a tradition that has existed for thousands of years.

      (Let me raise a different point: Is there value in rejecting Christmas? As in: being outside of the circle of celebration during this festive season. Certainly being in opposition might train one to oppose the crowds and learn to be separate. Whether one can accomplish that without succumbing to a self concept of "chosenness" is a different question. But this is but one example of the type of rejection of assimilation to which I am referring.)

  • The way for Americans to take on the Islamic state is to end support for Jewish nationalism
    • Israel's dependence on American power and protection as a counterbalance to its enmity with its neighbors sums up Israel's essential strategic flaw.

      I don't think the vision of chosen-ness is really central to the problem. Admittedly, there is a religious aspect given to the Holocaust through the vision of the state of Israel as an act of redemption after the abyss of the gas chambers. But the practical human reaction to something like the debacle in Europe is neglected. Those who separate themselves from their Jewish identity, can compartmentalize the Holocaust, as Otto Frank did to his daughter's words: turn the tragedy into a human experience, of course is good, but to deny its specificity is to deny the facts and the raw mechanics. Those who do not separate themselves from their Jewish identities are left with a great gaping wound from what happened over 70 years ago. Many attempt or have attempted to cover up this wound with loyalty and devotion to the establishment of Israel. The new Jew to make up for the old murdered Jew.

      It's complicated enough and interesting enough without the issue of chosen-ness and to emphasize the issue of chosen-ness and to neglect the human side of the post Shoah experience shows Phil Weiss's bias against those who value their Jewish identity in a different way than his universalistic philosophy is able or willing to recognize as human.

  • Park Slope Food Coop censors letters on BDS
    • I visited the store a couple times as the guest of a member of the co-op. It is rare for a co-op to print a newsletter and because of the heat produced by the BDS issue I can see that this is a thorny issue for those who wish to keep the issues of food and politics separate. Park Slope is centrally located and not far from predominantly Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhoods. (It's not in Seattle, it's in Brooklyn!)

  • 'Why I am a Zionist'
    • Some comments regarding the 1960's as it relates to American Jews, blacks and Israel. Among American Jews support for Israel was different than it is today: more widespread. Someone on one of the threads quoted Howard Zinn which prompted me to read quotes of his regarding Zionism. He was never really a Zionist but his consciousness of the damage done to the Palestinians seriously lagged behind his consciousness on other issues in 1967 and I suspect that there was greater support for Israel, more genuine support rather than trained and habitual support than there is today among American Jews for Israel. Although the issues of Shoah and Jewish statehood are two separate issues, I think the two issues particularly in 1967 were very intertwined in many American Jewish minds and even if the fears of Nasser were exaggerated, I don't think many American Jews considered him a reasonable man and even if Israeli military actions in November 66 and April of 67 can give us perspective on the causes of the crisis of 67, very few were aware of those causes and instead focused on Nasser and the drumbeat towards war initiated by the Arabs in May of 67 and thus the overwhelming support for Israel among American Jews before that war was quite genuine and should not be underestimated.

      The enmity of black radicals towards the Jews in the civil rights movements can be studied in the person of Kwame Toure, (slave name Stokely Carmichael). The Black Power movement and the scorn thrust in the direction of white participants in the movement cannot be ignored when trying to understand where MLK's stance was coming from and the type of rhetoric in the movement at the time. The anti Zionist rhetoric of the Soviet Union was parroted by the likes of H Rap Brown and was contiguous if not continuous with the anti Jewish rhetoric of the Northern urban riots that hit the Jewish businesses in the ghettos with arson and ruin. It was in that context that King was rejecting the anti Zionist rhetoric used by the radical part of the movement.

  • Pope Francis, American churches, and Palestinian rights
    • Chu- The anti Judaism of statements like this is blatant. (First a textual rather than a historic fact: To consider Jesus as preaching anti tribalism because of one remark regarding a good Samaritan is ignorance: Jesus came to the Jews and for the Jews and it was only Paul who changed the message.)

      But aside from the ignorance, let me be clear: aligning antiZionism with anti Judaism as Chu does here is a way of telling the Jews, keep your swords handy, because these haters of Israel are haters of Jews and Judaism. If chu wants war, many Jews will opt for atheism and give up the ghost, but many others will fight him tooth and nail and Zionism will last longer. Separate anti Zionism from such Anti Judaism, or else condemn the Palestinians to an extra dose of suffering. You think you strengthen your cause by aligning anti Zionism with anti Judaism. I strongly disagree.

  • Israel could reduce anti-Semitic violence by not calling itself the Jewish state, Finkelstein says
    • Shmuel- It always adds to have more information and your input regarding those who marched in support of Palestinians who suffered violence is useful knowledge. But the topic discussed by Norman Finkelstein was the question of the violence suffered by the Jewish community.

      In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings (or in the latter phases of the killing before the killers were apprehended) a kosher market was attacked and four Jews were killed there. These were not people who were demonstrating their political preferences (something that should be assured by the police in a society that believes in free speech) but they were killed because they were Jews. In Jeffrey Goldberg's article re: should jews leave europe, he includes the fact that he was hanging out (interviewing) Alain Finkielkraut at the time that the news of the killings (or the hostage taking) had occurred at the kosher market and Finkielkraut commented, "But of course". But of course at the time of murdering cartoonists for their anti Islamic cartoons, but of course, some supporters of that frame of mind would jump on the bandwagon to express their alienation from society by going into a kosher store and shooting up some Jews.

      This is the frame of mind on one side of Finkielkraut on one side and Finkelstein on the other side.

      I don't take Finkelstein's comments seriously on this issue. Israel is not going to announce tomorrow that it is not a Jewish state. In fact, its policies of immigration are explicitly oriented towards its Jewish status and is Finkelstein expressing a desire to see Israel change its immigration policies? Of course not. He is merely speaking his mind and not proposing anything that anyone is really going to consider.

      Most Jews support Israel at least to the extent of rejecting BDS. Are they all worthy targets? Certainly it would be useful for those Jews (in Europe, it's not really an issue in the states yet) who oppose BDS to wear a "Not in my name" symbol, so if they ever go into a kosher market or take their kids to a Jewish school or attend a Jewish temple, the murderers will know to avoid killing them. but of course I jest. it is not serious. the murderers are out to kill Jews and if they kill a BDS Jew, it won't bother them so much.

      yes, it would be ideal to separate between Jew haters and haters of Zionism. But there is no practical means of doing so at this time.

    • hey Shmuel. i'd wish you a happy yom hashoah, but some would take it the wrong way.

      i think the dynamics of france are decidedly different than the dynamics in Italy. I don't have the figures for accurate demographics right off, but i'm quite sure that france's problem of assimilating a large north african muslim population dwarfs the issue in italy. as far as violence, there's been more violence in the u.s. with the attack on the jewish community center in kansas two years ago than there's been in italy. (true paris is probably closer to rome than kansas is to brooklyn.)

      jews in the diaspora in the main are going to be supporters of Israel no matter naftali bennett and avigdor lieberman etc. if one cannot separate antizionism from attacks on Jews in Europe then we cannot expect the change to come from policy statement by Israel or by the mainstream jewish organizations. there might be some ideal that can envision a different world in this respect, but it won't take place anytime soon under current conditions.

  • Netanyahu flips off Harry Truman
    • Shooting a Jew (outside of Israel) because you know he is a Jew and because you assume that as a Jew he supports Israel, is murder and I'm not a lawyer in order to tell you that it is a hate crime, because I'm not sure why there should be two separate laws regarding murder, one for hate crimes and one for just regular murder, but certainly as a Jew when someone kills a Jew as a Jew I take particular offense.

      To call support for Israel a Jewish cause has a certain accuracy to the statement, because most Jewish organizations support Israel, but I would override that accuracy and say that it is accurate because if you ask American Jews, "do you support Israel's right to exist?" most would say yes, and so support for Israel is a Jewish cause because of that predictable response to a pollster's question.

      Now that I have described some reactions to the general topic I will parse JeffB's statement:
      There is nothing anti-Semitic with blaming Jews for stuff that Jews institutionally support. ... Not holding the Jews responsible for Jewish policy on the excuse that “well some Jews didn’t agree” is denying them agency.

      Blame is a loaded word. I would think that some type of cause and effect to achieve change would be the first step. Name not blame. Name and figure out a strategy.

      But if you're in the blame game, I think the fact is that regarding Israel's existence it is safe to blame the Jews in America, because they support Israel's existence. So if one says, "Fuck the Jews, they support Israel," there is some truth to the statement. Still I would take offense and try to convince you that aside from getting your jollies blaming the Jews, what is your next step for fixing what you wish to fix.

      I think that attacking the Jews in America for this summer's attack on Gaza is a bit much, for there really is no micro management of Israel's policy being exerted by America's Jews. The conduct of the war is not something as basic as Israel's existence. So even if Aipac and Jewish institutions support it, those institutions are not representative of a majority of American Jews and thus to blame American Jews for the conduct of the war I think would be wrong. I think American Jews are tied in a basic way to Israel's existence, by which I mean 48, but regarding 67 most American Jews do not support the settlers, so therefore institutions are not the better part of the story.

      If I am not clear, I will try to be: I don't think institutions are the key, I think polling is the key and most Jews would answer you in a poll that they support Israel's right to exist and inferring from this that America's Jews support Israel is accurate. But Jewish institutions in themselves are insufficient to say, see the institutions support Israel, therefore we can blame the Jews. America's Jews in their masses have not been key to America's support for Israel, but enough of America's Jews with money have put their money where their mouths are and backed candidates that supported Israel. The mechanics of the support for Israel from the US is based more upon the donations of 5% of Jews rather than on the support when questioned in polls of 51% of Jews. Nonetheless, since 51% (or more) of Jews support Israel's right to exist, one can "blame" (if you find blaming useful as a basis for your next step of action) American Jews.

  • Liberal Zionist arguments against one state are born of moral or political weakness
    • "They project a crimson light on history until 1945". Really Ahmed Moor, do they really need to project a crimson light? You do not discern that light, but only see the crimson a result of a projection?
      Gimme a break.

      Yes, we are in 2015.

      And you apparently separate the Palestinian struggle from the Arab world. The Arab world is in turmoil and that is a kind word. (There are many causes for this turmoil, but few solutions.) Of course you are here to attack liberal Zionists and including the sad state of affairs in the Arab world does not help your argument, therefore the primary argument of the nonliberal Zionists is simply omitted. Liberal zionists are engaged in two losing battles under current circumstances: losing against Netanyahu (nonliberal Zionists) and losing against the world opposition towards the occupation of 67.

      Which brings us back to 48. Yes, it needs to be mentioned and remembered again and again. but my upshot comes to the following: 67 years later you can only scoff at Jews who want an army in Israel and scoff at Jewish history. You can only offer an analogy to South Africa which seems like some paper written by academician and nothing to do with reality in Israel.

      Scoffing is the first step towards dialogue? I don't think so.

  • Three Muslim-Americans murdered in North Carolina by gunman (Updated)
    • Though Annie Robbins has not commented here yet, I am reminded of these "touching" words that she wrote to me days ago

      try not to take it so personally.

      what if i wrote to you now try not to take it so personally.

      Of course she gave a context for her "touching" words:

      jews fear of racism against them doesn’t have any more value than a black person or a muslim being scared of people hating them … just because they scream about it more and the press keeps writing about it and it has it’s own separate label. bigots are everywhere, you’re no different than anyone else in that regard.

  • Muslims are Nazis, 'USA Today' jokes
    • The level of death aimed by Israel towards Gaza since its withdrawal in 2005 has been demoralizing. Israel seems not to know what it's doing and seems to be set on a "violence is the only way" path. Because the roots of Gaza's abnormal status are intimately connected to 1948 even Israel's center-left is not able to break away from its pattern of wishing gaza to disappear. the killing of journalists in gaza should be seen in that context. The fact that gaza is controlled by Hamas and also that gaza is legally connected to the West Bank and will not/cannot make a separate peace with Israel are factors as well. But i would not have fought the war against gaza and i think israel's policy on gaza needs a major rethink, which it will not get from bibi. (herzog is grasping at straws.) yes, i am opposed to killing journalists in gaza.

  • 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.

  • Yes, Virginia, there is a liberal Zionist
    • Roha- quote: it's disrespectful to him to lumber him with that name. lumber, not a part of my vocabulary, is that a neutral phrase or a negative phrase. if hate is too strong a word to describe the use of the term lumber, please provide a word of your own.

      Spinoza was sociologically and biologically a Jew until the day that he died. There is no way to separate the man from his upbringing. and he was an outstanding individual who through god's grace or pure chance had the brain independence and will to suffer excommunication and prevail far advanced from his humble beginnings.

  • Yad Vashem
    • The move to self emancipate that I was referring to, did not include a specific location for that independent state. It may be impossible to separate the strands of history, but in fact when trying to understand the dynamics of history it is useful to treat the aims or urges as they exist in their simplest form. The dead ended nature of the Jewish presence in Czarist Russia was clear to most people and took three different moves towards resolution: emigration, revolution or self emancipation. the smallest group was in fact those who were serious about self emancipation. and I admit that the eventual location for that self emancipated state led to a place that was already "taken" and involved overabundant dependence on bayonets and on world power bayonets. but the urge towards self emancipation in itself is noble.

  • Video: Routine exchange on a bus reveals racism embedded within Jewish Israeli society
    • Walid- There is inspection when one enters a bus station. I do not object to that. That the bus driver would be in charge of the security of his bus is not different than the inspection that exists at the entrance to a bus station.

      I want there to be a law that satisfies the urge of the public for security and minimizes the invasion of privacy involved to a bare minimum, without allowing every tom, dick and harry to demand; let me look through your purse.

      mooser- drivers experienced the 2nd intifada and to equate the looking into purses with separate seating is taking analogies to the cartoon level. Wile E. Coyote style rhetoric. Rhetoric for kindergarten and two digit I.Q.'s.

  • B'Tselem video: Israeli soldiers blindfold and detain 11 year old disabled child
    • a few quick remarks- the name of the yeshiva I attended from 72 to 74 was Yeshivat Har Etzion located in Alon Shevut.

      Currently most of my nephews and nieces live in 67 Israel. I have one haredi niece who lives in a town that is partly in the west bank. i think a newlywed nephew of mine and his wife might be living in the west bank. i am pleased that most of my nephews and nieces do not live in occupied territory.

      I'm sorry if my nomenclature regarding using the term Gazans rather than Palestinians does not meet with the approval of all the commentators. So it goes. Add a few more exclamation marks and then we shall know that the TRUTH!!!!! is on your side.

      Unlike most commentators here I consider my views a work in progress, particularly since it has been less than 2 months since the end of the war. (sorry if my use of the word "war" does not meet the truth patrol here, either.) It is a weird situation supporting a war i opposed, meaning supporting the rights of those who supported the war not be called racists and to consider them rational if not possessing a plan for the future. they would object to my plan for the future as well and all I can say is that holding the west bank rather than handing it to Hamas makes sense, but holding the west bank and settling people there without giving the residents citizenship and a vote is a stupid policy, because i was raised on robert kennedy and because the western world cannot tolerate such a bifurcation beyond the year 2060. (this year was added to get the goat of he who wishes his goat to be gotten).

      as regards the original occupation of the west bank: the 6 day war was caused by events. part of those events were the fault of israel, part of those events were the fault of the soviet union, part of those events were the fault of nasser. once king hussein signed up as an ally to nasser, war was inevitable. ideations about the malleability of history aside, there are dynamics involved in calling up reserves and creating a crisis that led to the war as surely as gravity leads an apple to fall off a tree and knock a scientist in the head. once the war was fought, the west bank was bound to be occupied. i think between 67 and 73 israel could have reached a separate agreement with king hussein and i regret that they didn't and the settlement movement and the euphoria of a reunited Jerusalem and the emotions of the right wing and the religious Modern Orthodox and the general euphoria of the worldwide Jewish community in the aftermath of 67 ensured that that peace with Hussein was never reached and that is something that I regret.

  • 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.

  • Goldberg tries to police view that Israel's actions fuel anti-Semitism
    • eljay- I read an essay by leslie fiedler recently which showed me evidence of deep thinking regarding antisemitism by someone who was an assimilationist. He spoke in depth on the issue. he did not use it to justify anything. but he was a thinker and he thought deep thoughts. Mondoweiss on the issue of antisemitism has shown no evidence of depth. jump into this side of the pool here and you'll end up paralyzed like Krauthammer.

      No, I was making no comment on the issue as it relates to zionism. it certainly plays a role in the mind of jews who read the news from around the world. and depth rather than shallowness is something to be commended.

      the interplay of jew hatred (my preferred alternative to the tricky word antisemitism) and the conflict between indigenous and colonialists (with ancient ties) is a very complex one and is misused constantly and abused frequently. attempting to separate all the threads and wires of the issue would require a book that i am not capable of writing. but certainly it is a deep issue and the shallowness here is discouraging.

  • I quit my job at the Jewish Community Center over a pro-Israel rally and they called me an anti-semite
    • The idea that Ashkenazi Jews have no place in Israel, whereas a Mizrahi Jew does have a place in Israel is progress over the idea that no Jew (Ashkenazi or Mizrahi) has a place in Israel, but is still retrograde. The Jewish connection to Israel goes beyond race and ethnicity and is part of the Jewish religion. To oppose Zionism is one thing, to oppose the connection of Ashkenazi Jews to Israel is an entirely separate thing. And Charlie Stern does not differentiate between the two ideas.

  • ‘Lone soldiers’ and young ideologues from around the world contribute to Israeli war crimes
    • Separate idea: The fact that a certain percentage of young Jews find direction and purpose in pursuing the idea of moving to Israel is not surprising to me. First of all the percentage is low. Although I don't know the thinking that really attracts these kids, I do know that the phenomenon of young American Jews visiting Israel and experiencing a new feeling about one's Jewishness is not that uncommon.

      My friend Larry, z'l, who was a PEP if there ever was one, visited Israel when he was in his mid 30's and it did not change his life, but he really liked it and a few years later when i met him the thing that impressed him most (or that he repeated with the most exuberance about his experience there) was that the garbageman wore a yarmulka. In other words the idea of Jews inhabiting all rungs of society rather than the specific niche that Larry was familiar with on Long Island was appealing to him.

      Unfortunately the initiation into Israelihood for Israelis and for American male olim is the army. That is the nature of the development of the history of Israel. But unlike the jihadis, the primary act here is not that of fighting but that of adopting a new homeland.

      When I was young and the war was the Yom Kippur war, serving in that war protecting the land was/is something noble. when the war is against the Palestinian people rather than against sovereign armies attacking on a holy day, it seems less noble. But one does not choose one's birth year. Although I root for an Israeli consciousness raising that results in sufficient sensitivity to the Palestinians to help peace's evolution and creation and arrival, at this point in time, that is distant and unlike the Yom Kippur war and the 6 day war, the wars of today are against populations primarily or against militias embedded in populations and thus the wars that the Israeli army is fighting are particularly brutal in nature. But Israelihood is something that attracts some young Jews and initiation into Israeli society is achieved through service in the army.

  • Naomi Wolf walked out of synagogue when they had nothing to say about Gaza massacre
    • I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…I don’t mean Israelis, a separate issue…about the genocide now in Gaza.

      Your card of faith does not mean much to you. Follow Marc Ellis. Does he turn in his card of faith? Nope. So why does Naomi Wolf? the rhetoric of Marc ellis does not fit her, so she gives up her card of faith. Rhetoric. Naomi, shvester, find another way. The rebels take to the hills and leave their homes. Go find a cave, but don't turn in your card of faith.

  • The heart of the problem with Israel: The mass expulsion of the Palestinian people
    • The next step is an Israeli government that would negotiate its borders with Gaza and the West Bank with the PLO. This government will not be that one.

      The other next step is the PLO and Hamas conceding defeat to the occupation, stopping to claim the west bank and gaza as a separate entity and encouraging the annexation of these areas to Israel and full citizenship for all the people living there.

      The refugee issue will follow either one of these two steps, but certainly not come before either one. Getting one's mind right on the issue of the refugees, I can buy the importance of that. But the sequence of events will require one of my two alternatives to precede the refugee issue.

  • Children's lives in the balance (is one worth more than another?)
    • seafoid- Might I suggest statistics beginning on the day that Arafat died in November 2004. The second intifadeh was more or less over at that point and I think for historical clarity one should separate between the second intifada and the period afterwards.

  • For wearing veil, woman is ordered off Jerusalem light rail and frisked
    • I am offended by ultra orthodox women covering their faces.

      Let me repeat: the law is the law. Abuse of the law by policemen is a separate issue, but the point here is that I am being honest in my reaction to the veil. My language is outlandish perhaps at times, but in fact it evokes a strong reaction and I used the language not as absolute fact but as subjective human reaction. I understand that societies change and reactions to covered faces, could very well be a reaction to watching so much cowboy tv as a kid and covering your face was clearly an unfriendly act in that context. I drove a cab in nyc and picked up hundreds of thousands of humans. Not one covered their face. That is the basic unit of human contact that I recognize on a personal basis. I am the human that was created by cowboy tv and driving a cab in nyc and that is my human reaction to the veil.

  • 'NYT' publishes unvarnished ADL propaganda: 93% of Palestinians are anti-Semites
    • I think hatred of Yehudim is a relevant issue today, but the issues of Jew and Zionism are so mixed together that it becomes impossible to discuss one without the other. A phenomenon that erupted in such a violent fashion did not die overnight and to pretend that it did is to say that human beings are somehow different than physical phenomenon, that some kind of revolution of thought occurred, when there is no evidence of that. But the ADL's questions are not designed to try to separate the issues but to blend them as much as possible.

  • Now that Israel has killed the two-state solution, will liberal Zionists support equality or ethnocracy?
    • As long as Fatah and Hamas are still in the 2 state game and UN resolution 242 is still in the game, there is a 2 state game, but I agree it will not lead to a resolution. Israel will annex the West Bank and give citizenship to all residents. Gaza will not be part of Israel, but will be a separate state. I'd give this 36 years or so. I know you're expecting it in 6 years, but 36 years is closer to how this will take place.

  • Kerry's cowardly apology on 'apartheid' is giant blunder for Israel's propagandists
    • Here's a quote from the post: "one group of people has full political rights right alongside 4-5 million people of a different ethnicity who have no rights at all," I would say that it is accurate to say that the residents of the West Bank have no rights at all. (Jerusalem's Palestinian population has some more rights than their West Bank brethren, but let us not quibble for the moment and include them in those that have no rights at all.) Gaza's Palestinian population is in a separate category. Their territory is under siege and the deprivations of such a siege are of a separate category as well. But such a deprivation might qualify as having no rights at all, so I will not quibble regarding the Gazan Palestinians. Do those add up to 4 to 5 million? The numbers that I have add those up to 3 and a half million Palestinians. How do we arrive at 4 to 5 million. It would seem that James North and Phil Weiss are including Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. Though there are different laws that mark Israel as dealing with its citizens differently based upon ethnicity and certainly different treatment by the police, is it accurate to say that they have no rights at all? This is a lie, or an exaggeration, or propaganda. Choose one.

      But then again your math regarding the population of the West Bank and Gaza might be different and you might not be referring to Palestinian Israelis at all. Let me know.

  • When the going gets tough, Roger Cohen gets going
    • Hostage- I can see where legally Gaza and the West Bank are one unit. But Gaza is not occupied the same way that the West Bank is occupied. And the provable consequences to Joe Israeli are not as apparent regarding the occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza. I am reflecting a reality of the mindset of Joe Israeli that may or may not have an effect on the eventual outcome, but since I argue half the time with people to the right of me, I try to make my arguments the same on both sides and to them I would say, "Annex the West bank, Gaza is a separate issue!" and that's why I say it here. There's no knowing what the world politics will evolve to over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years and the evolution could make Joe Israeli's opinion irrelevant. but it is relevant to my arguments with Joe Israeli and thus I offer my opinions here.

  • A Jew who visited Palestine responds to 'NYT' assertion that Palestinians want to kill all Jews
    • The letter to the NYTimes was really off kilter and irrelevant to the issues that separate Israel and the Palestinians from the possibility of an agreement. The emphasis of Mondoweiss on this issue seems a bit off kilter (1/29th as off kilter as the published letter, but still off kilter). The testimony of Ted Auerbach is irrelevant. I'm sure (23/29ths sure) that he was not staying with Hamas Palestinians. That is the demographic of the Palestinian people that might harbor attitudes formed by the Hadith that I referred to yesterday. (BTW- I would negotiate with Hamas, despite the awful rhetoric that has existed in the past and that I assume (21/29ths) still exists in the present.) The overwhelming politics of Hamas these days is desperation due to the overthrow of Morsi by the military junta in Egypt and they have more important things to worry about rather than the expression of murderous rhetoric. But the Hadith exists and it is murderous in nature.

      And this whole line of questioning, although not up to the off kilterness of the original NYTimes letter, is still off kilter.

  • Ehud Olmert's JNF-sponsored tour nixed after corruption conviction
    • The existence of a border with Egypt is not insignificant and should not be denied and makes the comparison with Warsaw ghetto specious.

      If Hamas had been willing to declare the West Bank a separate cause, then the independent country of Gaza could make peace with Israel and its situation would be radically different than what it is. I accept that Hamas "cannot" declare the West Bank a separate cause and cannot declare Gaza a country at peace with Israel.

      (The Zionist dictum was one dunam, one cow, one day. As such, had Gaza become Jewish sovereign territory in say 1937, the Zionists would have done more with it than Hamas has done, because Hamas's dictum is sumud, patient struggle, an entirely different dynamic than one dunam, one cow, one day.)

  • Review of recent 'NYT' corrections raises doubts about paper's commitment to getting the facts right in Israel/Palestine
    • talknic- There was an assertion that the Arab nations did not attack Israel (as in partition 47 Israel) and it was a false assertion. The validity of the targets, as in valid war targets rather than war crime targets, is an entire separate point, which I did not address, but now you have clarified that point. Thank you..

  • Evangelicals who dissent from Christian Zionism wear 'stain of indelible infamy,' Israel says
    • Belief that Jesus or any other human being is a member of the godhead or divine is not accepted by mainstream Judaism. And such a belief is not consonant with being Jewish, except to pollsters from Pew and racial haters like Hitler and post Expulsion Spain.

      The belief that Jesus was the messiah, does not of necessity disqualify a person from being Jewish. Certainly while he was alive such a belief did not disqualify his followers of that time from being considered Jewish, any more than Rabbi Akiva's belief that Bar kochba was the Messiah disqualified him from being Jewish. Upon Jesus's death, his nomination for Messiah was rescinded. This is glib, but essentially this: belief that the Messiah has come and died without fulfilling the basic requirements of messiah- rebuilding the temple as the most glaring expectation for Messianic fulfillment, this belief now enters a questionable phase. Thus to believe that the Lubavitcher Rabbi was Messiah while he was still alive was an acceptable belief. Belief that he is Messiah today, despite the fact that he is dead and buried is in a different category. (Jesus rising from the dead and ascending to heaven might be seen as a way around this change of category, but as they say: Not. This belief in a body dead Messiah is in a separate category from belief of him as Messiah when he walked the planet.)

      (To accept Shabtai Zevi as messiah was widespread while he lived and even after he had converted such a belief had a thin reed, but nonetheless a reed, to stand upon. Those who believed he was Messiah after he died, well they were "beyond the pale".)

      And although history should not necessarily lead to changes of what beliefs regarding the messiah are acceptable to Jewish law, the rancor and murder of vast numbers of jews who refused to accept jesus as god or messiah is certainly an obstacle to the idea that belief in his messiah=hood is consonant with Judaism. Hundreds of thousands chose death rather than accepting him as Messiah because they viewed such an acceptance as antithetical to their Judaism. Those dead jews stand (or lie) in the way that the belief in his messiah-hood is an acceptable jewish belief. (Could be that they chose death over denying their faith in the oneness of God, but they did not choose death over denying the possibility of the messianic identity of jesus. But in fact those who offered them the choice of death or convert were not interested in such fine distinctions. )

  • 'Haaretz' says many Orthodox are taught to see non-Jews as 'not quite human'
    • Woody- What an easy job to rid the world of racism, one singular goal, unattached to any tradition, history or reality other than destroying everything that smacks of racism. An easy job you have. I am attached to the Jewish past, the Jewish present and the Jewish future, aside from my attachment to the human past, the human present and the human future. As such I cannot afford to carelessly destroy all racism, but must instead understand it,in order i hope to create and not merely destroy.

      For you the disappearance of Judaism and Jewishness would be a blessing, for they contain vestiges of racism and as long as there is no need to kill or persecute individuals but merely to assert your desire for their disappearance, your job is done. But I choose to attempt to separate the different strands that have created the current state of Jewish thinking including the thinking that I wish I could undo (supremacism) with the wave of a wand and including the thinking (survival) that I value and do not wish to undo.

  • Preaching to the choir: reflections on Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • tree- And if any American is open to the facts of September of 1941, they would consider Lindbergh a goat and not a hero. A work of literature by Roth is worse than a threat that "the Jews will be the first to feel the consequences"? You're cracked. Stereotyping and threats are in two separate categories.

  • Liberal Zionism ends with a pinch
    • irishmoses- You raise some valid points, but I reject some of your assertions.

      1. I reject the assertion that the Zionist project was dying on the vine in 1930. Yes, compared to the thriving movement that Zionism was turned into by 1037 by the Haavara agreement and the influx of Jews from Germany, the Zionist project was weak in 1930, but... The preWWI Jewish population of Palestine was 85,000 and the 1929 Jewish population was 170,000, double the number. Quite small compared to the migration to America which was hovering near the 4 million mark by 1929, still double is not quite withering on the vine.

      2. Regarding the siege of Jerusalem- I did not mention this in order to justify the nakba, the exiling of the Palestinians, I cited it in order to bring us back to the reality that the partition plan's borders were not designed for a war situation. The exiling of the Palestinians during the early part of the war, was a smart tactic for a war situation. The decision to not allow the refugees of the war to return is in a separate category, a political decision of questionable morality that most Zionists back because they cannot imagine a peaceful situation that allows for the return of the refugees neither today nor in 1949. I spoke to that decision and called it a decision of Ben Gurion Zionism rather than Weizmann Zionism. The facts of the nakba speak for themselves: 1. Israel was established and it is difficult to imagine its situation had it allowed the return of the refugees. But 2. The sin of the nakba was not the original exiling which was reasonable in a war situation, but the refusal to allow the refugees' return when the war was over. (The exile from Lydda and the exiles that occurred after July 48 were in a separate category because whereas the earlier exiling of the Palestinians could have been temporary, if the will of Ben Gurion had been in that direction, but the exiling of later in the war, was distinctly accomplished with nothing temporary about it.) Thus the conduct of the war for the most part makes sense, but the conduct vis a vis the refugees was not limited to the war period but was extended afterwards and that is the questionable act rather than the war itself.

    • 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.

  • What if your friend had to die to preserve a Jewish state?
    • Phil, you write, "I don’t deny the presence of the Holocaust, but I emphasize the reality of genocide as a historical human condition that all peoples must deal with."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Jewish philanthropies stay away from org dedicated to Yiddish culture because it doesn't focus on Israel or the Holocaust
    • Religion is too important to be left to the pious or the rabbis, but Yiddishkayt believes that enough organizations cover the religion aspect of Jewishness and therefore they will focus on culture. Fair enough. But statements regarding religious pluralism two thousand years ago are barely relevant, Yiddishkayt, I assume, will be focusing on the last 150 years of Yiddish speaking Jewry, (1795, Czarist russia wipes the word Poland off the map, to 1945) where culture was religious and then the culture contained its opposite: anti religion. Pluralism is really not relevant to this part of the Jewish epoch unless one defines pluralism differently than this. There was great turmoil and intellectual effort devoted to conceive a Jewishness separate from religion. It was a movement. It was doomed to failure, some say. But in any case it was fated for liquidation.

  • So you’re thinking of Birthright: A primer by students who went on birthright for those still considering the trip
    • Keith- I used the examples of Hitler and the Soviet Union- because those are 2 examples when groups (Hitler stands for a group in this context) delineated Jews as belonging to a nationality other than theirs and the attitude of the excluding other is relevant. The Nazis persecuted gays, but they did not call them a nationality. They called the Jews a nation apart. This does not mean that they were right, just that sometimes, one figures out who one is by what other people call you. Herzl realized he wasn't a german when he attempted to join a German fraternity and he was informed: You're not a German, you're a Jew. Today one can be a German and a Jew at the same time, but in the 1880's and 1890's and in the 1930's and the 1940's they were seen by many of the ruling elite as separate nationalities. This does not mean that this is something static, permanent, essential or tells us the whole story. But it is a beginning point to discover why someone might think that their Jewishness is not just a matter of beliefs, but has something to do with ethnicity as well.

      Young adults who go on birthright might be curious as to what the Jewish people are doing these days. Unfortunately part of what the Jews as a people are doing these days is oppressing Palestinians. This is not good. But to answer this by saying: Jew is a religion and any other attempt to understand what Jew is must be backed up by some sort of homogeneity, is just wrong.

      There is a Jewish language: and that is called Hebrew. There were two semi Jewish languages that developed over the millennia- Yiddish and Ladino. But there is only one country where the Jewish language- Hebrew, is the language on the radio, television and the street signs. This is not to assert that Arabic should be erased from the radio, television or street signs. But a young person from a Jewish background, might have heard of this language called Hebrew, they might have used it in religious ceremonies and to see it in use in secular ways, might tell them something about what the Jews are doing these days.

    • Keith- This web site has become unpredictable in terms of its timing of printing responses. The topic of Jewish identity is not one that should be discussed with every other response delayed by a day or more. The gist of my response to the students from Tufts is that the question is much deeper than a one line: Israel is a state and Judaism is a religion. This is glib, and is useful for sound bites and for headlines and not for thinking.

      Similarly your usage of my words against me are useful in gaining points in a debate.

      I think identity as in national or ethnic identity, is a fluid identity and is not static. I think in 1945 in Europe, for someone to call himself a Jew was by no means a statement of religion and by every means a statement vis a vis how they were just treated in the previous 4 or 5 or 12 years, and it would be very useful to use the term Jew and have no reference to religion and only refer to "nationality".

      The Soviet Union, to my knowledge, only put the identity nationality on two groups of people, those who had a soviet republic that "belonged" to their nationality- as in Ukranians, who had a separate "republic" that belonged to them and on Jewish identity cards, though the Jews had no republic that belonged to them. Any assertion that the Jews did well in the Soviet Union, should include the fact: despite the fact that the Soviet Union went so far as to mark their identity cards with the fact that they were Jews, despite the fact that they had no republic.

  • Leading progressive magazine gives Palestinian solidarity the Swastika stamp
    • Shmuel- Paranoid- When Weiss holds hands with Mearsheimer who blurbs for Atzmon, some people see the enemy. Is this paranoia?

      Not enough time to read Jacobson's speeches. Give me one quote for the paranoia shines like a beacon.

      Hating lefties is not conservative, not to a satirist. Mamet- reactionary. Jacobson- unproven.

      The last two weeks have seen an old speech of Saul Bellow dealing with both his Jewish identity and Zionism, in the New York Review of Books. Have you seen them (one speech split into two separate articles). Dealing with Bellow's comments would be fighting the war of ideas.

  • Dying of schmaltz
    • Slater states, "While some of the Palestinian prisoners were truly terrorists seeking the unjust cause of the destruction of Israel, surely many others were essentially soldiers in a just cause, national liberation and the creation of an independent state in a small part of Palestine. On the other hand, Shalit was a soldier of a nation whose real cause (continuing the de facto occupation of the Palestinians and Jewish expansion into what remains of their territory) is unjust.

      While inclined to agree that an Israel that has not defined its borders regarding the West Bank in particular there is a large element of expansionism involved in the IDF's "real cause", I think Slater gives too wide a berth to those who would capture Israeli soldiers. Were the Israeli soldiers who were killed on the border with Lebanon in 2006- Regev and Goldwasser also involved in an unjust cause?

      And while Israel's violation of the border of Gaza is manifest, Israel's "relationship" to Gaza is in a separate category from the West Bank expansionism. On the West Bank Israel is truly taking land whereas regarding Gaza it is a different dynamic with no claims on the land.

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