Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 51 (since 2010-06-15 06:59:29)

anti-zionist Jewish activist and scholar, Israeli American Canadian social justice advocate

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  • In my last year of university, the First Intifada undermined my Jewish identity
    • Robert! Not Roger... Sorry for the typo... Still an actual fan though...

    • Roger, I always enjoy your essays. This one too. I had a similar experience.

      My father and mother went to Israel soon after 1967 (from New York) to be a part of the Israeli 'miracle' and described it as being much like their hippie friends who went to India, except they went to Israel instead. They had latent and naive nationalism, but were mainly hippies looking for a good time and good drugs, and adventure. Israel and its privileges opened up to them an interesting option which they took. They lived on a kibbutz in Golan, and saw their PTSD'd friends from the kibbutz loot and shoot across the armistice lines, but understood it to be an almost charming by-product of war. They moved to Tel Aviv and started one of the first US-type fast food joints, selling hamburgers with formica seating, decades before McD's arrived in kosherville.

      I was born there a few years later, and when I came back to live in Israel, after growing up in North America as a teenager, filled with liberal US Jewish ideology, I met my father's old Palestinian friend in East Jerusalem, a sort of God Father whose own children were my age, 16. I started college and the Intifada started later that same year, and my Palestinian nephew of sorts was arrested for throwing stones, which he had in fact not been doing, and was tortured in detention without charges or a lawyer until he had a heart attack. He survived to tell his story, and was released after the heart attack because of how extreme the torture and its effects had been. This was just one of many shocking, profoundly rupturing moments from my own thinking, my own cultural bias, and from which I had no choice but to adopt a critical and pretty quickly an anti-zionist perspective, based on the facts, the readings, and the analysis. Its been a long time coming that a site like MW can cultivate and nurture such knowledge with the urgency it has always deserved...

  • Rightwing campaign against Jewish exec who called for exposing Nakba seems likely to fail
    • This article is depressing and terrifying, even if this liberal progressive scholar (Myers) may have a partial victory in this instance, and I hope he does. The general discussion thread is also terrifying and depressing, as it shows that the mere discussion of anti-zionism elicits such repression that even a discussion at Mondoweiss is a pain in the ass fending off the zio-bots, despite the tireless efforts of Annie and Mooser and others. I come to MW because its one of the only cites where anti-zionism can be discussed and studied and named, where such a community might be brought into existence. I waited for it for decades. Being antizionist has been a lonely place for many decades, especially in the west, as shown by Edward Said throughout his whole career. It pains me that MW can't even host a rational discussion of a basic article, without a disturbing "discussion" thread amplifying the point of the damn original essay,

      I am thankful that Phil quoted Oppenheimer in the question: what if Myers WAS antizionist, would he not also merit a job and a place in our community? Its terrifying that as of this moment, the answer is essentially no. Either be as liberal and vague as Myers or you are not likely to get defended by almost anyone other than MW and co., in this current climate. For some of us, this is not a matter of politics and expedience, but one of identity.

      Not to be an antizionist Jewish Israeli or Jewish American or Jewish Canadian, or some combo of the above, would be to not exist as oneself, to deny part of oneself. Self-abnegation, self-repression. Joking from earlier in teh thread aside, this might be an ACTUAL form of auto-anti-semitism, when one self-colonizes and policies one's consciousness, and any exhibiting of it publicly, in order to stay employed, or take an easier, less assaulted, and/or more privileged path.

  • New network leads the fight against fascism on campus
    • "echinococcus"

      "OK, so you lose your right to even protest when it’s you who are selectively silenced."

      My point was that this is already happening. All the things I fight for (Palestine, Queer and Trans rights, BLM, BDS, etc.) are already less tolerated than other speech. Even when they are defended at some level, they are actively eroded at others. Treating speech equally is a great ideal, its just that we as a society have never practiced it yet. Until we do, I am trying to raise some hard questions about the underlying assumptions behind the current thinking on this subject, because its clearly not working well.

      My allusion to trump was not light hearted either, though I see it was not well received either. I think the existing ACLU approach to free speech and the profound equalization of trump in his "many sides" crap are disturbingly similar. They share assumptions which sound neoliberal. Of course they are not the same, and the former group is my comrades and friends in the movements for justice, so its a shocking thing I am saying, I get that.

      This week has made me question my existing ideas about the ACLU, and so too has it for the entire CA delegation of the ACLU (from their open letter) not to mention many others in that fold nationally, such as the legal studies fellow at Stanford who recently wrote a smart op-ed on the subject...

    • Annie, sorry as I said earlier if my post was a little intense, its been a long hard week because of the white supremacy, but also because of the liberal mis-reaction and over-reaction to it. I almost always agree with your interventions here over the years, so that gave me pause too... For many years I bought into the ACLU logic of defending hate speech because I know restrictions will be disproportionately levied against less powerful voices. The problem is that speech is already and always has been unequal in de facto practice. Further, institutional structures make speech and power extremely uneven. The tepid response of police in Charlottesville during nazi violence stands in stark contrast to the free speech rights of people in Ferguson, Baltimore, etc, who we both know (and detest) were met by tanks and other war materiel, and training in Israeli 'practices'. The speech rights of ann coulter and spencer are better protected that those of BLM activists, and certainly of those who express pro-Palestine speech.

      Steve and Annie, if I read your post wrong Steve, my bad. I took your initial statement that you did not know about the fascism on campuses to be diminishing of the credibility of this statement, rather than just surprised to learn it here. Probably because you followed it with "In any case..." But if I misread this, my bad.

      However, the defense of Jewish students feeling uncomfortable on campus is a very freighted issue right now. While I am still very concerned about Antisemitism and support any reaction to it on campus, there is literally a well funded movement looking for and finding some Jews who will claim to feel uneasy because of BDS or anti-zionist speech, or even the presence of Palestinians in their spaces, and using this supposed concern for free speech to shut down the speech of social justice. This is a tactic shared by the new Right and white supremacist movements. Disingenuously fighting for 'claimed' and 'supposed' civil rights.

      I am glad that national debate has opened up around the ACLU and its tactics, and glad it is shifting to think harder about them now that they have been even more coopted.

      The 1930s Germany reference is that most Jews then and there were trying to assert rights from within a system that did not see them as human, but which they hoped they could reform. Jews as a group may not be there yet in the US context (or they might, depending on how we understand and guess the reality of trump's actual power), but people of color are pretty much there it seems, and have been, and therefore all social justice fighters with commitments to these issues are also in similar territory. I share this 1930s point of reference because I am legitimately alarmed by the comparisons.

    • Thanks Nada! This is timely, brilliant, and helpful. Sorry the haters got to it as usual with their trifling hateration and dissemblance before anyone weighed in to say thanks for the good news, the hard work, and the helpful analysis and historical connections.

      The issues of the past week have cleaved the generally inert liberal mind wide open and rendered their contradictions crudely visible and unsustainable. Liberal mind in the sense of shared 19th century liberal humanist ideals underwriting imaginary concepts like western civilization and the span of neo-liberal to neo-conservative 'thought'.

      I am particularly enjoying watching zionists and fascists in general, both here and elsewhere, try to side with Spencer and liberal free speech while thinking they can maintain their dignity and self respect, or even their intellectual coherence.

    • Thank you Elizabeth!
      This is all exactly to the point! Not a single pro-Israel victim of tenure denial or firing, but in fact 100s of millions of dollars in funding for programs and scholars working in this direction, and even more toward repression of legitimate critics of the rogue Israeli state. This field isn't just a little skewed, its one of the most skewed, it reflects one of the best examples of what the very concept of skewing looks like.

    • Exactly Citizen! Fascist attempts to coop space and ideas and practices of liberation movements are not connected to any real social movements or consciousness, so they are shallow and flat. Their contradictions lie at the surface, are clumsy. They want free speech to silence, terrorize, commit genocide, and generally deny it to others. They are also unworthy of actual debate and engagement, because they are not bring actual thoughts to the table, just agendas and alignments with power...

    • If you cared about fascism you wouldn't be concerned about poor richard and his ability to incite violence and recruit for his hate. You also would join CAN and scholars like Nada Elia and Ajamu BAraka, rather than trying to introduce additional contexts whose fascism is already on any social justice thinker's agenda. Spencer and Ukraine and all the global white supremacist fascist movements are connected, one is not a gotcha-level of greater importance.

    • This liberal canard is sorely out of date, it always was. My comment immediately below, to Steve, applies equally to you. This is dangerous neo-liberal thought that aligns with trump and against all oppressed people and their comrades. Its also anti-Semitic, among other things. Both Arabs and many radical and/or non-white Jews are made especially vulnerable by this tired 'logic'. This is utter apologia for racism and Islamophobia, for which no equivalent of any kind exists on any "other side". As the great anticolonial scholar and activist said, "By what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence of a slave master?" If you had good intentions in your post, I hope you are honest enough to reconsider these widely held but utterly fallacious suppositions.

    • Actually the high-minded ideal of applying free speech equally to all is profoundly liberal and dangerous. Its like the free trade idea capitalists use to defend their hegemony. It only makes sense if you are ok with the current and profound asymmetries of power in our world. Its like supporting NAFTA: CEOs love it, but regular working people and the dispossessed are more efficiently exploited under it.

      Then you say: "I wasn’t aware there was much fascism on the average American college campus," in response to an essay that enumerates said fascism in some detail, and historicizes it. Racism, Islamophobia, fascism, patriarchy, ableism and all forms of injustice from our wider society are alive and rampant on campuses, not just because they are in and of society - like the rest of our spaces and institutions - but also because these are spaces that are intended and structured to produce knowledge that buttresses power structures. Students and faculty who question power or simply dare to exist and be truthful about the world find their speech and lives repressed disproportionately in the extreme. In 1930s Germany you would be arguing that Jews and those labeled disabled should stop complaining and seeking attention because both sides, or lots of other 'sides', also deserve attention. To side with trump so soon after Charlottesville in a Mondoweiss thread is pretty extreme. If it was unintentional, which is possible, its kind of worse. Martin Luther King wrote his Letter From a Birmingham Jail about you, 55 years ago...

      I am sorry if this sounds harsh, I am admittedly edgy and perhaps a little more intense than usual, its been a violent and terror filled week for those most vulnerable and historically/currently oppressed.

  • Among the settlers
    • Agree with Annie and others here, this is a VERY important and deep piece that is hard to put down. This is detail that needs to be seen. These are a vast range of people, with different politics and alibis, but all of whom find a way to legitimize their presence as settlers and occupiers, in a directly violent manner, every moment of their time there. It is literally inescapable in those places, built into the architecture and the landscape. I am slowly working on writing my own memories of the settlements in the late 80s, for the very same reason I find Phil's piece so deep and needed - because the truth needs to get out, and its silencing is one of the particulars necessary to the maintenance of this power structure.

      The comments about why Phil was not recognized also strike me as naive. The name Phil Weiss is a bit like Joe Smith in the US, its a pretty generic Jewish name. We all probably know 3-4 Phil Weiss's. The blending in that is enabled by whiteness, not to mention Jewishness, masculinity, Western-ness, US-vernacular, etc., are also hugely at play, and Phil describes how he literally just walked in places, and was expected to.

    • Broadside: Your liberal perquisites for discussion would essentially underwrite continued silence on the apartheid nature of Jewish whiteness in the Occupied Territories. Specifically because no one, neither Phil nor any sane individual, would want to identify as an anti-zionist activist in those contexts, because of the very real threat of violence. I myself was ushered off a Gaza settlement at uzi point in the middle of a Passover Seder in 1988 for doing just that sort of thing, but not even that explicitly. My father and brother stayed, and I walked through a field of tiny red peppers to the nearest Palestinian farm house, where I was taken in for the night - but not before the settlers pushing me out said: "you love the F-ing Arabs so much, F-ing go be with them, and good luck when they murder you..." and other lovely things of that order. I also met numerous soldiers of fortune in my time in the West Bank, not to mention that nearly all settlers were active in the IDF, even amongst many of the religious, Haredi, etc.
      Phil: your work is pretty amazing, much appreciated, and "imposture" would not be needed if there were not a violent occupation, OR if many others had also written such exposes. Sadly, we need many more still, before this carefully guarded shame and the revealing of its presence causes (or more realistically, contributes to) a massive shift in direction.

  • Mandela Foundation pushes back against reports that Mossad trained anti-apartheid leader
    • @Oleg and @ goldmarx: Alex explains this fully in his short piece:
      Israel was admired in Africa as a fellow anti-colonial power, largely until 1967, after which almost all African nations broke ties due to its newly transparent (to them) colonial status. This fully explains this shift in their relations with African social movements, and toward a more state-centered approach afterwards, as their strength and power in the region grew.
      I think it is immeasurably significant that African nations realized the colonial nature of Israel some 40 or more years before the West, which is still to properly catch up...

  • Three university presidents issue statements against boycott
    • Welcome to the wrong side of history...

      When the fight is finally won, they will all proclaim Edward Said and Mustafa Barghouti as their own heroes, revising history to proclaim their own liberal humanity - just as they did with MLK and Mandela, who they also fought tooth and nail during their anti-apartheid fights...

      The only surprise here is the willingness these fools have to write their names so visibly on the wrong side of history. Perhaps it speaks to the [racial] bubble they live in. Their distance from the truth, as James North's piece on Blumenthal today notes...

  • 'Goliath' is indispensable to understanding the real Israel in 2013
    • James North's point in this article is unimpeachably true, and reveals white Western, US Jewish and Christian complicity in the apartheid Israeli regime, much as was shown toward South Africa until formal apartheid there fell, and much as still exists between the US and its other favored client regimes (Turkey, still ethnically cleansing Kurds, Saudi Arabia, Columbia - its a long list actually...).

      I find the posts from Israelis and Israel-defenders to be funny, and only to prove the point of this article. And of Blumenthal's book.

      If Israel, like other settler-colonial states, was not founded on myths, it would not fear the truth. Since it is founded on lies and myths, the truth is one of its greatest enemies. Therefore, Blumenthal, this little essay, almost any non-coopted Palestinian voice, and Mondoweiss itself are threats in that sense. The intensity of trolling and policing, and silencing only serves to further illuminate this further...

    • Thank you James! I could not have said any of this better, you really hit it on the head.

      Goliath is hard for US/Western readers precisely because of the mundane truths it catalogues. I hope all of us on the side of truth will add our voices to this important tome, and also pull lessons from its non-reception. As in other anti-apartheid struggles, the silences seem impenetrable until the walls finally come down - then the silenced narrative returns to the center as the truth it always was, and the silencers recede into the shadows of history...

  • Israeli liberals call for federation of two equal peoples
    • Phil, this short piece is great, thanks as always! The Algeria analogy is pretty perfect. The France in this situation, the US, is just great.

  • Netanyahu may require DNA tests to prove immigrants have a Jewish 'bloodline'
    • I'm remembering the outlawed Journal article, published and then removed, that found that Palestinians were genetically as or more Jewish than most Jews. Not to mention the priestly/Cohen status of Lemba in Southern Africa, at rates equal to or higher than almost any other global Jewish population. The line between anti-racist genetics and eugenics is really interesting, and really thin...

      But I actually think I like this if it is applied to Russians, many of whom are just cashing a SERIOUS white privilege card and getting free housing and business loans, without even a blink, in part of a major push since the 80s to whiten and ashkenazi-ize Israel, successfully I might add, while also struggling to keep a Jewish "majority" in the various occupied lands. The eugenics approach to Ethiopians and Arab Jews are well known. Its time this was turned on white people, many of whom are not in fact Jewish, and used to even admit it in whispers that were tolerated because of the above mentioned demographic "needs."

  • Dispatch from the Negev: Bedouins brace for doom, under Prawer Plan
    • YRN (and also Dimadok): Thanks for proving our point. White settler colonialism is as vile in the US and Canada as it is in Israel, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. It is wrong everywhere it happens, and is resisted everywhere it happens. Of course we stand in solidarity with the dispossessed indigenous populations and First Nations peoples everywhere. That is the point. Lets not pretend that Germany under the nazis did not copy and emulate the US version of eugenics and the Turkish version of Armenian/Kurdish genocide. And lets not pretend that Israel and the US do not work hand-in-hand today on their respective efforts to control their territory, dispossess the racially marginalized and "inferior" and co-plan their imperial regional and global machinations...

    • Thanks for proving our point. White settler colonialism is as vile in the US and Canada as it is in Israel, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. It is wrong everywhere it happens, and is resisted everywhere it happens. Of course we stand in solidarity with the dispossessed indigenous populations and First Nations peoples everywhere. That is the point. Lets not pretend that Germany under the nazis did not copy and emulate the US version of eugenics and the Turkish version of Armenian/Kurdish genocide. And lets not pretend that Israel and the US do not work hand-in-hand today on their respective efforts to control their territory, dispossess the racially marginalized and "inferior" and co-plan their imperial regional and global machinations...

    • dimadok:
      Literally everything you say is false, although I realise that may not be your intention. It may be, also, I do not know. But these are commonly held, and convenient misconceptions.
      Bedouin are not nomads, they are pastoralists. This is a key distinction. Nomads wander aimlessly (in theory, although there are no such human populations), and pastoralists carefully manage winter and summer (seasonal) grazing grounds in environmentally sustainable ways that ensure continued food sources for their herds and the human populations. Bedouin in the Negev have also been increasingly sedentary since the 19th century, building farms and small villages and cities since then. In real life, human beings and communities function in complex ways that defy simple anthropological and colonial categories.
      Prawer is not the first plan to deal seriously, it is the most recent attempt of the Israeli state to dispossess and ethnically cleanse this region, while still claiming a liberal humanitarian facade needed for respectability by its backers in the West.
      The Bedouin do not claim every piece of land theirs, but they also do not conveniently forget their ancestral and recent claims, deeds, land transactions, tax payments, forced removals and relocations, and disastrous but purposeful marginalization and neglect under Israeli rule since 1948.
      I am glad you and the other reflex zionists on this thread feel compelled to check this out and make defenses. It shows me the time is coming when denial will no longer remain a viable option.Healing and redress may then proceed. Folks like yourself will be surprised to find that the Bedouin are remarkably reasonable and willing to compromise in regard to their legitimate claims, if they can achieve even a shred of justice and respect. Much like the casein the rest of this wider conflict...

    • True, i need to, its on my mind, for sure...
      I have a few pieces from before.
      Check: http://jnfebook.net
      The Volume 4 is especially useful I think, and i wrote there under my english name, Jesse. However, the link seems to be down today, I hope that is temporary...

    • I agree Annie,
      This is really solid Allison, and I appreciate it.
      I happen to be an Israeli Jewish anthropologist who studied forced Bedouin removal in the late 80s, during the first Bedouin Land Day demonstrations, in which I participated, and when we were fighting specifically to get those damn land cases to be actually adjudicated in the courts. I published an MA thesis on how institutionalized racism in Israeli anthropology, geography/planning, and other disciplines played a huge part in legitimating all this. Its been incredibly frustrating watching this struggle unfold in slow motion, without resolution, at such great human and cultural cost, with so many brilliant and creative protests and efforts to garner attention. The intense and obvious racism involved here can only be elided by willful and power-backed denials. Bedouin communities have been asking for Moshavim and Kibbutzim, or a Bedouin-specific agri-pastoral community set up of some kind. Yet, the same scientists who underwrite Bedouin dispossession go off on "development" missions of implied charity to advise pastoral ("nomadic") communities on the Continent.
      We are literally witnessing a sort of slow motion Trail of Tears, on our watch. My only encouragement, which is minor for now, is that due to social media and sites like this, the fight is far less obscure than it was when I started in it...

  • Zombie Hasbara: 'World War Z' and Hollywood’s Zionist embrace
  • Both Massad, and 'Open Zion', ignore the experience of Middle Eastern Jews
    • Brilliant comment Hostage.

      One of the main differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities is northern versus southern European locations and histories. Another is heaviest involvement in early Capitalist versus Middle Capitalist Empires, ie: Spanish and Portuguese versus Dutch and later British and French.

      Your point is very well taken. Sephardic Jews were actually dabbling in, and negotiating whiteness in the Caribbean and other parts of 16th Century capitalism way before most Ashkenizim were doing so in the same way, and with the same intensity.

      These are very different itineraries, but both are very much European in flavor, and heavily entangled with race, racism, whiteness ,and later the nationalisms of modernity.

      Your specifics about Sephardic involvement in early zionism is really important, and on the Ottoman side of things, makes perfect sense. Needs to be spelled out more often, and in greater detail, to make these arguments more salient and less easily dismissed...

      Thanks!

    • I had a similar reaction when I read Massad's piece, regarding the elision of Mizrahi/Arab, Sephardi, and other Jews of color from his piece and its thinking. BUT, I also loved his piece and was really glad to see the discussion of Jewish whiteness, which is a central scourge in current institutionalized Jewish thinking, and within most (but certainly not quite all) Jewish communities that one finds oneself spending any time in. Very nearly most. This needs far more discussion, and certainly does not need to be dismissed.

      One sentence in your piece was especially telling:
      "For all that Massad has relationships with Mizrahi Jews, his thinking remains monocausal and racist."
      While Massad made some real, but minor mistakes in his essay, en route to a courageous and missing argument in our world's popular cultural consciousness, it is sheer equalization to refer to him as racist.

      This is precisely why more discussion of race and Judaism, race and Israel is needed, and why we need to start getting a much deeper discussion of Jewish whiteness going. Black scholars of race and anti-racism in the US, and their many allies before, during and after the Civil Rights Movements, have developed very sophisticated tools for holding such discussions. One such tool is the important note that race and racism is not just an individual phenomenon. Once the -ism or -ist shows up, we are dealing with something that is predominantly a structural phenomenon, in which individual actions bolster it at times, but which is upheld at an institutional level, across many institutional sites.

      To claim that Massad or any Palestinians or Arabs has some sort of institutional, structural power over any Jews, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrachi or otherwise, is pretty ridiculous. Without this structural power, Massad cannot be racist in this critical sense, and calling him such is a profound equalization in the face of very real institutions of power on the Jewish and Israeli sides of the equation.

      It doesn't mean Massad cannot be wrong. Or that we cannot discuss with him, and add to his work, but it does mean that countering him with specious equalizations only underscores his important intervention, and proves the point that we need more, not less of it...

      While I agree that Sephardim, and even more, Mizrahim and Black Jews, and other Jews of Color are truly left out of most discussions, and that this is unfortunate, and that reversing this can play a role in making our discussion more complex, I do not think we can safely argue that most of this exclusion is racist, or a form of oppression. While some racism may play a part in some of this, and I think there may be some prejudice involved, and certainly some injustice and exclusion, if we use our words and tools of analysis carefully, we would be more precise.

      There is still much privilege as well in the Sephardic community, for example, even in light of Ashkenazi centered-ness and privilege. Especially in Israel, Sephardim play significant roles in the institutionalized manifestations of racism, against Black Jews, Arab, especially Palestinians, and now also African migrants. In the US, most Sephardic Jewish communities and families have pretty deep entanglements with US whiteness, different from but parallel to Ashkenazi versions, if sometimes thankfully less extreme...

      Lets be more precise...

  • A Lynching in Jerusalem: Anatomy of Jewish racism
    • the attackers/mob were in themselves a crowd, that is how scary this was.
      Now we also know a police officer was in the crowd and left thinking it "unimportant" - Fred, was he too also scared?

    • check the facts more closely. there are many references to the crowd chanting racist slogans, some directly from soccer hooliganism. How is a crowd chanting slogans not a crowd cheering them on? Look at the content of the chants: Jews have a soul, Arabs are sons of whores.

    • @Woody:
      Most Hilarious Post EVER

    • right, and when has anyone seen a crowd in Israel that was not heavily armed, and militarily trained? I mean, really...
      Intervention would have been easy.

      Now we also see that a police officer was on the scene, and thought it irrelevant, and left.
      We are also learning that a Jewish woman incited the crowd with claims of being harassed, or assaulted by an Arab (at some point in the past), and also that racist Jews are following this incident with leaflets in Hebrew on one side and Arabic on the other, warning Arab men to stay away, as they "fear" the same will happen to them.
      Segregation enforced by neighborhood, reinforced with terroristic threats of violence, and justified by protection of white/Jewish women - that says it all, doesn't it....

    • right, thanks... my bad... these guys haunt my dreams and I guess they're blurring at this point, especially with late night writing, but this is indeed an important distinction, so thanks...

    • The crowd gathering into the hundreds, standing by, and in many cases cheering, comes directly from the police report, as covered in Haaretz. Why you, or others can not believe this possible is the question to ask here. What does this blind spot reveal?

  • One apartheid state, with liberty and justice for Jews only
    • Mooser:
      "To be honest, I have found extremely few Jewish communities that want to talk about Jewish racism."

      "Wait as minute, pal, this took place in America? I thought you were in Israel! So why didn’t you tell ‘em to stuff, and go and find a real college?"

      This thread is getting long and convoluted, so hard to respond exactly to some of these points... But, in my case, I did get out of Crown Heights as a kid, and then into Yeshiva University High School, which lasted less than a year, and was also a failure of a different kind. My escape route, as you indicate, had the good fortune of a hippie Quaker international college that really opened up my world. So, yeah, tons of re-inenvention, sure, still ongoing, and all over the world too... Most of it with an anti-religious bent in my case, at least at first...

      As to this being in America and not Israel, I have remained fascinated by the connections, and flows of people back and forth between the US and Israeli Jewish communities so that they are not so separate as they once were. One recent example on Mondo that blew my mind was the Israeli/US zionist ownership of the Miami Heat - that was deep...

      While I have met many Jewish leftists in my travels, I have found very few truly radical Jewish communities, and I continue to find issues of racism in most Jewish enclaves, even progressive ones that desire to do otherwise - but that's another story.

      The kind of electronic community this Mondo space provides is one partial exception, which is nice... And every city I have lived in in North America has a handful of jewish and non-jewish radicals to connect with. In my experience, the numbers are always smaller than they should be...

    • Mooser:
      "After reading this, it is obvious to me that you qualify for inclusion in The Litvaks, my all Jewish sport-bike posse. If you’re ever in the Northwest of the US, come and see us, and you can eat, pray and ride with us. You will be inducted in a service full of ancient ceremony, and your bike will be brissed (we cut off the muffler)."
      Thank you truly for the kind invitation. If I do get out West, I will keep it in mind...
      And thanks for the encouragement. I am indeed trying to write some stuff up for sharing here. I hope it will be helpful in some small way...
      Peace

    • Shmuel:
      Just as Christians employed double ethical standards in the Middle Ages. In the Modern Era, both Christians and Jews have moved toward a more universal ethic.

      I think you are right, as was Shahak, in Sheldonrichmans reference.
      Israel has been cloaking itself in the more medieval rabbinic opinion, recently with a rabbi stating that it is permissible to kill Palestinians, even children, with impunity.

      Jews of conscience, who still adhere to or claim portions of their Judaism, need to wrestle back with these monstrous misinterpretations. I have no faith that the universalist trend is winning in many of these circles.

    • Colin Wright:
      “…none of these religions or cultures ever emerged or evolved in isolation, no immaculate conceptions as it were. All the ancient traditions are in dialogue, with traditions throughout what today is Africa and Asia, and all shared and learned from each other.

      That sounds good — but it’s not actually true. Of course Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all successive developments of the same religious tradition — but you’d have a hard time demonstrating Buddhism was influenced by them to any extent, or vice-versa. Buddhism was conceived and developed to maturity before either Christianity or Islam existed, and I doubt there’s any evidence it was influenced by Jewish thinking. While there may have been contact, any significant interaction occurred long after both sets of faiths were fully developed. Muslim conquerors didn’t enter Afghanistan and acquire Buddhist ideas that they then brought back to Mecca.

      I don't honestly know how important this is, but ancient religions and cultures were far more in contact than you imply, especially Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, African traditions, -- which is why their underlying details share so much, why the Kabbalah has so many commonalities with East Asian thought, and other traditions, things like shakra points, and other parallels...

      But to me this is probably a digression, because I/P is not a religious conflict, even if some religious zealots of various kinds inject that in -- its always been a colonial, racial, political, land-grabbing power game of purely modern proportions, starting somewhere between the 1880s and 1917's formal colonial demarcation...

    • Colin Wright:
      "To me the crux of this — and I am genuinely ignorant on the point — is whether all the moral rules of Judaism apply to all interactions in general or only to interactions between Jews."

      As I said elsewhere in these threads, the point is to argue within Judaism, if that's your home community, that morals should apply to all. This is sadly, a point of debate at this stage, and those who care about good should fight to win it. Its an easy argument to win on principle, because none of the ancient texts which hold weight ever created harsh Us/Them dichotomies, as they did not really exist yet in the epistemology of those times - that is a pretty modern conundrum.
      I just talked at a Presbyterian church this weekend to a group of 100 people, imploring them to wrestle with the crazy Christian zionists in their midst, and to win that fight for us as Christians, since I do not know the nuances of their theology, and don;t want to spend time studying it...
      Yes, as someone below pointed out, Jews started thinking in more exclusivist ways within their medieval ghettos, and some of this persists. But religious Jews care much more about older arguments and sources than the newer ones.

    • Mooser:
      "I guess you didn’t have too many choices about your education then. An awful situation."
      For what its worth, yes, it was challenging. I developed a proto-anti-racist consciousness in 1984/1985 Crown Heights while attending a Baal Tshuva Yeshiva. My anti-racism was a reaction to the hardcore racism that was as common as air in the Lubavitch community, which jarred against my liberal color blind thinking from a secular reform background.
      It seemed to go against my earlier thoughts, but also against the values of Hassidic thought which I was immersing into, and which I generally found deep and worthwhile.
      As you might imagine, my views were not welcomed. In fact, it got really crazy after a while. The Rebbe himself refused to answer a letter we wrote him asking him to intervene and to speak out (with his intense influence) in what was clearly bad for the community, and against Torah values.
      I was kicked out of my yeshiva, more for being caught with a girl than my anti-racism, but in general I was starting to stick out.
      At my next yeshiva, the more modern orthodox Yeshiva University HS in Washington Heights, my views got stronger and instead of acceptance, my nickname became Jesus - which is saying something at an orthodox school...
      To be honest, I have found extremely few Jewish communities that want to talk about Jewish racism. Most white folks hate this topic. Black Jews, that's another thing altogether, its a painful part of their lives, in almost all cases. Mizrahim, also commonly. But white, white-ish and white-identified Jews hate this topic...
      It needs work
      good times...

    • well, it did sting Annie. I believe this problem is pretty common, breaking up families in jewish circles, much like Vietnam did in his family when he was young. That's the up side of this, at least there is some sort of crisis of conscience emerging in jewish families, and the unquestioned hold of zionism on families is now under some debate.
      I guess if it were a short story, it would be: zionism ate my father.
      interestingly, in the beginning, he thought Israelis were stupid, beneath his superior american way of being, and would have never considered becoming an Israeli citizen.
      However, when other options ran out, the zionist train started looking better, and the slippery slope took hold...
      I think one of the effects of this sort of white privilege, whether in the US or in Israel, is that it keeps people like him out of institutions, keeps people who need mental health assistance from getting it, props them up in ways that others will never experience.
      in the end, I 'm not sure it is good for him, or for society, but it just is, its what happens...
      He is part of a wide array of washed up mental health patients that find their way to Jerusalem/Israel and because of who they are and where, they manage to stay out of institutionalization.
      Some of the WB settlements were actually like mental health wards, with strange individuals, families and other US/Euro rejects finding a strange perch on reality in the midst of a conflict zone, where they were strangely wanted as warm bodies in a place that calculates presence and demographics above all else.

    • it is freaky, which is why I shared it...
      It gets worse...
      I can recall soldiers of fortune from South Africa rolling through the WB in 1989 with polaroids of themselves posing with dead "trophy" bodies in Angola (the greater South African territorial goal), and then "training" local settlers in WB in tactics, and looking for paid missions and action in this theater of war. As someone who was acting in solidarity at the time with ANC and its goals of ending SA apartheid, I was amazed how seamlessly the SA discourse merged with Jewish/Israeli discourse about Palestinians, always generically called Arabs.
      I was studying anthropology at the time, and it was interesting here too, in that racist SA intellectuals were using anthro to justify the supposed inferiority of Black South Africans, and then I found both mainstream Israeli anthropologists and settlers using similar theories about Arab and Bedouin inferiority, to justify their dispossession...

      Merk wonders far below in this thread why race is being injected. And yes, there are dark skinned Jews, who incidentally have experienced racism from the lighter skinned Jews, while in turn throwing racism at Palestinians of all colors in return -- but racism needs to be seen as part of all this, and its erasure of race will prevent any real understanding of this conflict...
      Lets remember, that from its inception, steeped in the racist European origins of nationalism in general, zionism has always and fundamentally been a racial project, to dispossess natives and civilize and/or steal the land and resources for the superior conquering race...

    • Woody,
      I don't see the necessity for your distinction here, but I do think the interesting point here is that none of these religions or cultures ever emerged or evolved in isolation, no immaculate conceptions as it were. All the ancient traditions are in dialogue, with traditions throughout what today is Africa and Asia, and all shared and learned from each other.

    • good point on the atheism... since most Israeli Jews are not religious at all, they actually derive their moral claims more from perceived Western/European values of civilization and democracy, which most of us on here could have a veritable field day critiquing...
      My favorite critique of Western moral superiority, btw, is Aime Cesaire's Discourse on Colonialism. It is very helpful for these purposes, a truly devastating critique from 1955...

    • Annie's right in principle. There are many moral imperatives. Christianity's "do unto others" originates in Judaism, for example, but as a negative injunction to "not do unto others, as you don't want done to yourself." The Ethic of the Fathers, in the Mishna, which precedes the Talmud and is pretty ancient, are filled with very pleasing moral ideals. I have seen racist yeshiva-niks try to escape these moral clauses by claiming they only refer to Jews and not to non-Jews, but having read them in their original Hebrew, I never agreed with this, and fought my way through yeshiva as a teenager on these grounds. That said, the point to me is that Jews, Christians and others of their faiths need to fight to reclaim whatever good there is in their traditions, and to do so from within, with the knowledge the have, rather than yielding these traditions to revisionsts who want to bend the words to their current racist limitations...

    • This is indeed the core of Israeli racism, the idea that there are no Palestinians, only indistinguishable "Arabs," all of whom think with one hive-like (Borg?) mind...
      But this is the truth of Israeli discourse, and it needs to be seen in liberal circles in the US, where such talk would be less acceptable.

    • yeah, it is a crazy land these settlers live in, and its good to have a window into it. If Israel is the tail wagging the US dog, the Settlers are the tail wagging the Israeli dog. In the past 20 years they have gone from being perceived as fringe extremists who make Israeli look bad, to centrist parts of the established ruling part and its politics. And a sizable voting bloc to be courted as well...

    • Seafoid is right about their approach.
      Yamit was always their war cry...

      When I was repeatedly visiting the occupied WB and Gaza in the late 80s and early 90s to check in on my free-loading settler family and try to peel my brother out of those crazy places, they were already actively and openly talking about their demographic strategy to build too much infrastructure, and place too many settlements and settlers on the ground for them ever to be removed. They were at about 120,000 back then, if I remember correctly, and quite proud of it, and planning to grow as fast as they could. They promoted the having of settler babies as one strategy, and this too was talked about openly, reminding me of the US white supremacist strategy of inflating the white race by seeing white women as breeders for the cause.

      Also important to this plan was the funding: the only reason my post-hippie, quasi religious father ended up out there was the free ride that was offered, the subsidized housing, the subsidized jobs, the cheap and easy life that was presented for him and his family every time his free/subsidized yeshiva in Jerusalem went on religious break and he needed a bed to sleep in. But, while there, he gradually became socialized into the racist and neo-fascist discourse, finally relented into literally picking up guns to defend his new-found "home," and this is tha path of so many Brooklynites and other US Jews who wander out to Israel without a plan, and wash up on the shores of their heavily funded white privilege in the Wild West (Bank) where they can live out real life fantasies of Davy Crocket, Rambo, and the rest...

      Like the others here, I am glad to see this baldly represented in the liberal bastion of the NYT, and like others I am not optimistic this alone will do much to change the left zionist illusions that are so deeply held... but it can't hurt...

  • Who is wiping who off the map?
    • Great framing here, so on point...
      Thanks...
      Ironies/doublespeak like this, where the stated truth is the exact opposite of reality, and yet taken as truth by the vast majority, are only made possible by the most extreme forms of power disparity.
      Its a powerful diagnostic

  • Palestine comes to Atlanta: Linking the US and Palestinian civil rights movements
    • Annie rocks...
      completely agree, hip-hop is one of most explosive access points for the youth. along with BDS, there is some hope on the horizon, for once in a long while...
      And Potsherd's Bull Conner analogy is so right on...
      Some mornings, and this is one of them, it feels like the fog is lifting...
      Feels like 1987 did, in relation to south african apartheid. like an impossible necessary struggle that none of us expected then would achieve results in a few more years...

    • You are so right! We need to turn Tel Aviv/Israel into the new Sun City - "not gonna play at Sun City!"...

      Gotta make them accountable to their Civil Rights credentials... gotta make Palestine a global Civil Rights Issue!

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