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Exile and the Prophetic: Chomsky’s absent ‘Jewish’

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This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

If you thought my idea about Noam Chomsky’s possible Skype appearance form Gaza in the Presidential debate was too far out, let me trot out a more likely possibility: former President Jimmy Carter. While Chomsky was in Gaza during the debate, Carter was in Jerusalem. Picture Carter debating, Jerusalem as his scenic backdrop. That and his ideas would have enlivened the debate.

Surprise, surprise, a former President would have sounded a bit like an anarchist radical, though Carter’s down home Southern accent would have made similar ideas more acceptable to the American public. The New York Times reports Carter as “grieved, disgusted and angry” at the declining hopes for a two-state solution. Carter made the obvious but politically unacceptable comment: “It looks to me like a decision has been made to go to the one-state solution but to conceal it from the world.”

As one of the few Presidents who accurately claim to be a Washington outsider, Carter rarely pulls punches. Having met and sat with him and his wife for meals several times, I can vouch that Carter is the real thing. Like George McGovern, Carter is a thoroughly decent man. Yes, Carter, like McGovern – like Chomsky – is an American exceptionalist. Nonetheless, like McGovern, Carter combines a great intelligence and a simplicity that is beguiling.

Carter’s simplicity about Israel? “I’ve known every prime minister since Golda Meir,” Carter remarked. “All the previous prime ministers have been so courageous in their own way. In the past all committed to the two states.” Thus, Carter’s public sense is that Netanyahu is different than the previous prime ministers.

Does Carter actually believe his own words? In 1988, as the first Palestinian uprising was in full flush, I chatted with Carter about Menachem Begin over lunch. Carter’s private take was that Begin was more or less a snake in the grass. With regard to Palestinians, Begin never intended to carry out anything he promised. Carter was bitter about this. Carter spoke about Begin as if he had personally betrayed him.

Whether true or feigned, just when you think McGovern and Carter are going to cross over into Chomsky territory, they stop short. Their appeal is to an American destiny, colored by a profound innocence about American history and its projection of power. It isn’t that they don’t know anything about that side of American history or haven’t experienced aspects of it themselves.

McGovern and Carter succeeded in and were blindsided by the American political system. Both were lauded. Both were disgraced. As well, both survived, with their innocence intact. Or was the innocence they espoused after their fall, a put-on, both realizing that the only way to communicate to the American public is to presume American exceptionalism?

What is the fundamental difference between McGovern and Carter on the one hand and Chomsky on the other? McGovern and Carter are politicians, Chomsky an intellectual. True enough. Now factor in Chomsky’s Jewishness.

Over the last few days I have been thinking about Noam Chomsky as a Jewish prophetic presence. Did I leave out Chomsky’s upbringing when I wrote that he can’t be understood outside of his Jewishness?

As representative of the Jewish prophetic, it is important to understand the Jewish culture Chomsky was raised within. The Jewish culture, Chomsky was grew up in was specific to its time and place. Nonetheless, Chomsky speaks to us today. The specific and broader range of Chomsky’s voice raises the question of what shape and texture the Jewish prophetic will emerge from today.

Just to set the background, let’s begin by looking at Chomsky’s father, Dr. William “Zev” Chomsky (1896–1977). Doing so helps us imagine the Jewish atmosphere Chomsky was raised in. Chomsky’s father was born in Ukraine, then a part of the Russian Empire. Like many Jews, he fled to the United States to avoid military conscription. After working in sweatshops in Baltimore, Chomsky’s father taught at the city’s Hebrew elementary schools.

When Dr. Chomsky moved to Philadelphia, he – with his wife – taught at the Mikveh Israel religious school, eventually becoming the school’s principal. In 1924, he was appointed to the faculty at the country’s oldest teacher training institution, Gratz College. In 1955, he also began teaching courses at Dropsie College (originally known as the Dropsie College of Hebrew and Cognate Learning). Complimenting his teaching, Dr. Chomsky was involved in researching Medieval Hebrew. Over the years, he authored a series of books on the Hebrew language: How to Teach Hebrew in the Elementary Grades (1946), Hebrew, the Story of a Living Language (1947), Hebrew, the Eternal Language (1957) and Teaching and Learning (1959), as well as an edited version of David Kimhi’s Hebrew Grammar (1952).

Noam Chomsky’s parents were Roosevelt Democrats. However, Chomsky was exposed to far left politics through members of the family who were socialists involved in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union trade union. He was also influenced by his uncle who owned a newspaper stand in New York City where Chomsky listened in on Jewish leftists debating the issues of the day. During this time, Chomsky frequented left-wing and anarchist bookstores and became a voracious reader of political literature. It is here that he discovered anarchism, which he characterized as a “lucky accident,” though it was more than lucky: anarchism was another part of an involved and engaged immigrant Jewish culture.

Regarding his early involvement in the politics of the Middle East, Chomsky lived on a kibbutz in Israel in 1953. Before and after this experience, he believed in a bi-national state. However, believing that the realities of the situation changed, Chomsky has advocated a two-state solution for decades. He advocated it again during his time in Gaza.

What is Noam Chomsky’s ‘Jewish’? In essence, Chomsky’s ‘Jewish’ is a combination of turn of the twentieth century European Jewish immigrant culture, Jewish learning and Jewish and non-Jewish radical political and philosophical thought. All three have their particular sensibilities. Moreover, each was formed at a particular time in Jewish history.

Chomsky was already personally and intellectually formed before either the Holocaust or Israel became central to Jewish history. Two dates in his biography point to this fact. Chomsky entered college in 1945, the year World War II ended, and decades before Holocaust consciousness came to the fore. He lived in Israel in 1953, during the days when the state’s trajectory was still undecided and more than decade before Israel assumed its centrality in Jewish life. As important, Chomsky’s time in Israel was indented to his involvement in pre-Holocaust radical political thought and pre-Israel socialist anarchistic practice.

Chomsky has rarely, if ever, been involved in discussions of the importance of the Holocaust in Jewish life. In Chomsky’s writing there are few, if any, positive assessments of what a Jewish state might become in Jewish life. Again, Chomsky was formed before either the Holocaust or Israel became dominant in Jewish life. Unlike many in his generation, he never took on the Holocaust or Israel as central matters in Jewish or global history.

Chomsky comes from the Jewish past. His prophetic vocation is enhanced by his stubbornness. In short, Chomsky refuses to “evolve.” He is now criticized by some circles on the Left for this very reason. Nonetheless, Chomsky isn’t going anywhere just to be relevant somewhere.

On boycotts, divestment and sanctions, Chomsky is an agnostic. On the possibility of a one-state solution, Chomsky is a non-believer. Looking for Chomsky to define himself specifically as an anti-Zionist is a losing proposition. I believe Chomsky continues to be a closet, if bi-nationalist, Zionist. If that isn’t out of step with the present climate on the Left, what is?

Chomsky cut his public teeth on the Vietnam War. Looking at his background, this shouldn’t surprise us. The Jewish Left was then much more universal in its approach. Or more accurately, the Jewish Left had a universal approach that carried a disguised Jewish particularity. The only competition for Jewishness that the Jewish Left had then was Orthodox Jewry. Though displayed differently, their ‘Jewish’ devotion was similar in its intensity.

Chomsky ranges widely across the global hotspots of injustice and finds America everywhere. Even in relation to Israel, Chomsky emphasizes America. Broadly speaking, Chomsky sees Israel as an American creation and America’s puppet. Not much happens in Israel that isn’t green-lighted by America’s self-interest.

Chomsky consistently diminishes Israel as a state. Why does he do this? In Chomsky’s world view, Israel has no special place in the world. Nor does Jewish history. Like others, Jews should be for justice but, again, in Chomsky’s view, Jews don’t have any special claims in the justice arena. The idea of the people Israel having a special destiny or forming a specific arena of prophetic thought is foreign to Chomsky.

Though Chomsky has a word to say on almost every issue in the world, on Jewish particularity, his own included, he is caught up short. There are few, if any, words on these issues in his writings. In interviews where he is asked specifically about his Jewishness and how this has affected his thinking, Chomsky becomes uncharacteristically inarticulate.

Chomsky isn’t inarticulate about any issue of significance. Why, then, this difficulty with his consistently unannounced Jewishness?

My conclusion: Chomsky’s Jewishness is revealed by its rhetorical absence. It’s buried so deeply inside of him that he isn’t playing at its absence. Being so buried, Chomsky can’t announce what is obvious.

When even Chomsky becomes inarticulate you know something is afoot.

Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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90 Responses

  1. CitizenC on October 24, 2012, 11:45 am

    This is perceptive about Chomsky’s Zionism

    I believe Chomsky continues to be a closet, if bi-nationalist, Zionist.

    but that perception contradicts the later claim that

    In Chomsky’s world view, Israel has no special place in the world. Nor does Jewish history. Like others, Jews should be for justice but, again, in Chomsky’s view, Jews don’t have any special claims in the justice arena. The idea of the people Israel having a special destiny or forming a specific arena of prophetic thought is foreign to Chomsky.

    Though Chomsky has a word to say on almost every issue in the world, on Jewish particularity, his own included, he is caught up short.

    No, rather, Chomsky’s Zionism informs his whole outlook on Palestine, and on the US-Israel relationship, with Jewish particularity. And the Holocaust, the entirety of Jewish history, is very much part of that. Chomsky cited Ahad Ha’am against Shlomo Sand in defense of The Jewish People; see

    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/50260/qa-noam-chomsky

    His comments on AH’s support for the Palestinians are sentimental nonsense. The article by AH that Chomsky cites was not translated in full until the past decade, by Alan Dowty, who dismissed it as much ado about nothing.

    For more on The Jewish People and their sovereign right to settle Palestine see NC’s Peace in the Middle East, unchanged in 2003 reissue, Middle East Illusions, p. 45.

    • Dan Crowther on October 25, 2012, 5:22 pm

      “Chomsky cited Ahad Ha’am against Shlomo Sand in defense of The Jewish People; see”

      That’s not really true, Chomsky concedes the point of the imaginary people, but says it doesn’t matter, it’s too ingrained in the culture, the “national memory” and so on. And he says this is true of all “peoples” in one way or another, a point Sand also makes.

      The Chomsky bashing that goes on around here is sometimes extremely uninformed.
      He’s not a “closet” zionist, he’s pretty open about it; he’s always supported “a” jewish homeland in palestine. what he’s never supported is a jewish state.

      does anyone object to “a” jewish homeland in palestine? isn’t that what a “one state” solution is? chomsky’s views, if enacted, would mean the dismantlement of israel as a jewish state, and that’s STILL not good enough for some cats around here. man-o-man. When Noam Chomsky doesn’t meet your moral standard, you might wanna re-adjust.

      • aiman on October 25, 2012, 10:59 pm

        “When Noam Chomsky doesn’t meet your moral standard, you might wanna re-adjust.”

        Not necessarily, that just means not everyone is a sheep. I can name many moral thinkers who would have made more severe critiques if they were in Chomsky’s place. The problem lies with Chomsky’s limited critique. I neither see him as agenda-driven (anti-Chomsky) or a prophet (pro-Chomsky). He comes across as dreamy and pragmatic, but I admire people who go a step further in the quest for truth and service to universal humanity. I think his heart is in the right place but it could be in a better place.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 1:21 pm

        “does anyone object to “a” jewish homeland in palestine? isn’t that what a “one state” solution is?”

        Uh-oh, Dan, don’t push that button. DAN, DON’T PUSH IT! Oh, no! He pushed it! Now look what you’ve done, Dan!

        Now we’re are going to tell you why a “one-State” solution is not a “Jewish homeland” but is instead, the way to complete democracy, and justice for the Palestinians. You know, Dan, one-man-one-vote. And you and I will go over there and observe the elections, Dan.
        We’ll have a blast, and they’ll never put anything past us!

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 3:34 pm

        Wait a minute. You now, a bi-national state, with an extra-legal (to say the least) Zionist underground (in addition to whatever political parties they have, this is a democracy, right?) might actually be appealing to many Zionists.

  2. dbroncos on October 24, 2012, 1:57 pm

    Thanks, Mr. Ellis. You made it clear to see how Chomsky became so interested in linguistics, Hebrew and the revival of Hebrew as a national language in the 20th century.

  3. bobsmith on October 24, 2012, 2:34 pm

    Ellis seems to see Chomsky as “prophetic” — someone willing to risk it all as an outsider — whereas Carter has “stopped short” of being such an outsider. He characterizes Carter’s positions on Israel as “simplistic,” and yet I can not help but see Ellis’ own views as overly simplistic. In my view, they are both outsiders and pariahs in their own respective worlds. Chomsky’s views are more politically radical and comprehensive in looking at how the American Empire works. Carter’s are based more on morality. If anything, Carter’s sitting in the Oval Office telling Americans they had to make sacrifices for the nation and appealing to their morality was much more “prophetic” than anything Chomsky has ever done. In short, Ellis has a strange notion of “prophetic.”

    • LeaNder on October 24, 2012, 4:02 pm

      bobsmith:

      Chomsky’s views are more politically radical and comprehensive in looking at how the American Empire works. Carter’s are based more on morality.

      His morality “stops short of” telling the truth, the whole truth:

      Carter’s simplicity about Israel? “I’ve known every prime minister since Golda Meir,” Carter remarked. “All the previous prime ministers have been so courageous in their own way. In the past all committed to the two states.” Thus, Carter’s public sense is that Netanyahu is different than the previous prime ministers.

      Does Carter actually believe his own words? In 1988, as the first Palestinian uprising was in full flush, I chatted with Carter about Menachem Begin over lunch. Carter’s private take was that Begin was more or less a snake in the grass. With regard to Palestinians, Begin never intended to carry out anything he promised. Carter was bitter about this. Carter spoke about Begin as if he had personally betrayed him.

      • Eva Smagacz on October 25, 2012, 3:11 am

        Leander, I think it’s not his morality that stops him saying the whole truth, it’s his communication skills. You cannot make an impact statement as a good communicator if you include two pages of small print of caveats.

      • LeaNder on October 25, 2012, 4:20 am

        hi Eva, long time no see. ;)

        You have to follow the Ellis series to understand, the articles depend on each other, not just this on the last. He doesn’t really make ultimate value judgments. At least to me it doesn’t feel that is his aim. He circles his topics, changes perspective and rhythms turns and returns from a different direction.

        But, Eva, I don’t think it is only about communication skills, deep down Carter is indeed a politician something Chomsky is not. His own personality limits the ways he can represent or speak for the Palestinians.

        Obviously everybody has to get involved to the extend he can stand behind it, I do not think that’s an ultimate value judgment.

        In a way, I respond the way I do, since exactly the same happened to me when I started to read the series, there was the occasional yes but, an inner resistance or rebellion. The same experience I had reading Freud. But as you continue he seems to pick up on the topic and lets you see it in a different light. By now I have completely surrendered, I am only trying to understand his specific perspective.

        No idea if that makes sense to you. I hope at least partially.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 1:23 pm

        “You cannot make an impact statement as a good communicator if you include two pages of small print of caveats.”

        So you think Chomsky is favors the caveat-and-stick approach?

    • Keith on October 26, 2012, 6:56 pm

      BOBSMITH- “Carter’s are based more on morality. If anything, Carter’s sitting in the Oval Office telling Americans they had to make sacrifices for the nation and appealing to their morality was much more “prophetic” than anything Chomsky has ever done.”

      Carter’s ‘morality’ was mostly talk. If you examine his record as President, there is considerable continuity with previous and subsequent administrations, including the beginnings of a huge military buildup at the end. Surely, you don’t consider Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski as occupying the moral high ground when he and Carter authorized aid to the Afghanistan Mujahideen prior to the Soviet invasion? Also, his support for the Shah of Iran, etc.

  4. Bruce Wolman on October 25, 2012, 1:57 am

    The only competition for Jewishness that the Jewish Left had then [the time during the Vietnam War] was Orthodox Jewry. Though displayed differently, their ‘Jewish’ devotion was similar in its intensity.

    Having lived through that age, this seems to be an overreaching generalization. “The only competition for Jewishness” was between the Jewish Left and Orthodox Jewry. Really? I could think of a few other competitors for “Jewishness,” assuming I accepted the concept.

    What about say, “petit bourgeois Jewishness”? There were a great many of those, some Democrats, some Republicans, but almost none that would have called themselves Leftists any longer if ever. I knew a great many of them, our parents, mostly small-shopkeepers, department store buyers, salesmen and craftsmen. They were unlikely to be Orthodox, unlikely to participate in Civil Rights marches, and quite likely to have been freaked by the ghetto riots of the decade.

    What about say, “entrepreneurial Jewishness.”? Those petit bourgeois Jews that graduated to the bourgeoisie or were already there, owners of capital through go-go real estate development, Wall Street partnerships, chain store retail expansion, media ownership and Hollywood production. There may have been less of these, but they certainly had an enormous impact on the Jewish community.

    What about say, “professional Jewishness”? Those careerists that worked as lawyers and accountants, doctors, political aides, PR and advertising hacks, reporters and media pundits, government bureaucrats, etc., who may have been slightly liberal but whose main concern was getting into the upper middle classes and their kids into the Ivies.

    What about say, “New Jew Jewishness”? Those Jews who were attracted to the muscular image of the IDF and Israel’s new prowess as a military power. Jews who converted to Zionist zealotry.

    What about say, “New Left Jews”? Those Jewish students who were quite active in the Vietnam War protests due to their internalizing of the Judgements from Nuremberg. These young Jews may have admired the Old Jewish Leftists, but they joined their fellow non-Jewish Americans in building a broad-based coalition that included all Americans. They left their Jewishness behind for a new American Left, even if the movement could not be sustained.

    I am sure I could come up with more. Reducing 1960s Jewishness to the Jewish Left and Orthodoxy is a simplification almost as bad as what we find with MW commenters who posit a singular essential Jewishness.

    • LeaNder on October 25, 2012, 4:48 am

      These young Jews may have admired the Old Jewish Leftists, but they joined their fellow non-Jewish Americans in building a broad-based coalition that included all Americans. They left their Jewishness behind for a new American Left, even if the movement could not be sustained.

      What is Old Jewish Leftist? The Bundists? In the Bundist case you can pay closer attention on their, as Phil calls it, ethnocentric approach, you can also reflect the issue from the Menshevik Bolshevik perspective. Or leave the one-size fits all mindset, as I have come to lately call it. The much condemned Jeremiah Wright had exactly this ethnocentric approach, specific communities may well have specific needs. Something our bureaucracies find enormously hard to handle.

      Concerning the left, what has been often on my mind, admittedly, is the odd coinage on the German extreme late 19th century right “the Jews and their friends”. Eg. Marx and Engels from a right perspective? I am aware I am moving into the Nazis mindset concerning Marx, once a Jew always a Jew. But from the right perspective that is exactly what he was.

      To return to the juxtaposition of Orthodox versus Jewish Left. Now this is a highly hypothetical question. Do you think the idea of changing the world for the better is at its core religious or secular?

      • Bruce Wolman on October 25, 2012, 1:53 pm

        @LeaNder

        I was using Old Jewish Leftists in the broadest sense. There were quite a few immigrant and second generation Jews active in the US trade movements still around in the Sixties and a few left-wing political clubs, especially in NYC. But very few, if any, had kept the ethnocentric approach. The Bundists had mostly been swept under the rug. We were coming out of the McCarthy witch hunts and even being a Democratic Liberal made you a target in those days. Jews were nervous about being listed or having leftist groups be stereotyped as under Jewish influence. It happened.

        The New Left and the student movements wanted to break with the old Left establishments, ideology and dogma, even more than what happened in Europe. This is America. It had to be New. David Maraniss did a good job in capturing the atmosphere and discussing the participants in his book on 1967, They Marched Into Sunlight. Half of the book takes place at the University of Wisconsin, I was there, and he really nailed it.

        I only came on here because I noticed Ellis was not getting any comments and thought he deserved to have some readers. I was surprised by the framework, and couldn’t resist disagreeing with his Vietnam era analysis. I wouldn’t mind discussing further off-line. But don’t want to spend the time defending views publicly. Kind of off my topic on MW.

    • seanmcbride on October 25, 2012, 9:38 am

      Bruce,

      I am sure I could come up with more. Reducing 1960s Jewishness to the Jewish Left and Orthodoxy is a simplification almost as bad as what we find with MW commenters who posit a singular essential Jewishness.

      Provide some examples in which MW commenters have posited “a singular essential Jewishness.”

      Mooser just made a similar claim and when challenged to produce examples and URLs he fell silent.

      This is precisely the kind of straw man that pro-Israel militants like hophmi use to try to muddy the waters and shut down rational inquiry and discussion about Israeli politics.

      What *has* been argued here, without effective rebuttal, is that the Jewish religious establishment and contemporary Judaism have been thoroughly co-opted and hijacked by Zionism — Zionism and Judaism have in fact been effectively merged into a single ethno-religious nationalist ideology organized around the state of Israel.

      For anyone who understands the history of Judaism, this is a historical development of enormous significance — but you don’t seem to be interested in discussing it and its impact on Mideast politics and American foreign policy.

      • LeaNder on October 25, 2012, 12:21 pm

        Mooser just made a similar claim and when challenged to produce examples and URLs he fell silent.

        Mooser proposing a: “a singular essential Jewishness.”

        Now that would be a new aspect of Mooser to me and I already know several.

        Look, it’s not the entertaining aspect I like in him, I am a true believer in the close association of humor and intelligence as the usage of the word “wit” suggested much more obviously at earlier stages. I am all too aware to the parts of our topic Danaa emphasizes, as much as the resulting anger.

        Thus: link please.

        How many hours ago, I wanted to give up this comment section?
        Notice we are still struggling? And I am sure you have the impression I never moved on?

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 2:00 pm

        “Mooser just made a similar claim and when challenged to produce examples and URLs he fell silent.”

        Well, then maybe I was wrong. It does happen. I would certainly be very happy to be wrong, and, if I was wrong, it would render all this new-comment-rules-stuff unnecessary. So let’s hope for the best! And very often, hoping for the best and thinking I am wrong amounts to the same thing. It’s a win-win!

      • Bruce Wolman on October 25, 2012, 12:32 pm

        @seanmcbride
        What *has* been argued here, without effective rebuttal, is that the Jewish religious establishment and contemporary Judaism have been thoroughly co-opted and hijacked by Zionism — Zionism and Judaism have in fact been effectively merged into a single ethno-religious nationalist ideology organized around the state of Israel.

        I’m not interested because I don’t believe it, and you have certainly not demonstrated it. Shouting it dozens of times a week is not going to make it true. And even if there is some truthiness in what you say, I’m not going to agree until you can state it correctly and precisely.

        What scholarship do you bring to this?

        What do you know about the Jewish religious establishment? Is that singular or plural?

        What is your expertise on “the history of Judaism”? Is there one or many Judaisms?

        I will go take the time to collect examples, but first you do some work. You explain what is the “Jewishness” that is repeatedly mentioned by MW commenters, or are you denying “Jewishness” is not a topic here?

        I’ll make it easy. Explicate you own uses of the concept.

        Jewishness is largely an ethnicity (as much as a religion) and one can’t resign from being a member of an ethnic group. For instance, Italian Americans and Irish Americans can’t resign from being members of particular ethnic categories. Christians, on the other hand, can easily resign from the community of believers in Christianity.

        Compare and contrast Jewishness, Christian-ness, Italian-ness and Irish-ness, as you use the concepts.

        When I said that I think that the Jewish community worldwide bears primary responsibility for undoing this insidious and dangerous propaganda, I was also thinking that non-Jews should do their best to help them — to encourage the recognition that Jews can manifest their Jewishness, the Jewish tradition and Judaism in positive, creative and productive ways that have absolutely nothing to do with Israel or Zionism, and in a manner that doesn’t in the slightest call into question their full and undivided loyalty to the nations in which they live as citizens.

        Describe what you consider to be the “Jewish worldwide community.” What makes “Jews worldwide” a community?

        Please explain how non-Jews express their non-Jewishness, their traditions and their religions in positive, creative and productive ways which in no way call into question their loyalty to country. Why is it necessary that non-Jews be loyal to their own countries? What do you mean by loyalty?

        Are you suggesting that non-Jews by their own actions set an example for Jews to emulate? Or do you see non-Jews helping Jews in a sort of professional analysis capacity? Are all non-Jews meeting your standards, and if not, why shouldn’t non-Jews concentrate their efforts on helping other non-Jews that don’t measure up?

        The Jewish establishment itself has synonymized “the Jews” and Jewishness with Zionism — with a passionate loyalty to Israel and Jewish ethnic nationalism — and Zionists have been meddling in highly aggressive and destructive ways in American politics on behalf of the Israeli government for quite some time now.

        So you are saying that it is the Jewish establishment which is defining “Jewishness”? Could you explain to what extent “Jewish ethnic nationalism” is the dominant ideology among American Jews?

        The truth of the matter is that Enlightenment and humanist Jews have completely lost the battle to define Jewishness. That battle has been won by Likud and religious Zionists who have defined Jewishness as militant and xenophobic Jewish ethnic nationalism.

        Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, Benjamin Netanyahu, William Kristol, Dennis Ross and even Ovadia Yosef wield much greater power in the Jewish establishment (and Jewish “community”) than the handful of Judith Butlers.

        So what you are asserting is that “Jewishness = militant and xenophobic Jewish ethnic nationalism” and that “Jewishness is determined by the Likud and religious Zionists, Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, Benjamin Netanyahu, William Kristol, Dennis Ross and even Ovadia Yosef?

        Sometimes one wonders if Jewishness could be defined recursively: Jewishness is the state of being intensely preoccupied with one’s Jewishness. This is a mental and personality trait that cuts across all religious and secular boundaries and definitions.

        If it crosses all religious and secular boundaries and definitions, how can it any way describe Jewishness? OK, you retracted in the next comment. So I guess when you wrote this, you were just trying to think out loud.

        I didn’t mean to reduce Jewishness merely to an intense preoccupation with one’s Jewishness — it is much more complex than that. I was being a bit fanciful.

        But one does tend to encounter among Americans perhaps more ethnocentrism overall among Jews than among other ethnic groups. The core theme of Judaism is that Jews comprise a holy and chosen people who are on a mission from God to redeem, save and perfect the world. That’s quite a responsibility, one that can no doubt create a good deal of anxiety and worry. The term Messiah Complex comes to mind.

        No essentialism here. I have no questions.

        If you buy into the proposition that Jewishness is in part — and perhaps even largely — a set of biological and genetic traits, then Klaus’s statement makes sense. People of Irish, Arab or African descent are (in the ethnic sense) Irish, Arab or African for life regardless of their religious beliefs.

        By the way, Jews themselves have often referred to themselves as a “race.” It’s a sensitive topic, obviously, because Nazi ideology latched on to and abused that concept. But Nazis didn’t invent the concept.

        Important aspects of Jewish ethnic culture have thrived with little religious component.

        To what extent do you consider “Jewishness” a race? What important aspects of Jewish ethnic culture have thrived with little religious component?

        In fact, you seem very “un-Jewish” to me, as I define Jewishness — a love of learning, intellectual discipline, wide-ranging curiosity, a fiecely truth-seeking spirit, etc.

        Is this definition of “Jewishness” exhaustive for you? How does it relate to all your other remarks and definitions about “Jewishness”?

        I can’t go on. Please link to this comment on the other postings where you made your straw horse charge.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 2:07 pm

        “as I define Jewishness — a love of learning, intellectual discipline, wide-ranging curiosity, a fiecely truth-seeking spirit, etc.”

        And, I might mention, great kissers! Pucker up, ladies, but please, one at a time! The great (and zoftig!) Anna Held (possibly Jewish) once endured 143 consectutive kissers at an exhibition before swooning, and I intend to better her record.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 2:10 pm

        “Sometimes one wonders if Jewishness could be defined recursively”

        I would think so. Most people acquire their personal fund of profanity during adolescence or yount adulthood and use it throughout their life without much change, really.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 2:45 pm

        “What *has* been argued here, without effective rebuttal, is that the Jewish religious establishment and contemporary Judaism have been thoroughly co-opted and hijacked by Zionism — Zionism and Judaism have in fact been effectively merged into a single ethno-religious nationalist ideology organized around the state of Israel.”

        Bruce, you put that very well. I’m glad to see you havce accepted the reality of it.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 3:58 pm

        “What scholarship do you bring to this?”

        Bruce, if I can be serious for a moment, and I’m not sure I can, changing relationships in the present often mean changing our perceptions of the past. Changing the present relations of Israel, Zionism, and those Jews involved in it (and those dragged along) with power, their access to it and their use of it, will be paralleled by a process in which the Jewish past will be re-imagined. And not only by Jews. And scholarship won’t have a lot to do with it.
        Why, what sort of a past do you think we are entitled to?

      • Bruce Wolman on October 27, 2012, 5:13 pm

        @ Mooser

        If I can catch you at a serious moment, and I suspect there are more of these than you let on, I agree with you that “changing relationships in the present often mean changing our perceptions of the past.” But changing our perceptions of the past also changes relationships in the present. I’ve seen enough evidence of that.

        Maybe scholarship is always drowned out by power. But then what is the use of talking so much about past history on Mondoweiss? Only so that each of us can re-imagine history for our own purposes?

        I value the historian. For example, the works of the New Israeli Historians really did influence a change in perceptions of Israel and Zionism. They badly damaged the “Exodus” narrative. Benny Morris’s research on the so-called Palestinian refugee issue had such an effect, he freaked out at what he had wrought.

        Good history attempts to accurately describe and explain past events and people’s lives. A good historian may start with a preconceived notion or theory, but he handles evidence and counter-theories honesty. A bad historian attempts to describe, narrate or explain the past from a pre-fixed conclusion. Bad history is like reverse-engineering and often just as mechanical. It is ideally suited for propaganda purposes.

        I’ve read too much bad history on Mondoweiss.

        What sort of a past do I think Jews are entitled to? The past is past, whether the Jews were entitled to theirs, is a question above my pay grade. What kind of history do I think Jews are entitled to? I think the Jews – as all people – are entitled to an honest historical representation. I can’t think of any people who are worse off as a result.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 27, 2012, 11:09 pm

        @ Mooser

        That was sean. I never use *xxxx,* if that helps.

        Also, the paragraphs in italics are sean’s, not me. Please pay attention.

        BTW, can you direct me to any Mooser-free sites? I noticed Ellis was getting 0 comments, so I thought I was safe.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 27, 2012, 11:22 pm

        ” I can’t think of any people who are worse off as a result.”

        That is, I can’t think of any people who are worse off as a result of being given an honest historical representation.

      • Mooser on October 28, 2012, 1:25 am

        “BTW, can you direct me to any Mooser-free sites? I noticed Ellis was getting 0 comments, so I thought I was safe.”

        As I understand it (please don’t hesitate to correct me if I am wrong) commenting at Mondoweiss includes no particular obligation, expressed or implied, to answer me, respond to any of my comments, or even notice I exist. If you do, that’s your problem, and I don’t intend to make it mine.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 28, 2012, 9:54 am

        @ Mooser

        I have the same understanding. And it’s not a problem for me.

    • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 1:30 pm

      “Reducing 1960s Jewishness to the Jewish Left and Orthodoxy is a simplification almost as bad as what we find with MW commenters who posit a singular essential Jewishness.”

      Reminds me of the time I was rushed to the emergency ward, suffering from hypoxia. The Doctor wouldn’t believe it! “It’s funny”, he said, “but you don’t look bluish!”

      I had a nurse taking care of me, and it was touch and go for a while, but I got discharged before we reached the slap and tickle. Oh well.

  5. chinese box on October 25, 2012, 7:43 am

    What about say, “entrepreneurial Jewishness.”? Those petit bourgeois Jews that graduated to the bourgeoisie or were already there, owners of capital through go-go real estate development, Wall Street partnerships, chain store retail expansion, media ownership and Hollywood production. There may have been less of these, but they certainly had an enormous impact on the Jewish community.

    I was wondering how Exile and the Prophetic was going to work with the new comments policy, and then I clicked on this, LOL.

    • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 2:59 pm

      “I was wondering how Exile and the Prophetic was going to work with the new comments policy, and then I clicked on this, LOL.”

      Why? This seems to be one of those which meets my own standards anyway:
      The author is making a generalised statement about Jews, but he’s talking about American Jews, not ‘essential’ Jewishness, he’s talking about the present, and his statements are such that they can be, to the extent necessary, verified. The “entrepreneurial” is in a context of economic activity that many shared in at that time (it had a huge effect on Christian denominationalism and organisation and outlook in America, too.) not a secret Jewish fund or something.
      I guess the most salient point is this: The commenter is talking about a development, not declaring a stasis, not connecting any of this to an essential characteristic of Jews, or Judaism.
      So the new comment standards aren’t that hard or confusing. I don’t think Klaus will find them restrictive at all.

  6. Bruce Wolman on October 25, 2012, 10:05 am

    @ chinese box

    I was waiting for Ellis to respond, but I’m glad you came in.

    What exactly do you find objectionable or odd about the comment?

    It was a critique of Ellis employing the concept of “Jewishness” at all, especially reducing “Jewishness” to two main essences competing for the championship of “Jewishness.” My point is there is no “Jewishness”.

    I would never write something like, “Now factor in Chomsky’s Jewishness” or “he can’t be understood outside of his Jewishness.” What do these statements mean? Ellis does add rather uncontroversially, “it is important to understand the Jewish culture Chomsky was raised within. The Jewish culture, Chomsky was grew up in was specific to its time and place.” But what does that have to do with this “Jewishness” that keeps being discussed here at MW?

    When Ellis then proceeds to talk about Chomsky “As representative of the Jewish prophetic,” he’s lost me.

    When we discuss Frank Sinatra (you may be to young to know who he is), do we talk about his “Italian-ness” or his “Catholic-ness” or his “Italian-Catholic-ness”? What would those essences be? No, we refer to his experience growing up a Catholic in Italian immigrant Hoboken and how that influenced his adult life and/or his music and his later associates, something quite specific, something quite American in fact.

    “Entrepreneurial” is a positive buzzword for most Americans.

    Except for “New Jew Jewishness”, every one of these sociological categories I came up with could apply to a wide swath of Americans. If I was writing about this, I certainly wouldn’t add “Jewishness” to the categories.

    I suggest you read Donald’s latest comment on the New Comment Policy thread.

    • seanmcbride on October 25, 2012, 11:20 am

      Bruce,

      When we discuss Frank Sinatra (you may be to young to know who he is), do we talk about his “Italian-ness” or his “Catholic-ness” or his “Italian-Catholic-ness”?

      That is precisely the point: most Americans are not ethnic or ethno-religious nationalists lobbying for the interests of a foreign government.

      But the American mainstream media are brimming over with Jewish ethno-religious nationalists and lobbyists for Israel who are claiming to speak for “the Jews,” the Jewish people, Judaism, the Jewish tradition, Jewish values, etc. This cultural orientation and mindset are radically out of sync with the values of Americanism and Americans. America is in the business of overcoming ethnic and religious tribalism within an Enlightenment framework.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 25, 2012, 1:14 pm

        @ seanmcbride

        Most Americans are not ethnic nationalists, but many of them are American nationalists and/or regional chauvinists. So for you, the problem with the American Jews are that they are ethnic nationalists, not that they are nationalists? That almost all American politicians speak glowingly of American exceptionalism is a plus in your worldview?

        If the cultural orientation of the American Jews are “radically out of sync with the values of Americanism and Americans”, why are Americans so comfortable talking about Judeo-Christian principles and how America was founded according to them and guided by them today?

        America is in the business of overcoming ethnic and religious tribalism within an Enlightenment framework.

        ROFL. Oh, is that what is happening here? Replacing “ethnic and religious tribalism” with what? Where does America’s racial chauvinism, Islamaphobia, and Hispanic immigrant bashing fit in to your happy narrative? Christian fundamentalists and Christian Zionists?

        US schools are now trending to increased segregation. African-Americans have lost all their meager economic gains and the class divide is widening by the day. One American political party is making a concerted effort to disenfranchise African Americans and the poor. What percentage of African-American males have or will be imprisoned? New anti-immigration laws are being passed by the day. 90% of the drug arrests off the street in NYC are against black and Hispanics.

        And let’s not get started on American Foreign Policy. America Inc. has absolutely no hesitation in exploiting and maintaing “ethnic and religious tribalism” abroad if it advances its self-determined interests.

        Enough. The differences in view are clear.

      • annie on October 25, 2012, 2:13 pm

        So for you, the problem with the American Jews are that they are ethnic nationalists, not that they are nationalists?

        i don’t think it is easier to understand sean’s argument by generalizing wrt “the American Jews”. that’s not who he was talking about here: the American mainstream media are brimming over with Jewish ethno-religious nationalists and lobbyists for Israel who are claiming to speak for “the Jews,” the Jewish people, Judaism, the Jewish tradition, Jewish values, etc..

        that’s not the same as ‘american jews’. also, america is a civic nationalist country, that is what distinguishes it from ethnic nationalism. not the nationalist part but the civil vs ethnic part:

        https://www.msu.edu/user/hillrr/161lec16.htm?iframe=true

        According to ethnic nationalists,

        –it is not the state that creates the nation but

        the nation that creates the state

        –The glue that holds people together is

        –Not shared political rights

        –but pre-existing ethnic characteristics

        African-Americans have lost all their meager economic gains and the class divide is widening by the day. One American political party is making a concerted effort to disenfranchise African Americans and the poor.

        why yes, the elite don’t give up their position of power willfully. but what you call ‘class divide’ is not the same as ethnic divide. ‘the poor’ includes lots of white people. i do think America is in the business of overcoming ethnic and religious tribalism within an Enlightenment framework. it may take quite awhile but in terms of our nationalism, we remain a civic nationalist country and i think american jews are part of that. i think their ethnic nationalism (those who are ethnic nationalists) primarily pertains to israel, not america.

        This cultural orientation and mindset are radically out of sync with the values of Americanism and Americans.

        i agree with this. civic nationalism is radically different than ethnic nationalism. it just is. but i agree with you about our foreign policy (no hesitation in exploiting and maintaing “ethnic and religious tribalism” abroad if it advances its self-determined interests.) it’s called divide and conquer and we excel at it, but most americans do not promote it at home. (the t party maybe, and other racists including the islamophobes but they are not trending. i hope not anyway).

      • seanmcbride on October 25, 2012, 2:28 pm

        Bruce,

        Your logic is jumbled. Yes, most Americans are American nationalists and support American values — which means that they are *opposed* to ethnic and religious nationalism. American nationalism is founded on the Enlightenment principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

        I don’t have a “problem with American Jews” — again, this is yet another manipulative and malicious attempt on your part to set up a straw man — I have a problem with any Americans who put ethnic and/or religious nationalism — and a passionate attachment to any foreign nation — above their commitment to American universalist values and the American interest. Most American Jews are in fact fully in sync with mainstream American culture.

        I strongly oppose chauvinist expressions of American exceptionalism. But I strongly support core American values, and I do, without apology, love my country and its culture. America has been on the cutting edge of the evolution of world civilization for quite a few decades precisely because it based on the values of diversity, tolerance, inclusiveness, meritocracy, etc. Look at any leading American Internet or high tech company and you will find a rich mix of ethnic and religious groups represented among their board members, high officials, managers and employees.

        Also, it is one thing to support “Judeo-Christian values” and quite another thing to declare absolute devotion and allegiance to a foreign nation (Israel) whose government is controlled by the most right-wing regime in its history — one that is increasingly in conflict with the modern Western democratic world and which insists on building illegal JEWISH-ONLY settlements on occupied territories in pursuit of fulfilling an Old Testament fantasy. Zionism and authentic Judeo-Christian values are disjoint sets.

        Yes, there is still a great deal of unofficial racism in American society. But if the United States officially declared itself to be the state of White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, as Israel has declared itself to be the state of the Jews worldwide, then you would appreciate what real racism is all about. Think of the Confederacy, which triggered the bloodiest war in American history.

        As for American foreign policy, I strongly opposed the Iraq War long before it started and predicted, accurately, that it would lead to a foreign policy disaster. I presume that you did also — did you? I think that Americans should encourage the growth of democracy around the world by setting an inspiring example to follow, not by invading and occupying foreign nations.

      • on October 25, 2012, 3:05 pm

        “other racists including the islamophobes”
        ————–
        Annie –
        I didn’t know that Islam constituted a sort of ethnic community or ‘race’.

      • American on October 25, 2012, 5:51 pm

        ”If the cultural orientation of the American Jews are “radically out of sync with the values of Americanism and Americans”, why are Americans so comfortable talking about Judeo-Christian principles and how America was founded according to them and guided by them today?””…BRUCE

        America wasn’t founded ‘according’ to them and there was no Judeo included with Christian at the time and the term didn’t even exist as a usable or recongized term until 1960. We have corrected this myth a hundred times already.

        Oxford English Dictionary on the history of the term Judeo-Christian:
        The earliest use of the phrase “Judeo-Christian” came in 1899 Lit. Guide 1 Oct. 146/1: “The total abandonment of the Judaeo-Christian ‘continuity’ theory.”
        The next use is in 1910, Encycl. Brit. VI. 494/1: “The Clementine literature throws light upon a very obscure phase of Christian development, that of Judaeo-Christianity.
        Earliest reference to a “Judaeo-Christian deity” was in 1957.
        Earliest reference to”Judeo-Christianity” appeared 1960

      • Bruce Wolman on October 25, 2012, 8:26 pm

        @ Annie Robbins

        i don’t think it is easier to understand sean’s argument by generalizing wrt “the American Jews”. that’s not who he was talking about here

        You have to take both sets of comments to understand sean’s arguments and my responses. I repeat, sean wrote

        non-Jews should do their best to help them — to encourage the recognition that Jews can manifest their Jewishness, the Jewish tradition and Judaism in positive, creative and productive ways that have absolutely nothing to do with Israel or Zionism, and in a manner that doesn’t in the slightest call into question their full and undivided loyalty to the nations in which they live as citizens.

        Who else is he talking about? Israeli Jews are to manifest their Jewishness in ways “that have absolutely nothing to do with Israel or Zionism?” That should be interesting. And then he adds a loyalty test, “that doesn’t in the slightest call into question their full and undivided loyalty to the nations in which they live as citizens.” Nationalists demand loyalty from citizens. This is exactly the kind of language you heard from 19th century nationalists. I am arguing from his premises, not mine.

        Why do citizens have to profess loyalty to their country? And who is to define what it means to be loyal? Are you going to profess loyalty as defined by American nationalists? I have a kind of dual loyalty. I lived many years in Norway, and I care about it as much as the United States. If I think Norway is more right than the United States on an issue, or even that Norway’s interests should take precedence over United States interests, does that now make me disloyal to the United States? I am even more of a cosmopolitan, and if I consider either the United States or Norway to be wrong, or that some other country’s interests should take precedent, am I disloyal to do that? Are Iranian-Americans bound to support the United States if it attacks Iran? If they refuse to participate or support are they to be charged with disloyalty?

        But let’s take the statement you quoted from sean,

        the American mainstream media are brimming over with Jewish ethno-religious nationalists and lobbyists for Israel who are claiming to speak for “the Jews,” the Jewish people, Judaism, the Jewish tradition, Jewish values, etc.

        Really? Brimming over? Except for Fox, and I’m not sure mainstream is the right word for Fox, you usually don’t find “Jewish ethno-religious nationalists and lobbyists for Israel” defending Israel on mainstream TV. I am not even sure what you mean by that, but usually the Zionists and Israel try to keep those people out-of-sight since they come off as so unappealing. Frank Lutz doesn’t get paid all those big bucks to find just the right language for nothing.

        also, america is a civic nationalist country, that is what distinguishes it from ethnic nationalism. not the nationalist part but the civil vs ethnic part:

        I believe you idealize America and make distinctions that are not significant. Institutionalized discrimination is the same in effect and perniciousness whether it is based on religion, ethnicity, race or even class. The UN definition of racism recognizes this. I am reminded of Zionists who argue that Israel cannot be an Apartheid state because it does not discriminate based on race.

        Values are reflected in decisions and actions, not the rationalizations given for an action or the well-crafted words of leaders, politicians, clergy, editorialists or even citizens. Enforcement of laws are as important as the laws themselves.

        The United States, Canada, Australia and Israel were all founded as settler nations. That should not be very controversial. The settlers of the United States cleansed the native population and expropriated their lands. Ninety percent of the native population died through violence or imported disease. The United States never properly compensated the few remaining Indians, and their social conditions today are still appalling. The only reason the United States doesn’t have an Indian problem today is that they were wiped out. Something similar can be said about Canada and Australia. Is it any wonder these nations find it so easy to empathize with the Israelis?

        I was reading about an Indian tribe in Washington state that were cleansed from their lands and transferred to a small reservation in the 1870s, and then put under paternal administration by the Federal government. That was 75 years before the founding of the state of Israel. It is now 65 years since the Nabka. If Israel, can hold out for another 65 years denying the Palestinian their rights, will the statue-of-limitations on the Nabka expire?

        On top of ethnic cleansing and genocide, the United States was founded on slavery. That institution lasted 85 years. Rigid segregation and oppression followed for another 80-100 years. Although some legal changes have been enacted, resulting in some improvements, institutional racism still pervades America. I suggest you read, The New Jim Crow entry in Wikipedia, to find out how the United States is overcoming racial division within an Enlightenment framework. There is no way that you can examine the statistics of African-American income, wealth and social conditions and not conclude that this is something more than the ‘class divide’.

        We can also just look around and see how the current anti-immigration backlash is dealing with ethnic Hispanics.

        Then we can examine American politics and see how the Southern Strategy, adopted first by Richard Nixon in reaction to the Civil Rights Movement, is still the supreme strategy of the Republican Party, which is more the party of whites than ever. What American values does that represent?

        Evangelical Christians make up 25-30% of America. Along with certain conservative Catholics, they are actively trying to impose religious hegemony and control over a number of state governments, and they are succeeding. Is it fair to call them religious nationalists? They are working to control schools and curriculum, and to have their private religious schools receive state funding. They are passing laws banning Sharia (as if that is a threat) and trying to restrict Islamic worship. They have put in place Supreme Court Judges that are increasingly chipping away at the separation of state and religion, and allowing funding of selective religious institutions and permitting discrimination by religious institutions. Had there not been a historical 1st Amendment and the difficulty in changing the Constitution, what would these religious forces have achieved by now? They strongly support Israel as a Jewish state holding control over all of Eretz Israel. Are these people anti-American? Do they not share American values?

        If stock was sold in America’s “business of overcoming ethnic and religious tribalism within an Enlightenment framework,” I would have to go short looking at current trends.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 25, 2012, 9:44 pm

        @ seanmcbride

        Okay, you didn’t want to answer my previous questions in an attempt to clear up all your confusing statements on “Jewishness.” Instead you accuse me, like you did with Mooser, of setting up a straw man. But all I asked you to do is explain what you wrote. I didn’t set up anything.

        So I will leave you with a few more questions based on your recent reply. And you can also read my response to Annie.

        You say, “American nationalism is founded on the Enlightenment principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Assuming that is correct, which, if any, of these principles have been enhanced in the last 20-30 years? Separation of powers and limitations on executive power, including limits on the right to go to war immediately come to mind. With respect to the Bill of Rights, the only Amendment to be strengthened in this period is the 2nd. The 4th through 6th Amendments have been eviscerated. And the 14th is undergoing severe contortions and the 15th is also being circumscribed. Meanwhile corporate interests have been adjudicated more rights than ever. How did all this happen if most Americans held the values to which you ascribe to them?

        You say Americans are opposed to religious nationalism due to American values. If there was not a 1st amendment – and Scalia claims the first amendment only applies to the Federal government, not the states – how many states do you expect would ban mosques and/or Islamic worship?

        As ethnic and racial minorities become a majority in the United States, how many states do you expect will do whatever they can to limit minority, now majority representation? What would that say about true American values?

        There is a movement afoot to either pass legislation or have the Supreme Court re-interpet the Constitution so that babies born in the US would not automatically be eligible for citizenship, it would depend on the status of the parents. Polling shows a majority of Americans are in favor of this change, although I admit they may not understand the implications well enough. What does this say about American values?

        How are American universal values to be prioritized against American interests? Or better yet, how do Americans prioritize them? What does that say about what Americans truly value?

        You strongly oppose “chauvinist expressions of American exceptionalism,” but Americans love these expressions so much every political candidate in both parties has to repeat these expressions ad nauseam. What makes you feel you have the right to deny that American exceptionalism is a core American value? And how have you determined what are core American values?

        You write, “I do, without apology, love my country and its culture.” Are you then unwilling to apologize to the Palestinians for what your country has done and continues to do to them? Would you be willing to apologize to the American Indians? Would you be willing to apologize to African-Americans? Better yet would you be willing to pay them reparations, or give them back some of the land that should belong to both groups?

        You write, “America has been on the cutting edge of the evolution of world civilization for quite a few decades precisely because it is based on the values of diversity, tolerance, inclusiveness, meritocracy, etc.” Do you think the Palestinians would agree with this statement? Do you think that’s the view of the rest of the world? Then you refer to American Internet or high tech companies as examples. Well, I ran Internet and high tech companies both inside and outside the United States, and these companies look similar no matter the country. Your argument is quite similar to one Dan Senor makes.

        You mention “Judeo-Christian” values. What are they? I can’t get anyone to tell me. Can you enumerate a list that would satisfy a majority of Judeos and a majority of Christians, or even one of these religions. I often half-joke that if Israel had to actually determine what being a Jewish state meant, the Jewish Israelis would end up killing each other over the issue.

        How do you feel about America providing absolute protection for a reactionary Saudi monarchy, which bankrolls the global expansion of one of the most fundamentalist and extreme Islamic sects? How do you feel about America supporting every right-wing regime on the planet? What does that say about actual American values?

        I’m sure African Americans will be comforted to hear that they currently are only the victims of “unofficial racism in American society” and that they wouldn’t know what “real racism is all about” until the United States officially declared itself a WASP state.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 25, 2012, 10:32 pm

        @ American

        Geez, American, as if I didn’t know that “Judeo-Christian” is a relatively, recent construction. That was not my question. It was how are so many of current Americans, especially politicians, able to associate the American Constitution with Judeo-Christian values.

        A Google of the American Constitution and Judeo-Christian values provides over 1 million hits. The American Constitution and Judeo-Christian principles the same.

        The Wikipedia article Judeo-Christian also has a good historical overview.

        If you want to see modern Judeo-Christian values in action, check out the Christian & Jews United For Israel website.

      • MRW on October 26, 2012, 12:40 am

        The United States, Canada, Australia and Israel were all founded as settler nations.

        No they weren’t, not in the way you’re trying to get away with.

        The Israeli settlers were usurpers on someone’s settled land that had government institutions, housing, export, agriculture, infrastructure, and UN laws protecting and guaranteeing its existence during the effort to create a “Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded IN PALESTINE” (emphasis in original), which were ignored. The correct legal term is occupation. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, foundational about it. See Hostage’s archives for exhaustive links to all this.

        The British, on the other hand, enlisted the help of the Tyendanaga Mohawk with whom they formed treaties way before 1776, when the Brits were fighting the French in Upper Canada. The Tyendanaga Mohawk were proxy soldiers for the British and to this day their relationship is honored by the Queen with Crown sterling pieces and visits when she goes to Canada and with whom they’ve kept allegiance for over 400 years. Two of the earliest Anglican cathedrals are on the Tyendanaga Mohawk reservation lands in southern Ontario. The Tyendanaga Mohawk occupied nearly all of New York State and were promised the lands in Britain’s fight with the American colonists. The Brits lost, and so did the Indians. Another little piece of Americana is that our form of government was based on the Tyendinaga Mohawk and Tekanawita’s 600-year-old representative form of government called Tekanawita’s Great Law of Peace. But that history is too much to go into here. It’s in my archives.

        The Puritans, the religious fanatics who were kicked out of England for their disruptive craziness, were the ones who caused trouble with the indigenous people, initially, in the British colonies. 500 tribes were wiped out nationwide by wars with the Americans, Spaniards, and French over a 400-year period. This land was Spanish long before it became “American,” as Tony Horwitz’ NYT op-ed will explain to you.

        And Australia? It was the Britain Empire’s penal colony after the American Revolution stopped them dumping convicts on the plantations. The Stolen Generation that required government apologies to the Aborigines and reconciliation in the 00s was a hideous policy put in place from 1910 to 1971. It had nothing to do with settling the land. It was forced assimilation and taking aboriginal children away from their parents and stuffing them in institutions and neglecting them.

      • straightline on October 26, 2012, 6:25 am

        As an Australian, I accept and acknowledge that the settlers there did some pretty awful things to the natives. There are many ways this differs from the Israeli situation though.

        First and foremost, Israel happened in the second half of the 20th century when, in the rest of the world, overt colonialism was retreating, and Australian attitudes to its Aboriginal population were shifting towards a more caring position.

        Secondly, when the European settlers arrived, Aborigines were, by and large, a nomadic/hunter-gatherer society with almost no fixed infrastructure, very unlike most of Palestine when Israel was established.

        Thirdly, Australia has acknowledged – too late and perhaps too little – its acts against Aborigines. It has tried – not always successfully – to compensate them for its previous actions. Even the “stolen generation” issue was a misguided attempt to assimilate Aborigines into the culture of the settlers (how very different from Israel) – it would be like Israel trying to convert Palestinians – equally stupid but in some senses laudable. Australia puts significant resources into helping Aboriginal communities that wish to stay separate, and at least at a legal level, prohibits any discrimination against them. Perhaps these prohibitions don’t always work perfectly, especially outside of the urban areas, but they are there. Indeed in some areas of policy there is discrimination in favour of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Major official gatherings (government or public bodies for instance) usually commence with an acknowledgement that they are taking place on traditional Aboriginal land. While we can never truly compensate the Aboriginal population of Australia for what was done to them, there is no political party in Australia that could adopt a platform of discrimination against them and receive a significant vote. So if Israel adopted similar policies towards its Palestinian population (both inside the green line and outside it), I’d be pretty happy about it.

        Perhaps a more pertinent example would be of the Maori in New Zealand. They had a more settled society and indeed fought a war against the settlers resulting in the Treaty of Waitangi:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Waitangi

        Again the Maori suffered significantly from the settlement of the Europeans, but today they play a very significant role in NZ society. While in socio-economic terms their situation is not perfect, the NZ government has programs in place to change that. What about it, Israel?

      • straightline on October 26, 2012, 6:41 am

        I tried to edit but it didn’t work. One other very important difference between Israel and Australia is that Australia is an avowedly multicultural country that accepts immigrants of all ethnicities and religions. In recent years, large numbers of (legal) immigrants have come from China, the Indian subcontinent, and East Africa. These immigrants are helped to settle in Australia, and to become a part of the varied and culturally rich society of this country.

      • annie on October 26, 2012, 7:26 am

        klaus, i hope this clarifies my meaning for you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism#Legal

        Legal

        The UN does not define “racism”; however, it does define “racial discrimination”: According to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

        the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.[21]

        This definition does not make any difference between discrimination based on ethnicity and race

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamophobia

        Islamophobia was recognized as a form of intolerance alongside xenophobia and antisemitism at the “Stockholm International Forum on Combating Intolerance”.[7] The conference, attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the OSCE Secretary General Ján Kubis and representatives of the European Union and Council of Europe, adopted a declaration to combat “genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia, and to combat all forms of racial discrimination and intolerance related to it.” [8] Some scholars of the social sciences consider it a form of racism,[9][10] but this is controversial.[11]

      • annie on October 26, 2012, 8:39 am

        Judges that are increasingly chipping away at the separation of state and religion, and allowing funding of selective religious institutions and permitting discrimination by religious institutions. Had there not been a historical 1st Amendment and the difficulty in changing the Constitution, what would these religious forces have achieved by now?…….Are these people anti-American? Do they not share American values?

        in my opinion, no. they do not share american values. they are anti american. we still have the 1st amendment and it still very much represents american values (for me and many americans, the majority of us imho). racism is not an american value. perhaps you are using a different definition of value than i am.

        You have to take both sets of comments to understand sean’s arguments

        my comment was specific to the argument being made here in that one comment. i’m not comfortable using a quote pulled from another thread, out of context, in this circumstance. i was merely trying to point out “Jewish ethno-religious nationalists and lobbyists for Israel ” is definitely not the same thing as “the American Jews”. it’s simply more efficient to quote accurately (especially when you use quotemarks inaccurately like “Jewish worldwide community” it makes following the conversation more confusing).

      • seanmcbride on October 26, 2012, 9:21 am

        Bruce,

        Okay, you didn’t want to answer my previous questions in an attempt to clear up all your confusing statements on “Jewishness.”

        I just saw that post and will be happy to reply to all your points in detail. One thing at a time.

        In the meantime would you explain where you are coming from on these issues?

        1. nation(s) of citizenship?
        2. ethnicity?
        3. religion of upbringing?
        4. current religion, if any, and religious affiliations?
        5. political orientation and affiliations?

        Me:

        1. American
        2. Anglo-Irish
        3. Roman Catholicism
        4. agnostic/ theosophist
        5. progressive libertarian (voted for Obama in the last election, will vote for Jill Stein in this election)

        It helps to get one’s cultural biases out on the table when approaching Mideast politics.

        Also: did you support or oppose the Iraq War at its inception? I strongly opposed it and confidently predicted that it would end as colossal failure and an embarrassment for the neoconservatives who cooked it up.

        Thanks.

      • on October 26, 2012, 9:30 am

        “UN definition: ‘racial discrimination’ …. based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.”
        ————————–
        Annie –
        In the above enumeration, ‘religion’ is not mentioned.
        Islam constitutes a religious communitiy of peoples of diverse ethnicities and cultures (Arabs, Turks, Indonesians etc.)

        Logically, if I call the discrimination against a certain category of people “racism”, I must consider this category a ‘race’, i.e. an ethnicity. (My comment just wanted to point you to a somewhat loose usage of the term.)

        To give you an example. For a time, Catholics were discriminated against in Prussia, they could not become civil servants because the Prussian king was Protestant. But it would sound strange to say: There was anti-Catholic racism. – The same thing probably applies to the animosity the Mormons faced in America. But was there anti-Mormon racism?

        As was mentioned in another thread (about anti-Israel student action on campus, mock checkpoints etc.) – Jewish groups tried to invoke anti-racism regulation on campus on the basis the Jews are – beside being a religious community – are also an ethnic one (defined by descent).

      • annie on October 26, 2012, 10:22 am

        Annie – In the above enumeration, ‘religion’ is not mentioned.

        klaus, in my blockquote i specifically picked up wiki’s embed of ethnicity just for you. did you open it?

        An ethnic group is a group of people whose members are identified through a common trait. This can, but does not have to, include an idea of common heritage, a common culture, a shared language or dialect.[1] The group’s ethos or ideology may also stress common ancestry and religion, as opposed to an ethnic minority group which refers to race.

        note how it does not say ‘politics’.

        Logically, if I call the discrimination against a certain category of people “racism”, I must concider this category a ‘race’.

        maybe you must, but i do not have to. i also bolded the part that says “Some scholars of the social sciences consider it a form of racism” wrt islamophobia. for practical purposes, i think it is a form of racial discrimination (as defined by the UN).

        i also consider anti semitism a form of racial discrimination, based on ethnicity. the same could said for discriminating against catholics, mormons or any religious group of people simply for being a person of a specific faith.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism

        Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. Social scientists consider it a form of racism.

        As was mentioned in another thread (about anti-Israel student action on campus, mock checkpoints etc.) – Jewish groups tried to invoke anti-racism regulation on campus on the basis the Jews are – beside being a religious community – are also an ethnic one (defined by descent).

        yes, certain jewish groups failed in making their argument the ‘anti-Israel student action’ was directed at jews as opposed to state policies. protesting against a government, government policy, states action or political constructs is not the same as protesting against people because of their ethnicity. although there are definitely zionists currently trying to conflate anti zionism is anti semitism (racism) which comes very close to merging the idea zionism is ‘jewish’ or defines ‘jewish’ which imho, it does not. political constructs are still not considered “ethnic”. not yet anyway.

        as far as i know, had the group convinced the judge (or panel or commission) the anti-Israel student action was directed at the other jewish students based on their ethnicity the anti-racism regulation on campus would have applied for anti-racism regulation on campuses can be invoked in instances of anti semitism. as it should be. otherwise the panel would not have even considered the case for it would not have been under their purview.

        btw, this is a very hot issue right now as recent legislation in california comes very close to codifying anti zionism as anti semitism.

        The report’s recommendations, which seek to limit criticism of Israeli state policies as a form of “hate speech”, have been criticized as an assault on academic freedom and an attempt to limit student and faculty’s first amendment rights to free speech.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 26, 2012, 11:07 am

        @ Annie Robbins

        my comment was specific to the argument being made here in that one comment. i’m not comfortable using a quote pulled from another thread, out of context, in this circumstance. i was merely trying to point out “Jewish ethno-religious nationalists and lobbyists for Israel ” is definitely not the same thing as “the American Jews”. it’s simply more efficient to quote accurately (especially when you use quotemarks inaccurately like “Jewish worldwide community” it makes following the conversation more confusing).

        If you follow the time stamps of the exchanges – impossible to do without effort – you will find that the quote was not out-of-thread nor out-of-context.

        The sequence of discussion actually was:

        Chomsky’s “Jewishness” -> Bruce: “When we discuss Frank Sinatra (you may be to young to know who he is), do we talk about his “Italian-ness” or his “Catholic-ness” or his “Italian-Catholic-ness”?” -> Sean: “That is precisely the point: most Americans are not ethnic or ethno-religious nationalists lobbying for the interests of a foreign government.”

        So what point is Sean making here, Annie? And to whom is he referring?

        In between my response to Sean’s comment and my reply, was my comment quoting Sean on “Jewishness.” Put the four comments in sequence, they make a thread and are quite in-context from my side.

        In Sean’s comment he added the paragraph about the media, which to me was out-of-context, but I dealt with it separately in my reply to you.

        If it is confusing, then it is a result of the technology. The comments do not appear in temporal sequence and do not necessarily follow directly one another when two commenters are having an exchange. I did not pull a quote from another thread.

        In any case, I don’t see the problem using quotes from multiple comments and threads when discussing someone’s repeated arguments. Unfortunately this can be abused, but I don’t see any way around that.

        As for quoting inaccurately, Sean used the term, “Jewish community worldwide.” I thought that phrase was awkward in quotes, so I changed it to Jewish worldwide community. (Really, what is the difference?) But then I was uncomfortable using the term without quotation marks, as that would imply I acknowledge such a thing. So I put quotes around it, analogous to my putting quotes around “Jewishness”. One can add, “so-called,” but that gets tiring to read after awhile. If there is another convention for this, I would welcome hearing about it. Sorry, if it caused confusion.

      • seanmcbride on October 26, 2012, 11:10 am

        Bruce,

        I just noticed that two detailed replies I made to you yesterday are still held up in moderation — and two previous replies before that never got through. So this has been rather a one-sided debate so far. Have all your comments been posted?

        In the meantime:

        What exactly is your bottom line on Mideast politics? What precisely do you want from Americans with regard to Israel?

        Speaking as an American, I would prefer to see the United States stay out of any more vicious Mideast feuds based on Abrahamic cult beliefs and biblical mumbo jumbo. The Iraq War alone is on track to cost several trillion dollars, while having provided absolutely no benefits to Americans — just deaths, injuries, headaches and a near financial collapse on the scale of the Great Depression. Americans have much more important issues to worry about — most of them domestic — than getting bogged down in fighting Israel’s enemies, who seem to keep proliferating with each passing year. Former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has warned that an Iran War could be catastrophic for Americans.

        Do you have any problems with this point of view? Why are you in the great Mideast debates at all? What do you want? What are you fighting for? What would motivate most Americans to take your side?

      • LeaNder on October 26, 2012, 11:15 am

        Concerning your questions to Bruce, Sean, and I was admittedly slightly amused, his rhetorical rifle fire of questions, questions, question, reminded me of our earliest encounters. Well, yes, I guess it has something inquisitorial. I hated it when my father was in this mode.

        But concerning, if you allow me to return to this:

        Provide some examples in which MW commenters have posited “a singular essential Jewishness.”

        Mooser just made a similar claim and when challenged to produce examples and URLs he fell silent.

        In what exact ways can Mooser and Bruce be compared?

        I liked the Bruce Wolman articles and mainly found myself on this side, but I never noticed he is Jewish. Is he? I had to go back and analyze the exchange but strictly it was triggered somewhere along the exchange, no idea how directly or indirectly.

        Why should we, if our central question is: are you Jewish, not simply ask that. But instead try to make it secondary, or actually only one fifth (20%) or the larger revelatory importance?

      • Bruce Wolman on October 26, 2012, 11:34 am

        @ Annie Robbins

        in my opinion, no. they do not share american values. they are anti american. we still have the 1st amendment and it still very much represents american values (for me and many americans, the majority of us imho). racism is not an american value. perhaps you are using a different definition of value than i am.

        Ok, but your opinion is a value judgement, not an objective analysis of what represents the actual values of contemporary Americans. And hence, we have different definitions. I might use “American ideals” for what you call “American values.”

        As I already stated, for me values get revealed through the situational choices individuals or groups make. All too often, stated values are either public relations and/or rationalizations. That having been said, I am uncomfortable talking about “American anything”. This is a diverse, segmented and divided country, and values differ accordingly. Too often, when someone says “American values,” they are talking about values they and similar Americans hold.

        The First Amendment is under attack, so it will be revealed over time to what extent Americans truly value it.

        The Fourth and Sixth Amendments – both of which I highly value – have now been eviscerated by the Bush and Obama administrations in a bi-partisan effort. These amendments were negated with hardly a whimper from the American people.

        Racism may not be an American value (or ideal), but it is as American as apple pie. The jury is still out how this problem will play out in the US.

      • seanmcbride on October 26, 2012, 11:46 am

        Bruce,

        My point about Frank Sintra was clear and easy to understand: most Americans do not engage in the politics of aggressive ethnic and religious nationalism on behalf of foreign nations.

        Italian Americans, German Americans, Irish Americans, Norwegian Americans, etc. are not bogged down in ugly arguments with their fellow Americans about Italy, Germany, Ireland and Norway. And thank God for that.

        Simple, eh?

      • seanmcbride on October 26, 2012, 11:53 am

        Bruce,

        Regarding the worldwide Jewish community — I was referring primarily to the worldwide Jewish establishment, which organizes it activities across all nations in coordination with Israel. There is nothing controversial about this statement: the mainstream American Jewish press (JTA, Forward, etc.) report on these activties all the time. The term “world” explicitly appears in the names of some of these organizations — the WJC (World Jewish Congress) and WZO (World Zionist Organization) come to mind.

        Billionaires seem to dominate the topmost levels of this global organizational hierarchy. What most captures one’s attention in looking into the operations of the Israel lobby worldwide is the role of billionaires in running the show.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 26, 2012, 12:20 pm

        @ seanmcbride

        The time delays on postings are variable, and so we often find ourselves in weird situations responding to each other. I just spent an hour figuring out the actual time sequence of an exchange we had, and who had read which comment before replying. I did that to respond to a criticism of Annie’s which I though was unfair. But my head started to throb figuring it out.

        As to whether your comments are being held up or rejected, I have no idea.

        And warning, I am replying to this without checking for any unread comments above.

        If you want to know my bottom lines, as I have suggested several times, browse through my MW postings in the author index. Some of my postings are indexed under Bruce Wolman and Phil Weiss, others just my name, other just my first name. (I wrote all the articles, but a technical problem prevents merging them into one index name) Isn’t this reasonable, rather than you keep asking me to do all the work? I spent many hours writing those postings.

        I wrote a post called, The Israel/Palestine conflict will be resolved when Arab countries kick the U.S. out of the region. Obviously, I think the United States should get out of the Middle East, as it seems incapable of playing a positive role. It should stop enabling bad Israeli behavior. I’ve written several posts about how the United States muscles other countries to follow its I/P policy line and how that focus is sucking the air out of American foreign policy. And although I would like the United States to play a true mediator/arbitrator role between Israel and the Palestinians, I recognize that the United States is simply incapable of doing that.

        What do I want? I want as much justice as is possible for the Palestinians and to not have to think about I/P or “Jewishness” any longer. I expect that the Palestinians will get less justice than I think they deserve. I am not sure there is anything we can do at the moment to resolve I/P. I have tried many avenues, but have found no viable path. Does writing on MW matter? I support efforts to challenge US aid to Israel, which would be more effective than BDS, but I also support BDS. Regrettably, in my judgement and as I wrote, the next step is up to the Palestinians and the Arabs. They face tough choices, and I don’t presume to know which choice is the best one.

        Now that I know you are American, let me say to you that for over a decade I have personally tried to talk to many Americans and American Jews about I/P and the rights of the Palestinians. I find your hyperbolic rhetoric to be unhelpful in that effort. Even the people who I have turned around and convinced, when I show them your comments, think you are off-the-wall. Maybe such rhetoric works for you in convincing your fellow Americans, I certainly hope so, but it doesn’t aid my efforts. And so, that’s the reason I have been so confrontational with you. That nobody else on the site finds any problem with your hyperbole puts me in an awkward situation. But I promise you, I will not bother much longer.

        We are off-track here, and I think in fairness to Ellis, maybe the threads should get back to Chomsky.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 26, 2012, 12:42 pm

        @ LeNder

        I am answering this round of comments in reverse order. I fear that may be better.

        I have written several postings about “being Jewish” and about my mostly, but not exclusively Jewish family. I did this reluctantly. Unlike Phil, Jewish identity is not my topic. Each time it was at Phil’s strong urging.

        I warned Phil that as the site became larger that mixing I/P and issues of Jewish identity was going to be a hard balancing act. Frankly, the comments on the site convince me I was right.

        I have spent more than half my life abroad, so by now I have a rather checkered identity. The Jewish part has been receding for a very long time. Spending so much of my life outside of the United States and in non-Jewish milieus, and having spent some time in Israel on business, I have a sharpened awareness of where the different parts of my identity come from and how it has evolved. It’s a detailed subject that I don’t care to write about or have others dissect. I’m not Chomsky after all. But unlike Chomsky I was not determined in my youth.

        I attended Berkeley some 40 years ago for my BA. Homies from my youth still say to me, “You would say that, you went to Berkeley” every time they disagree with a political observation. Incidents such as that, and the fact that I have worked with so many people of different cultures, have led me to be reticent about immediately identifying my identity(ies). Why let them stereotype you before they get to know what you really think?

        Writing for MW, I was shocked how many instant, and very wrong assumptions readers made about me. But it was a revealing lesson.

        Is that sufficient info?

      • seanmcbride on October 26, 2012, 1:35 pm

        Bruce,

        Obviously, I think the United States should get out of the Middle East, as it seems incapable of playing a positive role. It should stop enabling bad Israeli behavior. I’ve written several posts about how the United States muscles other countries to follow its I/P policy line and how that focus is sucking the air out of American foreign policy. And although I would like the United States to play a true mediator/arbitrator role between Israel and the Palestinians, I recognize that the United States is simply incapable of doing that.

        Thanks for taking the trouble to respond, and with so much useful and thoughtful detail.

        I find that we probably agree on much more than we disagree — so, if you don’t mind, I think we can both dispense with any further confrontational tone in speaking to one another. In fact, I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t be political allies on the essentials.

        With regard to any hyperbolic rhetoric of mine — feel free to point it out and I will certainly take your criticism under consideration. Sometimes I am probably too direct in my speech.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 1:39 pm

        Right! Old Professer Chomsky is really a square!
        His stuff don’t need reading,
        He needs an analyst’s care!
        It’s just his neurosis
        That oughta be curbed
        He’s psychologically disturbed!

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 1:44 pm

        “I have written several postings about “being Jewish” and about my mostly, but not exclusively Jewish family. I did this reluctantly. Unlike Phil, Jewish identity is not my topic. Each time it was at Phil’s strong urging.”

        Yeah, he’s just irresistible, ain’t he? Amazing how he sweeps away the life-long principles and decisions and bullies you into writing stuff you know you shouldn’t. He did it to me, and that’s the only reason I wrote the article ” What the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing”. You’ll find it in the archives, copies .25, include SASE.
        Bruce, if he hands you a pistol, and tells you, ‘Bruce, you know what the honorable course is’, you’re a goner.

      • on October 26, 2012, 1:56 pm

        “identifying my identity(ies). Why let them stereotype you before they get to know what you really think?” – Bruce
        ——————————————————–
        Okay Bruce – but how about stereotyping me as a German in this comment:

        Bruce says:
        October 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm
        @Klaus

        You are now the arbiter of whom is a good Zionist and whom is a bad Zionist? Good luck! And besides being German, your background for this?
        ——————————————————————————————————-
        I had said: “No good Zionist sees the Holocaust as the rationale for the legitimacy of Israel.”

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 1:56 pm

        “Racism may not be an American value (or ideal), but it is as American as apple pie.”

        Shorter Bruce: ‘We left the American pie cooling on the wondow-sill and the Israel-firsters stole it!’

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 3:12 pm

        Better hands than mine must complete this work. I can’t work ‘anarchist libertarian’ into a song parody.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 4:09 pm

        “I didn’t know that Islam constituted a sort of ethnic community or ‘race’.”

        But Islamophobes do, and that, fundamentally, is what makes them Islamophobes. And what’s that got to do with Annie Robbins, who does not think that?
        And rest assured, Klaus, your own awareness of Muslim diversity is not at issue, and is gratefully (on my part at least) acknowledged.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 4:19 pm

        “I just noticed that two detailed replies I made to you yesterday are still held up in moderation”

        This is sort of a tangent, but those of us (like me) who comment quite a bit should learn to expect that, simply on the basis of fairness. There are other threads and other comments to be moderated.

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 4:27 pm

        “Is that sufficient info?”

        It’s been a very interesting comment thread, thanks for participating, and I’ll look forward to reading more of your “Exile and the Prophetic” series in Mondoweiss.

      • seafoid on October 26, 2012, 4:41 pm

        “Obviously, I think the United States should get out of the Middle East, as it seems incapable of playing a positive role”

        You don’t like cheap petrol ?

      • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 4:42 pm

        “In what exact ways can Mooser and Bruce be compared?”

        Wow, that’s harsh! What do you have against Bruce?

      • seafoid on October 26, 2012, 4:44 pm

        “American nationalism is founded on the Enlightenment principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.”

        That was 15 years ago. There are 3 million people in prison now. Many for crimes that wouldn’t merit a sentence in Europe. Electronic surveillance of everything. Any American can be killed by drone by order of the President without any due process.

      • LeaNder on October 26, 2012, 5:36 pm

        More than enough, Bruce. I didn’t know, never in the least wondered about it. Reading your exchange with Sean just reminded me of my earliest encounters with Sean, and my responses. ;)

        I like Berkeley both the image and the flair of the town. But then it is close to SF too, which I like too.

      • seanmcbride on October 26, 2012, 7:04 pm

        Bruce,

        Regarding “hyperbolic” language: I predicted that the World Wide Web would hugely revolutionize every aspect of the world from the first moment I played around with Mosaic (the predecessor of Netscape); that Google, from the first day it was released, would become one of the most important companies in the world; that digital text would overthrow the entire print publishing industry (this in the late 1980s); that the Iraq War would prove to be a “disaster” and “catastrophe” (those exact words) well before it began. So, admittedly, I am inclined to making grand proclamations — but quite a few of them have turned out to be right on the money.

        With regard to Israel and Zionism: for quite some time I have suspected that they are on the same doomed trajectory as apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Confederacy, the Soviet Union, the Crusades, Sabbateanism, the Jewish revolts against Rome, the Algerian War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, etc. I am more convinced of this than ever. Feel free to call me hyperbolic. I trust my instincts. To me, this is a no-brainer. I also suppose I have an Old Testament prophetic streak in me that I find difficult to suppress.

        I am also confident that Jewish civilization will survive its Zionist phase — which has probably been a wrong turn — and thrive.

      • seanmcbride on October 26, 2012, 7:16 pm

        seafoid,

        Neoconservatives (Likud Zionists all) have spearheaded a largely successful effort to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and to replace it with a Stalinist-style police state regime. Glenn Greenwald has documented these trends probably better than anyone else.

        This is one of many ways in which “Mideast politics” has been tremendously destructive for the United States and Americans. We really need to disengage from that part of the world and get back on track. But the Israel lobby has different ideas.

      • on October 26, 2012, 8:19 pm

        “certain jewish groups failed in making their argument the ‘anti-Israel student action’ was directed at jews as opposed to STATE POLICIES, protesting against a government … is not the same as protesting against people because of their ethnicity.” (My emphasis)
        —————————————————————————–
        Annie –
        I 100% agree with you on that count.

        In the 1930s there were Jewish rallies in New York against the treatment of the Jews in Germany. – Did the German-Americans complain that that was anti-German racism, also directed at them? – Of course not.

        Where is the difference? Although there were German-American Nazis (the “khaki-shirts of America” – like the National Socialist’s “brown shirts”), by and large, the German-Americans didn’t side with Hitler.
        (As a personal note, my aunt Alma, who emigrated to America in 1910
        and lived in Indianapolis didn’t side with Nazi-Germany at the time.)

        This is different from American Jews siding with Israel. By and large they have supported and still do Israel’s actions towards the Palestiniens, be it a Labor or a Likud government.

      • NorthOfFortyNine on October 26, 2012, 8:32 pm

        @ Bruce

        >> Nationalists demand loyalty from citizens. This is exactly the kind of language you heard from 19th century nationalists.

        Bruce,

        It appears from my perspective, at least, that you are not fully clear on the distinction between ethnic and civil nationalism. Sean and Annie did a good job in trying to walk you through it, but to no apparent avail.

        Ethnic nationalism is premised on who the citizens are (based on race, language, religion, culture, etc.) whereas civic nationalism is premised on shared ideas the citizens believe in. The US is an example of civic nationalism. A better example is Switzerland — here we have. French, German and. Italian citizens all proudly boasting of their Swiss identity, this via shared Swiss values of limited central government, strong property rights, etc.

        While Canada is for the most part a society based on civic nationalisn, there does exist a strain of ethnic nationalism in Quebec amongst the separatists. This is where I first got a taste of this philosophy. It is a nasty piece of work. The chant at the time was Le Quebec au Quebecois. As an Anglo, I knew they were not referring to me — I could have had roots back 200 years in the province but I would never be Quebecois, I would never belong there. Ethnic nationalism is profoundly alienating and illiberal.

        Zionism is just another form of ethnic nationalism. There appears to be discomfort at this because of the implications. For example, it would be absurd to separate Quebec nationalism from the French language and concepts of pur laine kin folk. But to pursue a parallel analysis into Zionism is to expose yourself to accusations of anti-semitism.

        I don’t know how one gets around this. I do know, however, that to deny the political genus that Zionism belongs to is to misread the beast at hand.

        -N49.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 27, 2012, 12:03 am

        @ Mooser

        Exactly.

      • NorthOfFortyNine on October 27, 2012, 12:31 am

        As a quick addendum / clarification to my post above (still at the moderators): I did not want to imply that just because there is a streak of ethnic nationalism within a community it does not imply that it is intrinsic to that community that there be ethnic nationalism. Pierre Trudeau was a Quebecer and also a great universalist who chastised the separtists as being petty provincialists. Same goes for Israel. Just because one is jewish does not mean one is destined to become an ethnic nationalist.

        I know you don’t want to discuss this anymore but I just don’t know how one can discuss zionism without recognizing it for what it so plainly is. -N49.

      • aiman on October 27, 2012, 1:52 am

        Bernard Lewis really pushed this term “Judeo-Christian” and it is widely used by propagandists.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 27, 2012, 3:55 pm

        @ seafoid

        Obviously not, I spend half my time in Norway, which has the highest petrol prices in the world (even with all that North Sea oil).

      • Bruce Wolman on October 27, 2012, 11:40 pm

        @ Mooser

        God, now you sound just like my mother, Mooser.

        Do you know how many times I heard, “Bruce, if he hands you a pistol, and tells you, ‘Bruce, you know what the honorable course is’, you’re a goner” from her when I was a kid? Maybe she was hoping like you. Will have to talk to my shrink about that.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 28, 2012, 9:59 am

        @ Klaus

        At least I read your MW comments and Amazon reviews before I identified you as German.

        And what did you mean by “No good Zionist sees the Holocaust as the rationale for the legitimacy of Israel.”

      • Bruce Wolman on October 28, 2012, 9:50 pm

        @ N49

        I understand the distinction being made between ethnic and civic nationalism. However, when you take the histories of all the nations mentioned in the two groups, including Israel, I don’t consider the distinction nearly as significant as sean and Annie do.

        It would take too much time to discuss all these cases, so we will just have to disagree for now.

        But see my response to the Australian defenders.

      • Bruce Wolman on October 28, 2012, 10:52 pm

        @ MRW

        Ok, your argument is that the United States, Canada and Australia were not settler nations. I thought this point was not seriously controversial any longer, but I forgot the reaction such an assertion receives here.

        Let me just take the case of Australia. I suggest you read the Australian government’s own white paper on the history of The White Australia Policy. and other sources such as Wiki’s White Australia Policy.

        With the passage of the “Immigration Restriction Act” in 1901, Australia adopted an immigration policy established to keep non-white immigrants out of the country. Over the years the government strengthened the policy with additional acts all the way up to World War II. British Immigrants received high priority over other nationalities. Non-British immigration was not encouraged until after the war, and all racial criteria were not eliminated until passage of the “Racial Discrimination Act” of 1975.

        Initially the Australian parliament planned to make the ban on non-Europeans quite explicit, but British objections led to the use of language tests instead as the control mechanism. These tests were “nearly impossible to pass” and inspectors had wide discretion in administering the tests.

        At the outset of World War II, the Prime Minister of Australia declared, “This country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race.” After the war there was even an attempt to deport non-white refugees that would not leave voluntarily.

        With the recognition post-WWII that the economy needed an increase in the labor supply, large numbers of European immigrants, mostly from Italy, Greece, and Yugoslavia, as well as the UK were accepted in an effort to keep the country from being inundated with Asians.

        Only gradually was the “White Australia Policy” dismantled starting in the 1950s, but not significantly until the 1960s and 70s. With the 75-year White Australia Policy and the large European immigration after the war, Australia became assured of remaining a predominantly Christian nation.

        Even since the repeal of the White Australia Policy certain governments have attempted to adopt policies and apply Citizenship Tests that would help to maintain the Australian culture Anglo.

        So much for civic nationalism.

    • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 3:02 pm

      “My point is there is no “Jewishness”.

      Oh, there has to be! If there wasn’t, why would people always be telling me I’m a “typical Jew”? There must be some kind of standard or something.

    • on October 26, 2012, 4:28 pm

      “I would never write something like, ‘Now factor in Chomsky’s Jewishness’ or ‘he can’t be understood outside of his Jewishness.'” – Bruce
      ——————————————————————–

      Maybe it’s wrong to say so concerning Chomsky – but a lot literary critics said about Kafka: ‘Now factor in Kafka’s Jewishness’ or ‘he can’t be understood outside of his Jewishness.’ – although in all of Kafka’s novels Jews were never mentioned.

  7. MHughes976 on October 25, 2012, 5:02 pm

    Does nationalism mean that enlightened values can rightly be overridden by national interests?

  8. Mooser on October 26, 2012, 3:21 pm

    “Chomsky’s father was born in Ukraine, then a part of the Russian Empire. Like many Jews, he fled to the United States to avoid military conscription”

    If I’m not mistaken (There a reason I say that a lot) he would have done a twenty-five year hitch in the Czar’s army at that time. His military career would have lasted longer than the Czar’s.

    • Mooser on October 26, 2012, 4:22 pm

      Yup, I was mistaken. Length of service was reduced to 2-5 years by that time. Still probably no fun.

  9. Bruce Wolman on October 26, 2012, 4:54 pm

    @ Mooser

    Not me. I keep being told I am not a “typical Jew” My uncle has written to the family that I am anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-white. How’s that for a tri-fecta.

    Let me know if you find that “typical Jew” standard. I’ve been looking for it myself.

    • on October 26, 2012, 8:44 pm

      “I keep being told I am not a “typical Jew” – Bruce
      —————————————————————–
      To be told that you are not a “typical Jew”, you first have to be identified as one.
      I’m also told that I’m not a “typical German” – but of course, I am identified as one.

    • Mooser on October 28, 2012, 1:34 am

      “Not me. I keep being told I am not a “typical Jew”

      Cool! I bet you could “pass”. I never could. The best way to put it is this: imagine Bullwinkle as Shylock and you’ve got me, to the life.

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