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‘Beyond Tribal Loyalties’ — new volume spotlights awakenings of 25 Jewish activists

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Beyond Tribal Loyalties 1
Beyond Tribal Loyalties

Whenever I visited my father, a self-described “alte Yid”, a refugee from Eastern Europe, in Jerusalem, we would spend hours disagreeing, sometimes disagreeably, about Israel, Judaism, Zionism and Palestinians.  Unfortunately, I only got to know Avigail Abarbanel after he died and before she produced her remarkable work, Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Activists. Otherwise, I would have Fedexed the book to him overnight and, waiting an impatient two days, would have called to say: “See, I’m not the only one, see how many other perfectly nice and respectable Jews also reject what Israel is doing, also reject Zionism, also reject the assumption that Israel speaks in our name. It’s not just me.”

I can’t be at all certain that reading the twenty-five stories of Jewish peace activists would have persuaded my father that Israel deserved to be criticized.  More likely, he would have dismissed my chapter in the book, shaking his head, saying:Yes, you are just like them. I don’t know how you can write such things. Sadly, he died before the book was published and without our being able to have this particular conversation.  It was not until I read the other stories, including her own and mine, that Avigail has collected in Beyond Tribal Loyalties that I understood my own story. Despite their fascinating singularity, the twenty-five stories share the experience of traveling beyond tribal loyalties to become part of a gathering new tribe. 

The 5 million annual visitors to this website implies a large potential audience for this book, suggesting that there are many, many Jews at various stages of activism who will resonate with the intimate revelations Avigail has collected in its pages.  A psychotherapist herself, Avigail has encouraged her contributors to brave explorations confirming that breaking up is indeed hard to do.  With her editorial guidance, the reader understands the emotions and psychological burden of tribal loyalty.  The stories reveal what happens when Jews question the ties that no longer bind but now begin to chafe, confuse and confine; the guilt, loss, isolation and sorrow experienced by those who travel beyond their tribal loyalties, choosing paths that lead to political evolution

Avigail Abarbanel was born in Israel, served in the Israel Defense Forces, after which she left the country and renounced her citizenship in protest at her country’s treatment of the Palestinians.  She is now a practicing psychotherapist living in Scotland. She has included her own story in the twenty-five that form this important and moving book now available in paperback and comfortably priced (which the original hardcover, published as an academic book, was not).  The contributors come from Australia, Canada, Israel, the UK and the US and include well-known activists and writers (Ilan Pappe, Jeff Halper, Dorothy Naor, Maya Wind, Rae Abileah, Anna Baltzer, Jesse Bacon, Susan Nathan). The book benefits greatly from Avigail’s professional insights and commentaries.

In a recent Skype conversation I asked her why she wrote this book. Avigail:

It’s my attempt to try to understand what makes the contributors and others like them special or different. I think it’s still accurate to say that the majority of Jews either do not question or continue to believe in a narrative that is unsupportable and historically incorrect. I also think it’s accurate to say that the views held by many Jews on Israel-Palestine are motivated more by a need to be loyal to the tribe than by historical accuracy.

Beyond the fact that they are Jews who have chosen political activism in one form or other, what do the book’s twenty-five contributors have in common?  The answer is not that simple, Avigail replied:

To begin with, the age difference between the youngest and oldest contributor is as much as sixty years. This means that two generations separate these two women. The contributors come from vastly different backgrounds, born in different countries, to different social classes and family types. It was hard to find anything that we all had in common except the fact that we were born in Jewish families and to a lesser or greater extent grew up in Jewish environments with all their diversities. Also, most of the ‘conversion’ experiences took place over many years; it was a slow process.  A person asks questions in the context of their Jewish or Zionist environment that only make sense later, often years later, after some kind of transformation has already begun.

Fair enough.  But even if the book contains no blinding epiphanies like Paul’s on the road to Damascus, the contributors have provided us with an up close and personal look that is both rare and privileged.  They have allowed us to see what led to their transformations. I ask Avigail to sort out these experiences: 

For some,books and other written or oral information served as a catalyst: for Ronit Yarosky, it was Benny Morris’s “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” that she was using to research her thesis. She discovered that her uncle’s moshav, where she visited as a child, was built on the site of the former Palestinian village of Ijzim and that her uncle’s own house was once a Palestinian house.

 For me, the catalyst was Avi Shlaim’s “The Iron Wall” and for Rich Forer it was Norman Finkelstein’s “Beyond Chutzpah.”  Rich Siegel’s moment came while waiting for his wife at a train station where a table held literature including “Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer”by Phyllis Bennis. He says: “I got to the section about the Deir Yassin massacre. Jews massacring Arabs. My jaw dropped. This had somehow been concealed from me all my life.”

So, we see that loyalty is not always a virtue. Questioning tribal loyalty and breaking away brings with it powerful consequences: Ilan Pappe could no longer work in Israel, Maya Wind refused to serve in the Israel military, you renounced your citizenship.  Renouncing tribal loyalty also includes a profound confrontation with oneself.   What makes all this so fraught?  

Adopting a new narrative is a struggle. Instinctively we wanted to reject it because it made us confront the imperative of loyalty to the tribe. In my Afterword to the book I argue that because it is so challenging to our existing belief systems, it takes more than confronting the new narrative to produce a transformation.  It also requires a high degree of emotional resilience which I’ve described as “the ability to tolerate uncomfortable feelings without avoiding them or trying to make them go away. It means that people are able to act according to their values and do the right thing, even when they experience fear, guilt, insecurity, turmoil, confusion and pain, and even when some of these feelings are reinforced by outside opposition or even persecution. Emotional resilience also includes the ability to tolerate the experience of being disapproved of, disliked and rejected by others, sometimes even by relatives and close friends.” 

Without sufficient emotional resilience, people surrender to their need to avoid discomfort, doing whatever they can to eliminate its cause. So Anna Baltzer wanted to deny what her Palestinian hosts in Southern Lebanon were telling her, Rich Forer wanted to dismiss Norman Finkelstein as a loony and I tried to tell myself that Avi Shlaim had an “agenda”.

Did the Israeli contributors to the book have anything in common?  After all, in Israel they shared the same geography with the Palestinians, experiencing more immediacy and fewer degrees of separation than, say, a British or Australian or Canadian or American Jew. 

You’re right, but you don’t have to be Israeli to have a personal encounter with the ‘other’ or to be in direct contact with a Palestinian.Sivan Barak enrolled in a workshop exercise where participants were asked to look into each other’s eyes, which in her case were those of a Palestinian man: “My crossroad was as simple as that. From the day I stared into the eyes of a Palestinian man and saw the human being, I started to see and fight against the injustices my people had instigated against his people. A cloud lifted in me and in those who watched us. It was palpable.” 

In Anna Baltzer’s story, we see both exposure to a new narrative and meeting the ‘other’ as an equal. Anna met Palestinians in Lebanon who told her “a different narrative about the state of Israel from the one I had heard growing up as a Jewish American… stories of past and present military attacks, house demolitions, land confiscation, imprisonment without trial, torture, and government-sponsored assassinations. …It was hard for me to believe that Israel could act so unjustly. Questioning Israel in any way felt like a betrayal of my grandmother.’ 

Yaniv Reich encountered the ‘other’ through the written works of Edward Said that he encountered at university. He says: “I had been so deeply and continuously immersed in Jewish victimhood, that it had never occurred to me to focus on any aspect of the Arab-Israeli conflict other than what I perceived as the ongoing threat to Jewish security. Said dragged me through my tribal narcissism, and taught me how to ask what has now become just as obvious and important a question as one about how to make Jews more secure. That question is simply: What about Palestinian security?”

We Jews are taught by our elders to see Israel as a just and good country and ourselves and other Jews as a just and ethical people, concerned with human rights and justice, a teaching that is in direct opposition what we see of Israel’s behavior. How do Jewish activists deal with this dissonance?

Dorothy Naor was born in the US, married an Israeli Jew and moved to Israel in 1958.  She is troubled by “how I could have been so blind for so long.  …  it never so much as occurred to me to ask myself why I don’t know any Palestinians.  Imagine.  From 1958 when we settled in Israel till October 2000 it never occurred to me to ask why I have no Palestinian friends.” However, witnessing Israeli police opening fire on peaceful Palestinian demonstrators changed Dorothy’s life: “My naivety ended in almost a split second—following Mohamed al-Dura and the thirteen that were shot by the police—and my search for answers began.”

Jeff Halper fits into this category as do Peter Slezak, Ray Bergmann and Jesse Bacon.

These are universal human values.  What about Jewish values in particular? 

I’m glad you asked that.  Yes, we see what happens when specifically Jewish values clash with the reality on the ground in Israel-Palestine.

Several of the American contributors, particularly the young ones who are members of progressive religious communities,write that continuing to support Israel in the face of itsactions and policies was in direct conflict with the Jewish values they had been taught as children. 

For Rae Abileah, brought up as a committed Zionist and visiting Israel as a young woman,an activist mostly silent on Israel, it was Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2008 that broke her silence. 

For Ariel Vegosen, a young American Jewish woman, it is precisely about her Jewish values:“Part of being Jewish has always been Tikkun Olam, which means repairing the world and practicing tzedakah, which means righteousness or charity. In college I learned about these words in Torah study sessions, and as part of Tzedek Hillel.”   Once able to face the truth, she could no longer hold onto the old Israel narrative: “Once you know the truth you can’t ever go back. The only time Israel was ever pure and dripping with milk and honey, … the Jewish homeland, my homeland, was when I was seventeen and didn’t know any better. …Now when I go to Israel I see walls, brutality, bombed-out villages, silence, a mask hiding the truth, racism… I cried at the Kotel (Western Wall) when I was seventeen because I thought I was home and that I had made it, finally, after generations of struggle. Now I cry at the Kotel because I know this is not my home and I am still wandering.” 

Thank you, Avigail, and thank you all those who have, some for the first time, contributed these wrenching stories with such generosity.  It’s not an easy thing to do.  We are much the richer for knowing what you have told us.

Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists is available here and at Amazon worldwide.  You can learn more about Avigail Abarbanel as an activist and as a psychotherapist.  You can also hear an interview with her (2010) titled “A psychotherapist looks at Israel”on my radio program.  I will be posting a podcast of this interview on my website in the near future.

Hazel Kahan
About Hazel Kahan

Hazel Kahan is a writer in New York. She has lived in several continents and was trained as a psychologist. Her website is here.

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89 Responses

  1. American
    American on January 14, 2013, 2:15 pm

    ”Emotional resilience also includes the ability to tolerate the experience of being disapproved of, disliked and rejected by others, sometimes even by relatives and close friends.”

    Good article.
    Most people raised in a strongly tribal society won’t have this resilience.
    Why do some have have it?…..maybe it’s genetic…..some little endurance gift or rebellious gene in their brain? Or maybe they are just plain smarter than the average?

    • Avigail
      Avigail on January 15, 2013, 6:34 am

      This is the million dollar question. But as a psychotherapist I can tell you that emotional resilience can be learned and can be developed. But it’s hard work to do it in adulthood. In childhood if we had the right training and the right role models it would be an easy thing to achieve. Parents can’t teach what they don’t know. Emotional resilience of kind that the contributors demonstrate in my book goes together also with a high level of integrity and intellectual honesty. People who have poor emotional resilience are also more likely to be able to lie to themselves successfully… It’s a really important area to look at in human psychology.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 15, 2013, 8:31 am

        Human, All Too Human.

    • MRW
      MRW on January 15, 2013, 8:22 am

      They become smarter than the average by developing it. Shows up in MRIs.

      • Avigail
        Avigail on January 15, 2013, 8:43 am

        I’m sure it does @MRW!

    • Ellen
      Ellen on January 15, 2013, 10:16 am

      The need to belong and be accepted by the group is a sort of primi-instict/emotion. Like fear. Deep in us (and other animals). Without it, our survival chances are lower. Rejection by the immediate social unit can be perilous, even in today’s world. For most of us in the west that means the immediate family, but for some and in other cultures this extends beyond the family to the community or “tribe.”

      Some try and raise their children to be resilient, confident and trusting in themselves, critical truthful thinkers; and some raise their children only to seek the approval of others for their sense of worth. I guess that is where emotional resilience starts or stops.

      And for survival in the modern world with states instead of small tribes? The madness of group-think can be deadly.

      • Avigail
        Avigail on January 16, 2013, 4:43 am

        Well said Ellen, I don’t have anything to add.

  2. lysias
    lysias on January 14, 2013, 2:28 pm

    Couple, both with Jewish backgrounds, subject to inquisition before being allowed entry into Israel. Apparently the reason was that the man bore his Lebanese father’s Arabic name, and the woman was part African-American.

    Ha’aretz: U.S. couple with Jewish roots didn’t expect El Al’s inquisition: While flying to Israel recently, Rebecca and Rafiq were treated with intrusive suspicion and lost a computer and iPad.

    • Avigail
      Avigail on January 15, 2013, 6:35 am

      Yes, Israel is a racist country. Sad and awful story but I am not surprised at all.

  3. RoHa
    RoHa on January 14, 2013, 9:58 pm

    “the Jewish values they had been taught as children.”

    What are these specific Jewish values that are not universal values? Anyone got a list?

    “her Jewish values:“Part of being Jewish has always been Tikkun Olam, which means repairing the world”

    What does “repairing the world” mean, exactly? What about it is specifically Jewish?

    (It certainly sounds nice, and the sort of thing someone should try, someday.)

    “and practicing tzedakah, which means righteousness or charity.”

    Nothing particularly Jewish about righteousness or charity.

    • Avigail
      Avigail on January 15, 2013, 6:31 am

      I didn’t grow up with the Jewish values that some of the contributors did. I grew up in Israel in an abusive and deprived environment. So I never had any illusions that we as a people had any nobler values than anyone else. I mention this in my Afterword in the book. However, as I was editing the book I had to face the fact that some of my contributors grew up differently to me. They grew up with concepts and ideas that were introduced to them as Jewish because they were proposed by Jews somewhere along the history of Jewish culture. None of the relevant contributors think that these are particularly Jewish values in principle. All they are saying is that they were introduced to them through their Jewish upbringing. Of course every group, every culture and every religion on Earth is a mixed bag of values, beliefs and ideas. Ideals like charity, kindness, compassion, equality and so on exist in every single culture right alongside vengeance, ‘dog eat dog’, inequality and other less appealing or positive ideas or beliefs. It’s all part of the human mixed bag that we are. Please do not take a few snippets from this article out of context before you read the stories of the people it mentions.

      • RoHa
        RoHa on January 15, 2013, 11:41 pm

        “All they are saying is that they were introduced to them through their Jewish upbringing.”

        If that is all “Jewish values” means, O.K.

        From time to time posts on this site give the impression that there is a specific set of values that Jews do not share with the rest of us, and I was hoping that someone could spell them out for me. However, from what you say, it seems as if there is no such set.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 16, 2013, 7:26 pm

        “However, from what you say, it seems as if there is no such set.”

        You are the only one who can make the decision, RoHa. You can either be a person who assigns ethnic values (moral, not food or music) to people, or a person that doesn’t. You can either think essentialisms are true or they aren’t. What Jews, or any particular Jew says about it has got nothing to do with it.

        If somebody, another Jew, in fact, swore to me that there were, in fact, a set of “Jewish values” in an essentialistic sense, I wouldn’t care. I know those kinds of values simply aren’t distributed like that.
        And considering how much bigotry passes for religious values, if somebody says positive values, like loving kindness, or egalitarianism, arise in them from religious values, I’m more than happy to accept that.
        But I’m easy that way.

      • Avigail
        Avigail on January 17, 2013, 3:37 am

        No, I personally do not believe that there are any values that are specifically Jewish. As I mentioned in my previous comment, every culture has a collection of values, positive and negative and Jewish culture and religion are no exception.

        What I don’t like about the issue of ‘Jewish values’ is the sense that people can give that Judaism as a religion or as a culture was/is somehow more enlightened or progressive compared with other human groups. I don’t think there is any evidence of that at all.

        My experience of Jewish culture, having grown up within a pretty awful section of it, is that Jewish people are human and have behaved, felt, acted as any cross section of humans would in response to the challenges they have faced. Some interpreted their experiences in a negative way and developed a psychology of trauma and victimhood that can be harsh and insular and can include very negative values and perceptions, and others were encouraged to develop and grow through hardship and as a result communicate very positive and inclusive type of values.

        (One of the most interesting puzzles in the psychology of trauma is the question of why some people react to traumatic experiences in a negative way, while others grow from it and become more enlightened. There is a whole field of enquiry about this but no answers as yet. Sivan Barak asks the same question at the start of her story, which is the first in the book.)

        Both sets of values (negative and positive) are present in Jewish culture and history as they are in every single group on Earth. The contributors in my book are very clear that they don’t think Jewish culture is better than other cultures because of the values that they were exposed to as children. On the contrary. To them the experience of differentiating from Zionism is clearly an experience of joining the rest of the human race and a universal value system that puts kindness, justice and compassion above everything else. In other words they are rejecting an exclusive view of themselves and their group and embracing an inclusive and universal view. I hope this makes it clear what I think about this and what attitude the contributors in my book have to this issue.

      • gloopygal
        gloopygal on January 17, 2013, 12:46 pm

        As an ex-Christian I feel like I understand this mindset. Lots of Christians make unsubstantiated claims about Christianity being the only religion with a progressive value system. Some have the nerve (or lack of perspective, I suppose) to say no other religion or moral code has anything like the Ten Commandments (which are actually Jewish but hey, don’t expect some people to think too deeply). Or that no one treated women like anything but dirt before Jesus came along. Every religious group probably thinks the same way. That’s why I appreciate the Baha’i, who acknowledge every religion, at least.

  4. on January 15, 2013, 3:15 am

    Very interesting on the face of it and worth pushing, certainly.
    What I just can’t push through my gizzard is this: why on earth is everybody, according to the description here, ex-tribalists who had to sweat to get out? Why were they all taken in in the first place? Why shouldn’t we, even while respecting ex-Zionists, ex-nationalists and ex-tribalists, rather listen to those who weren’t taken in at any time?
    As Mooser so nicely wrote sometime, it seems people are credible and have “gravitas” (named after gravy) only if they had started by failing to get it right away. If you weren’t goofy enough sometime to believe some of that Zionist (or anyway nationalist) shit, it seems that you aren’t one to listen to.

    • Avigail
      Avigail on January 15, 2013, 6:23 am

      I sympathise with your frustration over this more than you realise but please read my introduction to the book for a proper response. It’s available on Amazon under ‘look inside’. It explains how Zionism has a particular and very effective way of hijacking the person’s sense of identity to the point where the person and the ideology aren’t separate. This is partly why it is so difficult to extract oneself from it. Your comment shows a lack of understanding I think of how any ideology, religion or system of thought can shape a person’s sense of identity, personality and belief system if the person *has been brought up* within it. I grew up in Israel itself and was entirely a product of its education system and its heavy, complex and very clever system of nationalist indoctrination.

      To criticise people for not realising that Zionism was wrong from the start is like saying that someone who grew up within a cult from birth, should understand that something is wrong with what they’re being taught. This is simply incompatible with human psychology, with attachment theory and how closely related our identity is to our sense of attachment. We are all captives of the environment we are brought up in until something changes. This change can happen when we are exposed to contradictory information, and whether it happens, depends on how much emotional resilience we have to cope with the internal contradictions and emotional turmoil that this causes. Zionism and Zionist indoctrination operate in a very similar way to cults and if you understand those, you can understand what I am talking about. But by all means, read my introduction and then decide for yourself. Cheers.

      • MRW
        MRW on January 15, 2013, 8:28 am


        I read something of yours a few years ago (whose title I can’t remember right now, I apologize) and was so impressed with the light you shone into the darkness of growing up with that mother that I never forgot your name.

      • Avigail
        Avigail on January 15, 2013, 8:41 am

        @MRW — Thank you. That’s very kind of you!

      • Chu
        Chu on January 17, 2013, 1:04 pm

        MRW, I think the article you’re referring to was title ‘Trauma Psychology’ in Jan 2009. Her descriptive way of bringing me into the psychological and social realm of Israel had great impact. Well written Avigail. Thanks for that.

      • on January 16, 2013, 1:45 pm

        Avigail: I’ll read the intro of course. Your being born and raised in “Israel” is of course response enough –for you. I don’t think it applies to all 25 contributors, though.
        As for the psychological mechanisms that make people do this or that, you are the expert. I am only looking at the results and remain somehow suspicious of people who fell for it. I know for a fact that some don’t ever even feel any tribal or national loyalties even though they had to grow up in the same cocoon.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on January 16, 2013, 7:38 pm

      Whoa, sardelpasti, I grew up in post WW2 America as a Reform Jew. I had a lot more opportunity to be informed, and was used to a lot of freedom and acceptance.
      And, as I’ve said before, a lot of it was luck. I wasn’t worth enough to either Judaism or Zionism to make any effort to keep me in the fold. There’s no telling what would have happened if the right, very pretty, lively, willing and Zionist person had made a real effort with me.
      I like my own story, it’s the only one I’ve got, but I can’t see it encouraging or helping somebody struggling with the issues, whereas these stories can do that.

      • on January 16, 2013, 9:11 pm

        Believe me, even in the most seductive, pretty, lively, willing shape, the ehm… STD transmission of Zionism didn’t hold longer than a few seconds. (tell Vanunu.)

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 18, 2013, 12:15 pm

        “Zionism didn’t hold longer than a few seconds. “

        Not for you, as you say, and not for me, but for many others the bond goes much deeper, and when it’s Zionism served up with an all-encompassing family, religious and state and personal aspect, it can be hard to break loose from. Examples and stories of that process can help.

  5. Citizen
    Citizen on January 15, 2013, 9:03 am

    “I no longer need an identity other than my own, and I experience myself as a member of the human race rather than of a particular tribal group.”

    “One writer noted that he had lived within a “limited identity” and until he “acknowledged the profound influence of this primal error, may participation in the generational reenactment of hatred and retribution, of chronic hostility, and mistrust, was destined to continue.” He then had to consider “the possibility that they didn’t become our enemies because of who we were; they became our enemies because of what we did.” [italics in original]”

    “For others like Peter Slezak, Zionism as such doesn’t appear to have been important in his childhood. As a Jew in Australia he felt as an outsider already in primary school. And with most of his relatives being Holocaust survivors, the Haggadah’s warning that “in every generation they [i.e. non-Jews] rise against us to destroy us….” can easily feel validated. Slezak, like many other Jews, used to worry that all non-Jews inevitably harbored anti-Semitic feelings, a worry that took many years to finally overcome. Instead of regarding the Holocaust as a crime against Jews and a proof of why a Jewish state is needed, he sees a universalistic message in Never again. Some Jewish friends have even cut all ties with Selzak, and he has in his own words ended up “becoming a pariah in my own community” because of his pro-Palestinian activism.”

    • yourstruly
      yourstruly on January 15, 2013, 11:33 am

      a pariah in your own community because of your pro-palestinian activism?

      like having friends who refuse even to make eye contact with you?

      like being told by a friend that your name came up at a b’nai b’rith adc meeting? –

      “on a list of so-called self-hating jews?”

      “did you mention to the others that you knew me?”

      “yeh, sure.”

    • American
      American on January 16, 2013, 10:35 am

      That is a good review, I’m going to get Avigails book.
      I feel vindicated in my admittedly non scholarly observations about the Tribe and zionism by many things said by the people in this book.
      I had formed the opinion from what I have seen discussed on MW and by other Jewish writers and by reading of not specifically Jewish history that centuries and centuries ago the Jewish tribe ‘adopted the mantle of victimhood’ ..victimhood became the ‘catch all’ for every single lose or set back of the tribe whether they were bona fide victims or just on the losing side of some conflict. Maybe this was by design of tribal leaders back then to keep the tribe behind them and supporting them in the us vr them era of tribal competition and conflicts. But however and for whatever reason it came about it has persisted to this day. Whether there are beliefs in Judaism that helped keep it persisting I don’t know, it’s possible.
      And of course the holocaust reinforced this because in that case they were victims, but not the ‘only’ victims, but they present themselves as the ‘only victims or as the most important victims when forced to admit there were other victims.
      I don’t think this is solvable or changeable in any kind of campaign to overcome this attitude or belief, too many centuries, too many ancient myths that would have be exposed and laid to rest.
      And then of course in current times if things don’t go Israel’s way and it is cut back somehow that will be seen as another example of Jews being victimized.
      I don’t see much chance of any wholesale conversion of Jewish thinking on this. If a change occurs it will be gradual, like the individuals in this book, one individual at a time among millions of Jews who believe in the chosen victims and hostility of others. And in that happening, possibly speeding it up, books like Avigail’s and writers like Sands are important influencers.

      • Avigail
        Avigail on January 17, 2013, 3:49 am

        Thank you for that @American (and thank you for deciding to read the book.) I think you are doing justice to the subject and what you wrote above is well said.

        As for how change happens and how long it takes?? Well, you are quite right that it’s probably going to be gradual and take a long time. One of the purposes of my book was to try to reach a Jewish audience that is currently leaning towards Zionism but where doubts might have already started to form. I wanted to show that as hard as the process of differentiation is, it is not only necessary but also possible, and that some people are doing it. I had hoped that if people read how my contributors are doing this they might be a little less frightened perhaps to attempt it themselves. I have no illusion that any one book or set of ideas changes the world overnight. But like you say, this book and then another, and another, can add to the gradual swell that eventually leads to change.

        But you know, in my profession (psychotherapy) we have our own lightbulb joke:
        How many therapists does it take to change a lightbulb? — Only one, but the lightbulb needs to want to change…

        For change to happen, a precondition is that we need to desire it to happen. I don’t know if we are there yet, or even close. But as I already said I wouldn’t be in my profession if I didn’t believe that sometimes what looks impossible turns out to be possible. We need to continue to educate, speak out, stand up for what we believe and always keep the discussion and dialogue going, while always respecting the humanity of the other.

  6. American
    American on January 15, 2013, 9:47 am


    Do you have an opinion about a One State solution and how Israelis would react?
    I have questioned the wisdom of this because I don’t see how Israelis could move from zionism, a basically Jewish ruled society, to some kind of shared democracy.
    It seems to me we would be talking about at least a generation of adjustment to ever get past the zionism they have been raised in.

    • Avigail
      Avigail on January 16, 2013, 4:41 am

      Well, obviously the majority of Israeli Jews aren’t at all fond of this idea at the moment. They aren’t even supporting the two-state option, let alone the one-state scenario. Israel is determined to remain exclusively Jewish and that is a result of the mistrust in the world and the belief that Jews can’t be safe anywhere except among their own people. There will need to be some kind of a change or movement towards change in this psychology for a one-state solution to be possible. For that also, there needs to be the right leadership in Israel and the Jewish world in general. The right leadership in any size human group can make all the difference to the way people feel and think. Sadly this doesn’t exist at the moment.

      However, things change all the time and people change their minds and their opinions. There is enough creativity and intelligence on both the Jewish and the Palestinian side and there are plenty of people with knowledge and the skills to make things work if such a solution came to be.

      Have you seen this initiative? This is obviously symbolic at this point but it can be the basis for a one-state model or something similar in future. The point is people have creative ideas and the motivation to test them out.

      Things don’t look promising right now but neither is the future of I-P if things continue along the same trajectory they are on now. Things simply aren’t sustainable the way they are now and can’t continue forever. Incredible changes happened throughout human history that didn’t seem at all possible in their time. As a psychotherapist I regularly see people transform their lives in ways that appear initially to them and to others completely impossible. It’s true that not everyone achieves it, but I have seen enough (including my own personal story) to keep me positive and optimistic. We humans have enormous potential that sometimes we tend to not see and therefore settle for much less than we can be. I wouldn’t be in my profession if I didn’t believe human beings were capable of deep and significant changes, not to mention growth and development. I therefore believe that it is possible for us as groups to heal and to change what we need to change in order to move towards a more cooperative and respectful existence. Sorry if this sounds a bit like a motivational speech, but I don’t know how else to say this… :) I also don’t have anything concrete and can’t predict the future. But as long as we are discussing and keeping ideas alive, great things can happen.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 16, 2013, 7:52 pm

        ” For that also, there needs to be the right leadership in Israel and the Jewish world in general.”

        If only being a Jew didn’t mean foregoing individual thinking. Being so dependent on “leadership in Israel and the Jewish world in general” can be really precarious. As M. Graber famously said “Is there no Jewish agency besides the Jewish Agency?”

        Oh well, must be the high rates of illiteracy, and lack of communications. Under those circumstances, since tribal consanguinity precludes the slightest tendentiousness, who else can you trust?

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 16, 2013, 8:05 pm

        I’m sorry, people say “leadership” in regard to Judaism like we had a cadet program, seminaries and officer’s training or an aristocracy devoted to public service, or something. That is, a process or tradition designed to develop leaders, and weed out less-than-ethical or compromised candidates. I don’t think we have one. And we can’t make one out of our wish we did have one.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride on January 16, 2013, 8:55 pm


        When we are discussing “the Jewish religious establishment,” we are referring to leading Jewish religious groups that are members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, for instance:

        1. Association of Reform Zionists of America
        2. Central Conference of American Rabbis
        3. Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
        4. MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement
        5. Rabbinical Assembly
        6. Rabbinical Council of America
        7. Religious Zionists of America
        8. Union for Reform Judaism
        9. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
        10. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
        11. Women of Reform Judaism
        12. Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

        How many of these organizations have strongly criticized Israeli policies or attempted to build a firewall between Judaism and Zionism? How many of them have worked to eliminate any meaningful distinctions between Judaism and Zionism?

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride on January 16, 2013, 11:13 pm


        To approach this issue from another angle: without doing any background research, I am going to go out on a limb and bet that all 12 of those Jewish religious organizations have lobbied for Israel and the Israeli government and have heavily entangled Judaism with Zionism. I think that is a mistake that they will come to regret. And I think that they need to take full responsibility for their actions.

      • Avigail
        Avigail on January 17, 2013, 3:20 am

        What I meant to say Mooser was that leadership is often needed in order for a group to change direction. It was more a general statement about the role of leadership in change in general rather than a comment about Jewish issues. I am also saying that there isn’t this kind of leadership in Israel and the Jewish world at the moment and that I think is pretty obvious to anyone who is looking…

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak on January 17, 2013, 3:59 am


        How many of them have worked to eliminate any meaningful distinctions between Judaism and Zionism?

        Excellently posed question. I await Mooser’s reply. -:)

        Btw, Judaism (the religion) and Zionism are synonymous, it seems, for the Obama administration. Case in point: the recent condemnation of a three-year old statement by Egyptian President Morsi.

        … in September 2010, Morsi was a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood. In the video, he refers to “Zionists” as “bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians” as well as “the descendants of apes and pigs.”

        White House spokesman Jay Carney said Morsi

        should make clear that he respects people of all faiths and that this type of rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic Egypt.”

        State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters:

        We completely reject these statements as we do any language that espouses religious hatred

        Clearly, the Obama administration, without batting an eye, equates Zionism with Judaism (the religion).

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew on January 17, 2013, 7:04 am

        Sibiriak – If Morsi had been the one to mint the phrase “sons of apes and pigs” and had applied it to Zionists, then you would have a point. But in fact the phrase was minted by the Prophet Muhammad (“peace be upon him”, does not apply in this case, for this quote did not leave peace behind him.) and he was referring to some Jews and not to Zionists. Although the “some” aspect gives true believers an out and call Muhammad a realist rather than a hater, but “some” does not really let him off the hook.

        Since Morsi was quoting a Jew hating verse it is natural for people to attribute Jew hating to the comment rather than merely anti Zionism.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak on January 17, 2013, 7:46 am

        yonah fredman:

        Point taken.

        Although the “some” aspect gives true believers an out and call Muhammad a realist rather than a hater, but “some” does not really let him off the hook.

        Why not? Just curious.

        Since Morsi was quoting a Jew hating verse it is natural for people to attribute Jew hating to the comment rather than merely anti Zionism.

        That assumption seems to flow naturally if one accepts the Jews/Judaism= Zionism equation.

        It doesn’t explain, though, why the Obama administration assumes the Morsi remarks on Zionists were about the Jewish *religion*.

        In any case, the Obama administration asked Morsi to “clarify”–not repudiate–his remarks.

        And Morsi did so:

        On Wednesday, Morsi told a visiting U.S. Senate delegation led by Republican John McCain that a distinction must be made between criticism of what he called the “racist” policies of the Israelis against the Palestinians and insults against the Jewish faith, Morsi’s spokesman Yasser Ali said.

        “President Morsi assured the delegation that the broadcast comments were taken out of an address against the Israeli aggression against Gaza,” Ali told reporters. “He also assured them of his respect for monolithic religions, freedom of belief and practicing religions.”

        So, that clears things up. :-) Except the “monolithic” thing (Cf. Mooser).

      • eljay
        eljay on January 17, 2013, 9:07 am

        >> Since Morsi was quoting a Jew hating verse it is natural for people to attribute Jew hating to the comment rather than merely anti Zionism.

        Morsi’s statement was hateful and merits condemnation. I condemn it.

        Muslims like Morsi need to get over their faith-based hatred of Jews and to focus on rightly despising Zio-supremacists for their hateful and immoral ideology and for their – and their supremacist state’s – past and ON-GOING oppression of Palestinians; theft of Palestinian lands and resources; and destruction of Palestinian lives and livelihoods.

        And Muslims like Morsi also need to get their own sh*t together in their own countries, as far as developing secular, democratic and egalitarian states are concerned.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride on January 17, 2013, 9:27 am


        Excellently posed question. I await Mooser’s reply. -:)

        So far I have received very few responses to the substantive questions I have directed his way on matters of politics and religion — just occasional evasive wisecracks or heavy-handed insinuations that antisemitism is motivating these inquiries.

        Clearly, the Obama administration, without batting an eye, equates Zionism with Judaism (the religion).

        Nearly the entire world now believes that Judaism = Zionism. The worldwide Jewish establishment — claiming to speak for “the Jews” and “the Jewish people” — has worked relentlessly to implant this belief in the minds of people everywhere. Now that establishment has to live with its handiwork.

      • eljay
        eljay on January 17, 2013, 9:41 am

        >> “President Morsi assured the delegation that the broadcast comments were taken out of an address against the Israeli aggression against Gaza,” Ali told reporters.

        If Mr. Morsi were addressing the issue of Israeli aggression, he could simply have referred to Israelis as aggressors. Or brutal aggressors. Or immoral, colonialist and expansionist aggressors. Or (war-) criminals.

        Instead, he chose instead to employ Qur’an-based hate-speech to make his point. I guess that sort of stupidity plays well to the home audience…

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka on January 17, 2013, 10:01 am

        yonah, Given that israeli leaders have used and still use much worse language than “sons of apes and pigs” to describe Palestinians and Arabs in general, I wonder if you can point me to places where you’ve taken them to task for their language.

        Just wondering…

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka on January 17, 2013, 10:16 am

        “Instead, he chose instead to employ Qur’an-based hate-speech to make his point. I guess that sort of stupidity plays well to the home audience…”

        In a perfect world, it would not be. But I also note that zios often use Torah- and Tanakh-based hate speech in connection with their positions, so it’s kind of a wash, isn’t it?

      • eljay
        eljay on January 17, 2013, 10:51 am

        >> But I also note that zios often use Torah- and Tanakh-based hate speech in connection with their positions, so it’s kind of a wash, isn’t it?

        I agree that they do, and their behaviour is just as hateful and stupid as Morsi’s.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew on January 17, 2013, 11:01 am

        Sibiriak- A verse that is used by ignorant people to condemn all Jews, should be avoided by wise people to condemn a specific group of Jews, unless the wise person is using the prejudice of the common folk in order to incite them. Then that person is a hate monger and not a wise man.

        I don’t think we should make a big thing out of Morsi’s use of the verse, as in, before he was in power, of course he used Jew hating verses to rile up his troops. But Obama is on the spot and must react to the verse and it was used by Morsi to rile up the Jew hatred in his followers and thus Obama was spot on.

      • American
        American on January 17, 2013, 11:41 am

        Avigail Abarbanel says:

        What I meant to say Mooser was that leadership is often needed in order for a group to change direction.”>>>>

        This is true imo. I think in general most people are followers not leaders. And in my life experience in business and elsewhere a leader most often ‘sets the tone’ for his followers or group….not always, it depends on the leader, but most often this is the dynamic…it filters down.

        If some really smart leader emerged in Israel or among the Jewish establishment, then in that case I think the moving away from zionism would come about much faster…that is an instance where the tribal like cohesiveness could aid or speed up a change.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 17, 2013, 12:05 pm

        @ Woody
        Yeah. Nothing like dirty wash coming out of the washing machine. I guess the dirt is suppose to vanish in the dryer, but instead it’s embedded in the whole cloth washed.

      • andrew r
        andrew r on January 17, 2013, 12:40 pm

        As’ad abu Khalil confirmed the phrase does not come from the Qur’an, which would make it apocryphal. Though I can’t tell if the “made them apes and pigs” bit is in reference to Jews.

        By the way, it is not true that describing Jews as “descendants of apes and pigs” is from the Qur’an. I was going to write a short article on the origin of the phrase but I don’t have the time. The phrase as it is in reference to Jews does NOT appear in the Qur’an as is claimed by anti-Semitic Islamists (there is indeed a reference to “and made them apes and pigs” in a particular historical reference. There is however a Hadith (typically disputed) that Muhammad’s wife, `A’ishah, once described Jews as “brothers of apes” when a group of Jews did not address the Prophet properly, according to her although the same Hadith reports that the prophet saluted the visiting Jews. This reference is used by contemporary Islamists to justify their language of today.

      • Walid
        Walid on January 17, 2013, 12:45 pm

        Woody, don’t accept the BS that is being pushed here about the pigs and apes stories out of the Quran. Yes, there are mentions of apes about Jews in the Quran but they have to be taken in the historical and metaphorical context in which they were said and not according to what Zionists are milking out of them. Despite their problems, the apes thing had nothing to do with it.

        During Islam’s early days, relations between the Muslims and the Jews were excellent and the Muslims fasted, prayed 3 times facing Jerusalem and observed Yom Kippur (Ashura/Asor) with the Jews until the Jews decided they did not want to follow the Prophet Muhammad and eventually united with Muhammad’s enemies and that’s when things turned bad between them.

        One of the Quranic notations in question is in Surat 7. After Muhammad’s lengthy description of the various plagues God sent on the Egyptians and the deliverance of the Jews by Moses, the tablets and the episode of the golden calf, Muhamad decribes how the Jews sinned by fishing on the sabbath and the verses in question say:

        ” 7:159 And among the people of Moses is a community which guides by truth and by it establishes justice.

        7:165 And when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying.

        7:166 So when they were insolent about that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, “Be apes, despised.”

        Woody, the other time the apes thing is mentioned elsewhere in the Quran, it’s to refer back to the story of the deliverance of the Jews and the sin committed by the fishermen in the above 7:166

        Sorry for the off-topic diversion, but Yonah and friends had to be corrected on the disinformation he’s spreading here about the Quran.

        Surat 7:

      • Walid
        Walid on January 17, 2013, 5:06 pm

        andrew r, the Angry Arab is right that the Quran does not say that Jews are descendants of apes and pigs although there is a referrence to apes and pigs in the Quran.

        Again as in the other 2 referrences about apes in the Quran in 2:65 and 7:166, both talking about the same incident wherein some Jews that broke the sabbath by fishing and were metaphorically commanded to turn to apes (in much the same way Jesus cast out the demons from the 2 possessed men and commanded them into the bodies of pigs (Matt 8:28-32), Quran 5:60 is telling the faithful to abide by the dietary laws of the Christians and the Jews, and the referrence is about some Christians and Jews that have gone astray and for their punishment were turned into apes and swine:

        Quran 5:57 Say: “O you who have believed, take not those who have taken your religion in ridicule and amusement among the ones who were given the Scripture before you nor the disbelievers as allies. And fear Allah , if you should [truly] be believers.

        5:58 And when you call to prayer, they take it in ridicule and amusement. That is because they are a people who do not use reason.

        5:59 Say, “O People of the Scripture, do you resent us except [for the fact] that we have believed in Allah and what was revealed to us and what was revealed before and because most of you are defiantly disobedient?”

        5:60 Say, “Shall I inform you of [what is] worse than that as penalty from Allah ? [It is that of] those whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry and made of them apes and pigs and slaves of Taghut. Those are worse in position and further astray from the sound way.”

        Muhammad in this Surat is critical of Jewish rabbis not controling their people in about the same way Jesus referred to rabbis as a “snakes” and a “brood of vipers”(Matt 12:34), (Matt 23:33).

        Yonah is spreading some Zionist folklore here.

        Surat 5 on dietary laws:

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 18, 2013, 12:21 pm

        Leadership can’t hurt. We have a process (informal in the US, I would imagine it’s pretty formalised in Israel) to produce Jewish Zionists. But for the leaders who will lead us (hey, some Jews like to be lead, some kick) away from Zionism, where will they be developed? Where will they come from?

        Thanks for responding, Ms. Aberbanel.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew on January 18, 2013, 3:26 pm

        Walid- I am not spreading Zionist folklore. The Quran refers a number of times to the changing of humans into animals. These verses can be open to varying interpretation. Besides official interpretation there is the use that the masses make out of the verses as well. I do not know enough about the history of hatred of Jews in Islamic regions and the usages such verses were put to at various times in history. But the verses exist and they have been used before as a way to incite hatred against Jews.

        Besides Sura 7, in sura 2 there is verse 65 : “And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, “Be apes, despised.””

        As I said this can have varying interpretations and be dismissed (even with facts) that it is referring to a specific group and at a specific time. But if Walid is telling us that these verses have never been used against Jews, but only against Zionists, then I’d have to call him a liar. but I would not call him a son of apes and pigs.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew on January 18, 2013, 3:39 pm

        Walid- And the New Testament verses were used by the Christian masses against Jews as well. This does not prove the neutral nature of the verses. It shows that ambiguous verses can be used by those who wish to inspire hate.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 18, 2013, 5:10 pm

        “Nearly the entire world now believes that Judaism = Zionism.”

        What a terrible situation, truly frightening! If “Judaism = Zionism”, then the more money, the more peace, the more influence, Jewish people have, the more Zionism they will do, and the more assets Jews will have to give to Zionism. What can you do with people like that? If you persecute them, they go Zionist. And if you don’t persecute them, they’ll be even more Zionist! It’s what they do.

        I can see that being a real problem, one that may need to be handled with “maximum force”

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride on January 19, 2013, 9:39 am


        Is this an aggrieved snipe? Something else? Can you paraphrase or summarize your main point?

        I have been unable to understand most of your comments over the last month or so. I understand that you are excited — but I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

        With regard to the fact that the worldwide Jewish establishment has thoroughly entangled Judaism with Zionism: your thoughts? Why did this happen? Where is this going? What can be done about it? How should non-Jews respond to this development?

        Also be sure to see this article:

        /title The heart of Israel: The Second Zionist Revolution
        /author Bernie Quigley
        /publication The Hill
        /date January 18, 2013
        The second Zionist revolution is Jewish. Israel is coming into its own. Judaism is flourishing, changing, living and breathing here like it never has anywhere since the destruction of the Second Commonwealth. The secular left has been eclipsed by the Jewish right.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride on January 19, 2013, 9:56 am


        What factors — cultural, genetic or otherwise — do you think have produced the militant ethnocentrism and strident ethnic aggression of Jewish Zionists like Alan Dershowitz, Caroline Glick, David Horowitz, Elliott Abrams, Eric Cantor, Moshe Feiglin, Pamela Geller, Rachel Abrams, William Kristol, etc.? Where does it come from?

        Is it your belief that “the nations” — the goyim — are to blame? If that is your belief, just say it directly without any convoluted or muddled irony or sarcasm. Then perhaps we can have a reasonable discussion on this issue.

        It has been my experience that messianists of all stripes are “self-starters” — they are proactive, not reactive. Their aggression is self-generated — especially those messianists who are on a divine mission to save or perfect the world.

      • eljay
        eljay on January 19, 2013, 10:56 am

        – Allah divides the people of Moses into twelve tribes.

        – They are given a city by the sea and told to:

        “Dwell in this city and eat from it wherever you will and say, ‘Relieve us of our burdens,’ and enter the gate bowing humbly; We will [then] forgive you your sins. We will increase the doers of good [in goodness and reward].”

        – But some among them change “[the words] to a statement other than that which had been said to them”.

        – Allah tempts them by sending fish on the Sabbath and no fish other days of the week.

        “So We sent upon them a punishment from the sky for the wrong that they were doing. And ask them about the town that was by the sea – when they transgressed in [the matter of] the sabbath – when their fish came to them openly on their sabbath day, and the day they had no sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were defiantly disobedient.”

        – These people succumb to Allah’s temptation and fish on the Sabbath.

        – So Allah says “Be apes, despised” and turns them into apes.

        2:117: “When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.”

        So, while it’s true that not all Jews are descended from these people of Moses who were transformed by Allah into apes to be despised, it would seem that, according to Morsi, the Jews of Israel are indeed their descendants.

        And while the story of the transformation might just be metaphorical, the Qu’ran doesn’t state or imply that it’s anything other than the Truth. It seems, therefore, pretty bold to take the words of Allah and change them “to a statement other than that which had been said”.


      • eljay
        eljay on January 19, 2013, 11:11 am

        >> So, while it’s true that not all Jews are descended from these people of Moses who were transformed by Allah into apes to be despised, it would seem that, according to Morsi, the Jews of Israel are indeed their descendants.

        Correction: So, while it’s true that not all Jews are sons of apes, it is clear that i) some Jews were transformed into apes; ii) these Jews would have had descendants; and iii) Morsi numbers the Jews of Israel among these descendants.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew on January 19, 2013, 11:37 am

        Walid- It’s difficult for me to say what Muhammad meant with these verses. (references to Jews being turned into apes exists in the 2nd sura, 65th verse and there are other references to humans being turned into apes and pigs in the 5th Sura as well.) My knowledge of the use of the Quran to incite masses against the Jews is also very meager. I suppose in my lifetime most anti Jewish rhetoric has been tied up with anti Zionist rhetoric. So therefore it is conceivable that these verses were never used for ill effect and only were used according to the interpretation of credible students of the Quran. That is, except that I am aware of human nature. And human nature uses verses to their own purpose, even when their meaning is quite precise. These verses from Muhammad are not quite precise, they are very ambiguous, ambivalent, having two meanings and are easily used for haters today and I must believe that whenever conflicts between Islam and Jews took place, the demagogues had these verses in their arsenal and they were used.

        Apparently your belief in the Quran as inerrant is dissimilar to my belief that Tanach (and Talmud) are filled with mistakes written by human beings. There are hundreds (at least) of verses and sentiments expressed in Tanach (and Talmud) which will lead one to war and hatred, if one is not careful to be guided by love.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 19, 2013, 2:45 pm

        @ yonah fredman

        Yes indeed. Lots of very express negative characterizations of non-Jews in the Talmud. Even more implied ones. Very hard to get a copy of the Talmud these days that has not edited these out.

        Torah is, in comparison, generally much more ambiguous–more poetic, less literal shall we say?

    • on January 16, 2013, 1:52 pm

      “at least a generation of adjustment to ever get past the zionism ”

      The same argument would have been as valid with other racial supremacist societies. Of postwar Germany, post-colonial South Africa and the US, it seems that it’s the US which had the most trouble, and it worked even here the second time around.

      • American
        American on January 17, 2013, 11:57 am


        That was a bit different than the situation in Israel—-Israel has had a ‘hot conflict’ , basically a war against the Palestines going on for a long time…for a lot of Israelis’ lifetimes.
        Despite how bad the Jim Crow days were and incidents of violence we never had an all out government sanctioned hot war against Blacks as enemies of the state.

      • on January 18, 2013, 7:26 am

        “we never had an all out government sanctioned hot war against Blacks as enemies of the state.”
        That may explain why the South did not have to be militarily occupied and divided into four (=2) different zones.
        But a very harsh and violent resistance to change and an equally harsh imposition of any solution are in store anyway in the case of Israel, so the parallel for how it will change should be with Nazi Germany. [Those who really believe a collectively crazy society will act logically, or that that quarter was brought by the Tooth Fairy, may raise their hand.] It will presumably encounter more resistance than in Nazi Germany as the Israelian racism is not imposed by a military dictatorship, either; the Israelian leaders are elected by a majority of insane people. But then, the crazies will resist any solution short of their total control over all of Palestine anyway.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 18, 2013, 5:27 pm

        “Despite how bad the Jim Crow days were and incidents of violence we never had an all out government sanctioned hot war against Blacks as enemies of the state.”

        Don’t kid yourself, American. There, was, without a doubt, a war against the freed slaves and their descendants.

        And when you deny it or pretty it up, you might as well be denying the Nakba

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 19, 2013, 2:52 pm

        @ Mooser
        Yeah, you’re right; the stupid mote in the eye is in the Jim Crow Era nobody saw US government jets strafing black kids with white phosphorus. Did the US Cavalry ride down on the freed blacks post 1865 and attack their children like Custer did to the native Americans? Also, who were the carpetbaggers in the post ’48 Holy Land?

      • American
        American on January 19, 2013, 4:33 pm

        Mooser says:
        “Despite how bad the Jim Crow days were and incidents of violence we never had an all out government sanctioned hot war against Blacks as enemies of the state.”

        Don’t kid yourself, American. There, was, without a doubt, a war against the freed slaves and their descendants.

        And when you deny it or pretty it up, you might as well be denying the Nakba.>>>>>>

        Ah Mooser……”The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax— Of cabbages—and kings— And why the sea is boiling …”

        The time has come my faithful Moose comment tracker to talk of many things. LOL
        You don’t seem to actually pay attention to what I have said about the Jim Crow days…pretty them up I do not.
        And the link you gave fits perfectly with how “I” described the condition
        of blacks after the Civil War and how in many respects they were still slaves and dependent on whites for their livelihood in a prior conversation with Donald on this.
        But as citizen also pointed out you can ‘t compare a national government hot war against the Palestines for 65 years to Jim Crow.
        So really your comment about denying the Nakba is your Jewish related way of insulting me and my views of I/P that I as a white won’t accept my race’s evilness in Jim Crow but will condemn Jewish or Israelis evilness in I/P.

        Now, I know why you direct these comments to me, you don’t like my gentile opinions or my whiteness or relation to what you think is WASPiness. You think I think I am superior and you think I am somewhat bigoted in my opinions on a lot of things like people shouldn’t be victims or make that their identity and so forth. And of course how dare someone like me who isn’t a member of a historically victimized class presume to have an opinion on anything concerning those who are. And if those opinions are anything but totally reinforcing, recognizing and paying homage to and encouraging their victimhood…….well then, I am denying their suffering and casting them as no good weaklings. I can’t possibly have any ‘constructive’ motivations in what I say that to my mind would make things better for them, can I?

        So you haunt my postings for things you think proves or represents what you think of me or what I am. Even if you have to stretch the interruption of what I said to do it.

        Well I can’t help you buddy, you’re just going to have think whatever you
        think. You have your pov and ‘things’ and I have mine….that’s what makes a horse race as they say.

  7. seafoid
    seafoid on January 15, 2013, 10:59 am

    “We Jews are taught by our elders to see Israel as a just and good country and ourselves and other Jews as a just and ethical people, concerned with human rights and justice”

    Jews are like Alawis
    Same historic marginalisation. Same sense of otherness. Same modern addiction to violence. Same abuse of power.
    “Secrecy was also observed by means of a complex system of initiation, in which insiders recognized each other by using special phrases or passwords and neophytes underwent a form of spiritual marriage with the naqibs, or spiritual guides.
    It does not take much imagination to see how such beliefs, programmed into the community’s values for more than a millennium, and reinforced by customs such as endogamous marriage according to which the children of unions between Nusayris and non-Nusayris cannot be initiated into the sect—create very strong notions of apartness and disdain for the “Other.””

    If you are apart of course you are special. And you are good. And god loves you more. And the others are all haters.

    It is all so sad.

  8. yourstruly
    yourstruly on January 15, 2013, 11:13 am

    homo sapiens = tribe?

    out goes exclusivity, the us versus them?


    the you are i, i am you, we are one?

  9. Betsy
    Betsy on January 15, 2013, 12:50 pm

    @ Avigail Abarbanel – I look forward to reading your important book & so appreciate your comments here. I do want to express my concern over using the word TRIBAL . Have you reflected on how this word choice might affect people who identify as ‘First Peoples’, Native Americans, or ‘tribal’?

    In Canada right now, Chief Theresa Pence is on a fast (possibly to death), which is part of an extraordinary uprising called “Idle No More” of indigenous peoples against devastation of their lands & exploitation of their peoples.

    All around the world, native peoples are trying to band together to reclaim the rights of truly TRIBAL people (altho’ many reject that label as tainted, altho’ many, say in India, like it). I have several times commented on this in more detail on Mondoweiss – so if you google my posts under ‘betsy’ + ‘tribal’ , there’s more detailed explication as to why…

    You will notice that most of the comments (and this article) cast ‘tribal’ as bad, as tainted, as racist ethnonationalism. That is part of a very long history of stigmatizing peoples who are not (in important ways) part of nation-states. Your use of ‘tribal’ taints & effaces the reality of indigenous people – and makes it sound as if it is the post-tribal from which tolerance & mutual respect comes.

    I’m sure that you don’t mean to do this! Using ‘tribal’ to describe cultural Jewishness seems to be fairly widespread – e.g., ‘Tribefest’. I wish people would think critically about whether they want to do this – it’s not the usual pattern among American ethnic groups…

    • on January 16, 2013, 1:57 pm

      Betsy: For those who cannot see themselves as human beings first “tribal” is used as a euphemism for much, much more pejorative (and possible more precise) words.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on January 16, 2013, 8:14 pm

      Betsy, I’m with you on that, and for that precise reason, there are people who are organised, relate to the state on a tribal basis, and it is not an apropriate descripter for (at least) American citizens who are Jewish.

      But “tribal” it became. And became a catch-all term. But you are right, there are people who are indeed tribal, and that should be respected.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 17, 2013, 12:31 pm

        @ Mooser
        Tribal native Americans….how should we distinguish them from tribal Jewish Americans? For starters, the latter have been privileged, to say the least, from the start compared to native American “Indians.” And the native American Indians never viewed themselves as part of a world-wide tribe, with all the attributes of same. Jews are conditioned to view themselves as a biblical tribe down to the present day, one that is dispersed across the world? And one that owes its allegiance to said universal single tribe, no matter where they live?

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 18, 2013, 12:29 pm

        “Tribal native Americans….how should we distinguish them from tribal Jewish Americans?”

        O fer Gawd’s sake, Citizen. People in the Tribal Nations of the US and Canada have a different legal and political relationship to the state than Jews do. Jews are ordinary citizens, of both, I believe, the US and Canada, and not distinguished from any other citizen by that voluntary personal identity. People in the tribal nations have a different status or relationship with the present state.

        You call yourself “Citizen”. You could at least learn what it means. (Not that members of tribal nations couldn’t citizens of the state, too. But there are such entities as these tribes. There is no political entity called “the tribe of Jews” in relation to the State. Which is not to say that Jews, like any other citizens, can’t “associate” and form groups on that basis)

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 18, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Of course, if Hostage says I’m wrong, I will defer, shamed-facedly. For all I know, in this meshugginer world, there could be a “Office of Jewish Affairs” in the Capitol.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on January 18, 2013, 5:17 pm

        Not “Office”. Bureau, of course. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 19, 2013, 3:07 pm

        Yeah, they open one of the drawers and give you a blanket.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 19, 2013, 6:59 pm

        @ Mooser

        Within your legal as distinguished from moral/ ethical distinctions lies the reason why Israel First Jewish Americans are able to hijack US foreign policy to benefit Israel as key agenda. If it walks like a duck… As you often lament, first they take advantage of you, then Dick and Jane in your name. Nobody here regularly needs to be reminded of the myriad of ways and agencies Establishment Jews pursue their light in the (legal) dark.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 19, 2013, 7:03 pm

        @ Mooser,
        You mean like the Office Of Special Plans under Bush Jr?

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 19, 2013, 7:04 pm

        Also, @ Mooser

        Here’s how the Establishment Jews work:

    • Inanna
      Inanna on January 17, 2013, 9:49 pm

      Agree Betsy. I see this as sectarianism rather than tribalism.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 19, 2013, 3:11 pm

        @ Inanna
        Main Entry: sectarian  [sek-tair-ee-uh n]
        Part of Speech: adjective
        Definition: narrow-minded, exclusive
        Synonyms: bigoted, clannish, cliquish, dissident, doctrinaire, dogmatic, factional, fanatic, fanatical, hidebound, insular, limited, local, nonconforming, nonconformist, parochial, partisan, provincial, rigid, schismatic, skeptical, small-town, splinter
        Notes: sectarian means of or relating to or characteristic of a sect or sects, while secular means not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body or not religious or spiritual in nature
        Antonyms: broad, broad-minded, liberal, nonsectarian

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 19, 2013, 3:15 pm

        tribe (trb)
        1. A unit of sociopolitical organization consisting of a number of families, clans, or other groups who share a common ancestry and culture and among whom leadership is typically neither formalized nor permanent.
        2. A political, ethnic, or ancestral division of ancient states and cultures, especially:
        a. Any of the three divisions of the ancient Romans, namely, the Latin, Sabine, and Etruscan.
        b. Any of the 12 divisions of ancient Israel.
        c. A phyle of ancient Greece.
        3. A group of people sharing an occupation, interest, or habit: a tribe of graduate students.
        4. Informal A large family.
        5. Biology A taxonomic category placed between a subfamily and a genus or between a suborder and a family and usually containing several genera.

    • aiman
      aiman on January 17, 2013, 10:37 pm

      Betsy, nothing wrong with the word ‘tribal’ here. ‘Tribal’ is indeed bad and racist ethnonationalism. Before human beings were divided into tribes, still prevalent with Indigenous systems, but the nation-state limited that to families. The ‘tribal’ in Indigenous systems has nothing to do with racism, but tribal partisanship as espoused by certain groups is indeed bad. It has nothing to do with Indigenous system of tribalism. All fundamentalist movements are driven by tribalism.

  10. American
    American on January 16, 2013, 10:48 am

    Betsy says:

    @ Avigail Abarbanel – I look forward to reading your important book & so appreciate your comments here. I do want to express my concern over using the word TRIBAL . Have you reflected on how this word choice might affect people who identify as ‘First Peoples’, Native Americans, or ‘tribal’?>>>>

    With all due respect Betsy this is a bit too pc picky. ..pc on steriods. Its’ irritating when people try to infuse one issue into another.
    People are capable of seeing the different contexts in a Tribal description.

  11. Citizen
    Citizen on January 19, 2013, 3:19 pm

    What I’d like to know is how any Jew brought up in America can move to Israel and be a bigger bigot than David Duke. If the Jew is justified in Israel because he or she is Jewish, than why is David Duke relegated to the fringes of American society while the US government enables Israeli Jewish bigotry on an institutional scale?

    • Mooser
      Mooser on January 19, 2013, 5:47 pm

      “If the Jew is justified in Israel because he or she is Jewish, than why is David Duke relegated to the fringes of American society while the US government enables Israeli Jewish bigotry on an institutional scale?”

      Citizen, I’m sure Mr. Duke would appreciate this endorsement, why don’t you send it to him directly? I see no reason why US segregationists shouldn’t point to Israel as a model, for the US. Myself, I hope the US never decides to pattern itself on Israel.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on January 20, 2013, 3:51 am

        I don’t know about US segregationists, but US political leaders and government representatives gush daily to the public that US and Israel have the same values–why, there’s no sky between the lovely couple, they are so close.

        BTW, I did not endorse anything.

  12. mollistan
    mollistan on January 20, 2013, 9:17 pm

    If you liked the book, please leave a positive review on amazon. Right now there is only one one star review up.

  13. Ruth Tenne
    Ruth Tenne on January 23, 2013, 11:15 am

    Many thanks to Hazel Kahan for her illuminating interview with Avigail Abarbanel’s – whose insightful comments highlight the importance of her inspiring book -Beyond Tribal Loyalties :Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists .

    When asked by Hazel Kahan about her motivation for writing the book Avigail replied:
    “It’s my attempt to try to understand what makes the contributors and others like them special or different. I think it’s still accurate to say that the majority of Jews either do not question or continue to believe in a narrative that is unsupportable and historically incorrect. I also think it’s accurate to say that the views held by many Jews on Israel-Palestine are motivated more by a need to be loyal to the tribe than by historical accuracy”.

    As an Israeli -born contributor to the book, I wholly agree with Avigail Abarbanel’s observation that tribal loyalty is at the heart of the unquestionable support , by the main-stream Jewish community , for the “historically incorrect” narrative of State of Israel . This loyalty to the Tribe is reflected through enshrined values and system of belief which regard those who dare challenging them as marginalised outsiders or, simply, (Jewish) self-haters .

    In my recent review and reflection on the book I tried to address those burning issues which , in my view, seem to tear apart the Jewish community . I also touched there on some of the important points expressed by the readers of Mondoweiss – including such points as: the deep-rooted sense of victimisation which has become part of the Jewish psyche, the closely -guarded narrative of the Holocaust and its apparent implications , the loyalty of the main-stream jewish community to the Land of Israel/Zion ( a characteristic feature of the Tribe), the self-perceived uniqueness of Jewish values/people , and the viability of one versus two -state solution .

    I believe, however , that this ground-breaking book should be read ( and treasured) in order to fully understand the self-searching process , personal experience ,and driving motivation of those who dare challenging the ingrained confines of their Zionist upbringing , and have the courage to stand up to them and be counted.

    Ruth Tenne

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