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Hearing ‘blatant racism’ in Israel caused young J Street attendee to question Zionism

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I often say that J Street does not represent the rank and file of those it claims to lead, liberal Jews. Last month at J Street’s conference, a UCLA senior stood at a panel to ask about the space for non-Zionism inside Jewish life. He said that his own skepticism about Zionism is not welcomed inside organized Judaism, even in synagogues, “which are supposed to be a place of religious expression and not political expression.”

Later I talked to him. The video is above. He gave me his last name, Liu, and said that he finds that Zionism has replaced the belief in God, the Ten Commandments, and Halakhah (the moral laws), as the core of organized Jewish religion. And: “that’s idolatry.” Jewish organizations are promoting “Jewish nationalism… promoting ethnocentrism and ethnic-based relations [over religious norms].”
I asked him where he stands on the Zionist/anti-Zionist issue.
“I’m not a Zionist in that I think the founding of Israel was a mistake.” Liu would have sought greater justice and compensation for Jews in Europe from European countries that fostered the Holocaust, not Arab countries.

After that, he explained his resistance to the idea of one state in Israel and Palestine. At the end I ask him about pressure on him to go to Israel, or move there. He said:

“I’ve already been to Israel, so my skepticism of Zionism stemmed from that first trip to Israel, where I heard blatant racism on the part of the people, friends, and exchange students I was with.”

Nonetheless, as an American Jew he feels “attachment to the conflict.” And so he means to address it in his professional life.

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10 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    October 21, 2013, 1:58 pm


    • W.Jones
      October 21, 2013, 3:21 pm

      If it is not a mistake, isn’t it certainly a challenge? Let’s say it is helpful to have a state for one religion in half of the Holy Land as per the UN partition.

      What do you do with the very many peaceful native people living there in 1947, who actually are not racists or fascists or pose some kind of threat? Those native people in fact were on the Allied side of WWII, hundreds served in Allied forces, and had newspapers promoting the Allies. (The pro-Nazi Mufti was opposed in fact by others and is practically a one-man red herring.)

      There were hundreds of villages forced out in 1947-1948, and those who did this were aware – as Chomsky learned on his kibbutz – that peaceful, friendly villages were treated this way. It was intolerant when Jews are forced out of Shtetls, so how is it OK to move that burden onto someone else?

      Couldn’t their “half” of Palestine been gerrymandered so that they did not need to force anyone out and still have a democratic majority with friendly villages?

      The way I see it, one need not say Israel must have been a mistake. But the way it was designed and implemented is troubling, as well as the theories proposed by scholars like Dr. Jerry Slater, who propose that the native population should have been compensated to leave, which raises the question of what to do if they reject this generous offer and want to still live in their friendly villages – the answer of course being the tragedy of history as we know it.

      It is troubling that the leftists and humanitarians dedicated to this system would propose as acceptable a design that would needlessly reenact tragedies that existed earlier. And how should we feel that a significant number of leftist revolutionaries, dedicated to social equality in Europe should enact unequal treatment elsewhere? Why?

  2. Cliff
    October 21, 2013, 3:13 pm

    I agree with his statement: ‘Zionism has replaced the belief in God’.

    That is absolutely true for American Jews – at least when it comes to the ‘Establishment’.

    That’s the impression I get from Zionists – that ‘defending’ Israel is more important than morality, ethics, etc.

    None of the Zionist commentators here have ever expressed basic human decency. They lie so effortlessly and are also just as dishonest (hophmi). Morality does not factor into their beliefs. It is simply ‘defend Israel’ (even if it means defending mass murder, ethnic cleansing, discrimination, racism, etc.).

    What is it that we hear from the trolls?

    ‘Why aren’t you blah blah Syria [or other countries having problems]?’


    • OlegR
      October 21, 2013, 6:55 pm

      Now that you mentioned it i don’t think you can describe Syria as “having problems”.
      US have problems, France have problems, Israel have problems even Egypt has problems .
      Syria has mass murder on a daily basis.

      • Cliff
        October 22, 2013, 5:13 am

        US has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. 500,000 children during the sanctions. The US is constantly at war all over the world and contributes to war and misery all over the world.

        Israel killed 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians during the 1st Lebanon War.

        Syria and the rest of the Arab world are undergoing a generational change and the violence that is occurring – while staggering – is not unique. Europe went through countless bloody revolutions and political upheavals in recent history.

        The Arabs were colonized at this time and their borders are artificial. We are seeing the consequences of that colonial legacy.

        The reason you are such a racist fool, OlegR, is that you chalk up the violence in the Arab world to something genetic or intrinsic to being Arab.

        But it’s not unique and all throughout history this violence has been happening.

        You simply use it when its happening w/ the Arabs to distract from Israel’s pacification and slow-motion ethnic cleansing of the remnants of Historic Palestine.

        It’s always a useful distraction. You never want to talk about the issue. All of you trolls are exactly the same. Crying double standards while simultaneously exaggerating Palestinian violence and Israeli casualties (while also simultaneously defending and making excuses for the disproportionate Palestinian casualties due to Jewish terrorism).

        People hate you because you are a horrible human being. Your country is full of horrible human beings. Your country is like one big cult.

        Israel has killed plenty but if it’s not doing so presently, it’s not due to it’s generosity – it’s because the Palestinians have been pacified by earlier Zionist atrocities.

      • OlegR
        October 22, 2013, 5:37 am

        /The reason you are such a racist fool, OlegR, is that you chalk up the violence in the Arab world to something genetic or intrinsic to being Arab./

        Never said that in my life Cliff you must be debating some other imaginary Oleg.

        /People hate you because you are a horrible human being. Your country is full of horrible human beings. Your country is like one big cult./

        Now now when you say people you mean that You hate me, right?
        Funny i don’t have any such feeling towards anyone here.
        I don’t even think you are a horrible person Cliff.
        A troubled one perhaps but not horrible.

      • Cliff
        October 22, 2013, 5:59 am

        Thanks for not thinking I’m a horrible person, Oleg.

        But then again, why wouldn’t you? For all my rhetoric, it simply boils down to what I do and do not support:

        I do not support ethno-religious, discriminatory nationalism and religious fundamentalism.

        I do not support special privileges based on your religious or ethnic background.

        I DO support democracy and equality and a State that is based on it’s citizens.

        I do not support a State that is based around the religion of it’s citizens such that a majority lords over the unfavored minority.

        I do not make excuses for terrorism. I do not take exceptions to the rule and exaggerate their impact to negate carefully documented studies.

        I do not judge a book by it’s cover – literally, this is what you do.

        So all in all, I think I’m a pretty normal person.

        I’m certainly ‘troubled’ by how horrible you are and how horrible Israel is. And before you foam at the mouth, I think Syria is horrible too.

    • Citizen
      October 22, 2013, 6:27 am


      RE: “I agree with his statement: ‘Zionism has replaced the belief in God’.”

      Apparently 52% of Jewish Americans don’t believe in God in the first place:

      So maybe it’s less a matter of replacing God than of creating a God?

  3. just
    October 21, 2013, 7:01 pm

    Thanks Phil. Hope it is a harbinger for many more of these bright young folk to speak out against rabid Zionism, while still embracing Judaism. There was much that he had to say as an American Jewish man that is important to the conversation and for our moral blindness toward Zionism.

  4. Citizen
    October 22, 2013, 9:54 am

    Looks like not just the young Israelis but at least one in his dotage, has been having second thoughts about his God, the real estate broker for the Jews:

    Note Beiden, Mr. Fake hair & teeth, the Roman Catholic Irishman himself (and a source of endless disgust with many of his own people), has no such doubts as Peres does.

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