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Guilty on Christmas

Israel/Palestine
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Christmas-TreeAll through Christmas I thought a lot about Ari Shavit’s declaration to progressive American secular Jews that we need Israel “like oxygen” in order to stay Jewish– and therefore we must support the Zionist project. Shavit is warning that without a strong pole for Jewish identity, we will assimilate, vanish into the American bread pudding.

The first and obvious answer to Shavit is that any religious identity based on supporting apartheid is not oxygen, it’s carbon monoxide. I would sooner be a 7th Day Adventist or a follower of the Assembly of God than Jewish if Jewishness were dependent upon being a member in good standing of the Israel lobby. Thankfully, it is not.

But I take Shavit’s point too. I’m proudly Jewish, formed by Jewish tradition, yet I can’t say that I am doing much to maintain the tribe in modern America. When I look at my choices lately, from buying a Christmas tree and gifts to singing “Silent Night” at a Christmas dinner to chatting with my in-laws about when they started identifying as “WASPs”, I see the reason that the enlightenment Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn’s grandson was the Christian composer Felix Mendelssohn; mine are assimilationist choices. Adopted by millions of other intermarrying Jews, and you bet there will be no secular Jews left in a few generations, and the Orthodox will be the only reservoir of Jewishness in America, just as Shavit says.

Yet I feel little regret about my choices, and can’t imagine that the Jews making similar choices regret theirs. I like a wide American company; I spent the holiday with two other half-and-half couples and had drinks in the city with a Jewish friend who bragged on his “shiksa” wife. These are highly-personal questions, and I would no sooner proselytize assimilation to another individual than I accepted proselytizing on intermarriage by my original community.

A few other points in my defense:

–It’s not like my wife or my friends are very Christian. If they were, we wouldn’t be friends. They respect Christ as a teacher, but mock Christian religious claims and stay away from church. My spiritually-polyglot wife loves Christmas and calls it the Saturnalia, a pagan solstice feast, and last night was explaining ayurvedhic typologies to a formerly-Catholic friend who hates his church. If I were “staying Jewish” in this context, I would be very conservative indeed.

–A religion reflects the community it serves; and my community is simply too diverse for Judaism to suffice as the leading spiritual guide for my life. In fact, I see a miscibility of faith at every hand; and I am someone who needs spiritual guidance. For instance, in the last year I have lost two good friends, one Jewish, one lapsed Catholic, and both times I really needed to grieve in my friend’s community, and those communities were diverse: the Catholic community included interracial children, the Jewish shivas were led by a non-Jewish widow. The literary guides I seek out are also diverse, from Emily Dickinson to Kafka.

–Are you a cultural conservative? I’m not. When Shavit says that progressive secular Jewishness is threatened with extinction or when Bernard Avishai says that a one-state outcome is threatening the eastern European Jewish culture of Bialik and Agnon that exists nowhere else in the world, I’m respectful but not reverent; if they are right, in the end I have to shrug. Cultures come and go. There are great losses but presumably they are replaced by better things. It is the nature of traditions to be replaced; the people of New Guinea have lost scores of languages. Those thousands of secular American Jews who are making choices similar to mine do so not because they are stupid sheep but because they want to explore the world more fully (including seeking a wider pool for that most perplexing of choices, mate selection).

–If the price of maintaining Jewish traditions is support for religious nationalism, what is it worth? If the price of maintaining American Jewish progressive secular culture is high walls to prevent children mingling with non-Jews, where is the confidence or progressivism or democracy in that culture?

Getting off my back foot, I’d say that it is arrogant to assert that Jewishness will collapse if American Jews don’t support Israel. If we can say one thing about Jewish history it’s that its movements are hardly predictable. I could just as easily assert as a proud Jew that what’s killing Jewishness is tribalism, the requirement that young Jews support a nationalist militarist project that feels about as cool as the KKK. If that requirement were ended, who knows how Jewishness would reinvent itself. Sky’s the limit.

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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238 Responses

  1. Mike_Konrad
    Mike_Konrad
    December 29, 2013, 1:43 pm

    I have never UNDERSTOOD why Mideast Christians have adopted the Christmas tree, something of possible Nordic origin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFUaA2JTYiw

    I would think local traditions are more authentic.

    • annie
      annie
      December 29, 2013, 3:23 pm

      I would think local traditions are more authentic.

      mike, have you googled the history of christmas trees lately. the custom of bringing branches into the home and decorating them began in …the middle east!

      http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-christmas-trees

      How It All Got Started
      Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

      In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

      The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.

      http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/115737/Christmas-tree

      Christmas tree, an evergreen tree, often a pine or a fir, decorated with lights and ornaments as a part of Christmas festivities. The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the Devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime. It survived further in the custom, also observed in Germany, of placing a Yule tree at an entrance or inside the house during the midwinter holidays.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      December 29, 2013, 9:25 pm

      Christmas trees are fun.
      Mideast Christians can keep up their “more authentic” local traditions and have Christmas trees as well.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        Tuyzentfloot
        December 30, 2013, 8:03 am

        Mideast Christians can keep up their “more authentic” local traditions and have Christmas trees as well.

        That’s because christian zionists infiltrated the JNF and managed to plant huge loads of christmas trees all over the promised land.

  2. OlegR
    OlegR
    December 29, 2013, 1:52 pm

    You are contradicting yourself.

    • Danaa
      Danaa
      December 29, 2013, 2:41 pm

      Contradictions are the very essence of the “New Jewishness” that Phil seems to be embracing. Which really is more like “New Humaness”. Like anything based on Free Thinking, contradictions will abound, because they are endemic to human nature. Yet, an enlightened “nature” will take a bit from nurture and a bit from the environment, and lots from a growing and changing self to make a complete individual. The nurture may be in the past and the parts played by Heritage difficult to separate out but it is the job of an evolving Self, to sort the ingredients, recombine the chopped pieces and let it all simmer into a fine goulash – full of contradictory tastes, yet fit for consumption, and then some. Those who try to store the Goulash, adding not a few preservative traditions to keep it from turning altogether stale, may find that it will never taste as good as one made fresh, full of newly conflicting tastes and smells.

      Alas, the worst contradiction of them all lies within the self itself, forever living in the shadow of its own eventual demise, deep thoughts, beloved traditions and great intentions notwithstanding. And therein lies the greatest contradiction of them all, one shared by each and every member of the human species, compared to which what’s a little Jewishness? or Catholicness? or, for that matter, assimilation?

      • mcohen
        mcohen
        December 29, 2013, 9:43 pm

        Danaa

        well written and definitely worth a chuckle.the thing is there are other opposing forces growing in strength who do not prescribe to the “goulash” worldview,strong of conviction and prepared to tear it all down and start again.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 6:44 pm

        @ Danaa
        Your comment is witty, well-written, and to the major human point, at least my take of it, and Phil’s I conclude. Maslow would agree. His pyramid “tree” is involved here. You can guess where Phil is there, as well as all those still stuck, hanging below him, maintaining their bipolar world, maintaining insanity because they can’t handle reality.

    • Scott
      Scott
      December 29, 2013, 8:47 pm

      no, it’s dialectical (and actually pretty compelling)

  3. bintbiba
    bintbiba
    December 29, 2013, 2:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Phillip Weiss!
    It is such a pleasure getting to know you better as time goes by, through your writings. A privilege !

  4. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    December 29, 2013, 2:18 pm

    RE: “The first and obvious answer to Shavit is that any religious identity based on supporting apartheid is not oxygen, it’s carbon monoxide. I would sooner be a 7th Day Adventist or a follower of the Assembly of God than Jewish if Jewishness were dependent upon being a member in good standing of the Israel lobby. Thankfully, it is not.” ~ Weiss

    A HIGHLY RELEVANT FILM MASTERPIECE BY BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI:
    The Conformist (Il Conformista), 1970 UR 111 minutes
    In this thought-provoking drama set in 1930s fascist Italy, the government orders Marcello to kill a political refugee who happens to be his college mentor. Marcello obeys and is hence “the Conformist,” a man who’ll do absolutely anything to belong.
    Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio, Fosco Giachetti, José Quaglio, Dominique Sanda, Pierre Clémenti, Yvonne Sanson, Milly, Giuseppe Addobbati, Carlo Gaddi, Umberto Silvestri, Furio Pellerani
    Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
    Cinematography: Vittorio Storaro
    Screenplay: Bernardo Bertolucci
    Language: Italian (with an English language audio option – or English subtitles)
    Format: DVD
    Netflix listing – http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/The-Conformist/70054715
    Internet Movie Database – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065571/
    WIKIPEDIA (FILM) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Conformist_(film)
    WIKIPEDIA (1951 NOVEL) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Conformist
    Il Conformista Trailer [VIDEO, 02:58] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rFn2Zn_ETg
    The Conformist: Review by Best Movies, By Farr [VIDEO, 02:38] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vI_ZFjTNfA

    P.S. Be certain to watch the the very informative bonus materials (approx. 40 minutes) wherein Bertolucci, the cinematographer, and the art director discuss various aspects of the film.
    There are times in this movie when the cinematography will literally take your breath away! ! !

    P.P.S. I was alerted to the significance of The Conformist (Il Conformista) in film history by the following 15 hour documentary series.
    The Story of Film: An Odyssey, 2011, NR, 15 Episodes
    Average of 27,690 ratings: 3.9 stars
    Guided by film historian Mark Cousins, this bold 15-part love letter to the movies begins with the invention of motion pictures at the end of the 19th century and concludes with the multi-billion dollar globalized digital industry of the 21st.
    NETFLIX STREAMING – http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/70261400
    Internet Movie Database – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2044056/
    WIKIPEDIA – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Film:_An_Odyssey

  5. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    December 29, 2013, 2:21 pm

    I deeply respect a Jewish tradition that has survived intact for three thousand years, what others can claim the same? But in that time civilization and technology have advanced so that we are now all part of many tribes: family, political/territorial, scientific, professional, corporate, religious, academic, intellectual, the tribes represented by our favorite sports teams (and, for some, their multiple flocks in the twittersphere, their facebook friends, the blogosphere, and who knows what other cults have organized around various popular TV shows that mean nothing to most of us).

    The genius of American Church/State separation was to formally break from the tradition of combining the political/territorial tribal affiliation from the religious one – in recognition that sectarian wars had ravaged Europe and the Middle East for forever – to say, hey, we can build a bigger, better political/territorial/economic tent, if we just respect everyone’s religious (and later racial) diversity. To paraphrase Lincoln, now we are engaged in a great civic debate testing whether that nation, or any nation so liberated from religious tribalism, can long endure (especially today in the face of powerful interests trying to ignite a hundred years war of civilizations between Jews and Christians on the one hand and Islam on the other). For an American, whether Jewish or not, it seems an easy choice – help Israel transition to its inevitable TSS or OSS, but a “normal state,” ending the occupation, halting the human rights abuses, opposing theocracy on principle, becoming a democratic republic of all its citizens.

    I reject as hyperbole that Judaism is doomed without Israeli oxygen – is there something in Jewish tradition that turns every single issue into an existential one?

    When I was a kid, we used to amuse ourselves practicing free-throws or playing catch, by self-announcing that making this shot or getting this pitch over the plate would win the world championship, would mean an end to world Communism, would bring World Peace, while failure would mean an end to life on Earth as we know it. It made a great ongoing joke. But we always knew it was a joke. I guess we felt secure in our big tent state that respected diversity. If that security is someone else’s threat, then he doesn’t belong here, or anywhere else that decided to build a big tent. Maybe Israel’s prior failures can be overcome with new wisdom gleaned through the ages, but not by following the same rules used two thousand years ago. Not by restoring religious tribalism to political power. That’s Un-American.

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 29, 2013, 9:23 pm

      @David

      Maybe Israel’s prior failures can be overcome with new wisdom gleaned through the ages, but not by following the same rules used two thousand years ago. Not by restoring religious tribalism to political power. That’s Un-American.

      Israelis aren’t Americans. And they don’t want to be. Go transform the people Saudi Arabia into Americans if you feel a need to transform people whom you don’t know and don’t like.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 6:55 pm

        @ JeffB
        Bibi Netanyahu got on US mainstream TV not long ago and told all Americans that Israelis were Americans and visa versa. He said they have the same interests and values. Remember? US politicians constantly parrot the same theme to the US public. No leader of Saudi Arabia has ever so claimed, nor do any Americans think so about Saudi Arabia–SA pays in full quid pro quo for all aid it gets from USA. Israel does not, and the benefits are therefore very lop-sided in favor of Israel. As a practical matter, we Americans need Saudi Arabia for its oil. That’s it. We don’t need Israel for anything; in fact our blind support and funding of Israel harms us; we should be charming Iran and Egypt, not Israel. At the very least, we should do a Metternich on the whole Middle East, balance the forces there. Instead we are committing suicide in behalf a tiny Jim Crow & apartheid state administrator of OT the size of NJ with no resources we need, a state based on the belief that every non-Jew is a closet jew-hater just waiting to come out of the closet.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      December 29, 2013, 9:26 pm

      “I deeply respect a Jewish tradition that has survived intact for three thousand years, what others can claim the same?”

      Ask that question in India and China.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 4:27 am

        Or ask that in Iran. The idea that Judaism is not at all exceptional in this respect might be shattering to those in the tribal mythical bubble.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 30, 2013, 9:58 pm

        Nepal.

      • American
        American
        December 30, 2013, 10:57 pm

        For David’s benefit we should tell him that Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world today…existing in 3228 BC when their revered God,.
        Krishna, was said to live on earth.
        Here’s a neat chart that show how religion is sliced up in the world…

        http://chartsbin.com/view/3nr

        Christianity -33.2.%
        Islam 21.1 %
        Hinduism 14%

        These three together account for almost 3/4 of the entire world.
        Then there are other assorted dozens of religions with religions in Asia, Budhism and others accounting for another 12% all together.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 31, 2013, 3:50 am

        A large number of the Buddhists are also followers of Chinese Folk Religion.

        And there are more Sikhs than Jews.

  6. libra
    libra
    December 29, 2013, 2:44 pm

    Phil Weiss: It’s not like my wife or my friends are very Christian. If they were, we wouldn’t be friends.

    Mentally transport the Weiss get-together to a Jewish enclave in a Muslim-majority region, a sophisticated Tel Aviv suburb for instance, throw in a few educated, non-practicing Muslims instead of Christians, and bingo, out pops Zionism.

    No wonder Phil is so ambivalent about a single, democratic state.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      December 29, 2013, 6:04 pm

      Libra,

      Considering some attitudes, is it a surprise that the State turned out the way it did, even when many of its leaders were leftists?

  7. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 29, 2013, 2:45 pm

    No matter what anybody visiting this blog thinks, or Phil thinks, the future is in the hands of the younger, of course. In every part of the world, the next generations is being educated, in poor state schools or rich private ones. Since there’s a lot more poor than rich, they are mostly being educated in public schools around the world. This brings up something related to Phil’s article here, which is all the educated folks in the world he seeks to inform and convince, as well as all those who are dead set against echoing his views. This leads me to, whether pro or con, who’s Phil talking to, trying to convince? And ditto, his arch opponents?

    This, in turn, in this context, leads me to ask, what’s the difference between public education and propaganda? With that question in mind, take a look at this essay, which addresses my question by looking at a key guy who taught Germany’s education system as a Nazi, and it also addresses that guy who has a book on the best seller list now, the heavily masked Zionist, Krauthammer: https://bu.digication.com/jlabelle/RH_101

    Keep in mind that Zionists always talk about how Palestinians kids are taught to look at Jews as apes and pigs in the K-12 years, and too Israeli kids are taught nothing about the Nakba and the maps they are shown is that of Greater Israel.

  8. NormanF
    NormanF
    December 29, 2013, 2:53 pm

    Phillip Weiss admits the Jewish Diaspora is disappearing.

    This is in fact invoked as the argument for Zionism – Jews will only be able to preserve their identity in their own state and be sure they can pass their values onto their children.

    Israel is well on the way to becoming the center of Jewish life as anti-Semitism inexorably liquidates the final remaining pools of Jews still left in Europe and as assimilation does the rest in America. In a word, Israel is THE Jewish future.

    That seemed a fantasy over a century ago but now its one the verge of becoming the Jewish reality of today and tomorrow.

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      December 29, 2013, 5:08 pm

      NormanF, the Jewish population in Europe is growing. In Germany it is the fastest growing group.

      So what is the blather about ” final remaining pools of Jew still left in Europe?”

      • Krauss
        Krauss
        December 29, 2013, 6:03 pm

        Ellen, why are you trying to use facts on the internet?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 29, 2013, 6:25 pm

        @Ellen —

        Germany has 120k Jews or roughly the number in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Yes final remaining pools anywhere outside the USA.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 4:45 am

        JeffB you do have an authoritarian tone, but this does not make an authority.

        The population is larger and growing fast. As The Forward reports: Jews are streaming back to Germany.
        forward.com/articles/154277/jews-stream-back-to-germany/?p=all

        One reason Germany is more desirable than your “baby” Israel (your words, Jeffb) is that it is safer than Israel and with more opportunity.

        Even American Jews are increasingly applying for and receiving German citizenship.

        Switzerland has a significant and growing Jewish population .

        “The prosperous Swiss Jewish community ….”
        http://switzerland.isyours.com/E/guide/religion/judaism.html

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 29, 2013, 6:33 pm

      @NormanF —

      I agree with you though I’m unsure how this plays out long term. On the one hand assimilation continues at a rapid pace. On the other Judaism appears to be fairly successful among children of the intermarried which is odd given that Judaism formally hates intermarriage and didn’t focus much on outreach. If Judaism retains an advantage that way then American Judaism could survive for a very very long time, assimilation or not.

      My guess though is that the diaspora forms of Judaism mostly die off giving birth to a bunch of quasi-Jewish sects in the same way that Hellenistic Judaism died off. Judaism once again becomes the religion of the people of Judea.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 7:16 pm

        Orthodox jews are not called such for no reason. The rest are all assimilated; it’s a matter of degree. Assimilated people of every stripe are those who’ve inched their way into a wider world. Sometimes, when trees grow, they resist the way their twigs were bent when barely more than acorns. It’s called not being stunted. It does take courage and integrity. And learning to sleep without a comfort pillow.

    • Sumud
      Sumud
      December 29, 2013, 7:29 pm

      Contrary facts aside, why am I not surprised to read a zionist waxing lyrical about the ‘liquidation’ of European jews?

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      December 29, 2013, 9:34 pm

      “This is in fact invoked as the argument for Zionism – Jews will only be able to preserve their identity in their own state and be sure they can pass their values onto their children.”

      And a very poor argument it is.

      Zionism is obviously evil.

      If that is the only way “Jews will only be able to preserve their identity”, then it suggests that (a) Jews preserving their identity is so overwhelmingly good for humanity that it outweighs the evil of Zionism, or (b) preserving the identity of Jews is also evil.

      So far, no-one on this site has been able to explain why it is in any way important or good for humanity (or even for the Jews alone). Pending such an explanation, we have to take option (b) or reject the initial premise.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 30, 2013, 7:10 pm

      @ NormanF
      So, you say Israel is the last Jewish ghetto? Wow, Phil’s really misinformed.

  9. Stogumber
    Stogumber
    December 29, 2013, 3:47 pm

    As for assimilation, there are a lot of ways to evade it.

    Take the German Jewish intelligentsia as an example.

    First step (Mid 19th century). mostly assimilationist with only some outstanding exceptions (like Heinrich Graetz)
    Second step (around 1900): A new, missionary identity – yes, we are Germans, but as Jewish Germans it is our plight to educate and modernize those other Germans.
    Third step (after WW 1): Missionary frustration and anger: those Germans are uneducatable and unmodernizable, very different from us; let’s think about going West.

    (Of course, the situation of the petty bourgeoisie was quite different, there were the people who saw themselves as good Germans and were quite shattered when they were deprived of their German identity.)

    That’s only a model – if you don’t agree over the facts, take it as a means to show that identity can be regained even after an assimilationist phase.

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 29, 2013, 9:24 pm

      Good comment, insightful and interesting. Wish I had something useful to add.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 30, 2013, 7:22 pm

      @ Stogumber
      Yes, of course, that’s the hope also blazing out from Adolph Hitler’s Last Political Testament.

  10. Shmuel
    Shmuel
    December 29, 2013, 3:57 pm

    In some religious circles in Israel, Jews like Ari Shavit are derisively referred to as “Hebrew-speaking gentiles”. Why is Shavit any more of a guardian of “Jewishness” than Weiss? Because he subscribes to a particular strain of 19th-century European nationalism? Because he exalts the exceptionalist and particularist aspects of Jewish tradition and experience rather than their ethical and universalistic components? Because he happens to live in a closed and relatively homogeneous society and chose a life partner of similar religious/ethnic background? Because he goes to Europe to enjoy the Christmas lights rather than having them in his own home? Because he believes that Lydda was “worth it”?

    I’ll take Phil’s assimilation over Shavit’s any day.

  11. just
    just
    December 29, 2013, 4:27 pm

    “In a word, Israel is THE Jewish future.”

    I feel sorry for you and yours, and all the people you hurt “NormanF”.

    Thank you, Phil, for another beautifully written gift.

  12. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    December 29, 2013, 5:05 pm

    I’m sorry to spoil the celebration, but I don’t see how Judaism can ever be anything but tribal. It’s the religion of a tribe who try to remain faithful to a covenant with God that their ancestors supposedly entered into in ancient times. It has a certain universalist potential that arises from God being a universal as well as a tribal deity, but for this potential to be fully realized Judaism has to abandon the covenant and emerge from its tribal cocoon — but then it is no longer Judaism (by definition), it has transmuted into something else.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel
      December 29, 2013, 5:20 pm

      Or it could be about the tension between the particular and the universal, that is central to the human experience (and thus paradoxically universal in itself).

      • tree
        tree
        December 29, 2013, 5:52 pm

        …(and thus paradoxically universal in itself).

        How very Taoist of you, Shmuel. ;-)

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        December 29, 2013, 10:30 pm

        I like this, Shmuel. Thanks

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        December 30, 2013, 9:51 am

        Moritz Gudemann (Viennese rabbi who denounced the kind of “national Judaism” put forward by Herzl) wrote about encounter — personified e.g. in the figures of Philo, Maimonides and Moses Mendelssohn — as the key to Jewish creativity, development and survival.

      • marc b.
        marc b.
        December 31, 2013, 6:22 pm

        @shmuel

        “Collective structures, tribal or cultural, reproduce themselves historically by risking themselves in novel conditions. Their wholeness is as much a matter of reinvention and encounter as it is of continuity and survival.”

        Marshall Sahlins in James Clifford’s “the predicament of culture …”

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        December 31, 2013, 7:14 pm

        Marshall Sahlins in James Clifford’s “the predicament of culture …”

        Yes, but Gudemann said it in German :-P

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 7:29 pm

        Philosophical Taoism is individualistic by nature, is not institutionalized.
        And the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 8:49 pm

        Yeah, like why confuse a tribal god with the universal God?

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      December 29, 2013, 5:37 pm

      Stephen, your comments on the nature of tribalism, is the crux of the philosophical break of the early Jews to Christianity. From tribalism to a universalism. This kind of thinking was revolutionary and a threat to the powers that be of the time.

      I always admired the idea that Judaism does not need institutions (like Christian Churches adopted) to sustain itself. That it is way beyond such earthly constructs.

      Then came along Zionism, pushing for a State with the claim that Judaism needs a state, that a Jew must be a Zionist to be a real Jew, that a state and Judaism are one.

      So maybe my romantic ideas about Judaism are a naive misunderstanding. and it is, indeed, as you say: How can Judaism be anything but tribal, based an idea of a covenant with a tribe.

      Well, the human mind ticked a little differently 3 thousand years ago and thought in stories of metaphor .

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 7:33 pm

        @ Ellen
        Imagine what the Old Testament would be without its metaphors, its figurative, anthropomorphic text. And, then, there’s the Talmud…

      • Mikhael
        Mikhael
        January 2, 2014, 10:23 am

        “Judaism” doesn’t need a state (although unlike the other two main montheistic religions that are its offspring it has no pretense to universality but is unabashedly the national cult of the Jewish People), but the Jewish People, in a world composed of nation-states are entitled to a state in their own historical homeland just as other national collectives are entitled to states.

        We have achieved this long sought-after goal and we will be retaining it.

        As for “Judaism” one can be a Jew with or without Judaism.

      • eljay
        eljay
        January 2, 2014, 11:32 am

        >> … the Jewish People, in a world composed of nation-states are entitled to a state in their own historical homeland just as other national collectives are entitled to states.

        1. The geographic region of Palestine was the homeland of its inhabitants, not of people of the Jewish faith living in countries around the world.

        2. The inhabitants of Palestine were entitled to a sovereign state in Palestine. People of the Jewish faith living in countries around the world were not entitled to a supremacist “Jewish State” in Palestine.

        3. Israel as a “Jewish State” is, fundamentally, a religion-supremacist and colonialist construct. It is nothing like “other national collectives”. Not any worth admiring and emulating, anyway.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        January 2, 2014, 2:09 pm

        @eljay —

        You don’t support the notion that states are homelands of their inhabitants because the inhabitants of at least Israel are the Jewish Zionists and you don’t support that being their inhabitants. If it were just a neutral: every state should be governed by the population living within it you wouldn’t hate Israel so much.

        As for Israel not being a colonialist construct virtually every state on the planet originated from a colonial construct. That’s how they form. Plants are born of seeds, humans are born of blood, states are born of war.

        Finally no nation is entitled to any state. Some have possession of a state others like the Romani not. I don’t buy the idea that the Romani are to be forever stateless, forever damned to suffering because in 2014 they don’t happen to have a state. And in the same way I don’t buy that the Jews were entitled to be forever stateless, forever damned to suffering because in 1914 they didn’t have a state.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        January 2, 2014, 8:47 pm

        “just as other national collectives are entitled to states.”

        By “national collectives” I assume you mean the 19th Century idea of “nation”. If not, you will have to say what you mean.

        (a) We have already disposed of the idea that the Jews constitute a “nation” like the other 19th century “nations”. (Here, for example.http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/israel-obama-hebrew.html/comment-page-1#comment-550531)

        Thus, any “entitlements”etc. of “nations”, “peoples”, etc. cannot be automatically applied to the Jewish “people”.

        (b) Where is the argument to show that national collectives are entitled to states? We can make a legal argument to the effect that the inhabitants of a territory may (with various provisos) be entitled to declare their territory an independent state, but I have yet to see either a moral or a legal argument that “national collectives” are entitled to form a state.

        (c) What makes a territory a “historic homeland”? What gives modern people any rights in a “historic homeland”? If we go by ancestry, the “historic homeland” of the Celts was in central Europe. Do modern Scots, Welsh, Manx, Irish, Cornish, and Breton people have any right to set up a state across a strip of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria? The idea is absurd.

        “a world composed of nation-states”

        If, by “nation-states” you mean “states in which the majority of the population is descended from a single ” nation” of the 19th Century type referred to above”, then Finland is certainly such a state.

        Australia is not. Neither is Brazil, China*, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Malaysia, India, Iran, or the USA. (I’m sure there are others, particularly in Africa.) Together, these constitute a pretty large chunk of both the world’s land surface and population, so to say “a world composed of nation-states” is overstating the position.

        So your whole claim is baseless.

        (*The majority of the people of China are officially classed as “Han”, but actually the various Han languages, and their speakers, are more distinct from each other than the Romance languages and their speakers. )

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 29, 2013, 6:34 pm

      @Stephen —

      Jewish theology, similar practice, but non-tribalistic with no notion of covenant. Sounds like Islam.

  13. tree
    tree
    December 29, 2013, 5:50 pm

    see above

  14. Krauss
    Krauss
    December 29, 2013, 6:06 pm

    I like a wide American company; I spent the holiday with two other half-and-half couples and had drinks in the city with a Jewish friend who bragged on his “shiksa” wife.

    Never ceases to astound me the level of casual racism still allowed in the older generations of Jews in America. Granted, those of us who are younger are not perfect, but still. I don’t think Jews are more racist than non-Jewish whites in the same generation(possibly less racist). But the difference is that nobody has told my parents’ generation that they are racist too and the evidence is found in their everyday language. Also, a sidenote, if someone is bragging about his wife being non-Jewish, isn’t there a racial aspect to it? Much like a white, non-Jewish, man would brag about bagging a hot Asian wife. Creepy and pretty disgusting friend you’ve got, Phil.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 30, 2013, 7:41 pm

      @ Krauss

      Meine Damen und Herren, Mesdames and Messieurs
      Ladies and Gentleman
      Is it a crime to fall in love?
      Can we ever tell where the heart truly leads us?
      All we are asking is eine bisschen Verstandnis
      Why can’t the world leben und leben lassen?
      ‘Live and let live….’

      I understand your objection
      I grant you the problem’s not small
      But if you could see her through my eyes
      She wouldn’t look Gentile at all.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 7:46 pm

        @ Krauss

        And, RE: “… the difference is that nobody has told my parents’ generation that they are racist too and the evidence is found in their everyday language.”

        Which generation is that? And you are distinguishing it from which generation?

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 31, 2013, 7:55 am

      @RoHa

      Leaving aside the question of whether or not “collective thought” is a coherent concept, it is irrelevant. The important issue is one of stream of consciousness. We know that we can have thought without consciousness, and consciousness without thought. (And, for once, I am not referring to my students.) We have no reason to believe that a particular community has the same sort of stream of consciousness that an individual human being has.

      Mere metaphors do not count.

      OK let’s say I grant that. So what? The argument was that
      a) consciousness is what gives value
      b) societies are collectively conscious
      therefore individual rights are the only moral rights

      or something approximating that. Which is pretty close to an argument by assertion.

      But now if you need:
      a’) Individual consciousness is what gives value.

      Then it is just purely an argument by assertion: societies aren’t valuable because societies aren’t valuable.

      As far as societies not able to engage in collective thought. Zionism is not the belief of an individual it is belief of a collective. A collective acted on it and Israel went from dream to fact. A gave a few examples below regarding products.

      And if you cannot recognize that the suffering of a Palestinian is as morally significant as the suffering of a Jew, then you do not understand morality at all.

      Of course I can understand that. But suffering is not what I base my morality in. There are multiple dimensions to morality and alleviating harm for individuals while an important one is not the only one. For example fairness is also an important virtue, loyalty is an important virtue, liberty is a virtue. Care/suffering is just one axis.

      Care/suffering goes in circles. I am more concerned with my family’s care/suffering than my friends, my friends more than associates, associates more then arbitrary countrymen and countrymen more than all humanity. So while I can understand that Palestinians suffering is of equal moral worth, in terms of their humanity it is not of equal worth on other dimensions and there are other dimensions. I have no problem with Israel killing 3 Palestinians to save 1 Israeli. The circles have ratios to one another so I would have problems with Israel killing 10,000 Palestinians to save 1 Israeli. But it is not 1 to 1. And I don’t expect for Palestinians it is 1-to-1 either.

      This idea that morality demands one treat everyone’s life as equivalent is a standard you have intention of meeting yourself. Otherwise you would be gladly sending all your wealth to Africa where it could do far more good than it would for you and your family in America.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 31, 2013, 10:23 am

        And yet, once again, the zionist excuses the Holocaust.

        @JeffB:

        “But suffering is not what I base my morality in. There are multiple dimensions to morality and alleviating harm for individuals while an important one is not the only one. For example fairness is also an important virtue, loyalty is an important virtue, liberty is a virtue.”

        Don’t forget protecting the purety of the Blood and protection of the Fatherland…

        “Care/suffering goes in circles. I am more concerned with my family’s care/suffering than my friends, my friends more than associates, associates more then arbitrary countrymen and countrymen more than all humanity. So while I can understand that Palestinians suffering is of equal moral worth, in terms of their humanity it is not of equal worth on other dimensions and there are other dimensions. I have no problem with Israel killing 3 Palestinians to save 1 Israeli. The circles have ratios to one another so I would have problems with Israel killing 10,000 Palestinians to save 1 Israeli. But it is not 1 to 1. And I don’t expect for Palestinians it is 1-to-1 either. ”

        Of course, you are in no position to declare your “somewhere between 3:1 and 10,000:1, the ratio becomes immoral” paradigm to be objectively correct, so if someone were to suggest that they had no problem killing 6 million Jews to save 1 Aryan life, then you’d have to be a-OK with it, seeing as how you agree in principle and have no objective basis to disagree with the ratios… Or is this type of evil calculus wrong when it is Jews and not Palestinian lives which are so casually tossed away??

  15. Krauss
    Krauss
    December 29, 2013, 6:31 pm

    I care about Jewish continuity.

    I do, however, completely reject Ari Shavit’s hypothesis that without Zionism, secular Jewry is out.
    Why?
    Mind me for being blunt, but haven’t we seen the results of that already?
    Zionism has taken center stage in Jewish communal life in the past 3-4 decades and assimilation has only increased.

    In addition, Beinart has a point when he says there is a fundamental issue inside the Jewish community when focus more on Holocaust education and building memorials than building great Jewish schools and giving children in the community highly affordable education.

    Still, I’m not sure if Judaism itself needs that much of a remake. Reform Judaism is very attractive to my generation from a purely ethical and moral standpoint. The reason why we don’t flock to the congregations is very simple: who can afford it these days without being wealthy or remortgaging your house? I cannot afford be in a synagogue but I do attend a minyan with similar values from time to time and I am involved in the community with various denominations.

    So what is the cause of intermarriage?

    1. Education, or rather, lack of it. Jewish education is incredibly expensive in America. In places where the state funds Jewish education intermarriage is much lower.
    Mexico has an intermarriage rate of around 10% or so with the state funding most of the education cost. Places like France also has a lower intermarriage rate, although higher than Mexico’s, in large part because of the aggressive secularization of that country.

    2. But there’s also a philosophical strain that is something Judaism has to grapple with. So much of Jewish philosophy is based upon a threatening view of the other, quite understable in the context of history. In a tolerant, pluralistic society, this strain becomes largely irrelevant, meaning that the aspect of Jewish life emphazising social justice completely takes over. And if you are serious about social justice, it becomes harder by the day to justify staying within only Jewish organizations as your reach could be greatly expanded upon with the help of the non-Jewish world’s NGOs. And this leads you into frequent contact of non-Jews, hence interrmarriage.

    But is the only solution to seal yourself off, like the Haredim? It helps, if you’re concerned about assimilation, but I think a good model are the modern Orthodox. They have low intermarriage rates, high secular achievements and positive demographics(i.e. a fertility rate over replacement rate).

    But even beyond the statistical portrait, they are an engaged Jewish community.
    The problem is that hardline sentiment on Israel is strongest there, and intolerance of Palestinians.

    But it need not be that way.

    One final word. Religion. I believe that religion is key to maintaining identity. Judaism is unique since it has an ethnic aspect. It is not universalistic. There are universalist strains within it, like Tikkun Olam, but the core is not universalist. The core is to maintain the peoplehood of the Jewish people. That is what it is for.
    There are a great many things beside it that makes it worth practicing, but the core is the core.

    Secular Jewish America has cast off, of course, religion. And without Judaism, Jewish people cannot really thrive without a state. This, I think, is what Shavit is trying to say.

    But he is still wrong. Maintaining Zionism from afar makes little to no sense in the long run. In this A.B. Yehoshua is right.
    If you have a secular community, then getting them to Israel is the only way to maintain them. Only within your own nation-state do you have the ultimate power and resources to control your own destiny if you’re secular. The religious have that commitment that seculars will never have, on aggregate. So this is why Zionism from afar makes no sense, because it becomes a hollow Zionism. And what are you doing in the mean time in the diaspora if you’re not very Jewishly engaged? Assimilating.

    Further, the problem for the Shavits of the world is that American Jewry doesn’t want to make aliyah by and large. This is why Zionism from afar is ridiculous if you never act on it. It becomes an empty gesture.
    And to compound on the issue, if American Jews do not want aliyah, Shavit et al must draw the necessary conclusions. Israel isn’t that attractive. What does these people do then? They have no answer at all.

    The renaissance of Jewish life in America outside the Haredi shtetl must be about something else.

    I believe that there must be a great philosophical undertaking in Jewish life to answer this question, but so long as Zionism is the only answer – which we saw in the last Reform Biennial meeting – then the results will be more of the same.

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      December 29, 2013, 6:56 pm

      Just a final, minor, point on the last few paragraphs.

      The inability of American Jewry to have a serious philosophical – existential, really – debate about these issues is partly a result of the fear of the establishment. Because the establishment fears the answer that perhaps Zionism is not the answer – if it was, why such relentless assimilation?

      If you can’t have a serious discussions on Zionism you can’t really have a serious debate on the Jewish future. It is impossible.

      The extent of the Jewish community’s current efforts to maintaining peoplehood is really quite monotonic. It is following a highly predictable orchestra of hysteria punctuating every major demographic report, the latest was Pew, together with the usual answer of “it’s all about Israel”, meaning Birthright. Just send the kids to Israel and everything will take care of itself.

      Steven Bayme, of the AJC, was also right when he said that there is no real accountability of the Jewish communal leadership. Around the 1990 report, there was a lot of movement. In the end, the only thing that materialized was Birthright. Again, Zionism is the only answer for these people.

      And Bayme predicted – and I think he will be proven right – that despite all the hoopla around Pew, once the Iran negotiations, the BDS debate and the peace process all heat up, these issues will sink back into a bas-relief.
      And there will be no accountability because there is no debate. And there is no debate because there is only one answer permitted: Zionism.

      At this stage, the non-Jewish world will force the discussion on the Jewish world as it will become inevitably much harder to maintain the mythology and illusions about Zionism. The Jewish leadership fears this great rift but I welcome it. It is necessary for renewal, to cleave open the ideologies of the past and discarding that which does not work.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 29, 2013, 9:04 pm

        @Krauss —

        Judaism had its existential debates in the late 18th century. American Judaism is functionally a liberal Protestant denomination with some Jewish trappings. It is an assimilated religion, how could it possibly resist assimilation? Other than Israel what is really worth the trouble of a religion in Judaism? I’m not saying there aren’t cool books, in some great ideas… Liberal Jews, heck conservative Jews simply can’t believe in a God that’s obsessed with whether they carry their house keys inside or outside a circle drawn by a hidden telephone wire.

        I have yet to understand what the point of Judaism is without Israel. All that suffering, and misery and survival, for what? Israel gives meaning to all those centuries. Instead of a record defeat and decay, you have the survival of a culture that best should have died in the early 2nd century living through through 18 centuries till it could return home and build a country that’s a marvel. That rescued its people. And not only rescued them but transformed them from pathetic victims to the baddest-ass little country in the world.

        Get rid of Zionism and what’s left to even hope for in Judaism? Better telephone wires? A really cool way to organize nine candles for Chanukah? Hey, maybe another variant of an automatic lamp so that we can figure out another way to not start fires while staring fires on the sabbath.

        You want the debate. Assume next year the USA turns on Israel, Israel is crushed and Free democratic Palestine now exists in the bombed out shell of what was once Israel. Zionism is completely gone Give me one reason not to raise my daughter Christian. I can’t for the life of me think of one. Go ahead convince me about how your hope of a better telephone wires are worth it.

        I think the American Jewish community has made the choice that Israel is more important than America. Which is exactly what a people is capable of doing, making collective sacrifice of their narrow interests. You aren’t a parent yet. But in a couple years you start realizing you are never going to that figure you pictured growing up. Instead your hope rests in the baby in the crib. And for the American Jewish community that baby is Israel. The American Jewish community may love their life but like any parent they know the single best thing the American Jewish community can do is buy Israel time to strengthen. That is a real mission and it is a real purpose and one a lot more noble then figuring out a better telephone wire.

        I get that you changed sides. I might listen to Al-Qaeda, and even Bin Laden on some points but that doesn’t mean I don’t support the drone war. There are Americans who agree with Bin Laden talk about how horrible Americans are and then work to undermine out activities abroad like Anwar al-Awlaki. But an Anwar al-Awlaki is never going to be invited to speak at an American high school. He’s crossed over from being an American debating policy to a traitor acting against his country. In the same way a BDSer is never ever going to get speak at a synagogue to kids.

        The Palestinians are the enemy. You are working for the enemy. There were American Jews active in pro-Nazi groups like the Mother’s Movement. But they never expected the Jewish community to debate their position. Any position that harms the interests of the Jewish people, cannot be a Jewish position. Jews will never debate the pros and cons of their total defeat. There is nothing to debate.

        So in short. I would die for my daughter. And the American Jewish community would die for Israel. Just as I want to survive the American community wants to survive. But what you are asking for the American Jewish community to is not just discard Israel but to actively work for her destruction, the analogy of me walking in my bedroom and strangling my little girl. How do you think that’s debatable?

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        December 29, 2013, 10:34 pm

        JeffB, I think your reading of the Americna Jewish community is very narrow. It doenst include Swarthmore Hillel or JVP. And if put to the test I wonder how many American Jews really would accept the dual loyalty dare and be willing to die for Israel

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 29, 2013, 11:13 pm

        @Philip

        I don’t think the members of Swarthmore Hillel are nearly so antagonistic. They are young and they don’t like being told what to do or who to listen to. That’s very different.

        I don’t know JVP that well. But from what I’ve seen they agree to the concept of Jewish self determination, “Israelis and Palestinians have the right to security, sovereignty, and self-determination within political entities of their own choosing.” Almost all of their statements are saying that Jews and Palestinians should be equal. So for example they condemn Israeli attacks on civilians and Palestinian bombing in pairs. They sound liberal Zionist to me. I’d have to investigate more but I think that’s fundamentally different than the mainstream BDS approach which holds that Palestinians have a racial right to lands and Jews don’t have any national rights at all.

      • talknic
        talknic
        December 29, 2013, 11:54 pm

        @JeffB “I have yet to understand what the point of Judaism is without Israel”

        Is that the Jewish state that might have been in Australia, Africa, Sth America or Palestine?

        “I have yet to understand what the point of Judaism is without Israel”

        Try starting at the most basic of Judaisms common sense tenets. Work your way through them slowly until you understand at least that coveting other folks property, lying and making false accusations are not basic tenets of Judaism.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 8:36 am

        @talknic

        Is that the Jewish state that might have been in Australia, Africa, Sth America or Palestine?

        Who knows? The Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Birobidzhan, failed. I don’t know whether there could have been a Jewish state without Judea. Jews say “next year in Jerusalem” not “next year in Birobidzhan”.

      • puppies
        puppies
        December 29, 2013, 11:57 pm

        “…Zionism is completely gone Give me one reason not to raise my daughter Christian.”

        There is no reason not to. If you are obnubilated to the point of feeling that you have to force religion on the unfortunate child, any religion is as good as any other.

        “I think the American Jewish community has made the choice that Israel is more important than America.”
        “And the American Jewish community would die for Israel.”

        Let’s hope that you’re wrong, because that is legally treason.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 8:13 pm

        @ puppies
        Yes, JeffB posits his conviction every Jew in America as a latent Pollard. Some Americans would agree. They are relegated to the fringe for now, such as David Duke. Even Pat Buchanan is very careful in this respect, though he still has been slammed as a Jew-Hater. There are memorials to Pollard in Israel, who is now a dual citizen. Bibi Netanyahu has Obama-Kerry pondering whether they should exchange Pollard, the traitor of America, for Israel freeing a few of their Palestinian prison inmates to Palestine.

      • puppies
        puppies
        December 31, 2013, 2:48 am

        @Citizen [response button on the blink]
        I wasn’t even mentioning the perception of foreign loyalty, but the fact that it is treason by definition in the US. This is not to say that the law is enforceable or that there is enough proof of it if as long as the would-be traitor is not caught with the fingers in the cookie jar like Pollard or released without charges like many others. If the unusual loose mouth of Silly Goose Jeff was accepted as evidence, all Jewish citizens would have a very bad time.

        Thank you for mentioning how things are perceived, now. I cannot agree that the hostile awareness of Israel-firsters (and perhaps also of any dual citizens in the US administration) is “marginal”. Just a couple loose chats in bars and trains will show you that very many (for US conditions) people are watching this issue on both coasts and even the Midwest, what with the awareness generated over the last five years, especially with the events in Gaza and now the Iran deal.
        I wish Obama were stupid enough or slavish enough to free Pollard. That will surely generate a major backlash against the Zionits.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        December 30, 2013, 12:24 am

        Ultra-nationalist Zionist:

        [ JeffB: ] I have yet to understand what the point of Judaism is without Israel. All that suffering, and misery and survival, for what? Israel gives meaning to all those centuries. Instead of a record defeat and decay, you have the survival of a culture that best should have died in the early 2nd century living through through 18 centuries till it could return home and build a country that’s a marvel. That rescued its people. And not only rescued them but transformed them from pathetic victims to the baddest-ass little country in the world.

        […]Any position that harms the interests of the Jewish people, cannot be a Jewish position. Jews will never debate the pros and cons of their total defeat. There is nothing to debate.

        The other side of the coin: Liberal Zionist Zeev Smilansky, “Israel has become Zionism’s worst enemy”

        I boycott the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. I will not cross the Green Line and I do not buy products from the West Bank settlement of Elkana. I will not collaborate with scientists attached to Ariel University.

        And I am not talking just about myself. The people in my immediate circle all live within the Green Line and regard everything that is happening beyond it as a terminal illness.

        It was not always like this. We loved to visit the West Bank in the past, but no more. Today, this land is one of moral turpitude, a blot on the family’s record, a historic disgrace. In the West Bank, the State of Israel has become an apartheid state, where our children carry out war crimes on our behalf; where the concept of population transfer has become a reality; where (in a sickening twist of history) the Jews have become a master race that is on a lofty and well-protected pedestal while the Other – the Palestinian – has no rights, no identity, and can be trampled upon by any soldier, any member of the Shin Bet security service – in fact, by anyone with a blue identity card.

        […]I am not some deranged leftist who supports the Arabs. I love Jews, I love Zionists, I love my land, the Land of Israel. As a Jew, I want Israel to be a model state; a light unto the nations; a center of science, culture, economic activity, health services, justice, equality and morality. Is this an unrealistic hope?

        Israel has become a leper state that is viewed by others with disgust; ; a state that is systematically sabotaging the Zionist project and is turning it into another fleeting – and sad – episode in the gloomy history of the Jewish people.

        http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.565384?utm_content=buffer2cbc2&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 8:49 am

        @Sibiriak

        I’m not really an “ultra nationalist”. I would reject that label. I’m just a plain old regular nationalist. Not desiring to see your nation annihilated by foreign invaders is a rather common position.

        As far as Zeev Smilansky. My comment is simple. Dude that’s running a country. Damn right is a reversal. During the 17th- early 20th century Jews had awesome PR. Jews were praised for their morals during their suffering and their oppressors got lousy PR with the Zeev Smilansky’s being very critical of how their society’s acts were a betrayal of the core of: Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, … values. Now the Palestinians get the good PR, and we have ICBMs. I’m OK with that.

      • RudyM
        RudyM
        December 30, 2013, 12:48 am

        I think the American Jewish community has made the choice that Israel is more important than America.

        Wow. Quite the admission (though I’m not convinced you’re right).

      • libra
        libra
        December 30, 2013, 2:03 pm

        JeffB: Now the Palestinians get the good PR, and we have ICBMs

        Is Jeff speaking here as the American he actually is? Or as the blowhard Israeli alter ego he largely seems to inhabit from the safety of his stateside sofa? It’s very hard to tell. Rather than solving Jeff’s identity crisis, Zionism seems to have elevated it into a chronic disorder.

      • annie
        annie
        December 30, 2013, 1:11 am

        The Palestinians are the enemy. You are working for the enemy. There were American Jews active in pro-Nazi groups like the Mother’s Movement. But they never expected the Jewish community to debate their position. Any position that harms the interests of the Jewish people, cannot be a Jewish position. Jews will never debate the pros and cons of their total defeat. There is nothing to debate.

        So in short. I would die for my daughter. And the American Jewish community would die for Israel. Just as I want to survive the American community wants to survive. But what you are asking for the American Jewish community to is not just discard Israel but to actively work for her destruction, the analogy of me walking in my bedroom and strangling my little girl. How do you think that’s debatable?

        this is really sick. i can’t imagine a comment saying ‘the jews are the enemy’ would pass moderation here. this is sick thinking and it makes me want to vomit being a part of a community having this discussion. it’s too much phil. put these telephone wires somewhere else.

      • puppies
        puppies
        December 30, 2013, 1:29 am

        Annie, the statement “the Palestinians are the enemy”, made by their invader, in a 70-year war aiming to deport or eliminate all Palestinian people (OK, except the Weitz quota), is factually correct. Its equivalent or counterpart is not the statement “the Jews are the enemy”, but “Zionists/the State of Israel/etc. are the enemy”, and those are statements of the obvious that you certainly don’t want to censor.
        Having such a silly goose here doing hasbara without any of the usual dissimulation is refreshing. I suppose I was wrong in requesting the ban of Zionist posters –may they all be as amusing as this one.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 5:02 am

        Annie, jeffs’s post and the primitive and horrific ideas expressed should not be suppressed. He let’s it all hang out and it IS the thinking of traditional Zionism, which lives on today and drives so much.

        The ideas of a Jeffb is what, for example, the US is supporting to the tune of billions and squandered resources every year. We need to hear more of this to bring it out into daylight, to understand it for what it really is.

        And that, as I understand this site, is the work of Mondoweiss.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 7:19 am

        @Annie

        i can’t imagine a comment saying ‘the jews are the enemy’ would pass moderation here.

        Are you kidding me! It wouldn’t pass moderation. Probably 1/3rd of the comments use language much stronger than that about Israel and Israelis. The word Jew doesn’t get used in the abstract by carving off the 1% of Jews who are anti-Zionist you can argue attacks on Zionism aren’t attacks on Judaism. There is tons of comments about all sorts of paranoid conspiracies about “the lobby” which certainly does mean American Jews.

        What anti-Semetic trope isn’t popular here?

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        December 30, 2013, 11:38 am

        Hear, hear, annie!

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 30, 2013, 4:47 am

        “I have yet to understand what the point of Judaism is without Israel. All that suffering, and misery and survival, for what? Israel gives meaning to all those centuries.”

        So you can’t face the idea that there is no point to Judaism, and no meaning to all that suffering etc. Accordingly, you justify the suffering and misery that Zionism has brought upon the world because it makes you (and perhaps other Jews) feel better.

        “Any position that harms the interests of the Jewish people, cannot be a Jewish position.”

        Wrong. The rule is “No comma after subject clause”.

        “I would die for my daughter. And the American Jewish community would die for Israel. Just as I want to survive the American community wants to survive. But what you are asking for the American Jewish community to is not just discard Israel but to actively work for her destruction, the analogy of me walking in my bedroom and strangling my little girl. ”

        Cobblers. Bad analogy.
        http://mondoweiss.net/2011/11/contextualizing-the-holocaust.html#comment-392782
        http://mondoweiss.net/2011/11/contextualizing-the-holocaust.html#comment-392782

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 9:00 am

        @RoHa —

        I would disagree with your basic concept that cultures can’t collectively think. Look down at the computer you are using. There is no person today who knows even a tiny fraction of how Windows works (if you are on OSX or Linux make the appropriate replacements). That sort of thing only exists because of collective thought. Understanding Windows from top to bottom is not possible for a single human brain. In much the same way as understanding the rules of English are not possible for a human single brain cell. Similarly the CPU requires dozens of designers no single one could ever understand that complexity. Even the plastics no single person knows how to make those from raw materials. All of that represents collective thought.

        So you can’t face the idea that there is no point to Judaism, and no meaning to all that suffering etc. Accordingly, you justify the suffering and misery that Zionism has brought upon the world because it makes you (and perhaps other Jews) feel better.

        I said nothing remotely like that. That’s you putting words in my mouth.

        But more deeply you can’t have it both ways RoHa. You are having a war of the branches against the tree. The morality you are preaching regarding equality of suffering is an ideology. Either ideologies matter or they don’t. If they don’t then yours as well as mine become meaningless, there is no meaning and moral evaluations become impossible.

        If they are meaningful then it becomes a competition for the good. And the nature of the good is an ideology.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 3:31 pm

        @Annie

        RE. BDS and Jews in the West Bank. I think it is pretty clear, “Ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and dismantles the Wall.” Illegal occupation refers to the “transfer of citizens into occupied territory”.

        I understand you want equal citizenship but BDS wants to be all things to all people. If there is equality in Mandate Palestine then those aren’t settlements they are villages. Under equality there shouldn’t be any requirement to liquidate Jewish villages.

      • annie
        annie
        December 30, 2013, 3:51 pm

        Illegal occupation refers to the “transfer of citizens into occupied territory”.

        source? who are you quoting here? BDS? i asked for your source on this before on this thread here. either you can provide it or you cannot. which is it?

        If there is equality in Mandate Palestine then those aren’t settlements they are villages. Under equality there shouldn’t be any requirement to liquidate Jewish villages.

        there is no requirement in BDS to liquidate settlements. BDS is neutral on one or two states. palestinians want their rights. i’m sure there’s plenty of room for new palestinian villages west of the green line on comparable land, in the galilee or whatever, in any future solution where the illegal jewish only settlements on WB land that has previously been ethnically cleansed of palestinians (against international law) by the israel bulldozing apartheid government, are now located.

        it’s very telling, in your advocacy against BDS, that you’re forced to fabricate positions of the movement. cough it up or admit you’ve got no source, you’re just making stuff up as you go along.

        you wanna be able to justify ethnically cleansing palestinians from their land to build exclusively jewish settlements and then turn around and accuse BDS’s position as “all the territory to the east of the green line should be judenrein. ” rather transparently hypocritical if i do so say myself.

      • talknic
        talknic
        December 30, 2013, 3:53 pm

        JeffB “If there is equality in Mandate Palestine”

        The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel tells us the mandate expired May 14th 1948

        Got much more drivel to post?

      • Sumud
        Sumud
        December 30, 2013, 10:03 am

        @JeffB

        How wretchedly self-centred of you to think it’s OK to have Palestinian lives destroyed because you’re having a crisis with your religion.

        Just like Israel, your real enemy is within Jeff.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        December 30, 2013, 11:35 am

        A religion that called for the displacement of unbelievers or outsiders would be a religion in need of reform and transformation, not for maintenance in its current state.
        Every human being is the same in moral characteristics, rights and duties. There are no superior or inferior groups in this sense, even though we all have slightly different religious and cultural inheritances.

      • MRW
        MRW
        December 30, 2013, 4:55 pm

        @JeffB

        There is no person today who knows even a tiny fraction of how Windows works (if you are on OSX or Linux make the appropriate replacements).

        What a stupid statement. Anyone with assembler training who can think in hex knows. UNIX, of which OSX and Linux are offshoots, was created by a human being(s) who set up a different interchangeable structure for the code to evolve within.

        That sort of thing only exists because of collective thought.

        No, it doesn’t. Bill Gates bought Windows from a couple of kids for $50Gs when he was 19, and expanded on it for IBM’s new PC that it was racing to produce before AT&T came out with theirs. Gates’ genius was in not selling the OS to IBM but licensing it.

        In much the same way as understanding the rules of English are not possible for a human single brain cell.

        Bullshit. Robert Yelverton Tyrrell did. He’s one of two the O.E.D. relied upon as thee authority.

        Similarly the CPU requires dozens of designers no single one could ever understand that complexity.

        You’ve obviously never designed one. They’re not that complicated. Call routines aren’t the mystery of the universe. I mean, we’re talking dip and dap here at the root level (that’s why there’s a “0” and a “1” on the power key of earlier computers…a reminder). Simple electricity on or off. Besides, digital computing, bits and bytes, is an ancient artifact of the 20th C that we still assign value to and agree to use in our gadgets. Digital’s grandchild, quantum computing, has been around for at least two decades, and you know nothing about it.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 31, 2013, 3:46 am

        Leaving aside the question of whether or not “collective thought” is a coherent concept, it is irrelevant. The important issue is one of stream of consciousness. We know that we can have thought without consciousness, and consciousness without thought. (And, for once, I am not referring to my students.) We have no reason to believe that a particular community has the same sort of stream of consciousness that an individual human being has.
        Mere metaphors do not count.

        And if you cannot recognize that the suffering of a Palestinian is as morally significant as the suffering of a Jew, then you do not understand morality at all.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 12:02 pm

        @MHughes976

        Every human being is the same in moral characteristics, rights and duties. There are no superior or inferior groups in this sense, even though we all have slightly different religious and cultural inheritances.

        OK that’s fair. I’m glad to hear your religion no longer believes in Election. So when exactly did Christianity decide to institutionally embrace Universalism and dump Luther and Calvin? I missed the announcement.

      • RudyM
        RudyM
        December 30, 2013, 12:38 pm

        A lot of Protestants, and not just those who are basically indifferent about their religious beliefs, don’t believe in the doctrine of election.

        (Are you just assuming that MHughes976 is Christian, or is this something known based on other things he said. Everyone who isn’t Jewish isn’t necessarily therefore either Christian or Muslim. I know you know that, but you seem to be forgetting it from time to time.)

      • annie
        annie
        December 30, 2013, 12:48 pm

        rudy, i better google ‘ the doctrine of election.’, i’ve never even heard of it before.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        December 30, 2013, 9:17 pm

        If you agree with me, B, then the point is to apply the agreed proposition to the points at issue here, not to think of ways of taunting me for saying what is true. Whether my Christianity is orthodox is completely another matter: maybe so, maybe not.
        The doctrine of election is, as I understand it, the belief that the moral life matters very much and is demanded of everyone but matters in the end only as one of the indications of faith, which is God’s gift to us as a matter of grace, therefore not owed to anyone even on account of good works. This doctrine may or may not be true, may or may not be shocking. But it does not deny, indeed it affirms, that everyone is a moral agent with the same resources. So there’s no need, at least for these purposes, to await an announcement that it has been withdrawn.
        The rival Christian ideas (whose diversity Rudy mentions; sorry he has no reply button) on this topic, laying more or less emphasis on free will, are usually developed as (in part) commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, which is (in part) an effort to adapt the idea of the election of Israel to the wider needs of the Hellenistic world – ‘God seeks to have mercy on all’. We can’t get rid of, though we can interpret very differently, an idea with such strong scriptural foundation.

      • Krauss
        Krauss
        December 30, 2013, 12:42 pm

        The Palestinians are the enemy. You are working for the enemy. There were American Jews active in pro-Nazi groups like the Mother’s Movement. But they never expected the Jewish community to debate their position. Any position that harms the interests of the Jewish people, cannot be a Jewish position. Jews will never debate the pros and cons of their total defeat. There is nothing to debate.

        So in short. I would die for my daughter. And the American Jewish community would die for Israel. Just as I want to survive the American community wants to survive. But what you are asking for the American Jewish community to is not just discard Israel but to actively work for her destruction, the analogy of me walking in my bedroom and strangling my little girl. How do you think that’s debatable?

        Jeff, you’re equating Nazis with people demanding equal rights.

        I’m aware that you’re completely unaware how stupidly you think.
        But I thought it’d be worth pointing out anyway.

        And even on practical grounds, your view of the Jewish people and by extension our history is bunk. We survived for thousands of years without a state. If I truly believed your narrative that without Israel the Jewish people is finished, I would have agreed with you. The problem is that that I cannot agree with you. Why? Because I read history.
        Also, you cannot compare Jewish diaspora life in the 21th century with progroms or the inquisitions. This is also why people like Shavit cannot understand why American Jews are not flocking to Israel.

        I will make clear that I do not have anything against the notion of Jews living where they are living now, in our ancestral homeland.

        In fact, I think anyone who tries to deny Jews living in a place like Hebron – the second holiest site for the Jewish people after Jerusalem – is a bigot.

        But not at the price of Apartheid. For Jews like me, democracy inevitably must trump Jewish rights. For Jews like you, the Jewishness of the state is more important – probably much more important – than it being a democratic state.

        By the way, Jeff, I am curious. Do you live in Israel? If not, then why are you a Zionist if you never move?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 1:34 pm

        @Krauss —

        The Mother’s Movement weren’t Nazis. They often sympathized. But they were the peace movement of the 1930s and early 1940s. The Jews in the Mother’s movement are closest in time example to something similar to the anti-Zionists today. Go back in time much beyond that and the Jewish issues are mostly very local issues having to do with conflicts with other poor minorities. If you want I can compare you to theoretical Jews in the south who supported the Klan, but I don’t know if any existed.

        I will make clear that I do not have anything against the notion of Jews living where they are living now, in our ancestral homeland. .. In fact, I think anyone who tries to deny Jews living in a place like Hebron – the second holiest site for the Jewish people after Jerusalem – is a bigot.

        Then you don’t agree with BDS. BDS’s position is that all the territory to the east of the green line should be judenrein. “Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall”. So you disagree with them.

        For Jews like you, the Jewishness of the state is more important – probably much more important – than it being a democratic state.

        Depends what you mean by Jewishness. I don’t have a huge problem if Ben Gurion’s vision had been achieved and Israel had been secular. So no. As far as I’m concerned the state of Israel is democratic. The people of the Nation of Israel have equal rights and quite a bit of say in how they are governed. Enemy peoples have less rights.

        Do you live in Israel? If not, then why are you a Zionist if you never move?

        I’m an American. That’s my nation. I like this nation and don’t want to leave. That’s why I don’t move.

        On the other hand I believe that Jews should have complete equality. Complete equality means Jews have the same right to form a nation as any other people. So if millions of Jews exercise their right to engage in nation formation I don’t think I have any right to hold them to standards I wouldn’t apply to the Hutus or the Chinese. Jews have the right to take action against their enemies with the same freedom the Russians or the Australians do. I simply will not apply an entirely different standard to Jews. And I think it is anti-Semetic to do so. And once it becomes anti-Semetic then it is a direct threat.

        For example when the Palestinians choose a Hamas government they were entitled to pick a non-democratic form of government. I might not like it, but they are entitled to form a nation as they so choose. Israel / Jews have the right to take action against the Palestinians for Gaza’s foreign policy, but on its domestic policy they have far fewer less standing to be critical they don’t get a voice.

      • annie
        annie
        December 30, 2013, 2:41 pm

        BDS’s position is that all the territory to the east of the green line should be judenrein.

        can you link to a source on this assertion? no, you can’t. where do you come up w/this stuff?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 3:14 pm

        @Ellen —

        This is going a bit afield. Baruch’s father, excellent example of Jews of supported the Klan. Though if we are talking reconstruction then it might have been a Jews supporting the defense of Southerners vs. Northerners and their domestic allies (walking on eggshells here) and not so much an example of later when they were “defending” White Christians against Jews and Blacks. Which means it wasn’t an anti-Jewish cause.

        Any Jewish supporters of the Klan 1920-1960? That would work for Krauss’s analogy.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 30, 2013, 6:38 pm

        “BDS’s position is that all the territory to the east of the green line should be judenrein.”

        You know the zios are trolling the bottom of the barrel when they bring out the German-language-libel.

      • irishmoses
        irishmoses
        December 30, 2013, 8:12 pm

        Krauss said:

        I will make clear that I do not have anything against the notion of Jews living where they are living now, in our ancestral homeland.

        Is the Jewish claim to an ancient homeland unique and exclusive of any other group’s claim to their own? i.e. I presume if any Jew has a claim to a an ancient homeland in Palestine, I have a claim to my ancient homeland of Ireland because of my fraternal ancestors who were forced to leave due to a great famine and a civil war. Wouldn’t I also have a claim to Britain as my ancient homeland since my maternal ancestors were forced to leave because of religious persecution? Perhaps my Christian heritage also gives me a claim to my ancient homeland of Palestine, Christ’s birthplace? Certainly a billion or so Christians have as valid a claim to Palestine as the world’s Jews?
        Why would only Jews have a claim to an ancient homeland?

        In fact, I think anyone who tries to deny Jews living in a place like Hebron – the second holiest site for the Jewish people after Jerusalem – is a bigot.

        Would it be bigoted for Israel to deny any of the world’s Christians the right to live in Bethlehem, Nazareth, or Jerusalem? Certainly those cities are important holy sites for Christians.

        Krauss, as much as I admire most of your comments, I think you are off base here. Jews have no valid ancient claim to Palestine as their homeland. The only valid claim they have derives from Balfour and its legalization via the League of Nations, and then only to the right to create a home for Jews within Palestine so long as the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine are not prejudiced. The land seizures and mass expulsions of Arabs in 1948 and 1967 certainly exceeded any legal claim Jews had acquired to a home within Palestine.

      • SQ Debris
        SQ Debris
        December 30, 2013, 2:11 pm

        JeffB is as refreshing as Kahane (was). At least he’s semi honest. I always appreciated the zionist-gone-honest quality of Kahane. He was one of the first to make it clear that a state can either be Jewish, or democratic but not both.

        The disgusting precept that “The Palestinians are the enemy” salts Jeff’s whole argument in favor of preventing assimilation. The idea that the indigenous population is the enemy IS ASSIMILATION. It smacks of the old “a good Indian is a dead Indian” cultural motif. It’s a pure exprexxion of American culture.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 2:46 pm

        @JeffB If you want I can compare you to theoretical Jews in the south who supported the Klan, but I don’t know if any existed.

        They did, indeed. Jews were no different from others in that time and space. One has to understand the origins of the KKK in context of the era of reconstruction, but yes, many Jews of the South were founding members of the KKK. Bernard Baruch speaks about this and his father in his memoirs. His father was one of those wizards, or whatever they called themselves.

        BTW, a number of earliest and largest land owners and traders of the South — South Carolina, GA and FL — were Jews from the Caribbean and South America.

        The first Senator of Florida, was David Levi, born in the Virgin Islands. His Father, Moses bought 500,000 acres of land in Florida and wanted to build a New Jerusalem for Jewish settlers.

        His Senator son — an interesting man who did a lot for economic development of the state — was also known as the “Florida Fire Eater” for his dramatic speeches in strong support for expansion of the institution of slavery.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 5:45 pm

        @JeffB. You brought up this rather irrelevant Jew here or Jew there inside the KKK. We’ve already established that Jews were just as involved in the early years of the KKK along with White Protestants in that part of the world.

        While greatly diminished in the last decades, the odious organization still exists. And it is trying to expand it’s reach. Now that Protestant fundamentalist Christians and the Zionists are a team, the KKK is slowly reaching out to Jewish groups. I will not link to some sketchy sources on this subject, but will to a report by the JTK on a very recent attempted alliance with a KKK member and Jewish groups in New York.

        The KKK member was selling a device to help Jews with a device that ““could be used by Israel to defeat its enemies.” After all they share the same enemies?

        Read more: http://www.jta.org/2013/06/20/news-opinion/united-states/alleged-kkk-member-arrested-for-device-to-defeat-israels-enemies#ixzz2p03ROlvS
        While the vast majority of Jews would reject this, I am sure, you might find this interesting as you have identified that Jews have enemies that need to be defeated.

        The KKK now welcomes Jews as they now have a common goal (you know, all those Mooooslims!) and you might find a home there.

        Here is some text from a KKK site: While a bit more primitive, it matches much of the sentiment you have expressed here.

        We must honor our ancestors and fight for the same reasons they bled and died. We must leave behind a decent, white world for our children. We must change the course of history and restore our great legacy to what it always was since the dawn of our kind.

        Let’s do a word play and replace some of the language you have used on your postings here regarding the need to fight for a Jewish State.

        We must honor our Jewish ancestors and fight for the same reasons they bled and died and suffered. We must leave behind a decent, white world for our children, our baby daughter. We must change the course of history and restore our great legacy to what it always was since the dawn of our kind.

        Sound familiar, JeffB?

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 30, 2013, 6:57 pm

        “JeffB is as refreshing as Kahane (was). At least he’s semi honest. I always appreciated the zionist-gone-honest quality of Kahane. He was one of the first to make it clear that a state can either be Jewish, or democratic but not both.”

        Yeah, but the problem is that JeffB spews all over the site but most of his posts are filled with such blatent idiocy that they’re not even worth reading. He’s a typical might-makes-right nationalist, notable only for the tone of condescension that accompany even his most doltish musings.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 8:34 pm

        @ JeffB

        “The Palestinians are the enemy. You are working for the enemy. There were American Jews active in pro-Nazi groups like the Mother’s Movement. But they never expected the Jewish community to debate their position.”

        In the early years after Israel became a state it rewarded mothers with ten kids the “heroine mothers” award. Ben Gurion was adamant Jewish mothers had to have at least four kids. The Nazis had their own version, the mothers cross. Israel’s program was killed after a decade because the Israeli planners discovered most of the women eligible in Israel for the award were Arabs.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 31, 2013, 8:29 am

        @RoHa

        In reference to Mother’s Movement:
        link to russophilia.files.wordpress.com
        link to en.wikipedia.org

        No not that Soviet mother’s award. I meant the large peace group during WWII.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothers'_Movement

    • American
      American
      December 29, 2013, 9:30 pm

      ‘I believe that religion is key to maintaining identity’…..Krauss

      That is so weird to me.
      If I were to go to each person I know and ask them what their ‘identity’ was they’d say…”What?”
      If someone insisted I give myself some identity I’d have to make up a list starting with probably being a man, husband, a father, businessman, nature and animal advocate, American, Southerner, etc, etc,…Christian or Episcopalian would likely be at the tail end of the list if I had to keep listing e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g in my life that makes up my life.
      I do not understand people who are so obsessed with their identity or finding their identity or maintaining something to give themselves an identity.
      If all the things I identify with like family or place disappeared I’d still have an identity as the individual ‘me’.
      So I dont understand the identity dependence at all.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 30, 2013, 4:56 am

        “So I dont understand the identity dependence at all.”

        Nor do I. I’m still trying to figure out what these blasted identity thingies are, anyway. Is it what it says on my driving licence?

      • yrn
        yrn
        December 30, 2013, 11:03 am

        American

        As An Israeli Jew I don’t have any issues with my Identity.
        Identity issues are the characteristic of persons like Phil, Max, Shmuel, Kraus and all the Anti Zio Jews who are in this blog, those blogs and their Anti Israel activity, are part of their internal self identity struggle.
        Why should an adult person as phil, deal so much with his identity problems and you readers have to read all his problems……
        The obsession regarding their Jewish identity and Israel, is a symptom you can read from all those unstable persons who move from one dimension to the others.
        They all sound alike, did not read anything new from one of those persons.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 11:20 am

        @yrn —

        Exactly! Israel completes Judaism and resolves the existential issues.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 10:50 pm

        @ JeffB
        Seems to me you resolved your existential issues by choosing America as your nation to live in.

    • annie
      annie
      December 29, 2013, 10:11 pm

      The reason why we don’t flock to the congregations is very simple: who can afford it these days without being wealthy or remortgaging your house? I cannot afford be in a synagogue

      whoa, really? i didn’t know it cost money to worship, unless you can afford it. is this mandatory? you can’t just walk in on saturday and give whatever when they pass the hat? that’s what i used to do when i dropped in at the local church in seattle whenever i was in the mood. not that i did it a lot. and sometimes i would put 10 bucks in the envelope. but i know lots of people there didn’t have any money. i didn’t know it costs. i think i heard once it costs money for one of the holidays at a synagogue. anyway..i’m rambling. that’s sad.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 29, 2013, 11:19 pm

        @Annie —

        Didn’t realize you were Christian. There is no hat or collections plate in Judaism. You pay for an annual membership, which is similar to people in a church setting up a fixed tithe well beyond the $10 in the plate. On most Saturdays you can walk in regardless of whether you are a member. For high holidays often you can’t or can only sit in the far back.

      • annie
        annie
        December 30, 2013, 1:16 am

        i’m not a christian. what you said about palestinians being the enemy is disgusting.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 6:56 am

        @Annie

        Sorry you are offended but yes. That’s what states call people who are actively opposed to the state or the people. And Palestinians are both. That’s what they are. That’s the relationship with Israel/Jews/Zionism they’ve chosen.

        I think the way to fix that is for them to choose another relationship. That’s not something Israel can do for them.

      • yrn
        yrn
        December 30, 2013, 11:09 am

        Annie Robbins

        JeffB is not using the Anti Zionist Anti Jewish Dialect used here.
        That hides beyond words, but calls Israelis and Jews Enemy and calling to destroy Israel.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 4:06 am

        Gosh, I did not know that one has to pay to be allowed to worship with the community. Is this really so? I mean, if you do not pay you are not allowed to worship as paying “members?”

        Doesn’t this create classes of followers, based upon how much they pay? A strange thought to me. I am learning much.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 7:10 am

        @Ellen —

        Remember it is high holidays we are talking about. Membership is mostly not about attendance during most shabbat services.

        Doesn’t this create classes of followers, based upon how much they pay?

        Yes. This sort of thing can exist in churches with people who tithe a lot the ones acting as governing elders. But Christians feel guilty about this sort of things and pretend they aren’t going on. Synagogues often are more up front about the arrangement. To what extent it exists varies.

        The dollar in the hat doesn’t do anything financially for the church. But it makes the freeloaders not feel like freeloaders. It makes people who aren’t willing to pay a lot feel comfortable coming regularly to worship. Churches IMHO really do want butts in the seat as a top priority and paying for stuff as a second priority. You guys romanticize house churches. Your whole division of Christianity was founded because a guy didn’t like the concept of indulgences.

        In general like a lot of things, you all do it better. But American Judaism does learn from American Christianity. This will probably get fixed now that’s been creating problems for a generation. But it has been creating huge problems for a generation.

        If I had to guess the way this may be getting resolved is Synagogues affiliated with service programs (like a high end gym / Jewish study center). People don’t resent paying for a community center a lot that they make heavy use of and that makes the synagogue just one of the services. Another possibility is wealthy Jews step up and create a Jewish equivalent of mega-churches where they get substantial community influence in exchange for funding a huge chunk of the activities. Or it doesn’t get resolved and Judaism continues to badly serve American Jews.

        Who knows?

      • annie
        annie
        December 30, 2013, 10:59 am

        Christians feel guilty about this sort of things and pretend they aren’t going on. …The dollar in the hat doesn’t do anything financially for the church. But it makes the freeloaders not feel like freeloaders. It makes people who aren’t willing to pay a lot feel comfortable coming regularly to worship.

        can you try not speaking for how christians feel since you don’t know what you’re talking about. priests take vows of poverty while the median salary for rabbis of large reform synagogues is $230,000. it’s a different set up.

    • annie
      annie
      December 29, 2013, 10:29 pm

      without Judaism, Jewish people cannot really thrive without a state.

      this is just a weird weird thought. secular jewish people, like lots of other kinds of people, can thrive at a lot of things without their own ethnic state. my oldest jewish friend (since my teens) seems to be thriving, and she’s not religious (albeit she does make nice jewish feasts on holidays) nor is she attached to israel in the least or even been there. and she’s got lots of jewish friends, they (we) just hang out like people do. i don’t think any of them have ever been to israel nor do they talk about it except maybe late at night, they’re not too happy w/ it, understandably. why would they need a state? they’re american and they’re absolutely jewish.

      If you have a secular community, then getting them to Israel is the only way to maintain them.

      this is nuts! what planet are you on? i’ve been going to the same hanukkah parties year after year after year. these jews don’t go to israel and they’re definitely ‘maintaining’ their friendships. it’s the same people for 40 years. seriously, you’re just wrong.

      i don’t think most american jews have even been to israel. they exist! they’re jewish! get over it!

      • yrn
        yrn
        December 30, 2013, 11:14 am

        annie
        can you try not speaking for how Jews feel since you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • annie
        annie
        December 30, 2013, 11:39 am

        i don’t speak for ‘how jews feel’. i spoke for what i heard via a small circle of friends ie: they’re not too happy w/ it re israel. obviously that’s not ‘speaking for jews’. that’s a lot different from claiming ‘christians feeling guilty and being ‘freeloaders’ if they can’t pay.

        this is just a weird weird thought.

        this is me speaking for myself and my observations from my own circle of friends.

        secular jewish people, like lots of other kinds of people, can thrive at a lot of things without their own ethnic state.

        this is my opinion, and i have every right to speak it. who is jeff b to speak for ‘christian guilt’ regarding tithing and calling them ‘freeloaders’? there’s no comparison here yrn. if he wants to relate some story about a christian he knows personally who has feelings of guilt for not tithing that is one thing, but to speak for how christians, especially poor christians, feel when they are in their house of worship is just wrong.

        and the idea that a secular jew has to ‘get their friends to Israel’ as the “only” way to maintain those friendships, flies in the face of logic. because there are many secular jews who maintain friendships with other secular jews for decades. i know this to be true, for a fact. that is not me ‘speaking for jews’, it’s me as an observer who knows some circles of friends (jewish) who’ve maintained friendships for years without getting those friends to israel. people i’ve known since my college days, decades ago.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        December 30, 2013, 11:56 am

        What we feel is expressed in how we speak and behave so those with whom we speak and among whom we live can observe it. I have much more ability to describe the sentiments of a Jewish friend, even intimate sentiments if he confides in me, than someone else has merely on the strength of also being Jewish. If you substituted ‘English’ for ‘Jewish’ it would still be true.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 11:08 pm

        @ Annie Robbins
        My experience growing up as a Roman Catholic, and doing two years an altar boy, was an atmosphere where everybody knew people gave what they could afford to give, and sometimes people couldn’t afford to put anything in the basket long handled down each pew at Sunday Mass. During the week this was not even done at Mass.

    • mcohen
      mcohen
      December 30, 2013, 1:56 am

      Krauss

      Zionism has led to an increase in assimilation.almost a worship of the warrior mentality that is the foundation of zionism
      opposing that is the spirituality of zionism which not only rejects assimilation but calls for a enforcement of relegious laws and humility before G-d,which is the key to enlightment and continuity
      A balance of these 2 forces is the true path of the righteous

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 30, 2013, 1:55 pm

      @RubyM

      A lot of Protestants, and not just those who are basically indifferent about their religious beliefs, don’t believe in the doctrine of election.

      (Are you just assuming that MHughes976 is Christian, or is this something known based on other things he said. Everyone who isn’t Jewish isn’t necessarily therefore either Christian or Muslim. I know you know that, but you seem to be forgetting it from time to time.)

      I have no idea what people’s religion was here. I thought this crowd was far more Jewish than it until today.

      As far your point, about election I have never heard a doctrine of justification / sanctification that doesn’t make use of election. Can you give me an example of such a theologian? Far be it for a Jew to defend the doctrine of election since all of Judaism in Christian terms would be full on Pelagian but I can’t see how you can accept Augustine at all without election. IMHO lose election and the entire Christian theology of Genesis falls apart. You lose Paul’s discourses on the nature of salvation in Romans.

      What do you need original sin for? How was the crucifixion effectual in salvation? I’m not sure how any of the system hangs together without election (or at least hangs together as well as it ever does, I think it is mostly a self contradictory mish-mash but this makes it far worse).

      Anyway I think you got the point of my comment. MHughes976 was asserting a doctrine stronger than the one his faith has explicitly from its earliest days considered outright heresy. Again I don’t have a problem with holding Jews to a standard as long as everyone else is going to be held to that standard. But I’m not going to watch Judaism attacked for stuff that is present in even stronger form in all non-heretical forms of Christianity.

      • RudyM
        RudyM
        December 30, 2013, 3:58 pm

        I’m not a Christian myself, though I was raised as one. I read Mondoweiss regularly because I find it to be the best blog for dealing with Israel-Palestine from a (mostly) anti-Zionist perspective.

        To continue our digression (or maybe just my digression, at this point). . .

        I agree that one has to discard an awful lot of the Bible, particularly Paul’s crucial formulations of Christian theology, but also even a close reading of many of Jesus’ parables, in order to deny predestination. In fact, coming to the conclusion that a Calvinist reading of the Bible made the most sense (from a Christian perspective that accepted the Bible as inspired by God) is one of the main things that led to my abandoning Christianity. Ultimately I would say that there are tensions and outright contradictions in the Bible that are irresolvable, but I would still say that Calvinist interpretations require doing less violence to the book than more liberal interpretations.

        FWIW, my Calvinist sister and her (now independent Evangelical clergyman) husband accepted my (Methodist minister) father as a Christian, even an exemplary one. Maybe they would have called his theology heretical but not him? I’m not sure. There’s nothing incoherent in saying that one can have a saving faith in Christ but still get major points of doctrine wrong. Sinners are not saved by professing a correct set of doctrines, but by faith in Christ. I think that would be their position.

        The whole Methodist church (the church in which I was raised) tends to be historically anti-Calvinist (with some exceptions), but I don’t know if you’d accept John Wesley as an example of a theologian. I wouldn’t want to make the case for his being a major theologian. Major religious leader, yes. Maybe crucial to the theologically liberal turn in American Christianity at a certain point.

        There is some good discussion of the modernizing, liberal trend that developed in mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S., in the early chapters of Edmond D. Cohen’s The Mind of the Bible Believer, but I’m having trouble finding any brief snippet that makes the point I am trying to make, which is I guess that embracing free will and denying election was, and maybe still is, very mainstream in American churches.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 9:45 pm

        @RudyM

        I read Mondoweiss regularly because I find it to be the best blog for dealing with Israel-Palestine from a (mostly) anti-Zionist perspective.

        I’m not finding there is much perspective here to be honest. The positions are all over the place and inconsistent.

        In fact, coming to the conclusion that a Calvinist reading of the Bible made the most sense (from a Christian perspective that accepted the Bible as inspired by God) is one of the main things that led to my abandoning Christianity.

        Smile. I can completely understand that. Yes that makes the most sense, yes it is probably the best read but Calvin’s God is a psychopath.

        Maybe they would have called his theology heretical but not him? I’m not sure.

        It depends how far to the right she is. Most Calvinists don’t hold with dordt that Arminians are heretics anymore.

        but I don’t know if you’d accept John Wesley as an example of a theologian.

        Yes absolutely. Hugely influential. Fine example. Wesley accepts Arminius’ famous definition:

        If therefore “Election” denotes “the decree which is according to election concerning the justification and salvation of believers.” I say Election is prior to Faith, as being that by which Faith is appointed as the means of obtaining salvation. But if it signifies “the decree by which God determines to bestow salvation on some one,” then Faith foreseen is prior to Election. For as believers alone are saved, so only believers are predestinated to salvation. But the Scriptures know no Election, by which God precisely and absolutely has determined to save anyone without having first considered him as a believer. For such an Election would be at variance with the decree by which he hath determined to save none but believers.
        (for a fuller treatment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conditional_election )

        So Wesley still believes in election he just believes that the election is conditional on the person’s free acceptance of the saving faith. So for Wesley Christ died for all men, but was only effectual towards the elect. While for Calvin Christ died only for the elect. Wesley has a a synergistic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synergy_(theology) theology.
        justification but he still fully accepts election.

        So anyway. Tying that back up to the theme. Even if you have Wesley you still have election. It is absolutely not the case that, “Every human being is the same in moral characteristics”. Those not elected the reprobate have entirely different moral characteristics whether for Wesley or Calvin or a Catholic. Criticizing Judaism for not holding to a Christian heresy (Pelagianism) strikes me as a bit rich.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 30, 2013, 7:06 pm

        “Far be it for a Jew to defend the doctrine of election…”

        LMAO, and yet you spew off anyway. Because what else would someone with an over-inflated view of his own competence and a degree from the University of Google (with a major in “Looking Up Shit On Wikipedia”) do but that??

      • libra
        libra
        December 30, 2013, 8:26 pm

        My goodness Jeff, it sounds like you’ve been spending far too much time with Christian Zionists. Let’s hope you’re Rapture Ready.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 30, 2013, 8:24 pm

      @ Krauss
      “I care about Jewish continuity.”

      Why? What Jewish appearance, or core traits and values and activities do you desire always to continue so long as earth exists, at least? Who do they benefit? Do they harm anyone? Do you care as much about any other human continuity? Any other species continuity?

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 30, 2013, 8:54 pm

      “So what is the cause of intermarriage?”

      Two people treating and respecting each other as individuals? Perish that thought! Race, color, ethnicity, creed must remain continuous.

  16. peterfeld
    peterfeld
    December 29, 2013, 8:04 pm

    In 2014, every time Phillip Weiss uses “brag on,” do a shot ;)

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      December 29, 2013, 9:38 pm

      I’d love to. It annoys me as well*. Will you pay for the vodka?

      (*Not that there’s much that doesn’t.)

      • tree
        tree
        December 30, 2013, 12:49 am

        It annoys me as well*.

        I’m personally annoyed by the new corporate-speak term, “reaching out”, No one “talks to”, or “contacts”, anyone anymore, they just “reach out”. Its the new corporate autism.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 30, 2013, 4:58 am

        Tempter.

    • MRW
      MRW
      December 30, 2013, 8:41 pm

      Chicago Manual of Style could clear that one up in a jiffy. ;-)

  17. Keith
    Keith
    December 29, 2013, 9:15 pm

    PHIL- With all due respect, I think you continue to place too much emphasis on intermarriage as both a criteria of assimilation and as proof of assimilation. I disagree. A Jew doesn’t have to be married to a gentile to be assimilated, likewise being married to a gentile is no real indication of assimilation. The key to assimilation involves a Jew’s attitude concerning Gentiles. Do you view Gentiles as your fellow human beings, or do you view them as the other? For example, any Jew who views Gentiles as irrational Jew haters is not assimilated. Integrated perhaps, but hostile to non-Jewish outsiders.

    Weiss: “I’m proudly Jewish, formed by Jewish tradition….”

    Perhaps you are not as assimilated as you claim to be. Your feelings of pride bespeak of a longing for some sort of tribal kinship. Perhaps not that significant, but nonetheless an ethnic boundary of your own making.

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      December 29, 2013, 11:15 pm

      @Keith

      The key to assimilation involves a Jew’s attitude concerning Gentiles. Do you view Gentiles as your fellow human beings, or do you view them as the other?

      I’ve never met any Jews who believe gentiles aren’t human.

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 30, 2013, 12:08 pm

        JEFFB- “I’ve never met any Jews who believe gentiles aren’t human.”

        Never met any Jews who thought of Gentiles as “the other?” Who drew a sharp distinction between Jews and non-Jews? Who believe that Gentiles exhibit eternal, irrational anti-Semitism? Really?

        I find it interesting how you twist my words to distort my obvious intended meaning. Seems to come naturally to you. Perhaps you have an unstated agenda?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 1:57 pm

        @Keith

        No Keith, I don’t think it was your obvious intended meaning. The way you phrased it here is reasonable the way you phrased it above in terms of humans is not. I’m not a mind reader. If you meant fear of anti-Semitism phrasing it in those strong terms shouldn’t have been used.

      • annie
        annie
        December 30, 2013, 3:20 pm

        I’m not a mind reader. If you meant fear of anti-Semitism phrasing it in those strong terms shouldn’t have been used.

        keith wasn’t even addressing you when he made the original comment, it was clearly addressed to phil (in capital letters). also, the questions were rhetorical and it’s very clear what keith meant regarding assimilation and extremists views about all non jews which he phrased absolutely appropriately as a given example:

        . The key to assimilation involves a Jew’s attitude concerning Gentiles. Do you view Gentiles as your fellow human beings, or do you view them as the other? For example, any Jew who views Gentiles as irrational Jew haters is not assimilated. Integrated perhaps, but hostile to non-Jewish outsiders.

        you needed to contort his meaning of ‘fellow human being’ while at the same time diverting the topic, which again, wasn’t even addressed to you.

        just because you act like you’re holding court doesn’t mean you’re at the center of everything. and it’s obvious you still have not addressed keith’s meaning now that he has explained it again for you. Jews who thought of Gentiles as “the other?” but have the audacity to lecture him on how he should or should not phrase his thoughts. phew!

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 30, 2013, 5:22 pm

        JEFFB- “No Keith, I don’t think it was your obvious intended meaning.”

        Are you seriously going to claim that you thought that my reference to “the other” referred to non-human animals such as Chimpanzees? And that you want to discuss these issues, not sabotage the discussion? That my use of the phrase “fellow human beings” was “strong terms” which “shouldn’t have been used?” This will probably be my last comment directed to you. You are an irritant, nothing more.

    • yrn
      yrn
      December 30, 2013, 11:21 am

      @Keith

      “Do you view Gentiles as your fellow human beings,”

      That’s Gentile Paranoia

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 9:08 pm

        @ yrn
        Jews viewing Gentiles as “fellow human beings” is a paranoid fantasy of Gentiles? Not sure Martin Buber, for one Jew, would agree.

    • American
      American
      December 30, 2013, 9:34 pm

      ”Weiss: “I’m proudly Jewish, formed by Jewish tradition….”

      Must be because I’m not Jewish but I have absoluely no idea what Jewish tradition is….someone explain it to me please.
      Is there/are there some tradition(s) common to all Jews?

  18. miriam6
    miriam6
    December 29, 2013, 10:36 pm

    [email protected];

    If a Muslim / Christian / Buddhist / Hindu etc. claim feelings of solidarity with other Muslims / Christians etc..

    And claim to be proudly Muslim / Christian – ‘formed by Muslim /Christian tradition’ – does that count as ‘longing for some sort of tribal kinship’ too?

    Can they therefore be said also to be unassimilated – which in your book only appears to mean they must therefore be hostile to the ‘other’?

    Have such Muslims / Christians etc. formed an ‘ethnic boundary of their own making’?

    Or – does your criteria only apply to Jews?

    • just
      just
      December 29, 2013, 11:28 pm

      miriam– have a Potato.

      Happy New Year.

    • Walid
      Walid
      December 30, 2013, 12:28 am

      “does your criteria only apply to Jews?”

      It probably does, Miriam, as I’ve never heard of Arabs or Chinese or any other groups doing it to themselves as much as Jews. Between Marc Ellis’ semi-weekly and Phil’s bi-monthly searching of or for their “Jewishness”, I’m left wondering if all Jews are uncomfortable in their skin or if I’m misunderstanding what all this self-questioning is about.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 9:41 am

        @Walid —

        You are absolutely right. It is one of the defining characteristics of Jewishness. It is what makes Woody Allen funny. It is also what makes this site exist. Diaspora Judaism is an ethical religion and a ritualistic religion. It doesn’t have a popular deep theology like Christianity. So Jewish questions are questions of ethics and ritual. This constantly questioning ethics is what makes Jews profound ethical thinkers.

        It also is a terrible habit for a nation that Zionism helps to break. They haven’t yet succeeded with the Ashkenazi population but they are making progress. There is also a great deal of public pessimism which I think comes from the Eastern European heritage.

        When Al-Qaeda attacked there was no soul searching in America about whether America should exist. No one cared that there would probably be less suffering if the USA just converted to Islam rather than invaded several countries and killed, many hundreds of thousands. The first imperative of life is survival. That was just assumed across the political spectrum. That’s why in 3 days the authorization for force against Afghanistan passed 420-1 / 98-0. There was no debate about whether we were going to kill the people that just attacked us.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        December 30, 2013, 9:46 am

        There was no debate about whether we were going to kill the people that just attacked us.

        Or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

      • libra
        libra
        December 30, 2013, 12:54 pm

        JeffB: It is what makes Woody Allen funny.

        It doesn’t make you funny, Jeff. Quite the opposite.

      • justicewillprevail
        justicewillprevail
        December 30, 2013, 1:29 pm

        “This constantly questioning ethics is what makes Jews profound ethical thinkers.

        It also is a terrible habit for a nation that Zionism helps to break.”

        Yes sir, zionism has been brilliantly successful in breaking any attempt at ethical thinking amongst its adherents (some would say thinking at all). Cognitive dissonance would ensue. Jeff is a good example of that, with his blithe rewriting of history and geography and never a thought for other peoples.

      • miriam6
        miriam6
        December 30, 2013, 6:55 pm

        [email protected];

        This constantly questioning ethics is what makes Jews profound ethical thinkers.

        Some twenty per cent of the Israeli population is Arab.

        How does your presumably ‘constantly questioning’ ethical framework deal with the fact that a substantial ( growing ) minority in Israel are not Jews – given that you wish to maintain a Jewish state ?

        Why not just have a secular state for all Israel’s citizens instead?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 9:22 pm

        @miriam6

        How does your presumably ‘constantly questioning’ ethical framework deal with the fact that a substantial ( growing ) minority in Israel are not Jews – given that you wish to maintain a Jewish state ?

        I think prior to the capture of the West Bank they were well on their way to effectively assimilating. Starting in the early 1980s that process stalled. I think it is still possible.

        Why not just have a secular state for all Israel’s citizens instead?

        Mostly because the entire part of the state is a Jewish state. That’s why it exists. That’s why it was founded.

        Dropping religion doesn’t really solve the core problem.
        Should it have European style law or Sharia law?
        Should the state speak Hebrew or Arabic?
        Should the state be in favor of pan-Arabism and Ba’athism or opposed and pushing for small ethnic breakups?
        Should the state be allied with Saudi Arabia with Iran with Europe with China or with America?
        Should the state have liberal open borders and encourage immigration or should it be closed off?
        Should the state be open to guest workers or protect the wages of local inhabitants?

        Ultimately Israel is a Jewish state or the Jews just (at best) get reduced to being like the Copts. The Palestinians just want an entirely different state in too many respects.

      • Djinn
        Djinn
        December 31, 2013, 12:56 am

        “This constantly questioning ethics is what makes Jews profound ethical thinkers.”

        So apparently being Jewish alone bestows this profound ethical qualities, what negative traits does being Jewish automatically bestow? Surely it follows that if simply being Jewish makes you a profound thinker, ethical and funny to boot that there must be some negative traits bestowed via DNA too?

        Or you are full of shit and Jewish people are no more ethical or unethical than any other people.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        December 31, 2013, 10:21 am

        This constantly questioning ethics is what makes Jews profound ethical thinkers.

        It also is a terrible habit for a nation that Zionism helps to break. They haven’t yet succeeded with the Ashkenazi population but they are making progress.

        No one cared that there would probably be less suffering if the USA just converted to Islam rather than invaded several countries and killed, many hundreds of thousands.

        This is surely the most annoying person here. Good responses, although for me the most stunningly irrational argument in the end, or my last quote above.

        “Jewish superior ethics” of the JeffB type seems to be profoundly involved in spreading Islamophobia lately.

        So in the light of the above claimed profound ethics, do they have to be suppressed now for the superior aim of making the world understand the threat it is facing from the unethical “Arab mind/Muslim mind”? A world that doesn’t fear a forced or willing conversion enough? But instead but takes more and more a close look at Palestinian Arab dispossession, although it was only a minor unethical stumbling block in the process of making the desert bloom? Since from that time up to now the Ashkenazim were still and are still far too ethical?

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 31, 2013, 10:38 am

        “This is surely the most annoying person here.”

        I don’t think he’s annoying; he’s simply blind to his own obtuseness and it comes across in his ernestly stated but rather doltish comments.

      • yrn
        yrn
        December 30, 2013, 11:38 am

        Walid

        “I’m left wondering if all Jews are uncomfortable in their skin ”

        It’s usually common among Anti Zionist Jews.
        As this phenomena is not Considered to a “mental stability ” example.
        Your reaction to their articles keeps them going, as they would not get a positive feedback among Jews with a strong identity or Israeli Jews, that’s why they find comfort with Anti Zionist or Left anti Religious personalities.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 9:18 pm

        @ yrn
        Yeah, I know what you mean; I remember the small clique of Germans in The White Rose were uncomfortable too.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 30, 2013, 10:15 pm

        >> This constantly questioning ethics is what makes Jews profound ethical thinkers.

        Nothing says “profound ethical thinkers” like people who contemplate terrorism, ethnic cleansing, land theft, colonization, oppression, supremacism, destruction, torture and murder and conclude that these are good things.

        Zio-supremacists are a bad joke…

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      December 30, 2013, 3:06 am

      miriam6:

      Have such Muslims / Christians etc. formed an ‘ethnic boundary of their own making’?

      Muslims and Christians are not ethnic groups, so they cannot form ethnic boundaries.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 3:59 am

        And Jews around the globe are no more an ethnic group than Christians.

        The Jew of North Africa, with roots going back 1000 years in that region is no more ethnically close to the Slavic Jew of Baku than the Catholic on the West coast of Ireland and the Catholic of Kenya. It is only formalized religion.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 9:24 pm

        @ Ellen
        Yep, look at the disparate treatment of black and Arab Jews by the self-characterized Jewish and democratic state of Israel.

      • Walid
        Walid
        December 31, 2013, 11:46 am

        “Muslims and Christians are not ethnic groups, so they cannot form ethnic boundaries.”

        Yes, Sibiriak, it is sort of possible. I’m thinking of the Arab Druze that are an offshoot of a Shia Muslim sect that have created boundaries across which non-Druze cannot cross. One cannot convert to become a Druze, nor marry to become one; one has to be born Druze. Even within the Druze society, the tenets of the religion are withheld from the majority of them that are grouped as the “uninitiated” while the very few more senior members are grouped as the “sages” to which they are revealed. There are other groups within the Muslims that form boundaries. So in a way, you could say that these boundaries are both ethnic and religious at the same time. Isn’t that what the whole controversy of Jews being or not being a nation is all about?

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        December 31, 2013, 12:36 pm

        Walid, I don’t think the juxtaposition of ethnic versus religious makes much sense. The only thing that sticks out for me is that someone that uses the term in such a context tries to avoid the term race. Whatever creates the group coherence, origin, customs, or region does not really seem to matter much. And “ethnicity” always vacillates between outsider and insider defintitions. Just as obviously you may not find it so easy to disassociate costums from origin or relgion in the specific groups you look at.

        ethnic

        But strictly what you describe above as intrinsically Druze, is something that keeps surfacing as an argument in Pat Lang’s discussions with an Arabist view. All Arab societies, we are told over and over again are ultimately tribal in nature or “ethnic groups” dominate the scene not the “enlightened individual”.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      December 30, 2013, 5:00 am

      “Or – does your criteria only apply to Jews?”

      That should be “does your criterion only apply to Jews” or “do your criteria only apply to Jews”.

      • miriam6
        miriam6
        December 30, 2013, 9:58 am

        [email protected]:

        Your pedantry is a bore!

        All that matters is being understood – using imperfect grammar does not matter!

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 4:52 pm

        RoHa’s pedantry is great! We need more Rohas in this world. He is never a bore.

        It is important as clear and correct language helps remove possibility of being misunderstood.

      • miriam6
        miriam6
        December 30, 2013, 7:10 pm

        Christ on a bike!!!

        Do not blame me – I am merely a ‘victim’ of the catastrophic ill effects of the crapulous British ‘comprehensive’ ‘edukashun’ system – effects I have yet to shake off ..

        In that case – there ought to be a special *Pedants Corner* page on M.W – overseen by RoHa – where RoHa can correct my grammatical mistakes to his little heart’s content..

        A separate page I will then be able to cheerfully avoid entirely..

      • libra
        libra
        December 30, 2013, 9:14 pm

        miriam6: Christ on a bike!!!

        Well miriam, with such a public display of blasphemy you clearly don’t feel the charge of deicide hanging over your head. But thank goodness there’s no time limit on Jewish victimhood (even for Phil despite his many failings above and beyond casual anti-Christian bigotry), unlike the one generation, at best, that applies to Palestinians.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 31, 2013, 3:35 am

        “It is important as clear and correct language helps remove possibility of being misunderstood.”

        Exactly. We should always bear in mind the cautionary tale of the panda and the misplaced commas.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        December 31, 2013, 3:36 am

        “I am merely a ‘victim’ of the catastrophic ill effects of the crapulous British ‘comprehensive’ ‘edukashun’ system”

        Sue.

    • Keith
      Keith
      December 30, 2013, 12:28 pm

      MIRIAM6- The short answer to your several questions is that someone can be assimilated to the degree that he/she views those not of the group as individuals with whom he/she can interact without significant prejudice, and with whom one can work with for mutual advantage. A hard and fast boundary between “us” and “them” precludes assimilation, regardless of the group in question. In fact, it would appear that the 1% views the 99% in a rather hostile manner. How else to explain the vicious class war now in progress?

      An additional observation is that being a member of a group perceived as being singled out for abuse tends to foster a sense of defensive group solidarity.

      My whole point to Phil is that assimilation is a state of mind, not of marital status. You disagree?

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 9:29 pm

        @ Keith
        “fellow human beings” v “the Other”
        Fellow:
        adjective [ attrib. ]
        sharing a particular activity, quality, or condition with someone or something: they urged the troops not to fire on their fellow citizens.
        ORIGIN late Old English fēolaga ‘a partner or colleague’ (literally ‘one who lays down money in a joint enterprise’), from Old Norse félagi, from félag ‘partnership’ from fé ‘cattle, property, money’ + lag ‘a laying down,’ from the Germanic base of lay.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 30, 2013, 9:12 pm

      @ miriam6
      There’s nothing tribal about the religions you mention. None of their members ever characterize one of their own as a MOT.

  19. Djinn
    Djinn
    December 30, 2013, 2:22 am

    Have read this three times and still can’t get the connection to the war of ideas in the middle east. It’s Phil’s blog and he can post whatever he likes but the (not infrequent) navel gazing about what it means to be Jewish seems to buy into the idea that the war of ideas in the middle east is about competing religious belief instead of naked colonialism and apartheid.

    All I get from these posts are an overwhelming thankfulness that I was born into a family that couldn’t give a flying about religion and that I’ve never felt the need to look to a religion or nationality for my identity. It must be so tiring.

    • puppies
      puppies
      December 30, 2013, 3:31 am

      Phil doesn’t sound religious. This must be the tribe.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 9:33 pm

        @ puppies
        Yep. Looked what happened with Goldstone after he led the little group that put out the report on Cast Lead. Neither Madoff nor Pollard were threatened with shunning like that.

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      December 30, 2013, 3:52 am

      For sure, and it must be confusing, too. Imagine being raised with ideas of the tribe, your tribe and then “the other.” How much conflict that must make for the tribalist who may by chance mingle with the other only to find empathy and maybe even love. How do they overcome it all?

      Btw, being raised in what would be considered a rather traditionally religious family, there never was the inkling of self identity around religion. Identity was, well…the people we loved.

    • Walid
      Walid
      December 30, 2013, 7:30 am

      Djinn, it’s that haunting Jewish exceptionalism that keeps resurfacing. For some, it’s a benediction while for others it’s a malediction. Like you, I’m glad I didn’t catch that bug and I don’t have to keep asking myself about my identity every little while. Self guilt may have something to do with it; Catholics have it easy, they have confession for any and all sins and voilà, problem is solved. I read that Jews also have confession and I’m wondering if they use it. Could be much less onerous than all the never ending searching and rationalizing.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 8:03 am

        Walid, Catholics have it easy, they have confession for any and all sins and voilà, problem is solved.

        Well, no. That is a tired old trope that keeps being pulled out. It is not that easy or simple and there is no voilä and “problem” solved. But absolution is not a discussion for here.

      • Walid
        Walid
        December 30, 2013, 11:23 am

        Ellen, sorry to have appeared belittling the sacrament of penance, I was oversimplifying a concept. I’m aware of its complexities and meant no disrespect. My comments were directed more about its aspect of contrition than about the absolution part; mea maxima culpa.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 11:22 pm

        @ Walid

        “Self guilt may have something to do with it; Catholics have it easy, they have confession for any and all sins and voilà, problem is solved.”

        Having been raised as a Catholic, I can tell you what you say here is very misleading. You must live in a bubble. There’s a million jokes out there going to Catholic guilt, just as there are as to Jewish guilt.

      • Walid
        Walid
        December 31, 2013, 6:29 am

        “There’s a million jokes out there going to Catholic guilt, just as there are as to Jewish guilt.:

        No one complains when Jewish jokes are told, but if someone gets close to Catholics, wow. I wasn’t joking about the sacrament of penance but merely using it to bridge into contrition to ask if Jews would use it in lieu of endless self-analyses when they feel they are going against the current. Maybe I should have simply asked the question without bringing the Catholics into it. You’ll be happy to know that I don’t live in a bubble. Looks like my apology above to Ellen didn’t fizz on you; do I need to come up with a pound of flesh? Now I’ll have the Jews on my back.

    • bintbiba
      bintbiba
      December 30, 2013, 9:12 am

      Yup!!

      • bintbiba
        bintbiba
        December 30, 2013, 9:49 am

        My “yup” was in agreement with Djinn’s comment.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        December 30, 2013, 11:27 pm

        There’s a lot of Jewish cultural pressure put on Phil because he does focus on issues like colonialism and apartheid in the context of the Jewish state. It’s pretty intense when you upset the family and neighborhood apple cart as a job. He’s not alone and its to his credit he shares his anguish with his readers, many of whom are Jewish and are also fighting the same very personal battle and the stakes are very high given AIPAC et al basically have determined US foreign policy in the Middle East for many decades now. The stakes are the biggies: war and peace.

    • Keith
      Keith
      December 30, 2013, 12:34 pm

      DJINN- “Have read this three times and still can’t get the connection to the war of ideas in the middle east.”

      Since Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, and is supported by organized American Jewry, surely you can acknowledge some relevance?

      • Djinn
        Djinn
        December 30, 2013, 11:23 pm

        Israel can define itself as an elf state, doesn’t matter. It IS an Apartheid state which is also supported in the US by people who have zero connection to Judaism.

        I was raised to view PEOPLE as my tribe, I never felt more affinity to someone because they were Scottish (or later Australian or American) and never felt the need to look to creation myths written by folks who thought the world is flat for an identity. I guess I just find it both incredibly bizarre (and not a little bigoted) and highly yawn inducing. I thought socialists were bad on the endless navel gazing apparently they have nothing on the religious.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      December 30, 2013, 9:48 pm

      Djinn,

      I am afraid that it does have to do with the IP Conflict. The State is dedicated to one group only, and it only permits religious marriages between those of the same religion on its territory. So the conditions imposed are one of competing religious communities.

      And yes it is ironic because many people in IP World are not very religious, and the Pal.s do not define their group religiously.

      • Djinn
        Djinn
        December 31, 2013, 3:51 am

        It’s irrelevant. South Africa’s Apartheid was not religious based it didn’t make it better or any easier to dislodge. It’s about land and racism, it’s not about competing religions at all. The fact that totally unreligious people who are identified as Jews have all the same privileges as religious Jews in Israel demonstrates this. If it were really about religion then that would not be the case. Also Pals is a derogatory term.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 31, 2013, 11:19 am

        I am confused why you say: “South Africa’s Apartheid was not religious based it didn’t make it better or any easier to dislodge.”

        In the case of South Africa the people shared the same religion. Wouldn’t that make separation easier to dislodge? The religion adds an extra factor.

        Unfortunately, this is one of the strange things about the IP situation: “The fact that totally unreligious people who are identified as Jews have all the same privileges as religious Jews in Israel demonstrates this. If it were really about religion then that would not be the case.”

        In fact, atheism is not counted as a religion and thus it is not considered to conflict. Plus, the atheists still can only get religious marriages in the country. One can be nonreligious so long as they do not change religions.

        Granted, the State does not operate closely along rabbinical or Biblical laws. But in any case, the State actually dedicates itself to a religious community, not a racial one. But people in general and the State do not talk about it this way, which adds to confusion.

        There are several “proofs”:
        The State’s dedication to one group
        The way the group is defined in immigration laws
        How one joins or leaves the group
        The marriage rules
        Palestinians’ ethnic background.
        The fact that no religion is not counted as religion.

        But like I said, people talk about it in terms of a nationalist conflict. But in reality nationalism is analogous. So the analogy is useful and works too when it comes to understanding the conflict.

    • annie
      annie
      December 31, 2013, 9:23 pm

      djinn, have you ever checked out the beyondoweiss feature (under the ‘features’ dropdown on top of every page?) http://mondoweiss.net/features/beyondoweiss

      some great posts on there.

  20. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    December 30, 2013, 2:25 am

    Assimilation, part 754:

    How many American Jews understand Yiddish? Hardly any. Nobody forced them to stop speaking Yiddish. (And don’t try counting words that are now used in English: e.g., schlemiel)
    This is no different from asking…
    How many Italian-Americans can understand Italian? (No, pizza doesn’t count)
    How many Norwegian-Americans can speak Norwegian?
    Etc.

    The discussion of Judaism omits an important fact: most US Jews are not affiliated with any synagogue. The largest branch of Judaism is not “Reform”, it’s non-observant.
    Many synagogues have low attendance, except twice a year for Rosh Hashona and Yom Kippur. It’s the same trend for many liberal Protestant churches, which are mostly empty, except twice a year, for Christmas and Easter.
    In the future, the role of these churches may end up like the situation in France, where much of the population are nominally Roman Catholic, but typically they attend church for only three occasions: weddings, baptism of a child, and a funeral.

    So the process of assimilation of Jews in the US is not really different from the assimilation of other immigrants.

    • Walid
      Walid
      December 30, 2013, 7:04 am

      “How many Norwegian-Americans can speak Norwegian?”

      Ned, I think you’d find that most if not all Armenian-Americans speak Armenian. The assimilation of hyphenated Americans is possible only when they let themselves be assimilated. Ethnic ghettos are strong obstacles against this happening and the more people stay attached to them, the less their chances of being assimilated.

    • puppies
      puppies
      December 30, 2013, 9:58 am

      ” Nobody forced them to stop speaking Yiddish”
      I’m afraid you’re wrong there. Check out the history of Zionism and its long war against Yiddish.

  21. OlegR
    OlegR
    December 30, 2013, 6:33 am

    I Philip Weiss proudly represent a speciall kind of Jewishness that if all of the jews were to follow then in the next couple of generations there would not be any Jews to speak of in the US, and that is just fine by me.

    (And thus the Jewish proplem will finally be solved. Thats my addendum i am not sure that you mean it that way or are you ?)

    Anyway that’s a very attractive pitch you have here.I am proudly Jewish but don’t really care about Jewishness survival and infact it might be better if it doesn’t.

    I’ll stick by my tribalism and nationalism thank you wery much.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      December 30, 2013, 7:18 am

      OlegR: I’ll stick by my tribalism and nationalism thank you wery much.

      Say that with a very heavy German accent, please!

      • OlegR
        OlegR
        December 30, 2013, 10:06 am

        Go suck on a lemon.

      • just
        just
        December 30, 2013, 12:31 pm

        Have an Etrog Oleg.

      • OlegR
        OlegR
        December 30, 2013, 3:38 pm

        Next year on Sukkot.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      December 30, 2013, 7:23 am

      Oleg
      The devil appeared to David Gruen. He said “David, I have a deal for you. I will bring a Jewish state into being. I ask just one thing in return”
      Gruen replied ” And what about the great powers?
      The devil responded “No worries. I am ready to go when you are”
      Gruen said”Yalla, let’s go. And what do you want us to do in return?”
      “Run it on my rules”
      Gruen thought about it. He wondered what Bar Kochba would have done. He thought about future generations who could always do things with Jewish morality in mind. And anyway it seemed like a small price. The very stones of the land were holy. They would ensure the Jewish state was good.
      “Agreed” he said.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 30, 2013, 11:37 pm

      @OlegR
      Love you application of Kant’s moral imperative. You got your own national version of the 1935-6 Nuremberg Laws.

    • Cliff
      Cliff
      December 31, 2013, 6:40 am

      Oleg,

      Go make your Jewish apartheid State / country club in Antarctica. The ME does not want you.

  22. bilal a
    bilal a
    December 30, 2013, 11:40 am

    Transposition test:

    –It’s not like my wife or my friends are very Jewish. They …mock Jewish religious claims and stay away from Temple..If they were very Jewish. we wouldn’t be friends. .

    a sad unconscious bigotry.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      December 30, 2013, 4:57 pm

      I was surprised he wrote that.

    • miriam6
      miriam6
      December 30, 2013, 6:41 pm

      bilal a @;

      Your ‘test’ does not scan.

      Remember that the European Christians held that the Jews were collectively and also in perpetuity – guilty of deicide – that charge of deicide was only revoked by the Vatican in the 1960’s.

      I mean – try this empathetic test for once and try to imagine what it was like to be Jew in Christian Europe for all those centuries with the charge of deicide hanging over Jewish heads ?

      Whether you like it or not that history continues to ( negatively ) colour Jewish – Christian relations.

      Jews fared somewhat better in the Islamic East – regarded as of Dhimmi status – but also respected as the People of the Book as were Christians similarly respected too.

      No such respect was afforded the Jews of Europe by the Christians.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 30, 2013, 9:39 pm

        Hi Miriam,

        Based on your rejection of the test, it sounds like you are saying it is OK to “mock Christian religious claims”, “stay away from Church”, and not be friends with someone only because they are “very Christian.”

        Your explanation is that you think European Christians saw the Jews as always guilty of deicide and did not respect them as people of the book.

        1. I am doubtful about your claims. The Church did not see every Jew as guilty. For example there were Christian Jews. The Sanhedrin member Nicodemus (“innocent of blood”) did not participate. Nor was deicide even limited to the pharisees, as for example the Nicene Creed blames the Roman leader for the crucifixion. Israel Shahak noted that the rabbinical community was respected much more than any other non-official religious group.

        2. Even if it were true, how does that make it OK to treat all Christians today this way?

        3. One can still imagine an intolerant analogy:
        Remember that the intolerant ________ community claimed that the Christians were collectively and also in perpetuity – guilty of ______.
        Try to imagine what it was like to be Christian in ______ with the charge of _______.

        I can think of several ways to fill in those blanks, unfortunately. I was quite surprised when the New Jersey professor was quoted here on Mondoweiss as claiming anti-Semitism is a “2000 year old” ideology.

        So yes, one really can run Bilal’s transposition test to see if a statement is tolerant or not. Personally I don’t see anything particularly positive in avoiding making friends with someone merely because he or she is “very Christian” or “very Jewish.”

      • miriam6
        miriam6
        January 1, 2014, 6:14 pm

        [email protected];

        Based on your rejection of the test, it sounds like you are saying it is OK to “mock Christian religious claims”, “stay away from Church”, and not be friends with someone only because they are “very Christian.”..
        2. Even if it were true, how does that make it OK to treat all Christians today this way?

        You are making the mistake of seeking to conflate my justified criticism of the long history of INSTITUTIONAL anti – Semitism within the INSTITUTIONS of the Christian church – with an assumption that I support Weiss’s – admittedly honest – though bigoted views about Christians.

        In no way do I wish to excuse or endorse Weiss’s views or feelings about individual Christians as expressed in his article nor do I endorse bigotry against Christians nor any other religious / non religious group.

        1. I am doubtful about your claims. The Church did not see every Jew as guilty. For example there were Christian Jews. The Sanhedrin member Nicodemus (“innocent of blood”) did not participate. Nor was deicide even limited to the pharisees, as for example the Nicene Creed blames the Roman leader for the crucifixion. Israel Shahak noted that the rabbinical community was respected much more than any other non-official religious group.

        Your reference to Christian Jews is entirely missing the point!

        Of course those Jews who became Christians were more likely to escape the bigotry of the the institution of Christianity ! They were Jews who had rejected Judaism after all!

        Once a Jew became a Christian – a Jew then became cleansed of the ‘sin’ of deicide. Prejudice against Jews back then was theological in character rather than racial.

        Jesus – if he did exist ( there is plenty of historical evidence that the Romans crucified many of the rebellious Jews who had challenged Rome’s Imperial power – maybe Jesus was one of those crucified Jews or maybe an amalgamation into one persona of such crucified Jews ) – was crucified by the Romans because of his claim that there was a higher power and kingdom than that of the Romans.

        And of course the Romans held that there WAS no power higher than that of Imperial Rome.

        And apparently – unlike those other rebellious Jews – Jesus took his message to Jerusalem – thus drawing himself and his – subversive – of – Roman – power – message to the attention of the Roman authorities – thus sealing his fate.

        But later – when Saul / Paul was selling Christianity to the Roman Empire how was Saul/ Paul supposed to get around the problem of Rome’s responsibility for Jesus’s death?

        Well – he found a suitable scapegoat for Jesus’s death by blaming it on the Jews rather than the real culprits – the Roman rulers of Palestine.

        That new Christianity – with it’s added anti Jewish component of the charge of deicide – then became the ideology of the Roman Empire and the later Western / European world.

        Therein lies the origin of the unhappy history in the Christianised Western world between Christians and Jews.

      • bilal a
        bilal a
        December 30, 2013, 10:08 pm

        above ,seems to justify bigotry towards Jews based upon recent history ,”try this empathetic test for once and try to imagine what it was [is] like to be [a Christian,a Muslim ] in [Jewish Palestine].

        NO, I don’t think we should apply a religious or ethnic test to our friends, only admitting those that mock their own traditions and don’t practice. And then justify it based on medieval or current history somewhere sometime ? Like Christians could not imagine episodes of official disrespect and discrimination from others, historically or now? My gosh, just turn on the tv.

        Some thing is really ugly about secular liberals’ illiberal-ism and self-allowed bigotry.

        Not just ugly, dangerous.

      • Djinn
        Djinn
        December 31, 2013, 1:07 am

        For much of Scotland’s history they’ve been oppressed and/or exploited by the English. Complete with ethnic cleansing. The idea that because of that I would not be friends with an English person unless they weren’t really very English is bizarre and bigoted.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 31, 2013, 11:23 am

        For much of Scotland’s history they’ve been oppressed and/or exploited by the English. Complete with ethnic cleansing. The idea that because of that I would not be friends with an English person unless they weren’t really very English is bizarre and bigoted.

        How can anyone argue with that?

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 31, 2013, 12:04 am

        MIRIAM6- “I mean – try this empathetic test for once and try to imagine what it was like to be Jew in Christian Europe for all those centuries with the charge of deicide hanging over Jewish heads ?”

        Your version of events is based mostly on Jewish mythology, not actual history. The “charge of deicide” didn’t prevent the Jews from being above the Gentile peasants, whom the Jews despised.

        “…during the whole of the classical period the Jews, in spite of all the persecutions to which they were subjected, formed an integral part of the privileged classes.” (p52, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” Israel Shahak)

        See also “The Jewish Century” by Yuri Slezkine for a discussion of historical Jewish privilege.

        Much of history is a tale of brutality and suffering. Did some Jews suffer persecution? Of course! Did many non-Jews suffer persecution? Of course! Putting the Holocaust aside, have Jews historically suffered more persecution than non-Jews? No! Looked at in context, Jews have always been somewhat privileged, now extremely so. Even the Holocaust is but one of many historical examples of mass-murder. Of course, lumping all non-Jews together tends to obscure the European treatment of the Blacks and indigenous peoples whom they conquered and enslaved. I find your depiction of Jewish victim-hood more than a little disingenuous.

      • Keith
        Keith
        December 31, 2013, 12:37 am

        MIRIAM6- “No such respect was afforded the Jews of Europe by the Christians.”

        Yes, due enlighten us with tales of the humiliation of the Rothschilds by Christian Europe! Below is a quote and a link highlighting their suffering at the hands of the Catholic Church because of the charge of deicide.

        “However, in the early 19th century, the Rothschild family of Naples built up close relations with the Vatican Bank, and the association between the family and the Vatican continued into the 20th century. In 1832, when Pope Gregory XVI was seen meeting Carl von Rothschild, observers were shocked that Rothschild was not required to kiss the Pope’s feet, as was then required for all other visitors to the Pope, including monarchs.”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rothschild_family

        Christ on a bike, Miriam, when are you going to stop the BS?

  23. Qualtrough
    Qualtrough
    December 30, 2013, 12:30 pm

    Annie, I hope that this site doesn’t censor or ban JeffB. His unfiltered Zionism is very instructive and I think the more people are exposed to it the more they will see just how sick and twisted it is.

  24. RudyM
    RudyM
    December 30, 2013, 1:16 pm

    @Annie:

    The first time my sister’s husband (her fiance at that point) came to my parents house for dinner, he and my father got into a heated discussion over this very theological point.

    In summary, the doctrine of election states that everyone is born deserving to go to hell (original sin) but God chooses to save some of them (before they are even conceived), not due to any virtue of their own (since they are born as wicked as everyone else), but out of His free election. Man is born incapable of choosing good without God’s intervention. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Christ’s call goes out to everyone, but God has already decided to save some and consign others to eternal torment.

    John Wesley said of this doctrine: “It is to represent the Most High God. . . as more cruel, false, and unjust than the devil!”

    • annie
      annie
      December 31, 2013, 6:39 am

      thanks rudy. so here’s a story for you. i may have mentioned in these threads before that although i was not raised in a religious home my father was the son of a methodist minister, as was his father before him several times down the line. anyway, before my dad died he gave me a book from his library for keepsake. inside the front cover was his fathers signature and before that my maternal great, and great grandfathers’ signatures (all Reverends). and the old worn book is the sermons of john wesley. ha! but i have not read the book, yet.

    • Walid
      Walid
      December 31, 2013, 8:34 am

      Rudy, the doctrine of original sin, conceived by the doctor of the church Augustine in the 4th century had nothing to do with God’s original instructions; he simply conceived it in his mind. Think of how many parents died heartbroken at the thought that one of their children having died before been baptized to erase its stigma and condemned to live in Limbo, at the edge of hell.. The following 11 centuries were spent debating if Mary was born free of it and immaculately conceived until it was finally accepted that she was. The Feast of Assumption of Mary enshrining her purity dates back to only 1950.

      Wesley unfairly pinned the whole thing on God, which had nothing to do with it.

  25. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    December 30, 2013, 4:26 pm

    I think it is time for Phil to edit his purposes for Mondoweiss, for currently he lists #4 as – “to offer alternatives to pro Zionist ideology as a basis for American Jewish identity.”

    I think if all Phil can muster on the disappearance of American Jewish identity is a shrug, that he has no ideology to offer whatsoever. The anti Zionist impulse that is repeated here is understandable from a moral and practical point of view. But to pretend that something is being offered here as a substitute for Zionism is patently false. I suppose those of us who consider the continuity of the Jewish “thing” (thing- an ambiguous enough term so as to avoid overly specific terms like- nation, religion or civilization) something worth more than a shrug, should be grateful that Phil is not cheering our disappearance. (He thinks that it, Jewish identity, will be replaced by something better, based upon, I suppose, a form of irrational optimism, that every cultural disappearance will be replaced by something better, an optimism based upon the same ether that fed his belief that 17 days in Tahrir Square is sufficient to prove what the future will look like.) But a shrug is certainly insufficient as an ideology, even if Judaism, Jewishness is in need of something new, this apathy towards the survival of the Jewish thing, clearly is insufficient as an alternative.

    Hell if I know what it will take to keep the Jewish thing alive given the crisis of post 67 Zionism. Certainly Judaism was not designed for mixing, or certainly not designed to both survive and mix and I understand the spiritual needs for mixed sources to help us in these troubling times (not specific in my case to the 21st century, to me all “God is dead” times are troubling times and that has been in the offing since Voltaire and certainly since Nietzsche and certainly since Auschwitz.) But I do know that it will require work and thought and certainly more than a shrug.

    • OlegR
      OlegR
      December 31, 2013, 5:35 am

      But it’s a deeply meaningful shrug full of introspection.

  26. piotr
    piotr
    December 30, 2013, 7:43 pm

    The religion that celebrated Saturnalia is gone, and perhaps what replaced it was not better, but such is the way of the world. Assimilated Jews probably will dissolve in the respective nations and will be remembered, or not, as ancestors to their descendants etc. Similarly, the importance of celebration tied to solstices and equinoxes may be waning as well, or rejuvenating in new ways, like with bowl games that follow winter solstice).

    Centering the religious and civic life around ball games is arguably an American invention, more precisely, Meso-American, where heavy balls made of rubber were used for that purpose already before Christ.

    • puppies
      puppies
      December 31, 2013, 1:13 am

      “Assimilated Jews probably will dissolve in the respective nations and will be remembered, or not, as ancestors to their descendants etc. ”
      Which would have been somewhat delayed in some places if the culture languages, Jiddisch and Ladino, had been allowed by the Zionits to survive and develop; the local cultures would also have been much better preserved without the devastating chopper-blender of Zionism. Instead, these languages and traditions are now approaching extinction to the benefit of a constructed language and a hysterical nationalist horror –over 2 generations, no more.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        December 31, 2013, 3:22 pm

        puppies- The “disappearance” of Yiddish in America cannot be blamed on Zionism. The Jews who arrived at Ellis Island were not very conscientious about preserving the ways of the old world, but were quite anxious to adopt the ways of the new world.

        Hebrew is a great language. It is the language of the Tanach, aka old testament. (Daniel is in Aramaic, but for the most part the Tanach is in Hebrew.) The Mishna is in Hebrew. The prayer book is in Hebrew. The revival of Hebrew is great! Do you read or speak Hebrew, Yiddish or Ladino? Or is your critique purely peanut gallery?

      • puppies
        puppies
        December 31, 2013, 4:50 pm

        “The “disappearance” of Yiddish in America cannot be blamed on Zionism. ”
        Of course it can and it should!
        Don’t pretend to ignore that Zionism designed and jerry-built what’s called “Modern Hebrew” and implemented systematically its transformation to a first language for unfortunate kids, starting 1882, as a nationalist experiment. The stated aim was to get rid of the culture (and the person) of the Ostyiddish shtetl. It also aimed to deny the absence of any connection but religious between the Ostyiddish and the different kinds of Jews. The systematic imposition by the Zionists and the Eastern nationalist delirium among Jews had rapid results in the US starting with the pre-war, while it had until then been retained as an active mother tongue in all New World settlements.
        “Hebrew is a great language.”
        All natural languages are great languages. Even a conlang, constructed language, like modern Hebrew becomes a “great language” if used well. Only, don’t try to imply that what was imposed by the Zionists had much to do with Biblical Hebrew (not a mother tongue since 200 BC.)
        “The revival of Hebrew is great!”
        As said, this is only an illusion of a revival. In fact, it is a huge act of social engineering resulting in something that sounds like no Hebrew ever did in a native mouth. What’s great about it? That’s no different than making pig Latin a native language by fiat and calling it the revival of Imperial Latin.
        “Do you read or speak Hebrew, Yiddish or Ladino?”
        Both of the latter two, with just enough knowledge of the former to judge as a linguist. But don’t quote me, go to the authorities.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        December 31, 2013, 8:53 pm

        puppies:

        Don’t pretend to ignore that Zionism designed and jerry-built what’s called “Modern Hebrew” and implemented systematically its transformation to a first language for unfortunate kids, starting 1882, as a nationalist experiment. The stated aim was to get rid of the culture (and the person) of the Ostyiddish shtetl. ETC.

        That may be true, but were there not powerful pressures to assimilate that also strongly influenced the fate of Yiddish culture in America? Imo, both you and Yonah overstate your cases. The truth lies somewhere in between.

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 1, 2014, 1:37 am

        @sibiriak: The “also” part is a given; no one says otherwise. All other things being equal, though, we have a sudden interruption in the use of Yiddish corresponding to a major propaganda success of Zionism, openly hostile to mother tongues, and the expansion of Modern Hebrew use. So no, there isn’t a somewhere in-between.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        January 1, 2014, 6:59 am

        puppies:

        All other things being equal, though, we have a sudden interruption in the use of Yiddish corresponding to a major propaganda success of Zionism, openly hostile to mother tongues, and the expansion of Modern Hebrew use.

        Of course, if we are looking at causality , the loss of Yiddish culture is preceded by the loss of the Yiddish-creative social milieu, “Yiddishland”, as a result of aggressive nationalism, antisemitism, Nazism etc.

        On the Zionist attitude toward this loss, Shlomo Sand writes:

        [the Yiddish] townlet, not always small (and not always exclusively Jewish), permitted its inhabitants to differ from its neighbors not only in religious practices and norms but also in more secular ways, such as language or the architectural style of prayer houses.

        At the center of the Jewish townlet stood the synagogue, with a double dome reminiscent of the Eastern pagoda. Jewish dress in Eastern Europe did not resemble that of the Jews of France or Germany. The yarmulke—also derived from a Turkic word—and the fur hat worn over it were more reminiscent of the people of the Caucasus and the horsemen of the steppes than of Talmudic scholars from Mainz or merchants from Worms. These garments, like the long silk caftan worn chiefly on the Sabbath, differed from the clothing worn by the Belorussian or Ukrainian peasants.

        But any mention of these features and others—from food to humor, from clothing to chants, all connected to the specific cultural morphology of their daily life and their history—scarcely interested the scholars who were occupied in inventing the eternal history of the “people of Israel.”

        They could not come to terms with the troublesome fact that there had never been a Jewish people’s culture, but only a popular Yiddish culture that resembled the cultures of their neighbors much more than it did those of the Jewish communities of Western Europe or North Africa.

        Today the descendants of the Jews of “Yiddishland” live mainly in the United States and Israel. The remains of millions of others are buried beneath the slaughterhouses constructed by Hitler in the twentieth century.

        When we consider the tremendous effort that the memory agents in Israel have invested in commemorating their dying moments, compared with the scanty effort made to discover the rich (or wretched, depending on one’s viewpoint) life lived in Yiddishland before the vicious massacre, we can draw only sad conclusions about the political and ideological role of modern historiography.

        Like the absence of costly archaeological exploration in southern Russia and the Ukraine to uncover the remains of Khazaria, the absence of sociological, linguistic and ethnographic studies about the long-standing ways of life in the townlets of Poland and Lithuania—work of innovative historical research, not mere folklore134—is no accident. No one wants to go looking under stones when venomous scorpions might be lurking beneath them, waiting to attack the self-image of the existing ethnos and its territorial ambitions.

        The writing of national history is not seriously meant to uncover past civilizations; its principal aim thus far has been the construction of a meta-identity and the political consolidation of the present.

        (“The Invention of the Jewish People”)

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 1, 2014, 12:03 pm

        @Sibiriak
        Great quote.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        January 2, 2014, 6:46 pm

        puppies- I cannot testify what Hebrew sounded like when Jews from say Morocco prayed in Hebrew 100 years ago. (I would assume that it is this pronunciation of Hebrew, which would have been part of the daily routine of a Moroccan Jew, which is what the Zionist pronunciation of Hebrew was aiming for). But I know from experience that receiving an education in Hebrew as pronounced in Israel, enabled me to a familiarity with the language that was basic to my ability to read and study the prayer book, the Tanach, the Mishna and while we’re at it- the Mishne Torah of Maimonides.

    • Walid
      Walid
      December 31, 2013, 7:56 am

      “The religion that celebrated Saturnalia is gone…”

      Mithraism that dates back to 4th century BC-Persia that was the official religion of Rome may have disappeared in the 5th century but not before some of its precepts had rubbed off on a newly emerging religion. The deity “Mithra” whose birthday was celebrated December 25th was born of a virgin mother, had 12 disciples, performed miracles, preached resurrection of the dead, had the ritual communal meal instituted after a last supper, preached salvation through sacrifice, was crucified and resurrected after 3 days and so on. Constantine that legitimized Christianity had been a follower of Mithraism.

      • piotr
        piotr
        January 1, 2014, 12:46 am

        No authority relates Saturnalia to Mithra, and obviously, that holiday was related to Saturn. Winter solstice (or more loosely, mid-winter) is celebrated in various ways in many religions. According to Macrobius “Saturnalia was a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.” That offers a possibility that Hanukkah is a pagan celebration with a patriotic Jewish story replacing the original one. But the reverse influence is possible as well (Jews lived in Rome for several centuries before the time of Macrobius).

      • Walid
        Walid
        January 1, 2014, 4:00 am

        piotr,you’re right about Saturnalia pre-dating Mithraism in Rome but the agrarian/feasting part of it sort of merged with Persian Mithraism that had arrived there with the Roman soldiers returning from Persia, especially the December 25th feasting and gift-giving long before Christianity arrived on the scene. Doctor of the Church John Chrysostom in the 4th century decided to make December 25th the birth day of Jesus. Christians for obvious reasons are uncomfortable allowing discussions about Mithraism into their own history.

  27. JLWarner
    JLWarner
    December 30, 2013, 8:43 pm

    I agree with your analogy to “American bread pudding” rather than the “American melting pot.” The distinction is that cultures in a melting pot lose their identity into a homogeneous mass. But with bread pudding each culture retains its identity, although modified it harmonize with the collective.

    You preceeded bread pudding with the word vanish. I take exception to that. Assimilated Jewish culture does not vanish – rather it is transformed.

    I tend to make an analogy to salad rather than bread pudding, but that is a small distinction.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      December 31, 2013, 12:00 am

      melting pot was replaced by (tossed) salad bowl, which in turn has been replaced by stew pot.

      I do agree that assimilation does not mean vanish, but transformation. All of America is being transformed, hence the popular term “multicultural”; everybody seems to welcome this when it comes to the ever-increasing mixed types of fast foods, for example, the types of sandwiches and dishes that combine old standards with Tex-Mex-Oriental.

  28. JeffB
    JeffB
    December 31, 2013, 8:24 am

    @MRW

    I’m going to give this a shot. You are misrepresenting your experience a bit. But I’m going to try a goodwill response regardless.

    Jeffb: There is no person today who knows even a tiny fraction of how Windows works (if you are on OSX or Linux make the appropriate replacements).

    MRW What a stupid statement. Anyone with assembler training who can think in hex knows. UNIX, of which OSX and Linux are offshoots, was created by a human being(s) who set up a different interchangeable structure for the code to evolve within.

    Well first off UNIX as it was distributed by AT&T was authored in C not assembler. UNIX was instrumental in displacing assembler. If you want something that promoted assembler it was IBM mainframes in the early days and early DOS based PCs prior to the rise of Pascal and then C++.

    Second, assembler doesn’t teach you anything about modern operating system design. Other than perhaps the interfaces for low level libraries. Linux either as a kernel or an OS has almost no assembler in it. If you want assembler code it is not the OS but the compiler. GCC while mostly written in C has critical carryovers from assembler and that’s where assembler comes in.

    Finally thinking in hex is something a 3rd grader can do. Using hex notation is convenient for assembler but it is about 1% of learning assembler. There are plenty of mainframe assembler programers that use octal.

    JeffB: There is no person today who knows even a tiny fraction of how Windows works (if you are on OSX or Linux make the appropriate replacements).That sort of thing only exists because of collective thought.

    MRW: No, it doesn’t. Bill Gates bought Windows from a couple of kids for $50Gs when he was 19, and expanded on it for IBM’s new PC that it was racing to produce before AT&T came out with theirs. Gates’ genius was in not selling the OS to IBM but licensing it.

    I said Windows. 86-DOS which was a CP/M variant was understandable by a single person, it was written by a single person. The fact that Windows started its evolution as a simple OS does not mean that in 2013 it is a simple OS.

    JeffB: In much the same way as understanding the rules of English are not possible for a human single brain cell.

    MRW: Bullshit. Robert Yelverton Tyrrell did. He’s one of two the O.E.D. relied upon as thee authority.

    And you are asserting he has a single brain cell?

    JeffB: Similarly the CPU requires dozens of designers no single one could ever understand that complexity.

    MRW: You’ve obviously never designed one. They’re not that complicated. Call routines aren’t the mystery of the universe. I mean, we’re talking dip and dap here at the root level (that’s why there’s a “0″ and a “1″ on the power key of earlier computers…a reminder). Simple electricity on or off. Besides, digital computing, bits and bytes, is an ancient artifact of the 20th C that we still assign value to and agree to use in our gadgets. Digital’s grandchild, quantum computing, has been around for at least two decades, and you know nothing about it.

    Quite correct I have never designed a CPU. Few people have, and based on that statement you haven’t either. By the time I got into computers in the 1980s CPU were already too complex to be designed by a single person. Learning everything a Z-80 or a 6502 was quite enough complexity. CPUs are orders of magnitude more complex today. Of course they consist of electrical gates, but that’s like saying building an earth isn’t complex because it is made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Moreover laying out the gates isn’t main complexity in modern CPU design, though no single person could handle even that for a modern CPU. The complexity is heat dissipation, organizing the layers to be able to get adequate yields, compensating for quantum effects induced by electrons jumping “wires”, etc… That’s far more than just programming the microcode.

    MRW: Besides, digital computing, bits and bytes, is an ancient artifact of the 20th C that we still assign value to and agree to use in our gadgets. Digital’s grandchild, quantum computing, has been around for at least two decades, and you know nothing about it.

    Because quantum computers don’t exist yet. They are at the stage where people are happy to get prototypes of part of their functionality working. Getting even working parts is still beyond humanity’s collective ability. That may mean that 20 years from now they exist. Or it might be like airplanes where the idea exists for centuries but the engineering escapes us.

    I’m not clear how my not knowing how quantum computing works beyond having read a 1/2 dozen articles proves that CPUs whenever quantum computing is a reality will be understandable by a single individual.

    • piotr
      piotr
      January 1, 2014, 4:45 pm

      From personal experience and numerous testimonies I know that it is possible to write a program and have a very dim idea why it works, and why sometimes it does not work.

  29. libra
    libra
    December 31, 2013, 7:43 pm

    JeffB: I’m going to give this a shot.

    And I have to say Jeff, a pretty good shot too. I think you’re right about the current state of play regarding quantum computing, at least if one discounts D-Wave’s controversial claims to have a working system.

  30. piotr
    piotr
    January 1, 2014, 4:40 pm

    Sibiriak,

    the issue of “Yiddish” culture and Jewish culture is complex, because culture has many dimensions. Religious learning was an important part of Jewish life and there was some uniformity across different groups that had different vernacular languages, dress, cusine etc. The wide ranging network of contacts of religious scholars was of course paralleled with the contacts of traders and financiers. So different Jewish groups were well aware of each other and had some feeling of commonness or solidarity. A Jew coming to Cairo from Prague would find assistance from the local Jewish community there, and the same would happen even in far away India.

    On the other hand, in XIV century Ibn Battuta traveled from his native Morocco to China always interacting with local Muslim community were he would often work as a cleric/jurist, so there was a strong common sense of Umma, but nobody postulates that Moroccan and Chinese Muslim are of the same nationality (more precisely, this is a highly contentious minority view). The boundaries between religions, cultures, nations etc. are overlapping in various ways that are quite fluid over time.

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