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‘Embracing Democracy’ event at DC Jewish community center broaches the Nakba

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On Wednesday night, Jan 23, I attended what seemed to be two more Washington DC area Jewish community programs spouting the standard pro-Israel messages.  By the end of the evening I realized that we may in fact have heard the next iteration of the so called mainstream Jewish Community messaging on Israel and Palestine.

First some background.  The leadership of the Washington DC Jewish Community skews heavily older, male and right wing, which is no surprise, and the local programs on Israel normally reflect their views.  One exciting exception is Theater J, our local Jewish Community Theater Company based in the DC Jewish Community Center and funded partially by the local Federation.  Theater J’s annual “Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival” features contemporary work from Israel about all current issues and is known for presenting diverse views and excellent discussion programs with speakers representing all segments.

Needless to say, the programs are controversial and significant elements on the far right in the community are lobbying heavily to cut off Federation funding for Theater J.  Partially surrendering to this element Theater J downgraded their scheduled showing of “The Admission” An Israeli homage to All My Sons set in Haifa during the first Intifada from a full production to a workshop with a reduced schedule.  In addition, to show balance they added a two week long production of “Golda’s Balcony” to the schedule.

The JCC also started a new series of programs, “Embracing Democracy” which it describes as, “…a community-wide conversation with leading experts exploring the relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel, its history and its politics.”  The program is hardly diverse leaving out major segments of the Jewish community and totally ignoring the perspective of Palestinian citizens of Israel.  Wednesday, due to bad weather, two of these programs were held back to back at a local synagogue instead of the DCJCC to accommodate high ticket sales.

The first program, “Examining the History of 1948” was a panel discussion followed by a conversation with Ari Shavit, author of “My Promised Land:  The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel” in conversation with Leon Wieseltier, Literary Editor of The New Republic.  The room was almost full with about 1,000 people almost all of whom were well over 60.  I won’t waste time reporting the standard pro-Israel messages that permeated the program, especially the meaningless love fest between Shavit and Wieseltier.

What I believe to be significant is that we heard a new narrative for the events of 1948.  Donna Robinson Divine, Professor of Jewish Studies and Government at Smith College was the first speaker on the 1948 panel.  She admitted that there are many conflicting narratives about the War of Independence and the Nakba.  While she started by denigrating the concept of the Nakba she went on to admit that Israel did in fact forcibly evict Palestinians during the War of Independence.

Even more significant was Shay Hazkani, a doctoral candidate at NYU in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History.  Hazkani is studying the conflict through personal letters of Israeli and Arab soldiers intercepted and copied by Israeli intelligence.  He has found documents in the Israeli government archives documenting David Ben Gurion’s deliberate effort to re-write the history of the Nakba in the early 1960s to reduce political pressure on Israel to make peace.  Ben Gurion persuaded Israeli historians and propagandists to create the myth of voluntary relocation at the urging of Arab governments.  The Israeli government denies this yet for the DC Jewish Community to give Hazkani a significant platform seems very significant, especially in light of the final panel presentation.

Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer is President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America and widely known as a leading pro-Israel educator and historian.  His presentation can be summed up simply as, sure, we did it but Israel was morally justified and besides who cares?

His remarks included comments like, “Does knowledge change our identity?” and “Selective memory is legitimate”.  Maybe most telling of all, “Does a new variable change things?  No, facts don’t create identity.”

During the very short Q&A after the panel and then in the Shavit discussion we heard much of the same thing.  Lots of rationalization, discussion of the Holocaust, how Europe abandoned Israel in 1967 and 73 all boiling down to Israel is the paragon of virtue.  Sure it did a few bad things in 1948 but we were justified and besides every nation was born in war.

Why you may ask is this significant?  It is clear to many of us that Israel is losing the American public relations battle. Apparently some American Jewish “leaders” have realized that the truth is coming out about the Nakba so they have to modify their propaganda.  Wednesday night the loyal audience of 60 + year old Israel supporters seemed to eat it up.

Shavit lamented that the audience was of the older generation and that the Israel message is not reaching American Jewish youth.  He acknowledges that younger people are seeing through the fiction and demand the truth but seems to honestly believe that Americans will accept this modified and limited truth while continuing to place all the blame for the conflict on Palestinians and other Arab countries-.

Personally, I see this new messaging as an opportunity.  As more American Jewish leaders admit that Israel did in fact deliberately evict Palestinians and that the Nakba is real it will be much easier to show that the issue is not one-sided.  Hopefully this apparent legitimatization of the Palestinian narrative will open the hearts and minds of many Americans to the truth about Israel and result in significantly more pressure on American and Israeli leaders to end the occupation and negotiate fairly with Palestinians.

Seth Morrison
About Seth Morrison

Seth Morrison is the Coordinator of the Las Vegas Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace and a member of the national JVP Board of Directors.

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43 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    January 24, 2014, 12:50 pm

    RE: His (Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer’s) remarks included comments like, “Does knowledge change our identity?” and “Selective memory is legitimate”. Maybe most telling of all, “Does a new variable change things? No, facts don’t create identity.” ~ Seth Morrison

    IN OTHER WORDS: “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but facts will never sway us!” ~ Neocon Creed

    P.S. I can easily imagine Jim Jones (of the Peoples Temple) making Kurtzner’s comments!

  2. Donald
    Donald
    January 24, 2014, 1:15 pm

    I think there are still a fair number of people in propaganda bubbles who don’t know about the Nakba–in fact, as far as ordinary Americans are concerned, it’s probably a small percentage. It’d be good to see polls on this if any exist. Hophmi sometimes says polls show most Americans side with Israel and that seems plausible to me, but I wonder if any of those polls have tested what Americans know or think they know about the conflict.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      January 25, 2014, 5:48 am

      @ Donald
      If they know anything about the subject at all, they know something akin to “Yeah, testy, tiny baby Israel in her crib beat off hoards of Arab armies, and always beats them up, and Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East! Israel’s like our extra air craft carrier over there.”

  3. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    January 24, 2014, 1:21 pm

    Every day that Israel survives w/o significant criticism seems a day of remission (as of a cancer victim hoping for more days of life). They see time as on their side, creating more “facts on the ground” and otherwise (they hope) cementing their place on the map (their ever bigger place on the map, Iran’s statements notwithstanding). You never win a battle by giving up, and they are not giving up.

    Israel cannot be expected to give up. But why do American Jews stay with this awful business? They’ve been taught to believe that all Jews are one family, but why do they believe it? They’ve been taught to believe that all Jews are in danger, but why do they still believe it?

    And (curiously) they denounce intermarriage because it would reduce the number of Jews in the world — but it would also reduce the CUMULATIVE danger to all Jews because when there are no more Jews left (but only a lot of intermarried folks of Jewish background), there will no longer be danger to Jews! Odd!

    • wondering jew
      wondering jew
      January 24, 2014, 6:17 pm

      “They’ve been taught to believe that all Jews are one family, but why do they believe it?” Pabelmont- With this line you are pursuing the “you ain’t no kin to pa” strategy. If only Jews would feel no kinship to fellow Jews then things would be fine. I guess that the odds are better to get Jews to feel no kinship to their fellow Jews rather than convincing them that their kinship requires change for practical reasons (or moral reasons).

      Then you write this nonsense:

      “And (curiously) they denounce intermarriage because it would reduce the number of Jews in the world — but it would also reduce the CUMULATIVE danger to all Jews because when there are no more Jews left (but only a lot of intermarried folks of Jewish background), there will no longer be danger to Jews! Odd!”

      If you are serious about this then you are obtuse. And if you are not serious about this I will let it pass. If you are indeed serious, then comment and we will have at it over this stupidity. Which can be summed up by, why not baptise yourselves or commit suicide and then all your troubles will be over. (Yes, I know that death and intermarriage are different, but baptism and intermarriage, more similar than not. ) Please tell me that you’re not serious, because I don’t recall ever reading anything so obtuse from you before.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        January 24, 2014, 8:20 pm

        Thank you brave Wondering Jew.

        Keep on Wondering.

      • talknic
        talknic
        January 24, 2014, 10:48 pm

        yonah fredman “If only Jews would feel no kinship to fellow Jews then things would be fine”

        If you say so. No one else has. Over reaction to what was actually said is typical of idiots for Israel’s illegal expansionism

        “I guess that the odds are better to get Jews to feel no kinship to their fellow Jews rather than convincing them that their kinship requires change for practical reasons (or moral reasons).”

        You then take your strawman and try to dance with it

        “Then you write this nonsense”

        It’s logic, no one dies because of it, no one is persecuted by it. People can still retain their history. It doesn’t change anyone genes, lineage, heritage, diet. In fact it doesn’t change ANYTHING important to survival as a person or a species.

        Too many people have already been slaughtered because of the belief in mytical beings and their mythical promises, failure to integrate, the prevention of integration, tribalism, et al. Many minorities have been absorbed without anyone being slaughtered and we are just another minority.

        “Which can be summed up by, why not baptise yourselves or commit suicide and then all your troubles will be over”

        More over reaction = more straw

        “Please tell me that you’re not serious, because I don’t recall ever reading anything so obtuse from you before”

        More dancing with your own strawman

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 24, 2014, 11:13 pm

        @talknic – yonah fredman “If only Jews would feel no kinship to fellow Jews then things would be fine”
        (you) “If you say so. No one else has. ”

        No one… except all serious critics of nationalism and of the butcheries of the latter centuries.
        Now, in the case of a completely invented (in fact pulled entirely out of some dreamer’s ass) nationalism like Zionism, that makes a lot more sense.
        Let’s not get again into that too easily destructed “common culture” nonsense, or into “facts on the ground by the nationalist bandits.
        Kinship feelings based on myth instead of immediately perceivable actual kinship have been the cause of major wars and millions of casualties and are waiting to cause even more.

      • talknic
        talknic
        January 27, 2014, 5:17 pm

        @ puppies // “If you say so. No one else has. ”//

        yonah fredman was addressing Pabelmont

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 28, 2014, 7:46 am

        @talknic – and I was disagreeing with pabelmont’s response. Where is the problem?

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        January 24, 2014, 11:50 pm

        The Jews have had a difficult time surviving. But pabelmont says, why struggle surviving, why not disappear?

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 25, 2014, 12:16 am

        @friedman – “The Jews have had a difficult time surviving. But pabelmont says, why struggle surviving, why not disappear?”
        Disappear? Thanks to our horribly limited brains, religious superstition unfortunately seems set to survive for a very long time. It can be practiced anywhere in the world and it is not like the old times, when you’d get insulted by the godless for trying to set up a team of ten. Everybody and his brother seems to have got religion in the meantime, kippas galore even in the deepest South. Where did you see anything disappearing?

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        January 25, 2014, 12:22 am

        “But pabelmont says, why struggle surviving, why not disappear?”

        No, he doesn’t recommend that any individual human being disappear. He suggest that Jews stop transferring the idea of being Jews to their children. No-one disappears.

      • talknic
        talknic
        January 25, 2014, 4:59 am

        yonah “The Jews have had a difficult time surviving. But pabelmont says, why struggle surviving, why not disappear?”

        Disappearance by assimilation has been common throughout history. People survive it. They don’t die.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        January 25, 2014, 4:59 am

        Palestine is disappearing. Palestinian society is disintegrating.

        The Palestinian people are becoming ‘warehoused’.

        But Wondering Jew thinks the comments of some random guy on the Internet take precedence.

        Thank you courageous Wondering Jew. Thank you for speaking truth to power!

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        January 25, 2014, 5:08 am

        yonah doesn’t care, if humans of Jewish heritage survive. They have to survive as Jews. Otherwise their survival is irrelevant.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        January 25, 2014, 7:10 am

        “The Jews have had a difficult time surviving. But pabelmont says, why struggle surviving, why not disappear?”

        Yes but what is the value of a Judaism stripped of Menschkeit?
        Name one Mensch in the Zionist leadership either stateside or in the disneyland.

      • pabelmont
        pabelmont
        January 25, 2014, 7:06 am

        I thank the commenters who defended my offhand remark.

        And I don’t think YF is all wrong, because he seems to allow for change (of some sort, anyhow, somewhere, and among somebody — needs to be better spelled out) for moral reasons. Perhaps he allows for American Jews to reduce their support for Israel for moral reasons whilst still maintaining a sense of single “people” or “family”.

        But I am not only offhand but also serious: how shall we explain the pro-Israel mentality based on fear of oppression (paranoia) among Jews who stay outside Israel but, politically anyhow, wrap themselves in the nominal prayershawls of fear and abandon the traditional-modern (if not ancient) prayershawls of universal morality? And if Judaism outside orthodox circles has been reduced to a belief in fear and the need to protect Israel despite all its crimes (especially the irreducible, unrepented, and unremediated crime of 1948), then what is the point of maintaining in such awful danger a “Jewish” population outside Israel, especially by trying to prevent intermarriage?

        I think the young see this. Judaism as fear, Judaism as pro-Israelism, have nothing for the young. They believe they have lives to lead and have no need to be chained to valueless, unpleasant, immoral fear and my-country-over-the-seas-right-or-wrong-but-mostly-wrong-while-I-live-in-America.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        January 25, 2014, 10:04 am

        seafoid, “Menschkeit”

        It’s either “Menschheit”, meaning human kind, mankind, or it’s “Menschlichkeit” which means humanity, benevolence, brotherliness, philanthropy. In a nutshell: The second suggests a specific type of conduct towards others. The first is a general term for all humans.

        That’s why crimes against humanity in German is Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit and not against mankind (die Menschheit).

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 27, 2014, 5:10 am

        @Leander – I believe that what Seafoid had there was Jiddisch usage,
        where Mensch= person with integrity and compassion (not just irgendwelcher Mensch.) I had heard “Menschkeit” used to express this concept. Of course in Standard German Menschlichkeit would have been used, but not as a full synonym.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        January 27, 2014, 5:16 am

        I believe that what Seafoid had there was Jiddisch usage

        The correct Yiddish form would be menshlichkeit (or menshheit for “humankind”), as LeaNder points out for the German.

        See http://www.cs.uky.edu/~raphael/yiddish/harkavy/0222.png

      • puppies
        puppies
        January 27, 2014, 5:44 am

        @Shmuel – Agreed re correct wording. That’s why I mentioned having heard it that way ((just once, so not established.)

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        January 27, 2014, 6:28 am

        puppies,

        I suspect it’s an Americanism. The Yiddish speakers I grew up with always used menshlichkeit.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        January 27, 2014, 6:58 am

        puppies, we can use Mensch (capitalization of nouns) the same way as it is used in Jiddisch too. You couldn’t use Menschlichkeit for a person anyway since it is an abstract. It’s a noun based on an adjective. If we are to go down to word formation.

        The German Wikipedia article on Menschlichkeit links to humanitas But obviously the specific Jiddisch use of mensch and the concept of Menschlichkeit or menshlichkeit are related.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        January 26, 2014, 2:11 am

        Pabelmont- You have turned your original statement into: “And if Judaism outside orthodox circles has been reduced to a belief in fear and the need to protect Israel despite all its crimes (especially the irreducible, unrepented, and unremediated crime of 1948), then what is the point of maintaining in such awful danger a “Jewish” population outside Israel, especially by trying to prevent intermarriage?” I hope I don’t need to point out that this statement with its provisos and explanations is substantially different from your original statement.

        I was born into this world alone, an individual and this is highly significant in terms of how I view this world and myself. And neither do I reject the significance of the survival of individuals, no matter what their origin. I was also born into a family and families have been and will continue to be significant units or tools of human development for the foreseeable future. And thus the group or tribe which is made up of families, although less essential a unit than the family is in fact an extension of family and cannot be ignored (and the consequences of individualism are both positive and negative and ignoring the negatives of individualism will not make those negatives disappear.)

        Thus all people that are born into this world have a right to survive as individuals and thus the idea that he who kills one human kills an entire world. But while cognizant of this, I am also cognizant that Jewish group survival has been a struggle and it is feasible that the Jewish group doesn’t add enough to the planet to make its survival worthy of the effort, but there is also the possibility that Jewish group survival has contributed plenty through its scholarship and thought patterns to have contributed to the human species. But I think that the desire to see the Jewish group survive is natural. Not as natural as the desire of the individual unit for survival, but nonetheless we see the desire of groups to survive and we accept this desire as natural all the time. And the survival of the Jews as a group has been no easy thing and I oppose those who are cavalier and mocking in their espousal of the disbandment of the Jews. The disbandment of the Jews as a group espoused here (where this espousal of disbandment exists for no other group) is an anti Jewish espousal.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        January 26, 2014, 3:06 am

        “but there is also the possibility that Jewish group survival has contributed plenty through its scholarship and thought patterns to have contributed to the human species. ”

        If the possibility were a reality, that would count as an answer to the question, “Why should there be Jews?” However, it does not answer the question I raised in a post that did not make it past the mods. I will repeat it here and see if it gets through.

        Pablemont says that American Jews in general believe that all Jews are in danger. Let us assume, for the moment, that they are, in fact, in danger. Which is more important to you?
        (a) That there be Jews, even if they are in danger or actually suffering.
        (b) That the descendants of Jews be free from any particular danger or suffering that results from being Jewish.

        If it is true that all Jews are in danger, a and b are mutually exclusive.

        Of course, you may reject the assumption, but then you are rejecting the position that Pablemont is ascribing to American Jews in general. If you reject it, why fuss about what he says?

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        January 26, 2014, 3:08 am

        “But I think that the desire to see the Jewish group survive is natural.”

        It may well be, but that does not make it sensible or right.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        January 26, 2014, 3:12 am

        “The disbandment of the Jews as a group espoused here (where this espousal of disbandment exists for no other group)”

        I think I have, in previous posts, made it clear that I find nothing wrong with the disbandment of other groups.

        “is an anti Jewish espousal.”

        If the maintenance of the Jews as a group is bad for the members of that group (the aspect we are concentrating on here) or for the human race as a whole, then this anti Jewish espousal is not bad.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        January 26, 2014, 4:21 am

        RoHa:

        If the maintenance of the Jews as a group is bad for the members of that group (the aspect we are concentrating on here) or for the human race as a whole, then this anti Jewish espousal is not bad.

        That’s a big “if”. Would you care to be forthright and say if you thought maintenance of Jews as a group is bad for Jews?

        Do you have a list of groups you’d like to see eliminated as groups because you believe those groupings are bad for the individuals involved, for whatever reason?

        Should Tibetans disband as a group in the face of Chinese nationalism? Should indigenous tribes around the world give up their struggles for group-autonomy and dissolve into atomistic individuals in conformity with their surrounding individualistic-capitalistic societies because that would be the safer route for the individuals involved?

        Should human groups never stand and defend their group-identity if that defense runs the danger of harming the individuals that make up the group?

        Do you think your radical ontological, political and cultural individualism forms a moral standard that should be preached to all human collectivities, if not imposed on them?

        You’ve stated on various occasions that you would like to see all group rights, such as the right of self-determination for peoples , eliminated from international law. Do you also wish to see indigenous rights eliminated from international law? What about prohibitions on cultural genocide ?

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        January 26, 2014, 5:26 am

        RoHa:

        (a) That there be Jews, even if they are in danger or actually suffering

        Assuming, arguendo, that the danger is real, there are three main options:

        1) Reduce or eliminate Jewishness, thus reducing/eliminating the danger.

        2) Accept that Jews must live with the danger.

        3) Reduce or eliminate the danger, thus allowing Jewishness to flourish.

        On what grounds are you promoting option 1 as theoretically the best response to the assumed danger?

        RoHa : “[yonah:]but there is also the possibility that Jewish group survival has contributed plenty through its scholarship and thought patterns to have contributed to the human species. ”

        If the possibility were a reality, that would count as an answer to the question, “Why should there be Jews?”

        Your statement implies that human groups need to justify their existence by reference to some standard of value by which “contributions to the human species” can be measured.

        That seems highly dubious if not downright dangerous to me.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        January 26, 2014, 8:48 pm

        @ Siberiak. (What is wrong with the reply buttons?)

        “Would you care to be forthright and say if you thought maintenance of Jews as a group is bad for Jews?”

        If I can be forthright and tentative at the same time, I will say that I suspect that the maintenance of Jewishness and Jews as a group is bad for Jews. However, I do not have sufficient knowledge to hold that idea as anything but a vague suspicion.

        “Do you have a list of groups …?”

        No.

        “Should Tibetans disband as a group in the face of Chinese nationalism? Should indigenous tribes around the world give up their struggles for group-autonomy”

        Perhaps. I would think that it would vary on a case-by-case basis. Conformity with the surrounding society (individualistic-capitalistic or not) needs to be seriously considered.

        “Do you think your radical ontological, political and cultural individualism forms a moral standard that should be preached to all human collectivities, if not imposed on them?”

        Suggesting the option of conforming to the surrounding society (as I do) doesn’t sound like “political and cultural individualism”. No harm in preaching such a view. Imposing it would probably be wrong in most if not all circumstances.

        “You’ve stated on various occasions that you would like to see all group rights, such as the right of self-determination for peoples , eliminated from international law. Do you also wish to see indigenous rights eliminated from international law?”

        I have stated that I am sceptical of the notion of group rights in general, and very sceptical of group rights which are not derived from individual rights. I have said that if there is such a right as the right to self-determination, it is a right of the group made up of all the people in the territory.

        I am referring, as I usually do, to moral rights, not legal rights. I think that the legal rights of international law should match moral rights. I don’t recall saying they should be eliminated from international law.

        “What about prohibitions on cultural genocide ?”

        I do not like the term “genocide” used for situations which do not involve actual killing. I think it promotes moral confusion.

        And it is by no means clear to me what counts as “destruction of a culture”, or under what circumstances it would be bad to do destroy a culture. Does selling Big Macs in Malaysia count as destroying Malay culture? Does condemning the FGM count as destroying a culture? I think not.

        Are the Chinese destroying Tibetan culture? From this distance, it appears so, and (since I have a great admiration for Vajrayana philosophy) I am not happy about it.

        Was King Mohammed Zahir Shah destroying traditional Afghan culture during the 50s and 60s? From this distance, it appears so, and, had his modernization programmes continued, I think Afghans would have been benefitted from it.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        January 27, 2014, 11:35 pm

        @ Siberiak

        (Hard getting these long posts through moderation!)

        “3) Reduce or eliminate the danger, thus allowing Jewishness to flourish.”

        The paranoia Pabelmont referred to seems to exclude this option, so I have not asked Yonah about it.

        Your 1 and 2 are equivalent to my b and a respectively.

        “On what grounds are you promoting option 1 as theoretically the best response to the assumed danger?”

        I was asking Yonah to choose between them.

        I would choose 1 because I see little value in maintaining Jewishness and great value in human beings having full, flourishing, lives free from danger and suffering.

        ‘RoHa : “[yonah:]but there is also the possibility that Jewish group survival has contributed plenty through its scholarship and thought patterns to have contributed to the human species. ”

        If the possibility were a reality, that would count as an answer to the question, “Why should there be Jews?”

        Your statement implies that human groups need to justify their existence by reference to some standard of value by which “contributions to the human species” can be measured.’

        Nonsense. I said it was an answer. There are plenty of other possible answers.

        E.g.
        c “Because Jews want there to be Jews.”
        d “Why shouldn’t there be Jews? No entity or group needs any justification for its existence unless it has been deemed detrimental to the common good.”

        Yonah thinks it is very important that there be Jews. I have, in the past, asked him why he thinks that, and the contribution issue has been one of his responses. He is saying why it is important. This does not imply that either he or I believe that groups need to justify their existence.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        January 29, 2014, 8:35 am

        @RoHa Thanks for the thoughtful responses to my posts. . I actually agree with you on a number of points, but I think we disagree on the fundamental value of collective identities vs. living as an individual “free from danger and suffering”. I could say a lot more, but it seems like this thread is moribund, so I’ll leave it at that.

      • yrn
        yrn
        January 27, 2014, 7:03 am

        pabelmont
        Most of the residence of this blog are supporting Assad that is killing his own nation and the Palestinians on the reason, that the man Assad, as the leader of Syria has to defend his country, and by defending it means, he should do everything needed, meaning kill civilians, kill Palestinians if it serves his position to defend his country, the moral issue is put aside, as the man has to do his job.
        Do u defend this rational.

  4. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    January 24, 2014, 3:02 pm

    ” It is clear to many of us that Israel is losing the American public relations battle. ” And this “losing the American public relation battle” is only growing. What this crowd is not getting there is no way to go back to the times where keeping accurate information about the conflict etc out of the public’s eye was easy. There is no going back. One state or the clear realization that Israel is an apartheid state…

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      January 25, 2014, 8:01 am

      “There is no going back. One state or the clear realization that Israel is an apartheid state”
      Dead right, Kathleen. Nailed it .
      Khalaas !!!! Ma yin f*cking fash (Ma yin fash is Cairo dialect for “that is not going to fly)

      They can either face it, woman up and start thinking about a sustainable future

      Or they bring the whole thing crashing down

      Bruised internally eternally
      you praised little hasbara gifts you spent money on
      that didn’t amount to anything
      A kind of weight you couldn’t lift
      even if your cheap IDF career depended on it
      I need someone much more mysterious

  5. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    January 24, 2014, 7:15 pm

    I see it as an opening of the door for a comprehensive settlement and peace, which includes acknowledging the suffering and losses of the displaced Palestinians, seeks to compensate them, and opens a door for reconciliation; if not a right to return, then a right to visit maybe? A Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital? A right to be paid off for compromising all future claims? Feels like tectonic plates are moving in Israel. Obama-Kerry-Netanyahu-Lieberman moving them. Right wing fringe in Israel and their American Neo-con allies going postal, but military-intelligence leadership on-board, maybe driving (remember closing line of The Gatekeepers – must avoid Israel winning all battles but losing war, (having been all tactics, no strategy). It feels like the real power structure in Israel is testing out/prepping the American Jewish establishment for a big framework proposal. It’s this plus peace with Iran, or its war with Iran, BDS going mainstream, next Intifada, and would the US really join us in going to war in Iran? Kerry saying so, Obama saying so, but everyone working on peace, and we saw what Obama’s word tied to red-lines on going to war meant in Syria. I.e., squat. Feinstein, Debbie W-S in the loop, holding line, taking heat, keeping quiet, rest of AIPAC Neocon war machine not in loop, trying to amp up pressure, but not working.

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      January 24, 2014, 11:23 pm

      David Doppler:

      …if not a right to return, then a right to visit maybe?

      Maybe free tickets for a 3-day Nakba Memorial Tour, then back to the refugee camps?

      It feels like the real power structure in Israel is testing out/prepping the American Jewish establishment for a big framework proposal.

      Norman Finkelstein explains quite well what’s going on in Israel at the moment:

      http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/israeli_palestinian_talks_an_update

      (1) Israel’s appetite has increased with eating

      [Kerry] didn’t anticipate the dynamic whereby with each mouthful, Israel’s hunger increases. Seeing how weak the PA is, and how accommodating Kerry is, some Israelis now figure, why not ask for more?

      So they throw in a demand for a fourth settlement bloc; they throw in Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state”; they throw in annexation of the Jordan Valley—none of which was salient in the Annapolis negotiations. At Annapolis, the Israeli position on the Jordan Valley was exactly what Kerry is now offering—the presence of an international force, while minor technical disputes such as control over the electromagnetic spectrum still had to be resolved. But some Israelis are now thinking, What the hell, we’ve got the room, why not ask for the whole house?

      What’s more, they might be right. The Palestinians are politically so weak, perhaps Israel really can get a lot more. […]

      (2) Inside Israel, the politicking phase has begun

      Inside Israel, different interest groups and lobbies are aligning themselves. One group that has come to the fore in recent days are what Noam Chomsky calls the “rational capitalists.” For these very wealthy business elites, “Israel” is just a pinprick on the map. They have a more grandiose vision. They want to create something akin to a Greater Middle East Co-Prosperity Sphere, with Israel playing the role of Japan.

      There has been a significant rapprochement recently between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and not a day passes without a report of Israeli officials travelling to some meeting in the Gulf. These rational capitalists now see an opportunity to realise their regional (even global) ambitions by ending the conflict with the Palestinians. They don’t want a stupid little thing like the Jordan Valley to stand in the way of an opening in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

      But the stake that a lot of Israelis have developed in an on-going conflict also shouldn’t be underestimated. Defence Minister Ya’alon, who has been mouthing off about Israel retaining the Jordan Valley, is a good example. Ya’alon is perfectly aware that the Jordan Valley has zero strategic value. But he has outsize influence in Israeli society because he’s a military man in a highly militarised society.

      […] In Israel right now, the various interest groups are lining up on one side or the other. So, the rational capitalists and centrist politicians like Tzipi Livni favour an agreement, while the settler stalwarts, Zionist ideologues and elements of the military establishment oppose it. Then there are people like Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Lieberman, for whom it is a primarily political issue. Netanyahu wants to remain in power and Lieberman wants to succeed him, so they have to balance the competing interest groups and also be careful not to offend Washington.

      (3) The Palestinians remain a null factor

      The third factor is noteworthy by its absence: the Palestinians. The Palestinians know they’re being steamrollered. In all the coverage now, they’re basically a footnote.

      […] The poles of the debate are now being established as, on one extreme, the Kerry proposal (in essence, the Israeli position at Annapolis), and on the other extreme, those within Israel who don’t want to give up anything. The Palestinian position has vanished from the debate. Palestinians will protest when the steamroller runs over them, at which point everyone will say, “Are you still talking about the settlement blocs? That was already agreed upon.” And the Palestinians will then appear to be the spoilers.

      What is the upshot of these three factors? A framework agreement will be reached shortly. Tzipi Livni and Yitzchak Molcho wouldn’t have gone to Washington otherwise—they’re down to the details now. The Palestinians are due to visit next week, when they’ll be given their marching orders.

      The Palestinian leadership will continue to posture, out of its usual alloy of stupidity and desperation. In Israel, the politicking will continue. As happened in South Africa during the 1980s, the rational capitalists will split off from the ideological true-believers. Interest blocs will crystallize and there will probably be an election. My guess is, those in favour of ending the conflict will win.

      • David Doppler
        David Doppler
        January 26, 2014, 12:51 pm

        Thanks, Sibiriak. Great link. And, consistent with Finkelstein’s analysis and with the “new hasbara” preparing various audiences in Israel and the US for the framework for peace, here’s another shoe dropping (by Professor Yehezkel Dror):

        “The bitter pill Israel must swallow if it wants peace:
        Israel cannot live as a state of denial any longer. It must relinquish dreams for a ‘Greater Israel’ and actively seek peace in the region, but will need a new framework for such revolutionary deeds.”
        http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.566828

  6. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    January 24, 2014, 8:02 pm

    Well, I guess it’s progress of a sort. In the classic Zionist mythology (think of “Exodus”) the Jews not only had nothing to do with the Palestinians’ expulsion but, in fact, tried to get them to stay!

    Now the meme is changing to got to “got to break them eggs to make that omelet.” The Palestinians had to be ethnically cleansed because that was the only way to get the Jewish state they wanted. And Ethnic Cleansing is more “humane” than genocide.

    Do you think Shavit, et al know how evil that sounds?

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont
      January 25, 2014, 7:17 am

      Chick — it does sound evil to those whose ears are attuned to such evil. But Israelis hid from it for years and now enjoy the fruit of it and say, well, that’s water under the bridge.

      The question is what non-Israelis think and feel about it. Many, doubtless, think it evil, but also think that it is not their problem. As Israelis are fond of saying, there is a lot of evil in the world and theirs is not the only evil. Think of Tibet (also 1948). (Nice of Isrfaelis to admit to their own evil. We Americans don’t, mostly.)

      The glory of BDS is that it allows a fairly effortless morality-of-action. Cutting trade with Israel does not mean doing-without for most people. Suspending commercial air-traffic with Israel would be a possible state-sanction which would impose no difficulty on most people. Removal of ambassadors, ditto.

  7. Citizen
    Citizen
    January 25, 2014, 5:31 am

    There’s a National Summit in Washington DC next March 7, topic is US-Israel Special Relationship: http://natsummit.org/NatSummitFlyer.pdf

  8. Citizen
    Citizen
    January 25, 2014, 6:22 am

    Elsewhere, more stuff going on besides DCJCC’s. Jewish Community Relations Council for Minnesota & Dakotas head claimed that Allison Weir talks “only give half the picture” regarding US aid to Israel, so she has invited him to debate her organization’s next public discussion on the subject, “Should we keep giving aid to Israel?”
    http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/news/the-cost-of-israel-to-the-us/item/3286-cni-challenges-jcrc-to-debate-us-foreign-aid-to-israel

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