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‘Forward’ normalizes idea that some folks ‘hate Israel’

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Lots of folks are passing around an advice column from the Forward titled “When Mr. Right Hates Israel,” in which a 32-year-old woman asks if her relationship with a non-Jewish man who sees Israel as an apartheid state can work. From her plea:

I met a really great guy. I am okay with his non-Jewishness because it will not interfere with my Jewishness or my kids’ Jewishness. I am not okay with his politics on Israel, which he calls an apartheid state. I tell him he hasn’t read enough, but he says the military occupation, settlements and large numbers of Palestinians who have died are all he needs to know. I am a Zionist, my father was born in Israel, and I am wondering if this should be a dealbreaker, or if that is ridiculous and I should just get over it.

She gets three responses, headlined, “Red Flags Only Get Redder,” “It All Depends on Whether You Can Respect One Another,” and “This is a Good Opportunity to Challenge How You View Israel.” The first one is of course Zionist; Harold Berman writes:

Israel is in your heart and soul. This is not as if you were a Democrat, he were a Republican and you had mutually exclusive opinions about health care reform. This goes so much deeper. It is part of who you are, and is also integral to the Judaism you want for yourself and future children.

The last response, by James Ponet, a Yale chaplain, says Israel has had “grand’ achievements but is problematic for many Jews. The piece is a giant step forward. It reflects a real conversation among young Jews, normalizes the idea that people can “hate Israel,” and embodies the Zionist captivity in its premise that it’s no big deal to marry a non-Jew, the issue is how he feels about Israel.

P.S. A year ago I made an argument that George Orwell would hate Israel. I had mixed feelings using the word, but I felt it was earned.

Thanks to Annie and Adam.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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32 Responses

  1. seafoid on July 4, 2014, 9:49 am

    “It is part of who you are, and is also integral to the Judaism you want for yourself and future children.”

    That’s like saying Jewish identity is bipolar. There is the dark side of the torture and the lovely soft Israel of the ad agencies.
    Judaism is not Zionism.

  2. CloakAndDagger on July 4, 2014, 9:51 am

    Much as one may want to see a happy ending for the couple described in your article, the reality is that such a relationship has no chance of success. Their different views on Israel is not something that they are going to be able to rationally discuss (at least she won’t) and come to a mutual compromise, as most married couples do. Unless she is one of those people who has an epiphany as she grows older and is able to distance herself from her zio brainwashing, the relationship is doomed before it starts.

    Annie once told me not to “hate”, so I merely loathe, abhor, and view with complete disdain, the entity known as Israel, and all that it stands for.

    • annie on July 4, 2014, 10:04 am

      thanks for listening C&D

      • CloakAndDagger on July 4, 2014, 10:12 am

        We learn and grow from those with whom we interact, annie.

  3. Donald on July 4, 2014, 9:51 am

    Ponet’s piece was pretty good. Even Snyder’s was positive in the sense that she points out this is a matter of political differences, not a question of whether someone is a Jew or not. The “respect one another” part is a bit iffy, but yes, one often meets people whose political opinions on some issues are horrifying and you should still try to respect them as human beings. Doesn’t mean you should marry them. It might be hard marrying someone who supported Jim Crow or who couldn’t acknowledge Israel’s crimes. I’d tell the guy to move on.

  4. on July 4, 2014, 10:20 am

    How could “Mr. Right” consider marrying a defender of Israel? I don’t see it. This is a farcical scenario.

  5. Citizen on July 4, 2014, 10:49 am

    Not hard to see anybody who believes in any chosen people are a problem for the world, whether it’s American Exceptionalism (topic on Cspan Washington Journal this morning), or Jewish chosenness.

  6. seafoid on July 4, 2014, 10:58 am

    “Israel is in your heart”

    Best advice is to talk to a doctor. Ziocaine can lead to chronic brain farting and severe social embarrassment.

  7. seafoid on July 4, 2014, 11:01 am

    A 32 year old woman could potentially be married for 60 years or more.
    I can’t see Israel lasting that long.

  8. DaBakr on July 4, 2014, 12:18 pm

    News Flash! People Hate Israel. really. tell us something.

    “Normalized”? Its been the best kept non-secret for over 40 years.

    “George Orwell..?” There are many strong arguments to be made that Orwell would like Israel very much and criticize it in others. He might have used his ‘doublespeak’ to define elements of the ‘lawfare’ and Palestinian Hasbara campaign against Israel. No doubt he would find much objectionable though he would have gotten a huge kick out of the term ‘whataboutism’ as one of the more fantastical deflections of all time.

    One of the things that constantly amazes me about this conflict is the desire for all concerned to claim its heroes from all walks of political, military and humanistic walks of life.

    I recently read a good history of Russel Baird who not only had great love for Israel and the core of Zionism but , i believe, would have been outraged at the campaign called pink-washing to belittle the open and protected lifestyle that homosexuals enjoy in Israel by completely ignoring [once again, due to ‘aboutism’] the opposite , evil and deadly way that gays are dealt with in virtually ALL the nations fighting to eradicate the ‘Zionist Entity’*

    * trying to imagine exactly how much Orwell would have ‘hated’ Israel based on just two points:
    a) its treatment of gay people and
    b) its treatment of domesticated animals.
    Orwell would likely have been perceptive enough to see interesting ironies in western perceptions, e.g., how nations like China are portrayed as positively overcoming its former brutalities (forget about its occupation) and making tiny incremental social improvements while Israel is under a microscope for any minute infraction against the lefts constant anguish over human rights abuses. And Saudi Arabia is left alone in the desert.
    Meanwhile, the US power elite w scotus approval continues to invest in privatized prison and security state laws which are slowly but surely leading to the ultimate division of power by setting up the .01% with the money and the people that service their needs in a big extended gated/armed community and EVERYBODY ELSE…. who will just have to continue languishing uneducated, underemployed ,not voting and getting obese and diabetic on cheap crappy food in privately run prisons, ghettos and outlands…..oh, shit, I must be reading too much Orwell.

  9. Kris on July 4, 2014, 12:48 pm

    “I tell him he hasn’t read enough, but he says the military occupation, settlements and large numbers of Palestinians who have died are all he needs to know.”

    Interesting response from Snyder (“It All Depends on Whether You Can Respect One Another”), who writes, “This is, in the end, a political difference, not a religious one. ”

    But since Christianity and Judaism are extremely concerned with human rights and justice, isn’t there actually a profound religious difference here? The man values the tenets of these faiths, while the woman does not, at least where Israel is concerned.

  10. Sycamores on July 4, 2014, 2:12 pm

    can anyone verify this dear John question it feels made up.

  11. traintosiberia on July 4, 2014, 4:59 pm

    Lets reframe one of the responses- ” you are Christian. This is what you are. This is integral to you and your children and their children’ s senses of identities. This is what you are irrespective of your being or not being a republican or Democrat. Not about universal or restrictive health care or daily minimum wages. This is your faith in action for what is taught at school ” this Christian has issue with the prayer in school.
    But his or her identity is not addressed in real life and trying that would face adverse personal TV exposures and law suit by various agencies including federal. She can pine for and pray for. She loses what is integral to her .
    But our Zionist sympathizes never have to worry about any possible collapse of US supports to those projects that she disagrees with her partner which at best a nuisance
    at dinner table and nothing more.

    • DaBakr on July 4, 2014, 7:44 pm

      its not about being exceptional, chosen or different then any other human (though I would say a fundementalist Christian would disagree with your sarcasm) It has to do with identity. While some jews, mostly American no longer want to be identified above all definitions short of ‘human’ most Jews will tell you just as a African American, Palestinian, etc, etc. that thats what they are above all. I think there was a poll done not that many years ago that showed a not insignificant % of American Jews did not identify as ‘white’ in some categories where there was no preference for being either white or not white. Can’t remember the basis of poll (it sounds dumb w/o context) but it cuts to ‘identity’. The same poll also had US Jews stating America was the ‘safest’ place for them to be Jews so it wasn’t a pro-Zionist poll per se.
      I guess there are some things you simply can not relate to unless you are. Folks here say they could “never” really relate to the experience of occupied Palestinians [becuase its so awful, I suppose] and for similar reasons I would say its difficult to explain why being a Jew is different then being a Christian as an identity. But seriously- if you can’t understand that , e.g. Christians in England and Scotland had a distinct tribal identities as both Scottish Clansmen and English while at the same time they identified through Protestent/Catholic sects as well. Well Jews rarely if ever had that experience in either europe, Russia Poland ,Persia or the Arab world where no matter what country they lived in they were Jews first and foremost. Maybe America is changing that dynamic but its far too soon to be acting as if being Jewish and the culture and religions 3000yr relationship with Jerusalem is not an ingrained identity issue.
      Read Merchant of Venice as its as pertinent now as it was back in WS days.
      I also hope you understand that this has little baring on the necessity for Israel to come to a settlement with Palestinians. Israelis may pretend they long to be ‘loved’ but don’t think we’re kidding ourselves that anybody new in the neighborhood is going to be ‘lovin’ on Israel anytime soon

  12. James Canning on July 4, 2014, 7:46 pm

    Maybe “Mr. Right” is helping this babe gain a better understanding of what is going on with Israel/Palestine.

  13. DICKERSON3870 on July 4, 2014, 8:44 pm

    RE: “P.S. A year ago I made an argument that George Orwell would hate Israel. I had mixed feelings using the word, but I felt it was earned.” ~ Philip Weiss

    MY COMMENT: My impression is that George Orwell pretty much disliked all nationalism due to the inevitable collateral damage it causes both intranationally (i.e., to the citizens of the nation), and internationally (i.e., to those outside the nation living in foreign lands). I think it is fair to say that he not only disliked, but that he even hated, certain instances of über-nationalism. Consequently, he might well have hated the kind of über-nationalism represented by today’s Likudnik Israel.

    SEE: “Notes on Nationalism”, by George Orwell, 1945

    [EXCERPTS] . . . All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. . .

    . . . The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. And those who are loudest in denouncing the German concentration camps are often quite unaware, or only very dimly aware, that there are also concentration camps in Russia. Huge events like the Ukraine famine of 1933, involving the deaths of millions of people, have actually escaped the attention of the majority of English russophiles. Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own antisemitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness. In nationalist thought there are facts which are both true and untrue, known and unknown. A known fact may be so unbearable that it is habitually pushed aside and not allowed to enter into logical processes, or on the other hand it may enter into every calculation and yet never be admitted as a fact, even in one’s own mind. . .

    SOURCE (“Notes on Nationalism”, by George Orwell, 1945) –

    • DICKERSON3870 on July 4, 2014, 9:06 pm

      P.S. RE: “the inevitable collateral damage it causes . . . intranationally (i.e., to the citizens of the nation)” . . . ~ me (above)

      FOR INSTANCE: One example of the inevitable collateral damage nationalism causes intranationally (i.e., to the citizens of the nation) is the way it distorts the perceptions and/or thinking of the nation’s citizens as Orwell described in the above excerpt.

    • RoHa on July 5, 2014, 5:48 am

      Not fair! You’ve actually read some Orwell. You are not supposed to base your ideas on what the author actually said when the rest of us just make guesses based on something we half heard years ago. It casts doubts on our entitlement to have opinions on subject about which we know nothing.

      • DICKERSON3870 on July 5, 2014, 9:02 pm

        Thanks. I am not at all that well read, but I have managed to read bits and pieces of Orwell (in addition to Animal Farm and 1984, which almost everyone reads in high school), mostly on the internet. I probably heard about Orwell’s “Notes on Nationalism” by seeing it quoted in an article written by someone* like Chris Hedges (who appears to be extremely well read), although it is possible that it just showed up when I was “googling” something or other.
        My ‘black belt’ in “googling” is worth its weight in gold blood diamonds!

        * FOR INSTANCE, SEE: “We’re Going to War Because We Just Can’t Stop Ourselves”, By Stephen M. Walt, 8/27/13

        [EXCERPT] . . . What is most striking about this affair is how Obama seems to have been dragged, reluctantly, into doing something that he clearly didn’t want to do. He probably knows bombing Syria won’t solve anything or move us closer to a political settlement. But he’s been facing a constant drumbeat of pressure from liberal interventionists and other hawks, as well as the disjointed Syrian opposition and some of our allies in the region. He foolishly drew a “red line” a few months back, so now he’s getting taunted with the old canard about the need to “restore U.S. credibility.” This last argument is especially silly: If being willing to use force was the litmus test of a president’s credibility, Obama is in no danger whatsoever. Or has everyone just forgotten about his decision to escalate in Afghanistan, the bombing of Libya, and all those drone strikes?
        More than anything else, Obama reminds me here of George Orwell in his famous essay “Shooting an Elephant.” Orwell recounts how, while serving as a colonial officer in Burma, he was forced to shoot a rogue elephant simply because the local residents expected an official of the British Empire to act this way, even when the animal appeared to pose no further danger. If he didn’t go ahead and dispatch the poor beast, he feared that his prestige and credibility might be diminished. Like Orwell, Obama seems to be sliding toward “doing something” because he feels he simply can’t afford not to.
        Sad, but also revealing.


      • DICKERSON3870 on July 5, 2014, 10:10 pm

        RE: “an article written by someone* like Chris Hedges (who appears to be extremely well read)” ~ me (above)

        QUASI-CORRECTION: It just dawned on me (10 minutes and a few seconds after I posted it, wouldn’t you just know it) that “well read” might be hyphenated. Upon checking, I find it both ways. It appears that “well read” may predominate in the UK*, while “well-read” probably predominates in the US**. What a b^tch! Bi^ch! Bit^h! Über-bitch (if you’ll “pardon/excuse my French”, so to speak)! ! !

        * OXFORD DICTIONARYS: well read –

        ** MERRIAM-WEBSTER: well-read –

      • DICKERSON3870 on July 5, 2014, 10:41 pm

        RE: “QUASI-CORRECTION” ~ me (above)

        QUASI CORRECTION: It just dawned on me (10 minutes and a few seconds after I posted it, wouldn’t you just know it) that “QUASI-CORRECTION” might not be hyphenated. Then I began to question whether “über-bitch” might not be hyphenated.
        Fortunately, I then decided that I just don’t give a damn anymore.
        All further posts by me will strictly be in Yiddish.

      • just on July 5, 2014, 11:26 pm

        LOL Dickerson!

        You are such a mensch.

        (an informative and dear one at that)

      • DICKERSON3870 on July 6, 2014, 2:23 am

        Mensch! I rather like that.
        As John Huston playing Noah Cross in Chinatown (1974) famously said:

        ‘Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.

        Of course, he also said:

        You’ve got a nasty reputation, Mr. Gittes. I like that.

        SOURCE –

        Chinatown (9/9) Movie CLIP – A Respectable Man (1974) HD –

      • RoHa on July 6, 2014, 2:04 am

        ‘his famous essay “Shooting an Elephant.”’

        Getting a bit OT, but it always annoys me that that one is continually reprinted in American anthologies. It seems to be there for a “lets have a laugh at the British Imperialists” purpose, and included by people who haven’t got the guts to expose Americans to his socialist essays.

        Even more annoying, though, is that the same anthologies also include Thomas’ Child’s Christmas in Wales, and add a footnote that by “catapult” he means a model of a Roman catapult. Anyone who knows British schoolboy English know that a catapult is the thing sticking out of Bart Simpson’s back pocket.

  14. Sumud on July 5, 2014, 3:44 am

    Can I Marry A Zionist?

    I’m a single man in my 30s and I recently met a lovely lady whose age is similar to mine, which is great as we’re both looking to settle down and have kids. She is jewish and I am not, which is fine with me and I don’t have any problems with our kids being raised jewish.
    I do however have problems with her politics on Israel, which I believe practices apartheid against the indigenous population, the Palestinians. She tries to tell me I do not understand the situation and I need further education, but frankly that is bull. The military occupation, the settlements and large number of Palestinians killed by Israel – well, the true nature of the zionist project is self-evident.
    She is a zionist; her father was born in Israel and she just can’t seem to look at the country through objective eyes. I am worried about the confused values her zionism will transmit to our children – that one group can cruelly dominate another – all framed with a lot of talk about the terrible and cruel things done to jews, in particular the shoah.
    There is a terrible contradiction in that kind of logic, and I am wondering if this should be a dealbreaker. To be honest I think I know the answer, but I wanted another perspective to be sure I’m not being ridiculous and should just get over it.

    • adele on July 5, 2014, 5:09 am

      Absolutely brilliant Sumud!

    • annie on July 5, 2014, 5:27 am

      that’s what ran thru my mind too. glad you wrote that sumud.

    • Nevada Ned on July 5, 2014, 11:01 am

      If this were a real letter, I would give this advice:

      Why don’t you and your lady friend actually visit Israel/Palestine and talk to the people there, on all sides. Visit the victims and get their perspective. After your tour, have a heart-to-heart talk with your lady friend.

      Or, if you don’t have the time and money for a trip, both of you should read Max Blumenthal’s recent book Goliath.

      What’s that, you say? Shouldn’t Max’s book be balanced by something on the other side?
      There is NO PROBLEM finding material from Israel’s supporters and defenders, on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox or in the major newspapers.

      • wondering jew on July 5, 2014, 11:20 am

        Nevada Ned- Max’s book is not for people starting on the track of reconsidering Zionism. Rather for people who are already slanted against Israel or have already traveled a distance on the emotional ride of reconsidering Zionism. This woman is not on that track and your suggestion of reading the book is only relevant because you know that you are not communicating with her but playing to the choir here.

  15. hophmi on July 5, 2014, 5:40 pm

    1. If you read the Forward regularly, you would not be surprised by any of this. The Forward has printed critical perspectives on Israel for a long time.

    2. I’d like the numbers on how many Jews there are out there who are engaged enough to care about Israel deeply, care about Judaism deeply, but are considering marrying a Israel-hating gentile. My guess is that the number is exceeding tiny. So once again, you’re taking an unusual anecdote and trying to create the impression that this is more common than it actually is to make a political point about how Israel is more important to Jews than Judaism is.

    3. You’re a little misleading with regard to James Ponet’s perspective. You certainly do not seem to subscribe to either perspective he elucidates. You and most here criticize the flourishing of Jewish culture in Israel. You call in fake, contrived, stolen, etc; you deny there is such a thing as Jewish national culture. And you certainly do not see Israel as an exclusive bulwark.

    My advice would be to end the relationship. If she’s that bothered by it that she felt the need to write to the Forward, it’s obviously too big an issue. Dump this anti-Zionist. There are plenty of good Jewish men out there who have the intelligence to understand politics at something other than a child’s level.

    • tree on July 5, 2014, 7:20 pm

      There are plenty of good Jewish men out there who have the intelligence to understand politics at something other than a child’s level.

      And then there are Zionists.

      I wonder why the the male in question in what appears to be a hypothetical situation is not an anti-Zionist Jew. It seems to me to be a more likely scenario for a Jewish woman who has such a co-dependent relationship with Israel. Although the hypothetical is interesting in that the anti-Zionist gentile is not portrayed as an anti-Semite. He has no objection to her faith or to raising their children as Jews.

    • Sumud on July 6, 2014, 6:10 am

      Such revolting cynicism – the idea that advocating universal human rights and Never Again for ALL people indicates a lack of intelligence and a childish mentality.

      Tell me hophmi – did you have relatives who were killed in the nazi holocaust?

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