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Question for the American Jewish Establishment: Where does Zionism end and Judaism begin?

Israel/Palestine
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It has happened again.  The rift between America’s Jewish Establishment and young, liberal-minded Jews has widened in the wake of the Gaza War.  Synagogues, Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Councils, Rabbinical Boards and all three major Jewish movements (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) from Detroit and Cleveland to New York and Miami have thrown their unconditional support behind Israel.

In the past few weeks, virtually every Jewish communal institution in the United States has organized, sponsored or participated in rallies to ‘support Israel’ or ‘stand with Israel,’ ambiguous language which actually means ‘stand with’ or ‘support’ the policies of the current Israeli government.  Jews would certainly dispute this point, and emphasize that Israel is not perfect.

But I am not aware of a single rally organized by a single Jewish institution of the kind described above to have opposed the policies of the current Israeli government.  If Israel is indeed imperfect, as we are so often told by its supporters, what are imperfections?  I’m sure this magazine would gladly publish a statement criticizing Israeli policies signed by all the major Jewish organizations.

But there were no critical rallies at synagogues or Jewish Community Centers just as there were no statements from the major Jewish movements criticizing Israel.

Of course, there have always been Jewish groups to oppose Israel’s actions, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, but they remain at the margins of the ‘the Jewish Establishment,’ and have long been left out of organizations such as The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations – an organization which itself includes almost as many self-described ‘Zionist’ organizations as it does Jewish.  Where does Zionism end and Judaism begin?

Our parents generation – people in their 50s and 60s – was prepared to stand behind their naughty better half across the Atlantic in good times and bad.   But younger Americans, Jews no exception, have found themselves increasingly at odds with Israel’s actions.

Photos taken from pro-Israel rallies across the U.S. in the previous weeks suggest that the pro-Israel crowds were overwhelming aging adults (see Los Angeles and Chicago, for instance).  The pro-Palestine crowds were noticeably younger (see, for instance, Washington D.C. and Baltimore).

Two recent polls taken about American attitudes towards the current Gaza War suggest that Americans, as a whole, are reflective of the Jewish community:

Younger Americans were three times less likely to show sympathy with Israel than were older Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll taken on July 23.  Older Americans were much likelier to say Israel’s actions were justified: 55 percent of those over 65; 53 percent of those between 50 and 64; 36 percent of those 30-49 and just 25 percent of those 18-29.

In a Pew poll conducted only a few days later in late July, the numbers were equally remarkable: 29 percent of adults aged 18-29 held Israel more responsible for the conflict and 21 percent blamed Hamas.

The trend is undeniable, and its worrying pro-Israel propagandists, who are now speaking about it openly.  Americans in general are less likely today to consider Israel’s response to Hamas “appropriate” than they were during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, down to 34 percent compared with 50 percent.

Peter Beinart blamed what he called the refusal of the American Jewish world to foster a Zionism that challenges Israel’s behavior.  He argued that the Jewish establishment has increasingly found itself married to an abusive partner, Israel, while younger American Jews have increasingly been asked to “check their liberalism at Zionism’s door.” As it turns out, “to their horror, they [the establishment] are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead.”

Whatever one thinks about the Gaza War – the reverberations set off by Peter Beinart’s now classic essay, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” are as loud today as ever, and should send all Jewish professional reeling back in their armchairs.

Israel may still be winning the public relations war in America, but it’s only a matter of time before people my age begin to reach positions of power and influence.  Who are the New Jews?

I don’t suppose to speak for all of them; only social media likes, shares and comments can determine if my experiences are representative.  We know the numbers are there.  But where are their voices?

I was raised in a fairly typical, pro-Israel Jewish community in the Midwest.  Day School. Summer camp. Hebrew school.  Synagogue.  Bar Mitzvah.  Shabbat.  USY Israel Trip. The whole works.  In College I dabbled in ultra-Orthodox, Chabad, modern Orthodox, Open Orthodox, Carlebach and Reform – pro-Israel activism, liberal Zionist activism and eventually pro-Palestine activism.

I imagine my experiences reflect many people my age, born in the 80s and early 90s.  We experimented with our Judaism and our relationship to Israel, and sought to figure out what seemed just and what worked for us, religiously and politically.

The American Judaism I was raised with was pro-Israel by definition.  Israeli Independence Day was celebrated side by side Purim and Pesach.  American and Israeli flags where hung side by side in the synagogue; the Prayer for America recited side by side the Prayer for the State of Israel during Saturday morning services.  Removing Israel from Judaism would have been taking away the peanut butter from a PB & J sandwich.

I recall, very vividly, when this worldview began to seem odd to me.  I had just returned from a month long trip to the Balkans in July 2006, the height of the Hezbollah-Israel war.  I trekked over to the Conservative shul my family attends Shabbat morning, and I was handed the usual synagogue flyers and announcements, as well as six talking-points on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, such as Hezbollah hides behind civilians while Israel distributes leaflets to warn civilians before bombing.  A prepaid postcard was also distributed, addressed to President George W. Bush, thanking him for supporting Israel.  Asking around, no one seemed to think much of it.

I suppose you could say, the Jewish community ‘lost me’ on Israel.  During that war in 2006, all the Jewish organizations I was involved with urged me to support the current policies of the Israeli government.  A prominent International Jewish assembly suggested I send a message to Kofi Annan reminding him of the Bush administration’s jargon, a “sustainable ceasefire.”

My Orthodox Minyan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I was an undergraduate student, as well as my Conservative Rabbi from West Bloomfield, Michigan, pressed me to stand in solidarity with Israel by attending a rally.  The local Chabadnik in Ann Arbor told me I could support Israel by wrapping phylacteries (tefillin for those who speak English) and installing mezuzot on my doorposts.

(I wonder now if I should have depose as many mezuzot as I could find to bring an earlier end to the war?  Or, alternatively, I could have hid the tefillin of my religious roomates, prevent them from wrapping their leather straps and black boxes, and then perhaps the war might have ended sooner?).

But Judaism was not Zionism, at least not to me.   It was certainly not Netanyahu’s Zionism and definitely not the Zionism of the currently Israeli government.

In 2012 I attended a Bat Mitzvah in a northern New Jersey suburban Conservative synagogue.  It was about as typical an American Conservative Synagogue I had ever seen.  Here, the announcement board was decorated with pictures of Israeli soldiers as well as flyers to take home for purchasing Israel bonds online.

Where did Judaism end and pro-Israel propaganda begin?  How could one feel comfortable in any Jewish community at all?

Sociologists of religion disagree about a lot of things.  One of the few consensuses   in the literature is that people will only join religious movements if they develop strong personal ties with members of those movements.  No Religion is just about sharing some belief in the supernatural or shared customs and traditions, but also about developing social bonds with other people in a community.

The politicization of the Jewish world has pushed many young Jews away from organized Jewish life, who intermarry at rates above fifty percent.  Meanwhile, as Beinart has explained, the Jews that are left are looking increasingly Orthodox.

I remember very vividly one of my last Shabbat dinners as a senior at the University of Michigan’s Hillel.  Friday night services and dinner, back in those days, was the most quintessential encounter your average Jewish student had with the organized Jewish community on campus.  Based on my experiences elsewhere at Columbia, Princeton and Georgetown, my alma mater was no exception.  Hillel was the place to be Friday night.

I recall in the winter of 2007 that the largest pro-Israel student group on campus, AMI (American Movement for Israel), one of the Hillel “affiliated” groups, “sponsored” one such Shabbat Dinner.  Blue and white ornaments bedizened the otherwise austere basement, where the masses of Jewish students on campus congregate to enjoy a scrumptious Shabbat dinner.  A giant Israeli flag was posted in the middle of the room and small Israeli flags lay dispersed across the tables.  “Fun facts” about Israel were also placed on the tables for Jewish students to read (e.g. did you know that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East?).  Student leaders spoke romantically about the connection between American Jews and Israel.

Asking around, I seemed, again, to be the only student uncomfortable with the Zionist symbols plastered around the fundamentally Jewish function (there is a Jewish commandment to make three Seudot, or meals, on Shabbat).

Upset over the intrusion of politics into Judaism, I met with three Jewish professionals back in 2007 to ask Hillel to sponsor a new student organization called “Jews Against Zionism,” or its watered down version, “Jews Wrestling with Zionism.”  Then I could “sponsor” a Shabbat, post Palestinian flags around the room and warn students of Zionism’s consequences.  How might students have reacted?

The idea, of course, in 2007, was rejected immediately by the Hillel professionals, who explained that such groups had no place at Hillel.  Indeed, they had no place in the organized Jewish community.

With the rise of groups such as Open Hillel, which rejects pro-Israel litmus tests for speakers or groups that want to associate with Hillel, the Jewish establishment is now feeling the threat more than ever.

Some small amount of progress has been made, but the gains have been marginal.  “Resetting the Table,” funded by the UJA Federation of New York, is a Brooklyn-based initiative and part of a project called to Civility.  It aims to discuss openly, within the Jewish community, issues such as “should there be red lines around who speaks in Hillel, JCCs, and other Jewish institutions?”

At an April 2014 meeting, the results were mixed, wrote, Elisheva Golberg. “Some groups were heated, like the one on “legitimate and illegitimate criticism of Israel,” where the conversation revolved around the word “apartheid.”

These are steps in the right direction and they are conversations that need to be had.  Hopefully the Jewish establishment will come to terms with their antiquated views about Israel.   If not, plan for a struggle between the establishment and the New Jews.

Zachary J. Foster
About Zachary J. Foster

Zachary J. Foster is a Ph.D Candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His dissertation is titled, “Palestine: The History of a Name.”

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64 Responses

  1. Mooser
    Mooser
    August 15, 2014, 3:08 pm

    “How could one feel comfortable in any Jewish community at all?”

    I’m not sure there are any “Jewish communal organizations” (of course, you would know a lot more about this than I would, so I will defer to you) Are any of the organizations, whether religious, charitable, advocacy, whatever, owned in common by the Jewish people? I don’t think the are. They are owned by their owners, who ultimately answer to the laws of the state in which the organizations are. (whether taxable or non-taxable, profit or non-profit)
    I don’t think an obligation to adapt themselves to either the ethics, or even the compassion of the members of the organization, as opposed to it’s owners (which also ryhmes with ‘donor) or administrators is anywhere a legal obligation of organizations like that. In fact, the opposite might obtain, they might very well feel it is up to the members to adapt themselves to the positions taken by the management, and I believe they have the legal right to feel that way.
    I think non-Zionist Jews will simply have to start and maintain their own Jewish institutions, as Reform Jews did, at one time. We don’t have to leave exactly like that,

    “To celebrate the ordination of its first graduating class in 1883, the (Reform) seminary threw a lavish banquet that included, to the horror of traditional Jews in attendance, clams, shrimp and other traif. This shattered Rabbi Wise’s dream that all Jews in the United States would be unite as the “Union of American Hebrew Congregations.”

    But the example is surely telling, or was that over something more important than Zionism? Handling Jews who wouldn’t ‘go with the Zionist program’ was one of the first things Zionism learned to do. I really doubt they have lost any of the old skill or technique.
    If Reform Rabbis could leave the established or traditional Judaism (and with such a gratuitous and cruel slap at those poor Orthodox Rabbis! Why? What for?) maybe, just maybe, Zionism is as important as ham and shrimp.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 15, 2014, 3:34 pm

      “Some small amount of progress has been made, but the gains have been marginal. “Resetting the Table,” funded by the UJA Federation of New York, is a Brooklyn-based initiative and part of a project called to Civility”

      Ah, “Resetting the Table”?!? In view of the events of 1883, that’s pretty ironic. Those newly-ordained Reform Rabbis sure ‘reset the table’!

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      August 16, 2014, 4:33 am

      And again I urge you to take up the task yourself. (If not Yoo hoo, yahoo, etc.)

      You can get ordained online.

      (http://www.northernway.org/rabbicenter/index.html

      if you don’t want to bother with any training.)

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 5:24 pm

        No, you know me, I’m a follower in search of a leader. I’m sure something will develop in Seattle. And I guess I’ll have throw on my best yarmulke and go, won’t I?
        It’d be a pleasure.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        August 17, 2014, 8:50 am

        Mooser there’s wisdom in your jests. What about being an owner rhymes with donor of JVP?

  2. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    August 15, 2014, 3:10 pm

    I’d be interested to know what the basic terms mean to you. Does Judaism = belief in a divine being best understood through the Hebrew Bible and Talmud? Zionism = belief in exclusive Jewish rights to sovereignty in Palestine?
    I hope that your dissertation will become available soon – specifically well in advance of June 2015 when I’m to deliver a talk to my local Classical Association on the ancient name ‘Palestine’.

  3. radii
    radii
    August 15, 2014, 4:10 pm

    that one can be answered with facts:

    judaism as an identifiable culture/religion has been around nearly 6000 years

    zionism was a political movement created around 120 years ago as a nationalist movement

    the two are distinct despite the zionists’ efforts to link them for geo-strategic and political advantage

    • Eva Smagacz
      Eva Smagacz
      August 16, 2014, 7:39 am

      I struggle with 6000 years of identifiable Jewish culture/religion statement.
      Is there really research supporting that?

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        August 16, 2014, 8:37 am

        There is no evidence of significant cultural discontinuity between Israelites en masse and other Palestinians at least before the Persian period, ie from around 540 BCE. The historical narrative of the Books of Kings makes a point of saying that the mass of people in earlier centuries had refused to differentiate themselves and that most of the kings at very least failed to insist strongly enough. Whether an early form of what was to become Judaism existed 7 or 8 centuries before, said to be the time of Moses, is very debatable!

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        August 16, 2014, 8:50 am

        @MHughes976

        The Palestinians didn’t exist either. They are a product of the migrations of migrations around the 7th century. If we are not going to buy into myths let’s not buy into myths.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 5:29 pm

        And JeffB goes right for the “Palestinians don’t exist” Hasbara. Next he’ll tell us it was never called “Palestine” either.
        Good ol’ JeffyB, you can rely on him if you want time-tested, vintage Hasbara. And above all, there’s the man himself, as expressed in his comments. A regular pied-piper of Zionism.

      • justicewillprevail
        justicewillprevail
        August 16, 2014, 6:17 pm

        Ah yes, buying into myths. Very dangerous. Like biblical myths, perchance? Founding myths? Cultural myths? There’s a lot of them around.

      • pjdude
        pjdude
        August 17, 2014, 2:43 am

        um no they your making stuff up. the palestinians aren’t the product of the muslims conquest. to muslims conquered palestine it was already inhabited by arabs, arabs and proto arab people have been in palestine for as long as people of the jewish faith have.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        August 17, 2014, 3:19 am

        pjdude- what’s a proto Arab? is that someone who is not an Arab until the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula came and conquered their lands and imposed Arabic on non Arab people, and now all the people who speak Arabic are called Arabs, whereas before they were called various things based upon nationality, language and other descriptors, but only after Muhammad’s heirs conquered that part of the world were they called Arabs, is that what you mean by proto Arabs?

    • pjdude
      pjdude
      August 17, 2014, 2:42 am

      try 3000. i never understood the need of people to inflate the length of jewish history

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        August 17, 2014, 8:35 am

        3000 is plausible enough for the Kingdom in Jerusalem, though I suppose this thread is about the religion more than the polity of that place and time. Whether the religion(s) practised by the royal family in its temple and/or by the mass of people on its ‘high places’ would be recognisable as early forms of ‘second Temple’ Judaism is a very complex question.
        In the James B. Pritchard ‘The Ancient Near East’ anthology, the standard work at least for those who can’t spend a fortune, the earliest references to ‘Judah’ come from the inscriptions of Sargon of Assyria around 700 BCE and it’s interesting, slightly ironic now, how often they are paired with references to ‘Palestine’, a name which the Assyrians were using a century earlier.
        Pritchard himself uses ‘Palestine’ as a name in modern parlance for the relevant geographical area in ancient times. On that usage, the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 700 BCE belong among the Palestinians.
        The non-Judaic cultural legacy of ancient Palestine has been obscured, though that Tyre had some importance as a centre of religious thought is fairly clear even from the references, respectful or satirical, in the Bible. As to the real high antiquity, rather than convenience in modern usage, of the name ‘Palestine’ I hope my article here on MW last June might sometimes have a few readers.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        August 17, 2014, 8:54 am

        Sorry, there is a reference by an earlier Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III, to King Jehoahaz of Judah, which must come from around 740. I was momentarily misled, to attempt a thin excuse, by Pritchard’s index, which omits that page reference (p.264). Main point stands, I think.

  4. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    August 15, 2014, 4:46 pm

    I understand that polls show support decreasing for the State among young Americans, but have there been polls of young Jewish Americans?

    To my best recollection, the latter group did not change in whether they supported it, except that it was not as important to them as their parent’s generation.

  5. JeffB
    JeffB
    August 15, 2014, 5:31 pm

    @Zachary —

    As one of those older generation Jews, there isn’t a distinction. At this point Zionism is part of American Judaism. Just as one can keep or not keep kosher, observe or not observe shabbat, belong to or not belong to a minyan one be zionist or non-zionist.

    The American Jewish community in 1967 was faced with a serious assimilation problem. Jews became white people in the 1950s. The ethnic neighborhoods across the United States that had existed in WWI were collapsing. Jews no longer went to Jewish schools (whether in practice or public schools so Jewish), they no longer grew up in all Jewish neighborhoods. Judaism had effectively become just another denomination.

    Sure they may not eat ham and cheese sandwiches, sure they may think worshipping a cracker is outright blaspheme, sure they might still might like to break a lightbulb at their wedding but those things will not hold a culture together. They can’t.

    Globally Hitler had wiped out Eastern European Judaism and most of what was left had migrated to Israel. Sephardic and Mizrahi Judaism had migrated to Israel. There are a few scattered communities but outside America fewer and less important all the time. There is no plan-b for Judaism. Every 100 years or so half the cultures on the planet die. Do you want Judaism to be one of them that doesn’t make it this century or not? Everything else is details of implementation.

    Everyone dies. In 50 years I’m worm food. I live on through my daughter. Jews have always believed in the idea which is why we name our children after our dead not living ancestors. Israel is our progeny. Israel is how the American Jewish community will live on. Israel is what gives meaning to 2000 years that are otherwise a pointless exercise in stubborn stupidity.

    What else in Judaism is more important? You sound like a sensible person. If your back is really against the wall do you think preserving arcane debates about what can or cannot be in your pocket when your town is surrounded by a wall vs. a telephone wire vs. a string are the crucial thing that absolutely must be passed on from generation to generation? Sure we have some fun songs, but in fairness so do the Christians. Who really cares about that stuff if Israel dies?

    If your generation has their attitudes about Israel when you hit your 50s there will be a struggle and since our generation will be dying off you’ll win. But that buys Israel another generation to grow, to strengthen to prosper. If American Judaism doesn’t make it that’s bad. If Israel does, that’s more than fair compensation.

    Besides I have a feeling as BDS grows stronger on campuses we’re going to see a lot more militant zionists. When a Jew criticizes Israel you know deep down they are coming from a place of wanting Israel to be more moral. I often give this analogy. Assume that one of those 3000 rockets had a chemical weapons tip and guidance system from Iran. And instead of landing harmless it had killed 40k people in Tel Aviv. For many of Israel’s enemies that would be a good thing, the Palestinians managed to have an effectual resistance.

    In the end life is the rearrangement of the world for your will. You kill or you die. Israel may seem like it doesn’t have to kill right now but is choosing to be cruel. I get how you can be offended by that. Its been decades since Israel has been genuinely threatened but no one gets lucky forever. Israel will get hit by enemy one day, hard. Not hard enough to break them but hard enough to hurt. 9/11 and the 2nd intifada which you likely were too young to remember in the early years was like that. You probably only remember the tail end not the early years when it was scary. Your gentile liberal friend will be thrilled to embrace Jewish sacrifice with a really truly beautiful elegy. Or Judaism can live and deal with the moral consequences of that. As moral as possible, as brutal as necessary. And from there we can discuss details.

    • Pixel
      Pixel
      August 15, 2014, 6:13 pm

      .
      I’m not sure you’ve got the light bulbs, any more.

      At the close of four of the five weddings I attended this past year, the groom stomped on a light bulb. In none of those cases were the bride, the groom and/or their families Jewish. The Jewish groom was part of the fifth couple and he elected not to do it.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        August 15, 2014, 6:26 pm

        @Pixel

        Damn we even lost the lightbulbs! I’m assuming the bridde in the Jewish wedding didn’t do the 7 circles. Did any of the gentile couples go for that one too?

      • Philemon
        Philemon
        August 15, 2014, 8:21 pm

        And how did Jews get married before Thomas Edison?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        August 15, 2014, 9:32 pm

        @Philemon

        A glass. But lightbulbs make a much louder sound and are less dangerous. :)

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        August 16, 2014, 4:56 am

        They had to get help from Joseph Swan.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 1:31 pm

        “And how did Jews get married before Thomas Edison?”

        You don’t know? They stepped on a candle, of course.

        BTW, has anybody determined if the new “compact fluorescent” and LED fixtures are trefe or not for this use?

      • just
        just
        August 16, 2014, 1:41 pm

        “They stepped on a candle, of course.”

        I can’t stop laughing– I’m tearing up!!! Oh it hurts!

        (I had thought that the LEDs might be a problem, though)

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 5:30 pm

        “I can’t stop laughing–”

        Hey, what can I say, the truth is sometimes funnier than fiction.

      • Philemon
        Philemon
        August 16, 2014, 6:27 pm

        I’ve heard that compact fluorescents have Mercury in them and require a Hasmat team for clean-up. Must be trefe!

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 15, 2014, 6:23 pm

      “As moral as possible, as brutal as necessary. And from there we can discuss details.”

      That is inspiring JeffyB! Inspiring. In response I can only echo the immortal words of Putney Swope: “Shove it, clown!”

      Oh we might mention that JeffyB has no intention of being there for any of Israel’s brutality or morality. He lives in the US, from whence he gets off on all those brave rough guys in Israel. What a freakin’ clown.

      • justicewillprevail
        justicewillprevail
        August 15, 2014, 6:36 pm

        “Kill or die”

        Is that John Wayne, Al Capone or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Jeff is so favourably channelling? An example to us all – the armchair cowboy philosopher, big hat no cattle.

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        August 16, 2014, 7:41 am

        “As moral as possible, as brutal as necessary. And from there we can discuss details.”

        Is this Mao Tse Tung quote?

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        August 16, 2014, 7:59 am

        @Eva —

        No AFAIK it’s mine. Mao does better than I do with the fruit analogies. Though I do like Mao’s sayings:
        The cardinal responsibility of leadership is to identify the dominant contradiction at each point of the historical process and to work out a central line to resolve it. or Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.

        Also on the 6000 year question in this thread. No almost all the archeological and literary evidence we have has Judaism being a hybrid of evolving Babylonian religion and a few of the regional religions in Palestine that evolved around 600 BCE. Moses, David, Joshua, Samson… are Jewish myth which seemed based on a confused amalgamation of other surrounding cultures. For example the book of Joshua has Joshua hitting various cities that did not exist within centuries of one another. If Judaism had existed at that time it could not possibly have made that sort of error, that kind of error could only evolve from a later culture accreting earlier cultures.

        Which is BTW the norm. Cultures and the peoples associated with them grow they thrive they die and new cultures build on amalgamations of the previous ones. This idea of continuity that cultures exist on a piece of land for thousands of years and that in any sense anyone has a natural home is a myth from the anti-colonial movement that the UN promotes and western Liberals have eagerly swallowed.

      • Philemon
        Philemon
        August 16, 2014, 7:11 pm

        “This idea of continuity that cultures exist on a piece of land for thousands of years and that in any sense anyone has a natural home is a myth from the anti-colonial movement that the UN promotes and western Liberals have eagerly swallowed.”

        More vintage JeffB! Anyone, anytime, according to JeffB, can be forced out of their home and off their land, even if they have clear legal title, because some gangsters threaten them. Yep, he really likes that “might makes right” thing.

        Anybody who objects is one of those stupid “western” Liberals. Are we really sure this guy isn’t Israeli? I know he claims to be a U.S. American, but he doesn’t sound like one.

      • just
        just
        August 16, 2014, 9:56 am

        You know, I can’t forget that quote. It’s really very troubling in its icy depravity. Israel has no ‘morals’ wrt the indigenous Palestians– it never did. They keep trumpeting the old canard “the most moral army in the world” when the world can plainly see otherwise. The IOF is brutal always, on a daily basis, with or without full- blown assault/rampage.

        And what ‘details’ are left to discuss with such an entity?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 11:27 am

        ““As moral as possible, as brutal as necessary. And from there we can discuss details.”

        Oh details like, say birth-rate, intermarriage and walk-aways?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 1:34 pm

        Oh sorry, I guess that was “rude”. JeffB doesn’t do “rude”. He’s a classy Zionist guy, redolent of Torah and Talmud, yet a steely eyed Hagannah Commando withal!
        And he’s only “as brutal as necessary”. But not “rude”

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 15, 2014, 6:30 pm

      “The American Jewish community in 1967 was faced with a serious assimilation problem. Jews became white people in the 1950s. The ethnic neighborhoods across the United States that had existed in WWI were collapsing. Jews no longer went to Jewish schools (whether in practice or public schools so Jewish), they no longer grew up in all Jewish neighborhoods. Judaism had effectively become just another denomination. “

      Shorter JeffB: “Why did those awful Gentiles ever let us out of the ghetto? How could they do that to us?”

      Yup, if there’s one thing a ZIonist can’t stand, it’s free Jews, who aren’t under the control of boss-Jews, backed up by powerful non-Jews.
      Zionists look back fondly to the days of Jewish overseers and court Jews and kapos. After all, only they know what is good for Jews.

    • Pixel
      Pixel
      August 15, 2014, 6:31 pm

      @JeffB

      Jeff, I logged out and then logged in, again. I want to tell you that, no matter how much I might disagree with many things you so often write, one thing I can’t disagree with is the love, warmth, and caring with which I feel you wrote this comment to Zachary. To me, it’s palpable and very moving; I just wanted to honor that.

      • Philemon
        Philemon
        August 15, 2014, 7:47 pm

        Sorry, Pixel, I’m not feeling the love. Mostly, I’m feeling the condescension and the hasbara.

        “Israel is our progeny. Israel is how the American Jewish community will live on. Israel is what gives meaning to 2000 years that are otherwise a pointless exercise in stubborn stupidity.” #1 We rock!

        “Assume that one of those 3000 rockets had a chemical weapons tip and guidance system from Iran. And instead of landing harmless it had killed 40k people in Tel Aviv.” #2 They suck!

        “You probably only remember the tail end not the early years when it was scary.” #3 You suck! (With extra condescension added: You poor young naive thing deluded by “…[y]our gentile liberal friend.”)

        “In the end life is the rearrangement of the world for your will. You kill or you die.” Yeah. #4 Everything sucks!

        http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com.au/2008/07/how-to-make-case-for-israel-and-win.html

        Mooser is right. JeffB is a clown who just loves those brutal ethnic cleansing tough Israelis bombing everything in Gaza anytime Netanyahu tells ’em to.

        “The American Jewish community in 1967 was faced with a serious assimilation problem. Jews became white people in the 1950s.”

        Yeah, before that they were just Supreme Court Justices and Harvard Law professors. And all that “serious assimilation” and, shock, miscegenation was very scary for the American Jewish community. Because, you know, before the 1950s Jews weren’t white per JeffB.

        It’s okay, though, Mooser, according to JeffB, Jews are still less than 2% of employees in the oil industry. JeffB just knows it somehow. Like how he just knew Scooter Libby-Liebowitz was a WASP.

      • can of worms
        can of worms
        August 16, 2014, 4:36 am

        This is the meaning of biopower: “Israel is our progeny. Israel is how the American Jewish community will live on.”
        It is a technique of subjugation.

        Am I your progeny, JeffB? Do you live through me? Wow. May you live to the age of 120 through my boiling veins. This is not “love, warmth, and caring” JeffB. No, no, no, this is a tactic of control. But the so-called “progenies” have had enough.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 11:14 am

        “Sorry, Pixel, I’m not feeling the love. Mostly, I’m feeling the condescension and the hasbara.”

        And oh my freakin’ God playing hopscotch, the entitlement!! It reeks!

        Gee, I don’t know, maybe the reason Jews were moving out of “Jewish communities” was because oh, I don’t know, the no-Jews real estate covenants in the suburbs were being defeated. And so now Jews had more choices.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 11:30 am

        “It’s okay, though, Mooser, according to JeffB, Jews are still less than 2% of employees in the oil industry. JeffB just knows it somehow. Like how he just knew Scooter Libby-Liebowitz was a WASP.”

        Have we ever, ever had a Zionist here who didn’t know everything? About everything? And of course, all of them know, to the smallest detail exactly what every “normal” Jew should feel and do.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        August 15, 2014, 8:58 pm

        @Pixel —

        Thanks! That was a kind thing to say.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 11:32 am

        “one thing I can’t disagree with is the love, warmth, and caring with which I feel you wrote this comment to Zachary.”

        I mean, is there any better way to show “love” then encouraging a young man who is finally seeing reality(Zachary) back into a state of amoral entitlement and vicarious brutality? That’s LOVE baby!

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      August 16, 2014, 4:04 am

      “The American Jewish community in 1967 was faced with a serious assimilation problem. Jews became white people in the 1950s. The ethnic neighborhoods across the United States that had existed in WWI were collapsing. Jews no longer went to Jewish schools (whether in practice or public schools so Jewish), they no longer grew up in all Jewish neighborhoods. Judaism had effectively become just another denomination…. Every 100 years or so half the cultures on the planet die. Do you want Judaism to be one of them that doesn’t make it this century or not?”

      So you want to keep Jews as a separate “culture” locked into Jewish ghettos. And that is so important to you that it overrides concern for human life, human freedom, human well-being. You have made a “culture” your idol, and will sacrifice both Jews and Gentiles before it.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        August 17, 2014, 9:31 am

        @RoHa

        If I wrote “I just got a big promotion with a lot more money so I need to upgrade my wardrobe” that isn’t a message that getting promoted is bad. It is however an understanding that changes have consequences.

        As for the rest, culture isn’t my idol. Self determination is however the core of moral philosophy about politics. I don’t think people should have a government not of their choosing and in particular I don’t think Israelis should live under Palestinian rule.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 17, 2014, 12:45 pm

        “So you want to keep Jews as a separate “culture” locked into Jewish ghettos.”

        RoHa, I beg you never to forget that the ghetto system was very advantageous to some Jews, but exploited the great majority of Jews. When Jews were emancipated, free to live as individuals, the overseers, tax collectors and intermediaries and exploiters lost their position. Zionism answers their needs.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      August 16, 2014, 10:55 am

      “In the end life is the rearrangement of the world for your will. You kill or you die.”

      Why does this sound like Nazi ideology?

      • just
        just
        August 16, 2014, 5:54 pm

        Funnily enough, I couldn’t find anything about G-D in there either…

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 16, 2014, 11:41 am

      “In the end life is the rearrangement of the world for your will.”

      Ah, a quote from the Talmud. I mean, if there’s one thing Judaism stresses, it’s the power of the will, the will’s ability to triumph.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        August 16, 2014, 12:07 pm

        “the will’s ability to triumph.”

        Didn’t someone make a film about that?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 16, 2014, 5:36 pm

        “Didn’t someone make a film about that?”

        Wait, is this turning into an “Is Hollwood run by the Jews” discussion? Cause I don’t know anything about that at all.

    • CliosBitch
      CliosBitch
      August 17, 2014, 2:23 am

      There is no plan-b for Judaism. Every 100 years or so half the cultures on the planet die. Do you want Judaism to be one of them that doesn’t make it this century or not? Everything else is details of implementation.

      Everyone dies. In 50 years I’m worm food.

      “Winston was struck, as he had been struck before, by the tiredness of O’Brien’s face. It was strong and fleshy and brutal, it was full of intelligence and a sort of controlled passion before which he felt himself helpless; but it was tired. There were pouches under the eyes, the skin sagged from the cheekbones. O’Brien leaned over him, deliberately bringing the worn face nearer.

      “You are thinking,” he said, “that my face is old and tired. You are thinking that I talk of power, and yet I am not even able to prevent the decay of my own body. Can you not understand, Winston, that the individual is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigor of the organism. Do you die when you cut your finger-nails?”

  6. German Lefty
    German Lefty
    August 15, 2014, 6:03 pm

    Israeli Independence Day was celebrated side by side Purim and Pesach. American and Israeli flags where hung side by side in the synagogue

    It’s the same in Germany. And then our politicians and media wonder why some pro-Palestinian people attack synagogues.

    I was handed the usual synagogue flyers and announcements, as well as six talking-points on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, such as Hezbollah hides behind civilians while Israel distributes leaflets to warn civilians before bombing. A prepaid postcard was also distributed, addressed to President George W. Bush, thanking him for supporting Israel.

    Wow! Incredible!

    I suppose you could say, the Jewish community ‘lost me’ on Israel. During that war in 2006, all the Jewish organizations I was involved with urged me to support the current policies of the Israeli government.

    During that war, historian Tamar Amar-Dahl decided to renounce her Israeli citizenship and to acquire German citizenship.

    “legitimate and illegitimate criticism of Israel”

    This is an abiding theme in German media, too. You know, because of “German history”. By constantly asking how much negative criticism of Israel should be allowed in Germany, German media indirectly equate Jews with Israel and turn German Jews into Israelis.

    Hopefully the Jewish establishment will come to terms with their antiquated views about Israel.

    I certainly hope that, too. However, I wonder why there is so much focus on what non-Israeli Jews think about Israel. This sounds as if the discussion about Israel’s crimes should only happen among Jews and non-Jews should shut up. As if our opinions don’t matter.

  7. Pixel
    Pixel
    August 15, 2014, 6:04 pm

    Zachary, I’m not sure how to characterize your writing style – relaxed, conversational, tongue-in-cheek, with a sprinkling of picturesque speech? – but I like it!

    “… should send all Jewish professional reeling back in their armchairs.”

    “…dabbled in”

    “… taking away the peanut butter from a PB & J sandwich.”

    The bit about mezuzot and tefillin ending the war sooner.

    “bedizened”

    …”‘Fun facts’ about Israel (e.g. did you know that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East?)”

    Haaaaa!

  8. just
    just
    August 15, 2014, 8:21 pm

    Many thanks Zachary. You ask a most fundamental question, and write very eloquently.

    I look forward to reading your future work.

  9. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    August 16, 2014, 1:23 am

    It is natural that for conscientious Jews there is no middle ground on Israel, no apathy, no “they’re foreign to me”, but involvement. To take the step to say that this involvement must involve opposition to settlements (or a deeper opposition than that) is quite a step, given that the normal (easiest, most common) involvement is support of the current israeli government. (It is easiest to say, the Israeli people have chosen their Knesset and prime minister and I will defer to their choice.) It is not to be expected that this step would be taken by “institutions”, which by their very nature are conservative. This step is a step for individuals and not for institutions. (The establishment of “new” institutions by these individuals would be the next step, but it is no surprise that the first step is one that is taken by individuals and not the institutions.)

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 16, 2014, 11:18 am

      Yonah, couldn’t you just write that ‘all good Jews support Israel to the hilt, and should be eager to dip their hands in the blood of murdered Palestinians’?

      You want every one of us in it with you, Yonah, so we can take the blame and the consequences for you. Forget it. It’s not happeneing.

      No, no thieves and murders will tell me what the “normal” Jewish thing to do is, thank you.

  10. eljay
    eljay
    August 16, 2014, 8:29 am

    >> y.f.: It is natural that for conscientious Jews there is no middle ground on Israel, no apathy, no “they’re foreign to me”, but involvement. To take the step to say that this involvement must involve opposition to settlements … is quite a step, given that the normal … involvement is support of the current israeli government.

    Conscientious: “controlled by or done according to one’s inner sense of what is right”

    So…”conscientious Jews” are people who believe that it is right to support Jewish supremacism in a supremacist “Jewish State” and the associated injustice and immorality.

    Interesting.

    It’s a shame “conscientious Jews” don’t advocate for justice, accountability and equality instead.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      August 16, 2014, 5:40 pm

      “no apathy, no “they’re foreign to me”, but involvement.”

      Oh yes, the rock-solid militant unity of the Jewish community world-wide is historically undeniable. ROTLMSJAO!
      As is, of course, the competency honesty and morality of all of our self-selected Jewish leaders.
      Everybody knows that!

  11. German Lefty
    German Lefty
    August 17, 2014, 12:41 pm

    What happened when a German put an Israel flag on his car
    I’d like to share this report written by a pro-Israel German and published on a German-language Zionist website:

    Monday, 11th August 2014, Berlin-Neukölln
    For reasons of solidarity with the Jews who live in Germany and who were subject to anti-Semitic attacks over the last days and weeks, I put two small flags on my car. One German and one Israeli with the Star of David. That’s how I drove to Neukölln to an appointment with my medical insurance company.
    I didn’t only receive irritated looks but also insults while waiting at red lights, such as “Jew pig”, “murderer”, “motherfucker”. I locked the car doors from inside. All in all, the occupants of three following cars filmed and photographed me. At a crosswalk, teenagers of Turkish or Arab descent spat on my car. If the traffic lights didn’t turn green, they would have torn off my flag. In a street, I saw shops with “Free Palestine” T-shirts on the pavement. A note was attached, “10 EUR as donation for Gaza.” Further shirts that show maps without Israel. Before I entered the building of my medical insurance company, I removed the flag from my car. […] A further appointment in Kreuzberg. I avoided driving through the Kottbusser Tor because of the long waits at traffic lights. Fear.
    On the roadside, three Arab boys, between 10 and 12 years old. They stopped dead in their tracks and pointed at the flag. They berated me. One of them pointed at me and moved his other hand to his throat. I kept on driving. A man with a full beard stopped dead. Then he ran square to me and shouted, “You are dead!” The traffic lights turned green.
    I felt like in enemy territory. […] Before I drove home, I stopped by a falafel shop. The owner greeted me with the words, “What kind of crap is that? Fuck off!” Okay. […]
    When I arrived at home, I was angry, desperate, bewildered. I can simply drive home, remove the flag, and be a “neutral” German. But what about the Jews, the Israelis, who are threatened on a daily basis? They can’t do that. How must it have been in 1933 when your home country turned into enemy territory?
    I suggest that everyone does this test or a similar test. Put on a kippah, wear a Star of David, or a black coat. And then you can experience the diversity, the dovishness, and the tolerance of Islam. Alone. Without protection.

    http://honestlyconcerned.info/2014/08/12/ein-persoenlicher-erfahrungbericht-von-einem-selbstversuch-in-berlin-neukoelln-beschimpft-bespuckt-bedroht-du-bist-tot/

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