Trending Topics:

Witnessing Gaza

CultureNews
on 54 Comments
Max Blumenthal's photo of Israeli soldiers' vandalism of school in Khuza'a

Max Blumenthal’s photo of Israeli soldiers’ vandalism of school in Khuza’a

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

As we approach the endgame of this phase of Gaza’s tribulations – for rest assured, Gaza’s tribulations will continue – reporters on the ground are writing and photographing the disaster. Like all of us, they’re looking for hope in Gaza’s ruins. They’re not finding much.

Among these reporters are Jews from Israel and America. They’re observing what their fellow reporters are – devastation as far as the eye can see. They’re meeting with the grieving, the homeless and the injured. They’re also finding out what the dead look like close up.

I’m thinking especially of young Jews like Max Blumenthal, whose twitter photos are arresting, and Allison Deger’s incisive reporting. But there are others, like the veteran Israeli reporter Amira Hass. In the coming days, more Jewish reporters will arrive.

I have never seen the devastation of war. It can’t be easy for any of the reporters. Is it different for Jews?

A few of these reporters have been in touch with me. They are startled and shaken by what they’re experiencing. Israel’s invasion seems pointless. What they see is the sheer brutality of it all. Since this might be the point of the invasion, asking the deeper questions of life and death is natural.

Like all of us, they’re struggling to make sense of it all – as human beings and as Jews. The Jewish identifier is intriguing, especially since most of the Jewish reporters aren’t religious and have tenuous, if any, connections with the larger Jewish community. They think of themselves as typical reporters and photojournalists. Most don’t want to be singled out as Jews. They just “happen” to be Jewish.

But most of the Jewish reporters are not well-paid journalists assigned by the higher-ups for the Gaza beat. It’s volunteer duty, raise your own money and take the risk.

Still the soul searching may have been unexpected. To one who wrote, I offered that as a human being she is witnessing part of the human drama without blinders. Being Jewish adds another dimension:

Yes, the most obvious thing you’re doing is helping the world know what happened in Gaza and encouraging solidarity with the Palestinian people. But, as well, you are a Jew observing what “we” have done – Israel specifically and Jews around the world who enable Israel’s violence.

Has Jewish history come to this? What are Jews of Conscience like you to do with what you are seeing, touching, experiencing?

You are a different pair of Jewish boots on the ground. First the soldiers, now you.

You might not know what to do with this. I don’t know either.

Who does? Jews have never descended to this level of depravity before.

The end of Jewish history as we have known and inherited it – I think that’s what you’re witnessing. Whatever ethical values were present in our tradition – what both of us consciously or subconsciously draw upon – are gone.

Like – or with – the Palestinians – Jewish ethics have literally been blown away.

What you write, the photographs you post, detail this end.

Documenting the end isn’t easy – I think it’s very, very important.

There is no return to what is lost. This may pain you in a way that isn’t definable. I think of you as experiencing a trauma that comes from another place and is now inside you.

That trauma isn’t going away – I think you know that. It will get worse. That’s what I read in your words. I see it in your photos.

If only there was something hopeful I could share with you. Nothing in my lifetime – perhaps in yours since you are much younger but I also doubt this – will set this aright. Barring a strike from the heavens – a miracle of sorts – Palestinians will remain under Israel’s thumb.

We need clear-headed political and economic analysis – your reporting demands this – and something more – your reporting demand this as well.

That something more is within and beyond your personal/reporting/solidarity journey. You are witnessing a horror that is present-day but resonates with the Jewish past. It’s defining our Jewish future.

Yes, you’re witnessing our future in Gaza – which has already arrived.

So in my mind you’re a witness – a witness at the end. Small comfort.

Hold fast – what you’re doing is important.

Jewish boots on the ground in Gaza. First Israel destroys, then Jews and others detail the end.

Of course, Gaza remains alive and this, too, must be written about and photographed. And these Jewish reporters are alive, too. Which is a source of hope.

Perhaps I should include this hope when the next email from Gaza arrives.

These Jewish boots on the ground are a sign of hope – the only hope we have – at the end. So I have to choose my words wisely.

I also have to tell them the truth as I see it. It wouldn’t be right to condescend to those who bear the weight of Jewish history as it comes to its end.

Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

54 Responses

  1. hophmi on August 18, 2014, 10:49 am

    “:The end of Jewish history as we have known and inherited it – I think that’s what you’re witnessing. Whatever ethical values were present in our tradition – what both of us consciously or subconsciously draw upon – are gone.”

    Right – Jews have no ethical traditions now. And you wonder, Marc, why people consider anti-Zionism an antisemitic movement.

    • amigo on August 18, 2014, 11:27 am

      Right – Jews have no ethical traditions now. hopmi

      Dead right they no longer have ethical traditions.

      They threw all their traditions out with the bath water and swapped them for Apartheid and land theft.

      The majority won.

      Or lost , depending on which way you look at it.

    • just on August 18, 2014, 11:33 am

      Can you point to any ‘ethical traditions’ that are alive and well?

      btw, anti- Zionism is NOT antisemitic at all. The only people who consider it such are Zionists, hophmi.

      • Kay24 on August 18, 2014, 11:54 am

        The real meaning of anti-semitism, seems lost in the zionists lame efforts to label all criticism of zionists and Israel, anti-semitism. Of course it is done to silence the criticism, and intimidate those who dare do it.

      • MHughes976 on August 18, 2014, 12:33 pm

        As to real meanings – to me (for what that’s worth) ‘anti-Semitism’ means ‘significant prejudice (or worse) against at least some things Jewish’. To others, including most Zionists, it means ‘significant opposition to at least some things strongly supported by Jewish people’. I keep saying a bit boringly that meanings are not real things and that we can all use words as we like provided we make ourselves clear and speak consistently.
        A Zionist would think that I am an anti-Semite even under my own definition, since to him/her only prejudice can explain rejection of Zionism: I would deny this and would claim that rejection of Zionism is rational. A Zionist would also claim that, since Zionism has strong Jewish support, I am certainly an anti-Semite under the Zionists’ own definition – which is quite true: there’s nothing I can do about it, except say that under this definition, unlike mine, there can be forms of anti-Semitism which are justified.

      • RoHa on August 18, 2014, 1:03 pm

        “I keep saying a bit boringly that meanings are not real things and that we can all use words as we like provided we make ourselves clear and speak consistently.”

        Though if we want to be understood, we should use words in the way other people use them, and if we want to be really clear as well as understood, we should use them the way I say they should be used.

      • michelle on August 18, 2014, 1:48 pm

        .
        ‘you’ seem to be anti-injustice
        and being that is a double neg.
        it resolves to a positive
        yeah!!!!
        .
        G-d Bless
        .

      • Mooser on August 18, 2014, 7:37 pm

        I know what an anti-Semite is! An anti-Semite believes Jews are fundamentally different, intrinsically, essentially different from other human beings, and cannot live on terms of equality and tolerance with other humans.
        I know who the biggest proponent of that view has been in my lifetime.

      • Philemon on August 18, 2014, 10:02 pm

        Mooser, do you mean… Zionists and Israelis?

        Did I get it right?

      • Gene Shae on August 18, 2014, 6:42 pm

        @just, criticizing Israel is not in itself anti Semitic. However, being anti-Zionist surely is as it exclusively denies Jews the right given to any other people

      • Bumblebye on August 18, 2014, 7:10 pm

        Complete Codswallop, Gene Shae!
        No ethnic/religious category has the exclusive right to self-determination as such. If Israel wanted to be an ethno-religious supremacist state it should have chosen to set up in uninhabited islands somewhere in order to do so. As it is, it denies the right to self-determination of the indigenous people of the land it has stolen.

      • tree on August 18, 2014, 7:14 pm

        However, being anti-Zionist surely is as it exclusively denies Jews the right given to any other people

        Zionism is the belief that Jews should have preferential rights in the State of Israel. It includes the “right” of ethnic cleansing, discrimination, injustice towards minorities, and “rights” of confiscation and use of land based on ethnicity. NO ONE should have those “rights”, and no one legally does in the United States but Jews have that privilege in Israel. To oppose those bigoted privileges is not anti-Jewish, any more than to oppose apartheid in South Africa, or legal discrimination against blacks in the United States is anti-white. Why this concept is so hard to grasp for Zionists is hard to understand.

      • JeffB on August 18, 2014, 7:31 pm

        @tree

        No Zionism was the belief that Jews should migrate to Palestine and form a society called Israel. Today it is the belief that Israel is for Israelis the same way France is for the French and China for the Chinese. There is no belief about discrimination and in fact Israel has a pretty good track record of integrating minorities willing to be integrated.

        The reason Zionists have trouble buying your view is because it is simply false.

      • michelle on August 18, 2014, 9:57 pm

        .
        true support is to agree with correct acts
        and to disagree with incorrect acts
        .
        anti-whatever supports incorrect acts
        .
        G-d Bless
        .

      • Bumblebye on August 19, 2014, 12:59 am

        @JeffB
        Do we hear you cackling behind your keyboard as you type such deluded rubbish?

      • tree on August 19, 2014, 5:22 am

        The Jewish National Fund discriminated against non-Jews from its very inception in 1901. It set up covenants on the land it bought denying any tenant farmer who was not Jewish from farming on the land, even though such tenant farming was legal under Ottoman Empire law. It also prohibited any non-Jews from either working on the land, or from ever buying the land. This was discrimination from the very git-go. Jews who owned land in Palestine prior to the JNF were boycotted and threatened by Zionist Jews during the second Aliyah if they hired non-Jewish workers. The Zionists also lobbied the British Mandate Government to hire Jews in preference to non-Jews and to pay Jews more than they paid non-Jews for doing the same work. They also discriminated against Arab Jews from the very beginning by not allowing them to become equal members of the kibbutzim. The JNF, which by its very charter is an organization meant solely to benefit Jews, is a quasi-governmental organization in Israel and is a constituent member of the Israel Land Authority.

        Today it is the belief that Israel is for Israelis the same way France is for the French and China for the Chinese.

        No, Israel does not recognize “Israeli” as a nationality. It claims it is a Jewish State, and even demands that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish State, rather than an Israeli State.

        There is no belief about discrimination and in fact Israel has a pretty good track record of integrating minorities willing to be integrated.

        Ethnically cleansing anywhere from 750,000 to 800,000 people does not in any way shape or form constitute a “good track record”. Neither does the confiscation of land from non-Jews in order to benefit Jews only. There is a asic institutional discrimination against non-Jews in favor of Jews and that is how the government and the majority of Jewish Israelis believe it should be. You are in complete denial about what Israel is and what they believe in. I suspect that you know better but cannot admit as much because you know that admitting that Israel was founded on oppressive discrimination would lead to calls for its reform and you like the privileges it accords to Jews. You’re a hypocrite.

      • eljay on August 18, 2014, 7:25 pm

        >> Gene Shaeee: … being anti-Zionist surely is as it exclusively denies Jews the right given to any other people

        Zionists demand the right to have a religion-supremacist state. That is not a right anyone is given or entitled to.

      • talknic on August 19, 2014, 1:12 am

        @ JeffB ” Zionism was the belief that Jews should migrate to Palestine and form a society called Israel”

        OK. They did that according to the Israeli Govt “as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947” . Nothing outside of those proclaimed boundaries has ever been legally acquired by Israel or recognized as Israeli.

        “Today it is the belief that Israel is for Israelis the same way France is for the French and China for the Chinese.”

        A) The legal extent of Israeli sovereignty is only as proclaimed and as recognized (ibid) It does not included any territory the Israeli Govt declared was “outside the State of Israel” … “in Palestine”
        B) The French do not have a law of return nor do the Chinese

        “There is no belief about discrimination”

        The Law of Return is discriminatory. The marriage laws are discriminatory. The illegal annexation of non-Israeli territories is discriminatory.

        ” and in fact Israel has a pretty good track record of integrating minorities willing to be integrated”

        You either know nothing of Israel’s well documented discriminatory Laws http://www.adalah.org/upfiles/2011/Adalah_The_Inequality_Report_March_2011.pdf or you’re just another liar for Zionist colonialism and blatant bigotry

        “The reason Zionists have trouble buying your view is because…” …. the truth is to them like Holy Water to Nosferatu

      • justicewillprevail on August 19, 2014, 2:06 am

        JeffB, you write screeds of verbose convoluted tortured prose, and still have no idea about your fantasy state. Israel doesn’t do citizenship like any other country, to the extent that there is no such thing as an Israeli:

        http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/10/high-court-rules-it-impossible-be-israeli-201310201360824801.html

        Because to be one would ruin the meticulously constructed apartheid where you are granted privileges according to your mother’s culture, even if you have never been to or lived in the region. And of course you are treated like a dog if you don’t belong to the elitist group. No other state justifies ethnic cleansing like that, makes artificial distinctions between its citizens based on 19th century notions of race, and treats them accordingly, to the point where millions of them are denied citizenship because it will threaten the gerrymandered identity of the state, which conveniently has one set of borders for them, and another for Jews. Israel gives more rights to people who have never been there than the indigenous people who live under its despotic rule – don’t tell us it is like any other state. There is no comparison, please spare us the entirely baseless comparisons you seem to think are relevant. They are irrelevant.

      • eljay on August 19, 2014, 7:21 am

        >> JeffBeee: Today it is the belief that Israel is for Israelis the same way France is for the French and China for the Chinese.

        The way Israel and Zio-supremacists tell it, Israel remains a supremacist “Jewish State” primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.

      • Andre on August 18, 2014, 7:53 pm

        @Gene, since when is Zionists=Jews? Ever heard of e.g. CUFI?

      • just on August 18, 2014, 7:57 pm

        Horse manure, Gene. You want to talk about rights– show me the rights that were stolen along with everything else from the Palestinian people.

        Zionism is a racist, colonialist ideology and nationalist movement gone insane, not a religion.

        PS You’re not in charge of the ‘rules’.

      • MHughes976 on August 19, 2014, 12:22 pm

        Well, what is this right of self-determination and how does it apply to all concerned?

    • Mooser on August 18, 2014, 7:53 pm

      “Right – Jews have no ethical traditions now. And you wonder, Marc, why people consider anti-Zionism an antisemitic movement.”

      Hophmi, you’re never satisfied, are you? Now here’s Mr. Ellis taking Israel as the exemplar and standard for Jewish ethics and you’re not pleased? What more do you want?

  2. Betsy on August 18, 2014, 11:10 am

    @Marc — this is the human condition. One of the oldest ethical insight is recognizing that humans commit evil, when they are bound together by myths of us/them. So, to accept that Israel is behaving like this, is to accept that such myths of exceptionalism & communalism lead to herd like behavior. I don’t understand the angst about losing Jewish ethical traditions — which have rich resources for combatting such myths (and therefore seem like prophetic traditions to cling to & laud & reclaim!). What is being lost is a naïve & exceptionalist belief that Jewish people aren’t like other humans & aren’t prone to such collective evil. It should be liberating to be free of this naïve belief! Welcome to the human condition! This belief of ethical exceptionalism was itself an ethical problem — akin to the dangerous “innocence” that James Baldwin wrote about so eloquently in discussing a certain White consciousness.

    I sometimes get tired of this lament about having to change Jewish identity. It verges on whining about not being pure, not accepting membership in ordinary humanity. Isn’t it more important to put ones shoulder to the wheel & build alternative forms of resistance & transformation? I mean, doh, States commit evil when based on ethnic / racial particularities — this is old news & combatting it is a broad common struggle, for which we have all sorts of good ideas & skills & ethical traditions. This is not new ethical ground (as, say, combatting global climate change is). Isn’t it time to get on with it, and not waste time on mere identity politics & personal anxieties about personal identity?

    Now if you were going to argue that there is something *inherent* to Jewish ethical traditions that has caused this current evil, than that would be an interesting argument. For instance, do the scriptural stories (of Christian & Jewish traditions) contain inherent imperial tendencies, e.g., Joshua invading & slaying? That is something to grapple with & change.

    • just on August 18, 2014, 11:16 am

      thoughtful comment, Betsy.

    • RoHa on August 18, 2014, 2:31 pm

      From my point of view, as regulars here well know, accepting membership in ordinary humanity is a duty.

      If the Jewish ethical traditions have, indeed, come to an end, this will help with the process of fulfilling that duty, for then all Jews will have to be participants in the general moral community.

    • seafoid on August 18, 2014, 4:02 pm

      Jews developed a lot of those ethical positions in the absence of power. Now the bots have power and they turn out to be the same as the Cossacks. Well, fancy that ! Who woulda thunk it ?
      I don’t see the point of bothering with the mitzvot given the Cossack angle. I mean, who cares if the milk mixes with the meat when kids are being murdered?

      • Mooser on August 18, 2014, 7:50 pm

        Zionism fails, and everybody wants to take it out on poor old Judaism.
        That would suit Zionists nicely.

      • Philemon on August 18, 2014, 8:53 pm

        Well, that’s why Israel and Zionists keep trying to co-opt poor old Judaism, of course.

        It’s their “human shield.”

        And anyone against Zionism is an anti-Semite! /sarc/

      • W.Jones on August 18, 2014, 10:17 pm

        Mooser,
        There are three ways I see to avoid equating Judaism with modern nationalism.
        First, Judaism’s visions of a theocratic or ethnic kingdom can be “spiritualized”, so that instead of talking about a political state, the prophecies were about a “state of being” or a religious community (an assembly, Church, tribe, etc.).
        Second, the visions could be seen as real promises of a political theocracy, but one whose time has not yet come and still awaits the Messiah.
        Third, the promise of an Abrahamic kingdom could be seen to open up to include all nations that accept the Messiah, as Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations. So rather than an exclusive vision, Israel could come to mean a house or realm of many peoples.

        I believe that one of these three is the best interpretation of Judaism, but am not sure which one. What do you think?

        Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that for most of its history, the ancient Jewish community operated rather similar to modern Zionism, in that it was dedicated to a state for one religion and nationality. Granted, the ancient Israelites might not have been as focused on driving out other peoples from Palestine as the Nakba was, but at times they too could be harsh (eg. under Joshua).

      • Mooser on August 19, 2014, 1:15 pm

        “Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that for most of its history, the ancient Jewish community operated rather similar to modern Zionism, in that it was dedicated to a state for one religion and nationality.”

        Ah, so that’s what the ghettos and the segregation, and the sumptuary laws, and the restricted professions were all about? Not to mention the pogroms and genocide? It was just the “Jewish community operated rather similar to modern Zionism in that it was dedicated to a state for one religion and nationality”?
        Are you daft? And no, I don’t give a husky f–k what the Bible says about the “ancient” Jews.

      • W.Jones on August 19, 2014, 4:14 pm

        ((“Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize that for most of its history, the ancient Jewish community operated rather similar to modern Zionism, in that it was dedicated to a state for one religion and nationality.”))

        I don’t give a husky f–k what the Bible says about the “ancient” Jews.

        Hello, Mooser.
        I think that this is a worthwhile topic. If Judaism’s main spiritual book, the TaNaKh, describes the ancient Jews as managing and seeking a theocracy or nationalist state for their religious community, then wouldn’t you say that the TaNaKh’s descriptions are relevant to the relationship between Judaism and Zionism?

        Also, I sympathize with your desire to distinguish Judaism from nationalism, and tried to give three ways to make the distinction. What did you think about them?

  3. lyn117 on August 18, 2014, 11:38 am

    Thanks, Betsy, you expressed my thoughts well.

    Human depravity is common, it tends not to get recorded by the governments or people doing it. It’s always “the enemy” who’s depraved, impure, the instigators against innocent victims (us).

    To say this is the end of [ethical] Jewish history as you know it, perhaps means you left 1948 out of Jewish history? I’m sorry, please don’t throw out your ethical tradition with the loss of belief in innocent victimhood.

  4. Kay24 on August 18, 2014, 12:03 pm

    What are they afraid of? If, as they claim they were “defending” themselves and taking extreme “care” to avoid civilians casualties, why are they so hell bent in preventing investigations by the international organizations in Gaza?
    Another example of the guilty being afraid.

    “Israel bars Amnesty, Human Rights Watch workers from Gaza
    Human rights organizations prevented from conducting investigations into Israel-Hamas fighting.
    By Amira Hass

    Israel has been refusing to allow employees of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to enter the Gaza Strip in order to conduct their own independent investigations into the fighting, using various bureaucratic excuses.”
    Haaretz

    • amigo on August 18, 2014, 1:35 pm

      Kay 24, this is just a replay of Jenin, Cast lead, summer Rains and all the other slaughters they carried out and had to keep out the prying eyes of Jew haters and anti semites.

      Imagine what a normal Jury would think of a defendant not allowing the police onto a murder scene or refusing to show up for trial or making no attempt to defend himself other than shouting kangaroo court from a distance.The idea , that you cannot try us if we don,t show up.

      The zios seem to think this behaviour enhances their claim to innocence.

      Only in Ziosville.

    • concernedhuman on August 18, 2014, 4:27 pm

      Kay then israel will not even allow ICC .
      But seems even ICC will not be investigating due to pressure from BIG GUNS !

      Hague court under western pressure not to open Gaza war crimes inquiry

      http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/aug/18/hague-court-western-pressure-gaza-inquiry

      If israel can call ICC a kangaroo court what will israel call Amnesty International –a anti-semitic organization?!

      • Kay24 on August 18, 2014, 10:28 pm

        Amigo and concernedhuman, it seems once again the war criminals will get away with massacre again. The US and it’s EU allies seem to be working hard behind the scenes to make sure of that.
        The ICC should not get intimidated nor threatened by any nation, but should do their work without any interference, to get justice for civilians who are used for testing out new weapons.

  5. jon s on August 18, 2014, 12:12 pm

    See this essay by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks ( a different “jon s”…):

    http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=2a91b54e856e0e4ee78b585d2&id=4efce2d3d9&e=6d6ff9e089

    • Donald on August 18, 2014, 9:30 pm

      Sacks had the opportunity to point out that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all capable of violence and intolerance in the name of their respective faiths and how all three groups need to examine themselves, but instead he made it all about how the horrible Muslims and Christians are constantly blaming Israel when Israel kills people. It’s just days since Israel killed hundreds of Palestinian children and for him, the problem here is anti-semitism. I wonder if you and he are capable of understanding how nauseating this is.

      • jon s on August 19, 2014, 2:10 am

        Donald,
        Are you sure that you read the entire essay?
        It includes this:
        “we need a commitment by leaders of all the great faiths to work to ensure the rights of religious minorities in every part of the world where they have an influence. None of us will win if we work alone: not Jews, not Christians, not Muslims. The victim cannot cure the crime.”

        And this:
        “Genesis 1, common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, says that every human being, regardless of colour, class or creed, is in the image of God. Our shared humanity takes precedence over our religious differences. Until we are prepared to take this seriously, people will continue to kill in the name of the God of life and practise cruelty in the name of the God of compassion. And God himself will weep.”

        So Rabbi Sacks certainly refers to the responsibility of all three religions.

        And it’s “Rabbi Sacks”, Donald. A little respect.

        As to the huge number of civilian casualties, including the children – their blood is on Hamas’ hands.

      • eljay on August 19, 2014, 11:49 am

        >> jon seee: Donald, Are you sure that you read the entire essay?

        Donald’s point is valid: Sacks whitewashes the past and ON-GOING (war) crimes committed by Jews.

        >> And it’s “Rabbi Sacks”, Donald. A little respect.

        You often fail to include titles when referring to Obama or Netanyahu. Why the sudden, hypocritical reverence for titles?

      • Donald on August 19, 2014, 11:54 am

        “Are you sure that you read the entire essay?”

        Yes. It sounded much like the sort of dreck that Eli Wiesel might write on this subject.

        “As to the huge number of civilian casualties, including the children – their blood is on Hamas’ hands.”

        That was his real point and yours and it is utterly immoral. “Rabbi” Sacks is a hypocrite and an apologist for war crimes. There’s nothing new about this–apologists for America’s behavior in Vietnam (specifically the free fire zones) made identical arguments there, and I imagine the Russian apologists for the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan made similar arguments about how the Soviets responded to the mujahideen (who were not boy scouts in their behavior either).

        So yes, I read that claim that we all have to work together and by itself that was fine–but the other theme in the article, the reason you like it so much, is that he also absolves Israel of any blame for its own sins. We all work together to end hatred and we do this by condemning Muslims and Christians for their sins, and by absolving Israel when it kills hundreds of children. Sorry, but that’s not what honest moral leadership looks like. That’s a man trying to make himself feel good and blame everyone else for the sins of the side he favors. Sure, he wants peace and reconciliation, but only if he doesn’t have to be honest with himself. I wonder if the good rabbi is married? Does he take that approach if he has an argument with his wife? Does he tell her that he wants reconciliation and they both have to work at it, and oh, by the way, it’s her fault he raised his voice and in fact any notion that he himself might be to blame is just an example of her irrational hostility towards him.

        I’m fairly sure Hamas leaders (who in recent years say they are willing to live with Jews) would make exactly the same argument with respect to their suicide bombing campaign in the Second Intifada. Perhaps “Rabbi” Sacks and the Hamas leadership could get together around a campfire and swap rationalizations.

      • tree on August 19, 2014, 3:02 pm

        Donald,

        Sacks also clearly misrepresented what happened in 2002 in the siege of the Church of the Nativity. Here is his whitewashed version:

        In Israel a group of Palestinian terrorists had taken refuge in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The Israeli army, not wishing to enter a house of worship, stationed soldiers outside to wait until the terrorists emerged. It took several weeks.

        In fact, the siege took place during the bloodiest part of Israel’s offensive against the second Intifada, Operation Defensive Shield, when the IDF laid siege to most Palestinian cities and during which over 250 Palestinians were killed over the course of one month. The IDF did not simply “wait outside” the Church, after 200 people, the majority of them NOT fighters, nor “wanted men” as the IDF referred to them, sought sanctuary inside the Church. IDF snipers killed 8 inside the Church, including the church bellringer, cut off electricity and water, prevented food and water from being brought in, and damaged portions of the Church exterior, all while international negotiations were under way to arrange exile to Gaza or Europe for the few wanted men that the IDF was after.

        After the siege had ended, the only credible reports of damage inside the Church came from a fire cause by Israel fire from outside the Church, and trash and the strong smell of urine. Any Palestinian refuge seeker who attempted to go to the Church courtyard to relieve himself was shot by Israel snipers.

        Here’s a timeline of the siege, and a listing of Israeli distortions:

        http://electronicintifada.net/content/israeli-distortions-during-siege-church-nativity/3984

      • tree on August 19, 2014, 4:38 pm

        As to the huge number of civilian casualties, including the children – their blood is on Hamas’ hands.

        Kind of like how the blood of the murdered of Lidice were on the hands of the Czech resistance, right?

        Why can’t Israel take responsibility for its own actions? No one makes you kill children. You make a choice.

    • Kris on August 18, 2014, 11:00 pm

      @jon s, Rabbi Sacks’ essay is amazing. Amazing for his cluelessness, which is so complete that he has no idea why, except as an expression of “blood libel,” Israel is accused of “the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide and crimes against humanity.”

      From Sacks’ essay:

      “The historic danger in monotheism has been the willingness of believers to divide humanity into the redeemed against the infidel. To guard against this, Genesis 1, common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, says that every human being, regardless of colour, class or creed, is in the image of God. Our shared humanity takes precedence over our religious differences.”

      How is it possible that Sacks has no awareness of how cynical these words are when spoken in defense of Israel, where ethnic/religious supremacism is the law? Where is the “shared humanity” in Israel’s decades-long campaign of land theft, ethnic cleansing, and calculated cruelty against the Palestinians?

      When you realize that people don’t like you, it’s probably good to start by examining your own actions and attitudes, before you start accusing people of “blood libel,” etc.

  6. seafoid on August 18, 2014, 3:51 pm

    The photo shows the words “freedom” and “peace” in Arabic in the lower right hand corner and the Zionist bastards go and spray their appropriated symbol of hate on the wall under it, like dogs marking the territory.

  7. Steve Macklevore on August 19, 2014, 3:57 am

    “I have never seen the devastation of war. It can’t be easy for any of the reporters. Is it different for Jews?”

    I’m sorry but as a gentile, I’m finding this self-absorption difficult to take. That short paragraph is so problematic on several levels…

  8. JeffB on August 19, 2014, 7:31 am

    @tree

    The Jewish National Fund discriminated against non-Jews from its very inception in 1901.

    That’s partially correct. We are talking about the government of Israel. If we include quasi governmental institutions things get murkier. Then things like Agudath Israel of America even though they aren’t in Israel become an import.

    [The JNF] set up covenants on the land it bought denying any tenant farmer who was not Jewish from farming on the land, even though such tenant farming was legal under Ottoman Empire law.

    Well yes, but at that point it was a trivial amount of land it was setting up for Jewish redemption through labor. I don’t suffer from housing discrimination because I can’t go live in a monastery. There is a difference between 90% being inaccessible and .09% being inaccessible. By the mid 1920s the position reversed due to the citrus explosion. If Zionism were as blanketly as committed to discrimination as your side claims that wouldn’t have happened.

    They also discriminated against Arab Jews from the very beginning by not allowing them to become equal members of the kibbutzim.

    That was racism in the community. But it has been reversed. If racism were intrinsic to Zionism it wouldn’t have been reversed.

    No, Israel does not recognize “Israeli” as a nationality. It claims it is a Jewish State, and even demands that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish State, rather than an Israeli State.

    That’s recognizing the legitimacy of the inhabitants of Israel which in the case of Palestine is constantly called into question. Even though the French are descended from tribes that evolved in Germany there are not frequent statements that the French should go back to Germany. Israelis are mostly Jewish, and Israel is Jewish in the way that France is Catholic. Catholicism is embedded within the culture and the language to the point that even atheistic French hold mostly Catholic views on most issues. No one considers that particularly troubling. When it comes to Judaism however it is considered particularly troubling. That’s what the Palestinians are being asked to recognize.

    In terms of getting rid of the legal distinctions based on nationality I’m all in favor of that. But right now Israeli Arabs are not. There is a notion of multiple nationalities with separate educational systems and separate systems of social law which all the nationalities support. I certainly would prefer that those distinctions be dissolved. But it is hard to call something discrimination that Israeli Arabs widely support.

    JeffB: Israel has a pretty good track record of integrating minorities willing to be integrated.

    Tree: Ethnically cleansing anywhere from 750,000 to 800,000 people does not in any way shape or form constitute a “good track record”.

    Did you notice the conditional part of the clause? “minorities willing to be integrated”. The Palestinians in the 1930-40s were not willing to be integrated, they had an anti-colonial pan arabist orientation. The sephardic and mizrahi Jews were. The Russian Christians are. And frankly the Israeli-Arabs that saw the mass ethnic cleansing and thus threw in the towel on were being successfully assimilated all through to the 1980s. So clearly the Zionist state is willing to assimilate minorities that are willing to be assimilated. The bulk of Palestinians are not.

    Neither does the confiscation of land from non-Jews in order to benefit Jews only.

    I’m not sure which you mean here. Generally when people on Mondowweiss talk about confiscation they are talking about Israel taking territory in the West Bank. That’s liberating land from enemy control. That is something that both China and France have done many times in their history.

    There is a asic institutional discrimination against non-Jews in favor of Jews and that is how the government and the majority of Jewish Israelis believe it should be.

    I agree with you. But that’s intrinsic to Zionism. Israel needs a civil rights movement. I think what’s halted the civil rights movement is the fact that the Israeli Arabs identified with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza rather than Israel. After the slaves were freed in America, Americans really weren’t sure whether blacks wanted to be Americans or not. African Americans decided in the late 19th century that they sought to be fully American and to create an America that didn’t have institutional racism. But that was a trade. Had they gone the other way, and decided not to be American then it isn’t a civil rights movement.

    Similarly Jews and Catholics in America were able to convince Americans that Protestantism was not intrinsic to being American. They did this partially through religious reform, creating structurally Protestant versions of Judaism and Catholicism so as to make their religion less threatening. The Jewish minority in France sought to be fully French and argued that they were fully French for many decades. Again a civil rights movement is a two way dialogue.

    This is a dialogue I fully support. I completely agree that it would be much better if Israel were engaged in this dialogue. I think it is tragic that the occupation / colonization of the WestBank is causing Israeli Arabs to regress from identifying as Israeli. And I think you would agree I’m not a slouch when it comes to Zionism. In the end though Israeli exists for Israelis, and if Israeli Arabs want to be Palestinians and not Israeli Arabs then they can’t be part of Israel.

    That is asking the French to support their country being overridden by enemies. I said French like France not French like Belgium for a good reason.

    . You are in complete denial about what Israel is and what they believe in. I suspect that you know better but cannot admit as much because you know that admitting that Israel was founded on oppressive discrimination would lead to calls for its reform and you like the privileges it accords to Jews.

    I’m all for the reform of Israel. I’m all for a civil rights movement. The debate with BDS is about the annihilation of Israel not its reform. Most BDSers support policies that would turn Israel into a Palestinian state with a religious Jewish minority. That’s what happened to France in the 5th century when the country was overridden by Franks and the previous culture destroyed. The debate is whether Israel should be annihilated, not whether it should be reformed. I support reforms in America, that doesn’t mean I supported the 9/11 attacks. I can acknowledge that Al Qaeda can have legitimate complaints about the USA policy without wishing for them to get sufficient military power for them to be able to force those changes on the American population.

    • tree on August 20, 2014, 6:23 am

      JeffB.

      me:The Jewish National Fund discriminated against non-Jews from its very inception in 1901.

      you: That’s partially correct. We are talking about the government of Israel.

      No, we were talking about Zionism, which you insisted did not involve a belief in discrimination in favor of Jews, yet now you admit it did.

      Well yes, but at that point it was a trivial amount of land it was setting up for Jewish redemption through labor. I don’t suffer from housing discrimination because I can’t go live in a monastery. There is a difference between 90% being inaccessible and .09% being inaccessible. By the mid 1920s the position reversed due to the citrus explosion. If Zionism were as blanketly as committed to discrimination as your side claims that wouldn’t have happened.

      If you are thrown off the land you have legally lived on and cultivated because you are of the “wrong” ethnicity or religion, then that is discrimination. Its obvious. We aren’t talking about you moving into a monastery, as much as you may want to make false analogies to obscure the issue. I’m not sure whether you are just ignorant and willing to make up what you believe is plausible shit, or whether you are purposefully lying (maybe a little of both?) but the Zionist policy of “conquest of the land” and “conquest of labor”, both of which entailed the dispossession of non-Jews in Palestine, continued from the turn of the twentieth century up through the 1940’s and was embraced by the State of Israel with its founding in 1948. Zionism was and is, to use your term, “blanketly” discriminatory.

      From Matzpen:

      The Zionist colonization proceeded under three basic slogans. The first of these is Kibush Hakarka (Conquest of the Land). This means that the holy soil of Palestine is to be made the patrimony of the Jewish people. Jews must work the land, and Jews alone are entitled to do so. During the mandate period, this slogan justified the Zionist land purchases and the forcible removal of the Palestinian peasants; since the formation of the state, it continues to justify the violent expropriation of Palestinians without any pretence of contractual agreement

      The second slogan is Kibush Ha’avoda (Conquest of Labor). In practice, this means that, as far as possible, Jewish enterprises must hire only Jewish workers. It meant that the Histadrut, which virtually excluded Arabs from membership until the mid-196os, had as its main function before the establishment of the state in 1948 the enforcement of an Arab labor boycott

      The third of these slogans is Tozteret Ha’aretz (Produce of the Land). In practice, this slogan meant the maintenance of a strict boycott of Arab-produced goods. Jews were to buy only from Jewish-run farms and stores.

      Today, either from tactical considerations or from stirrings of guilty consciences, Zionist spokesmen try to cover up this past – and present To demonstrate that these slogans in fact represented day-to-day practice of the Zionist colonization, it suffices to quote David Hacohen, a leader of the Mapai Labor Party, which ruled and still rules in Israel Hacohen was a member of the Knesset for many years and chairman of its most important committee, Defense and Foreign Affairs. In a speech to the secretariat of the Mapai in November 1969, Hacohen stated:

      “I remember being one of the first of our comrades to go to London after the First World War … There I became a socialist … When I joined the socialist students – English, Irish, Jewish, Chinese, Indian, African – we found that we were all under English domination or rule. And even here, in these intimate surroundings, I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism, to defend the fact that I would not accept Arabs in my trade union, the Histadrut; to defend preaching to housewives that they not buy at Arab stores; to defend the fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs there. … To pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the markets and smash the Arab eggs they had bought; to praise to the skies the Kereen Kayemet [Jewish Fund] that sent Hanlon to Beirut to buy land from absentee effendi [landlords] and to throw the fellahin[peasants] off the land – to buy dozens of dunams 12 from an Arab is permitted, but to sell, God forbid, one Jewish dunam to an Arab is prohibited; to take Rothschild, the incarnation of capitalism, as a socialist and to name him the “benefactor” – to do all that was not easy. And despite the fact that we did it – maybe we had no choice – I wasn’t happy about it “13.

      Hacohen’s revelation of his feelings is surely sufficient evidence that these slogans constituted day-to-day practice and that Zionism was in fact a colonization of displacement.

      http://www.matzpen.org/english/1972-02-10/introduction/

      These boycotts and pickets against hiring Palestinian Arab workers continued through all the of pre-state period. As Simha Flapan pointed out in Zionism and the Palestinians:

      The issue of Jewish labour became thus part of the larger problem of the scale and pace of Jewish immigration. This would explain the strange fact that the campaign for ‘100 percent Jewish labour’ reached its climax precisely in the years of prosperity and large-scale Jewish immigration in 1933-35. The paradox of the situation was in the fact that Arab labour in the Jewish colonies increased not in the wake of competition between Jewish and Arab workers and not due to the employers’ search for higher profits, but due to the shortage of Jewish labor, in the rural sector in particular. The economic boom in towns, the higher wages in construction drew thousands of Jewish workers away from agriculture and no moral appeal to Zionist ideals and national interest could persuade the workers in the colonies and the new immigrants to renounce a higher standard of living and lucrative employment offered by the economic boom in the cities.

      …The shortage of Jewish labour and the economic boom threatened to wreck the [Zionist] policy of economic and social segregation; Arab workers were drawn in increasing numbers into construction sites in the cities and to the new colonies in the Sharon in which, up till now. the principle of 100 per cent of Jewish labour was preserved. To oppose this drift the labour leadership (now well entrenched in the Jewish Agency with Ben-Gurion and Sharett heading its Jerusalem section) took recourse to drastic measures which had far-reaching consequences on the relations between Jews and Arabs. In 1933 the Histadruth launched, for the first time, a campaign to remove Arab workers from the cities. Specially formed mobile units moved from place to place to identify and evict by force, if necessary, Arab workers from construction sites and other Jewish enterprises. This campaign in the cities, especially in Haifa and Jerusalem, which had a mixed population, assumed dramatic dimensions and had a devastating effect on public opinion. Every single case of removal of Arab workers – and in many case the operation took the form of ugly scenes of violence – was reported in the Jewish press and reverberated in the Arab media, creating an atmosphere of unprecedented tension.

      Flapan goes on to note that this campaign to forcibly remove Arab workers was a significant factor in the outbreak of the Palestinian Uprising in 1936.

      Did you notice the conditional part of the clause? “minorities willing to be integrated”. The Palestinians in the 1930-40s were not willing to be integrated …

      Yes, I noted it as weasel words meant to excuse the actions of the Israeli government in discriminating against Palestinian non-Jews. Blaming the victim, in other words. You do that quite a bit. The Palestinians in the 1930s-40 were not the ones fighting integration into society. It was clearly the Zionists who immigrated and then refused to integrate into the existing society, and sought by all means to prevent the integration of Palestinians into the discriminatory state they created in 1948.

      me: Neither does the confiscation of land from non-Jews in order to benefit Jews only.

      you:I’m not sure which you mean here. Generally when people on Mondowweiss talk about confiscation they are talking about Israel taking territory in the West Bank. That’s liberating land from enemy control.

      Again, I’m not sure whether you are ignorant or simply lying. Israel confiscated land from its own Palestinian citizens ( and from the absentee owners who were ethnically cleansed from Israel/Palestine) long before 1967. Taking land from non-Jewish citizens of Israel and giving it to Jews is discrimination, plain and simple. And “liberating land from enemy control” is exactly what Nazi Germany did to Poland in WWII. I don’t think that is something you should speak of positively unless you wish to be seen as a fascist. (But then, maybe you do so wish.)

      me:There is a basic institutional discrimination against non-Jews in favor of Jews and that is how the government and the majority of Jewish Israelis believe it should be.

      you:I agree with you. But that’s intrinsic to Zionism.

      My point exactly. So why did you insist otherwise above? So now we agree that Zionism is intrinsically discriminatory.

      Similarly Jews and Catholics in America were able to convince Americans that Protestantism was not intrinsic to being American.

      No, the founding fathers were mostly Deists, believed in freedom of religion, and never believed that Protestantism was intrinsic to being American, nor did they set up a State of the Protestant People. I find it amazing that you will even distort American history to try to excuse what Zionism is. Well, maybe not amazing. You often struggle to make arguments that have no relationship to reality, and this is just one of them. As is your last argument that somehow BDS is just like Al-Queda. Because treating everyone in Israel as equal before the law, regardless of ethnicity or religion is just like getting attacked on 9-11. Right. Its just another one of your false analogies.

      • JeffB on August 20, 2014, 8:37 am

        @tree

        These boycotts and pickets against hiring Palestinian Arab workers continued through all the of pre-state period.

        They most certainly did not. That is simply false. During the mid 1920s to 1935 Israel aggressively expanded the Arab role in their economy and imported Arab workers. The 1936-9 war was not a result of a the failure to utilize Arab labor but arguably was a result of the willingness to utilize Arab labor. The expansion of the citrus industry beyond what the Jewish population could self sustain made Zionists into classic colonialists and thus made them vulnerable to damaging the supply of labor and thus less likely to engage in broad reprisals. It was not until 1937 that there was a return the Communist ideology of the late teens through early 20s when Zionists had boycotted Arab labor.

        Your own quote from Simha Flapan here supports my point. There was an expansion of Arab labor going on that Ben Gurion was opposed to. The reason he had something to be opposed to was because it was happening

        What you are doing here is trying to grossly oversimplify 4 different Zionist waves of immigration into one large conspiracy. That is part of how demonization works. And I’m not going along with it. If Jewish Zionists are rapidly and drastically expanding the Arab labor pool in the Jewish economy that proves that Jewish Zionism was not at all times and all places opposed to Arab labor in the Jewish economy.

        Flapan goes on to note that this campaign to forcibly remove Arab workers was a significant factor in the outbreak of the Palestinian Uprising in 1936.

        In 1936 the Arab labor pool was still expanding. It wasn’t until the uprising that the pool started to contract and not until ’37 that it started to rapidly contract. The cause of outbreak was the influx of anti-colonialist ideology from Syria which was more applicable now that Jews were acting like classic colonizers.

        The Palestinians in the 1930s-40 were not the ones fighting integration into society.

        The Palestinians in the 1930s were the ones who bought into an anti-colonialist ideology and started tossing bombs into Jewish centers to drive the colonials out. That’s fighting integration.

        It was clearly the Zionists who immigrated and then refused to integrate into the existing society

        Zionists were not merely immigrants to Palestine. They sought to construct a new homeland in Palestine. They were not immigrating into an existing state and meekly trying to fit in. The Ashkenazi Jews were not migrating to become Mizrahi Jews or Palestinians. There is a distinction between not integrating into Palestine and your claim that they always supported total exclusion.

        and sought by all means to prevent the integration of Palestinians into the discriminatory state they created in 1948.

        Total nonsense. They immediately created structures to integrate them during the military rule and the integration process continues with increasing success in some areas until today. Just look at the jobs Israeli Arabs hold, those simply wouldn’t exist if Israel were trying to exclude them from the economy by all means.

        And “liberating land from enemy control” is exactly what Nazi Germany did to Poland in WWII.

        And it also what Poland did at the end of WWII. Same process works in either direction.

        No, the founding fathers were mostly Deists,

        No they weren’t, though there were quite a few deists.
        Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were the only founding fathers who signed the declaration with strong Deist ties, the other 54 did not have such ties. Cornelius Harnett was the only signer of the Articles of Confederation with such ties the other 47 did not. Benjamin Franklin was the only signer of the Constitution with such ties the other 54 did not.

        But every single one of all three groups came from a Protestant background and had a Protestant affiliation. Deism certainly was an influential movement in the 18th century among America’s leaders but it is simply inaccurate to say that our founders were Deists.

        and never believed that Protestantism was intrinsic to being American

        Their intent as clearly indicated by their writings at the time was to expand the government beyond Church of England to include nonconforming Protestants. Loyalty to the Pope was considered a foreign loyalty, veneration of Saints was still considered a disqualifying belief. Jews and Catholics were mostly excluded from juries, public employment, public notaries (they couldn’t validly swear)…

        Because treating everyone in Israel as equal before the law, regardless of ethnicity or religion

        I’m perfectly willing to treat everyone in Israel equally before the law. And I’m a Zionist. In your theory such a belief is impossible. You may want to consider that contradiction a bit. BDS is not advocating equality before the law.

  9. JeffB on August 19, 2014, 7:34 am

    @Talknic

    The French do not have a law of return nor do the Chinese

    They most certainly do. The French did not leave the Pied-Noir to die in Algeria when they lost the Algerian war. The Chinese just recently allowed a huge influx of Indonesians of Chinese ethnicity in the 1990s when anti-Chinese violence drove them out.

  10. JeffB on August 19, 2014, 12:44 pm

    @MHughes976 says:

    Well, what is this right of self-determination and how does it apply to all concerned?

    The right of people living in a territory to form a government for that territory which sets and enforces the laws for that territory.

    • Mooser on August 19, 2014, 1:19 pm

      “The right of people living in a territory to form a government for that territory which sets and enforces the laws for that territory.”

      Shorter JeffyB: “If I have anything to do with it, from behind my keyboard in America, Israelis will fight to the last man to keep what they have stolen. And I will hold their coats!”

Leave a Reply