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From Hillel to Sabeel: The path to unlearning Zionism

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“The Bible is meant for liberation, not expulsion of indigenous people,” said Reverend Naim Ateek, founder and president of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, during his opening plenary talk on Christian Liberation Theology at the “Voices for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land” conference.  The conference, sponsored by Sabeel and Students for Justice in Palestine, was held November 7-8 in Madison, Wisconsin.  In his opening plenary, “The Uses and Abuses of Religion in the Palestinian-Zionist Conflict,” Ateek offered a passionate examination of how Palestinian Liberation Theology can de-Zionize the Bible.  “We need to rescue the Bible,” he said, arguing that “the Bible is about justice and truth and nonviolence.”

The room was packed.  As I looked around, I saw many nodding heads while Ateek spoke.  Many Christians and SJP students attended.  It was refreshing to be in an anti-Zionist space.  The conference was at the Pyle Center, a building on the campus in downtown Madison.  The room where the plenaries took place, the Alumni Room, overlooked beautiful, blue Lake Mendota.  I remember as an undergrad in Madison studying in the library that overlooked this lake.  In the winter, old men would sit on the ice in their little huts, ice-fishing, each man his own island, each with his own little circle cut into the ice.  The Pyle Center is also across the street from Hillel–a gorgeous building of glass, wood, metal, and stone, rebuilt in 2008.  Walking across the street, one could see the small Israeli flags dotting the large window.

I graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992.  An ardent Zionist–at the time this was, for me, synonymous with Judaism–I looked to Madison’s Hillel as a spiritual second home.  As an undergrad, I went every Thursday for Israeli folk dancing.  Warmer nights we’d find ourselves dancing proudly in the University Square, outside Memorial Library, around the corner from Hillel, the speakers loudly projecting the Israeli folk music.  I ordered Passover meals from Hillel, and picked them up fresh every day during the holiday.  I heard speakers at Hillel, and bought my Hebrew Wisconsin t-shirt there, Bucky the Badger on the back.  I wore it proudly for years.  When Louis Farrakhan spoke on campus, I marched in my first protest along with other Jews from Hillel, holding our candles in silent vigil as we walked to the stadium where he spoke.  And when I wasn’t at Hillel, I was attending lectures and readings by David Grossman, Amoz Oz, Yehuda Amichai, and others, sponsored by the Hebrew and Semitic Studies Department, one of my two majors.  I met Oz in my Hebrew Literature in Translation class.  The class was a marriage of my two loves at the time, literature and Israel.  It was this class that provided me with a literary foundation that would serve me well when I went on to graduate school in Jerusalem.  Oz, terribly handsome, a “sensitive Sabra,” told the class, “Reading literature in translation is like making love with a blanket.”  Many of us swooned as he began to read from his latest book, To Know a Woman.

Across the street from Hillel, back at November’s Sabeel conference, Mark Braverman, co-founder of Friends of Tent of Nations North America and Program Director for Kairos USA, spoke to the packed room.  Speaking to a mostly Christian audience, Braverman talked about the responsibility of Jews to “move from post-Holocaust to post-Nakba,” arguing that “we Jews have an obsession with our past suffering and we need to look at the suffering we are causing others.”  He mentioned specifically the recent Gaza war and emphasized the relevance of Marc Ellis’s newest collection of essays about Gaza in his book, Burning Children: A Jewish View of the War in Gaza.  Braverman also discussed Ellis’s work in post-Holocaust theology, and why it’s important for Christians to examine the post-Holocaust guilt that has resulted, for many, in support for Israel.  Towards the end of his talk, Braverman told us that when he was in Israel/Palestine many years ago–he called it the Holy Land–he had an identity crisis when he realized how much more comfortable he felt in East Jerusalem than West, even though he spoke the language and shared the culture with other Jews.  I had a similar experience as Braverman.

Living in West Jerusalem in the 1990s when I was a graduate student at Hebrew University, I began spending time in East Jerusalem with Joseph, an Armenian man I was dating, who lived in the Armenian Quarter in the Old City and worked in his family-owned shop in East Jerusalem.  I had been told by many Jewish Israelis and Jewish Americans to stay away from East Jerusalem because it was dangerous, unwieldy, and violent.  The first time Joseph took me to East Jerusalem was to the American Colony Hotel, where we ate and drank, surrounded by other diners speaking almost exclusively in Arabic.  I was used to hearing people speak Hebrew in West Jerusalem and didn’t realize until that evening how much Arabic was spoken in other parts of Jerusalem.  My Zionist upbringing taught me to associate the Hebrew language with Israel, so it was a surprise to hear so much Arabic.  One day when Joseph took me to East Jerusalem, the siren for Yom HaShoah rang loudly throughout the country.  In West Jerusalem, people stopped for the moment of silence.  Not so in East Jerusalem.  I was sitting in Joseph’s car waiting for him when he ran into a store to buy cigarettes when the siren rang and I watched the people go about their day, paying no attention to the siren.  As an anti-Zionist today, I don’t blame them.  Subsequent visits to East Jerusalem were to various restaurants, friends’ homes and shops.  Many nights, after the work day, we’d arrive at a friend’s shop, close the metal doors behind us, and smoke, drink coffee, and play music.  “How long do I have to pay for the Holocaust?” a Palestinian friend of Joseph’s asked me one night when we hung out in his shop.  After these long evenings in East Jerusalem spending time with Palestinians and Armenians, I’d return to my apartment in West Jerusalem, unable, really, to explain to my roommates–or myself–where I had been and why I was starting to prefer East to West.  I had come to Israel to live in West Jerusalem as a grad student, but was beginning to feel more comfortable spending time in East Jerusalem, getting to know the people who lived there, in the place I was taught was scary and dangerous.

Feeling comfortable in one place over another, however, felt more romantic than political.  Unbeknownst to me, my “romance” with East Jerusalem was laying the groundwork for my current politics.  My anti-Zionism came in stages.  Visiting East Jerusalem was just the first stage.  Even then, though, when I was visiting East Jerusalem, I still saw it as Israel (“It’s just where the Arabs live”).   Then, as a “liberal Zionist,” I believed that Palestine was the West Bank and that the settlers should leave and return to “Israel proper.”  Like water that ripples as it moves outward, so too did my vision start to ripple and expand as to what I understood to be occupied Palestine.  The “ripples” started to spread from settlements like Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim (“You know, way out there, in the desert) and moved inward.  Closer Jerusalem neighborhoods like Pisgat Ze-ev came next (“But isn’t it a neighborhood, not a settlement?”), then French Hill, Ramat Eshkol (“But they’re only short bus rides away from downtown [West] Jerusalem; how can they be settlements?”), and Hebrew University (“What do you mean, it was Jordan?  That’s why there are two campuses?”).  Eventually, later, I came to see all of Israel as occupied Palestinian land.

I’m not proud that my epiphany of Palestine came slowly over several years.  Deconstructing its allure now–by looking at it through how I defined land–sounds ridiculous.  But it speaks to the propaganda so many American Jews are fed.  That we think we get to decide what constitutes Israel and Palestine.  Zionism has given people permission to act as experts on a foreign land.  On the most hopeful of days, the whole thing makes me sick.

Later in the day, after Braverman’s talk, I crossed the street and entered Hillel.  I was immediately greeted by two men who asked how they could help me.  I told them that I had attended the university 25 years ago and had been a “regular” at Hillel.  They were happy I had returned.  I asked them if they knew that there was a Palestinian peace conference across the street.  When they said they did, I wondered how they felt about it.  One of the men said that he had prepared a statement, but he didn’t think they would have to run it because most of the people attending the conference weren’t affiliated with the university.  He wanted to be prepared “just in case,” because many Jews would be “disturbed” to know what was being said at the conference and Hillel just wanted to be on guard, because the conference “was going to talk about boycott and divestment and stuff like that.”  It was clear he was good at his job: representing Hillel, defending and guarding Israel at any moment, and providing a “safe haven” and spiritual home for young Jews on campus.  It was for me; I remembered it well.

The other man–an intern named Mikki sent from Israel to work with young Jews at Hillel–noticed the button on my coat that says “Peace” in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.  I had forgotten about it when I entered the building.  I was outed.  He looked at me suspiciously.  I thought of the absurdity of the world we are living in where peace buttons make one dubious.  Distrustful, he asked me what I was doing in Madison this particular weekend.  I started to remember the last time I visited the American Colony Hotel bookstore when I bought Yitzhak Laor’s The Myths of Liberal Zionism.  I remembered Laor describing Oz.  “Since Oz is a ‘progressive’ he is careful to talk about the natives as if he were a social worker talking about children.”  I remembered Braverman’s talk earlier in the day when he said that we Jews need to look at the suffering we are causing others.  I felt disgusted by Oz’s liberal Zionism–disgusted, really, by my own liberal Zionism that I upheld.  In his book, Laor argues, “The colonized Jews now tried to free themselves by colonizing others.”  And then I remembered before all of this, when I was a Zionist, behaving like a missionary sent to defend and protect Israel at all costs, like the people at Hillel did before me now.

Mikki awkwardly invited me to the Shabbat dinner starting there in a few hours as he continued to look at my button.  I thanked them, remembering–again–how much more at home I felt across the street.  I wondered why I had gone back to Hillel in the first place, unsure of what I thought I’d accomplish.  I didn’t know.  And I had nothing left to say.  As I exited the building, Mikki said “Shabbat Shalom.”

About Liz Rose

Liz Rose is a Chicago teacher.

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39 Responses

  1. Kris
    December 8, 2014, 3:24 pm

    What a wonderful essay, thank you!

  2. Annie Robbins
    December 8, 2014, 3:38 pm

    thank you liz. beautifully written and very interesting.

  3. Mooser
    December 8, 2014, 3:40 pm

    ” It was refreshing to be in an anti-Zionist space.”

    I think many, many people will find both their Judaism and and their Jewishness refreshed in that space.

  4. just
    December 8, 2014, 4:28 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful story of your journey, Liz.

    “remembering–again–how much more at home I felt across the street.”

    Sounds simply elegant~ just crossing the street.

    Congratulations on your arrival. I hope the rest of your journey is as rewarding.

  5. Mooser
    December 8, 2014, 5:11 pm

    “While I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech at Hillel, I do want to clarify that I was selectively quoted. My full statement indicated that funds withdrawn from corporations directly building settlements, etc (As opposed to a more general criteria that anything supporting Israel’s economy is supporting the Occupation) should be reinvested in something positive in Israel. This is not relevant to those who not only want to end the 1967 Occupation, but are opposed to Israel’s existence. Neither is it relevant to those who believe that Israeli opinion will never change or is irrelevant. If one’s goal is to end the 1967 Occupation and if one believes that influencing Israeli hearts and minds is important, than this is the only way I can see of convincing Israelis to see this as a step against the Occupation, and not further evidence that “The whole world hates us, and we should ignore them.””

    Whatever is going on in the other space has got to be a lot more refreshing than that

  6. yonah fredman
    December 8, 2014, 8:04 pm

    Much of the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University was located in territory nominally under Israeli control and protected from the Jordanian occupation by the UN, as in this quote from wikipedia: “In the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Mount Scopus became a UN protected Israeli exclave within Jordanian-administered territory until the Six-Day War in 1967.”

    It was not available for use by Israelis, but it WAS NOT part of Jordan.

    • Zofia
      December 14, 2014, 5:21 pm

      This sentence: “Mount Scopus became a UN protected Israeli exclave within Jordanian-administered territory until the Six-Day War in 1967” has no sense whatsoever and is just wrong.
      Mount Scopus was a demilitarized zone!!! It wasn’t an Israeli exclave since in the respective areas armed Arab and Jewish civilian police were placed on duty under the United Nations Commander. I hope you see the difference!
      According to 7 July 1948 Agreement for the Demilitarization of Mount Scopus Area: the “area as delineated on the attached map will be assigned to United Nations protection until hostilities cease or a new agreement is entered upon. It shall include the areas designated as Hadassah Hospital, Hebrew University, Augusta Victoria and the Arab village of Issawiya, The United Nations agrees to become a signatory to this document by representation through the Senior Observer in the Jerusalem area and the Chairman of the Truce Commission. It therefore accepts responsibility for the security of this area …”.
      ALSO: “There shall be a no-man’s-land location extending for approximately 200 yards along the main road between the Augusta Victoria and Hebrew University buildings, with suitable check-posts established at each end. Other check-posts will be established on the perimeter of the zone under protection, and all parties agree that access desired should be sought along the main road via the United Nations check-posts as established by the United Nations Commander”.

      IMPORTANT: “In their respective areas armed Arab and Jewish civilian police will be placed on duty under the United Nations Commander. The United Nations flag will fly on the main buildings”.

      The demilitarized zone was supposed to be under the direct control of the Chief of Staff of UNTSO and that the civilian policemen (Arab and Jewish) who were to guard Arab and Jewish properties respectively in the zone, were supposed to obey his orders.
      But in actual practice, this was not the case in the Jeowsh section since the agreement of July 7, 1948 was signed. Although the UN flag flew over the buildings, UN personel were not permitted to come anywhere close to the “israel’s zone”. Arab farmers were fired upon, pedestrians were harassed (especially those near the Isawiya village). For example (one of many) in autumn of 1957 UN aerial photos revealed that Israelis were fortifying what was supposed to be a demilitarized zone, they also barred UN observers from inspecting it. You can read more about it in “Bitter Harvest: A Modern History of Palestine”, by Sami Hadawi.

      There was also problem with the so called “7 July” and “21 July” lines. As Major-General Carl Carlsson von Horn explaines: “There are two maps, showing different limits for the Mount Scopus Demilitarized Zone. On the Israel side, it is considered that the valid map – that which is referred to in the first paragraph of the 7 July 1948 Agreement – is a map “SCOPUS – UN” dated 8 July 1948 and initialled F.M.B. (the initials of Mr. Begley, a member of the United Nations Secretariat, then on the Mediator’s staff, who assisted in the drafting of the Agreement, though he DID NOT SIGN IT.) On the Jordan side, it is considered that the valid map is the more CAREFULLY DELINEATED MAP of the truce lines in the Jerusalem area, initialled by the Arab Commander and by Mr. Begley, WHO together with the Israel Commander and the Chairman of the UN Truce Commission SIGNED the 21 July 1948 Agreement “between Arab and Jewish Military Commanders” concerning “the method of controlling no-man’s-land and other details of the Truce commencing 17 July 1948″. This map was not initialled by the Jewish Military Commander and Israel does not accept its delimitation of the demilitarized area of Mount Scopus”. So: “there are on Mount Scopus sectors which Israel considers as being within the Demilitarized Zone and Jordan in Jordanian-controlled territory”. Israel used this problem to expand its zone, to harass Palestinians, etc:

      As Major-General Carl Carlsson von Horn, Chief of Staff of the UNTSO writes in his report:
      “A fence surrounded – and still surrounds – the Jewish buildings, and the main problem for the Chief of Staff’s representative was then to prevent conflicts resulting from the desire of Arab civilians to cultivate land, pick olives or repair a house in the immediate vicinity of that fence, which separated them from the buildings guarded and inhabited by the Jewish police and civilians referred to in paragraph 4 of the 7 July 1948 Agreement. The Chief of Staff’s representative has continued up to now to request Arabs not to work closer than approximately fifty metres from the fence, unless he could secure from the Israel police the assurance that there would be no interference with the projected work.”

      77.”The houses referred to in the preceding paragraph are in a row (located outside the fence, close to the Hadassah building), from north to south. Those to the north are close to the road which, skirting round the British War Cemetery and running north of the Hadassah building, has for the last ten years been used by the villagers of Issawiya going to or returning from Jerusalem. 4/ When the Israeli police patrols the area of the seven houses, it also often patrols the area of the road used by the villagers. The latter have repeatedly complained that the Israeli police had been frightening or insulting Arab women. On 22 May 1958, I drew the Israel Foreign Ministry’s attention to specific complaints alleging that on two successive days Arab women drawing water from a well, on the northern side of the road to Issawiya, had been insulted and frightened. On 23 May, the allegations were denied by the Israel Foreign Ministry. On 24 May, Lt.-Colonel G.A. Flint visited Issawiya and reported that he had found the villagers visibly upset, “more so than on other occasions”, by what they referred to as insults to women”.

      78.”The inhabitants of Issawiya also resent the fact that Israel patrols have stopped traffic on the road referred to in the preceding paragraph. 5/ (The villagers have also been prevented from repairing this road on the ground that it was in the “Israeli Sector”.)”.

      In connexion with the stoppage of traffic, it may be noted that there have been two previous attempts by the Israel police to limit or stop Arab traffic on the Issawiya-Jerusalem road. One was early in June 1954. The other started with the establishment of a road block on 17 February 1955. Major-General E.L.M. Burns requested the “rescission of any orders which may have been issued to stop vehicles other than UN vehicles attempting to use the road and particularly the rescission of orders to use road block, force and arms to effect this”. The Israel police road block was removed on 27 March 1955.

      81. When the Israel police sends from the Hadassah or Hebrew university armed patrols to control certain areas, including, as has recently happened, areas between the “7 July” and “21 July” lines, this action is resented by the Arab farmers or shepherds whose activities are interfered with and whose “women and children are frightened”. The Jordanian authorities and people also resent what they consider as an attempt by Israel to assert by such armed patrolling the validity of alleged rights based on the “7 July” map. These three factors: assertion by means of armed patrol of a right to control “Israel areas” and the activities of Arab villagers in these areas; resentment of the Arab villagers; resentment of the Jordanian authorities and people, have contributed to the building up of tension which culminated in the 26 May incident.

      83.The first complaint alleging Israeli patrolling on the western slopes of Mount Scopus, between the “7 July” and “21 July” lines, dates back to January 1954, when an Arab farmer reported that he had been threatened and forced to leave the field and he was ploughing to the south-west of the Hadassah building.

      There were problems with the Eastern area of Mount Scopus where Salomons’ Garden (Ras es Sullam) is located. Israel, on the basis of the “7 July 1948 map”, considered that the area was in the “Jewish section of the Demilitarized Zone”, while Jordan, on the basis of the “21 July 1948 map” considered that it was not in the Demilitarized Zone, but in Jordanian-controlled territory.

      In paragraph 87: On 2 August that on that day and on the two preceding days Israel policemen had approached an occupied cave on the Southern outskirts of Issawyia at GR 1738 1337, north of Ras es Sullam (Salomons’ Garden). It was further alleged that the Israeli police observed the area, while Arab children and women were crying, then returned to the Hebrew University. On 2 August, a UN observer was shown behind the cave heel prints possibly made by military type boots. Lt.-Colonel Flint, accompanied by the UN Observer, spoke about the Arab allegations to the commander of the Israel police. The latter denied that his men had gone to the area.

      88. Following a complaint alleging that the same area had been patrolled on 28 August and every day during the preceding week, a UN military observer went to the caves on 29 August. While he was there, he saw four Israeli policemen come downhill from the vicinity of the Laboratory. He went to meet the policemen who told him they had been sent by their chief and walked on.

      So NO: That territory wasn’t located as you wrote in territory nominally under Israeli control and it WASN’T protected from the Jordanian occupation by the UN!!
      I REPEAT:
      It was a demilitarized zone. There were areas with armed Arab and Jewish civilian police on duty under the United Nations Commander. The United Nations flag flew on the main buildings!!! It was under UN protection until hostilities would cease or a new agreement was entered upon!! (It was protected from BOTH Israel and Jordan by the UN). But the reality again was more complicated due to the “map controversy” as described above…

    • Mooser
      December 15, 2014, 11:37 am

      Many thanks, Zofia.

  7. Pixel
    December 9, 2014, 8:47 am

    Thank you, Liz.

    You’re a woman of great courage.

    Too many are afraid to look and, those who do, often refuse to see or pretend they don’t.

    We should never feel shame for having been brainwashed. Kids have no choice – except to learn and absorb what we’re taught ( often by those who were, themselves, brainwashed.)

    We can’t know what we don’t know. It’s what our response is once we do know that’s a measure of who were are.

    “When the student is ready, the teacher(s) will appear.

    You were the student, now you are a teacher for others.

    As I get older, it’s increasingly difficult to change decades upon decades of entrenched patterns of thinking and being. I’m afraid that sometimes, some dogs with some tricks, are too hard for old ones to learn. I know this because I’ll go to my grave still automatically using the term “Magic Marker.”

  8. Bornajoo
    December 9, 2014, 6:49 pm

    Dear Liz. Thank you for your wonderful essay describing your journey out of brainwashing to the truth. Very moving and thought provoking. And many people’s thoughts on this issue definitely need provoking!

  9. Susannah Nachenberg
    December 10, 2014, 8:43 pm

    What a wonderful story of transformation! Thanks for writing this.

  10. Mooser
    December 12, 2014, 1:10 pm

    The path went from Hillel, to the Sabeel Center. But I have to ask, if a student went the other way, if their world got narrower instead of wider, can the path from Hillel lead to the settlements?

  11. LarryDerfner
    December 14, 2014, 12:31 pm

    This essay depicts Israel – not just Israeli policies or actions, but Israel itself, including of course Israeli people, and Zionists everywhere – as something purely ugly and Palestine as purely beautiful. Or rather Palestine as beautiful and Israel as non-existent, or a miscreant, something that should have been aborted. Fine, the writer can think what she wants. But her point seems to be, You should love Palestine unconditionally and be turned off completely by Israel and everything and everybody connected to it. How wonderful. My spirit is soaring.

    • Mooser
      December 14, 2014, 12:57 pm

      “How wonderful. My spirit is soaring.”

      Nice to hear. I can’t think of anything more important than making your “spirit soar”, Mr Derpner, and I am sure that was the point of the article.

    • Annie Robbins
      December 14, 2014, 1:40 pm

      larry, i am really curious what you mean by “Israeli people… as something purely ugly”. i didn’t read that into it at all. could you give some examples?

      • LarryDerfner
        December 14, 2014, 1:58 pm

        After awhile, she feels alien in Israel and at home among Palestinians, she sees all of Israel as occupied Palestine, the Israeli mentality makes her sick on the best of days, she’s dismissive of the Hillel guy at the end, is left speechless even when he tells her Shabbat Shalom. This essay describes deep and vast alienation from everything about Israel, from just being on the Israeli side of Jerusalem, of being across the street from Hillel, it’s more than political opposition, it’s disgust in general at everything about Israel. It’s like Israel is an untouchable.

      • Mooser
        December 14, 2014, 2:29 pm

        “This essay describes deep and vast alienation from everything about Israel”

        Gosh, I wonder why? Oh, BTW where is “the Israeli side of Jerusalem”, I’m not very clear on the geography.

      • seafoid
        December 14, 2014, 3:40 pm


        Say something nice about dementia. Israel has a lovely smile.
        It is not the same as when Amos Oz was young of course.

      • Mooser
        December 21, 2014, 12:47 pm

        Oh well Larry never did get back with anything specific. I comfort myself with the thought that his few missives will be preserved forever in the comment archives, and redound to his increased regard until the Last Trump sounds.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 21, 2014, 2:08 pm

        larry, the story is about the transition of a young person who is, for the most part, purely zionist, into a pro palestinian and this, which is reflected in the title “from hillel to sabeel: unlearning zionism”, is not a story that tells ‘both sides’ but neither does it portray israeli people as “purely” ugly either.

        she explains how she ended up visiting east jerusalem and that her jewish israeli friends had told her it was dangerous and violent. i doubt if that is an unusual thought for israelis or if she was speaking hyperbole, i doubt it. it’s just background and it doesn’t imply all israelis felt like that. it was her crowd tho. she talks about how it was a “surprise to hear so much Arabic.” it is a subtle way and sensitive way of describing how she began experiencing palestinians in their normal environment in a bar/restaurant. she talks about the difference of being there when “siren for Yom HaShoah rang” and although she didn’t say it you get the feeling she didn’t expect palestinians going about their business. and in this way she relates, in a very human way how she started to understand their perspective without denigrating israelis. more smoking, drinking coffee, and playing music in east jerusalem and then she says this:

        I’d return to my apartment in West Jerusalem, unable, really, to explain to my roommates–or myself–where I had been and why I was starting to prefer East to West. I had come to Israel to live in West Jerusalem as a grad student, but was beginning to feel more comfortable spending time in East Jerusalem, getting to know the people who lived there, in the place I was taught was scary and dangerous.

        there’s nothing here even resembling the idea israelis are “purely ugly”. the story is about her own transition. when she says

        Zionism has given people permission to act as experts on a foreign land. On the most hopeful of days, the whole thing makes me sick.

        she’s describing something many many people have experienced. it’s probably the most “pure” thing in the essay, because it rings true (to her feelings).

        i think by being there and getting used to (apartheid) it one might overcome what otherwise is a natural reaction (“whole thing makes me sick”) to what’s going on there. but i don’t think anywhere in the essay does it imply this purity of which you speak.

        i think larry you have projected your own fears into this analysis of the article and for that reason your assessment is harsher than reality permits.

      • Mooser
        December 22, 2014, 10:32 am

        “Zionism has given people permission to act as experts on a foreign land. On the most hopeful of days, the whole thing makes me sick.”

        She’s not being fair to Zionists. As we’ve seen here with the discussions on American politics and economy, there isn’t a single thing they don’t know, and aren’t experts on.

    • Mooser
      December 14, 2014, 1:41 pm

      “While I don’t recognize the right of return – which means the refugees’ right to return to the land and homes they lost – and I don’t think Israel’s birth was illegitimate, I’m personally amenable to letting a few hundred thousand refugees and descendants live in Israel as citizens,” – See more at:

      Your spirit must be doing loop-the-loops and barrel rolls, not just soaring. I’ve never seen a glider do aerobatics before.

    • W.Jones
      December 17, 2014, 1:56 am

      Larry, Was that you who wrote the reporting on attacks on Palestinian drivers:

      It sounds like what happened with the author of the essay is that she visited the broader situation in Jerusalem and it was her real life experience that totally changed her perspective. It is easy to explain one thing in theory, but then when a person goes and experiences it, the results can be harder to predict, as in her case.

      • W.Jones
        December 17, 2014, 1:58 am

        What I was getting at, Larry, is that you described a real life situation of discrimination, and she had known it previously from books and ideas, but then living in the situation you described led to a resulting change in perspective that was different from others in that same situation.

  12. yonah fredman
    December 14, 2014, 1:06 pm

    Welcome to Mondoweiss, Mr Derfner, where nuance is a dirty word, almost as bad as “dialogue”.

    • seafoid
      December 14, 2014, 3:56 pm

      Welcome to Erez Israel , Yonah, m where good faith is as respectable as genital herpes.

    • eljay
      December 21, 2014, 3:04 pm

      >> y.f.: Welcome to Mondoweiss, Mr Derfner, where nuance is a dirty word, almost as bad as “dialogue”.

      Zio-supremacists love “nuance”, “dialog(ue)” and “peace” – hell, they even love “morality” (the “goal + methods” kind) – but they absolutely despise justice, accountability and equality.

    • Mooser
      December 22, 2014, 10:57 am

      This essay depicts Israel – not just Israeli policies or actions, but Israel itself, including of course Israeli people, and Zionists everywhere – as something purely ugly and Palestine as purely beautiful “

      Is that what you mean by “nuance”, Yonah?

    • pjdude
      December 28, 2014, 3:48 pm

      anti zionists are all for dialogue. what you mean by dialogue is repeating zionist lies so you don’t have to be held accountable for your actions.

  13. Mooser
    December 14, 2014, 1:13 pm

    “Welcome to Mondoweiss, Mr Derfner, where nuance is a dirty word, almost as bad as “dialogue”.”

    Yonah, please don’t exaggerate! “Nuance” is a dirty word, it’s lascivious! But dialogue is “merely bloodthirsty”.

    • Mooser
      December 14, 2014, 1:33 pm

      “How did it all go so wrong ?”

      When I think of all those kids, sent to Hillel in a hand-basket… oh well, maybe Open Hillel will cause all Hillel to break loose.

  14. seafoid
    December 14, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Sabeel is more Jewish now than Hillel. That is so fucking sad for Judaism.
    How did it all go so wrong ?

    I’ve had enough of the
    Brutal beatings and name callings (and torture and family executions and massacres of children as well as lies and hasbara bullshit)
    To lose me to this bed
    Bruised internally, eternally

    You praise little gifts you spent your donor money
    And stuffed me with
    Didn’t amount to anything
    The attention I need is much more serious

    A kind of weight you couldn’t lift
    Even if your cheap Zionist career depended on it
    I need someone much more mysterious

  15. seafoid
    December 14, 2014, 4:01 pm

    Sabeel means “the way” and Israel lost its a long time ago. All those jewish prophets emphasised the importance of behaving morally. So did Hillel. The end justifies the means only if you are competent. Israel isn’t.
    Machiavelli also said you need to have a watertight social media policy that doesn’t blow up in your face like a a shoddy homemade firework.

    • Mooser
      December 21, 2014, 12:51 pm

      “Machiavelli also said you need to have a watertight social media policy that doesn’t blow up in your face like a a shoddy homemade firework.”

      And I seriously thought that the only thing which would blow up in anybody’s face was a push-back from devoted Hillel alumni.

  16. just
    December 21, 2014, 1:03 pm

    Check this out, Mooser:

    “Against a background of rising anti-Semitism in France, a French Jewish organization has begun distributing 10,000 boxes of “anti-Semitism first aid treatment” under the brand name “Antisémitox,” TV5 Monde reports.

    Each box contains three honey candies, detox patches, and the text of the law stating the penalties that apply to people who express anti-Semitism publicly.

    The poster of the campaign features a doctor wearing a white coat and stethoscope brandishing a box of pills that reads: “Antisémitox, the first treatment against anti-Semitism.”

    “The honey candies contained in the packages works to immediately soften the anti-Semitic words and behavior that are the first symptoms,” the organizers of the campaign wrote in a statement. “These include insults, curses, aggressive behavior, hallucinations, and quenelles [a Nazi-like salute popularized by an anti-Semitic French comedian.]””

    I hope that you have a copyright for Ziocaine syndrome….

    It also brings to mind Scarlett in her white coat.

    • Mooser
      December 21, 2014, 1:43 pm

      Es vet helfen vi a toiten bahnkes!

      And since there is no known treatment for the Ziocaine Syndrome, only cases of spontaneous remission, there’s nothing to copyright or trademark.

      • Mooser
        December 23, 2014, 7:03 pm

        There’s a veritable fortune, anyway, a hell of a lot of good will, coming to the men and women who find a treatment, and just as important, encourage prophylactic and preventative measures, so another generation is not so afflicted.

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