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Yes, Virginia, there is a liberal Zionist

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Run don’t walk to read this article in the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs: “Lamenting the Decline of ‘Liberal Zionism’ Is Futile—Since It Never Really Existed.” In which Allan Brownfeld of the American Council for Judaism explains that the crisis liberal Zionists are experiencing today over anti-democratic trends in Israel is actually the collapse of their own illusions: these liberal Zionists should have recognized long ago that the ideology they embraced was illiberal at its core. The creation of the refugees is at the center of the Zionist experience in Palestine– thus the refugees photo atop the piece, which I repost here.

Brownfeld writes:

Allan Brownfeld

Allan Brownfeld

Those who believe that Israel is now in the process of abandoning its founding philosophy of “liberal Zionism” are engaged in a futile enterprise, for that “liberal” Zionism never existed—it is simply a convenient myth. They have not confronted a contrary thesis—one supported by history—that Zionism was flawed from the beginning, not only by ignoring the existing indigenous Palestinian population, but by rejecting the dominant spiritual history and essence of Judaism.

To understand the injustice which Zionism has inflicted upon the Palestinians, it is essential to consider the indifference of the early Zionists as well as of the British government, which issued the Balfour Declaration, to transfer ownership of a piece of land it had gained through war.

As the French Jewish historian Maxime Rodinson notes in his book Israel: A Colonial-Settler State,“Wanting to create a purely Jewish or predominantly Jewish state in Arab Palestine in the 20th century could not help but lead to a colonial-type situation and the development of a racist state of mind, and in the final analysis, to a military confrontation.”

Such colonization seemed “perfectly natural” given the atmosphere of the time, Rodinson writes: “[Theodor] Herzl’s plan unquestionably fit into the great movement of European expansion of the 19th and 20th centuries, the great European imperialist groundswell.”

The immediate issue for the Zionists in the late 19th century was what they called “the Arab problem” in Palestine, an indigenous population 92 percent Arab.

And they came up with a simple solution to that problem: removal, transfer, what we call ethnic cleansing today.

There was a liberal tradition inside Zionism, chiefly cultural Zionists who did not want to deny Palestinian existence. But they were always a tiny minority, and pushed to the side.

The only “liberal” Zionism to be found in these early years was that of a handful of “cultural Zionists,” who sought to establish a Jewish cultural center in Palestine, not a sovereign and exclusively Jewish state.

Bringing the Debate to You

Brownfeld honors dissident voices who refused the dirty business that lay ahead:

Yitzhak Epstein, a teacher who had migrated to Palestine, raised what he called the “hidden question.” He declared: “Among the difficult problems associated with the idea of the renewal of the life of our people in its land, there is one question that outweighs all the others, namely the question of our attitude to the Arabs. We have overlooked a rather ‘marginal’ fact—that in our beloved land lives an entire people that has been dwelling there for many centuries and has never considered leaving it.”

At the same time, early Zionist, Hillel Zeitlin, who wrote in Hebrew and Yiddish, charged that Zionists “forget, mistakenly or maliciously, that Palestine belongs to others, and it is totally settled.”

These few dissident voices constitute the essence of the alleged “liberal Zionism” which existed as the expropriation of the land proceeded. As Moshe Sharett, a future Israeli prime minister, acknowledged, “We have come to conquer a country from a people inhabiting it…the land must be ours alone.”

Brownfeld hammers a theme well worth repeating, that the occupation was forged by Labor Zionists:

Those who look at Israel’s current policies, such as continued construction and settlement of the occupied territories, are wrong to blame the country’s right wing. Labor and Likud Israeli governments alike have advanced the occupation. Both right- and left-wing Israelis, apparently, are comfortable with the status quo. Those who lament what they think is the decline—or end—of “liberal Zionism” must seriously consider the possibility that Zionism, from the start, not only turned its back on the Jewish universal spiritual tradition but, by ignoring the rights of the indigenous population of Palestine, on Western principles of democracy and self-determination as well. “Liberal Zionism” is not dead or dying. The truth is that it never existed at all, except in the minds of those who could not confront what was happening at the hands of an enterprise they eagerly embraced from afar, ignoring its harsh reality.

And he concludes with a stern warning:

That reality has now become clear to all, hence the current shock and dismay. Yet, the organized American Jewish community, and the U.S. government, both of which continue to aid and abet these developments, continue to turn away from what is happening.

This piece touches on Nathan Thrall’s piece in the London Review of Books exploding Ari Shavit’s American celebration. Shavit was widely embraced by leading editors, liberal Zionist rabbis and the Jewish establishment as somehow revivifying Zionism. But Thrall shows that from defending the Gaza slaughter to opposing a withdrawal from the occupied territories, there is nothing liberal about his attitudes.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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179 Responses

  1. seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 11:38 am

    One can untangle and bring clarity to this subject by assembling two collections of quotes:

    1. universalist quotes by leading Jewish religious thinkers

    2. ethnocentric, nationalist, racist, tribalist and anti-universalist quotes by leading Jewish religious thinkers

    Which stream of thinking has exerted the greatest influence on Judaism as a whole over the last few millennia — and especially during the last half century?

    • jonrich111 on December 16, 2014, 3:36 pm

      I would say for most of diasporic Jewish history, the prophetic voice of universal values was the dominant focus. It has only been since the traumatizing effect of the Holocaust and the creation of the state of Israel that the discourse has shifted noticeably to the direction of power, nationalism and militarism.

      My own theory is that during 2,000 of being outsiders and victims in Europe, we tended to emphasize the prophetic, pro-peace, justice oriented aspect of our tradition and identified with the oppressed. And the experience of being poor immigrants in early 20th century America led us to further identify with left-wing radical groups advocating social change. But after the Holocaust, there was a collective feeling that the world had abandoned us, and refused to save us during our greatest hour of need. Therefore, we turned our back on the world and realized that we can only depend on ourselves for survival. The focus shifted inward, and many in the Jewish establishment became convinced that Jewish survival could only be ensured through military might and physical strength. The idea was an inversion of the Holocaust — in Europe we were weak and helpless, so in Israel we will be tough and strong – refusing to be victims again. Although this nationalistic impulse currently dominates the Jewish establishment, there are countless progressive Jewish leaders who are still fighting the good fight today. The idea is shifting towards a universalistic approach – where Jewish survival and security are best ensured by fighting for justice and democracy for all people, and the growing realization that our redemption cannot come at the expense of another people’s. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I believe that in the long run, the prophetic Jewish tradition of peace and justice will win out, and I am proud to be a part of that tradition as an activist and organizer.

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 4:11 pm

        jonrich111,

        An eloquent statement — but as we speak, the Israeli government is moving ever rightward, and the Israel lobby is further consolidating its near absolute control over the US Congress. So I really wonder about the reality of this situation, as opposed to our best wishes of what should happen.

        With regard to progressive and universalist strains in Judaism during the pro-Enlightenment era — do any thinkers or works come to mind? What about the current era? Even the ACJ now seems to have joined the Zionist camp, if in a passive way.

      • oldgeezer on December 16, 2014, 7:46 pm

        “but as we speak, the Israeli government is moving ever rightward, and the Israel lobby is further consolidating its near absolute control over the US Congress. ”

        zionism is a powerful lobby, or force, whichever you prefer but it’s followers are not all Jewish. And not all Jewish people are zionists.

        Within my lifetime Jewish people have always been present in the fight for human rights. As have representatives from many other religions. It is reasonable to believe that they do so because of the values instilled in them in their formative years part of which most likely was their religious instruction.

        This has been a disturbing thread for me. As an atheist I have no problems with people’s faith. Nor do I see any faith, Christianity, Judaism, Islam as the core root of the problem.

        The problem here is the government of Israel, it’s policies, it’s supporters amongst which are a large number of zionists.

        It’s a bit silly to see adherents of Judaism as a monolithic block, and say their religion is the problem, just as it is silly to lump Protestants and Catholics together as one.

        I really don’t see your point sean.

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 8:41 pm

        oldgeezer wrote:

        “It’s a bit silly to see adherents of Judaism as a monolithic block, and say their religion is the problem, just as it is silly to lump Protestants and Catholics together as one.”

        No one here has said that all adherents of Judaism comprise a monolithic block that supports Zionism. The argument is that *all* of the leading organizations of the Jewish religious establishment strongly support Zionism — and that they have combined Judaism and Zionism into a single ideological package. It’s a gigantic issue — one that can’t be swept under the rug. Furthermore, Israeli leaders have increasingly used Judaism and Jewish religious themes to justify Israeli and Zionist policies — especially the most extreme of those policies revolving around “Eretz Yisrael” and “Judea and Samaria” (the entire settlements movement).

        These religious organizations and leaders merit as much reasonable criticism as Christian Zionist groups.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 10:56 am

        “I really don’t see your point sean.”

        He is afraid to make his point, and he thinks he is clever, trying to trip somebody else into saying something really stupid. He’s been at it here for, literally, years.

        Think about it, “oldgeezer”. If there is an inherent fault in the Jewish religion (and a religion is made of people, isn’t it?) a fault which inevitably leads Jews into Zionism, and Zionism is a very bad thing, one needs to strike at the root of the problem, wouldn’t you say?

        But please, don’t say that I am accusing Sean of anti-semitism, I am not. I think his little diatribe on ‘demonology’ in Ferguson demonstrates that he is probably equally wrong about most stuff in the same way.

      • oldgeezer on December 17, 2014, 1:16 pm

        @Mooser
        “He is afraid to make his point, and he thinks he is clever, trying to trip somebody else into saying something really stupid.”

        Well the point of the I don’t really get what you mean, was in this case, a polite way of saying c’mon tell us what you really think.

        As a Canadian I am always polite except when I’m not :)

      • jonrich111 on December 17, 2014, 2:25 pm

        There is a long and proud history of Jewish radical leftists. For example, Baruch Spinoza, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, Sigmound Freud, Emile Durkheim, Moses Hess, Herbert Marcuse, Saul Alinsky, Leon Trotsky, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Abbie Hoffman, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolf, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Emma Goldman, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Modecai Kaplan, Michael Lerner, Arthur Waskow, Susan Sontag, Martin Buber, Judah Magnes, Ahad Ha’Am.

        I would also look up the 20th century international socialist movement called the Jewish Labor Bund.

        Today, many organizations exist that keep the prophetic tradition alive. Including: The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Bend the Arc, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Occupy Judaism, American Jewish World Service, Tikkun, J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Americans for Peace Now, New Israel Fund, JOIN for Justice, Open Hillel, If Not Now, and Ameinu.

      • RoHa on December 17, 2014, 7:06 pm

        “Jewish radical leftists. For example, Baruch Spinoza, ”

        Radical, yes, though I’d place him closer to a classical liberal than a leftist. But he stopped being a Jew when he was 23. He was cast out by the rabbis. “And the Lord shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel” was part of the proclamation against him. (Of course, now he is famous and respected, this is overlooked and he is paraded as “Jewish”.)

        And he never used the name “Baruch”. It is disrespectful to him to lumber him with that name.

      • Citizen on December 18, 2014, 10:28 am

        @ jonrich111
        I think your perspective is accurate. In short, the test of virtue is power.

      • Sibiriak on December 20, 2014, 8:40 am

        Mooser: “ If there is an inherent fault in the Jewish religion (and a religion is made of people, isn’t it?)

        —-

        No, a religion is not “made of people”; it’s made of myths, beliefs, ideology, ritual, organizational structure etc.

        It seems this category error leads you to believe that criticism of Jewish religion= criticism of Jewish people. Given that belief, your qualms are entirely understandable.

      • annie on December 20, 2014, 3:43 pm

        Sibiriak, i agree with your pt about religion not being a people but a set of ideas/myths etc, i just thought i’d point out that the parenthesis you quoted interrupted a sentence of which you only copied half. the full sentence, sans the parenthesis, is

        If there is an inherent fault in the Jewish religion, a fault which inevitably leads Jews into Zionism, and Zionism is a very bad thing, one needs to strike at the root of the problem, wouldn’t you say?

        the way i read it the point was the idea of zionism as being an inherent feature of judaism, which implies non zionism is an aberration of judaism, or possibly one could speculate an aberration of being jewish.

        and so, regarding your critique, “this category error leads you to believe that criticism of Jewish religion= criticism of Jewish people.” maybe i agree if that if the “category error” is ‘zionism inherent in judaism’, because it does seem limiting. sort of a boxing in of the options of what being jewish means and a casting out of the non zionist or non conforming jew. or something like that. something perhaps more nuanced.

      • wondering jew on December 20, 2014, 4:40 pm

        Roha- “He never used the name Baruch”. Well, he used it when he was a kid and he used it when he translated it to Benedict. but if you’re saying that it’s as disrespectful to call him Baruch as it was to call the boxer Muhammad Ali Cassius Clay, then I suppose you are right. Although you might cite something he wrote about how he hated the name and hated people using it. Maybe it’s you who hate the name and are putting your hate in his mouth.

      • RoHa on December 20, 2014, 7:10 pm

        Loath as I am to speculate on the motives of others, I cannot forbear from pointing out that you seem to be the one obsessed with hate. I never said that Spinoza hated the name “Baruch”.

        I did say he never used it, but probably he did use the name when he was in the synagogue. In his childhood he seems to have been given the name “Benedito” by his parents, and to have been known as “Bento”. He spent his adult life under the name “Benedictus/Benedict”. This is the name he chose, and the name he has been known by until recently.

        Spinoza did seem to dislike (if not hate) traditional Judaism. This comes through clearly in his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, a work which says some things you will not like.

        (For example, after denying that the Jews are in any way superior in terms of intellect or morality, he says:

        “Therefore at the present time there is nothing whatsoever that the Jews can arrogate to themselves above other nations. As to their continued existence for so many years when scattered and stateless, this is in no way surprising, since they have separated themselves from other nations to such a degree as to incur the hatred of all, and this not only through external rites alien to the rites of other nations but also through the mark of circumcision, which they most religiously observe. That they are preserved largely through the hatred of other nations is demonstrated by historical fact.”)

        The reason I protest about the use of the name “Baruch” to refer to him is that it suggests an attempt by modern Jews to arrogate Spinoza to themselves, to reclaim him as a Jew and thus shine in reflected and unearned glory.

        I’m sure you can find a way to interpret that as hate on my part.

      • seanmcbride on December 21, 2014, 12:08 am

        H.L. Mencken, Treatise on the Gods (1930):

        “It was not until the Twelfth Century of our era that the Pentateuch as a whole was subjected to rational scrutiny. The man who undertook the ungrateful task was a learned Spanish rabbi, Abraham ben Meir ibn Esra. He unearthed many absurdities, but… it was not until five hundred years later that anything properly describable as scientific criticism… came into being. Its earliest shining lights were the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes [with his Leviathan], and the Amsterdam Jew, Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza’s “Tractatus Theologico-politicus”, published in 1670, made the first really formidable onslaught upon the inspired inerrancy of the Pentateuch. It called attention to scores of transparent imbecilities … including a dozen or more palpable geographical and historical impossibilities … The answer of constituted authorities was to suppress the “Tractatus”, but enough copies got out to reach the proper persons, and ever since then the Old Testament has been under searching and devastating examination.”

        http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Baruch_Spinoza

      • Sibiriak on December 20, 2014, 10:32 pm

        RoHa: “ I cannot forbear from pointing out that you seem to be the one obsessed with hate. [ETC.]

        ————

        Really great, thoughtful, incisive post!

      • wondering jew on December 21, 2014, 4:33 pm

        Roha- quote: it’s disrespectful to him to lumber him with that name. lumber, not a part of my vocabulary, is that a neutral phrase or a negative phrase. if hate is too strong a word to describe the use of the term lumber, please provide a word of your own.

        Spinoza was sociologically and biologically a Jew until the day that he died. There is no way to separate the man from his upbringing. and he was an outstanding individual who through god’s grace or pure chance had the brain independence and will to suffer excommunication and prevail far advanced from his humble beginnings.

      • RoHa on December 21, 2014, 5:42 pm

        “Lumber”.

        VERB

        1 [WITH OBJECT] (usually “be lumbered with”) British informal.

        Burden (someone) with something unwanted:
        “the banks do not want to be lumbered with a building that they cannot sell”

        http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/lumber?searchDictCode=all#lumber-3

        The OED is a good place to look when you don’t know the meaning of a word.

        “Spinoza was sociologically and biologically a Jew until the day that he died.”

        I don’t know what you mean by “sociologically a Jew”. If you mean that non-Jews often regarded him as a Jew, and that nowadays Jews also claim him as a Jew, then I will not object. It does not affect my position.

        Biologically? That ol’ Jewish gene, or just that his mother was a Jew? Again, neither of these affect my position re reflected and unearned glory.

        “There is no way to separate the man from his upbringing.”

        So when a Christian converts to Judaism, he remains a Christian? Well, perhaps Spinoza could not separate himself from his Jewish upbringing*, but he certainly rejected Jewishness and placed himself firmly in European rationalism and secularism.

        (*I’m leaving the question of what constitutes “separation from upbringing” unexplored.)

      • Danaa on December 24, 2014, 3:43 am

        Yonah, Spinoza was decidedly NOT “sociologically Jewish”. He was not only expelled from the social fabric of Jewish life for his ideas, but he was content to live as a social outcast, dedicating himself to the life of ideas without the social compromises the jewish community dictated. Unlike uriel d’acosta, Spinoza neither recanted not begged for any inclusion. His few visitors were those people who read and were awed by the Tractus. They beat a path to his door, a one room dwelling provided by a caring, good hearted couple. His friends, or rather, the ones who befriended him and admired him were all non-Jews. The jewish people of Amsterdam were way too intellectually primitive and emotionally traumatized (by their escape from portugal, Spain) to be able to discern the incredible genius who sprung up from among their ranks (well, they liked him well enough as a yeshiva boy, a smart guy who could spout old texts and dusty old ideas with the best of them).

        Just because you, and some other tribally inclined jewish choseness peddlers, want to suddenly claim Spinoza as your own, does not mean you can or that your case has merit. He was a jewish elui, that’s true enough. But the community that cast him out may not reclaim him 400 hundred years later because of some blood ties. Intellectually, emotionally and spiritually Spinoza was a man ahead of his time, a giant among insects, recognized by a few, but those few were the ones who counted. He is now credited with being one of several harbingers of the age of enlightenment, one that came upon non-Jews far sooner and with greater impact than the sheltered and shtetled jewish community, encased as it was in prim talmudic dictums and suffocating religious dogma that took the life out of any honest and open discourse. .

        And no, you can’t always blame persecution. In Spinoza’s case, the persecution was mostly directed by the established jews of the time. jews who would not come into their own form of enlightenment until nearly 200 hundred years later.

        Sorry Yonah, you can’t have Sp[inoza. he belongs, by rights and by spirit to the family of nations.

      • eljay on December 24, 2014, 7:34 am

        >> y.f.: Spinoza was sociologically and biologically a Jew until the day that he died. There is no way to separate the man from his upbringing.
        >> RoHa: Well, perhaps Spinoza could not separate himself from his Jewish upbringing*, but he certainly rejected Jewishness and placed himself firmly in European rationalism and secularism.
        (*I’m leaving the question of what constitutes “separation from upbringing” unexplored.)

        y.f.’s comment is disturbing, even for him.

        Officer: Who amongst you is a Jew?
        y.f.: That one over there, sir, he is a Jew.
        Man: What? No, I’m not.
        y.f.: Oh, yes, indeed you are!
        Man: No, I’m not. My mother was Jewish, but I have chosen not to be Jewish.
        y.f.: Irrelevant! You cannot be separated from your upbringing! You are a Jew, both sociologically and biologically!
        Officer: Thank you, Citizen Yonah. The State appreciates your service.

  2. Mooser on December 16, 2014, 12:24 pm

    “Which stream of thinking has exerted the greatest influence on Judaism as a whole over the last few millennia — and especially during the last half century?”

    First tell me what I get if I guess right! What’s the prize?

    “ethnocentric, nationalist, racist, tribalist and anti-universalist quotes” By the way, if anybody has any trouble recognizing that type of quote, just go over and read “seanmchbride” on the Ferguson thread.

    • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 12:46 pm

      Mooser,

      Which major Jewish religious writers — outside the narrow window of Enlightenment and anti-nationalist Reform Judaism (a window now closed) — have promoted universalist and trans-nationalist values? Can you name a few? The Old Testament is certainly not a universalist document — it is a tale of endless bloody battles between one nation and all the other nations. It is a nationalist document — a Zionist document.

      I would be interested to hear what Jewish religious thinkers Allan Brownfeld had in mind when he referred to “the dominant spiritual history and essence of Judaism” and “the Jewish universal spiritual tradition.” This must be a different set of thinkers than those cited by Israel Shahak in his books and articles.

      Wrt to Ferguson: my point of view is that the treatment by white police of blacks is a major problem in American society, but that the Michael Brown case was a poor symbol on which to try to build a civil rights crusade — his strong arm robbery and physical bullying of storekeeper much smaller than him, and his attempt to wrestle a gun from a cop after punching him, undermined the moral clarity of this incident for most of the American public. There is nothing racist in pointing this out. Find a better case than Brown to stimulate and energize political activism in this domain.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 3:16 pm

        Okay, Sean, you are right in what you say about Judaism, Jewishness, the Jewish religion and Jewish people. Okay, you are right now, please tell us what should be done about it?
        I’ve been trying, for your sake, to joke around that question, but noiw I want an answer, Sean: Supposing everything you say about Judaism, Jewishness, the Jewish religion and Jewish people correct, what should be done about it? You can also tell me who should do it.

        Okay, we all get your point. Now, tell us what should be done about it?

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 3:28 pm

        Mooser,

        With regard specifically to the problem of uncoupling Judaism from Zionism in the contemporary world — especially in Israel, the United States and Europe — I don’t have any answers — only doom-filled predictions — this situation is going to play out the way it is going to play out — and many of us can see where it is going. Zionism and the Israeli government are going to continue to drag the world Jewish community in their wake, with the full cooperation of the leaders of establishment Judaism.

        Elmer Berger, Allan Brownfeld, and quite a few other leading Jewish thinkers have taken their best shot of achieving the great uncoupling and got nowhere — they didn’t make a dent. I admire their heroic efforts — but we see where things are.

        All that is left is for scholars to analyze and chronicle the ongoing process and disaster — to try to portray what is going on as accurately and truthfully as possible.

      • jon s on December 16, 2014, 4:29 pm

        If the Bible (“Old Testament”) is nothing but a nationalist-Zionist document , as you claim, why has it been read , studied and revered by so many non-Jews, over the centuries?

        For universalist values you can start here:

        “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

      • wondering jew on December 16, 2014, 5:01 pm

        The Old Testament is certainly not a universalist document — it is a tale of endless bloody battles between one nation and all the other nations. It is a nationalist document — a Zionist document.

        quote sean mcbride.

        well, sean, not precisely. although the tales of abraham, isaac and jacob and the exodus from egypt can easily be taken as a nationalist document, quite clearly history has shown that all you need is just a tweak here and there and abraham can be seen as the father of the nations and his discovery of the one god that Adam knew is a rediscovery. The exodus of Egypt can be taken as a nationalist message, but obviously liberation theology has shown, that it can be taken as a universalist message as well.

        it would have been sufficient to claim that no major jewish philosophy has taken the lesson of that early part of the bible as a universalist message, but you weren’t satisfied with stating history (however falsely) you needed to malign the entire book and its possibilities.

        It is true that the stories of first prophets would fit in with the nationalism that you see in the first five books, but the last prophets: isaiah, jeremiah and ezekiel cannot be as easily dismissed. Isaiah in particular has many sections that are universal in nature; including regarding the Temple Mount: and my house shall be known as a house of prayer for all nations. 56:7.

        As for the wisdom books of the bible: Psalms, Proverbs and Job, certainly in Psalms a nationalist can find much to mine in that direction, but Psalm 23 is rather universal, no? and how about Ecclesiastes? Is that not universal?

        So clearly a nationalist is not lacking sources within the Old Testament to bolster their cause, but someone who dismisses the entirety of the Bible as merely a nationalist document, well such a person obviously is either ignorant or has an ax to grind? I don’t think you’re ignorant.

      • lysias on December 16, 2014, 5:13 pm

        Two roads diverged in a wood…

        One descendant of ancient Judaism, Christianity, gave the Old Testament a universalist interpretation. The other major one, Rabbinic Judaism, gave it a tribal, exclusivist interpretation until the Enlightenment, when it too gave the Bible a universalist interpretation. Until Israel was founded and Zionism swamped universalizing Judaism.

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 6:49 pm

        lysias,

        Two roads diverged in a wood…

        One descendant of ancient Judaism, Christianity, gave the Old Testament a universalist interpretation. The other major one, Rabbinic Judaism, gave it a tribal, exclusivist interpretation until the Enlightenment, when it too gave the Bible a universalist interpretation. Until Israel was founded and Zionism swamped universalizing Judaism.

        That is one of the best brief summaries I’ve seen of the history of Judaism yet.

        Judaism had a brief moment of universalism during its Enlightenment phase (which was inspired primarily by European, not Jewish thought leaders, like Voltaire, Diderot and Jefferson), and then, with the emergence of Zionism, quickly sank back into narrow ethnocentrism and tribalism — which is where Judaism stands in the year 2014. Even the formerly anti-Zionist American Council of Judaism has submitted to the power of Zionism — and ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Jewish groups rank among the most insular, self-ghettoizing and anti-universalist zealots on the planet.

        The crisis of Zionism is really the crisis of Judaism and Jewish civilization in general. The ability of Zionists to communicate with the rest of the world is rapidly deteriorating because, in an Aspergery way, they have little respect or empathy for the concerns of outgroups — for the human race at large — for modern universalism.

        Quite a few progressives seem to be in denial about what is going on — including progressive Jewish anti-Zionists. They really don’t differ that much from liberal Zionists in their insistence on clinging on to sentimental beliefs that don’t match up with reality.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 6:21 pm

        “— I don’t have any answers — only doom-filled predictions”

        Anotherwords, you won’t answer the question. Here you are, with all these facts ,and you can see how the entire conspiracy operates, and you have and no solutions to offer. What use are you?

        You know, Sean, you could possibly base your answer on the British suppression of the Thuggee tribes in India!

      • RoHa on December 16, 2014, 7:05 pm

        “Sean: Supposing everything you say about Judaism, Jewishness, the Jewish religion and Jewish people correct, what should be done about it? ”

        Say “Sod this for a game of soldiers; I’m giving up this Jew business.”

        Following the religion, thinking of oneself as a Jew, feeling a tribal attachment to other Jews, etc., are all a matter of choice.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 9:45 pm

        ” but someone who dismisses the entirety of the Bible as merely a nationalist document, well such a person obviously is either ignorant or has an ax to grind?”

        Yonah, I couldn’t agree more. Those right-wing, Judea and Sumaria God-said-we-could-steal-this-land types disturb me, too, and I wonder about their motivations, just like you do.

      • Sibiriak on December 16, 2014, 10:28 pm

        seanmcbride: “Wrt to Ferguson: my point of view is that the treatment by white police of blacks is a major problem in American society, but that the Michael Brown case was a poor symbol on which to try to build a civil rights crusade — his strong arm robbery and physical bullying of storekeeper much smaller than him, and his attempt to wrestle a gun from a cop after punching him, undermined the moral clarity of this incident for most of the American public.

        That’s a very reasonable position, and very well put.

      • Sibiriak on December 16, 2014, 11:35 pm

        seanmcbride: “…the Michael Brown case was a poor symbol on which to try to build a civil rights crusade.”

        —–

        Perhaps the notion Zionism is rooted in Judaism (which slips easily into Zionism=Judaism), however valid, is a poor ideological formulation with which to try to strengthen the anti-Zionist crusade.

      • seanmcbride on December 17, 2014, 7:56 am

        Sibiriak,

        Would you agree that the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is the main pillar of the Israel lobby?

        http://www.conferenceofpresidents.org/

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conference_of_Presidents_of_Major_American_Jewish_Organizations

      • Sibiriak on December 18, 2014, 8:06 am

        seanmcbride: “Sibiriak, Would you agree that the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is the main pillar of the Israel lobby?

        I haven’t made a complete anatomy of the Israel Lobby, so I wouldn’t want to commit myself to that proposition, but I’m willing to assume that for the sake of argument.

        As you know, I’m quite sympathetic to your points and think most of them are valid. I was only wondering (not arguing) whether focusing on the ideological roots of Zionism in (Classical) Judaism (ala Shahak for example), however insightful, might be counterproductive in a *practical* sense–because its too touchy.

        In any case, at the moment I spending a lot time on other issues—Ukraine, the conflict of “the West” with Russia, geo-economics etc.– so my posts here have not been as fully thought out as I would like them to be.

      • W.Jones on December 16, 2014, 11:46 pm

        Although Sean is getting into a worthwhile topic, one need not agree totally with what he is saying. Sean is getting into a sensitive area, especially considering the current context, IP Land. In my opinion, the best way to address this challenge is in a sympathetic way to the religions involved, even though it’s worth making criticisms.

        To give an area I don’t agree with Sean on- and this may be because he sometimes has a provocative, or sharp/pointed style, he wrote:

        The Old Testament is certainly not a universalist document — it is a tale of endless bloody battles between one nation and all the other nations. It is a nationalist document — a Zionist document.

        I disagree- the Old Testament is, I believe, a universalist document in that it describes God’s relationship with mankind. Since the era of Patriarch Jacob, it became especially focused on the close relationship with one nation that had the correct monotheist faith, but even then it contained predictions of a universalist future like I described below (waiting moderation), eg. Isaiah’s prediction that God’s Temple would be for prayer by all nations, not just one nation anymore. The Bible predicted that the other nations would accept belief in Jehovah too and thus the Temple would belong to them.

        Nor were the battles with other nations endless, as Persia protected the Israelites under Cyrus. The Bible includes nationalism like you said, but it’s questionable whether it is “Zionist”, because although the Bible, like that secular movement, includes concepts of the nation’s return, this return was seen in the Bible as contingent on close spiritual unity with God.

        Sean, here you are making a strong religious criticism, but that is not racist. You are asking pointed questions about a sensitive, but relevant topic. So since MW is a Jewish blog, my main advice then for improvement would be that you also include in your discussions either things that you see as positive in Jewish culture or religion or at least include things about which you agree with your conversants like Jon or Mooser.

      • seanmcbride on December 17, 2014, 10:39 am

        W.Jones,

        This is how we need to approach this issue, in my opinion.

        By far the most important issue in Israeli politics is the settlements movement — and the continuing drive by the Israeli government to acquire full control of Eretz Israel and Judea and Samaria.

        The settlements movement relies heavily on the Torah — on Judaism — to justify its ongoing aggression in the occupied territories. It cites the most ethnocentric and anti-universalist passages in the Torah on a regular basis to rationalize its behavior.

        The settlements movement enjoys the full support of the Israeli government. The Israeli government enjoys the full support of the Israel lobby. The Israel lobby enjoys the full support of the Jewish religious establishment — in fact, the Jewish religious leadership defines the core of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

        To start effecting change in this state of affairs, you need to challenge the underlying ideology which is driving the bad policies — and we all know exactly what that ideology is — the leaders of the settlements movement have spelled it out for us loudly and in detail. The Bible is literally their Bible — especially the ethnic nationalist strains of the Bible which dominate most of the Old Testament.

        It turns out that not only are liberal Zionists trying to obstruct an open discussion on this issue — but many progressive anti-Zionists are too. In effect, quite a few progressive anti-Zionists are running interference for the Israeli government, the Israel lobby and the settlements movement because they are hypersensitive about any criticism of Judaism.

        If Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz think that the subject of Jewish religious Zionism is too hot to handle on Mondoweiss, it can be discussed here, with only very light moderation:

        https://friendfeed.com/mondoweiss-on-friendfeed

        Regarding positive statements about Jewish civilization and Jewish culture — I have made many of them in the past — consult the archives. It would be insult to the intelligence of Jews to keep flattering them about their many virtues. It shouldn’t be necessary to do so while addressing the role of Jewish and Christian religious Zionism in Israeli politics.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 11:00 am

        “That’s a very reasonable position, and very well put.”

        Problem is, very little of it is true, unless you are a right-wing mouth-breather.

      • seanmcbride on December 17, 2014, 11:28 am

        Mooser,

        Are NPR and the New York Times “right-wing mouthbreathers”?

        They were troubled about important aspects of the Michael Brown case — the strong arm robbery, the physical bullying, the punching of a cop in the face, the grab for the cop’s gun, the forensic evidence showing that Brown wasn’t shot in the back, the shaky credibility of Dorian Johnson, the lack of any evidence that Darren Wilson was motivated by racism, the incitement by Michael Brown’s stepfather to “burn this motherfucker down” (referring to Ferugson and the riots), etc.

        Again, there are better cases out there to use to energize political activism on behalf of black civil rights — solid cases; righteous cases with no ambiguity. Pick the wrong case and you can suffer major political setbacks.

      • Danaa on December 26, 2014, 12:54 am

        W.Jones:,you say:

        “the Old Testament is, I believe, a universalist document in that it describes God’s relationship with mankind.”

        If you want to pick a very short, very minor set of statements by some “prophet” or another to “prove” this point, I can’t stop you. The truth is that one can pick and choose anything one wants out of the bible, and voila! proof has been found. As long as one forgets to mention that that was less than 0.01% of the total, why not? indeed thousands upon thousands of people of all faiths and persuations did just that and amazingly, the bible was found to “support” each and every statement.

        The statement you made above, based on the preponderance of evidence is patently untrue. The bible, as one reads it in hebrew (rather than any one of the translations which are already interpretations) is almost exclusively about the relationship of god to his so-called “chosen” people, and their obligations to said god, in respect of having been so chosen. That and the relationship between and among other Jewish/hebraic people. As to the relationship to other nations, the attitude is exclusively one of contempt and oftentimes, outright spite. Yes, one can find exceptions, but that’s the OT for you – exceptions are plentiful, which is why I rely on the preponderence of evidence, as in >95%.

        No matter how you try to twist and turn every which way one sentence or two by one of those “prophets” the reality remains: there is very little that’s truly universalist in the jewish Old testament, as much as Christians would love to think and pretend there is. Yes, the Christians adopted [most of} the OT as part of their lithurgy, probably a rather unfortunate choice but perhaps necessitated by the many references jesus, as told by gospels written 100 or so years later, was Jewish enough to refer to OT passages, so bingo! they’re in!

        The “nations” are generally referred to derogatively, if not dismissively. Oftentimes they were subject to genocide. At best, an occasional treaty could be made with them, but true respect and inclusion were not to be extended to the hethens. If they converted, well – that’s another thing.

        “The Bible predicted that the other nations would accept belief in Jehovah too and thus the Temple would belong to them. ”

        THE BIBLE predicted no such thing. Your passage is a matter of interpretation every which way but loose. One so-called “prophet’ made one assertion or another. That is not THE bible. The nations, if they converted to Judaism (not just accepting the hebrew god) they might be tolerated enough to escape god’s wrath. never once has any statement been made that I know of for the temple to “belong” to the nations.

        Then again, there’s nothing I can do to convince you or any other believer that what they want to believe may rest on flimsy foundations. faith is strongest usually when least supported by fact. By definition (otherwise it would be called ‘reason” not ‘faith”).

      • W.Jones on December 26, 2014, 1:01 pm

        Danaa,

        My opinion is that the Tanakh is fundamentally universalist in its beginnings and in its prophecy, but I do understand that its religion was not practiced in an internationalist way for many centuries in its narrative.

        It was universalist when talking about its opening stages, eg. about Adam and Eve, Noah and his family, and others who preceded the Israelites. Noah was loyal to God and his children repopulated the earth. It was also universalist in prophecy, saying that Abraham would be the father of many nations and be blessed in him. That suggests that many nations of the earth, not just the Israelites, would have a special Abrahamic place of blessing. And it was Abraham to whom the promises of blessings were made.
        Israeli nationalists often focus on special promises to Abraham’s children, however if you look at the promises together with the designation of “many nations”, it suggests that the promises are not really just to one physical nation after all.

        I do admit also that others have looked at the promises along with the separation of Israelite society and reached conclusions like yours though. On the other hand, the underlying religious justification for discriminating against gentiles was that they did not believe in God. Were that to change and all nations did believe in Him, that premise would suggest that the nations should accordingly be treated differently.

        Nor were the gentiles always thought of badly. The pharaoh who was good to Joseph was seen highly. And Cyrus was even described in Messianic terms as he redeemed the Israelites from Babylon.

        So on one hand, the Israelites’ practices were to sometimes compare gentiles to animals, but on the other, the prophecies had a universalist side.

      • Keith on December 26, 2014, 6:09 pm

        DANAA- “faith is strongest usually when least supported by fact. By definition (otherwise it would be called ‘reason” not ‘faith”).”

        I agree. Furthermore, those with the strongest faith are the most resistant to fact based challenges to their faith. This is only logical. If we view religion as an ideology with a god-head, then it follows that group beliefs and mythology must deviate from empirical reality in order to create the “us” versus “them” ideological bonding. The greater the difference between group ideology and other group’s ideologies, the greater the differentiation between the groups, and the greater the internal group cohesion. In this regard, there is a trade-off between internal group cohesion versus the ability of the group to realistically relate to the external environment, including other groups.

        As for the bible being a “universalist” document, obviously it isn’t, and W. Jones is attempting to equate insistence on the superiority of Judaic monotheism (and perhaps, not even that. Israel Shahak discusses this is “Jewish History, Jewish Religion.”) with universalism insofar as the non-Judaic world had the option of converting to Judaism. Insisting upon the primacy of one’s group ideology is hardly “universalism”, W. Jones religious beliefs are coloring his judgement. Furthermore, this discussion would be clearly ludicrous prior to the separation of church and state, back when religion justified the social order, and “heretics” were dealt with harshly.

      • Danaa on December 26, 2014, 10:58 pm

        Keith, clearly we are on the same page on this religion issue (as well), and it’s good that you brought up israel Shahak in this connection.

        The one thing that no one can disagree with insofar as the Bible is concerned is that no matter what you are looking for, you will find it there. It’s that obtuse and that all over the place. After all, as many scholars pointed out the book of genesis for example, the one that W. Jones is so keen on singling out as “universalist” was a transcription of many existing oral tales, myths and parables, collated into a single treatise and colored just so to make it fit the israelites who no doubt penned much of it down in the 400-600 BC years. The annonymous writers (who unfortunately were never prperly credited) no doubt drew on many resources to come up with the National origin myths that pepper most of the bible. It was surely a treatise intended to comfort and sustain the spirits of a people in exile.

        Now, there are people, believers of all stripes, who actually think the bible was written – or inspired – by some god, transcribed by scribes, perhaps verbatum, perhaps not. using a god figure as a “unifying’ principle to bring all the different myths (including the story of Noah and the deluge that is found in several other people’s traditions and mythical tales from that part of the world) made sense at a time when belief in god or gods was prevalent throughout all the human populations. So, the israelite scribes, probably residing in babylon, conceived the grand tale that, like a good goulash had everything in it that reflected on the human condition at the time. But with a twist that made it their own, like every good PR job. Which is, IMO, the reason so much of the bible reads like an informercial – selling the same thing over and over again, using props and actors made to fit different times and places as well as evolving sensibilities.

        Whether it’s WJones from a Christian direction or jewish ultra-orthodox, it matters little to the substance of such arguments. The believers will continue to believe no matter what the subject or the argument is. They will find ways to have every word reflect positively upon their belief system. No matter how many articles of reason, based on linguistics, archaeology or history, we may care to bring up, they’ll only use those as cudgels to further deepen their faith.

        The only question I have is why the believers bother to discuss these matters with those who outright profess to be non-believers. It’s not like there is a common ground on any matter of biblical interpretation, when one comes from a position of faith and another doesn’t.

        W.Jones – the reason why the tale of Noah is universalist is because it never originated with the Hebrew people – it was a well known tale found in many writings of different persian, babylonian, assyrian and even phoenitian sources – apparently there must have really been a grand flood, and the scribes who wrote the bible at a time thousands of years removed from supposed events, included that theme, no doubt embellished with much imagination, and included in the book of genesis. It made a good story for sure, one that one could tell children over and over again, and surely that’s what the story was about – a bedtime story – turned into parable – told by one generation to another..

        To this day there are people in Persian areas who consider themselves Noahides – descendents/followers of Noah but not the whole shabang of the israelite traditions.

        As for the relationship to non-Jews – sure, some, like Cyrus or the “good” Pharoah are positively described, but only because they were ‘good for the jews”. It doesn’t change the fact that the bible in its entirety revolves around the jews and what’s good or bad for them. It is profoundly ethnocentric, parochial narcisistic, and often incredibly small-minded. But then again, I am sure you’ll be able to find “universalist” messages if you look hard enough with sufficiently rosy tinted glasses.

      • W.Jones on December 30, 2014, 10:29 pm

        So Annie and Mooser, are you coming down on my side of my mini-debate with Danaa and Keith?
        Or are we seeing a line-up of Danaa and Sean vs. W.Jones on this topic?

      • annie on December 30, 2014, 11:03 pm

        sorry w.jones, i’m not following the whole thing in a linear fashion. backed up w/comments at the moment, not sure i even followed what you wrote or recall it at the moment.

      • wondering jew on January 3, 2015, 3:37 pm

        Danaa- To say that the Hebrew Bible is in its “ENTIRETY” a nationalist statement, is patently false. maybe in its “TOTALITY” one can ignore Ecclesiastes and Psalm 23, but in its entirety those two books, or one book and one chapter are purely universal and can only be deemed national through contortions of logic.

        But let us leave the specifics of the blatantly universalist sections out of this. Can one dismiss Isaiah and Jeremiah because of their national content. Isn’t that like dismissing a love poem because it was addressed to a specific woman and not to all women? Jeremiah was involved in a love hate triangle with God and the Jewish people. Yes, nationalists can view it with blinders and see only its nationalist side, but why would you grant them that right. Unless you feel that these are inferior books. Maybe I have read too little of world literature and therefore I am overly impressed with the words of the Hebrew Bible, but then again, maybe you have an animus towards things that are Jewish and therefore you dismiss the Hebrew bible not out of fair judgment but out of bias.

        Here are Danaa’s exact words: “the bible in its entirety revolves around the jews and what’s good or bad for them.”

      • Danaa on January 3, 2015, 11:47 pm

        Yonah, when we say “entirety” we mean “the vast majority”. Naturally you’ll find exceptions though I think Psalm 23 qualifies as a minute portion of the whole, and even then, if you look at the various interpretations over the centuries, you’ll surely find that some twisted that one too to revolve around the jews. after all, the psalms can be read as addressed collectively or personally – take your pick.

        For you to say that Jeremiah and Isiah address anyone other than the Hebrew people is really bizarre. It is so very goyish of you to be so “open minded” – perhaps a little light headed from spiked sufganiot (gotta watch out for that!). May be it will help to read those books in the original hebrew language to get the proper hang of them? I know you have working knowledge of the language – perhaps that would work (even if laborious)?

        That being said I already stated that one can find any interpretation one wants on the bible. I can probably find proof there that felines are truly superior to humans if I look hard enough and with sufficiently squinted eyes.

        As for my not liking the bible much, alas, that’s true. After all i had to suffer through more than 10 years of daily lessons on this one convoluted, seriously uninspiring collections of rants and jewish informercials interspersed with no small amount of porn and mayhem. You can trust me that I did my very best to make the learning environment in each of those years a bit challenging for class and teachers alike. All in all, I should probably feel obliged for those endlessly droning Tanakh classes – that’s where I perfected my skills of making proper paper airplanes that could fly around the whole room in one take (for which purpose I had to use pages from some of the other infinitely boring books we were subjected to. The Jewish history texts, especially, which often came with just the right grade of paper. The bible pages were too darn thin and small. Now you know why the brainwashing didn’t work out so well in my case – wrong paper grade. Too bad it didn’t come in papyrus – could have probably branched off to ship building).

    • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 9:51 pm

      “The Old Testament is certainly not a universalist document — it is a tale of endless bloody battles between one nation and all the other nations. It is a nationalist document — a Zionist document.”

      A lot of people suspect it was actually written by Leon Uris under a number of pseudonyms.

      • W.Jones on December 16, 2014, 11:50 pm

        In that case, maybe they should have let you include a section yourself too, since I feel good humor is one thing it (and Uris’ writings?) occasionally has in deficit.

        Regards.

      • W.Jones on December 16, 2014, 11:51 pm

        <<” but someone who dismisses the entirety of the Bible as merely a nationalist document, well such a person obviously is either ignorant or has an ax to grind?”
        Yonah, I couldn’t agree more. Those right-wing, Judea and Sumaria God-said-we-could-steal-this-land types disturb me, too, and I wonder about their motivations, just like you do.>>

        Quick on the draw there.

      • Sibiriak on December 18, 2014, 8:18 am

        Mooser: “ Problem is, very little of it is true, unless you are a right-wing mouth-breather.

        ———
        Sean wrote: “the treatment by white police of blacks is a major problem in American society

        True. And he wrote:

        …the Michael Brown case was a poor symbol on which to try to build a civil rights crusade

        Debatable, sure. But I agree. And I’m not right wing.

        his strong arm robbery and physical bullying of storekeeper much smaller than him, and his attempt to wrestle a gun from a cop after punching him…

        You could quibble, but that’s basically what the facts establish.

        undermined the moral clarity of this incident for most of the American public

        Again, debatable. But reasonable and verifiable via opinion polls.

  3. just on December 16, 2014, 12:48 pm

    I love reading the truth.

    If ever there was an oxymoron, it was “liberal zionist”.

    Hallelujah. Say it loud, say it proud. There ain’t no such thing.

    • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 12:52 pm

      just,

      Allan Brownfeld is correct to note that liberal Zionists are in denial about the self-contradictions in their beliefs. But Brownfeld himself may be in denial if he fails to recognize that Zionism is strongly grounded in Judaism. If it weren’t grounded in Judaism, the Jewish religious establishment (including Reform Judaism) wouldn’t have worked so hard over the last half century to erase all distinctions between the two ideologies.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 3:20 pm

        “But Brownfeld himself may be in denial if he fails to recognize that Zionism is strongly grounded in Judaism.”

        Okay then, if Zionism is “strongly grounded in Judaism”, what then, Sean, shall we do about Judaism, from whence all this evil springs?

        I mean, you are making a very convincing case that Judaism will not reform itself. What should be done, and who should do it? Mind telling us?

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 3:34 pm

        Mooser,

        The Jewish establishment and Judaism may not be able to uncouple themselves from Zionism and the Israeli government, but non-Jewish governments and interests around the world may make the decision to do so — to increasingly distance themselves from any involvement with Zionism. Isn’t that what we already see happening the world? Most recently in Europe?

        Would you have a problem with that? Should they be under any obligation to follow in the wake of Zionism, wherever it goes — perhaps right over the cliff?

      • seafoid on December 16, 2014, 3:25 pm

        Zionism is strongly grounded in insanity.
        Very little to do with Judaism. I don’t recall Moses telling the people to rifle butt dissenters in the face but maybe my Hebrew isn’t up to scratch.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 3:30 pm

        “Very little to do with Judaism.”

        Oh Seafoid, Sean has all kinds evidence to the contrary. But what he consistently refuses to do is tell us what we should do about it!
        Obviously, if Sean’s “evidence” is correct (and much is undeniable) only an outside force could possibly affect this age-old Jewish trajectory, but Sean won’t tell us what to do to stem this tide.

      • just on December 16, 2014, 4:55 pm

        That makes no sense at all, sean.

        None.

        Zionism is extremism. Judaism is not.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 5:28 pm

        Notice, Sean is duscking down a weasel hole. I asked him what should be done about the Jews. He won’t tell us. Maybe he has some good ideas, I’d like to hear them.

      • W.Jones on December 16, 2014, 6:31 pm

        Seafoid, you wrote to Sean:

        Zionism is strongly grounded in insanity.
        Very little to do with Judaism. I don’t recall Moses telling the people to rifle butt dissenters in the face but maybe my Hebrew isn’t up to scratch.

        I find beautiful parts in the Torah, and God’s relationship with Moses is also very appealing, as God, an almighty creator, interacts directly with Moses, a mere man. However, it should be recognized that in the course of state-building in Canaan/the Promised Land, Moses ordered his forces to attack many Canaanite villagers, including women. One way to deal with the moral challenge of those stories is to say that those methods were not God’s command, but rather Moses’ interpretation of God’s command, and as such could have been incorrect. I do think some passages of the Exodus story demand attention by modern progressive theologians, while I also have a natural sympathy for Moses’ books along with that demand.

      • W.Jones on December 16, 2014, 6:37 pm

        Seafoid,

        Regarding the analogy with the Bible that you brought up, Leon Uris’ story has a grain of truth in the Biblical title of the novel/movie Exodus. One can find in it a repetition of elements of the Biblical story counterposed on new and different religious communities centuries later, and those elements, like Moses’ Exodus from Europe/Egypt and Moses’ Conquest of Canaan include inspiration, tragedy, hope, and also brutality. I wouldn’t equate the two experiences since there are major differences, and nor should belonging to one religion demand that you must analogize and internalize the two experiences.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 6:44 pm

        “The Jewish establishment and Judaism may not be able to uncouple themselves from Zionism and the Israeli government, but non-Jewish governments and interests around the world may make the decision to do so — to increasingly distance themselves from any involvement with Zionism. Isn’t that what we already see happening the world? Most recently in Europe?”

        They should have a name for it, maybe call it, wait, it’s coming to me… BDS! Boycotts Divestments and Sanctions! Catchy, huh?

        So that’s what all that stuff about the Jewish Scriptures, Jewish religious leaders, Jewish organizations, Jewish people, you are for BDS? Good for you!

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 9:41 pm

        ” One way to deal with the moral challenge of those stories is to say that those methods were not God’s command, but rather Moses’ interpretation of God’s command, and as such could have been incorrect.”

        W Jones, you know as well as I do that the God of the Old Testament (Praised be his Holy Name!) had no trouble making Himself understood in His Divine Will! Are you saying God stutters? Lisps?
        Has speech defect? That’s some God, a guy who can’t give a simple order to one of his trusted henchman without screwing it up and causing a bloodbath?
        Wouldn’t it be much simpler, and make a lot more sense, to believe God knew what He was saying, and meant it?

      • W.Jones on December 16, 2014, 11:11 pm

        Dear Mooser,

        I like your sense of humor here (eg. God telling His “henchman”). And yes, I think you are making a good argument or point that God knew what He was saying:

        W Jones, you know as well as I do that the God of the Old Testament (Praised be his Holy Name!) had no trouble making Himself understood in His Divine Will! Are you saying God stutters? Lisps?
        Has speech defect? That’s some God, a guy who can’t give a simple order to one of his trusted henchman without screwing it up and causing a bloodbath?
        Wouldn’t it be much simpler, and make a lot more sense, to believe God knew what He was saying, and meant it?

        For the sake of argument, the Torah actually does say that Moses had a speech problem and thus spoke “through” Aaron. But yes, the Bible does put it in a straightforward way sometimes, eg. “God said ‘________’.” The challenge though I am foundering on is one that modern theologians sometimes struggle with – How to reconcile harsh quotes (eg. attacking villages) with our beliefs and teachings about morality? And one method to deal with those quotes is by saying that God’s statements through Moses were not dictations. Moses was not forced by a Spirit to make exact quotes like a robot or “possessed” person, but rather Moses was speaking based on “inspiration”, ie. the Spirit spoke through the prophets, but not like a ventriloquist. Spirits, like wisdom, knowledge, and God might act on people, but due to human freedom and orderly independence God’s spirit does not “take them over” like a ventriloquist. In any case, this is one reasonable way to deal with those harsh quotes that traditional theologians have made.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 10:31 am

        “How to reconcile harsh quotes (eg. attacking villages) with our beliefs and teachings about morality?”

        W Jones, you shock me deeply. I have rarely seen such hubris such contempt for the Almighty! You think God must be reconciled to man’s “teaching and morality”? You think God must reconcile Hisself to man? Listen, W Jones, for that you get a ride in a heresy!

        It is man, who must reconcile himself to God!! You know that, W Jones, and I prefer to believe it just slipped your mind for a second.

      • Citizen on December 18, 2014, 11:23 am
  4. seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 12:54 pm

    Another question for Allan Brownfeld:

    Within Judaism, the Ultra-Orthodox, Satmar and Neturei Karta represent the main (and perhaps) only anti-Zionist streams. In what way are they universalists?

    • annie on December 16, 2014, 6:17 pm

      sean, i noticed jon s cited a passage for you upthread after you said you were interested in “the dominant spiritual history and essence of Judaism” and “the Jewish universal spiritual tradition.” and claimed “Old Testament is certainly not a universalist document

      For universalist values you can start here:

      “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

      – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/12/virginia-liberal-zionist#sthash.Ri4Hxb2d.dpuf

      yonah also mentioned some things. i am curious if you’re interested in exploring ways in which the old testament might not be, as you claim, certainly not universalistic. what do you think of jon’s quote? other than just ignoring it or asking another question to confirm your own extremely oneside view or to say it’s simply irrelevant and has no significance in today’s world. was there anything at all in what yonah or jon s said that you found meaning in?

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 6:34 pm

        “was there anything at all in what yonah or jon s said that you found meaning in?”

        Oh Sean, please say “yes”. That’ll make one out of three, anyway.

      • W.Jones on December 16, 2014, 10:56 pm

        Dear Annie,

        You, Sean, and others are getting into an important topic about the true nature of the religion, a topic that has been debated for thousands of years, involving the balance between nationalism and egalitarianism/internationalism, a debate that goes beyond IP and involves modern politics in totally different settings too. So Sean is asking worthwhile questions and others like you, and those who may disagree with him, are part of a worthwhile discussion.

        You asked Sean about an important quote:

        For universalist values you can start here:

        “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

        I believe that this is part of a prediction Isaiah is making about a universalist future. This is because in Isaiah 56, Isaiah has God say: “my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations“. In this future vision, the nations are still existing, they are not fighting, and God’s Temple belongs no longer just to one people but to all nations. Naim Ateek of Sabeel has written about this inner universalism in the ancient prophecies.

        The challenge however, and the reason there is debate is because:
        1. Isaiah wrote in a poetic style and poetry can be interpreted differently. For example, a key passage of Isaiah (52:15) that I read as talking about the nations’ future holiness have been translated (incorrectly) by other scholars as predicting the nations as being crushed or “cast down”. (http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15983/jewish/Chapter-52.htm)
        2. Isaiah was also making a prediction. But he was not saying that under his own conditions all nations were equal. In fact, from Isaiah’s perspective, they weren’t totally equal – certainly pagan cultures did not have the same spiritual strength that his own faith did. An apologetic, defensive argument could be made that the prophets did not, nor did they need to, see the nations’ spirituality as universal in that ancient time period, unlike today, when indeed very many nations do accept Israel’s God.

        Fast forwarding to today and I/P Land, one could argue, in defense of Jehovah’s prophets, that they were writing in, and often about, an ancient time when the nations did not worship Him, but now we are living a very different era, in which much of the world- and in fact most of the other people in the region, do worship Him, and thus the rationale behind ancient political and national hierarchies of separation and power are no longer religiously necessary for worshiping Him.

      • seanmcbride on December 17, 2014, 10:07 am

        WJones,

        Congratulations on contributing an intelligent and well-informed post on this controversy.

        Btw, for rapid, unmoderated and uncensored exchanges on this post (and topic) — in conversational mode — visit https://friendfeed.com/mondoweiss-on-friendfeed/6fb715b6/yes-virginia-there-is-liberal-zionist

      • jon s on December 17, 2014, 4:18 am

        Annie,
        It’s like if I would ask you about “American values” : are they liberalism
        and liberty or racism and xenophobia? Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. or the KKK and McCarthy?
        So, too, in various Jewish sources -the Bible, Talmud, rabbinic literature and more – you can find a tug-of-war between quite different concepts.

      • annie on December 17, 2014, 11:53 am

        yes of course jon. as i’ve mentioned many times i am not religious nor have i ever had much interest in reading about religion. but i have a deep respect for the religious, many of them and many of my ancestors (immediate, i don’t really know anything about who they were thousands of years ago, or care) were religious social activists, some who died violent deaths for their service to humanity as men of the cloth. i think, logically, many of the greatest people who have walked the earth have been religious people and some of the greatest minds are those of faith. and i simply refuse to succumb to the idea that a political construct has the power to take down a major religion that has shaped mankind. i won’t do it for christianity, islam or judaism. and i know , or i should say don’t know, as much info about one as the other which amounts to very little. still i have faith in mankind which requires me to have faith great minds will, thru their religion, bring out the best in others and not the worst.

        hence, it is difficult for me to facilitate a conversation seeking to degrade the core of any religion although i have nothing but complete contempt for those who use their religion to subjugate, demean, oppress and kill others. anyway, obviously i am not a fan of zionism and i believe it is a cancer on the body of judaism. but i do not believe it has the power to consume the host nor will i empower zionism by facilitating that concept. yes, there is a power struggle. it is easier for me to moderate a conversation with islamophobes regarding islam but i’m not qualified really to judge intricacies of what is at the core of religious belief because i don’t really know or care what is at the core of religions. i get bored reading about them. these names all symbolize relationships in mankind i don’t believe they are real people. anyway, i am rambling. i’m in the odd position of protecting judaism or islam or whatever. i’ve asked someone else to step in and make these decisions on this thread. it’s over my head.

        also, i think it’s an interesting conversation and one worth having and exploring. but not at the expense of having one person with one very strong view interrogating everyone else and pressuring their own views constantly and repeatedly. it’s more interesting or possibly more helpful for others to be able to take the conversation in varying directions (perhaps as it pertains to the article at the top of the page, ya think!) vs everything filtered thru one dominating/repetitious viewpoint/voice.

    • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 7:30 pm

      ” In what way are they universalists?”

      They wear the same clothes for everything.

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 7:41 pm

        Mooser wrote: “They wear the same clothes for everything.” (Re: In what way are they universalists? — “they” = ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists)

        Good ‘un.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 3:05 pm

        Well, fer Gawd’s sake, Sean, it’s a start! You know what Thoreau always said, when told the seat of his trousers was shiny.

    • jon s on December 17, 2014, 12:57 am

      WJones,
      According to the Bible, Moses never entered Canaan, so he didn’t attack Canaanite villages.
      That was Joshua.

      • W.Jones on December 17, 2014, 1:39 am

        Jon S,

        You are right that Moses didn’t enter Canaan. I may have been thinking of the attack on the Midianite villages:
        http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/num/31.html

        However, the defenses I made would often work in a similar way other times when the Tanakh mentions God supposedly commanding such attacks.

        Here is one website that discusses different Apologetics about the genocide topic:
        http://blog.adw.org/2010/01/did-god-command-genocide

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 10:34 am

        JonS, the man is hopeless! Just a few comments ago he was talking about man, mankind, people, judging God!! I mean, well, did you ever? (What a swell party this is!)

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 3:01 pm

        “I may have been thinking of the attack on the Midianite villages:”

        And everybody ( everybody who didn’t pass their Scripture Knowledge Test by dint of a list of the Kings of Judah inscribed on his shirt-cuffs, that is!) everybody knows that after Midianite, they let it all hang out.
        Many asseverate they then went on ‘to find out what it is all about’, in spite of the small talk and suspicion.!

      • Citizen on December 18, 2014, 11:42 am

        True. I’ve been following this back and forth, seanmcbride v other regulars. There’s that old adage, which I am partial to: the creed is in the deed. Now, I’m reading the creed is in the deed(s) depicted in the creed’s holy scripture?

        As an aside, I’ve often wondered why some humans attribute anthropomorphic attributes to God, G-D, Dog? D-G? Poetry & Literature–more practical, ultimately, than most think?

  5. eljay on December 16, 2014, 1:04 pm

    Israel could have been a “culturally Jewish” Israeli state – a state of and for all citizens of, immigrants to and ex-pats and refugees from the geographic region comprising Partition-borders Israel.

    But Zio-supremacists – even “liberal Zionist” types – didn’t and don’t want that. They wanted and still want a “Greater” Israel that is a supremacist “Jewish State” – a state primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.

    The words of “liberal Zionist” RW never fail to capture the spirit of moderate Zio-supremacism:

    “I cannot consistently say that ‘ethnic cleansing is never necessary’.”

    ” … I feel that the nakba was a necessary wrong … ”

    “If I was an adult in 1948, I probably would have supported whatever it took to create the state of Israel, and held my nose at actions that I could not possibly do myself.”

    “The nakba that occurred in 1948 was accompanied by the independence, the liberation, of the Jewish community. So, I primarily celebrate … “

    • jon s on December 17, 2014, 1:49 pm

      WJones,
      It may be worth noting that Moses himself was married to a Midianite woman , Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, “priest of Midian”. (Exodus 3:1)

      • jon s on December 17, 2014, 1:54 pm

        And on this opportunity: Happy Hanukah to all those celebrating the Holiday of Lights!

        We all could use more light in the darkness.

      • seafoid on December 17, 2014, 2:11 pm

        Did the Mizrahim celebrate hannukah as dhimmis LOL or is it more of a Jewish attempt to match Christmas ?

        Israel really needs light 365/365.

      • annie on December 17, 2014, 2:29 pm

        i 2nd that, happy hanaukah to everyone celebrating!

      • jon s on December 17, 2014, 3:09 pm

        …and according to some commentaries, Zipporah, Moses’ wife, was black.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 3:10 pm

        “We all could use more light in the darkness.”

        Try opening your eyes. It really helps. Everybody can get along on the ambient illumination except you? See your optometrist. Unless, of course, you are too busy doing yardwork, “Jon s”

  6. Mooser on December 16, 2014, 1:43 pm
    • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 1:55 pm

      Mooser — good site/cite.

      “The American Council for Judaism (ACJ) is an organization of American Jews committed to the proposition that Jews are not a nationality but merely a religious group, adhering to the original stated principles of Reform Judaism, as articulated in the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Council_for_Judaism

      Regarding Enlightenment and non-nationalist Reform Judaism — I was referring to this strain of Judaism. What a pity that this group has had so little influence on Israel, American politics, the Jewish establishment (Conference of Presidents), etc.

      More:

      Support for the American Council for Judaism came primarily from Jews of German descent who were historically attached to Classical Reform Judaism, but also from many Jewish socialists who opposed Zionism, and many more of whom who were uncomfortable with the Jewish religion coalesced around William Zukerman and his Jewish Newsletter. Jewish intellectuals who at one time or another passed through the Council included David Riesman, Hans Kohn, Erich Fromm, Hannah Arendt, Will Herberg, Morrie Ryskind, Frank Chodorov, and Murray Rothbard. Among the notable gentile friends of the Council were Dorothy Thompson, Norman Thomas, Freda Utley, Arnold J. Toynbee, and Dwight MacDonald. The ACJ was particularly influential in San Francisco.

      and:

      The ACJ sharply declined in activity following the Six Day War in 1967, when the American Jewish community was swept up by overwhelming support for Israel. Moderates within the Council forced Elmer Berger to resign the following year for declaring that Israel had been the primary aggressor in the war.

      The council has since moderated its stance and accepts Israel and Zionism, but views them as irrelevant to the lives of American Jews. According to its statement of principles, “the State of Israel has significance for the Jewish experience. As a refuge for many Jews who have suffered persecution and oppression in other places, Israel certainly has meaning for us. However, that relationship is a spiritual, historical, and humanitarian one – it is not a political tie. As American Jews, we share the hope for the security and well being of the State of Israel, living in peace and justice with its neighbors”. Allan C. Brownfeld, the editor of the AJC’s magazine, said that “I think we represent a silent majority. We are Americans by nationality and Jews by religion. And while we wish Israel well, we don’t view it as our homeland.”

      That last paragraph doesn’t give the impression that the ACJ is now anti-Zionist. It seems to have accepted Zionism as a fait accompli.

    • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 3:32 pm

      “Mooser — good site/cite.”

      I hate snitches. Always have.

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 3:40 pm

        Mooser,

        Would you agree — based on that paragraph above — that the ACJ no longer appears to be an anti-Zionist organization?

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 6:13 pm

        Sean, I have already admitted, many times, that it is possible for you to see these things your way. I don’t know why, and I hope I never do, but there it is.

        Now answer the question, Sean: what do you think should be done about it?

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 6:48 pm

        Sean, you’ve made the same arguments many, many times, and yet you seem to have no practical plan to do anything about it. So whatever this power of the Jewish establishment is, it sure seems to work on you. They’ve got you too frightened to even mention some kind of action to moderate this malign, anti-enlightement force.

    • jon s on December 18, 2014, 1:47 am

      “Mooser”, same to you.

  7. Danaa on December 16, 2014, 1:51 pm

    Key questions for “Liberal zionist”:

    1. What’s “Liberal” and whose definition shall be used to define the term?

    Homework assignment (trick question): can a libertarian be liberal? if so, what are the commonalities? if not, where are the contradictions?

    corrolary: are there jewish libertarians? are there israeli ones?

    2. What’s “zionist”?

    Homework assignment; distinguish between different levels of zionism, categorized by appropriate prefix and rank by proximity to “liberalism”. Example: Faux zionist, Uber zionist, Nouveau zionist, Meta zionist, Para zionist, Paleo zionist, etc

    • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 3:50 pm

      Danaa,

      Liberalism — civic nationalism — modern democracies — political systems based on individual human rights, not ethnic or religious identity.

      Zionism — ethnic nationalism, Jewish ethnic nationalism to be specific — a political system based on ethnic and religious identity (and, of course, ethnic and religious group self-interest).

      Liberal Zionists promote liberalism (civic nationalism) in the United States and Europe and Zionism (ethnic nationalism) in Israel. Their self-contradictions are beginning to catch up with them and people are starting to wonder what core principles and values they really stand for. They really don’t add up.

      • Danaa on December 16, 2014, 4:27 pm

        Sean – problem with the homework answer: your definition of “liberalism” as a political system based on individual rights applies perfectly also to Libertarianism. But we all know, on a gut level, the two are not the same.

        I use libertarianism as one stream of political identification to highlight the problem with defining “liberal”. I think that before we can bag us a liberal zionist we need to figure out what exactly they mean by “liberal’. I bet it’s not the same as what I might mean.

        I also see an issue with “civic nationalism” because it has the word “nationalism” in it. Liberals the world over have some things they might all agree on more than they differ by nationality.

        I guess I am pushing the linguistic angle because we can’t prove the deep dichotomies in the expression “liberal zionists” if we don’t have a working definition we can all agree on about what “liberal” is.

        All that before we even get to the “gradations” of “zionist”.

        Mine field, that one.

    • American on December 16, 2014, 6:48 pm

      Yea….they need to define ‘universalistic” also by something other than just bible verses.
      People into this babble throw everything into the pot like liberalism, enlightenment, blah blah.

      Give me examples of how this universalism *was practiced* in Judaism or Christianity for that matter.

      • W.Jones on December 17, 2014, 12:08 am

        American,

        In Christianity, you can belong to the church and belong to the church regardless of nationality. One could be a bishop in Constantine’s time whether you were African, Jewish (in nationality), Greek, Roman, or Arab.

        Check out this prayer by Constantine:

        “AND now I beseech thee, most mighty God, to be merciful and gracious to thine Eastern nations, to thy people in these provinces [that would include the Jewish nation and the province of Palestine, by the way]

        My own desire is, for the common good of the world and the advantage of all mankind, that thy people should enjoy a life of peace and undisturbed concord. Let those, therefore, who still delight in error, be made welcome to the same degree of peace and tranquillity which they have who believe. For it may be that this restoration of equal privileges to all will prevail to lead them into the straight path.”

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 10:36 am

        “If you are in a humorous, creative mode, can you please write a 5-6 line debate between Hophmi and Sean on this subject?”

        No, absolutely not. If I was depressed, and on any number of bad drugs, I might be able to attempt it, but why ruin my day?

    • Keith on December 17, 2014, 6:15 pm

      DANAA- First of all, welcome back! Don’t be such a stranger.

      As to your questions regarding liberalism and Zionism, I would suggest that a liberal Zionist is analogous to a liberal imperialist, that is, an American liberal. A liberal is someone who complains about and applies bandaids to systemic injustice while simultaneously supporting the system which inevitably produces these injustices. Liberals mainly represent a certain segment of the ruling elite. They are rhetorically progressive, but nowadays that is about it. The type of people who can talk about Just Wars and Humanitarian Interventions while keeping a straight face. Liberals would be aghast at the notion of fundamental systemic change.

      As for Zionists, I basically agree with Israel Shahak that Zionism is a retreat from the enlightenment back to Classical Judaism, albeit in a secular and distorted form. The primary goal is maintenance of the tribe for the power-seeking advantages that this provides. Israel is primarily of symbolic value as a tribal unifier.

  8. hophmi on December 16, 2014, 1:55 pm

    Total nonsense written by the head of a tiny org that was always afraid to speak up, even when Jews were being slaughtered.

    And of course, Sean McBride chimes in with his usual antisemitic comments.

    • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 7:20 pm

      “And of course, Sean McBride chimes in with his usual antisemitic comments.”

      Oh really, Hophmi! What’s so anti-Semitic about them? Most of them are straight Zionist boiler plate. You know, the intimate connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel, all of the Scriptures which encourage Zionism, and the incorporation of ZIonism as an essential part of the Jewish religion, the many, many organizations devoted to Zionism, Zionism’s predominance in the Jewish community. Pretty boilerplate stuff, and all stuff the Zionists and Israel will proudly tell you themselves, isn’t it? Hardly “anti-Semitic”
      He doesn’t seem to offer any solutions, or plan of action which in any way meets the scale of the challenge he outlines, but hey, that’s his prerogative.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 7:26 pm

        I mean geez, Hophmi, I’ll never figure you out, you old son-of-Irgun, So here comes Sean Mchbride, all full of the over-whelming success of Zionism in the Jewish community, and you start calling him “anti-Semitic”? Poor Sean is out ringing the bell day and night for the complete integration of Jewish and Zionist identity and combination of resources between the two, and you’re talking “anti-Semitism”? You’re a hard guy to please, Hophmi.

      • Sibiriak on December 16, 2014, 11:38 pm

        Mooser: ” you old son-of-Irgun”

        —-

        Lol. Good one.

      • W.Jones on December 17, 2014, 1:04 am

        Mooser,

        If you are in a humorous, creative mode, can you please write a 5-6 line debate between Hophmi and Sean on this subject?

    • Keith on December 17, 2014, 6:34 pm

      HOPHMI- “Total nonsense written by the head of a tiny org that was always afraid to speak up, even when Jews were being slaughtered.”

      The WZO was not a tiny organization and the reason they refrained from giving significant support to European Jews was that they thought that this would interfere with their Zionist goals of establishing a Jewish state. They did try to help their fellow Zionists, but only to the extent that they were good pioneer material, even preferring young American Jews over older, less suited Europeans who were left to suffer their fate. Tree has gone over this in detail in the past, however, you continue to display your characteristic misrepresentation of the historical reality.

  9. seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 2:44 pm

    Mooser — regarding the ACJ — a fascinating bit of history from **December 27, 1943**:

    “Zionist Organization Proclaims Campaign Against American Council of Judaism”
    http://www.jta.org/1943/12/27/archive/zionist-organization-proclaims-campaign-against-american-council-of-judaism

    This battle has been going on for quite some time — and it is obvious that the Zionist wing of the Jewish establishment has utterly crushed the anti-Zionist wing — with the full support of the leading institutions of Judaism.

    • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 3:26 pm

      This battle has been going on for quite some time — and it is obvious that the Zionist wing of the Jewish establishment has utterly crushed the anti-Zionist wing — with the full support of the leading institutions of Judaism.”

      Yes, and, it would seem, the support of most Jews. So there it is, Sean. No, what is to be done? Since we can’t count on Jewish people or institutions to change anything, please tell us what is to be done, and who should do it.
      Anytime, Sean, you’ve gotten the discussion to this point, well, let’s have some answers. Surely you didn’t collect all this “evidence” without thinking of appropriate remedies? Please don’t validate Hophmi’s charge of anti-Semitism, Sean, tell us what the world should do about the Jews.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 3:47 pm

        “Sean, tell us what the world should do about the Jews.”

        Wait I have an idea! Look, extermination is, frankly, not on the table. And passing laws in the US to limit Jewish influence would screw up our separation of church and state. So why not give them their own country? It’s the only humane thing to do. Got any other ideas, Sean?

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 3:51 pm

        Mooser,

        So now you are a Zionist?

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 4:02 pm

        Mooser,

        Most American ethnic groups have fully integrated into American society — they are not involved in Old World or *ancient* ethnic and religious conflicts in foreign lands.

        So that is the obvious solution to the problem you mentioned. Integrate. Abandon ethnic nationalism. But do you think that is going to happen with regard to the Jewish establishment?

        There is a possibility that many Jews will abandon their affiliations to that establishment — that is already happening to some degree — but not enough to undercut the power of the Jewish lobby in the Israel lobby.

      • Danaa on December 16, 2014, 4:36 pm

        mooser – I have an idea! dazzling in its simplicity – how about we just all “wait it out”? encourage as many gentiles as possible to gum up JDate on one end, and give israel every rope we can on the other end?

        I totally trust the israelis that they will do everything in their power to mess it up royally for every jew and wanna-be jew in the world. The israelis are that good! they need no help from anyone!

        Why, even as we speak they are giving a master class on how to make America cringe, even as kerry visibly squirms.

        And that’s just for starters. I hear they have many more plans hatched up by the brilliant minds of the start-up nation.

        So why should we do anything? I say you tell Sean to be patient and wait.

        me, i got the popcorn ready (well, carrots actually) – I expect fireworks come 2015!

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 5:31 pm

        “So now you are a Zionist?”

        Sean, if you favor the less humane solution, or think it’s time the US made some laws against Jews, please say so.

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 6:56 pm

        ” I say you tell Sean to be patient and wait.”

        Oh, nobody needs to tell Sean that. I think that’s pretty much what he’ll do. The Jewish-Zionist establishment has him too frightened to do anything else. He seems more frightened of it than any of the Mondo writers are, poor guy, yet he can’t suggest anything beyond a timid endorsement of BDS. Oh well

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 11:12 am

        “There is a possibility that many Jews will abandon their affiliations to that establishment — that is already happening to some degree — but not enough”

        Oh, Sean, how innocent you are! You’ve never heard of Marronos? ‘Secret Jews’, who after being baptized, continued to practice aspects of their religion in secret!!!
        So how would you know that they did. I’m sure you can find full directions for practicing Judaism in secret in some Jewish texts.

        No, Sean, I doubt that “abandoning their affiliations” is a good plan. Who would check? Who would make sure they really abandoned it?

      • lysias on December 17, 2014, 11:35 am

        Because of the history of hostility between Christianity and Judaism, Christians may have regarded at least nominal Christians who retained Jewish practices with suspicion, and even have persecuted them at times (like in the time of the Spanish Inquisition). But this product of parochial school education is unaware of any reason why, under the dogmas of Christian religion, a person cannot simultaneously accept Christianity and retain some Jewish practices. As far as I know, those Jewish practices are not prohibited by Christian religion. Indeed, bear in mind that Christianity historically regards itself not as the negation but as the fulfillment of Judaism.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 2:48 pm

        “But this product of parochial school education is unaware of any reason why, under the dogmas of Christian religion, a person cannot simultaneously accept Christianity and retain some Jewish practices.”

        A splendid idea. Even as there is greater polarization, there are many who prefer to unify or meld religious ideas and practices.

    • annie on December 16, 2014, 7:42 pm

      hi sean, i’m done moderating your comments in this thread because i’m not qualified to judge where attacking a religion (or claiming it’s insignificant and completely consumed by a political construct) crosses the line into attacking the worshipers of a that religion given my repulsion for your determination to insist judaism is completely consumed by zionism, or whatever it is you repeat constantly. . or whatever. so i have written phil and adam and they will either show up and clear them or not. frankly, it sounds anti semitic to me and i’m done with reading them.

      • oldgeezer on December 16, 2014, 7:49 pm

        If his posts go I would rather mine did with it. You said what I was feeling in a much better way. I hadn’t realized you had posted while I was struggling with a response

      • seanmcbride on December 16, 2014, 8:09 pm

        Annie,

        There is nothing remotely antisemitic in pointing out that violent nationalist passages in the Old Testament greatly outnumber peaceful universalist themes, and that religious Zionists rely heavily on those themes and ideas to justify Israeli policies (especially expansionist and racist policies).

      • Mooser on December 16, 2014, 9:31 pm

        Sure seems to me that if a person has sliced the Gordian knot with the Sword of Damocles as Sean does, and can reduce this problem to such basic categories, a solution involving those basic categories will be forthcoming.

      • annie on December 17, 2014, 12:16 pm

        without assuming your hypothesis or interpretation (re: “greatly outnumber”) is correct sean, because i don’t know and don’t care, either way, i couldn’t agree more. however, that was not my complaint (my point). iow, you are either willfully ignoring what i stated, or you are simply too dense to figure it out. as you can see, i have eliminated your questions because i’m not interested in being interrogated by you. especially since, once again, you’ve completely ignore my point and not addressed it at all.

  10. ritzl on December 16, 2014, 4:09 pm

    Shavit threw open the sluice-gate of Israel’s malevolent mythology and arrogantly thought he could control what came out.

    His media facilitators were/are even more arrogant in believing they could broadcast all that malevolence as sort of a “We did all this bad stuff, but we turned out all right!” (with a strong undercurrent of “Didn’t we??”)…and no one would notice both the bad stuff AND the fact that, generations later, it’s still going on.

    I had an engineer friend who used to say, “Mother Nature is a hard-hearted bitch with a sick sense of humor.” That pretty much applies here in the disintegration of the liberal Zionist belief set.

  11. CitizenC on December 16, 2014, 5:01 pm

    Unfortunately the “cultural Zionists” were not an exception, as Brownfield claims. See Steven Zipperstein’s bio of Ahad Ha’am, who was very political when it was effectual. He moved to London in 1908 and was Weizmann’s closest confidante and adviser from then on. He was deeply involved in the negotiations leading to the Balfour Declaration, as Weizmann acknowledged. AH’s home was their chief meeting place, which they used daily when talks were at their height.

    AH wanted unlimited immigration leading to a Jewish majority. His 1891 essay, “Truth from Eretz Israel”, which supposedly shows great concern for the Palestinian Arabs, was dismissed as “Much ado about little” by Alan Dowty, who did the only full translation, in 2000= something, and wrote an article of that name.

    • annie on December 16, 2014, 7:11 pm

      much to do about little? any chance he wanted to malign him in 2000? dig up old history and discredit him?

      • CitizenC on December 16, 2014, 7:28 pm

        Malign him? Discredit him? Do you have some investment in liberal Zionism? Fortunately scholars like Dowty do not; Dowty was interested in investigating AH’s liberal rep. Dowty is prof emeritus of political science at Notre Dame inter alia. Same for Zipperstein, who started his bio thinking AH might have something to offer on today’s issues but abandoned the idea in the end.

      • annie on December 16, 2014, 7:52 pm

        it was just a question citizen c. sorry i ask, you.

  12. American on December 16, 2014, 6:00 pm

    I don’t see many Jews here, religious or secular, who have a true factual understanding of Jewish history.
    I think that is probably because they get their information from Jewish sources who write ‘only’ about the Jewish view of history and/or Judaism.
    People should go to’ world history ‘ historians and authors who don’t focus strictly on the Jews ..or iow those that don’ t have a ethic or religious dog in the hunt of history…. for a better understanding of the Jew’s history/events.

    • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 11:18 am

      “I don’t see many Jews here, religious or secular, who have a true factual understanding of Jewish history.”

      Okay, okay, you caught me! I used to cut out of Hebrew School all the time. I probably missed something. But jeez, eight hours of school, and then hours of religious instruction a couple times a week? Give a kid a break already. I mean, look, if they didn’t want me to be infatuated with the seasons, the outdoors and pastoral pursuits, why did my parents move to the suburbs?

    • Citizen on December 18, 2014, 12:52 pm

      I like to compare world history renditions of events that are also addressed by historians of Jewish History, as well as other ethnic writers writing about their country’s history. I’m still waiting for an English translation of 200 Years. It’s been translated in Europe, but not in USA. The Russian novelist author is not an unknown for tackling political history; he’s received some big awards for his excellence.

      Is there an Egyptian historian who wrote about the Exodus?

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 2:18 pm

        “Is there an Egyptian historian who wrote about the Exodus?”

        Yes, a very brave Egyptian historian who followed the story from initial enslavement to the very front lines of Egyptian soldiers in chariots as they chased the fleeing Israelites to the Red Sea. Saw the entire thing, open-mouthed with amazement. Gawking like an Egyptian, frankly.
        Well, you know the rest.
        Papyrus is pretty tough, but it’s not waterproof.

      • American on January 8, 2015, 9:43 pm

        ” I’m still waiting for an English translation of 200 Years. It’s been translated in Europe, but not in USA. The Russian novelist author is not an unknown for tackling political history; he’s received some big awards for his excellence. – —citizen

        Some of Solzhenitsyn translated to English here:
        http://www.mediafire.com/download/q7znvoozoucw9oq/Aleksandr+Solzhenitsyn+-+200+Years+Together.pdf

        I read some translated chapters on the ethnopolitics site several years ago when they were the only ones translating it but is now defunct.
        Amazing writer and book, very very very detailed the history and events.
        There seems to be a effort to wipe it from the net so you have to hunt long and hard for it.

  13. American on December 17, 2014, 12:45 am

    Judaism is Zionism- Zionism is Judaism
    Yes it is– No its not.
    Anyone can find 1000s of articles by Jews and Rabbis claiming it is and claiming it isn’t.
    And all of them on both sides quoting this and that from the Old Testament to prove it.
    So its crystal clear that Judaism is Zionism for some of them and for others it is not.
    Or …iow, there are two kinds of Judaism.
    Both claiming to be the real Judaism.
    That’s all there is to the Judaism-Zionism argument.
    It’s up to the Jews to settle it or not settle it.

    The only thing for Non Jews to be concerned with is dismantling the Zionist/Israeli fifth column in US government policies.

    • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 10:43 am

      “It’s up to the Jews to settle it or not settle it.”

      Gee, looking at the history of almost every religion, what usually happens when a matter this vital (there are many, many lives involved) divides into two irreconcilable viewpoints, and sets of actions? You get a schism, and the religion divides up in a new way.

      I(f that’s all right with you, of course, I know it’ll make life more confusing, what with are apparently, two sets of Jews, not just “the Jews”. But people have managed with Catholics and Protestants for many years.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 2:17 pm

        And oh yeah, I forgot to mention, all kinds of different Protestants, so many I certainly can’t keep them all straight, although I have recently learned to spell “Presbyterian” which, incidentally, removes the main impediment to conversion.
        One, even one as deficient is spiritual schmaltz as myself, naturally cannot help being attracted to the Presleyterians, who posit that God is a hunk’a hunk’a hunk of burning Love, and only asks of mankind “Let Me be Your Teddy Bear”. And even among them, there is debate over whether He has, indeed, left the building.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 3:43 pm

        I always get those two mixed up. Sorry.

      • Citizen on December 18, 2014, 1:05 pm

        Is there a Catholic and/or Protestant Lobby in the USA that has the US Congress applauding constantly the PM of a foreign state, and who are their Adelsons, Sabans? What country are they giving a very disproportionate amount of total military aid to? What country of theirs gets constant diplomatic cover? What country of theirs gets US debt underwriting?

    • seanmcbride on December 17, 2014, 10:52 am

      American,

      Can you think of a single organization within the Jewish religious establishment that now disavows the unity of Judaism and Zionism?

      You can find a list of those organizations at the homepage for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations here:

      http://www.conferenceofpresidents.org/

      and here specifically:

      http://www.conferenceofpresidents.org/about/members

      They include all mainstream branches of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist.

      Even the American Council of Judaism now describes itself as a supporter of Zionism — SEE THE LEAD ARTICLE FOR THIS CONVERSATION! :) — above — at the top of this page.

      How are many progressive anti-Zionists handling this situation? Not well at all. By engaging in evasion and denial — by sticking their fingers in their ears and wheeling out the antisemitism smear. Sometimes they sound very much like liberal Zionists.

      • annie on December 17, 2014, 3:19 pm

        Even the American Council of Judaism now describes itself as a supporter of Zionism

        except they didn’t really describe themselves as a “supporter of zionism” now did they. you even said yourself it “seems to have accepted zionism as a fait accompli” how did that morph into describes itself as supporting zionism?

        The council has since moderated its stance and accepts Israel and Zionism, but views them as irrelevant to the lives of American Jews. According to its statement of principles, “the State of Israel has significance for the Jewish experience. As a refuge for many Jews who have suffered persecution and oppression in other places, Israel certainly has meaning for us. However, that relationship is a spiritual, historical, and humanitarian one – it is not a political tie. As American Jews, we share the hope for the security and well being of the State of Israel, living in peace and justice with its neighbors”. Allan C. Brownfeld, the editor of the AJC’s magazine, said that “I think we represent a silent majority. We are Americans by nationality and Jews by religion. And while we wish Israel well, we don’t view it as our homeland.”

        maybe you think “accepting” something as being a supporter of it. whereas if i say ‘i accept you but think it are irrelevant’ it’s not quite the same as supporting you now is it. sort of like you saying ‘i accept there are worshippers of judaism who are not zionists but they are irrelevant’ you’re not really coming off as supporting them, just accepting they exist. for the sake of argument one could use anything to prove their point which is what it seems you have done. and saying, as they did “israel has meaning for us” is rather vague. i mean isreal has meaning for me too. doesn’t mean i support it as an apartheid state or at all actually. it sounds like the kind of statement one would submit to get out from under a lawsuit or something.

        and what is the meaning of this However, that relationship is a spiritual, historical, and humanitarian one – it is not a political tie.

        how does that buttress your argument they support zionism, a political construct?

        but it seems to me your point here in this particular comment(a point you have made several times now) is in even co-oping the very author of the article (who clearly does not appear as a support of zionism) as evidence to buttress your point. you can’t even leave them alone. your conference of jewish whatevers aside, you’re even putting the American Council of Judaism in your conquered column.

        either way it looks like they got bullied, but the chance all these people transformed into supporters of zionism seems far fetched.

        That last paragraph doesn’t give the impression that the ACJ is now anti-Zionist. It seems to have accepted Zionism as a fait accompli.

        – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/12/virginia-liberal-zionist/comment-page-1#comment-730543

        it seems to you. beauty is not the only thing in the eyes of the beholder.

      • seanmcbride on December 17, 2014, 3:36 pm

        Annie,

        From a statement of ACJ principles: “As American Jews, we share the hope for the security and well being of the State of Israel, living in peace and justice with its neighbors.””

        It sounds to me like they have accepted the existence of Israel as an established fact — I don’t think they are active Zionists — simply a group that has passively accepted that the Zionist wing of the Jewish establishment has prevailed in the struggle against the anti-Zionist wing.

        To what degree they are pushing back against Jewish religious Zionist doctrine I don’t know — I need to look into it — or perhaps someone else knows. Certainly they are pro-peace and pro-justice. Where they stand on BDS and the one-state solution I don’t know — and would glad to be enlightened.

        This is discouraging: “The organization publishes a magazine called Issues, with an estimated 2,000 subscribers.” They seem to represent a small percentage of the organized Jewish community.

        In any case, I wish them well.

        Quotes above from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Council_for_Judaism

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 3:34 pm

        ” Sometimes they sound very much like liberal Zionists.”

        Ha! Shows how little you know about the issue, Sean! It just so happens, Mr. Know-it-all, that the liberal Zionists are trying desperately hard to sound like us, not the other way round!

      • annie on December 17, 2014, 4:04 pm

        it doesn’t make sense to me someone would write an article w/a theme that there is no such thing as ‘liberal’ zionism if they considered a zionist and a liberal. or something. my head is spinning.

      • annie on December 17, 2014, 3:57 pm

        for the record, i accept the existence of Israel as an established fact too. i think one would have to be delusional not to accept it’s there. that doesn’t mean i think it will always be there or support it always being there.

        i think anyone would be a fool to deny the Zionist wing of the Jewish establishment has prevailed in the struggle against the anti-Zionist wing. obviously. but that doesn’t mean tides don’t move in and out throughout history. it doesn’t mean they are “utterly squashed”. in fact last i heard lots of the youth are turning away from zionism.

      • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 9:05 pm

        “i think anyone would be a fool to deny the Zionist wing of the Jewish establishment has prevailed in the struggle against the anti-Zionist wing. obviously.”

        Not everything in Judaism and Jewishness is that top-down, that hierarchical. Ultimately, all those “establishment” organizations have little or no compulsory power.
        In fact, they have about the same amount of persuasive and social power that any large institution of religion has over its followers. Which is, as we’ve seen so many times, maybe quite a bit, but ultimately, not definitive. For instance, look at the number of issues once considered religion’s right to regulate, to some extent, that have now become purely personal choices. And the localized and denominational nature of the organization of Judaism makes it susceptible to local influences. Where the Jewish people go, their institutions will follow, or die out. And with no “official” Judaism anywhere except Israel, the “establishment” cannot count on the State’s help in suppressing alternate choices offered under the rubric of Jewish.
        Would it be the first time very different, even wildly opposed strains of Judaism co-existed, or succeeded each other?

      • annie on December 18, 2014, 4:06 pm

        Not everything in Judaism and Jewishness is that top-down, that hierarchical.

        i am well aware of that mooser but i was responding to seans claim, and he always postulates about “the establishment” because that’s the only actor he recognizes as being qualified to be of consideration. jews as individuals or jews acting individually do not generally appear in any of the issues he thinks are worthy of scrutiny. so, within the narrow framework in which he wishes to address, he’s right. the Zionist wing of the Jewish establishment has prevailed in the struggle against the anti-Zionist wing (of the Jewish establishment).

        but, if you break down the demographics of anti zionists between those in the “establishment wing” vs those who are not, or are free agents, arguably most are not establishment folks. whereas if you break down the demographics of zionists, perhaps, or likely perhaps, most of them are part of the establishment. you get where i am going with this? the parameters of sean’s equation are fixed narrowly at the onset in such a way as they automatically eliminate a subsection of equation from the get go.

        an example of anti zionists being excluded from the equation is provided in the example of AJC, the group/”the establishment” shrunk as a result of the pressure from zionist establishment. but where did those people go? they didn’t disappear, many likely simply dropped out of the establishment of anti zionists, therefore they are not included in the (sean’s) equation. but if the parameters of the equation were changed just slightly from “the Zionist wing of the Jewish establishment has prevailed in the struggle against the anti-Zionist wing.” to ‘Zionist have prevailed in the struggle against anti-Zionism’. obviously, that is a much different statement and one that i would not agree with at all.

        if they had prevailed there would be a LOT less handwringing of the kind we’re reading about daily in the press now. they have not prevailed in the least. now as time goes forward i do believe more and more of these jews may in fact consolidate into formations of established groups of anti zionists (like jvp or whatever) but that is not even necessary.

        the idea that people are not counted or not even included as part of an equation unless they are part of an establishment group is weird on the face of it. but that’s the kind of equation we continually hear from sean because he respects establishment. whereas today in american, less and less americans do. they have a name for them, the 99%. granted i think there are probably less than 99% who respect and align with the 1%, but either way americans have an independent streak. unless one postulates american jews are so out of the mainstream that many of them, as americans, do not share that sense of independence, it’s fair to assume there are just lots of jews unaccounted for when speculating about who’s prevailing in the struggle between jewish zionists vs jewish anti zionists. last i heard the trend is favorable for the anti team right now, it’s on the upswing, especially in the youth. unless that trend can be reversed, it’s not looking so bright for team zionism. and don’t they know it too.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 1:41 pm

        “i am well aware of that mooser but i was responding to seans claim,”

        I know. I was trying to buttress your argument, not that you need any props.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 2:07 pm

        “the establishment” because that’s the only actor he recognizes as being qualified to be of consideration”

        And then, to top it off, he always takes the “establishment’s” word about itself No wonder it seems so powerful to him. He seems terrified of it, much, much more so than any of the Mondo writers who actually may go up against it.

      • seanmcbride on December 19, 2014, 2:31 pm

        The ACJ (American Council for Judaism) was challenging the Jewish/Zionist establishment back in 1956:

        “1,350 U.S. Rabbis Denounce the American Council for Judaism” | Jewish Telegraphic Agency http://www.jta.org/1956/05/07/archive/1350-u-s-rabbis-denounce-the-american-council-for-judaism

        So why is that establishment much stronger now in 2014 than it was in 1956?

        One might come to the reasonable conclusion, based on solid facts, that the Jewish community as a whole is constitutionally incapable of reforming the Jewish establishment on the issues of Israel and Zionism — that is what the long historical track record reveals. Lots of idealistic talk and promises, no effective action. The game goes on and on with no change. Fool me once, shame on me. The progressive patter appears to be a diversion from what it is really going on — almost a form of misdirection.

      • annie on December 19, 2014, 3:44 pm

        And then, to top it off, he always takes the “establishment’s” word about itself – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/12/virginia-liberal-zionist/comment-page-1#comment-730917

        i know mooser, he can’t stop talking about the establishment! i tried explaining it but it’s like talking to a brick wall. which reminds me of a comment i made earlier today in another thread in response to cigargod (who seems to get it) http://mondoweiss.net/2014/12/reaching-supporter-hoenlein#comment-730921

        sean seems to think because ACJ has shriveled up it means all those jews miraculously converted to zionism of something. or shriveled up and died!

        maybe he doesn’t realize how certain elements grow and prosper underground and go unnoticed until…. which reminds me of this time i was camping with a topo map. the night before we put out a fire in a forest and when we woke up in the morning the ground all around us, about a 15 ft radius was emitting fumes – just sort of smoldering under the surface of the forrest floor, that 8-12 inch layering of fluffy ground stuff. and you could see smoke coming out of it for about 2 feet above ground level. and i realized we had not put the fire out all the way the night before and it had spread underground where there was air to sustain it and spread. there were no sparks or anything that started it. but had we not slept there and seen it and spent a long time putting this out in the morning, it would have spread a LOT before inflaming the forrest. it was spreading underground before turning into a fire. i wouldn’t have believed it had i not been there. and we dumped water on that fire the night before too.

        anyway, you can tell him til your blue in the face and he comes back at you talking about the establishment this and the establishment that. he simply doesn’t recognize the possibility those establishment folks don’t speak for ‘the jews’. he still thinks people speak for all jews.

        even that article today about the threatre in DC, clearly a popular place, and here’s WAPO

        That occurred after a small local activist group’s campaign to stop the play asked donors to withhold funds from the JCC’s parent body.

        The group, calling itself Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art, launched a similar effort in protest of a Theater J offering in 2011, “Return to Haifa,”
        – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/12/jewish-center-staging#sthash.oA9FXhmx.dpuf

        so all it takes is a few influential monied jews to turn a whole theatre company around, one owned by the JCC (establishment!) but clearly the JCC doesn’t represent the sentiment of all the jews in DC or even all the jews affiliated with it, because those shows he put on were very popular! i think there’s some tendency for some in the jewish community to claim they speak for all jews, obviously. like netanyahu saying he’s king of the jews and israel being the state of all jews and yada yada. what bs. the jewish establishment is not going to change. but like so what? there’s no rule of the universe saying you can just treat them like a log in the road and ride roughshod right over them. clearly, he has faith in the jewish establishment. la ti da. at a minimum you’d think he’d notice how concrened the establishment jews seems to be radically concerned about this trend we see happening w/the jewish youth (even meetings in the knesset! and conferences discussing it in tel aviv). but nooo.

  14. wondering jew on December 17, 2014, 5:05 pm

    First: The piece by Brownfeld asserts that there was/is such a thing as liberal Zionism- the movement of Buber and Magnus. But he dismisses that movement as insignificant and the Zionism which triumphed was not liberal.

    Second: the liberal in effect tells the 400,000 Jews who lived in Palestine on September 1, 1939: You should not be in Palestine. You should leave. And I’m sorry if this means that most of you will go to your deaths, but that’s the way it goes. One must measure your survival against the destruction you will inflict on the indigenous and I choose the indigenous over you. So I’m sorry if it means your death. But that’s the price you must pay.

    The 400,000 who lived in Palestine on that day in 1939 and their millions of offspring alive today would answer you: No. We choose to live.

    • Mooser on December 17, 2014, 7:39 pm

      “The 400,000 who lived in Palestine on that day in 1939 and their millions of offspring alive today would answer you: No. We choose to live.”

      Holy Makeral, Yonah, with a birth-rate like the, they weren’t just living, they were swinging.
      Man, talk about being fruitful and multiplying!

      And Yonah, the 400,000 Jews in Palestine in 1939 could have been easily absorbed into the Palestinian population, and nobody ever said they had to go die. But I do note how quick Zionists are to use Jews as rhetorical hostages.

    • RoHa on December 17, 2014, 8:34 pm

      “the liberal in effect tells the 400,000 Jews who lived in Palestine on September 1, 1939: You should not be in Palestine. You should leave.”

      No-one that I know of tells them that. But I, and a lot like me, tell them “You should integrate into Palestinian society, and make common cause with the people who already live here.”

      “The 400,000 who lived in Palestine on that day in 1939 and their millions of offspring alive today would answer you: No. We choose to live. ”

      What too many of them did answer was

      “We choose to live cut off from humanity, both in the concrete sense of other people, and the abstract sense of decency, justice, and compassion.
      We choose killing, theft, ethnic cleansing, and oppression.
      We choose segregation.
      We choose lies.”

      • eljay on December 18, 2014, 7:17 am

        >> RoHa @ December 17, 2014, 8:34 pm

        My thoughts exactly.

  15. seanmcbride on December 17, 2014, 8:40 pm

    Roberto,

    I think the universal values of Judaism are actually the Greek/Roman values developed in Europe over the centuries. We can see that the intolerant strain in Christianity (and Islam) has Judaism as its origin (a jealous God and his chosen people with a right to kill and take whatever people’s land it wants: Palestine or the New World).

    What you say is largely true. The Enlightenment — which produced Reform Judaism in its most universalist mode — was a European creation — not an Abrahamist construct. In fact, the great Enlightenment thinkers were in open revolt against the Abrahamist strain in Western culture — their models were Greek and Roman — with an emphasis on reason and tolerance. Wonderful people.

    Try reading Thomas Jefferson’s and Thomas Paine’s views on the Old Testament.

    • Roberto on December 18, 2014, 1:54 pm

      Thank you. I will try Jefferson and Paine’s texts (I have read just short texts by and about them…I’m Venezuelan and not too familiar with them).

  16. Mooser on December 18, 2014, 10:21 am

    ” their models were Greek and Roman — with an emphasis on reason and tolerance. Wonderful people.”

    Sean, you are right out of the 19th Century. Greek and Roman societies were slave economies, based on human bondage.

    Look, if you want to make a fool of yourself praising slave economies, go ahead.

    Rome and Greek were both based on slavery. End of story. Unless you feel like you need to end up a slave, or did you have a different role in mind for yourself?

    • seanmcbride on December 18, 2014, 10:53 am

      Mooser,

      Enlightenment 101:

      “Age of Enlightenment” http://www.theopedia.com/Age_of_Enlightenment

      “The Enlightenment generally refers to the 18th century intellectual and philosophical developments in Europe. This movement advocated rationality as the sole criteria for establishing an authoritative system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. The intellectual leaders of this movement regarded themselves as courageous and elite, and viewed their purpose as leading the world towards progress and out of a long period of doubtful tradition, full of irrationality, superstition, and tyranny (which they saw resulting from the “Dark Ages”).”

      and:

      “Bernard Ramm writes that “the approved concepts were reason, freedom, nature, utility, happiness, rights, tolerance, deism, rational Christianity, natural religion, social contract, science, autonomy, harmony, and optimism. The disapproved concepts were authority, antiquity, tradition, church, revelation, the supernatural, and theological explanations.”

      • MRW on December 27, 2014, 2:49 am

        “The Enlightenment generally refers to the 18th century intellectual and philosophical developments in Europe. This movement advocated rationality as the sole criteria for establishing an authoritative system of ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. The intellectual leaders of this movement regarded themselves as courageous and elite, and viewed their purpose as leading the world towards progress and out of a long period of doubtful tradition, full of irrationality, superstition, and tyranny (which they saw resulting from the “Dark Ages”).”

        The Enlightenment was the result of the knowledge gained over the centuries from Cordoba. From the Moors, the Black Muslims of North Africa. Cordoba was the hub of the Islamic world (arc: Cordoba –>Baghdad/Tehran) from 800 AD to the 1480s. The Europeans were Geico-style neanderthals when they encountered the culture, science, mathematics, architecture, engineering, and literature of the Moors. Unfortunately, the Al-Hambra [link] (a retreat built for government officials) is one of the few remaining (protected) Moorish compounds. Built in 884 AD when Christians and Jews (and the kings and queens of Europe) lived in one room barns with their animals and a single hole in their roofs to let the cooking smoke out.

        Cordoba was the jewel with a million people, paved streets, and raised sidewalks. They lit their trees along the boulevards with lamps at night. That was in the 900’s. Just click on the link above to see what the Moors were capable of creating in 884 AD. Look at the fountains. They engineered getting that water through the mountains to their cities and parks, and this engineering feat was not duplicated until the 20th C. When the Christians took over Spain in the late 1400s, early 1500s, they destroyed as much evidence of Islamic brilliance as they could, including palaces that recorded writings describe as stunning and beyond belief (one worth $120 million in 1919 dollars). Europe had already received translations of Moorish science; Christian monks and Jewish scribes had carried it out. You don’t think Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo spawned it on their own, did you? Or that Da Vinci’s notebooks on flight were of his own making?

        The movement of knowledge flowed from Greece to Baghdad, not west. The Islamic world perfected it. Read Robert Briffault’s the Making of Humanity (1919), free online. You can start with Chapter 5 if pressed for time. Or try Joseph McCabe. (1938).

    • Roberto on December 18, 2014, 1:51 pm

      Greek and Roman cultures were tolerant and did put emphasis on reason. Roma could grant citizenship regardeless ethnicity or religious belief. Even slaves had ways open to freedom and social, cultural and economic improvement.

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 1:44 pm

        “Even slaves had ways open to freedom and social, cultural and economic improvement. “

        Yup, must have been those outside agitators caused the Empire to fall. Came in and gave the slaves ideas above their station. Maybe the Roman Empire was based on ‘democratic slavery’! That must be it.

    • Citizen on December 18, 2014, 3:23 pm

      Mooser, think of the times back then, and now apply your logic to the Founding Fathers of America. What do you get?

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 1:47 pm

        “Mooser, think of the times back then, and now apply your logic to the Founding Fathers of America. What do you get?”

        “A Funny Thing happened On The Way To The Forum” in Colonial garb?

  17. Mooser on December 18, 2014, 10:23 am

    “In fact, the great Enlightenment thinkers were in open revolt against the Abrahamist strain in Western culture”

    Sean, you are all talk. When it’s all said and done, you are too frightened of Jews to suggest any remedy. Too bad. “Abrahamist strain” Oh my Gawed.

    • Roberto on December 18, 2014, 1:44 pm

      What’s wrong with “Abrahamist strain”?

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 1:50 pm

        “What’s wrong with “Abrahamist strain”?”

        The “Abrahamist strain”, for those who don’t know, is a form of fatty tendonitis. Many people report relief from a series of Schmaltz baths, and I-growtherapy.

        And if that don’t cure your Abrahamist strain, Jack, you’re dead!

      • seanmcbride on December 19, 2014, 1:59 pm

        Abrahamism refers to all religious doctrines and groups that originate in the Old Testament. The term is used all the time by scholars in the history of religion. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the three main streams.

        Quite a few Enlightenment thought leaders challenged that entire complex of ideologies — largely in response to the bloody wars that had wracked Europe over religious doctrine.

        Abrahamism is a powerful generator of holy wars and the holy war mentality. We see these problems every day now in the Middle East.

        Religious Zionism is arguably the most concentrated form of Abrahamism currently in play on the world stage.

  18. Kathleen on December 18, 2014, 12:12 pm

    Today on the Diane Rehm show one of the guest mentioned Israel’s investments in Cuba. Did not know this. Sounds like a potentially interesting piece.

    US Penalizes Israeli-Owned Company for Dealing With Cuba

    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/18/world/us-penalizes-israeli-owned-company-for-dealing-with-cuba.html

    Israelis build huge office complex in Havana’s … – Luxner

    http://www.luxner.com/cgi-bin/view_article.cgi?articleID=363

    “Ironically, Israel is also becoming one of the leading foreign investors in Cuba, with private Jewish businessmen involving themselves in everything from Cuban citrus exports to real-estate projects.

    Now, in a move sure to infuriate Cuban exile groups and the Bush administration, a group of Israeli investors is sinking tens of millions of dollars into what they’re calling Cuba’s first “intelligent office building complex” — a suburban Havana office park that, when completed, will consist of 18 six-floor office buildings located on 180,000 square meters (nearly two million square feet).

    The Miramar Trade Center (MTC) is the brainchild of Inmobiliaria Monte Barreto S.A., a joint venture between Cuban state agency Cubalse S.A. and Grupo BM, an Israeli entity headed by former Mossad spy chief Rafi Eitan.

    Inmobiliaria Monte Barreto’s chairman is Enrique Rottenberg, an Argentine Jew living in Cuba. Rottenberg wouldn’t say how much his company is investing in the project, and declined to be interviewed by this newspaper, saying it was not in his interest for the company’s activities to be publicized. He wouldn’t even hand out his business card for fear of having his name mentioned in the U.S. press. ”

    Same article:

    “Interestingly, the Israeli government — which has been quite vocal about its support of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba — has long distinguished between official ties with Cuba, which it doesn’t have, and private Israeli investment, which it says it cannot control.

    Yet the government itself is quietly helping Israeli companies invest there.

    According to John Kavulich III, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, the Israel Foreign Trade Risk Insurance Corp. (IFTRIC) now provides commercial and political risk insurance for Israeli companies hoping to invest in Cuba. In 1999, IFTRIC reported insuring short-term transactions worth more than $3 billion, of which some 10% was directed toward developing countries. ”

    • ritzl on December 19, 2014, 3:43 pm

      This suggests Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba may have had an underlying Israeli driver.

      We can’t just do what’s right. We have to do what’s good for Israel and if it so happens to be right great cover.

      Please say it ain’t so.

      OTOH, this move could make it harder for Israeli business by increasing competition in Cuba.

      Thanks Kathleen. Interesting story. I hope someone expands on the drivers and genesis of Obama’s decision, and the Israeli connection if there is one.

    • MRW on December 27, 2014, 3:43 am

      NYT link doesn’t work.

      • annie on December 27, 2014, 2:12 pm

        i fixed it, it should work now MRW

  19. Kathleen on December 18, 2014, 12:33 pm

    So who was Alan Gross working for in Cuba? Allegedly USAID. A contract job for

    “Gross filed reports for USAID of his four visits to Cuba in 2009. The report of the fifth and final trip was written by a representative of Gross’s company.[20] A review of the reports was revealed on February 12, 2012, by the Associated Press (AP). According to the reports, Gross was aware of the risks he was taking.[21] AP reports that Gross did not identify himself as a representative of the U.S. government, but claimed to be a member of a Jewish humanitarian group. To escape Cuban authorities’ detection, he enlisted the help of American Jews to transport electronic equipment, instructing them to pack items a piece at a time in carry-on luggage, and also travelled with American Jewish humanitarian groups doing missions on the island so he could intercede with Cuban authorities if questions arose. Gross declared that he was thoroughly inspected by the customs officials at Jose Marti International Airport when entering the country, and that he declared all of the items in his possession.[22] The equipment he brought to Cuba on his fourth trip, most but not all of which is legal in Cuba, included 12 iPods, 11 BlackBerry Curve smartphones, three MacBooks, six 500-gigabyte external drives, three Internet satellite phones known as BGANs, three routers, three controllers, 18 wireless access points, 13 memory sticks, three VoIP phones, and networking switches. In his report on this trip, marked as final, he summarized: “Wireless networks established in three communities; about 325 users”. However, he went to Cuba for a fifth time in late November 2009 and was arrested 11 days later.[20] When he was arrested, he was carrying a high-tech chip,[21] intended to keep satellite phone transmissions from being located within 250 miles (400 kilometres). The chip is not available on the open market. It is provided most frequently to the CIA and the Defense Department, but can also be obtained by the State Department, which oversees USAID. Asked how Gross obtained the card, a USAID spokesman said that the agency played no role in helping Gross acquire equipment.[20]”

    “Following the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan and DAI was chosen to lead a variety of development projects in the midst of the counterinsurgency. A Philadelphia Inquirer journalist who visited one of DAI’s projects in 2010 described it as a “model of success”.[3] After the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, DAI won a project to help provide effective governance in the country. Other projects in Iraq covering agriculture and the restoration of the Iraqi Marshlands were to follow.[4][5][6][7] For his work on the later project, DAI’s Peter Reiss was awarded the Lourdes Arizpe award by the American Anthropological Association.[8] The company established DAI Palestine in 2004.”

    ok ok I know Wikipedia is not a particularly great resource. However this is interesting about who Alan Gross was working for in Cuba

    “Incidents[edit]

    On 26 September 2010, Linda Norgrove and three Afghan colleagues were kidnapped in the Chawkay (aka Tsawkay, Sawkay) district of eastern Kunar Province. Ambushed by members of the Taliban on the main highway from Jalalabad to Asadabad, Norgrove and others were eventually taken into the Dewegal Valley within the Chowkai District by their captors.[12][13] Eventually, a rescue attempt was carried out by Navy SEALs, from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as Navy SEAL Team 6), a unit used for high-risk counter-terrorist operations. Norgorve was wounded in the action, received emergency medical treatment and was evacuated by helicopter, but died from her injuries.

    In December 2009, Alan Phillip Gross was detained by Cuban authorities after attempting to distribute satellite communications equipment.[14] He was principal of a small business called JBDC, working as a subcontractor on a USAID project.[15] The Supreme Court of Cuba sentenced Gross to 15 years of imprisonment despite diplomatic pressure from high level American officials.[16][17]

    Criticism[edit]

    Eva Golinger, a Venezuelan-American attorney and editor of the Correo del Orinoco, a web- and print-based newspaper which is financed by the Venezuelan government, claims that the DAI is a Central Intelligence Agency front organisation for their covert actions.[18] According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch, former CIA officer Philip Agee said that Development Alternatives Inc. gave $3.5 million to groups trying to overthrow President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela.”

  20. Roberto on December 18, 2014, 1:55 pm

    Eva Golinger is completely discredited… as well as Chavez and his disgraceful government

  21. Roberto on December 18, 2014, 2:02 pm

    Spinoza is listed as a Jewish philosopher, as well as K. Popper in spite of the fact that he did not professed any religion, his parents were Lutheran and he was baptized.

    • Citizen on December 18, 2014, 3:28 pm

      But was he born of a Jewish mother?

      • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 2:01 pm

        “But was he born of a Jewish mother?”

        How would it be possible to know? I have heard that the pain of childbirth can cause women to renounce their faith. You never know. And there were no DNA tests back then, and you know what the song says….strumming on the old banjo, as it were.

    • Mooser on December 19, 2014, 1:54 pm

      “Spinoza is listed as a Jewish philosopher, as well as K. Popper in spite of the fact that he did not professed any religion, his parents were Lutheran and he was baptized.”

      Such a fuss you’re making, already! All right then, have it your way, and Spinoza will be listed as one of the great half-Jewish philosophers! Isn’t that enough for him?

      If I was Spinoza, and I had a dog, (and I would, if it was at all possible,) I would so name it Sitand. Sitand Spinoza.

  22. seanmcbride on December 19, 2014, 9:28 am

    Annie,

    When we begin to see organizations like the American Council for Judaism (ACJ) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) begin to move the political needle in a significant way — especially to exert a significant impact on the US Congress — then we will all stand up, take note and applaud. But the ACJ has been around since the 1950s, and during the last half century its impact on American Mideast policy has been negligible — non-existent really.

    I recently turned up this fascinating article in JTA from **May 7, 1956**:

    “1,350 U.S. Rabbis Denounce the American Council for Judaism” | Jewish Telegraphic Agency http://www.jta.org/1956/05/07/archive/1350-u-s-rabbis-denounce-the-american-council-for-judaism

    BEGIN QUOTE

    Some 1,350 American rabbis of all three branches of the Jewish faith–Orthodox, Conservative and Reform-this week-end scored the American Council for Judaism in one of the sharpest denunciations of the Council voiced. The statement was released by the New York Board of Rabbis, which circularized 1,500 rabbis in all parts of the country with the document.

    The joint declaration hit the American Council for Judaism, asserting that it has “consistently misrepresented the Jewish people before the bar of public opinion” and “has consistently maligned and impugned the integrity of Jewish institutions, organizations and causes, and has consistently distorted the precepts of Judaism which it purports to serve. The joint declaration reprimanded the anti-Zionist organization for what it termed “slanders” against American Jews “who adhere to the ideals of Zionism.”

    Asserting that the Council’s “real goal is the complete disappearance of the Jewish people,” the declaration stressed that the Council represents numerically “an infinitesimal fraction” of American Jewry. “we view with contempt the Council’s attempt to dissuade Americans from helping their fellow Jews and the State of Israel through contributions to the United Jewish Appeal and the Israel Bond Drive,” the rabbis’ statement continued. “If the Council is unwilling to aid in the rescue and rehabilitation of harassed Jews, let it at least not frustrate the efforts of those who would,” it said.

    END QUOTE

    Notice that the Jewish religious establishment — Orthodox, Conservative and Reform — was overwhelmingly lined up against the ACJ back in 1956 — and even then was conflating Judaism with Zionism. Since then this situation hasn’t improved — it has only become worse.

    One needs to be a realist about these matters, even while holding on strongly to idealistic beliefs and objectives.

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