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David Brooks says ‘people from around the world’ can serve in Israeli military

Months after New York Times columnist David Brooks told the Aspen Institute that his son is serving in the Israeli army and a controversy erupted over whether the Times should have disclosed this fact to its readers (the Times public editor said it should have; Brooks is a neoconservative who pushed the Iraq war), Brooks has told his readers about his son’s service. The disclosure is swaddled in parentheses deep in a column about Benjamin Netanyahu:

I’m visiting Israel for the 18th or 19th time (my son is currently a member of the Lone Soldiers Program, which allows people from around the world to serve in the Israeli military). I asked a couple of smart Israelis what their coming elections are about.

People from around the world?

From the Israeli Defense Forces Info site, “How to Enlist”:

In order to join the IDF, you must have the right to make Aliyah. This means that you must have at least one Jewish grandparent. If you are not Jewish, and would like to enlist into the IDF, you must convert before making Aliyah or volunteer through Mahal.

The Mahal link goes to this information:

Mahal helps young Jewish men (ages 18-23) and women (ages 18-20) from all over the world volunteer and enlist in the IDF.

Jewish men and women. You must have at least one Jewish grandparent.

So Brooks is evading the major issue. This is a state constructed for one ethnicity, and he skips right over that fact. Why? Because he knows that ethnic discrimination would be offensive to American readers. If a Palestinian American wants to serve in the Israeli military, are they going to be able to? No way. Brooks is simply misleading New York Times readers about Israel because he loves the place. (The US army was desegregated in 1948, by Harry Truman.)

P.S. Netanyahu sounds like Churchill in the piece. Are we really talking about the same leader?

Thanks to Adam Horowitz. 

James North and Philip Weiss

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65 Responses

  1. tommy on January 2, 2015, 11:33 am

    The international militants who join the Lone Soldiers Program should be considered enemy combatants. They are the real terrorists.

  2. hophmi on January 2, 2015, 11:37 am

    As David Brooks said, people from all over the world may serve in the Israeli military. There’s nothing inaccurate about that statement whatsoever. There are certainly Palestinians in Israel serving in the IDF.

    • jd65 on January 2, 2015, 12:42 pm

      I disagree. I do think it’s inaccurate. Not technically wrong, I guess, but inaccurate. Here’s why: compare Brooks’s phrase “which allows people from around the world to serve in the Israeli military”, w/ this phrase, “which disallows the majority of people from around the world to serve in the Israeli military.” Which is more accurate? The answer is obvious. I’m with James and Philip on this one. Accuracy was not Brooks’s priority here. Brooks intentionally omitted the detail of having to be a Jew because he knows most folks would find it objectionable. Or at the very least, undemocratic?

    • CigarGod on January 2, 2015, 3:11 pm

      David did his “Weaseling” and now you are doing yours.

    • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 3:31 pm

      “There are certainly Palestinians in Israel serving in the IDF.”

      And gosh, if Palestine isn’t “all over the world” from Israel, I don’t know what is!

    • talknic on January 2, 2015, 9:45 pm

      @ hophmi ” There are certainly Palestinians in Israel serving in the IDF”

      I’ll bet you $100 donation to MW they’re Israelis.

      • talknic on January 2, 2015, 11:19 pm

        You there hophmi? … hophmi?? You’re gonna lose by default….

      • Mooser on January 3, 2015, 12:20 pm

        “I’ll bet you $100 donation to MW they’re Israelis.”

        But then we run into that old problem about there not being any “Israelis” really, just, apparently, “Jews”, Arabs”, “Others” (and are there a couple more categories?) who reside there and need to be identified by the government in just that way. I can’t figure it out.

      • oldgeezer on January 3, 2015, 12:36 pm

        @Mooser

        It’s a bit more complicated than that though isn’t it? There are no Israeli’s but if one says Israel or Israeli then clearly one means Jews regardless of where they live or what citizenship they may or may not have.

        Really the whole concept is rather amorphous which really comes in handy when one wants to constantly shift the sand/goal posts in terms of defending the indefensible.

    • eGuard on January 3, 2015, 5:36 am

      As you write, dhopi, but forgot to conclude: Palestinians from around the world can not join the IDF.

    • Peter in SF on January 3, 2015, 1:44 pm

      But hophmi, the question is, if you were David Brooks’ editor and you knew the facts, would you ask him to change “allows people from around the world to serve in the Israeli military” to “allows Jews from around the world to serve in the Israeli military”? Defending “people” by saying “There’s nothing inaccurate about that statement whatsoever” looks as if you want to hide something from readers.

      • hophmi on January 3, 2015, 3:30 pm

        So ask for a correction. It’s not inaccurate to say that people from all over the world can serve in the IDF. And I am not aware of a desire on the part of Diaspora Palestinians to serve.

      • justicewillprevail on January 3, 2015, 7:45 pm

        Of course it’s inaccurate and deliberately misleading. That’s the whole point. By missing out the crucial qualifier ‘Jews’ from the phrase ‘around the world’, it deliberately intends to mislead and obscure the ethno-cultural group to which this applies, and tries to make out that anyone can turn up and join the junta squads (as if anyone in their right mind would want to, lol). Brooks, just another tired old sycophantic spin doctor for the junta, knows precisely what he is doing by elision, and it is revealing how the supporters of this swivel-eyed state have to twist and turn the facts, and paint a knowingly false picture for the benefit of uninformed readers. Absolutely par for the course, predictable and another fail for the false, artificially maintained, apartheid ‘state’.

      • Mooser on January 4, 2015, 12:55 pm

        “on the part of Diaspora Palestinians”

        Now there’s an arresting locution! “Diaspora Palestinians”? I’m sorry Hophmi, my apprehension of the subtleties of the situation is not up to yours, so pray, who are the “Diaspora Palestinians”?

        Don’t you think you ought to watch it, Hophmi? If “Diaspora Palestinians” are here, can , no, I won’t speculate on what might be coming next. I mean, what’s worse than a “Diaspora”?

  3. amigo on January 2, 2015, 11:55 am

    Join the most immoral army and suffer the wrath of my friends.

    No thank you very much.I am a law abiding citizen of the world and intend to stay that way.

    One question??.

    How do I make aliyah to a place I have never been to.

    Only in lala land called Yesha.Besides, there is no future for the idf or the rogue nation it commits crime on behalf of.

    • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 2:23 pm

      Me, the very first anti-Semitic trope I was introduced to was the idea that Jews act in collusion, for each others benefit to the exclusion of outsiders. And yet Zionism seems to depend on the acceptance of that idea. Always found that very unsettling. Maybe Hophmi can explain it.

      • Pixel on January 3, 2015, 2:57 pm

        Actually, that was a light-bulb moment for me.
        Not so much the collusion part but the exclusion part.

        I had listened to a Jewish ethicist speak any number of times in small groups. Everything she ever said about “community,” “justice,” “stewardship,” distribution of resources,” etc., etc., etc., I heard in universalist terms. At times, she was actually quite inspiring.

        Then, one day, she said something — that she had said many times before – but that, on that day, at that moment, I somehow “heard” differently.

        Politely, I stopped her dead in her tracks and asked for clarification. All the many times I had heard her talk about abc, efg, xyz, and lmnop, had she been talking holistically, universally, globally or just about the Jewish community?, I asked. Without skipping a beat, she said, “Just the Jews.”

        I was gobsmacked.

        In that nanosecond, the magnetic poles reversed and my worldview turned upside down. Not just because of what she had said but because it was the final piece to a puzzle that I wasn’t even aware, on a conscious level, had been forming,

        For as horrifying as it was, I felt like Helen Keller putting her hands under the water as it cascaded out of the pump – all of a sudden she knew everything, I I knew everything!

        Something had clicked.

        The cosmic tumblers had aligned.

        Ten years, 150 lectures, 250 books, countless articles, untold numbers of conversations, more research than I can convey, and more hours of thought and self-reflection than I thought I had in me, I died – metaphysically, metaphorically. But it felt like a physical death – one that was long, slow and painful with much agonal breathing.

        In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, just after discovering her husband’s infidelity with her personal secretary, Lucy Mercer, “the bottom dropped out of my particular world, and I faced myself, my surroundings, my world, honestly for the first time.” (Love, Eleanor: Eleanor Roosevelt and Her Friends, Joseph L. Lash, April, 1982.)

        I no longer knew who I was.
        But I did know who I was not.

        I knew what Zionism was
        and I knew what it was not.

        Most importantly, I was free.

        ———-

        Now, sometimes, I think about going back to that lady and thanking her, sincerely, for helping me “see the light”. But because she’s an orthodox Jew, I don’t think she’d be too excited knowing how instrumental she had been in the creation of an anti-Zionist.

        Life is so odd.

      • Kris on January 3, 2015, 8:07 pm

        @Pixel: “Actually, that was a light-bulb moment for me. Not so much the collusion part but the exclusion part….For as horrifying as it was, I felt like Helen Keller putting her hands under the water as it cascaded out of the pump – all of a sudden she knew everything, I I knew everything!”

        I have read your comment several times already, and I think it’s wonderful. Thank you!

      • annie on January 3, 2015, 11:26 pm

        that is an amazing comment pixel. i feel sorry for her. i can’t even imagine. lucky for you tho, to come thru it.

      • Mooser on January 4, 2015, 1:01 pm

        Gosh, I had no idea that my contention that since Jewish collusion was the first thing I heard from others about Jews, I could be fairly sure it wasn’t true, would provoke such a wonderful response.

  4. Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 2, 2015, 12:00 pm

    An army which is open to non-citizens – provided they are of the ‘right’ ethnicity – but which closes it’s rank to roughly one fifth of its own citizens because they are of the ‘wrong’ ethnicity, is not a national army in the commonly understood sense of the term, but an ethnic militia.

    • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 1:34 pm

      ” is not a national army in the commonly understood sense of the term, but an ethnic militia.”

      And can operate as such whether or not it is attached to a State, as long as it has funding and collaboration. It will have to be disarmed and eliminated before any progress can take place.

      • hophmi on January 2, 2015, 1:40 pm

        Progress being the mass murder of Jews that will take place when the IDF is dismantled.

      • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 2:11 pm

        “Progress being the mass murder of Jews that will take place when the IDF is dismantled.”

        Oy Gottenyu! “Mass murder!” A pogrom, a Holocaust! Everybody scream, clutch their pearls and faint! Hophmi’s got the heeby-jeebies!

        But we get it, Hophmi, you think an underground terrorist ethnic army is a necessary adjunct to Jewish existence in Palestine. And of course, when hasn’t that strategy ever worked in colonial projects?

        Hophmi, take it easy, man. Cool your jets! It’s only the first day of 2015, and you are already reaching a level of absurdity, mendacity and hysteria which will be hard to top the rest of the year.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 2, 2015, 2:12 pm

        ”Progress being the mass murder of Jews that will take place when the IDF is dismantled.”

        Oh, hophmi, you are good value! As the true horror of Israel becomes more and more impossible to ignore, so too your posts become ever more maudlin, whingy and fantastical. I’d call it desperation.

        BTW, since you believe that the only thing guarding against the ‘mass murder of Jews’ is the glorious IDF, can we take it that you are a veteran of said organization? I mean, tiring out your little fingers here on Mondoweiss is all very well and good, but hardly really counts as heavy lifting now, does it?

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 2, 2015, 2:39 pm

        I take it hophmi would approve if the US army were to recruit only among Christians and/or white citizens, specifically excluding ethnic or religious minorities such as Jews?

      • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 3:10 pm

        And there is always the problem of knowing whether Hophmi is talking about events that may take place inside of Israel, or events that may take place where Israelis (oh gosh, I guess I have to, unwillingly, say “Jews”, don’t I? Or are settlers just people without a country?) and Israeli forces are operating illegally.

      • hophmi on January 2, 2015, 3:22 pm

        It is not an ethnic militia. There are Jews, Arabs, Druze, Christians, and others in the IDF. The Egyptian and Jordanian armies are ethnic militias more than the IDF is.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 2, 2015, 3:27 pm

        I honestly think hophmi has this fantasy about the IDF sending in hit squads, complete with handsome, thoughtful trained killers as in Spielberg’s ‘Munich’, heroically saving Jews the world over from ‘mass murder’. Kind of like a kosher Superman.

        Honestly, I really do think this is a daydream of his. Unless he can explain otherwise?

      • annie on January 2, 2015, 3:45 pm

        Kind of like a kosher Superman.

        lol. like that SWU comic book character…what was his name?

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 2, 2015, 3:49 pm

        ”It is not an ethnic militia. There are Jews, Arabs, Druze, Christians, and others in the IDF.”

        Could you give us a rough estimate of the % of non-Jews serving in the IDF? It would be interesting to know if these numbers are roughly in proportion with the fact that about 2O-25% of the Israeli population is not Jewish. A list of the names of those non-Jews serving in the highest ranks would be particularly helpful.

        ”The Egyptian and Jordanian armies are ethnic militias more than the IDF is.”

        Could you elaborate? AFAIK, both of the above armies are open to all citizens, not just those of one ethnicity. Nor do they accept recruits from any part of the world, provided they are ethnically correct, which of course is what the IDF does. What particular ‘ethnicity’ are you suggesting these armies exclusively represent?

      • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 4:38 pm

        ”The Egyptian and Jordanian armies are ethnic militias more than the IDF is.”

        The Egyptian and Jordanian armies are protecting Egyptian and Jordanian colonists settling on land outside of Jordan and Egypt, and protected by the armies because of the ethnic identification they carry?

      • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 4:49 pm

        ” like that SWU comic book character…what was his name?”

        Capt. Israel, wasn’t it? I will not speculate on what his super-powers might be.

      • Don on January 2, 2015, 4:53 pm

        Did some one say “kosher Superman”?

        Perhaps Hophmi recently watched this…
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a6WAzstGmA

      • RoHa on January 2, 2015, 7:13 pm

        “Capt. Israel, wasn’t it?”

        Shaloman?

      • talknic on January 2, 2015, 11:33 pm

        @ hophmi
        “Progress being the mass murder of Jews that will take place when the IDF is dismantled”

        If you say so hophmi …

        Say, does the IDF protect many Jews outside of Israel, apart from those illegally in Occupied Territories of the last 67 yrs http://wp.me/pDB7k-Xk

      • Mooser on January 3, 2015, 12:25 pm

        “It is not an ethnic militia. There are Jews, Arabs, Druze, Christians, and others in the IDF.”

        We’re talking about what the IDF does. What its mission is. That it happens to have a few non-Jews in it makes very little difference.
        When the policeman (the IDF) comes to get the burglars (the Palestinians) away from your property (the illegal settlements) do you care what ethnicity the policeman is? Of course not! You just want to be sure he does the job!

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 3, 2015, 2:59 pm

        Seems the hopster has left the building.

        Shame really. I had so many questions in search of an answer….

      • CigarGod on January 3, 2015, 4:04 pm

        I think Hops will be back at sundown…

      • Keith on January 3, 2015, 4:35 pm

        ANNIE- “…what was his name?”

        Israel Man and Diaspora Boy
        http://www.evcomics.com/2008/05/29/israel-man-and-diaspora-boy/

        Is this a great cartoon or what?

      • annie on January 3, 2015, 4:40 pm

        that’s it keith!

      • Mooser on January 4, 2015, 1:10 pm

        “Seems the hopster has left the building.”

        It was “talknic” who taught me the importance of preceding every and any discussion of “Israel” with an attempt to figure out exactly where the friggin’ place is.

    • Bumblebye on January 2, 2015, 5:30 pm

      IDF service is part one of the 21st century career path to positions of leadership. Part two will be serving disadvantaged/disabled children (still within the Jewish bubble – UK youths on the same track follow their US cousins to New York for this within a few months). Once their education is finished, I bet the right doors will be opened wide for political experience as aides and staffers, US and UK. Then they’ll find a clear path into their high profile future career, all boxes ticked! Suggest Phil and Adam keep an eye on the careers of these sons of colleagues.

  5. John O on January 2, 2015, 12:10 pm

    Once again the comments on Brooks’s article in the NYT are illuminating. Even the NYT picks are largely critical of both Bibi and his hagiographer. Two frequent points made: why is Brooks’s son not serving in his own country’s armed forces; and Netanyahu’s arrogant disrespect of the POTUS.

    • ritzl on January 2, 2015, 12:50 pm

      @John O- The point about not serving in your own country’s military is visceral enough be a pivot point in popular awareness of the dynamics of this issue, if not a closer attention to the facts of it. Particularly when your own country is at war as your neighbors are going in your place.

      This whole cheery celebration of “Off to join the IDF!” in media culture is going to turn a whole lot of people’s stomachs, if isn’t doing so already.

      • John O on January 2, 2015, 1:05 pm

        “…if isn’t doing so already.”

        Precisely. There is a real sense of anger in those readers’ responses to Brooks’s throwaway mention that his son has gone off to be what – in any other context – would be called a mercenary.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on January 2, 2015, 2:15 pm

        Yes. America is a highly militaristic country with an idealised view of the army. So the idea that someone would prefer to serve in the military of a non-alligned foreign country on the other side of the world, rather than serve in the US army, really doesn’t go down well. Even right-wing types who might be expected to be pro-Israel won’t be happy about that, regardless of what they think of ‘the world’s most moral army’.

    • eGuard on January 2, 2015, 2:30 pm

      Yes, John O, I spotted that too. The NYT Staff picks comments are those fawning in admireship (and actually impossibly bad written), like a Frozen fanclub of 4 year olds except that those kids do write better. And the Readers’ picks are scolarly good, actually doing what the newspaper should write by themselves.

      By the way, right after the War Churchill was elected into retirement, and England lost India. Colonial racist & class attitude.

  6. ramzijaber on January 2, 2015, 12:45 pm

    brooks = zio-con.

    enough said.

    • Abu Malia on January 3, 2015, 11:43 am

      right you are Ramzi. He is a made man from the Kosher Nostra! May he sleep with the fishes.

  7. Balfour on January 2, 2015, 12:56 pm

    Jewish individuals who travel abroad to volunteer to serve as “Lone Soldiers” in the Israeli military should be regarded and treated in same manner as individuals who travel abroad and volunteer for ISIL.

  8. JLewisDickerson on January 2, 2015, 1:29 pm

    RE: “David Brooks says ‘people from around the world’ can serve in Israeli military”

    MY COMPLAINT: I really resent this!

    Why do you guys insist on confronting us with the inanity of David Brooks?! ?! And on a Friday, no less! And on only the second day of the year! Using that huge, incredibly narcissistic-looking photo of him! Without even so much as an advance warning!

    You can expect to hear from my attorneys about this!

    HEY BARTENDER, WHAT THE HELL DOES A GUY HAVE TO DO TO GET A DRINK AROUND HERE?!?!
    BETTER MAKE THAT A DOUBLE!
    STAT!!!

    P.S. I suddenly awoke thinking that some things are best left in a state of
    suspended animation
    . What the hell was that about? – http://io9.com/humanity-is-now-officially-ready-for-suspended-animatio-1581727874

    P.P.S. https://mtc.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/51139C07931162664898942189568_3d48197208b.1.4.10263209053299787198.mp4?versionId=treQpjIwg5D27qt1XnRKwnxJY3HiG00I

  9. W.Jones on January 2, 2015, 2:01 pm

    I think to join the IDF you either have to be an Israeli citizen or a Jewish foreigner. Weiss cited something saying you have to make Aliyah or be in the Mahal. And the Mahal requires the same thing, except that it includes non-Jewish Israelis. See the end of the Wiki article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahal_%28Israel%29

  10. italian ex-pat on January 2, 2015, 2:13 pm

    I have also read David Brooks’ column and almost gagged. The good news is that most commenters disagree with him, some quite forcefully. Yesterday’s NTY’s editorial condemning the Palestinians’ decision to turn to the ICC was also receIved with angry protests by hundreds of readers. The bad news is that while the NYT readers are for the most part liberal and educated, the same cannot be said about the rest of the population. How can we reach outside of the choir?

  11. tv8183 on January 2, 2015, 3:53 pm

    I have not read this column as yet, but to say “Brooks is a neoconservative” is patently absurd. Cheney is a neocon. Brooks is far more moderate – as anyone who has watched him on PBS – across from Mark Shields understands.

    • Mooser on January 2, 2015, 4:46 pm

      “Brooks is far more moderate – as anyone who has watched him on PBS – across from Mark Shields understands.”

      If the viewer can stand the sight of the all-pretenses-ripped-away-view-into-a- man’s-political- soul that PBS program provides. It’s too intense for me.

  12. ritzl on January 2, 2015, 8:13 pm

    Is it that Brooks avoided mentioning the exclusion because it wouldn’t play well, or does he simply not consider others in his worldview?

    Given that he seems generally oblivious on a variety of issues, it would seem to be the blinkered latter.

  13. atime forpeace on January 3, 2015, 11:59 am

    So i guess that the acronym #JSIL really does apply to Israel. Israel is (turning into if one can not accept the fact that it was from it’s inception) a religious colonialist and racist project which is now seeking to enlist converts to join them in their quest for middle east domination.

  14. ckg on January 3, 2015, 1:01 pm

    I hate it when columnists name drop the authors of classical literature. David Brooks does this as much as anyone except George Will, who incomprehensibly claims to be a Dickens fan. Brooks writes about the Netanyahu clan:

    Political analysts have spent decades psychoanalyzing the family dynamic, with mixed results, but a novelist who studied Sophocles or Tolstoy might be able to make some sense of it.

    Leo Tolstoy’s writings include not only his two canonical novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which both deal with family relations, but also The Kingdom of God Is Within You. His ideas on nonviolent resistance expressed in this work had a profound impact on Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Netanyahu clan is the antithesis.

  15. Pixel on January 3, 2015, 3:11 pm

    I don’t know where all the reply buttons disappear to. They seem to have lives of their own. Maybe it’s just on my end but it’s making me nuts. I have to reply to Mooser all the way down here!

    “Edit” is fixed, now “Reply” is gone.
    It’s MW whack-a-mole.

    How do we get them back?

    But I digress.

    Mooser, are you there? Can you find me all the way down here?

    “Everybody scream, clutch their pearls and faint!”

    How do you come up with this stuff? No, wait. Don’t tell me.

    Part of the beauty is the mystery.

  16. Vera Gottlieb on January 4, 2015, 5:27 am

    I certainly would NOT want to serve with a bunch of assassins.

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