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Let liberal Jews weep for their dream of Israel, and move on — Alice Rothchild

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The other night I went to Hunter College to hear Alice Rothchild read from her new book, On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion. The room was jammed with students and faculty, and Rothchild, a doctor and activist, was engaging, lively, warm, and genuine– the most you could ask from someone describing what she’d seen and seeking to change people’s minds back home.

At the bottom I publish Rothchild’s own report from her NY visit. But first, here are two videos in which she responds to her audience at Hunter.

In the first video, Rothchild seeks to explain the differences between Jewish religion, Jewish nationalism, and Jewish community advocacy.

“Love of Israel has become the way to be Jewish in the United States. So if you don’t love Israel right or wrong, then you’re not a good Jew.”

But she sees more and more young people rejecting that equation. Zionism has hijacked Judaism, they say; Rothchild reports that there are a “whole lot” of anti-Zionist rabbis coming out of the Hebrew College in Boston.

In the next video, a professor describes the blowback at Hunter against her starting a CUNY Center on Palestinian studies; Rothchild responds by describing the resistance to her message from Jews. She begins with the liberal Jews who “really don’t want to believe this.”

The way that I try to understand this is, I think of my mother. My mother lived through the Holocaust. She was in the U.S. but her emotions were there. She wrote all about the Holocaust. She was an author. She loved the state of Israel; I mean, this was going to be this fabulous place. So watching her go back and forth and write there, and really be part of that country, and then having a daughter who does what I do. And having her realize that I’m not making this stuff up, that this is actually going on. I watched her heart break.

So for many many people, particularly Jews who are very involved in the myth of Israel, coming to terms with this is an emotional heartbreak. They have to give up a dream that they realize they were duped. And so that’s sort of like doing family therapy. I’ve done presentations at temples where people sat around and wept, because they’re confronting the fact that what they had thought was going on wasn’t going on.

That’s a kind of response that you can really work on. Because people are listening and they’re open, and they know you’re bearing witness to what you saw, you didn’t make this up. That’s stuff you can work with, you can help people move on, you can address the pain they’re feeling.

The kind of pushback that’s really hard to deal with is the people who say you’re lying.

She goes on to the Israel messengers who tell her she’s lying. “I absolutely will not rise to the hysteria.”

There’s a Jewish PTSD stemming from the Holocaust, and it is fastened on Israel:

“I get hit with rage, I get hit with pain, I get hit with fear.”

Then Rothchild says: “Basically I feel like the way the Israeli state functions is really a danger to Jews. Not only to Palestinians but also to Jews. We need to really think about, What does Zionism mean. Was it a good idea? We must look at what happened. That really triggers a lot of people.”

Compare her comments to Rev. Bruce Shipman’s comments on Israel fostering anti-Semitism, which got him ousted at Yale.

Now here is Alice Rothchild’s account of her visit to New York, published with her permission:

Just back from two events in New York City. Jewish Voice for Peace organized a Brooklyn screening of Voices Across the Divide which was well received by a sympathetic audience. The Q&A included a discussion about how to get this kind of conversation into synagogues. I talked about the need to commit to prolonged and brave conversations with rabbis, (often afraid of losing their jobs), working through members of the congregation, focusing on social justice or Israel committees, and the enormous challenges to this work. Not only is the issue of boycott, divestment, and sanction red lined within mainstream organizations, (“delegitimization of Israel,” “new anti-Semitism,” etc.), but acknowledging the Nabka challenges Jewish sensibilities about what kind of people we are. Thus having this discourse is akin to doing group therapy with a community that is being asked to give up a love and belief in a mythical Israel, a heart breaking and painful experience for many. Acknowledgement of the Nakba also involves grief, remorse, recognition of responsibility and recompense, challenging issues as well.

I was asked if the politically right wing and orthodox religious swings happening in Israel make it easier to reach US Jews. I think this reality creates some daylight and discomfort in the usual discourse, but mainstream Jews are still unwilling to face the contradictions and consequences of Zionism, of Jewish privilege. Happily the younger generations are much more open on all of these fronts.

A spunky Israeli came up to me after the screening and said that she is tired of starting these discussions with the Holocaust, we should be able to learn about the Nabka on its own. She stated forthrightly that “the Holocaust is over, the survivors were compensated, and it is time to move on and focus on the Nakba. The Holocaust can’t be used an excuse for what actually happened in Israel/Palestine.” Wow.

Fifty people packed a small student activities room at Hunter College, where a vibrant and energetic Students for Justice in Palestine invited me to do a book reading from On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion. The SJP has experienced push back from the administration as well as right wing Jewish groups and students and this fall has primarily focused on building coalitions and working on the Black Lives Matter movement in NYC. On September 1, 2014 the faculty of the sixteen colleges of the City of New York issued a letter that included the following paragraph:

“We have viewed with great concern instances of unequal and unfair treatment of SJP by members of the CUNY administration over the past few years. These have been well documented by legal rights groups such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, as well as by students involved in SJP at CUNY and their faculty advisers. These include arbitrary changes in policies regarding student groups, aimed specifically at curtailing SJP activities; the over-policing of SJP events and activities, including simple actions like handing out fliers, in a way that has caused intimidation to students; and making unfounded accusations that lead to “investigations” into widely publicized events. All of these actions have a chilling effect on free exchange and open dialogue.” For the full letter see: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/19058/on-sjp%E2%80%99s-freedom-to-organize_an-open-letter-from-cn

During the discussion, my comments were referred to as a “breath of fresh air.” We had an in depth discussion of the role of racism within Israeli society, that the State of Israel is not only a product of Jewish nationalism as well as British imperialism, but a settler colonial state with deeply rooted racism not only towards Arabs, but also towards Mizrahi Jews from Arab speaking countries and northern Africa, as well as Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers. These Africans have suffered enormously, often walking across the Sinai, experiencing kidnapping, rapes, etc and are referred to in Israel as “infiltrators.” They are housed in a desert detention camp (Holot), and shipped back to their oppressive home countries without any concern for their safety or survival. I talked about meeting some of these men in a Tel Aviv clinic run by Physicians for Human Rights Israel and their utter desperation, fear, and multiple medical and psychological issues mostly of the PTSD, stress, trauma variety. We reviewed the endemic and well documented (FYI by Israeli academics) racism in the Israeli educational system, the use of soldiers as teachers and mentors, the field trips to military bases, all to prepare students to serve in the Israeli Defense Force with the appropriate cultural attitudes. In Israeli schools there is no Nakba history and in fact commemoration of the Nakba is now a civil offense. I discussed the experience of the Israeli organization, Zochrot, where my film was shown in their festival on Nakba and Return (two contentious issues) last year, and this year the Israeli government threatened the Cinematique sponsoring the festival with defunding. Thankfully the festival went on.

We examined questions around the Palestinian struggle for national rights, I suggested that given the realities on the ground, the struggle now is really centered around civil and human rights and against the particular form of apartheid that is present in Israel/Palestine.

I was asked about responses to my work and reflected on how lefty Jews welcomed this discourse but more mainstream Jews were much more hostile, the main issue being their inability to face the detrimental consequences of Zionism. Progressive Christians on the other hand are much more open once they get over their fear of hurting their Jewish friends and the mythical view of Israel that is promoted on Holy Land tours.

After the Q&A a Jewish student approached me and asked why I did not condemn Hamas. She felt that while she agreed with my analysis, she couldn’t mention Palestinian responsibility within SJP where everyone totally “loves Palestinians.” I answered that I wished she had asked her question publicly, there are issues on all sides and Hamas is not monolithic. Hamas has produced horrific suicide bombers and incredible social service agencies building schools and hospitals and caring for a forgotten population. Hamas grew out of a response to Israeli oppression during the First Intifada and was originally supported by Israel as a counterweight to the nationalism of Fatah (think US and Al Qaeda). You could also argue that Hamas was elected to the legislative council in a democratic election, but because of the international blockade was never given the opportunity to mature as a governing body or to be voted out of office in the next election (which obviously never happened). Palestinians also voted for Hamas because they wanted an incorruptible government and were sick of Fatah’s failures, not because they wanted to drive Jewish Israelis into the sea. Additionally, I suggested that Hamas and Fatah have both failed the Palestinian people. It is also important to remember the context: these are resistance movements fighting severe and longstanding oppression, Gazans supported Hamas during the recent war because Hamas fighters stood up to the IDF, but they are also aware of the disastrous situation in Gaza and Hamas’ inability to provide even basic needs. The student asked, “If there is an end to occupation will there be peace?” I replied, “If there is an end to occupation there will be the possibility of peace.” She queried further, “What about anti-Semitism?”(confusing hatred of Jews with hatred of Zionism and the policies of the Israeli state). I suggested that creating a heavily militarized, racist state that oppresses Palestinians on multiple levels and systematically privileges Jews, could not possibly make Jews safer in the long run.

I had talked about the ironic “de-Arabization” of Israeli Jews from Arabic speaking countries that occurs in Israel and another Jewish woman, a Mizrahi Israeli from Haifa, wanted me to know that her grandparents and parents spoke Arabic, made alliances with Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in Haifa, and still identified as Arabs themselves. This clearly is different from the wide spread de-Arabization that I have seen and heard during my travels.

We discussed what can we do and I suggested that the first step is education, given the utter inadequacy of our media in presenting an accurate picture of the political and on-the-ground realities. I urged students to pressure US government representatives since we are funding the occupation, although these activities are unlikely to produce a change in US policy given the power of AIPAC and the Christian right. Mostly I think it is critical to honor what Palestinian civil society activists are calling us to do: build a strong boycott, divestment, and sanction movement and create coalitions around mutual struggles like Black Lives Matter to both localize and internationalize the struggle for justice.

The next day as my taxi wended its way towards Penn Station, I spotted a large billboard plastered across a building:
New York Times Against Israel
All rant
All slant
Stop the Bias

This was sponsored by the ferociously well funded and ironically misnamed Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. The work continues…..

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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58 Responses

  1. Mooser on February 7, 2015, 12:58 pm

    “So for many many people, particularly Jews who are very involved in the myth of Israel, coming to terms with this is an emotional heartbreak. They have to give up a dream that they realize they were duped”

    Mein Gott I know just how they feel. You should have seen people out here when the real-estate bubble burst! Such tsuris, such wailing.

    • Pixel on February 7, 2015, 9:23 pm

      Hi, Mooser!

      This isn’t related to your comment at all, I just figured I’d stop in and say hello.

      My unrelated comment:

      In one of my grad courses, students have watched the 70s cult classic, “Harold and Maude” (don’t ask). They either love it or hate it but the common denominator is that, over the past 10 years or so, they don’t really understand it.

      Personally, I love the film, which is why we watch it. But, critical to it’s deepest meaning is 3-seconds when we’re shown the concentration camp ID number tattooed on Maude’s arm.

      Now, it would be one thing if students missed it. (Many do. I mean, who can pay attention that long these days?) But even those who do catch it have no idea what it is or what it means – none!

      Coming from a much older generation, it’s been shocking. As my shock has worn off, I’ve found it interesting. And, as even more time has gone by, it’s been strange to realize that I had begun to feel a sense of relief, a sense of freedom that comes from being reminded that life moves on. No matter, at what point in history or geographic location, every place where human slaughter, human massacre, and human holocaust has occurred, eventually green grass has grown again.

      Ok, so it totally ruined my use of the film. The upside is that I’ve come to accept that fewer and fewer people alive on this planet have any clue who Miss Frances is, let alone her Ding Dong School (if they ever did!).

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

      • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 1:07 pm

        Hey, Pixel, you know what I think, the present changes the past.

  2. Mooser on February 7, 2015, 1:03 pm

    “The way that I try to understand this is, I think of my mother. My mother lived through the Holocaust. She was in the U.S. but her emotions were there. She wrote all about the Holocaust. She was an author. She loved the state of Israel; I mean, this was going to be this fabulous place.”

    The Us, of course, was, well, good enough for now, but nothing special. Just someplace to go for now.

    • on February 8, 2015, 11:48 am

      “My mother lived through the Holocaust. She was in the U.S. but …”

      WTF?

      • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 12:58 pm

        Oh, I’m sorry, those were just some tangents. Looking today, I was sure I had said that I enjoyed the article, and these were just some tangents, hardly related to it. And I see I didn’t say that and I feel dumb.

        I’m spending some time wondering why what happened to the Jews in America, and possibly coming up with a reasons, never seems to interest people who are interested in Zionism (again, just a tangent!) All that good fortune, and lack of persecution, and it would seem there’s absolutely nothing to learn from it. Always seems strange to me.

        Ms. Rothschild’s mother’s obsession with the Holocaust and Israel is only natural, she had been through lived through a terrible experience, and thought Israel was the answer. I feel bad for having appeared to snap at that.

      • annie on February 8, 2015, 1:00 pm

        i get it. i barely slept or ate last summer when gaza was getting pulverized, and i’m not even palestinian. i don’t really think what continent you’re on makes a difference if your heart is there. and i don’t think her mother was faking it either. i think she’s telling the truth and i think for her mother it was real. and lots of american jews lost family, but like i said, it’s where your heart is. it doesn’t make her a holocaust survivor in my book, but she lived through it. if it means something to her, it’s real.

        and i don’t know how old you are but my mom lived thru the war (both my parents actually but my dad rarely discussed his experiences in combat), she lost her brother in it. i grew up in the shadow of that and i can tell you unequivocally it impacted her life and my childhood. it’s like saying, my mother lived thru the war. but for jewish people they call it the holocaust instead.

  3. JLewisDickerson on February 7, 2015, 4:53 pm

    RE: “Let liberal Jews weep for their dream of Israel, and move on”

    MY COMMENT: The grieving process is very important!

    The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief | Psych Central – http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/000617

    Coping with Grief and Loss | Helpguide.org – http://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief-loss/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm

    Steps and Stages of the Grieving Process | WebMD – http://www.webmd.com/balance/tc/grief-and-grieving-what-happens

    • RoHa on February 7, 2015, 11:15 pm

      “Let liberal Jews weep for their dream of Israel, and move on”

      Even the liberal Jewish dream of Israel was unconscionable.

      Let them weep that they were ever so debased as to hold that dream.

      • philadelphialawyer on February 8, 2015, 1:54 pm

        While I think that’s a bit harsh, and that Dr. Rothchild is doing good work, I sympathize with these sentiments.

        Once again, the focus, as in “American Sniper” and most other “liberal” treatments of America’s and Israel’s misdeeds, is subtly or not so subtly shifted from the folks on the receiving end of the misdeeds (the killed, the wounded, the orphaned, the homeless, the tortured, the imprisoned, the dispossessed and stateless, and so on) to the folks who did the misdeeds or supported the doing of them.

        Frankly, the feelings of “liberal Zionists” are not even close to the top of the list, when it comes to my concerns, my sympathy, etc. And losing one’s “dream” is hardly even worth talking about, in comparison to the crimes listed above. Um, so what if these liberal Zionists have lost their “dream?” And, yeah, in line with what RoHa says, it is not as if the “dream” itself was ever such a great thing.

        The disillusionment of the supporters of evil, their belated realization that they have been supporting evil, the long delayed facing of facts and willingness to finally see past the Big Lie propaganda that they chose to believe, repeat and, indeed, insist on, for so long, by such folks, and the resultant loss of their “innocence” or their “dreams” seems, to me, to be a fairly small loss, and rather inconsequential in the greater scheme. Necessary, certainly, from a tactical/political standpoint, but no great feat morally and nothing to compare either to the harm done to the Other or to grieving for one’s lost relatives and the like.

      • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 2:59 pm

        “American Sniper”? That comes under my rule of never, ever watching a movie which features a weapon in the poster. That rule has denied me hours and hours of explosive entertainment, but there it is.

      • piotr on February 9, 2015, 12:02 am

        “That comes under my rule of never, ever watching a movie which features a weapon in the poster. ”

        Perhaps you should narrow your rule a bit, e.g. to firearm. Consider this poster
        That comes under my rule of never, ever watching a movie which features a weapon in the poster.
        http://cyclopsphoto.ca/temp/momo_kyun_possession3.jpg
        and how many weapons can you find in this poster?
        http://animefanatika.co.za/afwp/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/000momoko.jpeg

      • Mooser on February 9, 2015, 9:19 pm

        “and how many weapons can you find in this poster?”

        Hmm, I guess ‘concealed carry’ isn’t something those female amine super-heroines worry about.

    • on February 8, 2015, 4:43 pm

      For people who lived stateside in America during WWII to proclaim they “lived through the Holocaust” — or “lived through the War” — is minimizing the experience of those people who actually lived through it. Is it not?

      • RoHa on February 8, 2015, 8:16 pm

        I mentioned some of the things people were going through in Asia and North Africa, pointed out that nothing of that sort was happening in the US, and then hinted that “her emotions were there” was not quite the same as being there.

      • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 8:22 pm

        The events were world-wide to some degree and it’s common for people to say “I lived through….” meaning ‘ at those times’.

      • on February 9, 2015, 8:35 am

        I never once heard my father, mother, aunts, uncles, any of their friends say they lived through WWII. In fact, I never heard anyone say it.

      • annie on February 9, 2015, 12:22 pm

        I never once heard my father, mother, aunts, uncles, any of their friends say they lived through WWII

        did anyone in your family fight or die in that war? my mom said the whole country changed. estimates ranged from 50 million to more than 80 million people died worldwide. that’s a lot of people. 420,000 american deaths which doesn’t include wounded. around 300 US deaths a day. were you born in the decade after the war?

        also, people deal with death differently. my father never talked about the war and he was in it. i don’t recall my grandfather ever discussing the war, nor ever referencing his only son who he lost. my mother said he was a changed man after his son died, it broke him and he was never the same after that. but he (my uncle who died) went unspoken for the most part in our family except very privately. the mention of his name would clear the room .. it was that tragic for them always. he still looms large in my life even tho i never met him. a giant, i think he was only 24 when he died.

        i don’t think there’s anything in my lifetime for the US, nationally, that compares. i mean iraq, for the iraqis..it’s hard to imagine that kind of national trauma. that much death. like last summer in gaza. that’s a lot of death in 50 days. in ten years in iraq the US only had 6k killed, comparatively it’s just… anyway, i’m just rambling.

      • philadelphialawyer on February 9, 2015, 3:37 pm

        “The War,” meaning the Second World War, was fought on three continents, and then some. And involved nations from every continent, except Antarctica. Folks in the USA, who most likely had relatives and friends in the war, and, perhaps, were working in war industries themselves, and were subject to rationing and war bond drives in any case, and the like, can, it seems to me, legitimately say they lived through “the War.”

        The Holocaust, however, happened on part of one continent, and folks who were not even on that continent at the time did not, in my view, “live through” the Holocaust. Finkelstein, I believe, has demonstrated how ever expanding, and ever more attenuated, categories of persons have been labeled or have self labeled as “Holocaust survivors.” Children and grand children of true survivors. Folks who were not even in Europe during the Forties. And so on.

        I think anyone living in the USA during the events in question is basically self valorizing when he or she says that they lived “through the Holocaust.”

      • annie on February 9, 2015, 9:44 pm

        you can rationalize it however you want philadelphia, try telling Rothchild’s mother she didn’t live through it. Rothchild didn’t call her mom a survivor nor make any reference to relatives her family may have had there, if any. she said “her emotions were there”. norm said he despises people who use the holocaust to justify the suffering of palestinians (paraphrasing) and i agree with him. but if someone thinks they lived through the holocaust, emotionally, i believe them. and i say that because last summer was very emotional for me. even knowing thousands upon thousands of iraqis were dying was at times physically painful for me. people experience death differently. when 20,000 people are dying every day, some people feel that kind of trauma in their bones. it’s not for me to judge anothers experience. you can judge it however you like tho. frankly, i am going to be relieved when that generation passes on.

      • philadelphialawyer on February 9, 2015, 11:18 pm

        I’m sorry, Annie Robbins, and don’t wish to offend, but I really don’t think I am the one “rationalizing” anything. One either really lives through something or one doesn’t. And, frankly I find the subjective claim to have lived through something that one did not, in objective fact, live through, to be the “rationalization.” And the truth of that contention is not dependent on Dr. Rothchild’s mother’s acceptance of it.

        I do agree that Dr. Rothchild is not the one doing the revisionism, but only reporting what her mother said.

        “norm said he despises people who use the holocaust to justify the suffering of palestinians (paraphrasing) and i agree with him.”

        As do I. But he has also decried the never ending discovery of more and more folks belatedly and unconvincingly labeled with the tag “Holocaust survivor” to be dishonest in its own right.

        “but if someone thinks they lived through the holocaust, emotionally, i believe them. and i say that because last summer was very emotional for me. even knowing thousands upon thousands of iraqis were dying was at times physically painful for me. people experience death differently. when 20,000 people are dying every day, some people feel that kind of trauma in their bones. it’s not for me to judge anothers experience. you can judge it however you like tho.”

        Look, I am not trying to minimize your or anyone else’s sensitivity to the injustices and worse in the world. Still, it is important to have words mean what they mean. And sympathy and emotional pain and so on caused by events thousands of miles away are not, in the end, the same thing as “living through” those events first hand. The folks in Gaza lived through the events you mention; you, with all due respect, did not. Again, I’m sorry if you find that offensive or presumptuous, but that is how I see it.

        “frankly, i am going to be relieved when that generation passes on.”

        Nietzche wrote: “How little the world would look moral without forgetfulness. A poet might say that God made forgetfulness the guard he places at the threshold of human dignity.”

        And that forgetfulness is “like a doorkeeper, a preserver of psychic order, repose and etiquette….there could be no present without forgetfulness.”

      • annie on February 10, 2015, 12:32 pm

        no worries, you’re not offending me. i didn’t use the term rationalization to minimize your opinion. i simply meant it as informing your thought process no different than how my own experience informs mine. i think we just view this differently. it very much reminds me of a conversation i had with RoHa once about accepting peoples self identification as “real”, because it is true for them even if it is not true for you. unless of course you can prove someone is purposely lying or trying to be deceptive. it’s a decision i’ve made (or rationalized). no one can guess what’s in another persons head. for you, if someone is not physically present they have not really lived through something, i don’t agree with that. switching the conversation to one of “survival”, which i am not arguing, is beside the point and not what was stated anyway. i don’t think one needs to be present to feel like they have lived thru an era, or an event. someone could just as easily say i lived thur 9/11. now if that person was an american but living in europe when it happened they could still viscerally feel like it’s part of their experience and who am i to tell them it isn’t.

        we just disagree. and it’s fine with me if you don’t think rothchild’s mother lived through the holocaust. but because she felt like she did, according to her daughter, i accept that and believe her. just like i would believe you if you told me my opinion offended you and i that was not my intent. there’s two options, believe a person is telling you the truth of their own experience or assume they are trying to manipulate you. i have no reason to believe rothchild is not telling the truth about her mom. that’s all.

        think about it. if a child, a boy, told you he was a girl would you insist he/she wasn’t? as a matter of principle i just chose to believe people’s own experience to be true for them if it informs their self identity. i see no reason to abandon that principle wrt the holocaust.

      • philadelphialawyer on February 10, 2015, 3:45 pm

        I am glad you are not offended, and, again, I have no intention of offending you.

        On the issues…to me, there is very little difference between claiming to have “lived through” something and to be a “survivor” of that thing. So, no, I don’t see the question of dubious “survivorship” to be “besides the point.” I see it as just another way of claiming the same thing.

        You say:

        “there’s two options, believe a person is telling you the truth of their own experience or assume they are trying to manipulate you.”

        But I see at least one other option, namely, that that person is simply wrong. One can be mistaken without being deliberately so, and certainly without intending to manipulate.

        ” i have no reason to believe rothchild is not telling the truth about her mom. that’s all.”

        Neither do I. To repeat, I believe Dr. Rotchild is being completely honest and truthful about what her mother claims. I just dispute the accuracy of those (Dr. Rothchild’s mother’s) claims.

        And, even at that, it doesn’t mean that I think Rotchild’s mother is lying or manipulating. Just as I would never say that you are lying or manipulating in your claims about Gaza.

        Still, and this goes back to my first post on this thread, the one in response to RoHa: it isn’t, and shouldn’t be, all about us. And that holds true even if we are not the doers of, or even supporters of, the terrible atrocities in Gaza, but consistent critics of them and their like.

        I think there is a vital and necessary distinction between those of us who condemn the acts of Israel from the safety and (relative) freedom of the USA and the Palestinians, who are on the front lines, and actually do “live through” those atrocities (if they don’t die from them, that is). And that it is important for us to keep that in mind. In my view, maintaining that distinction takes precedence over simply accrediting and accepting folks’ subjective description of their status, and leaving it at that as a matter of courtesy or etiquette or even respect.

      • annie on February 10, 2015, 4:58 pm

        to me, there is very little difference between claiming to have “lived through” something and to be a “survivor” of that thing.

        i meant it was beside the point because i’m not arguing this. had rothchild said her mother was a holocaust survivor while living in america during the war we wouldn’t be having this conversation. the fact that you find “very little difference” distinguishing between a holocaust survivor and someone claiming they lived thru a war, an era, or the holocaust is insignificant to me. it seems like you are moving the goalposts in the middle os the stream.

        second, i never used the phrasing that i “lived through gaza” as an example, i used the example of how i felt as a non palestinian and it was a huge impact for me so much so that i couldn’t even formulate words for much of the time, so i didn’t. i spent my time on this instead: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/worldwide-protest-israeli for literally hundreds of hours over those 50 days.

        now, if you take that (my) experience (about 1 on a scale of 1-100) and multiply it taking place every day over a few years while at the same time multiplying the deaths plus multiplying the factor i had relative there (which we do not know wrt rothchild but given the scale of the event it’s as likely as a palestinian american having relatives in gaza, high) then the experience begins to approach the dimension we’re discussing. so again, i feel you are moving the goal posts.

        I don’t see the question of dubious “survivorship” to be “besides the point.”

        i don’t either, there, we agree on something.

        I think there is a vital and necessary distinction between those of us who condemn the acts of Israel from the safety and (relative) freedom of the USA and the Palestinians, who are on the front lines, and actually do “live through” those atrocities (if they don’t die from them, that is). And that it is important for us to keep that in mind.

        i think it’s not for me to lecture a palestinian american, any palestinian in the diaspora, or a palestinian in the WB for that matter, about how or what they may feel while israel is “mowing the grass” in gaza. in fact a very good friend of mine from gaza who was outside of gaza during last summer’s assault (stuck in jordan during her summer break from oxford), or a person like mohammed assaf, from gaza but not there during the assault) i don’t know how they feel. chances are many might agree with you and not feel they lived thru anything. but if a palestinian told me they felt like they lived thru last summer’s slaughter even tho they were not physically there, i wouldn’t question it, it’s not my place. i would know what they meant and NOT challenge them on the framing.

      • wondering jew on February 10, 2015, 5:52 pm

        annie robbins- “frankly, i am going to be relieved when that generation passes on.” It comes as no surprise that someone opposed to dialogue tells us the next best thing: wishing the other dead.

      • wondering jew on February 10, 2015, 5:58 pm

        Certainly being on the right side of the Atlantic during the years 1939 to 1945 makes a big difference and for accuracy sake certain idioms don’t entirely fit. my mother and her parents got to the right side of the atlantic in 1941, so i guess they’re allowed to say that they lived through it. my father’s mother, had her mother murdered, so immediate family is a certain connection that we all recognize and accept. now my father’s father lost no one immediate in the war. but before the war he had a “hometown” in the ukraine and after the war he had a mass grave on the edge of his former hometown. that is a rather remarkable before and after.

  4. bintbiba on February 7, 2015, 6:14 pm

    Thank you, Phil, for bringing us Alice Rothschild’s story and superb activism. Reading about her and her work every time dispels some of the gloom enveloping the spirit these days.
    A great woman !

    • just on February 7, 2015, 6:29 pm

      +10, bintbiba!

      Thank you, Alice, and all of the great folks @ MW!

    • JLewisDickerson on February 8, 2015, 6:14 pm

      I always look forward to Alice Rothschild’s posts on Mondoweiss! They are always so insightful and well written.

    • on February 10, 2015, 9:45 am

      Try having Ms. Rothschild Mom tell an actual survivor of the Holocaust that she, Ms. Rothschild, lived though the Holocaust in America. The fact is, she didn’t.

      It is a sort of psychological phenomena, where people feel they have experienced or taken part in events which they only viewed from the outside — often only after the fact.

      Like everyone was walking around Boston with Boston Strong tee shirts because they had stayed at home and watched on TV as 10,000 armed men hunted for one unarmed, badly teen-ager in Watertown. Some kind of need to be part of greater events

  5. Pixel on February 7, 2015, 6:29 pm

    Philip, like Forrest Gump, you’re EVERYWHERE!

    And, truth be told, Shmuley isn’t my main man, YOU are!

  6. Pixel on February 7, 2015, 8:35 pm

    Hubris to Humility

    Dr. Rothschild is amazing. Thanks so much, Phil, for attending, and or sharing it. It’s inspirational and we can’t have enough of that around here, can we? Ha!

    She said, ”Jews who are very involved in the myth of Israel, coming to terms with this is an emotional heartbreak. They have to give up a dream that they realize they were duped. And so that’s sort of like doing family therapy. I’ve done presentations at temples where people sat around and wept, because they’re confronting the fact that what they had thought was going on wasn’t going on.”

    Dr. Rothschild is describing serious trauma, “the heart breaking and painful experience of giving up a love and belief in Israel”. But it isn’t merely trauma, it’s DEATH.

    It’s the death of oneself – a lifetime’s identity, the very core of who we thought we were.
    It’s the death of our world – our place in it and the meaning of our lives.

    To experience death isn’t to experience mere sadness, it’s to experience sheer terror. Toppling head-long into a dark, cold abyss. And toppling alone. There may be others toppling along side us but the ultimate reality is that each of us experiences our birth, life, and death, alone – solely, if you will. Sole-ly or “soul-y”? One Soul – everything’s connected, all distinctions mere illusions. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin tantalizingly writes, ”We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” But I digress.

    Individuals and communities experiencing this transformation, not only need counseling they, specifically, need grief therapy. Much to our detriment, in America we aren’t comfortable with the “D-word”. If we were, we’d head right into the pain, not try to deny it, avoid it, intellectualize it, or laugh about it. And, we’d stop saying “closure”. Closure doesn’t exist. It’s a stupid concept that serves only to entangle us in a new myth.

    Grief, at its rawest, is an annihilating pain – a different kind of pain every day, and for what feels like an eternity. Over time, as life draws – or drags – us back into itself, the pain does diminish. Things change, we change. Yet, no matter how many years go by, at times when we least expect it, the “sniper,” the Chris Kyle of grief finds its mark upon our hearts and our memories, and we are instantaneously transported back to the moment of death, to our raw grief. Thankfully, those moments don’t last long but the pain, itself, never goes away.

    The death that these people, that these communities, and that many of us have experienced brings terror and grief, which is a process, not an event, and there’s nothing that can “fix” it. Rather, we need to be present, and willing to sit with each other in the pain and the questions. And before we can find out who we are, we must first find out who we are not.

    • RoHa on February 7, 2015, 11:12 pm

      “But it isn’t merely trauma, it’s DEATH.”

      No it isn’t. When real death occurs, the stream of consciousness ceases to be associated with the body.

      What you are talking about may be a fate worse than death*, but it isn’t death. You may want to use “death” as a metaphor, but it isn’t death.

      And those who grieve are not the dead. People who are so attached to their fond ideas may grieve when they have to abandon those ideas, but those people are not dead

      “And before we can find out who we are, we must first find out who we are not. ”

      No, we just have to look at our passports or birth certificates.

      (*Though not the one that many girls have regarded as better than starving.)

      • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 2:33 pm

        “No it isn’t. When real death occurs, the stream of consciousness ceases to be associated with the body.”

        Poimanently!

  7. just on February 7, 2015, 9:54 pm

    “And before we can find out who we are, we must first find out who we are not.”

    So true. Thank you.

    • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 2:35 pm

      “And before we can find out who we are, we must first find out who we are not.”

      Madam, I’m Adam! If I had a Hi-fi, of course.

  8. Bornajoo on February 8, 2015, 3:38 am

    “So for many many people, particularly Jews who are very involved in the myth of Israel, coming to terms with this is an emotional heartbreak. They have to give up a dream that they realize they were duped.”

    It was a long time ago now but I still remember that feeling. I suppose it’s a bit like finding out one day that your favourite uncle was in fact that notorious serial killer. A bit of a shock to the system, that’s what happens when the myth shatters.

    As soon as I saw for myself the actual facts on the ground it was pretty obvious that it was just indeed a myth covering up a totally different reality. But many Jews really, really want to believe this myth. It has become almost a core belief within their idea of being Jewish. They can’t separate it. And this is propagated and encouraged by successive Israeli governments such as Netanyahu telling French Jews to leave France because israel is their real home and the only place they can be safe.

    There’s a lot of denial going on. You only need to listen to the pathetic arguments pro zionists come up with to justify how they are slaughtering, dehumanising and ethnically cleansing another group of people. The majority of the world are telling them it’s wrong but

    • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 2:40 pm

      ” I suppose it’s a bit like finding out one day that your favourite uncle was in fact that notorious serial killer.”

      Considering the farpitzed Jewish identity Zionists seem to cherish, I think it might unhinge their reason if they found out their forebears were anything less than aristocrats.

  9. Bornajoo on February 8, 2015, 4:03 am

    No edit button! Continue here

    But they can’t accept the facts. The almost violent reactions you get (and actual violent reactions from some) are very telling. The other day in the UK there was a programme called Question Time and George Galloway was invited on. The audience was mostly British zionist Jews as it was held in a predominantly Jewish area of North London but even so the audience was unfairly rigged. Galloway was set up and he was screwed by Jonathan Freedland from the Guardian who exposed himself as nothing more than a pro israel zionist and I believe he should be sacked from the Guardian. He pandered to his “home crowd” and used it as an opportunity to set up Galloway. It was Freedland who actually conflated criticism of Israel with anti semitism and then used it against Galloway.

    Just look at how all the other panelists go along with the idea that criticism of Israel is anti semitic and do their best to make them look as sympathetic to the Jews as possible

    Here is the video of the last segment of the programme. Just look at the behaviour of the Jews in the audience. Does it remind anyone of what it’s like to argue with people like this who are so brainwashed? they are actually scary. And they attacked Galloways car as he was trying to leave the building.

    http://youtu.be/aIbD2VU851M

    Alice Rothschild is an amazing person doing amazing work, that’s all I can say.

    • Marnie on February 8, 2015, 9:38 am

      Bornajoo – thanks for the link with George Galloway – love him! The other panelists were cowards and some members of the audience? It’s easy to be tough when you’re part of a pack. Spoiled brats.

      • bintbiba on February 8, 2015, 11:27 am

        Bornajoo — +10 x 10 !

        Marnie …..Very scary …. “part of a pack. Spoiled brats” . !!! well said, thanks.

      • Bornajoo on February 8, 2015, 11:29 am

        “The other panelists were cowards and some members of the audience? It’s easy to be tough when you’re part of a pack. Spoiled brats.”

        You summed it up perfectly Marnie

      • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 2:42 pm

        Are they still banging on Galloway?

        Did JSF cover this? I should go see.

      • Bornajoo on February 8, 2015, 2:54 pm

        Check out the video Mooser. They set him up for a lynching.

        Been splitting my sides at some of your recent comments. Too funny!

      • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 3:03 pm

        . “Too funny!”

        But Dad, I’m serious!

    • Rodneywatts on February 8, 2015, 12:26 pm

      Hello Bornajoo! Thanks for the link to the Question Time video, and I can imagine how it felt for you to view it and see the disgraceful behaviour of some of the Jews from where I think is near your home turf. Credit though to the more mature Jewish man who defended Galloway from charges of antisemitism. How easy it is to conflate anti-Israel and antisemitism! What is tragic is that the very behaviour of those Jews will not have done anything positive to help our general society’s attitude towards the Jewish community. How ignorant and shameful.

      I am not a fan of George Galloway’s but I totally admired his stand and will email him to tell him so and that not all Jews are like that audience (ref: MW!) I waited in vain for Nicky Morgan, our Minister of Education, to say something sensible about the actions of Israel, but no -just a few wimpish platitudes. I will be emailing her too. What a poor response compared to ‘Rethinking Schools’ journal as posted by Liz Rose on MW a few days ago.

      We certainly need people like Alice Rothschild and Phil to hasten the day of sanity and safety for all of us.

      • Bornajoo on February 8, 2015, 3:53 pm

        Hi Rodney
        I believe that the most despicable coward and obvious pro zionist on that panel was Jonathan Freedland and I wrote to him and told him so. Slightly less politely though. There you go, a journalist from the Guardian who you would expect to show proper balance and judgement but instead he used the opportunity to play to his home crowd. At least he’s completely exposed himself for what he really is

        And what was Freedland, the other panelists and the Jewish zionists in the crowd really saying? Well they were saying that you basically CANNOT criticise israel because it increases anti semitism and puts them at risk. So israel, which commits regular and ongoing crimes against humanity must not be criticised because it causes alleged spikes in anti semitism.

        Well here’s the answer to their problems, get out on the streets as Jews and protest against the criminal actions of israel. Show us you don’t support that disgraceful terrorist state. But the truth is that all of those Jews in that audience DO support that disgusting state and being supporters of that despicable state makes them fair game. As Alan Duncan said in his speech last year, anyone who supports settlements and illegal Israeli expansion should be considered to be an extremist and most of the Jews in that audience deserve that classification

        It’s really strange that the Jews who support that rogue pariah state are the ones who are claiming this huge alleged purported rise in AS. Yet not one Jew that I know of who doesn’t support that rotten excuse for a country has ever witnessed an anti semitic incident EVER! and I know quite a few.

        I live in a predominantly Muslim part of East London. I have several mosques nearby and most of my neighbours are Muslims. There is also a small Jewish community and one synagogue up the road. There IS NO ANTI SEMITISM HERE!

        That other puke inducing ratbag panelist called Cristina Odone made me sick to my core. There she was with her fake crocodile tears talking about the synagogue she saw on the way over to the studio in Finchley. She said (pretending to hold back her false tears) how sad it was that a place of worship had to have barbed wire, concrete pillars and security guards to protect it. I know that synagogue well. What a total load of bullshit. I can put a 10ft high electric fence around my house, get myself 4 Doberman guard dogs, 3 full time bodyguards and cctv cameras everywhere. But what does that actually prove? Well either you are paranoid about alleged attacks that never happen or you do it to portray the idea that you are under siege in a leafy North London suburb. It’s all the biggest load of cobblers which everyone still falls for and gives them the supreme victimhood right to demand special treatment and get a free pass on supporting a criminal state. It’s actually they themselves who conflate anti zionism/israel with anti semitism in order to put themselves into that position

        Anyone is allowed to criticise israel and accuse israel of whatever they like because israel NEEDS to be criticised in the strongest possible terms. But to play the anti semitic card to actually prevent that criticism is yet another despicable and disgraceful tactic used by these sick monsters to maintain the status quo and their warped and twisted ideology. Because they all really do support israel and everything it does and everything it stands for.

        And one more thing, these so called alleged AS incidents are recorded and reported by the Community Security Trust which is a Jewish charity set up to report anti semitic incidents. This was the source of the information mentioned in question time. So it’s the Jews themselves collecting and reporting the attacks themselves. Oh yeah, like I’m really going to believe anything they say. These figures are from them themselves and not from an independent or government source.

        I’m still waiting for my first anti semitic incident and it never even happened when I lived right inside the religious Jewish community in North London in my younger days. Every single community suffers from some kind of discrimination, none more than the Muslims but heaven forbid something should also happen to God’s chosen people in modern day Britain

        Finally, yes the old British Jewish guy did come out and defend Galloway and made it clear he was NOT an anti semitic person. But then he went on to say that the main cause of anti semitism was due to the increase in Muslims and Muslim immigration!! They just can’t help themselves.

      • CloakAndDagger on February 8, 2015, 4:04 pm

        @ Bornajoo

        Thanks for the British perspective from on the ground. It is good to have BS repudiated by the people who are actually there and know first-hand.

      • Bumblebye on February 8, 2015, 4:25 pm

        @Bornajoo
        Wow. Very well said! What most annoyed me was that Freedland didn’t say “incidents” but called them “attacks” – twice I think. CST ought to rename itself “Zionist Paranoia Trust” since that seems to be its main objective.

      • Bornajoo on February 8, 2015, 6:55 pm

        Bumblebye
        If you don’t mind I would like to borrow “zionist paranoia trust” as I’m going to write to them and suggest that they change the name of their organisation to that much more appropriate version.

      • bintbiba on February 8, 2015, 5:16 pm

        Mooser ……Side splitting to say the least !! You are SO funny !!

    • eljay on February 8, 2015, 3:40 pm

      >> Bornajoo: The other day in the UK there was a programme called Question Time and George Galloway was invited on. The audience was mostly British zionist Jews … Galloway was set up … <<

      Galloway was right to point out that:
      – many Jews are not Zionists and many Zionists are not Jews;
      – conflating Zionism and Israel with Judaism and Jewishness is a dangerous game.

      I agree. And, yet, here on MW you've got Zio-supremacists like JeffB, DaBakr, hophmi, Mayhem and Mikhael insisting that Jews must = Israel, and Israel must = Jews.

      JeffB, in particular, believes that all Jews must be held responsible for the actions of Zio-supremacists and the "Jewish State"…and not one of the other guys has expressed any disagreement with this belief or condemned JeffB for his blatant anti-Semitism.

      (But, typically hypocritically, let just one non-Jewish person suggest that all Jews must be held responsible for the actions of some Jews and these guys would be tripping over themselves in their haste to issue condemnations of anti-Semitism.)

      • Bornajoo on February 8, 2015, 6:49 pm

        Absolutely Ejay

        Galloway was the only sane and sensible one there. What he said made total sense.

        What is also interesting about our zio supremacist commentators was how they were so unbelievably conspicuous by their absence every time Robert in Israel shows up, who to be fair is at least totally sincere, honest and open about his real beliefs. Those other guys secretly believe exactly the same stuff as Robert but they duck and cover when he shows up. Because Robert, being as honest and open as he is, blows up the whole facade of trying to pretend be reasonable, which is what all those other guys try and do.

        I mean it would be nice to hear if they agree or disagree with him. Then I can start having some real fun.

      • Mooser on February 8, 2015, 7:53 pm

        “Then I can start having some real fun.”

        Bornajoo, that hardly ever ever happens. For some reason they seem to avoid each other. One would think that tribal unity would compel them to back each other up… but no.
        So the fact that the “liberal Zionism” represented in one comment thread completely contradicts the “right-wing” representative we get in another never becomes an issue.
        And the ones that are so adamant there’s no religion in it, just “Jewish nationalist” politics never bump into “Jon s” and his evasive sanctimony and bloodthirsty piety.

        But it’s always, I think best to consider what kind of person generally would appoint themselves a spokesman for Zionism, and not take them too seriously.

  10. Marnie on February 8, 2015, 7:41 am

    Wish I could have been there – thanks Phil for bringing it to us and to Dr. Rothschild – you are brilliant!

  11. JWalters on February 8, 2015, 7:46 pm

    Thank you Dr. Rothchild for your important work. Approaching ignorant Zionists with therapy techniques is a very practical approach. Their ignorance is an important wall protecting the Israeli MIC and its push for more war. We’ll all be better off when that wall collapses.

    I look forward to seeing you on TV (just kidding! (unfortunately)).

  12. shalom on February 13, 2015, 3:41 pm

    Four words: Oy vey iz mir!

  13. Hanna Kawas on February 9, 2016, 10:34 pm

    Voice of Palestine, Canada interviewed Alice Rothchild on May 4, 2010; to learn more about her background and her work listen to the interview at http://www.voiceofpalestine.ca/AudioFiles/VOP_May04_2010_32kbps.mp3 (26:30 minutes into the show).

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