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Reconstructionist Jewish site censors rabbi’s essay because he supports BDS and one state

Israel/Palestine
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BDS is coming inside the Jewish community. That is the clear thrust of several recent events in which Jews who are appalled by Israel’s conduct are insisting on their right to discuss the use of boycott, divestment and sanctions as a means to pressure Israeli society.

First the news in my headline. The Jewish Reconstructionist community, based in Philadelphia, kicked off a conversation called “Israel & Zionism: A Contemporary Challenge” this past week with five essays “that represent a range of viewpoints from within the Jewish Reconstructionist communities.”

But not all the viewpoints! Guess what: The editors asked Shai Gluskin, a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia, to submit a piece, too, then rejected it, evidently because he supports BDS.

Here is Gluskin’s comment on the essay:

I was asked to write one of the anchoring essays for this project. However, when it came to light that I am open to other solutions to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict besides a two-state solution, I was asked, should I still want to participate, to post my essay as a comment instead. I do want to participate. Read on for my essay. Click here if you want it in PDF form.

You can read Gluskin’s essay at the end of this piece. It said that he endorsed BDS “with a heavy heart”:

The Palestinian Call to BDS is completely non-violent.

Every day that the status quo continues, Palestinians suffer under the Israeli occupation without dignity, freedom of movement, the ability to control their land, the right to vote, and more. I support the Palestinian Call to BDS as a way of trying to break that status quo

Gluskin told me in an email that editors proposed that he explain his support for the Palestinian Call to BDS as being in the service of bringing about a two-state solution. “So in the end it was my one-state leanings, not even emphasized, though they are hinted at, in my article, that were the deal-breaker,” he says.

Today a prominent Reconstructionist rabbi, Caryn Broitman, added a scathing comment calling the editors’ decision “censorship” and urging them to de-relegate Gluskin’s essay.

As a member of the “Open Hillel” rabbinic council, I along with other Reconstructionist colleagues signed a statement that said: “In the spirit of an open Jewish community . . . I accept that there is a range of opinion on Israel in the Jewish community, including BDS and non-Zionist Judaism. While I may agree or disagree with all or parts of
these positions, I cannot agree to censor them or deny those who hold them the right to be heard in the Jewish community as Jews.”..

[T]he rejection of Shai’s solicited essay as an anchor essay because of its opinions is certainly a form of censorship.

The Gluskin controversy echoes the Open Hillel campus tour by Jewish civil rights veterans that has included endorsements of BDS by participants. Hillel International has shut out the tour, but students are abandoning their Hillel’s in order to have the discussion. I’ve met some of these students. Not all of them want to endorse BDS. But they sure want to hear about it, discuss it intelligently.

Next, UCLA’s center for Jewish studies and its Hillel are hosting Cornel West to an event commemorating Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel even though West is an eloquent supporter of BDS.

UCLA has come under heavy pressure from the pro-Israel community to rescind the invitation, including from Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl’s father and a professor of computer science, who has called on West to stay away:

No matter how eloquent your speech and how crafty your words, the audience you will face at UCLA will not be able to take them too seriously in light of your recent decision to become a leading propagandist for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Not sure about “Crafty”– it may be seen as having racial overtones.

Todd Samuel Presner, a Holocaust scholar and the director of the Jewish Studies center, has stood by West, even as he’s criticized him for likening Gaza to a “concentration camp”.

I don’t know what West is going to say when he comes to UCLA on May 3rd. Perhaps his words will infuse me with inspiration, perhaps they will infuse me with indignation, or perhaps with both. In any case, I am going to listen attentively. I will, then, engage him respectfully and honestly,

Here is Gluskin’s essay:

Jewish life in Israel has been at the core of my identity from the time I was a teen when I was active in Habonim Labor Zionist Youth. The return of Jews to the Land of Israel inspired me to want to be a part of creating an Israel that would serve as a light to the nations. I was so proud of being Jewish, in part because kibbutzim in Israel were an affirmation of the possibility of building communities based on human dignity and fairness.

In short, I was an idealist. As I grew older and had many experiences living in Israel myself, I began to understand that ideals are a lot easier to champion than they are to implement in the real world.

And though much of the Zionist movement had been rooted in high ideals, the realities of creating a nation state on land where others lived, in the wake of the Holocaust, meant that many moral compromises needed to be made.

As victors of the War of Independence in 1948, Israelis and Zionists all over the world created a narrative of the founding of Israel that did not accurately portray the Jewish role in expelling Palestinians from their land during that period.

In 1988 much of Israel’s hitherto secret security archives were opened to the public. Many Israeli historians jumped on this opportunity. What they found was a clear record of a different narrative of events in 1948 from the one I had learned in Habonim. That research, based on primary documents, largely confirmed Palestinian versions of those events. One of the most important books of that time was The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947—1949 by Benny Morris.

As I began, slowly, to integrate the new information being brought to light about Israel’s history, there seemed to be some willingness among Israelis and Palestinians to move toward mutual recognition and create a compromise that would bring peace, self-determination and security to Israelis and Palestinians alike. I’m referring to the Oslo Accords signed in 1994.

However, a final status agreement was never achieved. And while there is plenty of blame to go around, the status quo has prevailed. That status quo renews, daily, the denial of basic human rights to Palestinians.

I’ve been to Israel eight times totaling about three years of my life. My grandparents made aliyah when they were 75. Their apartment in Ramat Aviv was my home away from home. I love Hebrew, Hebrew literature and much of Israeli culture. I love the beauty of the land; I’ve lived 100 yards from the northern border near Metula and on a large rock in the Arava desert at Kibbutz Grofit close to Eilat in the South. I’ve been inspired there. I am deeply connected.

But the fundamental idea I had clung to, that Zionism was essentially a positive movement aimed at bettering Jewish life and the greater world, melted away during Israel’s attack on Gaza at the end of 2008/beginning of 2009. What Zionism had wrought was a nation state that was bombarding refugees and their descendants who had been expelled by the same army or its antecedent in 1948. The result of that bombing was, according to the Israel Defense Forces, the death of 1,166 Gazans in three weeks. Three Israeli civilians and ten soldiers (four by “friendly fire”) were killed.

Israel had engaged in the operation to stop the rockets that were being launched at Israeli civilian areas from Gaza. Those rockets rarely produced casualties, though significantly disrupted the daily life for many in southern Israel. Israel’s disproportionate response, for which I could find no justification, made me want to dig deeper into its causes.

As a result of renewed reading I came to believe that we must address the historical issues. The most important point of the history that needs to be addressed is the Nakba, which means catastrophe in Arabic, and refers to Israel’s War of Independence which resulted in the dispossession of over 750,000 Palestinians and the destruction of more than 400 villages. Those villages “tattoo the Israeli landscape, exit wounds from a history we have barricaded out of our lives.”[1]

In the S. Yizhar 1949 Hebrew novella Khirbet Khizeh, the narrator speaks from some time in the future after he has tried, unsuccessfully, to shut down his memories of participating in the expulsion of Palestinian villagers:

TRUE, IT ALL HAPPENED A LONG TIME AGO, but it has haunted me ever since. I sought to drown it out with the din of passing time, … and I even, occasionally, … managed to see that the whole thing had not been so bad after all, …. But sometimes I would shake myself again, astonished at how easy it had been… to be knowingly led astray… I saw that I could no longer hold back, … instead of staying silent, I should, rather, start telling the story.

In 1976, when I was 18, I lived on Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch in the Northern Galilee as part of Habonim’s Workshop program. 200 meters from the dining hall one could find the remains of the Palestinian village, al-Sanbariyya, where Jewish forces, under the order of Yigal Alon, expelled its residents on May 1, 1948. Later the Jewish National Fund destroyed its 36 houses. However, despite its proximity, our leaders never told us of that history, nor did they show us the remains.

If the Nakba did not deeply mar the achievement of Jewish self-determination, our leaders would not have hesitated to tell us the story and show us the village. By creating myths about the circumstances of the Palestinian exodus and by, literally, covering over the villages, the soul of Israel has been scarred. We need to continue the work of S. Yizhar to truly liberate ourselves. We do that by continuing to tell the story. And more than that, we need to make amends.

In the wake of the Holocaust, it’s no wonder that Jews sought sovereignty on land we could control. My intent is not to blame Jewish people of the past or to claim that I would have acted better than them. Nonetheless, this does not relieve those of us living now of the need to acknowledge what happened and to make restitution.

Moshe Dayan, a legendary Israeli war hero, delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Ro’i Rotenberg, a young member of Kibbutz Nachal Oz (a kibbutz on the border of Gaza). Rotenberg was killed by infiltrators from Gaza while he worked in the kibbutz fields on April 29, 1956. Dayan’s eulogy has affected me deeply:

Yesterday at dawn Ro’i was murdered… Let us not today cast blame on the murderers. What can we say against their terrible hatred of us? For eight years now, they have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza, and have watched how, before their very eyes we have turned their land and villages, where they and their ancestors previously dwelled, into our home.

It is not among the Arabs of Gaza, but in our own midst that we must seek Ro’i’s blood. How did we shut our eyes and refuse to look squarely at our fate and see, in all its brutality, the fate of our generation? …

Let us take stock today with ourselves. We are a generation of settlement and without the steel helmet and the gun’s muzzle we would not be able to plant a tree nor build a house… let us not fear to look squarely at the hatred that consumes and fills the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs who live around us. Let us not drop our gaze, lest our arms weaken…

Young Ro’i, … the longing for peace deafened his ears, and he failed to hear the voice of the murderer waiting in ambush. The gates of Gaza proved too heavy for his shoulders, and overcame him.

I appreciated Dayan’s honesty in seeing the conflict from a Palestinian perspective. It also explained to me the us-versus-them, zero-sum-game mindset that I believe exists to this very day in the hearts and minds of most Israeli Jews.

I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu shares the same zero-sum philosophy as Moshe Dayan expressed in the eulogy, though lacking Dayan’s candor in seeing the situation from a Palestinian perspective. Dayan’s assertion that we will never be able to build a house in Israel without the “gun’s muzzle” applies now as well. That approach is unsustainable, no matter how much support Israel has in the U.S. Congress.

Dayan’s conclusion that it is only through military might that we can maintain our place in Israel assumes the zero-sum us-versus-them proposition as the only possible proposition vis-a-vis the Palestinians. I believe we must “cobble together a new compact,”[2] and look for bold ways to create a new start to our relationship with the Palestinians.

The events leading up to last summer’s Gaza War and the war itself prove the status quo is dangerous. What is left of the Oslo Accords is a Palestinian Authority (PA) that the Prime Minister of Israel claims to be “no partner” even as the PA collaborates daily with the IDF and Israeli intelligence to prevent attacks on Israel. Without the Oslo Accords having achieved anything tangible for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, many Palestinians hold the PA in low regard and see it more as a protector of Israel than as a force that can bring them a normal life.

In the wake of the Gaza incursion of 2008/9, I desired to find others who shared my view. I joined the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and I sit on its Rabbinic Advisory Committee. As someone who cares about Israel and its people deeply, I had to take a stand.

It is with a heavy heart that I stand by JVP’s support for the 2005 Palestinian Civil Society call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). My heart is heavy because BDS is a hostile act. And the idea of supporting aggression against Israel is painful to me. My heart is also heavy because I know that some anti-Semites attach themselves to any campaign that is against Jews.

The Palestinians have suffered plenty as an indirect result of anti-Semitism. While we must be vigilant against anti-Semitism, the Palestinian Call for BDS is not anti-Semitic. It’s giving voice to legitimate grievances. It’s a grassroots effort by Palestinian civil society organizations in the Occupied Territories, Israel, and the Palestinian Diaspora.

I do not support efforts to achieve justice for Palestinians that use violent means. The Palestinian Call to BDS is completely non-violent.

Every day that the status quo continues, Palestinians suffer under the Israeli occupation without dignity, freedom of movement, the ability to control their land, the right to vote, and more. I support the Palestinian Call to BDS as a way of trying to break that status quo. 19th century African American Abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke,

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.[3]

Many in the Jewish community interpret the demands of BDS, should they be met, as culminating in the destruction of Israel. References to the return of Arab lands as well as the solving of the refugee problem lead some to reach those conclusions. To me, those are extreme interpretations that are consistent with the continuation of the denial of the injustice that the Palestinians have suffered by our hands. The goal of BDS is not to destroy Israel, but to change Israel and address the legitimate concerns of the Palestinians.

The Palestinians didn’t have a part in the Zionist dream. Ari Shavit writes in his book, My Promised Land “We chose not to see them.” We chose not to see them as part of the vision, as inhabitants of the land whose rights needed to be respected in order for us to build a Jewish homeland based on justice and fairness. Continuing that blindness will only lead to interminable conflict and suffering. I want to work, instead, for resolution.

[1] Natasha Roth from 972mag.com The road out of the occupation leads through the Nakba April 11, 2015.

[2] Mohammed Dahlan, Israeli-Arab lawyer quoted in Ari Shavit’s book My Promised Land, p. 313

[3] Frederick Douglass, from a speech delivered in 1857 as quoted from Two Speeches by Frederick Douglas (1857) at BlackPast.org.

Rabbi Shai Gluskin is a 1995 graduate of the RRC. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA where he is a freelance web developer and leader of the junior congregation at the Germantown Jewish Center.

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About Philip Weiss

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

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37 Responses

  1. Krauss
    Krauss
    April 26, 2015, 12:38 pm

    I’m sorry Phil but “reform from within” is dead. Totally dead.

    Reconstructionist is at the far-left of the Jewish religious spectrum and even there people are getting censored? Let’s get real, those of us who are pro-BDS are a tiny minority. We may be growing but if you start from a very small base, of course you’re going to get high growth rates.

    I understand why people want to see this happening inside the communal fold – it’s depressing to realize just how monolithic and not liberal the community is on this issue – but by and large, outside the major progressive campuses, I don’t see it happening and your story kind of underscores it.

    So why bring it up? Because while I agree with you that our community holds the keys to what has happened I am no longer certain our community has to turn for this to turn as well. In other words, while we may have led the situation to this place, it doesn’t follow automatically that we have to move for the situation to move either.

    The fact is that Palestinians led and continue to lead the BDS movement. Not us. Most of the people there are non-Jews. So most of the progress we’ve seen has not depended on Jews. It’s nice to see Jews there but in the end, if we construct a narrative where we have to wait for the communal organizations to turn we’re going to wait forever. And these fake-hype stories aren’t helping the movement in the right direction. Because we may indeed come to the conclusion that you may just have to roll through the major institutional obstacles for this to change.

    I used to be pretty certain 5 years ago that the major denominations would change but they haven’t. I think we may have to settle that a lot of people in the communal Jewish space are comfortable with Apartheid. Oh, sorry, that’s a “divisive” term! Silly me.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 26, 2015, 7:54 pm

      Don’t they know the deep connection to Israel is a one-way street?

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 26, 2015, 7:58 pm

      “I used to be pretty certain 5 years ago that the major denominations would change but they haven’t.”

      Which denomination would you say is the most materially involved with Zionism? The one that actually involves itself with the Israeli state, and seems to play a major part in the American right-wing Zionism machinations here. Which denomination would that be?

      Reconstructionist is at the far-left of the Jewish religious spectrum and even there people are getting censored?

      Didn’t we have an example of how far to the left Reconstructionist is last year, with a Rabbi leaving? Covered here at Mondo.

      Anyway, I find out that “Reconstructionist” wasn’t quite as far out in left field as I had thought, at first.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 26, 2015, 8:07 pm

      “if we construct a narrative where we have to wait for the communal organizations to turn we’re going to wait forever.”

      I have always been mystified by what possible power, what possible influence American Jewish religious groups (there’s quite a few) could have over Israel? Never have understood what it would do even if some sort of consensus could be arrived at.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 27, 2015, 10:29 pm

        Sorry, the nesting habits of the comments confuses me sometimes.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel
      April 27, 2015, 3:19 am

      Krauss,

      Generally-speaking, I share your pessimism, but I do see importance in gaining legitimacy for views like ours — even as they are condemned — within the Jewish community. That will involve challenging the prevailing censorship and shunning. Yes, Open Hillel and the Reconstructionist movements are small, but they are a place to start, a way of gaining a place at the table, even if no one else will sit next to us.

      I see two reasons why this is important:

      1) It is true that BDS is and should be Palestinian-led, but it is largely Jewish voices (or the voices of those who consider themselves “friends of the Jews”) that are seeking to undermine and misrepresent BDS. Therefore, Jewish voices in favour of BDS and in support of human rights and equality in I/P, and especially Jewishly-committed voices like that of Shai Gluskin, may have an impact far beyond their numbers — if only in convincing anti-racist non-Jews that supporting BDS is not tantamount to showing hostility to Jews.

      2. The future of Judaism may be less important than current and ongoing Palestinian suffering, but that does not mean that it is a trivial matter. Creating non- and anti-Zionist Jewish spaces, however small, is an essential part of ensuring that future. Concern for the future of Israeli Jews is also a part of that.

      • bintbiba
        bintbiba
        April 27, 2015, 8:13 am

        Shmuel,
        What a magnificent statement.
        Your empathy, humanity and downright decency are breathtaking !
        I have no words to describe a true and appropriate reaction to your post !

        Very humbly, I thank you.

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 27, 2015, 8:21 am

        || bintbiba: Shmuel, What a magnificent statement. Your empathy, humanity and downright decency are breathtaking ! ||

        I’ll second that comment.

      • sydnestel
        sydnestel
        April 27, 2015, 10:26 am

        Shmuel – when I lived in Israel, in the mid 1970s, I was active in the small (and long defunct) left wing party Sheli, one of the leaders – Yair Tzaban (ex of the Israeli Communist Party) – told us young activists that we were unlikely ever to win an election and unlikely to ever convince a majority of Israeli Jews of our position. We asked, incredulously: why then should we be working so hard to spread our ideas.?He said, peace and justice would only come when imposed from the outside – our job was to soften the resistance to that.

        The same can be same can be said for work within the American Jewish community.

        … and of course, I identify with your second point as well.

        Kol Tuv.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        April 27, 2015, 11:26 am

        Thanks, bintbiba and eljay :-)

        Syd,

        Meretz leaders were saying the same things (maybe even Tzaban himself) when I was active in the ’90s.

        By the way, I think the Reconstructionist movement itself (and its founder) has had an impact on North American Jewish life in general, far beyond its membership or the number of its Rabbinical College graduates. I think it also has an important role to play in extricating Judaism from the “avodah zarah” (idolatry) of Zionism, if not from Zionism itself. A little ironic for a historically Zionist movement (unlike the much larger Reform movement), but not so ironic for a movement that has been at the forefront of ethical (and non-idolatrous) Judaism, since its inception.

        Rabbi Jack Cohen once told me that when he was living in Palestine in 1947, he was opposed to partition, hoping for a bi-national state in which Arabs and Jews could live as equals. He also told me that (Reconstructionist founder) Mordecai Kaplan agreed with him. That is an important legacy.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 27, 2015, 10:30 pm

        ” but I do see importance in gaining legitimacy for views like ours — even as they are condemned — within the Jewish community. “

        Oh yes, very much so. Whether they effect Israel is almost beside the point, in some ways.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 27, 2015, 10:35 pm

        “A little ironic for a historically Zionist movement (unlike the much larger Reform movement),”

        As the example of Reform show, that can change. It may, I should be shot for saying this, come down to a struggle between certain sects of the Orthodox and a wide swath of other Jewish denominations.

      • ziusudra
        ziusudra
        April 28, 2015, 6:53 am

        Greetings Shmuel,
        …Friends of the Jews…..
        No problem.
        Friends of Israelis, no problem.
        Friends of Israel’s policies in treatment of the Palestinians? NO!
        ziusudra
        PS It’s not the Jews or Judaism that is at stake, it’s conquest, war crimes,apartheid & open air prisons.
        (Sorry for over extending your Headline.)
        PPS Why should Jews seek allowance to support BDS?
        Allowance from whom? Is there any hidden totalitarian agency that a Jew must be concerned about?

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        April 28, 2015, 7:53 am

        PS It’s not the Jews or Judaism that is at stake, it’s conquest, war crimes,apartheid & open air prisons.

        It’s both, although not in that order (obviously, “conquest, war crimes,apartheid & open air prisons” come first).

        PPS Why should Jews seek allowance to support BDS? Allowance from whom?

        No allowance from anyone. Wider acceptance, like any movement or idea — especially at the source (or source of inspiration) of the greatest opposition to that idea.

        Is there any hidden totalitarian agency that a Jew must be concerned about?

        Yes. God.

      • MRW
        MRW
        April 28, 2015, 11:00 am

        Rabbi Jack Cohen once told me that when he was living in Palestine in 1947, he was opposed to partition, hoping for a bi-national state in which Arabs and Jews could live as equals. He also told me that (Reconstructionist founder) Mordecai Kaplan agreed with him. That is an important legacy.

        My mentor, the one I met when he was 83 and still teaching (me), was also the one who made a reverse aliyah. I’ve written about him here before.

        He told me the history of Israel, and how it was created. He said everyone he knew was against partition and he was a bigwig in Manhattan then. He had exactly the same opinion as Cohen and Kaplan. One of the reasons he had at that time was that having an equal population there would protect Jews, not harm them if there ever were a repeat of WWII. Their fellow citizens could hide them. He called the Irgun “terrorists” who destroyed the start of Israel.

    • MRW
      MRW
      April 27, 2015, 9:26 am

      Krauss is right.

      It’s nice to see Jews there but in the end, if we construct a narrative where we have to wait for the communal organizations to turn we’re going to wait forever. And these fake-hype stories aren’t helping the movement in the right direction.

      • Pretext
        Pretext
        April 28, 2015, 1:03 am

        I believe some of the commenters have already hit on this in various degrees. I’ll try to be more direct:

        Even if we take it for granted that the Jewish communal organizations will never turn around and support a just resolution, it may not be necessary to make that much progress. If you shatter the monolithic conflation of Zionism and Judaism by showing active and spirited debate within the Jewish community, you wipe out the power of guys like Abe Foxman to routinely play the “antisemite” card whenever someone outside the tribe criticizes Israel.

        If the tribe can have a spirited debate with itself about the treatment of the Palestinians, regardless of who wins, people from outside the tribe will feel less coerced into toeing the right-wing line.

        It’s not necessary to win the debate outright. Just outflank them.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        May 1, 2015, 4:00 pm

        I would say, given the history of Judaism as a religion, it is more likely we will see a ‘schism’ of sorts, and the establishment of (at first) non-Zionist Jewish fellowships. Debate and consensus, I don’t think, is our thing.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        May 4, 2015, 8:58 pm

        “If the tribe can have a spirited debate with itself about the treatment of the Palestinians, regardless of who wins,”

        As soon as you start calling Jews “the tribe” you’ve already conceded the battle to the Zionists. Or you want to.

  2. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    April 26, 2015, 5:15 pm

    RE: “Not sure about ‘Crafty’ [Judea Pearl’s reference to Cornell West]– it may be seen as having racial overtones.” ~ Weiss

    IN OTHER WORDS: Judea Pearl was, in essence, accusing Cornel West of being “shifty-eyed”! ! !
    SHIFTY-EYED!
    SHIFTY-EYED!
    SHIFTY-EYED!

    P.S. Eye contact (Cultural differences) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_contact#Cultural_differences

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      April 26, 2015, 5:23 pm

      P.P.S. FROM merriam-webster.com:

      crafty
      adjective \ˈkraf-tē\
      : clever in usually a deceptive or dishonest way

      SOURCE – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crafty

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        April 27, 2015, 1:29 am

        JLD, a bit of an off-topic cultural question.

        Why do Americans like to give dictionary definitions of perfectly ordinary words in their essays? (You have given a definition after the essay.)

        If the word is being used in the ordinary way, no definition is required. The reader will already know the word. (If s/he doesn’t, it is the reader’s job to consult a dictionary. )

        If the word is being used in some specialized sense, the dictionary definition will not help, since that definition will be the ordinary sense.

        Do they teach you to do this at school?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 27, 2015, 10:42 pm

        RoHa, JL Dickerson has a commenting style all his own. I just figure if JL feels a word should be defined, he must have felt a definition was needed. And, with the exception of my close-ups, more definition is usually a good thing. All right, Mr De Mille, I’m ready now….

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        April 28, 2015, 6:52 am

        But it’s not just JLD who does it.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        May 1, 2015, 4:04 pm

        “But it’s not just JLD who does it.”

        Electric eels, I might add, do it. (Though it shocks ’em, I know!)
        Why ask if shad do it? – Waiter bring me shad roe!

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        May 2, 2015, 3:19 am

        RE: “Why do Americans like to give dictionary definitions of perfectly ordinary words in their essays?” ~ RoHa

        REPLY: I posted the short definition of ‘crafty’ to make the point that it usually (but not always) incorporates deception and/or dishonesty which is the essence of being “shifty-eyed”.
        I feared that some people would only understand ‘crafty’ to mean ‘clever’ (which has little to do with being “shifty-eyed”).
        Indeed, I had to check the definition of ‘crafty’ to confirm for myself the ‘deception/dishonesty’ component.
        Also, that was my way of disclosing that it is possible (but not likely) that Judea Pearl was only using ‘crafty’ in the sense of ‘clever’ (but not in the sense of ‘deceptive/dishonest’) and therefore was not in essence calling Cornel West “shifty-eyed”.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        May 2, 2015, 5:40 am

        Yes, “deceptive cunning, usually admired” is the standard meaning. I usually I hear and use it in such contexts as the complement I paid my Aikido master when I found out he had a girlfriend in Japan.

        “You crafty bugger! I thought you kept going back to Japan for further training with the Doshu!”

        But can you shed any light on the general practice of starting essays with definitions?

      • JLewisDickerson
        JLewisDickerson
        May 6, 2015, 10:59 pm

        RE: “But can you shed any light on the general practice of starting essays with definitions?” ~ RoHa

        REPLY: All I can say is that most Americans are not really taught how to write. When an inept writer can’t get started, a tried-and-true but very unimaginative way to start is by quoting a definition from the dictionary and building upon that.
        Then there are a few of us old geezers who can’t really type and will paste just about anything in order to avoid having to ‘hunt and peck’!

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        May 8, 2015, 1:21 am

        Thanks, JLD.

        (I’ll let Mooser tell you whether educated fleas follow the same pattern.)

  3. lyn117
    lyn117
    April 26, 2015, 7:55 pm

    I think Gluskin has written an honest and heartfelt essay. If his idealistic vision had prevailed among early Zionists, there never would have been a nakba. I truly appreciate this part of what he wrote, as well as his support for BDS. I’m sorry he was censored.

    At the same time (IMHO) Gluskin is completely wrong that Jews “returned” to the land of Israel. Most Jewish populations never came from Israel (or where Israel is now) in the first place any more than Christian populations did. And while he doesn’t interpret the BDS demand for allowing return and compensation for refugees as meaning the destruction of Israel, I don’t see how a Jewish-supremacist state can be maintained if the majority of its people don’t want that, any more than Israel could have been created without the terrorizing, mass murder and forced expulsion of the majority of the people of the land it took over, who didn’t want a Jewish-supremacist state then, either.

    I don’t know exactly how Gluskin reconciles these.

    • peterfeld
      peterfeld
      April 26, 2015, 11:02 pm

      I don’t think he considers Israel “destroyed” if the supremacism is ended.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        April 26, 2015, 11:26 pm

        With a Zionist outlook, i.e. seeing himself as part of a Zombie “nation ” of people returning from the grave, I can’t imagine that “If his idealistic vision had prevailed among early Zionists, there never would have been a nakba”.
        How would that be possible? Even non-Zionists among us are all behaving as if the owners of the country never have anything to say; as if group immigration forced upon the locals by the colonial overlords had an automatic right to be accepted!
        What if they resent it? And you know what, they did. Plenty. What do you do if they resent it? You either pack and scram, or you remain by the force of arms. I can’t imagine any Zionists, be they so well-intentioned, choosing the former.

  4. RoHa
    RoHa
    April 27, 2015, 1:40 am

    “the realities of creating a nation state on land where others lived, in the wake of the Holocaust, meant that many moral compromises needed to be made.”

    “In the wake of the Holocaust, it’s no wonder that Jews sought sovereignty on land we could control”

    But that sovereignty was being sought before the Holocaust. The Holocaust is no excuse.

    And they were not “moral compromises”. They were downright immoral acts stemming from immoral ideas.

    • MRW
      MRW
      April 27, 2015, 9:32 am

      ✔✔✔

    • Shai
      Shai
      April 27, 2015, 2:18 pm

      Up until the 1930’s, Zionism was pretty marginal within the Jewish community in Europe and the United States (and non-existent in Morocco, Iraq and other Arab-majority countries). It was the deteriorating situation of the Jews within Europe that made the dispossession of large numbers of Palestinians in 1947-9 possible.

      The nationalist factions within Zionism did constitute the majority of Zionists in advance of the 1930s. However, there were dissenting voices, inside and outside of Zionism. More importantly, the small numbers of Jews in Palestine made the possibility of implementing a Jewish-majority Jewish nation state not something likely achievable, until the desperate situation of European Jewry significantly increased the amount of Jewish immigrants to Palestine. Those immigrants fleeing Europe were not, (at the beginning at least) ideological Zionists but rather running for their lives.

      It’s probably worth noting here that the 1917 Balfour Declaration certainly complicated things, giving more hope to the nationalist Zionists than they should have had based on their numbers.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 27, 2015, 10:47 pm

        Don’t forget, the British (and if I am not mistaken, the French) made promises to the “Arabs” and Palestinians, too. So they had certain expectations.

        Saw an interview last night made recently with the woman (young, then) who “cased” the King David Hotel for placing the bombs. She’s still jubilant about killing British people.

  5. eusebio
    eusebio
    April 27, 2015, 9:14 am

    I am favor of a state of Israel and Palestine and take the Palestine and take the university of human rights

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