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Fasting for Palestine

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This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Yom Kippur arrives once again and, for the most part, the synagogues are silent on the continuing and deepening oppression of the Palestinian people. As if the oppression isn’t happening. As if Jews are innocent in our empowerment.

Omitting the most obvious transgression. What a strange confession!

In Israel, the situation is more obvious. With Palestinians, already walled in, a holy day closure is invoked. Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza are sealed shut for Yom Kippur. The issue at hand? Not the oppression of Palestinians but the perils of fasting for Jews observing Yom Kippur.

Instead of the injustices committed, the Israeli authorities remind the public how many Jews are in need medical help during Yom Kippur. Keeping the roads open and clear for medical personnel is crucial. For the Palestinians in need during the Jewish holy day? On a case by case basis. To be decided by military officials on the scene.

What does it mean to fast, to ask God for forgiveness, when that very day symbolizes and concretely intensifies the suffering of those on the other side of Israeli power?

It’s a simple equation. When our repentance omits the very essence of our sin, why fast at all? Why not simply say aloud what we are doing and why? Why not dispense with the call to the confession that when made by Jews of Conscience is thought of as a betrayal?

Yom Kippur is the most hypocritical day of the Jewish calendar. Or is it Passover, where the liberation promised to us, is denied to Palestinians? No wonder why most Jews of Conscience avoid synagogues on Yom Kippur as if they carry the plague of idolatry.

Some years ago a Jewish theologian wrote about the Jewish return into history. His reference was the Holocaust and, because of the suffering in the Holocaust, the need for the Jewish state of Israel. He left out the cost of that “return.” To others, the Palestinians. And to Jews, who now observe Yom Kippur in a convoluted way.

Should Jews fast on Yom Kippur for the sins we are not confessing?

Instead, Jews should fast for Palestine. It’s the confession we need to make.

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His new book, Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures, is forthcoming.

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86 Responses

  1. Citizen
    September 22, 2015, 3:27 pm

    Good questions. Nobody I know is asking them. I may as well live on Mars.

  2. Sulphurdunn
    September 22, 2015, 5:22 pm

    If one day is holy, they all are or none are. If one people are chosen, they all are or none are.

  3. mcohen.
    September 22, 2015, 7:21 pm

    marc ellis says….fast for palestine

    would be a lot easier if the palestinians fasted too,imagine that yom kippur in israel and everyone fasts no matter the relegious beliefs…..all those sins listed that we recount are not exclusive to jews only but to all humanity

    • eljay
      September 23, 2015, 9:05 am

      || mcohen: … imagine that yom kippur in israel and everyone fasts no matter the relegious beliefs … ||

      Imagine also that Ramadan in Israel, where everyone fasts no matter the religious beliefs.

      Imagine also that Lent in Israel, where everyone fasts no matter the religious beliefs.

    • CigarGod
      September 23, 2015, 10:26 am

      I’m afraid your suggestion sounds like a Stockholm Syndrom victim should confess his sin of resisting his captor.
      I think a healthier comment would be if you thought a victim could pray for his captor.

  4. just
    September 22, 2015, 7:34 pm

    Thanks, Marc.

    “Should Jews fast on Yom Kippur for the sins we are not confessing?”

    No. It’s all for show.

    “Video: Palestinian woman dies after being shot and left to bleed by Israeli soldiers

    Hadil Hashlamoun, who was shot and left to bleed for at least 30 minutes before Israeli soldiers allowed medics to reach her, died of her wounds

    A video published by Palmedia shows a young Palestinian woman lying on the ground bleeding in the old city of Hebron, after Israeli soldiers shot her on Tuesday morning.

    18-year-old Hadil Hashlamoun, dressed from head to toe in black and carrying a large purse, was shot at least 10 times at a checkpoint near the entrance of Shuhada Street, which was once the main commercial artery of Hebron.

    According to local Palestinian media, Israeli soldiers shot Hashlamoun after she refused to open her purse and lift her face veil, or niqab.

    The first-year student was left to bleed on the ground for at least half an hour as the soldiers prevented any medical team, including the Red Crescent, from reaching her.

    The Israeli army said that Hashlamoun attempted to stab a soldier using a knife before shooting her in the legs. However, photos released by the Youth Against Settlements group showed Hashlamoun as posing no threat to the soldiers.

    Hashlamoun was taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, Jerusalem. Israeli medical sources later confirmed that Hashlamoun died of her injuries. …

    … Salah Hashlamoun, Hadil’s father and a doctor, told local media that his daughter underwent multiple surgeries upon her arrival at the medical centre.

    “Three operations were performed on my daughter,” Salah said, “and part of her intestines had to be removed. But the bullet in her chest was what killed her.”

    – See more, including the video at:

    May those involved choke when they break their “fast”. They exhibit no repentence and will never ask for nor deserve forgiveness.

    “Instead, Jews should fast for Palestine. It’s the confession we need to make.”

    I wouldn’t hold my breath, Prof.

    via Belal Dabour, MD~ pictures of the young woman before she was murdered:

    • just
      September 22, 2015, 11:54 pm

      “Israeli Forces Murder Female Student at Shuhada Street …

      22nd September 2015 | International Solidarity Movement, Al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine

      A Witness Recounts the Final Moments of 18-year-old Hadil Salah Hashlamoun’s Life.

      This morning in the Tel Rumeida section of al-Khalil (Hebron) the sound of multiple rounds of live ammunition screamed out from the Shuhada Street checkpoint 56.

      Standing at the checkpoint around 7:40 this morning, 34 year old Fawaz abu Aisheh ushered a few children from the scene where Israeli forces screamed in Hebrew at the terrified Hadil who was on her way to school. “They were screaming at her, ´Move back! Move Back!´ I knew she couldn´t understand so I intervened in Arabic and she listened to me immediately and I took her from the entrance to the exit of the checkpoint.”

      … “I tried to talk with her, she was terrified. She knew nothing.” Fawaz pleaded with the soldiers, who were multiplying quickly, to allow him to take her away from the checkpoint, to explain to her what was happening, to de-escalate the situation. “She listened to me immediately when first I spoke with her, but they moved me away and continued to scream at her in Hebrew which she obviously didn´t understand.”

      The scene, plainly described by Fawaz, seemingly had any number of alternatives to close-range, rapid fire, kill shots into a Palestinian female teenager´s body. After the fact, Israeli forces claimed the woman had a knife on her person. Fawaz challenges this contention. “She was covered completely, there was no knife showing at any time. Even if she did have a knife he could have arrested her so easily. I was there… I could have talked to her, she cooperated with me in that very first moment. I asked her to move and she moved but after that I begged him to let me talk to her but they took me away from her and started pointing their weapons at me. After they shot her more and more soldiers arrived. There were still 3 or 4 kids a few meters from the checkpoint so I moved the kids away. ”

      As if the incident weren´t wholly disturbing in itself, beyond the shooting, Israeli soldiers were seen laughing, smiling and talking casually with one another as Hadil clung to life while rapidly losing blood to the concrete. Israeli settlers similarly stood in circles photographing Hadil. Fawaz noted that the Palestinian ambulance had arrived within five minutes to rush the dying girl to the hospital, yet Israeli forces blocked them from getting to her, choosing rather to let her bleed openly for forty minutes in the street until an Israeli ambulance arrived. In that agonizing period of time, an Israeli soldier was seen dragging the dying young woman by her feet.

      18-year-old Hadil Salah Hashlamoun died of her wounds only after arriving at a hospital in Jerusalem. The question of whether she would have lived had she been permitted the right to be treated immediately by the quickly arriving Palestinian ambulance rather than left to bleed out for an eternity of forty minutes may never be answered.

      If humanity, in any measure, exists within the occupying entity, it was shockingly absent today at the Shuhada Street checkpoint.”

      Why bother ‘fasting’ if there’s no repentence/atonement for the myriad crimes of the Occupation/Occupiers and their supporters?

      • straightline
        September 23, 2015, 3:56 am

        It’s sickening! These excuses for people have lost their humanity. Fortunately (if there can ever be a positive side to something like this) it made the headlines in RT. I won’t hold my breath waiting for it to make it to the front page of the BBC or for that matter the Australian ABC.

      • a4tech
        September 23, 2015, 7:53 am

        So anyone know why she would just be standing there when the Israeli guards are pointing their guns at her? Why not back down, or just reveal her face and allow the contents of her bag checked?

        I honestly think she knew she’ll be shot and was willing to take one for the team in order to draw media attention to Israel’s occupation.

      • eljay
        September 23, 2015, 10:36 am

        || a4tech: So anyone know why she would just be standing there when the Israeli guards are pointing their guns at her? … ||

        I don’t know. Fear, maybe courage. Hard to know why she reacted the way she did when confronted by the Terror, Oppression, Occupation and Colonization Forces of the “Jewish State” of (Greater) Israel.

      • MHughes976
        September 23, 2015, 11:05 am

        Surely there are ways of dealing with a protest of this kind, if protest it was, without simply exterminating the protester. If she was making the point at the likely expense of her own life that this is the result that the system produces then that point deserves attention, though its likelihood of gaining attention through the walls of censorship and indifference may, as straightline notes, be quite low.

      • CigarGod
        September 23, 2015, 11:11 am

        Rachel Corrie’s sacrifice failed to change their behavior. It seemed conditions were perfect for monumental change. This almost seems a similar sacrifice.
        I hope I live to see moment of ignition.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 23, 2015, 11:45 am

        So anyone know why she would just be standing there when the Israeli guards are pointing their guns at her? Why not back down, or just reveal her face and allow the contents of her bag checked?

        she didn’t speak hebrew and probably didn’t understand what was happening when the soldiers started screaming at her and aimed their guns at her. how does one ‘back down’ to that?

      • CigarGod
        September 23, 2015, 11:53 am

        So many reasons.
        Going to have a somber day…and everyday I think about her.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 23, 2015, 1:32 pm

        4tech, expressing your despicable view is allowed here, obviously since this got published this time. but i will do everything in my moderation powers to prevent you from starting out the new thread ( here: ) with this gruesome suggestion. so i’d advise you, wait. don’t try for top comment again or i will trash it again. that’s a promise. and if anyone else is reading this please start a conversation on kate’s new thread so we can get a decent top comment.

      • DavidDaoud
        September 23, 2015, 5:09 pm

        Oh Just, beyond cruel.
        Are they all completely psychotic?

    • ejran
      September 23, 2015, 3:59 pm

      The soldier might have been following a religious obligation. And even if he weren’t, classical Judaism’s attitude of hatred and cruelty towards “Gentiles in the land of Israel”, the Palestinians, consciously and unconsciously influences Israeli policies towards Palestinians. I quote Israel Shahak’s “Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years”,

      “As for Gentiles, the basic talmudic principle is that their lives must not be saved, although it is also forbidden to murder them outright (…): Gentiles are neither to be lifted (out of a well) nor hauled down (into it).”

      This of course only applies to Gentiles “with whom we are not at war”. But Israel is in an eternal war with the Palestinians. It is a military nation condemned to live by war- most Israelis have accepted the fact. And “since even the minimal interdiction against murdering a Gentile outright applies only to ‘Gentiles with whom we {the Jews} are not at war’, various rabbinical commentators in the past drew the logical conclusion that in wartime all Gentiles belonging to a hostile population may, or even should be killed. Since 1973 this doctrine is being publicly propagated for the guidance of religious Israeli soldiers. The first such official exhortation was included in a booklet published by the Central Region Command of the Israeli Army, who area includes the West Bank. In this booklet the Command’s Chief Captain writes:
      “When our forces come across civilians during a war or in hot pursuit or in raid, so long as there is no certainty that those civilians are incapable of harming our forces, then according to the Halakhah they may and even should be killed… Under no circumstances should an Arab be trusted, even if he makes an impression of being civilized… In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined by the Halakhah to kill even good civilians, that is, civilians who are ostensibly good.”

      Shahak explains that even if this doctrine clashes with Israel’s criminal law, in practice it does exert an influence on the administration of justice, whereby “in all cases where Jews have, in military or paramilitary context, murdered Arab non-combatants- including cases of mass murder, the murderers, if not let off altogether, received extremely light sentences or won far-reaching remissions, reducing their punishment to next to nothing.”

      • tokyobk
        September 24, 2015, 10:43 am

        Shahak, a chemist not a rabbi, is not the last word on Judaism by any means though is very popular with people who otherwise know little to nothing about Judaism and would like him to be just that. His weakest point, in fact, is the claim that a Gentile’s life should bot be saved on the Sabbath when in fact the precedent has been the opposite.

        The Talmud, which does indeed distinguish Jew and non-Jew in many passages,, is a dialogue of opinions not an instruction book.

        And imo religion, perhaps only religion, can make a naturally good person do bad things for sure, and this can certainly include Judaism, depending on how its interpreted. And religion can create justifications in the mind of a natural born psychopath, such as a Baruch Goldstein, may hell be real so he can rot there.

        But you don’t need religion of any kind to explain conquest, occupation, expulsion which have happened everywhere under many pretexts of supposedly divine or natural sanctions.

        Shahak may have lied about the particular incident, and he definitely lied about the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate. Pikuach nefesh, the saving of human life trumps all other commandments.

        On Shabbat and Gentile Lives:

      • Keith
        September 24, 2015, 1:53 pm

        TOKYOBK- “Shahak, a chemist not a rabbi, is not the last word on Judaism by any means though is very popular with people who otherwise know little to nothing about Judaism and would like him to be just that.”

        Yet another dishonest libeling of Israel Shahak? One could just as easily describe Noam Chomsky (Shahak’s friend) as ‘a linguist, not a historian or political scientist,’ which would be true, but would miss the essential point that Chomsky’s livelihood did not depend upon conformity to prevailing social mythology. To a degree, the same is true of Shahak, a professor of organic chemistry, who was freer than most to criticize Israeli society, although American Zionists did try to get him fired, their totalitarian mindsets on full display.

        TOKYOBK- “Shahak may have lied about the particular incident….”

        No, it is you who is lying. Let us begin by noting that Shahak is writing about the influence of Judaism in Israel. As you should be aware, Israel does not have significant (any?) Reform Jews. Religious Israeli Jews are by and large Orthodox Jews who take Judaism and Jewishness seriously (sound familiar?). Thanks for providing the link which confirms your dishonesty.

        In this hit-piece written after Shahak’s death in 2001, the author states: “Attempts to verify Shahak’s story have failed….,” which, considering the source, indicates that he was unable to refute the story written in 1965. One would be excused for thinking that a story published in Haaretz in 1965, if false, would have been refuted in 1965, much to the chagrin of Haaretz. Shahak is a scholar of high moral and intellectual integrity and I cannot imagine him engaging in an elaborate hoax. You should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting otherwise.

        TOKYOBK- “…and he definitely lied about the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate.”

        Shahak sought the opinion of the Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem, what ruling of the Chief Rabbinate are you talking about? More bait and switch? As to your link, what does it actually say?

        This explanation requires immediate qualification when it is noted that, at least theoretically, Shabbat may not be violated for a Gentile[6]. While the ruling that allows violating Shabbat to save the life of a Gentile has been generally accepted[7], it is for an ancillary reason and does not contradict the theoretical premise that Shabbat should not be violated to save a Gentile. Therefore, the reasoning behind pikuah nefesh must be amended to state that a Jewish life is more important than Shabbat.

        Interpreting the author’s dissembling logic, we find that the Talmud teaches that the Sabbath not be violated to save the life of a Gentile EXCEPT if so doing would put the life of a Jew in danger. Throughout the Diaspora this would always have been the case, however, in Israel it no longer is and pious Orthodox Jews behave accordingly. Hardly a refutation of Shahak.

        But wait, the author is about to engage in unbelievable sophistry.

        While again, for an ancillary reason, Shabbat is violated[9], the common explanation for pikuah nefesh must be modified to state that only the life of an observant Jew is more important than Shabbat. This alone disproves Shahak’s inference. The permission to violate Shabbat is not dependent on race or religion because non-observant Jews are included with Gentiles.

        The logic is simple. Since Orthodox Jews treat non-observant Jews the same as Gentiles, this disproves that Orthodox Jews treat Gentiles differently from “Jews,” merely that they treat Orthodox Jews differently from Gentiles and non-Orthodox Jews. Incredible! To me, this is a confirmation of what Shahak said, not a refutation as Tokyobk dishonestly asserts. Since the incident in question did not put the life of an Orthodox Jew in jeopardy by refusing the use of the telephone, the Orthodox Jew in question was technically correct in refusing the request. How does this differ from Shahak’s version?

        They answered that the Jew in question had behaved correctly, indeed piously, and backed their statement by referring me to a passage in an authoritative compendium of Talmudic laws written in this century….They added such sanctimonious twaddle to the effect that if the consequence of such an act puts Jews in danger, the violation of the Sabbath is permitted for their sake. (p1, “Jewish Hisory, Jewish Religion,” Israel Shahak)

        TOKYOBK- “The Talmud, which does indeed distinguish Jew and non-Jew in many passages,, is a dialogue of opinions not an instruction book.”

        It should therefore be clearly understood that the source of authority for all of the practices of the classical (and present-day Orthodox) Judaism, the determining base of its legal structure, is the Talmud, or, to be precise, the so-called Babylonian Talmud; while the rest of the talmudic literature (including the so-called Jerusalem of Palestinian Talmud) acts as a supplementary authority. (p39, “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” Israel Shahak)

        Please recall that the Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem justified their opinion through reference to ” an authoritative compendium of Talmudic laws written in this century.” Why would they do that if the Talmud was ” a dialogue of opinions not an instruction book”? Remember, we are discussing Orthodox Israeli Jews, not American Reform Jews.

        So, once again, Tokyobk engages in dishonest apologetics, libeling Israel Shahak in the process.

      • tokyobk
        September 24, 2015, 6:25 pm


        The point about Shahak not being a rabbi is that he is not any kind of religious authority, however much he is treated as a high priest in the temple of Jew watching.

      • tokyobk
        September 24, 2015, 6:27 pm

        And you are quoting Shahak to prove Shahak.

        You don’t understand how the Talmud works, clearly.

        But, carry on in your expertise and with your one source.

      • lysias
        September 24, 2015, 6:32 pm

        How many Catholic priests are honest about the failings of their own institution?

      • echinococcus
        September 24, 2015, 6:40 pm


        In your infinite wisdom as a learned rabbi, just answer one clear question with a clear answer, if you ever can:
        Since when is there officially a clergy (or a “religious authority” in your words) in Judaism, apart from the Cohen family?
        Please abstain from all irrelevant interruptions and considerations.

      • Mooser
        September 24, 2015, 6:49 pm

        “The permission to violate Shabbat is not dependent on race or religion because non-observant Jews are included with Gentiles.”

        Hoo-ray for Tribal Unity!

      • Keith
        September 24, 2015, 9:21 pm

        TOKYOBK- “And you are quoting Shahak to prove Shahak.”

        I am quoting Shahak side by side with your linked “refutation” to show that when you deconstruct the language, your linked expert is, in fact, confirming Shahak’s account.

        TOKYOBK- “You don’t understand how the Talmud works, clearly.”

        Perhaps you can provide some authoritative source for how Talmudic authority is applied by Orthodox Jews in Israel which differs from what Shahak says. Even your linked source agrees with Shahak that the violation of the Sabbath to save a Gentile (or non-Orthodox) life is contingent upon the impact on Orthodox Jews in failing to do so. That “only the life of an observant Jew is more important than Shabbat.” Does this not represent Talmudic teaching? Remember, you said that this was Shahak’s weakest point. And you were wrong. Shahak is not saying that most American or Israeli Jews would not save a Gentile life on the Jewish Sabbath, of course they would. In fact, most American Jews are probably unaware of this particular Orthodox interpretation which most would likely find offensive. He is relaying one incident which prompted his research into Talmudic laws and how they affected Jewish attitudes and actions toward Gentiles. Talmudic laws, I should add, which are much, much more influential in Israel than the US. He is talking about ISRAEL.

        TOKYOBK- “But, carry on in your expertise and with your one source.”

        Shahak is very concise and reliable in regards to the history of Judaism. However, when it comes to Jewish history in general and the impact of medieval Judaism on the Israeli Orthodox and Zionist ideology, Shahak is completely consistent with Zeev Sternhell, Nur Masalha, Yuri Slezkine, Benjamin Ginsberg and others. The only authors you have ever referred to are (Louis?) Farrakhan and Daniel Goldhagen, hardly reliable sources.

    • yonah fredman
      September 28, 2015, 5:55 am

      As far as Israel Shahak goes: I think he is overly literal in his critique of Talmudic and rabbinical Judaism. Talmudic Judaism has the capacity to evolve and the article by Immanuel Jakobovitz quoted by Jon S. is ample evidence of the ability of Talmudic Judaism to evolve. Shahak as an enemy to Zionism and Talmudic Judaism ignores evidence of the ability of Talmudic Judaism to evolve in order to simplify his indictment of both Zionism and Talmudic Judaism.

      The question persists regarding underlying attitudes and the tendency of Talmudic Judaism to devolve as well as evolve. The evolution of Talmudic Judaism is not one directional, certainly in terms of its potential. Jakobovitz sees improvement of Talmudic Judaism, when the verse of Proverbs 3: 17 “Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace” is used to negate enmity causing actions (or passivity) that a literal reading of texts would yield, I am not sure that all rabbis would agree with his interpretation of a basic evolution in the morality of Halacha. There is certainly a path in halacha that seeks peace but there are certainly rabbis who might look for other ways to interpret the Talmud.

      • Mooser
        September 28, 2015, 12:39 pm

        “As far as Israel Shahak goes:….”

        Yonah, if you are trying to say that you would much rather pull the pilpul than deal with the way Judaism is being used by Zionists and Israel right now, I can certainly understand that feeling.

  5. JLewisDickerson
    September 22, 2015, 7:59 pm

    In the photo, why are the items on the table pixelated?

    IS IT SOMEHOW RELATED TO THIS: “Women noticeably absent from Jerusalem ads”, By Nir Hasson, Haaretz, 10/21/11
    • Municipality officials deny change in policy, refer to several campaigns that featured images of women. Yet figures in city’s public relations industry say women have been entirely removed from public billboards and advertisements.

    [EXCERPT] It appears that graphic artists and public relations professionals in Jerusalem have recently developed a fetish for shoes.
    A glance at billboards and posters pasted around the city shows that Jerusalem is draped in shoes.
    For instance, announcements for the annual Jerusalem March picture two men’s shoes against the backdrop of the city. Dance events also make use of shoe images.
    “In Jerusalem, a shoe is not just a shoe,” says Uri Ayalon, a Conservative rabbi who promotes religious pluralism, and who recently established an “uncensored” Facebook group that protests against the elimination of women from public spaces. Shoe images, he says, are used to obscure the fact that in Jerusalem women are rarely pictured on public posters and billboards.
    It takes time to grasp that something is missing in public spaces in Israel’s capital. But once you notice it, it’s hard to fathom how you didn’t pay attention to this fact earlier. It appears that in recent years, and in an escalated fashion in the past several months, women have disappeared from advertisements in Jerusalem. . .


    • just
      September 22, 2015, 9:01 pm

      That’s interesting, John.

      Not so much here:

      “Israeli athletes pose nude in take on ESPN’s ‘The Body Issue’”

    • jon s
      September 26, 2015, 5:43 pm

      Tokyobk is correct regarding the Talmud. It contains every opinion, and its opposite, every argument and counter-argument.
      Incidentally, for those referring to Dr. Shahak in the present tense- he died in 2001.

      • Keith
        September 26, 2015, 7:21 pm

        JON S- “Tokyobk is correct regarding the Talmud. It contains every opinion, and its opposite, every argument and counter-argument.”

        How does this relate to “how Talmudic authority is applied by Orthodox Jews in Israel?” Are you suggesting that Israeli Orthodox Jews do not consider the Talmud authoritative regarding proper Jewish behavior? That it is just a somewhat interesting conversation piece with little relevance to Israeli Orthodox Jewish practice? Are you an Israeli Orthodox Jew?

        JON S- “Incidentally, for those referring to Dr. Shahak in the present tense- he died in 2001.”

        Who is referring to Shahak in the present tense? Should we be saying “he of blessed memory” after each quote?

      • MHughes976
        September 27, 2015, 4:12 pm

        I don’t think that the Talmud works by having every opinion expressed balanced by another, conflicting one.
        The problem to which Shahak drew attention was that though it seems to be assumed that the Sabbath would indeed be broken in order to save a life – Shahak’s acquaintance who refused to do this seems to have been untypical – it was not clear from any authority why this was so. Different authorities differed on the reason rather than on the principle, and the most prominent reason offered (but not universally accepted) was that ‘one Sabbath should be broken to ensure that many more are observed’ and this seems to explain why a pious Jewish, but not another kind, of life should be protected, since only pious Jews properly observe the Sabbath.. There are clear indication that righteous non-Jews deserve consideration but since they are not expected to observe future Sabbaths it is not so clear why they are, on the strength of this argument, so deserving..
        This rather academic dispute did not amount to a declaration of the lower ‘absolute’ value of non-Jewish lives, but there again the whole atmosphere of the discussion does not exactly convey the idea of ‘absolute’ human rights. Modern sophisticated literary analysis would be taxed by these questions. Shahak did seem. when he published his scandalous views, to receive some support from rabbinical quarters. On the other hand his rather angry tone was not really objective.
        The connection of specific Talmudic rulings or controversies with Zionism is quite subtle.

  6. bpm
    September 22, 2015, 8:13 pm

    This is exceptionally powerful. Thank you.

    • jon s
      September 27, 2015, 11:06 am

      No, I’m not Orthodox.
      The Talmud is not a legal codex, it’s not a document like, say, the Napoleonic Codex, or the US Constitution, or the UN Charter. It contains legal opinions, arguments and counter-arguments, as well as stories, anecdotes and more.
      After the redaction of the Talmud generations of rabbis and scholars continued to add more discussions to the issues addressed in the Talmud, a process which continues to the present day. So, yes, you can find anti-gentile bigotry in the Talmud and other Jewish sources, and you can also find the opposite.

      I had the impression that some comments referred to Dr. Shahak in the present tense. Maybe I was mistaken.

      And Happy Holiday for those celebrating Sukkot and those celebrating Eid al-Adha! Enjoy!

      • Keith
        September 27, 2015, 7:08 pm

        JON S- “The Talmud is not a legal codex….”

        No one is claiming that the Talmud has legal authority in a civilian court of law. The entire discussion revolved around the religious authority of the Talmud regarding the behavior of Orthodox Israeli Jews. For example, are the kosher dietary restrictions contained in the Talmud or not? Do Orthodox Israeli Jews normally adhere to the dietary restrictions or not? All you have done so far is to ignore my previous comment while reiterating your original evasive generalization. In other words, you cannot refute Shahak, yet you wish to appear to do so. Enough of this.

  7. Mondowise
    September 22, 2015, 9:10 pm

    more need to GET INVOLVED and SUPPORT via SIGNING the Kairos Palestine Document. spread this far and wide as much as possible!

    • jon s
      September 28, 2015, 2:42 am

      Naturally, the Talmud discusses the dietary laws, at length.
      However, if you’re looking for a Jewish legal code you would find it in the “Shulhan Arukh”:

      As to a refutation of Dr. Shahak’s claims ,published shortly after they appeared, see here:

      • bryan
        September 28, 2015, 4:22 am

        There is nothing “natural” about religions prescribing in detail what one should eat, how one should dress, what one should do on one’s day off, etc. etc.. These are all mechanisms of social control, erecting a moral police force to impose arbitrary ritual on people’s lives. If you must have a religion, then as in all things, KISS, choose a religion that emphasizes love and mutual respect over austerity and observance, and one which imposes the least possible number of rules – you do not need much more than “treat others as you would wish to be treated”.

        If there was a god who created the universe then the enduring lesson of that achievement was the wondrous diversity of life and the constant change he (always perceived to be a he) instilled into that creation by the processes of biological and social evolution – so that no rule book written by men (always men), usually old men from narrow social elites and usually centuries ago, can possibly be adequate to cope with the challenges we face in living our lives today.

      • eljay
        September 28, 2015, 9:20 am

        || bryan @ September 28, 2015, 4:22 am ||

        Good post.

      • Sibiriak
        September 28, 2015, 11:26 am

        bryan: If you must have a religion, then as in all things, KISS…


        Free markets, free trade, unfettered Capital.

      • bryan
        September 28, 2015, 1:07 pm

        @sibiriak – I assume your comment was entirely ironic, for the very good reasons that the drivers of the American economy have absolutely nothing to do with unfettered capitalism: (1) the automotive industry has been entirely dependent upon state sponsored and funded interstate highways; (2) the US hi-tech industry has been entirely based upon the government-funded space race, and other off-shoots; (3) American agriculture has been significantly dependent upon state subsidies; (4) American arms dealers have been entirely based on state-funding for an overblown military system, and privileged / heavily subsidized sales to rogue states in the Middle East and elsewhere; (5) the American oil and even fruit industries rely on US intervention in the rest of the world; (6) the American finance industry is entirely dependent for its survival upon the US government, which can be relied upon to intervene when corrupt lobbyists are allowed to take deregulation too far; (7) the small business sector, with its boutique shops and restaurants survives only because the US government has been lobbied to deny a living wage to millions of workers; (8) American corporations in general make their profits only because they are allowed to off-shore their activities to low-cost producers and associated tax-havens . (9) Whats left of the glories of capitalism?: indeed the invention of better mouse-traps, largely superseded by chemical solutions like Warfarin, developed by US government investments in its university based research systems. So please explain what “Free markets, free trade, unfettered Capitalism” have ever contributed. Unfettered capitalism died in the bad old days before the New Deal had to be instituted to save America from its robber-barons and monopolists. You show me unfettered capitalism and I’ll show you a government subsidy or initiative that preserves the wealth and status of the 1% (or minute fraction of 1%).

      • Sibiriak
        September 28, 2015, 2:08 pm

        bryan: I assume your comment was entirely ironic.

        Well, at least partially, and probably flippant as well.

        “Unfettered Capital” means Capital, in pursuit of expansion, is free to control and use anything, including and especially the state.

        In any case, religious rhetoric doesn’t always match reality. “Free markets” and “free trade” are indeed obfuscatory terms.

      • Keith
        September 28, 2015, 2:52 pm

        JON S- “As to a refutation of Dr. Shahak’s claims ,published shortly after they appeared, see here: link to”

        You should be ashamed of referencing this disgusting libel of human rights activist Israel Shahak. When the author begins his screed by comparing Shahak’s article to a blood libel, then proceeds to drag in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Der Stuermer, you know that the author has gone off the deep end. His target even includes the dreaded secularists at the London Jewish Chronicle who made similar accusations.

        The author then claims (in 1966) that when challenged, Shahak recanted his story, hence, the whole episode a fabrication similar to the Protocols. I am unaware of any recantation. Did Haaretz run a retraction? One would have expected some newsworthy fallout from such an event, particularly in view of Zionist hostility to Shahak. Apparently, no one informed Shahak that he recanted. I read about this in “Jewish History, Jewish Religion,” by Israel Shahak first published in 1994. Sounds like yet another Zionist lie to me, one of many.

        In order to evaluate this situation, perhaps we should make reference to actual empirical data, the facts on the ground, to verify the sanctity of non-Jewish life to the Zionist founders of Israel. What would the few survivors of Deir Yassin have to say? Remember, Deir Yassin was selected specifically because the residents had cooperated with the Yishuv, hence, would be an example to all of the Arabs, even those who thought they were on friendly terms with the Zionists. And the rest of the Nakba, designed to rid Eretz Yisrael of the modern Amalek (as the Palestinians are frequently referred to by IDF Rabbis), necessary to permit a Jewish state.

        How about the residents of the Sabra and Shatila? In 1982, the Israeli invaders of Lebanon violated the terms of the withdrawl of the Palestinian fighters by immediately surrounding these defenseless camps and sending in their Phalange mercenary killers who murdered hundreds if not thousands of old men, women and children in order to terrorize the Palestinians. When the world reacted in horror, Menachem Begin had the audacity to say that “Goyim kill goyim, and they blame the Jews.” Sabra and Shatila another example of Jewish suffering?

        How about the current treatment of the Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories?
        What does this tell us about the sanctity of Gentile life in Israeli Jewish religious thinking and practice? About Israeli Jews who run through streets shouting death to the Arabs? About settlers who attack Arabs to drive them away? About the periodic military assaults on the Gaza prison which are equated to mowing the lawn? Does the Israeli Rabbinate oppose these actions or support them? What does this tell us about Israeli Zionist (religious and secular) views regarding Gentiles in the Jewish state of Israel? What then does this tell us about the integrity of the Zionist apologists who continue to attack the reputation of Israeli human rights activist Israel Shahak? Or about Mondoweiss Zionist commenters who rely upon lies and labels, insults and screeds without end?

      • MHughes976
        September 28, 2015, 4:49 pm

        I think that Shahak does not seem to have acknowledged fairly that the Talmud is trying to explain why it is, not why it may not be, desirable to save life regardless of all other concerns. On the other hand Lord Jakobovits’ cited reply does not do him much credit, since it employs the unduly violent rhetoric which Keith notes and fails to explain the saving of life as following from morally valid and overriding human sympathy, which is what Shahak was looking for.

  8. Liz18
    September 23, 2015, 8:57 am

    Loved this piece by Ellis. A refreshing reality check for the holiday.

    • jon s
      September 29, 2015, 1:37 am

      On the matter of ” religions prescribing in detail what one should eat, how one should dress, what one should do on one’s day off” – I think that the primary purpose of whoever conceived of the Jewish dietary laws was to separate Jews from non-Jews. A lot of social interaction occurs over food and drink, so if your religion forbids you from eating at a non-Jews’ table, your contacts with them will be limited.

      • bryan
        September 29, 2015, 2:23 am

        You are absolutely right that this is about enforcing tribal boundaries. The role of school uniform was always to create barriers between young people in a town; enforced church attendance on Sundays is a great way to separate your captive audience from the much larger “church” of football fans, and never the twain shall meet. But why would any modern person wish to deny themselves the huge pleasures of the sheer range of diverse world cuisines – Chinese, Indian, French, Mexican, Moroccan, Turkish, etc., etc., – just because a pusillanimous bunch of tribal elders living centuries ago attempted to consign their adherents to a ghetto?

        I can understand why the leaders wish to maintain power over a captive audience – but not why the followers wish to remain captives, unless the threats of excommunication are too horrible to bear.

      • Keith
        September 29, 2015, 11:10 am

        BRYAN- “I can understand why the leaders wish to maintain power over a captive audience – but not why the followers wish to remain captives, unless the threats of excommunication are too horrible to bear.”

        Indeed, during the Middle Ages the threat of excommunication was too horrible to bear. Back then there were no “secular” Jews. Being an atheist was a one way ticket to being executed. You were either medieval Jew or medieval Christian or perhaps medieval Muslim, and there was not a lot of movement between the communities. Nowadays, my impression is that very few Jews keep kosher. There seem to be other incentives to remain part of the “kinship” community. Not unattractive reasons either.

  9. a4tech
    September 23, 2015, 1:42 pm

    Annie I never meant for my comment to be ‘despicable’ or to offend anyone. Plus, the occupation is already universally condemned by everyone except the most ardent Zionist as despicable and wrong. I was only speaking within this narrative where the moral status of both sides are already well defined.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 23, 2015, 1:49 pm

      suggesting that an innocent girl who was brutally murdered committed suicide, or any version of that, is justifying and white washing the crime and providing cover for the murderers.

      and as an aside, personally .. i don’t care what you ‘meant’. i also don’t care if you preface your gruesome thoughts with ‘i honestly believe’.

      • a4tech
        September 23, 2015, 1:57 pm

        Wait, so has the soldier’s motivation for the shooting been confirmed as to brutally murder the teen?

      • CigarGod
        September 23, 2015, 3:34 pm

        You obviously have no military service.
        Brutality is the training.
        500 kids killed by idf military last year.
        Yeah, he did it.
        That’s what they do.
        If you don’t or can’t do it, you are washed out.

        Go find a rattlesnake and see if he is something other than brutal.

      • eljay
        September 23, 2015, 3:37 pm

        || a4tech: Wait, so has the soldier’s motivation for the shooting been confirmed as to brutally murder the teen? ||

        She didn’t say the soldier’s motivation was to brutally murder the girl – she said the girl was brutally murdered.

    • jon s
      September 29, 2015, 11:53 am

      The dietary laws were one of the ways to keep the Jews separate and -this is crucial- thus ensure the survival of the Jewish people as a distinct identity.
      Today, too, people want to feel that they belong to something larger than themselves. For that feeling, that sense of identity, people are willing to give up “world cuisines”.

      • jon s
        September 29, 2015, 11:57 am

        Here in Israel, a majority probably keep kosher.
        I keep a kosher home, and I’m not even Orthodox.

      • talknic
        September 29, 2015, 12:42 pm

        @ jon s Here in Israel, a majority probably keep kosher.
        I keep a kosher home, and I’m not even Orthodox”
        or in Israel

      • Kris
        September 29, 2015, 12:58 pm

        @jon s: “Today, too, people want to feel that they belong to something larger than themselves.”

        Yup. There are lots of ways to “belong,” not all of them admirable. All the way from Girl Scouts, quilting groups, book clubs, service clubs, environmental groups, to gangs, cults, Aryan Nations, ISIS, Zionism.

      • eljay
        September 29, 2015, 12:59 pm

        || talknic: @ jon s “Here in Israel … ||

        What he must’ve meant is “Greater Israel” or “the Land of Israel”.

        || … a majority probably keep kosher. I keep a kosher home … “ ||

        It’s a shame that “keeping kosher” doesn’t prevent one from advocating, engaging in, supporting or defending oppression, colonialism and sundry (war) crimes.

  10. jon s
    September 28, 2015, 2:49 am

    I served in the IDF and I wasn’t trained in brutality, and I never hurt or killed anyone.

    • talknic
      September 28, 2015, 3:02 am

      @ jon s September 28, 2015, 2:49 am

      “I served in the IDF and I wasn’t trained in brutality, and I never hurt or killed anyone”

      A) Can you substantiate that claim?

      B) People don’t have to be trained in brutality BTW

      • jon s
        September 28, 2015, 5:37 am

        A) I don’t know how you expect me to “substantiate” what I haven’t done. What if you just take my word for it. If you don’t, you don’t, what can I do?

        B) Yes, that’s apparently true.

      • talknic
        September 28, 2015, 6:20 am

        @ jon s “What if you just take my word for it”

        Because apologists for Israel’s continued illegal expropriation of non-Israeli territories are notorious liars

    • CigarGod
      September 28, 2015, 10:09 am

      Right, dude.
      Your boot camps were compassion camps.

    • Mooser
      September 28, 2015, 12:09 pm

      “I served in the IDF and I wasn’t trained in brutality, and I never hurt or killed anyone.” “What if you just take my word for it?”

      Oh yeah, sure “Jon s”:

      “I’ve never, ever, deliberately lied on Mondoweiss. But If you don’t believe me – I’ll just have to live with it.” – See more at:

      ” I’ve never deliberately lied on this blog. Not that I would be caught, just a little promise I made to myself.” – See more at:

      “I’ve never deliberately lied on this forum (a little promise I made to myself). As to opinions , well, those are my views.” – See more at:

      “5. I’ve never deliberately lied on this forum. A little promise I made to myself.” – See more at:

      “And I decided, when I first started posting here, never to deliberately lie in my comments. -“ See more at:

      And “Hamas deliberately” and “Israel never deliberately” ad nauseam

      Searching for: “historic homeland” (27 results found) – See more at:

      • Mooser
        September 28, 2015, 12:29 pm

        “There are several dimensions here:
        I was brought up in a Jewish and Zionist family.
        I grew up in Israel, have lived here most of my life, went to school, served in the IDF, pay taxes, raised a family. So in that respect my attachment is no different from anyone’s natural sentiments towards ones home.
        I’m not Orthodox, though I’m something of a traditionalist: I keep a kosher home, have a Friday night Kiddush, observe the holidays.
        My professional field is Jewish History.

        I think Zionism was a Jewish response –one of several- to the challenges of modernity. And, yes it was quite natural. I’m not sure what you mean by “organic”, though I suppose my answer would be a “yes” there, too.
        Notice my use of the past tense.
        Today Zionism has come to mean different things. For most Israelis Zionism simply means patriotism. For most Jewish Zionists it means a basic affirmation of the ties between Israel and world Jewry , the existence of a ” Jewish People” and support for the concept of a Jewish State in Israel.”

        – See more at:

        Sorry, but this was so funny, I couldn’t resist. Such a typical American, such an easy entitlement and assumption..

        Anyway, according to his archive (remember that, “Jon s”?) he served in Gaza, and it “wasn’t pleasant” Oh yeah, his wife and daughters also did IDF service.

      • talknic
        September 28, 2015, 12:57 pm

        “And I decided, when I first started posting here, never to deliberately lie in my comments”

        One has to decide that kind of thing?

        Say …. how does one un-deliberately lie?

      • eljay
        September 28, 2015, 1:04 pm

        jon s: … Today Zionism has come to mean different things. For most Israelis Zionism simply means patriotism. …

        What does Zionism mean to the 20% of Israeli citizens who are not Jewish? What does Zionism mean to all the non-Jewish refugees from Israel?

        Or does it even matter?

        … For most Jewish Zionists it means a basic affirmation of the ties between Israel and world Jewry , the existence of a ” Jewish People” and support for the concept of a Jewish State in Israel.” …

        Jewish supremacism in/and a supremacist “Jewish State”.

        I guess it doesn’t matter.

      • Mooser
        September 28, 2015, 1:41 pm

        “Say …. how does one un-deliberately lie?”

        “Jerry, just remember: It’s not a lie if you believe it”

    • jon s
      September 30, 2015, 5:20 am

      For the record, I’ve never …supported or defended oppression, colonialism and war crimes.

      • eljay
        September 30, 2015, 7:15 am

        || eljay: It’s a shame that “keeping kosher” doesn’t prevent one from advocating, engaging in, supporting or defending oppression, colonialism and sundry (war) crimes. ||

        || jon s: eljay, For the record, I’ve never …supported or defended oppression, colonialism and war crimes. ||

        Which means that you have advocated and engaged in oppression, colonialism and war crimes. Fair enough. Given that…
        – you’re a “Jewish State” / “Land of Israel” / “Greater” Israel Zionist;
        – you’ve served in the IDF;
        – you live in occupied and colonized territory outside of Israel’s (Partition) borders; and
        – you never “deliberately lie” here at MW,
        …I believe you.

  11. Kay24
    September 28, 2015, 10:08 am

    President Obama to speak at UN in a few moments. He has said he will be making a blunt speech this time. Will be be blunt and condemn Israel for the occupation, illegal settlements, and human rights violations, too? Nah. That will be a miracle.

    • CigarGod
      September 28, 2015, 10:14 am

      Well, lets hope he doesn’t dilute it down with a bunch of mealy-mouthed false equivalency. Will npr carry the speech?

      • Kay24
        September 28, 2015, 4:24 pm

        Sorry CG I watched it on CNN and did not know. I am sure you can watch it on the web.

        Apparently Rouhani of Iran stated that the zionist regime is the only impediments to Nuclear-free Middle East, and King Abdullah of Jordan warns against changing Arab character of Jerusalem. Do they know that zionists are arrogant and have thick skins?

        Rohani: Zionist Regime Is Only Impediment to Nuclear-free Middle East
        LIVE from the UN General Assembly in New York: U.S. president says solution in Syria must include transition of power ● Jordan’s Abdullah warns against changing ‘Arab character’ of Jerusalem ● Putin says world must fight ISIS like it did Hitler.
        read more:

      • CigarGod
        September 28, 2015, 4:50 pm

        Okay, so Rouhani said it for Obama.
        I’ll take it.

      • Kay24
        September 28, 2015, 4:50 pm

        CG, here is Obama’s speech at the UN today.

    • Boomer
      September 28, 2015, 11:37 am

      re Kay24’s question, will Obama “condemn Israel for the occupation, illegal settlements, and human rights violations, too?”

      I’ll have to wait for the reports, can’t stand to listen to his hypocrisy. If he does perform a miracle, as you suggest, I’ll revise my opinion of him accordingly.

      I do know that the UN recently voted to allow the Palestinian flag to be displayed (though the only report in the general U.S. media I found was Yahoo News). The U.S. was among 8 countries voting against this. We said it “would not serve the cause of peace.” By that we meant that it “would not serve the cause of continued oppression and dispossession of Palestinians by Israel.”

      Here is a fuller report:

      “France was among the 119 nations backing a UN resolution allowing the hoisting of the Palestinian as well as Vatican flags at the headquarters of the world body, alongside the national flags of the UN’s 193 member-states.

      “The Palestinians and the Holy See have non-member observer status at the United Nations.

      “The Israeli regime, the US, Canada and Australia were among eight UN members that voted against the measure, rejecting it as a symbolic move that would not serve “the cause of peace.”

      “This is while PA’s UN ambassador Riyad Mansour has described the ceremony as a “glorious day” that will highlight Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

      “UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also plans to participate in the event, set to be held following Abbas’s scheduled address before the UN General Assembly.”


      Separately, it is being reported that the U.S. has blocked a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas at the UN.

      • bryan
        September 28, 2015, 12:21 pm

        You mention 8 states voting against the resolution, and mention only four of those. Had you acknowledged that the other 4 regional heavyweights (not American clients) were Tuvalu, Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands, we might have been properly impressed with the world-wide support for embattled Israel.

      • Boomer
        September 28, 2015, 12:57 pm

        bryan, thanks for correcting the omission . . . wouldn’t want to forget “Tuvalu, Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands.” Israel can count on them.

        An additional irony: even Mr. Netanyahu has said that the Palestinians may have their own flag and anthem. Given that it is ostensibly our position that there should be “two nations living side by side in peace” (or something like that, if my memory serves), it seems peculiar that we won’t even support what we call a “symbolic move.” Is the U.S. more Zionist than the PM of the “Jewish State?”

      • Kay24
        September 28, 2015, 4:16 pm

        Well, I listened to his speech, and no miracle was achieved. Not a mention about Israel, the occupation, and the bid for peace. On the other hand, he did not mention Israel once, or send it flying kisses, and unwavering support. In fact it leaves me to wonder if he deliberately ignored it, did not refer to it, implying it is not important at all. Which is the reality of the entire situation.
        He did in general refer to the oppression of helpless people, and I guess the Palestinians can be labelled as such.

        I notice the Beebs is kind of quiet these days, which makes me presume he has egg on his face over the Iranian deal, and is looking like a loser. He must be embarrassed to turn up with his cartoon bomb this time around at the UN.

      • CigarGod
        September 28, 2015, 4:40 pm

        Ignoring bibi/israel, is a huge insult.
        Obama would have caused a ß@#ŕ storm by condeming iz. He still needs congress to get cuba and iran done.

      • MHughes976
        September 28, 2015, 4:31 pm

        O mi God, Kay, what manner of man is this?

      • lysias
        September 28, 2015, 4:59 pm

        I just read about the Marshall Islands in David Vine’s new book Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, which says that the U.S. only gave nominal independence to the Marshall Islands on condition that the new nation agree to let the U.S. continue to control military matters. This is confirmed by the Wikipedia entry on the Marshall Islands:

        Politically, the Marshall Islands is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, with the US providing defense, subsidies, and access to U.S. based agencies such as the FCC and the USPS. With few natural resources, the islands’ wealth is based on a service economy, as well as some fishing and agriculture; aid from the United States represents a large percentage of the islands’ gross domestic product. The country uses the United States dollar as its currency.

        Some independence!

        I wonder if the same is true of the other three island nations.

      • Boomer
        September 28, 2015, 10:14 pm

        re “I wonder if the same is true of the other three island nations?”

        Lysias, I know that–thanks to sea-level rise induced by global warming– the people of Tuvalu will soon be “a people without a land.” They can’t afford to alienate any powerful countries that might let them in before the water takes their home. Obviously, the Palestinians don’t have a land to share with them . . . theirs having been taken from them (not by the sea). I don’t know about Palau and Micronesia, but perhaps their situation isn’t a lot better.

    • bryan
      September 29, 2015, 3:48 am

      Kay there may have been no mention of Israel but there was coded language that the neocons, Republicans and Zionists will not have liked one little bit:

      “Unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed…. Just as force alone cannot impose order internationally, I believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed…. The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow. You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas. You can try to control access to information, but you cannot turn a lie into truth. It is not a conspiracy of U.S.-backed NGOs that expose corruption and raise the expectations of people around the globe; it’s technology, social media, and the irreducible desire of people everywhere to make their own choices about how they are governed.

      “Indeed, I believe that in today’s world, the measure of strength is no longer defined by the control of territory. Lasting prosperity does not come solely from the ability to access and extract raw materials. The strength of nations depends on the success of their people—their knowledge, their innovation, their imagination, their creativity, their drive, their opportunity—and that, in turn, depends upon individual rights and good governance and personal security. Internal repression and foreign aggression are both symptoms of the failure to provide this foundation.

      “A politics and solidarity that depend on demonizing others, that draws on religious sectarianism or narrow tribalism or jingoism may at times look like strength in the moment, but over time its weakness will be exposed. And history tells us that the dark forces unleashed by this type of politics surely makes all of us less secure. Our world has been there before. We gain nothing from going back.

      “Instead, I believe that we must go forward in pursuit of our ideals, not abandon them at this critical time. We must give expression to our best hopes, not our deepest fears. This institution was founded because men and women who came before us had the foresight to know that our nations are more secure when we uphold basic laws and basic norms, and pursue a path of cooperation over conflict. And strong nations, above all, have a responsibility to uphold this international order.”

      Now just who were his remarks aimed at? I would suggest that references to upholding international law, force alone, repression, jailing opponents, controlling access to information, NGOs exposing corruption, the desire to make choices about how they are governed, control of territory, foreign aggression, narrow tribalism, the responsibility of strong nations – all of these are so clearly pointed in one direction that there was no need to use the “I” word.

  12. Boomer
    September 29, 2015, 11:32 am

    Perhaps this is an example of beating a dead horse (or evidence of my OCD tendencies) but I continue to think about (and be unhappy about) the fact that the U.S. would not even abstain on a vote to allow the Palestinian flag at the UN. This despite our purported goal of a two state solution, and despite the fact that it was obvious that the resolution would pass overwhelmingly (since we don’t have a veto in the General Assembly). It seems clear proof that we (by which I mean our government) routinely lies. (Not that any further proof was needed.)

    I also continue to be amazed at the almost universal embargo on discussion about the subject in our press. Until today I thought it seemed as tight as China or Russia might achieve. But with some further searching, I did find an op-ed about it in the WSJ from the inescapable Mr. A. D. Miller. An excerpt:

    “As for the Obama administration, the White House has been preoccupied with the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, repairing ties with Israel, and dealing with Iraq and Syria. It has no great interest in pushing hard on the Palestinian issue right now. In fact, the harder the Palestinians try to push recognition at the United Nations and other international bodies–particularly if they try to take Israel to the International Criminal Court–the less sympathetic Washington will be. The 2016 presidential election campaign is certain to turn into an Israeli love fest, with Republican and Democratic candidates wanting to tout their pro-Israeli credentials.”


  13. W.Jones
    September 30, 2015, 1:50 am

    Dear Marc,

    Thanks for still writing here all these years.

    It looks like a lot of your readership here will go through its own “Prophetic Exile” now within the Solidarity movement due to the official banning of Alison Weir by two of its biggest institutions.

    I am going to be paying more attention to the spirit of your work now to think through how to deal with this, Marc. I’ll start with your book:

    “Future of the Prophetic: Israel’s Ancient Wisdom Re-Presented”. I notice that you have a section talking about Atzmon’s “prophetic” insanity, which by virtue of your mere discussion of him makes you a fellow exile in a way.


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