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Note to Progressive Jews: The right of return is not the ‘i’m-doing-you-a-favor’ of return

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Speaking as a “former Zionist” is no longer strange. In fact, it’s become quite common within some Jewish circles. Yeah, it goes, I used to be a Zionist—a socialist Zionist; a two state Zionist; a Zionist who believed in giving back the occupied territories from ‘67, etc., etc., etc. But a Zionist. Self-determination for both peoples, two peoples/two states, like that. The Nakba? Didn’t enter into the conversation. Not a mention.

So now there are lots of us (former Zionists, that is) out there. Relieved that we are no longer stuck in this false sense of radicalism. Yeah, it seemed radical at the time—Marxist Zionism. National liberation movement, class struggle. True, it was on Palestinian land, but that fact didn’t enter the equation. Our identities fit the definition of OXYMORONS.

Gave that up, we say. Went through a process. For some of us, a long, not fun process. Emerged clear-headed, in support of the Palestinian-led movement for justice. For justice. For justice.

But, then, the right of return rears its head. Wait, we say, I support justice for Palestine, I know about the Nakba now. But, but, but, how can we get Israeli Jews to support the right of return? (That’s the first thing we think about.) It’s complicated, we say. It’s complicated. It’s complicated. What if…and what if…and what about…

The Israeli Jewish organization Zochrot addresses the right of return head-on. The right of return, not the I’m-doing-you-a-favor of return. Zochrot points out there’s lots of room in Palestine/Israel for everyone. Equal rights for all. Inroads being made among some Israeli Jews. Among some. Useful work.

But change is inevitable, with or without a gaggle of Israeli Jewish support. The movement grows. And grows. For justice. For justice. Global support for BDS, for ending apartheid, for equal rights for all, for the right to return home.

Oh no! The movement is getting too big, too strong. Huge amounts of money poured into trying to sabotage that growing (and growing more) movement. Accuse everyone, yes, everyone in it of being anti-Semites. Yeah, that should kill it. A temporary set-back for sure, but it won’t come close, not at all, to killing it.

Won’t kill it ‘cause Palestinians world-wide and supporters of justice across the globe are fighting, fighting with integrity, with passion, with compassion, with conviction. Fighting for Justice. Fighting for Justice.

So, yes, more Jews have left our fantasy notions of Zionism far behind, far behind, and joined the growing movement for justice. But let’s not get too self-satisfied. A positive development, for sure, but still lots of unlearning to do among us, within our communities.

Still a sense that the land is “ours” to “give away.”  That we are doing good by supporting Palestine—like when white people think we are doing good by opening up “our” schools to families of color. It’s not just “progressive except Palestine,” by the way. “Progressive except Public education” is the same phenomenon. Thinking that we will determine the parameters based on “generosity” when, in fact, those whose right it is to be there will prevail because it is their right (not your/our generosity) making it so. The “facts on the ground” will be exposed for the thievery they were and are.

For those of us who identify as part of a Jewish community (in one form or another), let’s not sit passively by, as so many already aren’t. Let’s do the work in our community(ies) while remembering we’re not the vanguard of the revolution. Let’s continue to participate in the broader struggle with humility. With humility. We have a lot to learn as we do this work together.

A version of this article was first published in Alternet under the title, “Letter From a Former Zionist Who Supports Justice in Palestine” 

About Donna Nevel

Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, is co-director of PARCEO, a participatory research center. She is a long-time organizer for justice in Palestine/Israel; against Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism; and for a just public education system. She is a founding member of Jews Say No!, Facing the Nakba Project, and Jews Against anti-Muslim Racism (JAAMR).

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58 Responses

  1. Eva Smagacz
    April 14, 2016, 2:22 pm

    Hello Dona,

    Thank you so much for such thoughtful writing about the right of return.
    I am finding myself in the similar bind as many of your post Zionist friends.

    When anybody floats for idea that Ashkenazi Jews should be returning back to Europe, I automatically bristle.

    My country, Poland, has for many centuries been a host country to Jews – Some came from Germany, Some came from Russia and presumably before that, from Khazaria.
    In many small towns, villages and other population areas 25% of the population there consisted of Jews; speaking their language, having their own laws, own justice systems, own communities. They were dressing in a distinctive clothes, and were having very little interaction with the rest of the population.

    For centuries Poland was multicultural melting pot not unlike London or Brussels. Many people from many cultures were entitled to call it home.

    But then came Second World War and for three generations now Poland has been completely homogenous, 98% Catholic, uniformly white, caucasian population.

    If Israel were to face the Algerian situation ( a suitcase or a coffin choice given by natives to the colonists), and they were made to leave, many of them would be entitled to go back to Poland, from where their ancestors came from.

    I am not happy about it. I would never argue that they are not entitled to come back, but I would find it very very difficult to feel comfortable about it.

    And there is room in Poland for several million Jews, and there are synagogues still standing, kept restored by public purse….

    But would I be pleased about immigration of Israelis to Poland? No, I wouldn’t.

    My sense of fairness and justice says one thing, but my gut says something completely different.

    But then nobody promised us that doing the right thing will be easy.

    • hophmi
      April 14, 2016, 5:24 pm

      The idea that Jews living in Israel for several generations should return to the site of the mass murder of their relatives is deeply unjust.

      • eljay
        April 14, 2016, 9:06 pm

        || hophmi: The idea that Jews living in Israel for several generations should return to the site of the mass murder of their relatives is deeply unjust. ||

        The reality that non-Jewish refugees from Israel are prevented from returning to their homes and lands in Israel is much more deeply unjust.

      • Mooser
        April 14, 2016, 11:05 pm

        “The reality that non-Jewish refugees from Israel are prevented from returning to their homes and lands in Israel is much more deeply unjust.”

        Perhaps “Hophmi” will feel better if he reflects on the fact that if Palestinians do return, many of them will “return to the site of the mass murder of their relatives”.

      • Talkback
        April 15, 2016, 7:28 am

        Suddenly every Jew is related to someone who was murdered. LOL. Unfortunately for hophmi and his beloved dissimilation project a lot of Jews move to Germany and even Poland.

        @eljay
        When hophmi says “just” he doesn’t mean universal justice, but tribal justice. He’s only sense of ethics is tribal opportunism.

      • K Renner
        April 15, 2016, 11:52 am

        The land theft and ethnic cleansing of Palestine was and remains deeply unjust since it’s not remotely resolved.

        The ongoing treatment of Palestinians in the context of Israel-Palestine-Lebanon by Israel and Israelis remains to be deeply unjust.

        But no– whine instead about something that’s completely hypothetical at best.

  2. just
    April 14, 2016, 7:13 pm

    A most wonderful and inspiring article. Thanks so very much for sharing it with us, Donna.

    (I love the image above, btw!!! It remains so freaking, sadly, and shamefully true 8 years later from when “Anna Baltzer and Haithem El-Zabri’s” great photo of the action was taken…… and too many decades, hours, minutes and seconds since the beginning…)

  3. bryan
    April 15, 2016, 7:29 am

    It seems blindingly obvious, yet few will acknowledge the reality that we are not dealing with two peoples divided by two narratives, but two peoples united in common experiences from the past, demands of the present and hopes for the future. Two peoples who both crave peace and security. Two peoples who have faced hardship and oppression. Two peoples who have not been best served by their leaders, political and military, or by their media and institutions. Two peoples with a deep and spiritual attachment to a tiny patch of contested ground. Two peoples with very similar religions, who even share the same sacred sites in Jerusalem and Hebron.

    Most especially these are two peoples motivated by a passion for a right of return, from a proclaimed ‘exile’, either real or imagined. How ironic, how deeply hypocritical it is that the dominant one of these two peoples can assert an absolute right for the return for a miscellaneous bunch of people, some no doubt long-standing members of a faith, but others more recent converts in diverse lands to a supposed “ancestral homeland”. This is asserted whilst they simultaneously and categorically deny similar rights to those who dwelt in that land more recently and for much longer, and had real land deeds to real “real estate” rather than simply some supposed title derived from book of ancient fairy stories.

    The apogee of this absurdity is demonstrated in Hebron, where a small community established itself before 1929 / 1936, including an authentic indigenous resident, the 8th generation Hebronite Ya’akov ben Shalom Ezra, but most very recent immigrants (from Lithuania and elsewhere in Northern Europe and the US), many itinerant (esp. yeshiva students), and few owning land, but subsisting on charitable doles in rented accommodation, purpose built by the accommodating locals. Since 1967 a fanatical group, including some original inhabitants but heavily augmented by fundamentalist Brooklynites (e.g. Baruch Goldstein) asserted a right to reclaim their “residence”, irrespective of the violent chaos this brought to the local community.

    We hear much hypocritical ranting that acknowledging any right of return for Palestinians driven from their homes in 1948, 1967 and later would “destroy” (i.e. change) Israeli society, but not the slightest recognition that the supposed Jewish right of return has destroyed, and is continuing to destroy Palestinian society.

    One day perhaps the Divine Being will realise that the past prophets did not effectively communicate his message of peace, justice and righteousness, and will send an authentic communicator to reinforce the message. Till then we rely upon those activists of all faiths and none who are attempting to do His work for Him.

    • Mooser
      April 15, 2016, 12:19 pm

      “It should be blindingly obvious…”

      It’s not. Sounds like a self-serving excuse for the crimes of Zionism.

      • bryan
        April 16, 2016, 8:52 am

        Mooser – I hoped the irony of the statement might become apparent when I dealt in more detail about one of the similarities and made clear that there was no equivalence regarding the two peoples’ right of return.

      • Mooser
        April 16, 2016, 11:43 am

        “I hoped the irony of the statement might become apparent…”

        Sorry. I probably just charged ahead, and didn’t get it.
        (Reads comment again slowly and carefully, moving lips with each word, reading all the way to the end.)
        Yup, that’s what I did. Sorry. I get irony poor blood, sometimes.

  4. Jon66
    April 15, 2016, 8:02 am

    Haithem was born in the US, lives in Austin, and presumably has American citizenship.
    Is he not “from Austin” the same way Anna is?

    • John O
      April 15, 2016, 10:42 am

      He is from Austin in the same way as I am from London – the child of immigrants. The difference is, I can go back to Ireland as a visitor, or even to buy a house and live, at any time. Given Haithem’s political actions, and knowing what others have experienced (as chronicled in many articles and comments on this site), I doubt he would even be allowed off the plane, should he attempt to go to his ancestral home.

      • amigo
        April 15, 2016, 12:11 pm

        “The difference is, I can go back to Ireland as a visitor, or even to buy a house and live, at any time.” John O

        John , is,t far better than that.If your Grandparents , (either) are/were Irish citizens , you are entitled to Irish citizenship.Same applies if your parents are / were Irish citizens .

        Unlike zionists , we draw the line at Grandparents . Unlike in Israel , if you can prove you have a Jewish lineage back to Neanderthal s —your in.

      • eljay
        April 15, 2016, 12:14 pm

        As I understand it, you don’t even have to prove “Jewish lineage” – all you need is a religious conversion to Judaism and you get to live where the indigenous population-turned-refugees does not.

      • Jon66
        April 15, 2016, 12:37 pm

        But his sign says he is from Palestine. If his point is that American citizens who are Jewish can become Israeli citizens, but Americans who are not Jewish do not have automatic citizenship rights in Israel it would be clear. I think those two signs serve to confuse not clarify

      • John O
        April 15, 2016, 1:36 pm

        @Jon66

        “If his point is that American citizens who are Jewish can become Israeli citizens, but Americans who are not Jewish do not have automatic citizenship rights in Israel it would be clear.”

        True, but irrelevant (as Vietnamese general Giap is reputed to have said when informed that the Americans always beat the Viet Cong in pitched battles).

        He may or may not want to return to Palestine and, if his family came from that part of Palestine which is now called Israel, he may or may not want to become an Israeli citizen (if such a thing exists – I get confused by the arcana of that one).

        But his point is mainly that – as I said before – Israel discriminates against him, and people of his ethnicity.

      • Jon66
        April 15, 2016, 9:21 pm

        John,

        Israel allows any Jewish American citizen to claim Israeli citizenship. They don’t specifically “discriminate” against those of Palestinian ancestry any more than any other American.

      • eljay
        April 15, 2016, 9:28 pm

        || Jon66: … I think those two signs serve to confuse not clarify ||

        You are the one serving to confuse not clarify. The signs and their message are very clear: A Palestinian cannot return to his (family’s) home and land, while a Jewish American can “return” to the Palestinian’s (family’s) home and land.

        (As for Mr. El-Zabri, according to this interview he was “born in the U.S. when my parents were here for studies and suddenly became refugees in 1967.” His actual status does not alter the signs’ message. But you know this.)

      • eljay
        April 15, 2016, 10:29 pm

        || Jon66: John,

        Israel allows any Jewish American citizen to claim Israeli citizenship. They don’t specifically “discriminate” against those of Palestinian ancestry any more than any other American. ||

        That’s right: Israel is a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”. Thank you for the confirmation.

      • MHughes976
        April 16, 2016, 5:23 am

        Experiencing discrimination as much as most Americans is still experiencing discrimination. The difference is that most Americans do not find this very distressing – it’s difficult to feel very bad about not being able to do what you don’t particularly want to do. But many Palestinian Anericans will be quite seriously distressed, since they have families there and many personal concernsand sentiments: and that is distress as genuinely felt and as genuinely caused by discrimination as the distress afflicted by apartheid or Jim Crow or British counterparts. The way in which sentiments, memories and longings are treated – beautiful if they’re Jewish, near contemptible if they’re Palestinian – is pretty bad too.

      • Jon66
        April 16, 2016, 8:28 am

        “You are the one serving to confuse not clarify. The signs and their message are very clear: A Palestinian cannot return to his (family’s) home and land, while a Jewish American can “return” to the Palestinian’s (family’s) home and land. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/note-to-progressive-jews-the-right-of-return-is-not-the-im-doing-you-a-favor-of-return/#comment-834969

        The message is clear, but the signs misleading. They don’t use the same word, “from” in the same meaning.

      • eljay
        April 16, 2016, 10:26 am

        || Jon66: The message is clear, but the signs misleading. They don’t use the same word, “from” in the same meaning. ||

        The signs aren’t misleading, their message is clear and they use the same word “from” with exactly the same meaning.

        You’re attempting to confuse the issue and distract from the message by conflating the people holding the signs with the signs’ actual and factual message.

        If Ms. Baltzer had to go to the washroom and she temporarily handed her sign to a friend who wasn’t Jewish and/or wasn’t from Austin, the very real message of the signs wouldn’t change.

      • eljay
        April 16, 2016, 12:26 pm

        || eljay: … If Ms. Baltzer had to go to the washroom … the very real message of the signs wouldn’t change. ||

        Hell, if you tied one of the signs to a tree and the other to an adjacent lamp-post, the message would remain just as clear, just as true and just as valid.

      • Jon66
        April 16, 2016, 2:31 pm

        Eljay

        In this case, the people are the message The signs are personal statements presumably about facts specific to the individuals holding the signs

        If he is from Palestine because his parents were born there, then she should list the locations where her parents were born as well

        If the holder of the sign was not from Austin, then the sign is a lie. If I hold up a sign that says, “my cousin was shot in cold blood by a cop” and I have no cousin who was shot, there wouldn’t be some factual basis to the statement.

        I know it’s only a small point and not central to the question of return so I’ll stop here.

      • eljay
        April 16, 2016, 3:51 pm

        || Jon66: Eljay

        In this case, the people are the message The signs are personal statements presumably about facts specific to the individuals holding the signs … ||

        You have conflated the individuals with the message and then declared the message to be a lie because it contravenes your presumptions.

        (The “Je Suis Charlie” campaign must’ve seemed like a gold mine of dishonesty to you.)

        It’s a nice bit of distraction on your part, but it doesn’t change the reality and validity of the message.

  5. Ossinev
    April 15, 2016, 2:30 pm

    @ejay
    “As I understand it, you don’t even have to prove “Jewish lineage” – all you need is a religious conversion to Judaism and you get to live where the indigenous population-turned-refugees does not.”

    In the absence of a clear uncomplicated explanation to the contrary what you say appears to be the case. Hypothetically you can convert to Judaism on Monday and exercise your “right of return ” on the Tuesday.

    Bear in mind the Right of Return was initiated , was driven by and continues to be driven by the Zionist obsession with Jews versus native Palestinian demographics

    http://nomadcapitalist.com/2014/03/11/how-to-get-second-citizenship-israel-law-of-return/

    • Eva Smagacz
      April 16, 2016, 7:46 pm

      It’s worth mentioning that in Israel, Palestinians are refused conversion to Judaism by definition – they cannot even initiate conversion process.

      • yonah fredman
        April 16, 2016, 8:29 pm

        Link, please.

      • Eva Smagacz
        April 17, 2016, 4:43 am

        Here you are, Yonah:

        “Palestinian requests for conversion rejected outright, official saysRabbi heading government’s Conversion Authority says any such applications are thrown out without even being considered”

        http://www.timesofisrael.com/palestinian-requests-for-conversion-rejected-outright-official-says/

      • Sibiriak
        April 17, 2016, 5:34 am

        Thank you Eva for bringing this important fact to our attention.

        It’s remarkable but unsurprising that in the practice of Zionism, undisguised racism decisively trumps even traditional religious considerations.

        Israel’s authority handling conversions to Judaism rejects Palestinian applicants without review because of their ethnic origin its head said.

        * * * * *

        “The threshold requirements” to be considered by the special cases panel, he said, “are that applicants be sincere and that they are not foreign workers; infiltrators; Palestinian or illegally in the country.”
        [emphasis added]

        It would be interesting to see an Israeli legal analysis of this discriminatory practice.

      • Shmuel
        April 17, 2016, 6:13 am

        It’s remarkable but unsurprising that in the practice of Zionism, undisguised racism decisively trumps even traditional religious considerations.

        Actually, it would be completely in keeping with traditional religious considerations regarding conversion for ulterior motives (see Shulhan Arukh 268,12).

      • yonah fredman
        April 17, 2016, 6:34 am

        Sounds to me that this is referring to noncitizens of Israel. Not Israeli Arabs, but Palestinians.

      • Sibiriak
        April 17, 2016, 6:53 am

        Shmuel: Actually, it would be completely in keeping with traditional religious considerations regarding conversion for ulterior motives (see Shulhan Arukh 268,12).
        ——————————

        Could you please explain. According to that article, being ethnically Palestinian is cause for immediate non-consideration completely apart from any question of sincerity or ulterior motives.

      • Sibiriak
        April 17, 2016, 7:15 am

        yonah fredman: Sounds to me that this is referring to noncitizens of Israel. Not Israeli Arabs, but Palestinians.
        ——————————-

        Yes, it appears to concern legal non–citizen Israeli residents. But the issue of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity remains: why should non-Palestinian residents be able to apply for conversion while legal Palestinian residents are immediately rejected solely on the basis of ethnicity?

        Since in any case “[r]equests for conversion to Judaism by Palestinians are rare in Israel”, what is the motive for making non-Palestinian ethnicity an explicit requirement?

        The issue of sincerity could be dealt with after an application was accepted for consideration, as it would be for any other applicant.

      • Shmuel
        April 17, 2016, 7:18 am

        The article states (quoting Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz): “The threshold requirements” to be considered by the special cases panel, he said, “are that applicants be sincere and that they are not foreign workers; infiltrators; Palestinian or illegally in the country.”

        The sincerity of those who stand to gain significantly from conversion — such as foreign workers, infiltrators [i.e. asylum-seekers], Palestinians or those illegally in the country — is doubted a priori. Yonah is right that the context clearly implies that “Palestinian” is a reference to residents of the PA, rather than an ethnic designation. Beyond the context, Israeli officials rarely refer to Palestinian citizens of Israel as Palestinians. They are simply “Arabs”. Although Palestinian citizens of Israel would certainly stand to gain by conversion to Judaism, I doubt the benefits (again, in the eyes of Israeli officialdom) would be considered an ulterior motive, a priori, without further investigation.

        The paragraph I cited from the Shulhan Arukh (Joseph Caro’s authoritative code of Jewish law) begins as follows:

        כשיבא הגר להתגייר בודקים אחריו, שמא בגלל ממון שיטול, או בשביל שררה שיזכה לה, או מפני הפחד בא ליכנס לדת.

        When a [potential] convert comes to convert, he is investigated to see whether he seeks to join the [Jewish] religion for the sake of money he will receive, or for a position of authority he will be given, or out of fear. … If no reason is found, then they are informed of the burden of the Torah and the difficulty in its observance….

        In the case of a Palestinian, asylum seeker, etc., the benefits are manifest, and would require no investigation.

      • Sibiriak
        April 17, 2016, 7:31 am

        @Shmuel Taking Palestinian ethnicity–apart from any other consideration– as a priori proof of insincerity would itself be a form of racism.

        When a [potential] convert comes to convert, he is investigated …

        But in this case there is no individual investigation. Legal Palestinian residents are rejected out hand solely on the basis of ethnicity. Treating persons not as individuals but purely as members of an ethnic group is a defining feature of racism.

        I understand your defense of the practice– “benefits are manifest”– but I don’t find it persuasive. There would also be clear “benefits” for non-Palestinian applicants.

      • Sibiriak
        April 17, 2016, 7:46 am

        Shmuel: … the context clearly implies that “Palestinian” is a reference to residents of the PA, rather than an ethnic designation.
        ————–

        That’s not clear at all considering the explicit reference to ethnicity:

        Israel’s authority handling conversions to Judaism rejects Palestinian applicants without review because of their ethnic origin , its head said.

        Furthermore, how can the reference be only to “residents of the PA”, when the it appears to deal with legal non-citizen residents of Israel?

        Besides, wouldn’t “resident of the PA” ( do you really mean to use “PA” there?) effectively serve as a marker of Palestinian ethnic identity, just as “Israeli” in regards to Israeli-only roads in the WB effectively serves as a marker for Jewish identity?

      • talknic
        April 17, 2016, 7:48 am

        yonah fredman April 17, 2016, 6:34 am

        Sounds to me that this is referring to noncitizens of Israel. Not Israeli Arabs, but Palestinians”

        Interesting theory. Meanwhile non-Jewish Israeli citizens who have right of return to Israel

      • Shmuel
        April 17, 2016, 7:56 am

        Sibiriak,

        We could examine Rabbi Peretz’ statement from every angle and try to infer whether he meant residents or non-residents, what is the policy toward non-Palestinian, non-citizen residents, and what about E. Jerusalem Palestinians (who have other paths to Israeli citizenship), but based on the information at hand, and my own rabbinical training, it is my opinion that such a policy is consistent with Jewish religious law and tradition — without having recourse to racist motives (although those may certainly exist as well). See Occam.

        As for policies regarding a group rather than individuals, if all members of the group (Palestinian non-citizens of Israel), without exception, stand to gain significantly by conversion, individual investigation is, from a legal perspective, pointless. In matters of conversion, tradition demands stringency. There is no recognised “right” to convert. If a convert is suspect, they are turned away. The Chief Rabbinate has, in recent years, been the target of considerable criticism for the general stringency it exercises with regard to conversion, and yes, factors such as entitlement to citizenship according to the Law of Return are a prime consideration when judging possible ulterior motives of potential converts (all converts).

        I am not defending the practice, but I see no reason (without further information) to ascribe it to racism or assert that it is inconsistent with “traditional religious considerations”.

      • yonah fredman
        April 17, 2016, 8:11 am

        Eva, thanks for the link.

      • Sibiriak
        April 17, 2016, 8:28 am

        Shmuel: As for policies regarding a group rather than individuals, if all members of the group (Palestinian non-citizens of Israel), without exception, stand to gain significantly by conversion, individual investigation is, from a legal perspective, pointless. .
        —————————

        1) “Standing to gain” per se isn’t the criterion, though. It’s whether gain (or fear) is the motive or reason for the conversion, as your quotation makes clear:

        When a [potential] convert comes to convert, he is investigated to see whether he seeks to join the [Jewish] religion for the sake of money he will receive, or for a position of authority he will be given, or out of fear. … If no reason is found…

        2)In a state which discriminates in favor of Jews, directly or indirectly, a state in which Jewishness is a ticket to not only to citizenship but all kinds of social benefits, anyone who converts stands to gain significantly.

        3) A Palestinian might equally stand to lose significantly, for example, through negative family and community reaction.

        4) Compare a non-Jewish Russian resident to a Palestinian one. Both stand to gain by conversion. Why is the Palestinian automatically rejected, but the Russian not?

        Occam: Ethnicity, not presumable insincerity, distinguishes the non-acceptable Palestinian applicant from the acceptable Russian applicant.

      • Shmuel
        April 17, 2016, 8:54 am

        Sibiriak,

        You’re making a lot of assumptions, based on a rather terse statement, about residency about policy toward other non-Jewish non-citizens (e.g. the whole “Russian” issue, where the Rabbinate has in fact been extremely rigid, concerns non-Jewish citizens [“relatives of Jews”]) — and about “traditional religious considerations”. Rabbi Peretz’ statement is neither Written nor Oral Torah, to have “crowns tied to every letter”. The religious legal principle of sincerity/ulterior motives is there and, to me, seems pretty obvious, but feel free to presume racism and non-conformity to tradition if you like.

      • Sibiriak
        April 17, 2016, 8:56 am

        @Shmuel

        Even some Israeli’s are saying that this conversion policy improperly mixes up the religious “sincerity” criterion with (anti- Palestinian) immigration policy:

        “The mixture of halachic (Jewish legal) and government immigration policy concerns is not healthy.

        The Exceptions Committee must transfer its authority to the Interior Ministry, and instead just provide an estimate of the [conversion] candidate’s honesty,” said the head of the State Control Committee, Member of Knesset Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid). [emphasis added]

        http://www.jewishnews.co.uk/palestinians-among-those-requesting-conversion-to-judaism/

      • Shmuel
        April 17, 2016, 9:12 am

        “The mixture of halachic (Jewish legal) and government immigration policy concerns is not healthy. The Exceptions Committee must transfer its authority to the Interior Ministry,”

        Welcome to the confessional state of Israel. It’s not a matter of jurisdiction, but of the criteria established in the Law of Return and the very concept of a “Jewish” state. That is precisely the elephant in the room that Elharar and her party (Yesh Atid) refuse to acknowledge when they pretend to be liberal on matters of religion and state. If Palestinians are now (uniquely and sweepingly) denied the possibility of naturalisation and even residency based on the Law of Return (as relatives of Jews) or the principle of family unity, leaving only the (theoretical) route of conversion, it is in any case the Rabbinate that is given the power by the state to ultimately decide matters of citizenship.

      • Sibiriak
        April 17, 2016, 9:13 am

        Shmuel: You’re making a lot of assumptions, based on a rather terse statement, about residency about policy toward other non-Jewish non-citizens (e.g. the whole “Russian” issue, where the Rabbinate has in fact been extremely rigid, –

        ——————-

        I’m only assuming that the news report is correct and that the Rabbi is accurately describing the policies of the government Conversion Authority he heads.

        He stated:

        Israel’s authority handling conversions to Judaism rejects Palestinian applicants without review because of their ethnic origin.

        * * * * *

        “The threshold requirements” to be considered by the special cases panel […] “are that applicants be sincere and that they are not foreign workers; infiltrators; Palestinian or illegally in the country.”

        However rigidly the Authority may treat Russian applicants, the fact remains that Palestinians are the only ethnicity/nationality singled-out for automatic rejection.

        At least a Russian can get a hearing- and quite a few have converted. A Palestinian has no chance whatosever.

        I don’t see a valid religious “sincerity” rationale for that discriminatory treatment.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2016, 10:35 am

        “Link, please.” “Yonah”

        SQUELCH!!! Ewwww.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2016, 11:54 am

        “The sincerity of those who stand to gain significantly from conversion” “Shmuel”

        We have arrived! Judaism is now a religion where “one stands to gain significantly from conversion”. And I ask you, why should it be otherwise?

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2016, 12:02 pm

        “but based on the information at hand, and my own rabbinical training, it is my opinion that such a policy is consistent with Jewish religious law and tradition”

        It’s been a big problem for years! Heck Centuries.
        Thousands of applicants for conversion to Judaism who, upon investigation, just turn out to be trying to secure social or financial or political advantage.
        Ya gotta expect those kinds of phonies to turn up, everybody loves you when you’re on top.

      • Mooser
        April 17, 2016, 12:09 pm

        “If a convert is suspect, they are turned away…”

        Whew! Good thing they don’t run the same kind of inquisition on us!

        Frankly, I think there should be only one standard. The willingness to forego lidocaine!

  6. JWalters
    April 15, 2016, 5:51 pm

    Thank you for this brilliant article, delicate in its humanity, relentless in its honesty, with reverence for Justice.

  7. Dan Walsh
    April 16, 2016, 6:12 am

    It always amazes me how hoppy gets trounced, repeatedly and predictably, by MWpeeps yet he/she always returns often the first reply and quite often we never hear from him/her again in that post and it leads me to believe that he/she actually serves an important function here: his/her perspective provides us with a Zionist absolutist perspective free of charge and its like we have a mole from within Zionist psychology sort of like our own in-house voluntary Zionist Enigma code-breaker sending us coordinates/plans on a regular basis which is very helpful both in terms of anchoring the discourse here and also reminding us of the perversity of Zionist thinking something no Palestinian ever needs reminding of.

    View 200+ Right-of-Return posters here:
    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/right-of-return

    • hophmi
      April 16, 2016, 5:35 pm

      It shouldn’t amaze you, Dan. I don’t always need multiple posts to prove my point, and no MWer has ever “trounced” me.

      If you cannot acknowledge the obvious injustice and frank bigotry of the idea that Jews should move back to the countries that murdered millions of them, then it says far more about you than it does about me. Right of return for Palestinians refugees is a legitimate position, even if I disagree with the idea. Calling for Jews who have been in Israel for generations to leave and return to non-existent houses in European countries where they were murdered in the millions and where they were persecuted for hundreds of years make you a barbarian. It has nothing to do with whether I’m a Zionist or not. It has to do with whether the extremists at MW possess basic humanity that extends beyond their anti-Israel advocacy.

      • Eva Smagacz
        April 16, 2016, 7:57 pm

        hopmi,
        I don’t see injustice or bigotry in idea that Jews may consider demanding their right to return to countries where their ancestors came from if the situation in Palestine were to become unstable or dangerous.
        If you allow that “right of return for Palestinians refugees is a legitimate position”, surely it follows that Jews have the same right?

      • echinococcus
        April 16, 2016, 10:18 pm

        the countries that murdered millions

        Check your diction, Mister Hophmi. Countries don’t ever murder anybody. Organized, murderous people just like the Zionists murder millions. World War II is finished, and Nazism has been eradicated as much as possible –except in the Zionist entity where it is in power.

        So you don’t want the right of return for Jewish people. Which would not even have to be demanded, as it is part and parcel of the legislation in most countries of origin. There’s really no pleasing you guys: you complain of not having a home country, yet yell “antisemitism”, as if it meant a thing, when you’re told every one of the Zionist criminals already has one. Just not Palestine, except for the famous 5% Palestinian Jews.

  8. Kay24
    April 17, 2016, 7:34 am

    You have to wonder if world leaders, especially in the US are aware of these reports, or
    do they simply pretend they are unaware, so that they can continue to enable the human rights abuses going on?

    REPORT: No Way to Treat a Child, Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system

    http://www.dci-palestine.org/palestinian_children_in_the_israeli_military_detention_system?utm_campaign=nwttacrep_4_14&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dcipalestine

    • silamcuz
      April 17, 2016, 9:55 am

      Well, the thing is, we like to assume that the world leaders are somewhat better than the likes of Netanyahu and co, but the reality is, they’re not. Well most of them are not. If they were any better, the last thing they want to be doing in participating directly within the political system of the country which attracts the worst of society. Just look at Clinton, who is a serial cheater and alleged sexual predator or his Republican counterparts who engage in all kind of criminal debaucheries extending to the abuse of children.

  9. Ossinev
    April 17, 2016, 7:50 am

    @hophmi
    “If you cannot acknowledge the obvious injustice and frank bigotry of the idea that Jews should move back to the countries that murdered millions of them”

    Sorry sunshine can you clarify – does that include the 60,000 American Jews who have moved to JSIL and further clarify in what way were Jews “murdered in their millions in the US”

    So looking forward to your reply.

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