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How to love Israel: ‘Sometimes it’ll hurt– bad, but I will not walk away! I will not let you go!’

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A highlight of the J Street conference last weekend was the breathless speech on Saturday night by Mika Almog, the grand-daughter of the late Shimon Peres, in which she described Israel as a beautiful lover who can hurt you, bad; but called on the audience of mostly-young people to, unh, make love to Israel with their eyes open, because it’s theirs.

But I can’t even try and do it justice. Here’s what she said (go to minute 8 in the video for the full dramatic effect):


My grandfather was fond of saying that in order to make peace and in order to make love you need to close your eyes. And there’s a great deal of truth to that of course. But as I hope he knew– we never discussed the topic– it is entirely possible to make love with your eyes open. As a matter of fact, it can be very educational, to see the flaws, the bad habits, the poor choices– and love, nonetheless. Not because the object of your affection is perfect, but because it is the object of your affection.

Each and every one of you love Israel for a long and varying list of reasons, but there is one reason that you all hold in common, that we all hold in common. You love Israel because it’s yours. A mature love rooted in experience and insight– a soil that is enriched not impoverished when we insist on the values we hold dear.

That was how my grandfather loved Israel. He loved it the way you love a woman or a child or a true friend, or a granddaughter.

And more than once, Israel hurt him, in ways only ones we love the most can hurt us. But it never deterred him, and I think it was because he understood that love like that is a responsibility. It’s demanding! It calls for perseverance and resilience. It requires speaking a very specific language, in order to say: I see you who you are, not just what you are. And because I see who you are, I see what you can be! And I will settle for nothing short of you becoming your finest self! And it’ll be hard, and sometimes it’ll hurt– bad. But I will not walk away! I will not let you go! Because you are my home, I will have none other…

What Presidents Peres and Obama suggest [“a vision of the world as it ought to be”] is a great daunting task. But if at moments fears should creep into your heart to tell you it’s an impossible task, look no further than Israel. Zionism has always been against all odds. So if Israel is possible, anything is possible. And we’re so young! We’re not even 70 years old, and look– look at Israel!

Look at its roses even while its thorns prick your fingers! It’s beautiful!

In fairness to the young people in the audience, they didn’t cheer. They were bemused. And by the way, they were about to cross 17th Street in order to demonstrate at the White House against Trump’s immigration policies.

Speaking of which, Almog’s political message was also problematic:

To be Jewish is to be democratic. Israel can be Jewish and democratic because the two are the one and the same. But in a democracy, majority rules, so if Jews are no longer a majority in Israel it can continue to be a democracy, but it will cease to be Jewish. Israel is the democratic national home of the Jewish people in the land of Israel but only as long as Jews are a majority in it. It’s as simple as that.


Philip Weiss

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

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37 Responses

  1. John O on March 1, 2017, 12:40 pm

    A great description of an abusive relationship. And we all know the only effective answer when you’re in an abusive relationship – get the hell out.

  2. Mooser on March 1, 2017, 12:44 pm

    Look, I am willing to go down to +5, but that is my final offer!

  3. eljay on March 1, 2017, 1:02 pm

    Jewish may be about democracy but – as Ms. Almog’s cooing makes quite clear – Zionist and “Jewish State” are about supremacism.

  4. Maghlawatan on March 1, 2017, 2:24 pm

    Many siblings and parents of someone in the grip.of an addiction know that sometimes there is nothing you can do. Sometime the addiction is stronger. Sometimes you have to walk away.

    • Mooser on March 1, 2017, 5:25 pm

      “Sometimes you have to walk away.”

      Yes, and sometimes it’s a good idea to put one of those “I-will-not-be-responsible-for-debts-incurred-by” notices in the legal column of the classifieds.

  5. CigarGod on March 1, 2017, 4:37 pm

    Can we please stop giving the mic to lunatics?

  6. Mooser on March 1, 2017, 5:21 pm

    “Israel is the democratic national home of the Jewish people in the land of Israel but only as long as Jews are a majority in it. It’s as simple as that.”

    And if any of you young people at this conference don’t know how to stay a majority, your parents can explain it when you get home.

  7. Keith on March 1, 2017, 6:35 pm

    MIKA ALMOG- “But in a democracy, majority rules….”

    In a capitalist “democracy,” the oligarchs and corporations rule, elections marketing/motivation campaigns. It is the same in Israel or South Africa or the US. The difference in Israel is that Zionism is the secular equivalent of Classical Judaism, forever locked in medieval ideology. As such, there is a strong, fundamentalist belief among a sizable part of the population that the entirety of Israel has been “redeemed.” Further, the Torah/Talmud place severe restrictions on Gentiles in the land of Israel. It is considered a sin to give up even one inch of the sacred soil. The modern concept of a secular (capitalist) democracy simply does not apply. Neither does an independent Palestinian State on the sacred soil of Judea and Samaria. All of this talk of Jewish and democratic is intended to obscure the fact that a large chunk of Jewish Israelis are psychologically incapable of any compromise whatsoever. Also, that American Jewish Zionists have a vested interest in the rewards of Zionist based kinship.

  8. jd65 on March 1, 2017, 7:10 pm

    Oh my. That speech was possibly the most annoyingly overblown, mawkish, new-agey, gibberish-laden, self-aggrandizing Oprah-style Hallmark card freak show I’ve ever had the displeasure to sit through. She is absolutely the last person on Earth I’d care to sit down and have a beer with. Blech…

    • annie on March 2, 2017, 8:31 am

      i was thinking maybe scarlett johansson could play her in hollywood’s version.

      • jd65 on March 2, 2017, 9:22 pm

        Yup. That’s good casting. Portman is maybe the other obvious choice. Nobody is coming to mind for the Peres role.

    • Ismail on March 3, 2017, 9:01 am
    • Ismail on March 3, 2017, 9:03 am

      You forgot “maudlin” and “cloying”. Otherwise, spot-on.

      • jd65 on March 3, 2017, 2:03 pm

        Cloying absolutely. Nauseatingly so…

  9. Stephen Shenfield on March 1, 2017, 8:50 pm

    If you are the only one being hurt by your lover, you have the right to stay with him or leave him. That is up to you alone. But you are not the only one being hurt. What of the others being hurt by him — hurt much worse than you? What responsibility do you have to them? Because by continuing to love him regardless you help him hurt them as well as yourself. Your love — and the love of others like you — is indeed the blood on which he feeds.

    In Ursula LeGuin’s story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” — not even knowing whither they are bound — leave their beautiful and beloved city on account of a single tormented child.

    • gamal on March 3, 2017, 5:16 pm

      “If you are the only one being hurt by your lover, you have the right to stay with him or leave him”

      or her, don’t they have bad girls where you are, i still got some old numbers if you feel ready.

  10. [email protected] on March 1, 2017, 8:54 pm

    Both amazed and revolted by her speech. Her love for her Grandfather, country, and Judaism, her moving recollection of a family just before the Shoah juxtaposed as many of these nationalists are with a very dark and real racial hatred and alternative facts that fit in perfectly in America 2017. One can almost see the synagogue of her great great grandfather being torched but somehow the torching of others houses of worship while building her national dream are vanished. That one has to have the right people of the right color and religion (Jews, I suspect she really means white Ashkenazi are best) are the necessary components of her start up national dream. J-street purports to be on the liberal side of the spectrum. Her standing ovation just proves that Steve Bannon type nationalism mixed in with a shot of peace talk can prove quite intoxicating to many liberals.

  11. Kaisa of Finland on March 1, 2017, 9:18 pm

    How can a nation build it’s future on lies and full denial of the truth?? Jewish democracy?? Isn’t democracy always various and complex texture of different voices, individuals and their thoughts and beliefs?? If something is purely jewish, can it ever be democratic at the same time?? In my ears it doesn’t sound possible..

    • echinococcus on March 2, 2017, 1:08 am


      That’s impossible in Finland, even to the insane. Nothing is impossible to a Zionist.

  12. Kay24 on March 1, 2017, 11:20 pm

    Some abused women still stay in the relationship, and keep excusing the blows and pain.

    Obviously she does not know about tough love.

  13. echinococcus on March 2, 2017, 1:04 am

    Now, now, Mizz Almog, no need to get your lace panties in a bunch.

    It’s so simple: if a majority rule (which you call “democracy”) applies and the majority must be that of the invader aliens,
    well you just do as your own baa-lamb “socialist” granpa David Grün taught and did:
    you just kill them and enslave the rest.
    No need to calculate the cost, the stoopid Merkins are paying.
    Then you cry. That makes it all kosher.

    Where’s the big problem, drama queen?

    • Citizen on March 2, 2017, 1:10 pm

      “Always stay Jewish,” the Rabbi said.

      • Maghlawatan on March 2, 2017, 1:33 pm

        A Jew comes home from synagogue and tells his wife: “They say the Messiah is coming any day, and will take us all to Israel.”
        The wife becomes hysterical. “Oh no! It would be terrible. It took years till we could finally move into this neighborhood and buy the house we wanted. Now we’ve spent a fortune fixing it up. I don’t want the Messiah to take us away.”
        “Okay, okay, don’t worry,” the husband says. “We survived Pharaoh, we survived Haman. With G-d’s help, we’ll survive the Messiah too!”

  14. brent on March 2, 2017, 1:16 am

    ” Israel is the democratic national home of the Jewish people in the land of Israel but only as long as Jews are a majority in it.”

    Why is this taken so absolutely? Is this proposition valid?

    I was under the impression that no where had Jews had as positive a neighborly relations as with indigenous Palestinians. Why cannot a secular state with full equality and mutual respect , with a constitution to protect individual and religious rights, work? The idea was put forward by the PLO upon its founding. Sheik Yassein suggested a calming down period of 40 to 50 years for matters of co-existence to sort themselves out.

  15. JLewisDickerson on March 2, 2017, 1:55 am

    RE: How to love Israel: ‘Sometimes it’ll hurt– bad, but I will not walk away! I will not let you go!’ ~ Mika Almog, grand-daughter of Shimon Peres, at J Street Conference

    MY COMMENT: Israel as Brokeback Mountain!

    BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: “I wish I knew how to quit you!”

    ■ 🔞🔞🔞WARNING🔞🔞🔞: Explicit language! ! !

    Ennis Del Mar: I’m gonna tell you this one time, Jack f^^^in’ Twist, an’ I ain’t foolin’. What I don’t know – all them things that I don’t know – could get you killed if I come to know them. I ain’t jokin’.

    Jack Twist: Yeah well try this one, and I’ll say it just once!

    Ennis Del Mar: Go ahead!

    Jack Twist: Tell you what, we coulda had a good life together! F^^^in’ real good life! Had us a place of our own. But you didn’t want it, Ennis! So what we got now is Brokeback Mountain! Everything’s built on that! That’s all we got, boy, f^^^in’ all. So I hope you know that, even if you don’t never know the rest! You count the damn few times we have been together in nearly twenty years and you measure the short f^^^ing leash you keep me on – and then you ask me about Mexico and tell me you’ll kill me for needing somethin’ I don’t hardly never get. You have no idea how bad it gets! I’m not you… I can’t make it on a coupla high-altitude f^^^s once or twice a year! You are too much for me Ennis, you sonofawhoreson bitch! I wish I knew how to quit you.

    Ennis Del Mar: [crying] Well, why don’t you? Why don’t you just let me be? It’s because of you Jack, that I’m like this! I’m nothin’… I’m nowhere… Get the f^^^ off me! I can’t stand being like this no more, Jack.

    SOURCE –

  16. RoHa on March 2, 2017, 2:57 am

    ” You love Israel because it’s yours.”

    Old Navy story.
    Captain addresses crew: “Men, this isn’t my ship. It isn’t your ship. It’s our ship!”
    Voice from ranks: “Good. Let’s sell it.”

  17. diasp0ra on March 2, 2017, 5:57 am

    What an absolutely horrible speech, with a terrible moral.

    I love when Zionists talk about founding the nation state of the Jewish people as if it occurred in a vacuum, as if they didn’t need to ethnically cleanse and colonize to obtain it. Using these lies of omission, Israel is portrayed not as a settler society subjugating the natives, but as some normal country that just wants to get along with its neighbors.

    How people still accept this talk of ethnic nationalism and needing one group to be a majority is beyond me. Apply that to any other ethnicity in the world and listen to how racist that sounds, yet Israel gets a pass.

  18. Maghlawatan on March 2, 2017, 6:16 am

    Zionism is a form of group insanity. Life in the diaspora pre Israel isn’t even considered as serious . I wonder what will be left of Zionist culture after it has its Gotterdammerung.

    Israel should have put its energy into music and culture instead of hatred. But it was too cheap and too lazy

  19. on March 2, 2017, 9:55 am

    “Each and every one of you love Israel for a long and varying list of reasons, but there is one reason that you all hold in common, that we all hold in common. You love Israel because it’s yours. A mature love rooted in experience and insight– a soil that is enriched not impoverished when we insist on the values we hold dear.”

    This “breathless” speech was the “highlight” of the J Street conference?

    Gotta agree w Phil on this one. Can’t even try and do it justice.

    • Mooser on March 2, 2017, 3:58 pm

      “This “breathless” speech was the “highlight” of the J Street conference?”

      She brought the audience to it’s feet with her finale, a rousing rendition of an old Goffin-King tune.

  20. Maghlawatan on March 2, 2017, 1:20 pm

    This song reminds me of Israel

    Go see if apartheid flies in Galut. Whine antisemitism if it doesn’t.

  21. Maghlawatan on March 2, 2017, 1:25 pm

    The worst thing about Ms Almog is the idea that the Peres bullshit about peace endures beyond his death

    Be my friend for piss

  22. hungrydave on March 2, 2017, 7:07 pm

    Utterly loony.
    Do these people actually listen to the stuff they come out with!?!
    So bored with arguments about saving the soul of Israel. It’s like worrying that a rapist will get their character damaged by committing the rape.
    I don’t care about israels soul. I care about the Palestinians being denied human rights. That’s what matters. Everything is upside down with this lot

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