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Sorry, American Jews, you don’t have a birthright

on 74 Comments

A colloquial expression in Hebrew is “tzeh li me’havrid” – “get out of my veins”: you are too pushy, too close, you’re brutally invading my space. It’s an aggressive expression, and aggression is not my intention, so I’ll go with “American Jews, kindly get out of my veins.” As a left-wing Israeli, the last thing I want is your intervention in my politics – or, rather, your intervention as Jews.

I know, I know. Your intentions are good. You want to promote peace, justice and liberty in a place which sorely lacks them. I understand that. I believe you. I truly do. I’ve seen the horrified faces of American Jews who came to Israel and saw what it actually looks like. But, please, while your intentions are good, your actions are destructive.

Please hear me out. Recently, there was a loud hue and cry over the decision of the Israeli government over the Western Wall and legality of conversion issues. Many Jewish leaders came over and protested. Senators were burning the international wires with outraged phone calls to the government. Why did this happen?

It’s simple: While Israel pretends to be the “homeland of the Jews”, it is actually the homeland of the Orthodox Jews. Israel has a state religion, which is Orthodox Judaism. It maintains two chief rabbis – one Sephardic Orthodox, one Ashkenazi Orthodox. The so-called “national” education system is actually a light-Orthodox education system; we have also a national-Orthodox education system and several shades of ultra-Orthodox education systems. There was once (i.e., in the 1930s and 1940s) a humanistic school system, but David Ben-Gurion dismantled it. The little autocrat didn’t like the idea of freethinking.

Why is this so? Well, the short version of it is this. In the 1880s and onwards, Eastern Europe witnessed a mass emigration of Jews. Some 2.5 million of them went to the US. A few tens of thousands went to Palestine. The Jews who went to the US – yes, this is a gross generalization, we’re talking about 2.5 million people here – were progressive. They wanted a better life and were willing to discard the ghetto thinking of the old Jewish town. In a short period of time – amazingly short – they’ve become one of the most brilliant and forward-thinking communities in the history of the world. American Jewry, for all its problems, is a huge success story. The main drive behind this wave of emigration was the will, if not to assimilate, then to participate. To include, not to exclude.

Then we have to talk about the others. They were (again: this is a generalization) a polar opposite. They wanted a state for the Jews, or a Jewish state – they never quite managed to make a sharp distinction between the two. They were, in the main, Eastern European revolutionaries who discarded Communism; they wanted not the opportunity to participate, but to dispossess. And, in order to dispossess a people, you need – if you’re unwilling, as most conquerers are, to see yourself as a despoiler – an ideology to back you up. And Orthodox Judaism fit the bill. It alone could provide the essential link to the past which will allow the Zionists to claim a “historical right” to the land.

Zionism had – still has – an inherent contradiction. It claimed that all the Jews in the world were not a religious community, but a people. Yet they lacked a common history, a common language, and naturally a common homeland. Nor were they similar ethnically. A Jew from Northern Africa had little in common with a Jew from Belarus – aside, of course, from the prayers they were saying every day and their joint messianic bond.

So Zionism pulled a difficult stunt: it claimed that Jews were a nation because throughout the ages they kept the belief they will one day have a homeland; and this bond manifested itself in religion. But Judaism has also strong anti-national messages: the inherent passivity of the Talmudic Three Vows*, for instance. The Zionists had to take out of Orthodox Judaism just its nationalist core.

So we came to the position where the Zionists – who were mostly secular – had to use the paradoxical claim (as formulated by Prof. Amnon Raz-Karkotzkin) that “God does not exist, and he promised us this land.” The emphasis here is on “us.” And, since as Gershom Scholem noted, “God will not stay silent in the language in which He was invoked millions of times”, Zionism could not but cling to Orthodox Judaism. Even as Zionism claimed to replace it, it had to use it to get legitimacy. Indeed, a main talking point of the Orthodox against secular Israelis is “what are you doing here? If you don’t believe in God, you are nothing but robbers and despoilers, who unjustly dispossessed the Palestinians.”

Still with me? Good.

To sum:

1. A Zionist state had to be a Jewish Orthodox state in order to gain legitimacy.

2. Hence, it cannot recognize the legitimacy of other Jewish movements.

3. A Jewish Orthodox state, being based on the most exclusionary elements of Judaism, will inevitably be illiberal. Furthermore, it will likely spiral into radical illiberalism as it tries to return to an imagined “laws of our fathers” system which never actually existed.

4. Any attempt to sway the country from this course will run up on the shoals of the source of Zionism’s legitimacy: Orthodox Judaism.

Hence, the government’s decision to not recognize Conservative and Reform conversion was not only unsurprising, it was inevitable. So was the decision to exclude heretical Jews (which is how Reform and Conservative Jews are seen by a majority of Israel’s Jews) from one of Judaism’s holy sites, the Western Wall.

Fine, Yossi, nice historical lecture. Why do you want us out of your bloodstream?

Well, it’s quite simple. Israel claims it is a Jewish country.

It contains some 20% non-Jews, who are discriminated against. And I’m not even talking about the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where it’s full-bore apartheid. When you are trying to impact Israel’s policy as a Jew, you are granting legitimacy to this. You are saying: I, who was not born in Israel, should have not just a voice in its affairs – but a much louder voice than its non-Jewish natives. What do they call that popular hasbara trip? I have a birthright.

You don’t.

At least, you can’t claim a birthright here and still claim to be a liberal. If you do, you’re playing Israel’s game: you’re claiming Jews are a nation, you are claiming Israel is the national homeland of the Jews, and that therefore your voice counts more than non-Jews who live here.

It shouldn’t.

And, of course, by playing Israel’s game, you are empowering its government to spit you out like a half-eaten grape. They’ll take your money, they’ll take the legitimacy you grant them in the US, but at the end of the day, Zionists will Zionate: they will always return to Jewish Orthodoxy, and the virulent local strain of Orthodoxy will always consider you as heretics.

Does it mean I don’t want to hear from you? Not at all.

You are important to me as liberals. Liberalism everywhere is under attack. You might have noticed that Israel is walking hand in hand with Russia and the eastern European anti-liberal governments. We are facing an international ultra-national movement. We need to link hands against it if we are to survive.

So, as liberals, you are my allies; but, as Jews, kindly get out my veins. By speaking as Jews, you are lending force to the illiberal forces here. Speak to us in the voice of humanity you earned by standing by the civil rights movement, by the martyrs of the Freedom Riders; but don’t speak to as Jews. My country only sees you as Jews when it needs to exclude others. Don’t legitimize it.

*Footnote, re The Three Vows:

According to Talmudic legend, God issued three vows:

1. That Jews would not antagonize the gentiles.

2. That Jews would not “rise up the wall” (Ya’alu ba’khoma) – attempt to seize the Land of Yisrael before the coming of the Messiah.

3. That the gentiles will not abuse the Jews “too much.”

 The second vow was used as a weapon by the Ultra-Orthodox against the Zionists, and the alleged breaking of it was why Zionism was considered a heresy.
Yossi Gurvitz

Yossi Gurvitz is a journalist and a blogger, and has covered the occupation extensively.

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74 Responses

  1. CigarGod on July 25, 2017, 11:07 am

    Excellent article.
    On the photo: first time I’ve wondered if Einstein started a hairdo fashion trend back in those days.

    • Misterioso on July 26, 2017, 11:05 am


      Could be. Zionist propagandist Elie Wiesel had a similar hairdo.

    • rosross on July 27, 2017, 12:19 am

      Einstein was not even Jewish. His parents were atheists and he attended Catholic schools. Perhaps it is a Catholic hairstyle – shock!

      • wondering jew on July 27, 2017, 3:46 am

        mormons convert dead jews to mormonism, so that the dead jews can get into mormon heaven, rosross redefines dead jews as nonjews, so they can meet the approval of his categories. what a pompous donkey. einstein proclaimed himself jewish publicly continually constantly in his lifetime and some idiot 60 years after einstein dies thinks he can define einstein by his own myopic (retarded) categories. true to the standards of this corner of myopia.

      • Emory Riddle on July 27, 2017, 8:39 am

        In a letter to Eric Gutkind dated 3 January 1954, Einstein wrote in German, “For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. Einstein was then asked if he accepted the historical existence of Jesus, to which he replied, “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”[29]

      • Emory Riddle on July 27, 2017, 8:48 am

        “In a short period of time – amazingly short – they’ve become one of the most brilliant and forward-thinking communities in the history of the world.”

        What other group of people feels the need to trumpet their greatness all the time? Why would the writer feel the need to include this comment in an otherwise progressive article?

      • Sibiriak on July 27, 2017, 11:46 pm

        Emory Riddle: In a letter to Eric Gutkind dated 3 January 1954, Einstein wrote in German…

        For the sake of completeness, here is the full section of the Wikipedia article from which you pulled and juxtaposed quotations:

        Jewish identity

        In a letter to Eric Gutkind dated 3 January 1954, Einstein wrote in German, “For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”[15][16][17]

        In an interview published by Time magazine with George Sylvester Viereck, Einstein spoke of his feelings about Christianity.[29] Born in Germany, Viereck supported National Socialism but he was not anti-semitic.[49] And like Einstein he was a pacifist.[50][51] At the time of the interview Einstein was informed that Viereck was not Jewish,[52] but stated that Viereck had “the psychic adaptability of the Jew,” making it possible for Einstein to talk to him “without barrier.”[52] Viereck began by asking Einstein if he considered himself a German or a Jew, to which Einstein responded, “It’s possible to be both.” Viereck moved along in the interview to ask Einstein if Jews should try to assimilate, to which Einstein replied “We Jews have been too eager to sacrifice our idiosyncrasies in order to conform.”[29] Einstein was then asked to what extent he was influenced by Christianity. “As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”[29] Einstein was then asked if he accepted the historical existence of Jesus, to which he replied, “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”[29]

        In a conversation with the Dutch poet Willem Frederik Hermans Einstein stressed that, “I seriously doubt that Jesus himself said that he was God, for he was too much a Jew to violate that great commandment: Hear O Israel, the Eternal is our God and He is one!’ and not two or three.”[53] Einstein lamented, “Sometimes I think it would have been better if Jesus had never lived. No name was so abused for the sake of power!”[53] In his 1934 book The World as I See It he expressed his belief that “if one purges the Judaism of the Prophets and Christianity as Jesus Christ taught it of all subsequent additions, especially those of the priests, one is left with a teaching which is capable of curing all the social ills of humanity.”[54] Later in a 1943 interview Einstein added, “It is quite possible that we can do greater things than Jesus, for what is written in the Bible about him is poetically embellished.”[55]

        Einstein interpreted the concept of a Kingdom of God as referring to the best people. “I have always believed that Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God the small group scattered all through time of intellectually and ethically valuable people.”[citation needed]

        In the last year of his life he said “If I were not a Jew I would be a Quaker.”[56]

        There are quite a number of interesting quotes in that long Wiki article, but, of course, one must be selective if one wishes to make a point.

      • Mooser on July 28, 2017, 2:52 pm

        ” some idiot 60 years after einstein dies thinks he can define einstein by his own myopic (retarded)”

        Easy there, “Yonah”. It was Einstein’s hair that brought him into this discussion, not what was under it.

      • Mooser on July 28, 2017, 2:58 pm

        “mormons convert dead jews to mormonism, so that the dead jews can get into mormon heaven, “

        Now, that’s assimilation!

    • DaBakr on July 29, 2017, 9:00 pm

      DBG was aware of his small stature and believed the hair gave the impression of a larger presence. Danny DeVito should play him in an auto biopic

  2. Boris on July 25, 2017, 12:07 pm

    Again, the argument boils down to who is a Jew.

    In my opinion this has not much to do with religion. It used to play a significant part, but no more.

    So, sorry to tell you, Yossi, you are wrong from the get go and Zionists are right.

    Jews from all over the world are united by common history. This history teaches us of our common vulnerability. This vulnerability teaches us to support Israel – the only Jewish state existing in our ancestral land. God has absolutely nothing to do with it.

    Am Israel Chai!

    • eljay on July 25, 2017, 12:41 pm

      || Boris: Again, the argument boils down to who is a Jew. … ||

      A Jew is someone who:
      – undergoes a religious conversion to Judaism; or
      – is descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism.

      || … Zionists are right … ||

      Zionist are hateful and immoral supremacists.

      || … Israel – the only Jewish state … ||

      “Jewish State” is a religion-supremacist construct and no state has a right to exist as any form of supremacist state. One serial killer in a city full of rapists is still one serial killer too many.

      || … existing in our ancestral land. … ||

      Geographic Palestine is not the “ancestral land” of people all over the world – citizens of homelands all over the world – who choose to be/come Jewish.

      || … Am Israel Chai! ||

      You are Israeli tea? Okay.

      • Citizen on July 25, 2017, 1:36 pm

        I wonder what Ivanka Trump thinks about all of this?

      • Eva Smagacz on July 25, 2017, 4:26 pm

        Ivanka Trump thinks?

      • RoHa on July 25, 2017, 11:23 pm

        Oi! That’s my joke you just nicked!

      • m1945 on July 26, 2017, 5:31 pm

        Israel is not a supremecist state.

      • eljay on July 26, 2017, 6:59 pm

        || Jack Green: Israel is not a supremecist state. ||

        A supremecist state, no. A religion-supremacist “Jewish State”, yes.

      • Talkback on July 27, 2017, 12:20 pm

        Jack Green: “Israel is not a supremecist state.”

        Your conclusion is obviously the result of the same deep analytical capabilities you allready demonstrated in your other single liner “Gaza is not occupied militarily.”

    • on July 25, 2017, 12:44 pm

      If god has nothing to do with your ancestral land, then you have no ancestral land in Palestine. There is absolutely no document, no title deed, no lease/buy contract, absolutely nothing, that gives Jews the right to Palestine.

      FYI, neither zionism, a racist ideology on a par with Nazism & Apartheid, represent world Jewry. That is another empty claim made by the zionists, as is the sick claim that zionism = Judaism.

      Sorry Boris, your hasbara drivel is based on hot air, if that.

      • MHughes976 on July 25, 2017, 5:19 pm

        Without religion we have some sort of existentialist claim: people who are Jewish by being the targets of anti-Jewish feeling to the extent that their human rights are never secure have a right to do whatever their survival requires, there being no such thing as a right to stop anyone seeking survival. The claim to the Holy Land then becomes a means to an end, a way of consolidating solidarity. I think that this sort of existentialism is both paradoxical and terrifying.
        There is sometimes some suggestion that the Jewish people of today represent the last men standing among the old time conquerors, but that claim cannot be either true or a foundation
        of moral right.

      • Mooser on July 25, 2017, 7:03 pm

        “There is sometimes some suggestion that the Jewish people of today represent the last men standing among the old time conquerors…”

        I believe it. Those Slavo-Turks were some pretty tough customers back in the day.

      • Boris on July 25, 2017, 9:24 pm

        There is sometimes some suggestion …

        You have missed “somewhere”.

        … claim cannot be either true or a foundation of moral right

        “and” will work – it is true AND is a foundation of a moral right.

      • RoHa on July 25, 2017, 11:27 pm

        “a right to do whatever their survival requires, there being no such thing as a right to stop anyone seeking survival.”

        And here I disagree with Hobbes (as I understand him), insofar as I do not think anyone has a right to survival if that right can only be exercised at the expense of someone else’s survival.

        I may have the right to jump the bus queue if it is necessary for my survival (as it so often is), but I do not have the right to push someone under the bus.

      • eljay on July 26, 2017, 7:20 am

        || Boris: … it is true AND is a foundation of a moral right. ||

        The religion-based identity of Jewish does not make the person who chooses to hold it a descendant of “old time conquerors” AND it is not a foundation of a moral right.

        Cheer up, though: At least you used the conjunction (AND) correctly. :-)

      • Marnie on July 26, 2017, 7:27 am

        Or a steaming mug of chai.

      • MHughes976 on July 26, 2017, 3:20 pm

        As to inheritance from ancient conquerors – the Jewish people of ancient times, if anyone can be identified in those terms, cannot have been the final victors in the ancient quarrels. It must have been their defeat in ancient times, final as far as those times were concerned, which created the exile whose long duration Zionism laments and claims to have ended, but only recently.
        On the moral side, we can think of a prized possession which has attracted a sequence of violent grabs, each at the time with no special justification. These grabs must all have the same moral status. To say that one of them except the last, differently from all the others, is sacred and inviolable, therefore creating permanent rights, is to resort to ideas that can only be religious.
        The last of them may be different in that if it is now well in the past it may have marked the beginning of a period of peace, goodwill, prosperity and justice, or at least some reasonable (given the resources and standards of the time) approximation thereto – and this may be regarded as creating some legitimacy and right to continue. It does so by transcending and contrasting with the upheavals of the previous time, therefore not by being simply the one that came last in the sequence. I do not think that Israel has achieved a situation of peace and goodwill.
        The existentialist/survivalist principle cannot be combined with any form of belief in the right of an existing polity to continue its existence. No rights mean anything if they may be swept aside by any internal or external group whose survival is at stake and who determine that this is what is necessary. Survivalism and appeal to ancient rights are in logical conflict, though they appear mixed up in Zionist propaganda, as do cultural and genetic criteria for continuity.

      • MHughes976 on July 27, 2017, 4:02 am

        I think of Hobbes as well aware of the paradox of survivalism, that it’s a good way of getting yourself killed, but perhaps not aware enough of the glamour of survivalism, the ‘glory’ (in his sense and ours) of being feared, of shaking off old rules, of being (accordingly) the representative of the future before whom the backward people flee.

    • duglarri on July 25, 2017, 10:40 pm

      The unity and vulnerability of Jews may provide an argument that Jews should unite and support the sole Jewish state- but it doesn’t give them a right to the land it is sitting on.

      • Boris on July 25, 2017, 11:01 pm

        They have the right to the land – they hold the oldest deed.

      • Talkback on July 26, 2017, 8:29 am

        Boris: “They have the right to the land – they hold the oldest deed.”

        That may be relevant in the Supreme Kangaroo Court of your Kahane Continumm, but it’s not legally relevant in international and human right law. The people who are legally living in a country have the right to self determination. In 1948 these people were the people of Palestine whether they were Jewish or not. Not some foreign settler terrorists.

      • eljay on July 26, 2017, 8:41 am

        || Boris: They have the right to the land – they hold the oldest deed. ||

        “Jewish” is a religion-based identity, not a deed or a right to territory.

      • Mooser on July 26, 2017, 12:31 pm

        “They have the right to the land – they hold the oldest deed.”

        And who is that deed registered with? A deed you made up yourself on the Brownsville Schools mimeo machine doesn’t mean squat.

      • MHughes976 on July 26, 2017, 3:24 pm

        If the title deed metaphor has any validity then it should be noted that it is the newest, not the oldest, deed that is normally considered valid. Perhaps that is what the Israelis have but it is written in too much blood to be valid in my estimation.

      • italian ex-pat on July 26, 2017, 6:18 pm

        Oldest deed? Human civilization, and the inevitable territorial claims that come with it, dates back far, far longer than 3,000 years. The nation called Israel (if it ever existed) was but one blink of an eye among many.

      • rosross on July 26, 2017, 9:12 pm

        How are Jews vulnerable, except in Occupied Palestine and the Middle East, but that is of their own making?

        Most Jews live safely and peacefully in hundreds of countries around the world. As they have done for thousands of years.

        Sure there have been attacks on them but many religions have experienced that. Christians slaughtered in Japan in the 16th century, mainly because they rose up in rebellion but that is a technicality; Christian slaughtered in Europe because they interpreted the Bible differently – the Cathars did not survive, most of the Huegunots fled; Christians and Muslims still slaughtered in Hindu India.

        Being religious can be tough, which is why it is so strange that Jews discriminate so violently against non-Jews in Palestine.

      • gamal on July 27, 2017, 6:16 am

        “was but one blink of an eye among many”

        do you know that the Sanskrit of the Rig Veda is first recorded in Syrian inscriptions, Northern Syria, the Mitanni had Sanskrit names, thought to be mercenaries who seized the state and adopted Hurrian but retained the names of the Vedic gods Indra, Varuna etc and used two personal names one Hurrian and one Sanskrit, and yet is Curry ever mentioned in the Bible?

      • Mooser on July 27, 2017, 6:14 pm

        “do you know that the Sanskrit of the Rig Veda is first recorded in Syrian inscriptions,”

        I read this morning that DNA traces of the Canaanites have been found in the modern Syrian population.

    • RoHa on July 25, 2017, 11:22 pm

      “Again, the argument boils down to who is a Jew”

      Perhaps we could approach that question by clearly establishing who is not a Jew.

      And then finally decide which claimant is the actual heir to the title “King of Jerusalem”. It’s about time he took an interest in the business.

      • amigo on July 26, 2017, 2:31 pm

        “And who is that deed registered with? A deed you made up yourself on the Brownsville Schools mimeo machine doesn’t mean squat.” Mooser.

        Last time I looked , it meant 700,000 “squat” (ers).

        Correction—-Illegal —squatters.

      • echinococcus on July 26, 2017, 3:54 pm


        Strange. We have the same documentation at disposal, and it definitely looks as if you forgot one zero. The number of illegal squatters in Palestine is 7 million.

    • Misterioso on July 26, 2017, 11:11 am


      “Jews from all over the world are united by common history. This history teaches us of our common vulnerability. This vulnerability teaches us to support Israel – the only Jewish state existing in our ancestral land. God has absolutely nothing to do with it.”

      Front. Genet., 21 June 2017 |
      The Origins of Ashkenaz, Ashkenazic Jews, and Yiddish

      Recent genetic samples from bones found in Palestine dating to the Epipaleolithic
      (20000-10500 BCE) showed remarkable resemblance to modern day Palestinians.

      “The non-Levantine origin of AJs [Ashkenazi Jews] is further supported by an ancient DNA analysis of six Natufians and a Levantine Neolithic (Lazaridis, et al., 2016), some of the most likely Judaean progenitors (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2002; Frendo, 2004). In a principle component analysis (PCA), the ancient Levantines clustered predominantly with modern-day Palestinians and Bedouins and marginally overlapped with Arabian Jews, whereas AJs clustered away from Levantine individuals and adjacent to Neolithic Anatolians and Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Europeans.”

      “Overall, the combined results are in a strong agreement with the predictions of the Irano-Turko-Slavic hypothesis (Table 1) and rule out an ancient Levantine origin for AJs, which is predominant among modern-day Levantine populations (e.g., Bedouins and Palestinians). This is not surprising since Jews differed in cultural practices and norms (Sand, 2011) and tended to adopt local customs (Falk, 2006). Very little Palestinian Jewish culture survived outside of Palestine (Sand, 2009). For example, the folklore and folkways of the Jews in northern Europe is distinctly pre-Christian German (Patai, 1983) and Slavic in origin, which disappeared among the latter (Wexler, 1993, 2012).”

    • rosross on July 26, 2017, 9:20 pm

      All religions have a common history. If I become a Jew then that becomes my common religious history. Ditto if I become a Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Rastafarian or whatever.

      Yes, Jewish dogma does play the victim card. One only has to stand at the Wailing Wall to know that.

      In psychological terms, someone who is wailing about something which happened to followers of the same religion, thousands of years ago, not even a familial link, is seriously dysfunctional.

      It would be bad enough if the individual could not move on from his or her own traumas, but to not be able to process and work through things which happened to followers of the religion he or she belongs to, is insane. The real madness is believing that something which happened to others centuries or thousands of years ago, can create trauma today. Seriously crazy and one of the worst aspects of Judaism, a religion, which like all of them, contains elements of value and merit.

      Perhaps you are drinking too much tea.

  3. on July 25, 2017, 12:50 pm

    Yossi, congratulations with an excellent, refreshing look at the situation. The zionists won’t like it, but their only way to refute it is to deny what you wrote, without being able to give the slightest fact-based argument.

    So, keep up the good work !!!

  4. gamal on July 25, 2017, 12:50 pm

    “Speak to us in the voice of humanity you earned by standing by the civil rights movement, by the martyrs of the Freedom Riders; but don’t speak to as Jews.”

    who paid Jews for this, blacks?, don’t tell me Jews got all the earnings and blacks get what an eternal obligation to

    “one of the most brilliant and forward-thinking communities in the history of the world”

    what further payments should American Jews expect for “standing by the civil rights movement” and from whom, when will they have been paid in full,

    Is resting on your laurels not forbidden to you as it is for Greeks.

    (forward thinking is i guess unintentionally funny, unless i am misreading you, it is very hard to divine what kind of movement you talking about, it seems i may not be worthy to be part of it, )

    I can see why to an Israeli American Jews don’t seem very Jewish, Gilad Atzmon never shuts about it, but Mr. Gurvitz that was the most polite and considerate excommunication i have ever heard

    Also I guess i would be more likely, as a black person, to unite around something where you understand we don’t owe you anything…some Jews did the right thing, a brave thing, if the sins of fathers don’t accrue neither do their virtuous acts, you have to get your own and as the Lotus sutra screams Now, Now is the time, what you been doing lately?

    • rosross on July 26, 2017, 9:05 pm

      And Christians fought to end slavery. Christians were also active in the move to bring rights to African Americans.

      Many religions have taken a stand on social issues. It is not particular to Judaism.

      The fact is, if one is to believe core teachings of most religions then this is exactly what they should do.

      Why is any of that exceptional?

  5. Citizen on July 25, 2017, 1:39 pm

    Meanwhile, US Navy fires warning shots at Iranian boats. PNAC carries on. Which reminds me, will Trump quit funding “moderate” terrorists in Syria, continuing Obama legacy? PNAC, again.

  6. DaBakr on July 25, 2017, 9:03 pm

    1. The three vows were written post Judea when rabbis were still trying to come to grips with a non-biblical diaspora. If Jews got a reputation for being compliant, or weak, or dhimmis it was not from Jews that lived in Judea and Samaria. And anyway, of the Ashkenazi are really khazzers, a warrior tribe from the steppes, how did they become so compliant in so grew generations?
    2. Jews have always been a large assortment of orthodox, semi observant and secular. From Moses to Meir. There are Catholic nations where 1000s of Catholics have affairs, get abortions, have homosexual relations and yet you don’t see the pope excommunicating them.
    . 2a- just saying, your theories about Zionism and Judaism wouldn’t hold up to an argument with even second tier experts but naturally, MW is a captive audience. Pat yourself on the back.

    3. Listening to liberals spouting off about Russia, especially American Democratic liberals is one of the richest and most hypocritical complaints that liberals have been whining about for over 75yrs.

    4. There are not too many people’s” the earth who have survived as a nation, culture, race, ethnicity like Jews have. And Jews in imperial Russia, Poland, white Russia, Germany France England, the entire Muslim block of nations and more were never considered citizens with national identities matching the Christian and Muslim citizens. They were always Jews subject to distinct laws. Their identity papers all said ‘jew’ . So while you may not see an individual identity as a people it really doesn’t matter much to fold outside of the elektik intafda and mw crowd. There is a club with members that insist the world is only 10,000 years old and have an incredibly down part explanation that millions believe in entirety. So, peddle what you like here but please take a reality pill first.
    And btw, Americans not descended from the first nations people’s, it can be argued, have as little right to a speck of land I the US anymore then your argument that Jews have no right to Judea

    • The Hasbara Buster on July 26, 2017, 6:36 pm

      DaBakr, while it’s not clear what your point is, you seem to have a hard time getting facts straight. From the French revolution on, French identity papers never identified Jews (or any other national subgroup, for that matter) as such. In fact, when the Jewish question was debated among the revolutionaries, the decision was tout aux Juifs en tant que personnes; rien aux Juifs en tant que peuple — everything to Jews as persons; nothing to Jews as a people. Everyone was just French, and that is how Léon Blum became the French Prime Minister way before Israel was created.

      As for Israel, it’s evident it has become more Orthodox over the years, which is a very regrettable fact.

    • rosross on July 26, 2017, 8:54 pm

      Jews are not a nation, and the culture which survived is like every other religion, something shared as the religion, albeit in varying forms, but Judaism is the culture.

      Jews are not a race. Like all religions they combine all races and hundreds of nationalities and were not even a race when the religion was invented. A tribe perhaps, which converted, through force if needed, like any other religion.

      As to ethnicity, Jews may have religious ethnicity as do all other religions but that is all. Beyond the religion an Ethiopian Jew has nothing in common with an American, English, Russian, Indian, Chinese or any other Jew.

      The reason why no-one else has survived as nation, race, culture, ethnicity is because no-one has survived in this way, not even Jews. For one thing, nation is a historically recent concept so no nations existed centuries ago in terms of the meaning of the word.

      For another, when a religion is of mixed, race, culture, tribe, ethnicity, nationality, as indeed all religions are, the only thing which holds people together is the religion and that applies equally to all religions.

      Because a few Jews colonised a place called Judea, as they must have done since Hebrews came out of Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, gives them no rights to it today when in fact they had no rights to it thousands of years ago. Jews took Palestine thousands of years ago and have stolen it again. None of that would matter if they gave the indigenous people full and equal rights but they have not. It was easier thousands of years ago because they just killed them or forcibly converted them. My how times change.

      As to First Peoples, since we all came out of Africa, and there is only one race, the human race, we are all colonisers. Whether American Indians arrived earlier, and possibly killed off or drove out an earlier people, is irrelevant. Everyone is a coloniser, except perhaps for a few Africans although that continent has seen so much people movement that it is doubtful anyone remains where ancestors may have lived hundreds of thousands of years ago.

      The earth is to be shared.

  7. JosephA on July 25, 2017, 10:42 pm

    Wonderful, thoughtful article. Thank you.

  8. wondering jew on July 25, 2017, 11:59 pm

    To the Zionists of eastern Europe, their nationhood was self evident. They did not have to try to figure out their relationship with the Jews of the Levant. Those Jews were not relevant to them and only became relevant to them when the Jews of eastern europe were murdered and needed to be replaced.

    The rejection of the Jews by the nations of Eastern and Central Europe was self evident. Thus there were those who declared the end of all nations (the Communists) and those who accepted themselves as being rejected by the nations for a reason: for they belonged to a different nation.

    The Zionist need for the bible and the religion was not in order to justify their nationhood, but in order to justify taking the land. When Ben Gurion pointed to the bible and said, “here is our contract. In the bible, that you all possess in all of your homes.” He was speaking to the nations of the world to justify the Jewish claim. The Zionists did not need to be sold on their nationhood.

    (There were other alternatives: a denial of all nationhood or going to America where a different form of nationhood was being created.)

    Gurvitz is putting 2017 sensibilities into the minds of early 20th century ideologues and this is anachronistic.

    In fact there are inherent contradictions of Zionism. And there are other factors involved.

    The nonorthodox or nontraditional movements were relatively young in 1897 and those movements still believed that they could gain acceptance by their nations by making their religion less odious in the eyes of their nation hosts, so that they could be seen as Germans of the Mosaic persuasion. But this is a central European phenomenon more than an eastern european phenomenon. Reform Judaism was practically nonexistent in eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century. So to the zionists, the synagogue they did not go to was Orthodox. And the entire reform Judaism was foreign to them.

    That is what things were like up to 1945. The situation since then has changed.

    • rosross on July 26, 2017, 8:44 pm

      Except religions do not make a nation. If they did then all religions would constitute nations with exactly the same rights which some Jews claim.

      • wondering jew on July 26, 2017, 11:53 pm

        rosross- The exclusion of the Jews from Russian society could indeed be alleviated by baptism, although my knowledge of the frequency of such baptism in the realm of the czars is pretty blank.
        I’ve heard you at least ten times asserting that religion and nation have nothing to do with each other. But in Russia, or to be more precise, in the realm of the czars, the Jews spoke a different language and were considered a people apart by most of their neighbors and by most of themselves. The religion itself speaks in terms of nation, and certainly the tradition of a separate society for centuries creates something beyond a commonalty of belief, it creates a community. Combine this with a language and a myth of nationhood, if you insist, then you have certainly almost enough ingredients to make a nation.

        it is wrong to consider the holocaust the epitome of the european jewish experience, but since it was its climax, it cannot be ignored and though one does not wish to hitch one’s wagon on hitler’s ideology, in the end, beliefs counted for naught or for little and jews were killed for their race. how does that jive with your denial of their nationhood? when they were being killed in what language did they write “revenge!” in which european language? no. Nekama.

        now 70 years later, both the revenge and the european jewish community are a faint echo compared to what they were in 1945 and yes, also in 1948. the predominant jewish community outside of israel (USA) speaks no distinct language (13% or so speak yiddish or hebrew or ladino) and their rise to the top of the American “meritocracy” has made Jewishness to be as American as apple pie (not quite, but certainly compared to the european experience it is quite different). i don’t know how things are going in britain with its own tensions between muslims and more traditional english populations, so you can enlighten us, but certainly america 2017 raises questions about jews as a separate nation in a way that 1905 Minsk did not raise such questions. that jew in minsk was considered a foreign element by the ruling elite, was considered a separate entity by the peasant population, spoke a different language and lived a separate existence. (and even when the soviet union replaced the rule of the czars, “jew’ was written in the soviet identity card, the only such designation that did not have a territory of its own and in fact the soviets tried to create a territory for the jews, in recognition of their separate status. so the realm of the czars even after it was gone continued to act in the fashion of separations.) so your statements reflect maybe some text book definitions, but not the history of the realm of the czars from catherine the great to gorbachev.

      • Mooser on July 28, 2017, 3:03 pm

        ” But in Russia, or to be more precise, in the realm of the czars, the Jews spoke a different language and were considered a people apart by most of their neighbors and by most of themselves.”

        And how did that differ from the other ethnic and religious and even national minorities in Russia at the time?

      • RoHa on July 28, 2017, 7:33 pm

        Were their hats funnier?

      • echinococcus on July 29, 2017, 3:57 am

        Not funnier, furrier.

  9. Citizen on July 26, 2017, 5:31 am

    Some of the comments here skate right over the ex post facto principles of international criminal law down at Nuremberg and, subsequently, Geneva IV. Human history’s two world wars were the blood and treasure payment for said law. Goering maintained that Nuremberg was a show trial, just the 1945 example of victor’s justice. An everyday street criminal thinks in terms of survival too; should he or she get a blank check too?

    • rosross on July 26, 2017, 8:43 pm

      In essence Goering was correct. The Allies committed many war crimes, including, the fire-bombing of Dresden, and one could argue, at least the dropping of the second Atomic Bomb on Japan, if not the first.

      If the Germans and Japanese had won they would have had their own Nuremberg, perhaps in Washington.

      Such is the way victors write history.

      • Citizen on July 27, 2017, 10:29 am

        Not to mention Stalin’s regime was no saint in 1945.

  10. Talkback on July 26, 2017, 9:00 am

    Yossi Gurvitz: “It contains some 20% non-Jews, who are discriminated against. And I’m not even talking about the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where it’s full-bore apartheid.”

    And you are not talking about the Palestinian refugees who should have been citizens of Israel acording to international customary and human rights law (as reflected in the partition plan) but are denied their right to return to maintain a Zionist regime which amounts full-bore to the definition of the Crime of Apartheid.

    • rosross on July 26, 2017, 8:42 pm

      Yes, what is the Palestinian diaspora – 8 million? Add that to the nearly six million Palestinians in Occupied Palestine, including the Gaza concentration camp and it is easy to see why, even if Israel tried to kill or drive out the indigenous people of the land it occupies, there are plenty to take their place.

  11. johneill on July 26, 2017, 12:09 pm

    jewish theocracy is no better than any other theocracy.

  12. Lewis Elbinger on July 26, 2017, 1:54 pm

    Excellent article, Yossi. Sharing it on Facebook.

  13. lonely rico on July 26, 2017, 2:03 pm

    > johnneil

    jewish theocracy is no better than any other theocracy

    Jewish theocracy is the best money can buy!
    Not only nuclear armed, it is backed by the entire US Congress !

  14. Marshalldoc on July 26, 2017, 4:36 pm

    Naturally, the article only addresses the issue of ‘how Israel’, not ‘whether Israel’… No question of Israel’s legitimacy, only its form and who gets a say.

    • echinococcus on July 27, 2017, 8:14 am


      Exactly. That is the form of the overwhelming majority of articles posted here.

      • Marshalldoc on July 28, 2017, 2:24 pm

        Apropos… “NYT, Reuters, Economist journalists self-censor reports from Israel so as not to be ‘savagely targeted’ — John Lyons” []. So, I’m guessing Mondoweiss does not see itself as a pot calling out kettles…

  15. Sulphurdunn on July 26, 2017, 7:41 pm

    The only birthright any American has is the Bill of Rights and an obligation to defend it from all enemies foreign and domestic.

  16. rosross on July 26, 2017, 8:37 pm

    It is a good article except for the hyperbole. Why are American Jews so brilliant and forward thinking as a community, when Jews across the US are as diverse as Christians or any other religion, practising or not, and hardly make a community.

    It is this belief in exceptionalism which creates so many problems for Judaism, and worse when combined with the odd American belief in exceptionalism. It is not particular to Judaism or Americans for other religions have and do, consider themselves to be exceptional and so do other nations, but perhaps it is the combination of the two delusions which creates the problem – a problem which crucifies the Palestinians.

    Israel like any nation, and more so as a colonial venture, changes through time and through influences. The belief in Jewish superiority, strangely something believed to linger even if people did not practice the religion, and neither had their parents, but one grandparent or great-grandparent had been Jewish, brought the multitudes of Russians to Israel as a counter to the indigenous non-Jewish Palestinians.

    That brought Russian culture to Israel and all it entails. Not only is much of Israeli culture not even Jewish, increasingly it is not even Israeli, or, at least, that of which so many Jews were told they believed for centuries.

  17. rosross on July 26, 2017, 9:28 pm


    Surely the real issue for American Jews who support Israel, and not all do, to ponder is the foundation of this ongoing conflict which is completely at odds with everything for which the United States and its citizens, claim to stand.

    And that is, religious bigotry as the basis for denying others their human rights and justice.

    Israel refuses to end the occupation and apartheid for one simple reason – Zionists and perhaps Orthodox Jews, believe that non-Jews are inferior, and in the case of the poor Palestinians, sub-human, and therefore these inferiors cannot be allowed to rule over the superior Jews.

    Now, the fact that most Jews manage to survive this horror in the US and many countries around the world seems lost on Israeli Jews, both the real ones and the atheists who are not real Jews.

    Why is it so? If Jews can rally to fight for the rights of African-Americans, why do so many fight to deny the Palestinians their rights? I cannot believe any of them truly believe the Palestinians are sub-human, so why will Israel not do what every other coloniser has done and solve its problem in an instant, create one state with equal rights for all where indigenous and coloniser share the land as citizens of a democratic nation?

  18. rosross on July 27, 2017, 12:21 am

    The tragedy of Israel, Zionism and Judaism is the tragedy of all religions – God only meant any of it as metaphor. None of it is meant to be taken literally.

    I think some orthodox Jews took that view when a literal state of Israel was first mooted. A few still do.

  19. ronron on July 27, 2017, 3:17 am

    Any claim that Zionism (and the Zionist project in Palestine) has ANYTHING to do with Judaism is patently flawed. Zionism uses and abuses Judaism in an attempt to gain legitimacy for its deeply supremacist as well as anti-Jewish practices.

    The fact that it CLAIMS to have anything to do with Judaism is not one bit different than other supremacist groups claiming to be grounded in a certain religion – be it the KKK claiming to be Christians or ISIS claiming to be Muslim. Zionism should not be treated any differently, and this article, even though well meaning, tries to paint Zionism in a different light that lends a sort of legitimacy to this criminal and deeply supremacist enterprise.


    • Citizen on July 27, 2017, 11:00 am


    • Mooser on February 15, 2019, 11:21 am

      . “Zionism uses and abuses Judaism in an attempt to gain legitimacy for its deeply supremacist as well as anti-Jewish practices.”

      Gee, seems to me a well-organised, influential and well-funded (relatively speaking) and world-wide religion like Judaism would do something about that, before it is irreparably harmed.
      There’s a question which has never occurred to me before now: I’m pretty sure I know what Zionism gets from Judaism, but what on earth does Judaism get from Zionism?

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